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English Grammar

The Construction of Language

Grammar forms the core of the English language. Proper grammar is really nothing more than using words correctly to deliver meaning to a reader or listener. In short, grammar is the set of rules applied to combining words to create meaning. However, English is a very complex language and proper grammar can be hard to understand, even for native speakers. Here are some quick rules to follow for proper grammar use.

Subject/Verb Agreement

In any sentence, you must have agreement between the subject and the verb. Both the subject and the verb must agree in terms of quantity and tense. Heres an example of what not to do: "Three different students sits in the hallway" In this instance, sits is the wrong verb. Because there are three students in the hall, the verb must indicate that. It should be either sit or sat, depending on the meaning you want to convey. The verb sits should only be used for a singular subject. For example, John sits in the hallway, is correct.

Correct Sentence Structure

English grammar is peculiar, and different from many other languages in the world. Here, the adjective usually comes before the noun it describes. However, in languages like Spanish, the opposite is true. For example, translated literally, the Spanish words coche rojo mean car red. In Spanish, that works perfectly well. Its another case entirely in English. In English, the correct construction would be red car.

Knowing the Parts of Speech

In order to use correct grammar in speaking and writing, its important that you know the various parts of speech. These are relatively simple, though it can take some time to master all the different ways that they can be used in a sentence.

Here are some of the most common parts of speech:

  • Subject: The subject of a sentence is the person or thing being spoken of. Usually, the subject is a noun or a pronoun. He went to the store. In this sentence, he is the subject. He is the person doing the action.
  • Verb: The verb of a sentence is the action taking place (usually). He went to the store. In this sentence, went is the verb. It tells what he did. Went is the action in the sentence. However, if the sentence were changed to, He is going to the store, the verb would be is.
  • Adjective: An adjective is a word used to describe a noun, pronoun or another adjective. These are often color indicators and size descriptors, though there are many other uses for adjectives. The big, red car rolled silently down the road. Both big and red are adjectives in this sentence.
  • Adverbs: Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives or other adverbs and answer the questions who, what, where, when and how. He quickly took off his coat. In this sentence, quickly is an adverb, telling how he took off his coat.

Using proper grammar, forming your sentences correctly and knowing how to use the various parts of speech will help ensure that you are able to make your meaning clear to your listeners.