Familiarity with the grammar of a language enables you to understand it, and also to construct your own phrases and sentences. It’s not essential to know all the grammatical terminology or to understand why words change, as long as you’re able to apply to relevant changes when necessary.
We can use an imperative to tell someone to do something, e.g. Wait for me. This is OK between friends, but don’t use the imperative when speaking to your boss or teacher. And don’t use it to ask a big favour. We say Could you wait a moment, please? and Would you mind lending me some money? It is polite to put a request in question form.
In a friendly conversation don’t always answer a question with just yes or no. An answer like Yes, it is sounds a bit better. Best of all, add another sentence. Did you enjoy the film? ~ Yes, I did. It was great. I like Brad Pitt. This helps to keep the conversation going.
When you’re writing, try to link your ideas. Start with known information and say something new about it.
I was stuck in traffic for a whole hour. Because of the delay I wasn’t able to meet my friends.
Here delay links back to stuck in traffic. This is better than putting because of the delay at the end of the sentence.
There isn’t a ‘future tense’ in English. You have to choose from a number of forms. Often will isn’t the best choice.
- For intentions use going to (I’m going to buy a car) not will.
- For an instant decision use will (OK, I’ll buy it) not the present tense.
- For an arrangement use the present continuous (I’m seeing my boss at three).
Objects and adverbs
We don’t usually put an adverb in front of an object. We say She read the document carefully and not She read carefully the document. But when the object is long, it goes better at the end.
She read carefully every single word of the document.
When there are two phrases after a verb, the short one tends to come first.
Three-syllable adjectives form the comparative with more (more sensible). Most one-syllable adjectives have -er (older). Some two-syllable adjectives have more (more modern), some have -er (heavier), and some can have either form (more pleasant/pleasanter). If you are unsure, use more. It is acceptable with almost all two-syllable adjectives.
Irregular forms have to be learned separately because they don’t follow the normal pattern with -ed. But this isn’t as bad as it seems. Once you’ve learned write – wrote – written, it isn’t so difficult to learn drive – drove- driven. And the same with ride and rise. Some verbs have all three forms the same. These include cost, cut, hurt, let, put, set, and shut. Put them in groups and they’ll be easier to learn.
Dictionaries can tell you a lot about the grammar of individual words. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary has grammar codes and example sentences to show the kind of patterns used with particular verbs. If you look up persuade, you will see that you can
- persuade someone into something or into doing something
- persuade them to do something
- persuade them that something is true, or simply
- persuade them.
The rules of English
‘Rules’ for the learner are statements about how the language works. Some rules are very clear: a verb in the present simple third person singular ends with an s. Many rules are more problematical. The difference in meaning between the present simple and present continuous is a more complicated matter. Explanations can help, but you need to pay attention to the English you hear and read. This will help you get a ‘feel’ for how the continuous is used.
Simple present 1 (Fill in the gaps)
Simple present 2 (Fill in the blanks)
Simple present 3 (Usage)
Simple past 1 (Fill in the blanks)
Simple past 2 (Finding mistakes)
Simple past (Negative form)
Fitute tense (Fill in the blanks)
There is, There are (Options)
Adverbs of frequency (Position)
Prepositions of place (Multiple option)