Here are 10 simple rules and tips to help you avoid mistakes in English grammar.
1. A sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with a period/full stop, a question mark or an exclamation mark.
- The fat cat sat on the mat.
- Where do you live?
- My dog is very clever!
2. The order of a basic positive sentence is Subject-Verb-Object. (Negative and question sentences may have a different order.)
- John loves Mary.
- They were driving their car to Bangkok.
3. Every sentence must have a subject and a verb. An object is optional. Note that an imperative sentence may have a verb only, but the subject is understood.
- John teaches.
- John teaches English.
- Stop! (i.e. You stop!)
4. The subject and verb must agree in number, that is a singular subject needs a singular verb and a plural subject needs a plural verb.
- John works in London.
- That monk eats once a day.
- John and Mary work in London.
- Most people eat three meals a day.
5. When two singular subjects are connected by or, use a singular verb. The same is true for either/or and neither/nor.
- John or Mary is coming tonight.
- Either coffee or tea is fine.
- Neither John nor Mary was late.
6. Adjectives usually come before a noun (except when a verb separates the adjective from the noun).
- I have a big dog.
- She married a handsome Italian man.
- (Her husband is rich.)
7. When using two or more adjectives together, the usual order is opinion-adjective + fact-adjective + noun. (There are some additional rules for the order of fact adjectives.)
- I saw a nice French table.
- That was an interesting Shakespearian play.
8. The words its and it's are two different words with different meanings.
- The dog has hurt its leg.
- He says it's two o'clock.
9. The words your and you're are two different words with different meanings.
- Here is your coffee.
- You're looking good.
10. The words there, their and they're are three different words with different meanings.
- There was nobody at the party.
- I saw their new car.
- Do you think they're happy?
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