Learning Grammar

The English language is made up of WORDS, which are nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, and articles. The combination of these words forms SENTENCES.

To learn and master English, you must learn its grammar, which consists of rules for you to follow when using and combining the words, especially when you write.


There are 3 types: 1.1.simple sentence; 1.2.compound sentence; 1.3.complex sentence.

A sentence is made up words: a subject; and a verb. It may or may not have an object.

A subject or an object can be nouns or pronouns.

Nouns are names of animals (e.g. bird, cat, snake), emotions (e.g. anger, joy, sadness), ideas (e.g. belief, theory, understanding), people (e.g. man, policeman, soldier), things (e.g. bottle, chair, knife), and so on.

are words that represent or stand for nouns: I, you, we, they, she, it, and they.

e.g. I = teacher

e.g. You = student

e.g. They = soldiers

Verb indicate being or an action:

e.g. He is a policeman.

e.g. They are children.

e.g. A bird sings.

e.g. A knife cuts.

A verb may also come in different forms or tenses.

A transitive verb has an object (which is a noun or pronoun); an intransitive verb does not have an object. Some verbs are only transitive verbs, and some are both transitive and intransitive. A good dictionary tells you whether a verb is either or both.

e.g. He laughs all the time. (only transitive)

e.g. He laughs at you all the time. (you is the object of the preposition at, and not the object of laughs; so "laugh" is considered an intransitive verb.)

e.g. She sings a song. (transitive)

e.g.  She sings. (intransitive)

A sentence must have a subject and a verb, although the subject may be implied or understood:

e.g. (You) Take your money.

e.g. (Nobody is allowed to smoke here) No smoking here!

The subject must agree with the verb:

e.g. I am; he is; it is; she is; they are; we are; you are.

Add "s" to a noun to make it plural or indicate more than one:

e.g. "a boy"; "many boys"; "two boys"

But there are many exceptions to the rule:

e.g. "kiss" becomes "kisses"; "tax" becomes "taxes"

e.g. "half" becomes "halves"; "man" becomes "men"; "child" becomes "children"

In English, description words, such as this and that, pair up with singular nouns, while these and those, with plural nouns.

e.g. this apple; that student; these children; those flowers

Stephen Lau
Copyrightę by Stephen Lau



1.1. The Simple Sentence

The simple sentence is usually short: it is used to express a simple idea, or to emphasize a point.

e.g. You are right.

e.g. This is easy to do.

Do not use too many simple sentences within a paragraph; otherwise, they may look choppy. Use a simple sentence only to express an idea or to emphasize a point.

1.2. The Compound Sentence

The compound sentence is made up of two or more simple sentences joined together. To join them, you need a coordinate conjunction (e.g. and, but, or , nor, so, yet) A coordinate conjunction means the simple sentences joined together are more or less of equal importance.

e.g. I want to go, and you must come with me.

e.g. You want to go, but I don't want to go with you.

e.g. You can go, or you can stay.

e.g. You cannot eat this, nor can you take it with you.

e.g. This sentence is wrong, so (you) correct it,

e.g. He is tired, yet he does not want to go to bed. ("yet" is stronger than "but")

In addition to using a conjunction, you can also use a punctuation mark, such as a colon ";" to explain, or a semi-colon ";" to replace a conjunction.

e.g. This is difficult to do: there are many problems that come with it.

e.g. I am tired; I do not want to go to bed now. (replacing the conjunction but)

e.g. I like to sing; my brother likes to paint; my sister likes to dance.

1.3. The Complex Sentence

The complex sentence is made up two or more simple sentences joined together by subordinate conjunctions, such as after, before, because, if, since, when, while, although, though. A subordinate conjunction suggests that the simple sentence joined is less important. The complex sentence shows the relationship of ideas, i.e. some are more important, and some are less important.

e.g. After you leave, I shall go to bed. (the focus is more on "going to bed")

Compare: You leave and I go to bed. (the focus is on "leaving" and "going to bed")

e.g. Before you leave, (you) finish the drink. (the focus is more on "finishing the drink")

e.g. I give you this because you are nice.

e.g. If you want this, (you) take it.

e.g. Since this belongs to you, (you) take it.

e.g. You can go when you finish this.

e.g. You must do while there is time.

e.g. Although I am tired, I don't want to go to bed.

e.g. Though it is late, you can stay here for a while.

Stephen Lau
Copyrightę by Stephen Lau

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Building Vocabulary
Confusing Words
Correcting the Incorrect
Learning Grarnmar
Learning Prepositions
Learning Sentence Style
Learning Some Slang