English grammar isn’t easy, so let us help!
English grammar is defined as the body of rules that describes the structure of words, phrases, clauses, and sentences in the English language. There are hundreds of English grammar rules. The basic English grammar ones have to do with sentence structure and the parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions.
Let’s take a brief look at these fundamental parts of speech
A noun names a person, place, thing, animal, quality, idea, feeling, or activity. It is typically used with an article: a, an, or the (a cat, an apple, the laptop). A noun can be singular (denoting one, e.g., cat) or plural (denoting more than one, e.g., cats), and can show possession (the cat’s paw).
A pronoun is a word used in place of a noun, for example, I, me, you, she, her, he, him, it, we, us, you, they, or them. The possessive forms of these basic pronouns are my, mine, your, yours, her, hers, his, its, our, ours, your, yours, their, and theirs.
A verb expresses action (e.g., read, swim) or a state of being (e.g., is, become). A verb can stand alone or have a helping verb, such as have, do, or be. Linking verbs (e.g., appear, seem) link the subject to the rest of the sentence. Verbs indicate the tense (past, present, or future) being used.
An adjective is a word used to modify or describe a noun or pronoun. It usually answers these questions: Which one? What kind? How many?
An adverb is a word that modifies or qualifies a verb, adjective, or another adverb. It answers when, where, why, how, under what conditions, or to what degree. Scribendi.com, the leading online editing and proofreading company, has written an article discussing adverbs in detail.
A preposition is a word placed before a noun or pronoun to form a phrase that modifies another word in the sentence (e.g., We are going shopping with my aunt). It might also indicate time, direction, motion, manner, reason, or possession.
A conjunction (and, but, or, either/or) joins words, phrases, or clauses and indicates the relationship between the joined elements.
An interjection is a word used to express surprise or emotion (e.g., Oh! Hey! Wow!)
Let’s put the parts of speech into sentences
Once you have the parts of speech down pat, you need to learn how to use them in sentences according to the rules of English grammar. The following are a few basics.
Most English sentences flow from subject to verb to predicate. Predicate is the grammatical term given to the verb plus its objects, complements, and adverbial modifiers. The subject plays the lead role in a sentence: the predicate describes either the action the subject is taking or the subject itself.
In a sentence or an independent clause, a singular subject needs a singular predicate. A sentence needs to express a complete thought.
Clauses also have a subject and a predicate. If a clause expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a sentence, it is independent and can be called a sentence. If it does not express a complete thought, it is called a dependent clause. If a group of words does not have a subject and predicate, it is known as a phrase.
The subject of a sentence must always agree with its verb in number, mood, and voice. That’s a lot to think about! Sometimes, the subject is more difficult to determine than you might think.
Example: The roses in the window box need/needs watering.
The correct verb here is need because the subject is roses, not window box. Window box simply modifies roses.
Example: The class respects the teacher.
Here, class is a collective noun and is considered singular.
Example: The class were arguing about where to go on their field trip.
Here, class is treated as plural because only two or more people can argue.
Some final thoughts on English grammar
In this article, we have provided you with the basics of English grammar and a few examples for finding more information. The English grammar rules outlined above are far from complete and represent just a few of the rules that exist. And unfortunately, English grammar contains exceptions to almost every rule. But don’t despair, GrammarCamp, the trusted online grammar course, offers a comprehensive and relatable tutorial on the rules of English grammar.
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