English Grammar Rules

| Tuesday, March 30, 2010
English grammar is an extensive and complicated set of rules that govern how we speak and write using the English language. Grammar has evolved over many centuries, and the rules change from time to time.

    Subject and Verb Agreement

  1. Subjects and verbs must always agree in number. Singular subjects require a singular verb, and plural verbs require a plural verb. Singular present-tense verbs typically have an "s" infection, whereas plural verbs do not. Compound subjects always take plural verbs.
  2. Sentence Construction

  3. A sentence always should contain a complete thought and must consist of a subject and predicate. Compound subjects and compound predicates are acceptable, along with compound and complex sentences. Complex sentences should always be combined properly with conjunctions and/or punctuation, such as a semicolon. A complex sentence is a sentence that contains two complete thoughts, or sentences, combined with a coordinating conjunction.
  4. Plurals and Possessives

  5. Plural nouns typically require an "s" inflection. Possessive singular nouns typically require an apostrophe and an "s" to indicate possession. Mistakes often occur when an apostrophe is accidentally added to a plural noun or is left off a possessive noun.
  6. Active vs. Passive Voice

  7. In active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the verb's action. An example of active voice is the following: The boy threw the ball. In passive voice, the subject receives the verb's action. An example of active voice is the following: The ball was thrown by the boy. Active voice typically makes writing clearer and more interesting.
  8. Comma Usage

  9. Proper use of commas is essential to writing clearly. Commas are needed to separate items in a series, to separate adjectives that follow one another, and to set off clauses. One type of clause requiring a comma in an adverbial clause. An example of an adverbial clause is as follows: Although the sun was shining, the boy did not want to play outside.

    Commas should be used when needed, but it is important not to use commas unnecessarily. Two complete sentences should never be combined with only a comma; this would create a comma splice, which is a serious grammatical error.

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