What is Grammar?
Grammar is the system of rules which structure a language. It’s is the logic behind the order and choice of the words we choose to use when we speak and write in the English language.
Let’s dive into the 25+ important grammar rules for writers:
1. When using an active voice, the subject is the one performing the action.
2. A conjunction is a function word that connects clauses, concepts, or parts of a sentence.
3. Prepositions are like the glue that hold a sentence together, showing a relationship between time, space, and place.
4. Adverbs describe verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, or entire sentences.
5. The number of the verb must agree with the number of the noun or pronoun used with it. Verbs can either be singular or plural.
6. Adjectives describe nouns or pronouns and add more detail to the sentence.
7. Use pronouns to avoid needless repetition of the noun throughout the text.
8. A mass noun denotes something uncountable either because it’s abstract, a group of something, or they take on a whole meaning as one word.
9. Always capitalize proper nouns. Proper nouns are specific people, places, or things.
10. Be consistent with your verb-tense when writing. Unexpectedly shifting verb tense in your writing can confuse readers.
11. Interjections are short exclamations that express strong emotion. They have no real grammatical value. Be mindful to not over-use these in your writing.
12. A positive adjective simply describes the noun without comparing it to anything else.
13. Double spaces after a period – Don’t do it. For those who may have learned to type on a typewriter, double spacing after a period was common (and correct). However, with today’s word-processing software systems, SINGLE space after a period (or any punctuation for that matter) is the way to go.
14. A lot vs. alot – These two words are commonly misused, however, “alot” is not a word in the English language. A lot means a large number or quantity of something. Alot is a misspelling of “a lot.”
15. Between vs. among – Use between when referring to one-to-one relationships (even if it’s more than two items, as long as they are specific people or things). Use among when referring to indistinct or nonspecific relationships.
16. Affect vs. effect – these words have four meanings total.
- Affect (verb) – to influence
- Affect (noun) – emotional expression
- Effect (verb) – to make happen
- Effect (noun) – impact
17. Comma after “Thank you” – When addressing someone (or a group of people) directly, you should always place a comma after “Thank you.”
18. Slashes – There are two types of slashes: a backslash (\) and a forward slash (/). *The backslash is used only for computer coding. The forward slash, often simply referred to as a slash, is a punctuation mark usually used to indicate the word “or,” as an abbreviation (w/ and w/o), to denote dates and fractions, or to indicate connecting or conflicting relationships.
19. Idioms – Idioms are an expression, word, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is conventionally understood among native speakers. The meaning is different from the literal meaning of the idiom’s individual elements. In other words, idioms don’t mean exactly what the words say. Instead, they have a hidden meaning. What’s your favorite idiom to use? Comment below.
20. Palindrome – A word, phrase, or sentence that is spelled the same both backwards and forwards. Examples of words include: racecar, ma’am, level, kayak, refer, and civic.
21. Transitions – transitional words or phrases help writers convey connections between ideas to readers; examples include: as a result, however, in contrast, on the other hand, in fact, in conclusion, in summary, first, next, soon, and then
22. Run-on Sentences – A run-on sentence is when two or more sentences are written as one. A sentence can include more than one thought as long as it is punctuated correctly. To fix a run-on sentence, try one of these methods:
-Create two separate sentences.
-Use a semicolon to divide it up.
-Separate the thoughts with both a comma and a coordinating conjunction such as and, but, so, or, and yet
23. Antecedents – The noun to which a pronoun refers is called its antecedent. Pronouns must agree with their antecedents in number, person, and gender. If there is a shift in pronoun-antecedent agreement, it can cause confusion to the reader.
24. Whomever vs. whoever – Whomever is an object pronoun and works like the pronouns me, him, her, us, and them. Whoever is a subject pronoun and works like the pronouns I, he, she, we, and they. Swap in their respective pronouns in a sentence to see which one sounds correct.
25. There, They’re, and Their – There can be used as an adjective or a noun. It’s most often used to describe a location. They’re is a contraction of “they are.” Their is a possessive pronoun. It’s the possessive form of “they.”
26. Proper Usage of Compliment vs. complement –
- Noun – A compliment is a flattering or praising remark.
- Verb – To compliment means to praise.
- Adjective – Complimentary means to express praise or give to someone free of charge.
- Noun – A complement is something that completes or brings to perfection.
- Verb – To complement is to supplement adequately or to complete.
- Adjective – Complementary means goes well together, despite differences.
27. Altogether vs. all together –
Altogether means wholly, entirely, or completely.
- e.g., That health claim is altogether false.
All together refers to a unity of time or place where everyone or everything is together.
- e.g., The dietitian writers were all together at the culinary networking event.
28. Using “a” and “an” based on consonant or vowel sounds:
- Use “a” when the first letter of the following word has a consonant sound (i.e., spinach, university)
- Use “an” when the first letter of the following word has a vowel sound (i.e., honorarium, avocado)