Ask a Vocational ESL teacher about what their students find difficult about learning the English language and the answer will most likely be grammar. Initially, students find English grammar difficult to comprehend. They recount stories of learning rules but never putting them into conversation.
What is Grammar?
Grammar applies to both written and oral English and governs several facets of the language. English consists of parts of speech, punctuation, and more. It has many building blocks that lead to English conversation and eventually second-language mastery. It gives you instructions on how the language comes together. So, when you speak English, you are doing so according to grammatical rules.
What are Grammatical Rules of the English Language?
Below are ten important grammatical rules of the English language that, if followed, will help you to speak fluent English. These separate pieces have a different role to play but work together to form grammatically correct English.
Rule #1. Learn the eight parts of speech.
These are the basics of the English language which are tools that facilitate fluency. When you learn the rules of sentence construction, the parts of speech will help you form grammatically correct sentences.
A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. The English language has two types: common and proper. Common nouns refer to non-specific people, places, and things, and are only capitalized at the beginning of a sentence. Proper nouns refer to specific nouns and are often names and thus capitalized. For example, a noun would be “amusement park” but a proper noun is “Disneyland.”
A pronoun replaces a noun, so that “John” becomes “He.” For example, “John went to the store. He bought some groceries.” There are several types of pronouns; however, the most commonly used are personal (I, you, he, she, we, you, they); possessive (mine, yours, his, hers, theirs); and demonstrative (this, that, these, those).
A verb is an action word used to describe an activity or a state of being. All complete sentences have one.
An adverb describes a verb, an adjective or another adverb. For example: “He ran quickly.”
An adjective describes a noun or a pronoun. A house is a noun, but adding an adjective helps specify aspects of the noun. For example: a blue house.
Prepositions indicate location, time, or direction. They are used before a noun or pronoun. “His hat is on the table.” “The meeting is at 5:00.”
A conjunction is a connector and is used to link words, phrases, and clauses together. While there are several, the most common ones are “and, or, but and for.” “I love pizza, but I am not a fan of pasta.”
An interjection is used to express emotions such as happiness, shock, and surprise. It is often concluded with an exclamation point. Wow!
Rule #2. Use a subject and verb.
Every complete sentence consists of these two elements: a subject and verb. If a sentence lacks a verb, it is not a complete sentence but a “fragment” of a sentence.
Rule #3. Correct grammar means that subjects and verbs agree.
Make sure that verbs are correctly conjugated according to the singular or plural subject. Singular subjects use singular verbs and plural subjects use plural verbs. While this may seem simple, it can get more complex with irregular and past tense verbs.
In some cases, both the plural and the singular tenses are the same. For example, “you were” and “they were.” Because these irregular verbs are exceptions to the regular past tense patterns, it is necessary to memorize them. The irregular verb patterns are inconsistent and must be learned individually. For example, the past tense of “go” is “went” and the past tense of “do” is “did.”
Rule #4. Keep the same tense throughout your writing.
If you write using the present tense, the remainder of the writing should also be in the same tense to demonstrate the time the action was completed. Fluctuating between time periods can cause confusion and should only be done when it paints an accurate picture of the activity. The first sentence below contains the past and present. It is incorrect. The second sentence shows the correction.
Tom went to Hawaii and visits California.
Tom went to Hawaii and visited California.
Rule #5. Form the comparative adjectives.
When we compare two or more things to each other, we add “er” to the adjective if it has one or two syllables. “He is bigger than Jon.” However, if the adjective has more than two syllables, it is necessary to add “more” or “less” before the adjective. For example: “This food is more delicious than theirs.” Or, “This vehicle is less expensive than the Ferrari.”
Rule #6. Construct sentences using the active voice.
The active voice is used more frequently than the passive voice and creates clearer communication. The “subject” in the active voice is the “doer” of the action. For example, “Pam ate the chocolate cake.” However, if the passive voice were used, the “action” would be the focus of the sentence rather than the subject. Thus, the passive-voice sentence would read: “The chocolate cake was eaten by Pam.”
Rule #7. Use a coordinating conjunction to form a compound sentence.
There are seven coordinating conjunctions in the English language (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) and they link independent clauses (two complete sentences). For example: “I lost a lot of weight, so I bought a new wardrobe.” Both of these clauses are independent and could form a complete sentence if the coordinating conjunction were removed.
Rule #8. Use definite and indefinite articles (a, an and the) with nouns.
Articles are very important to the English language and are used with nouns. They are definite (the) and indefinite (a, an). “A” and “An” are both used with singular nouns and denote non-specific items. The article “A” is used before nouns that begin with consonants. “I bought a car.” “An” is used with nouns that begin with a vowel. “She ate an apple.” On the other hand, “the” can be used with singular or plural nouns and denotes something specific. “I would like to buy the car” is referencing a specific vehicle.
Rule #9. Use prepositions to show location.
A preposition consists of one or more words to show location, time, and place. The more commonly used prepositions are “in, at, on, to and of.” Sometimes English learners use these words incorrectly because they translate them directly from their native language. So, “de nada” in Spanish which means “you’re welcome” translates to “of nothing.” A way to refrain from doing this is to learn English without translating it directly from your native language.
Rule #10. Use proper punctuation.
In the English language, there will always be a punctuation mark of some type to indicate the end of a sentence. When a sentence ends, it is followed by a period (.). If it is a question, it ends with a question mark (?). If it is an interjection, it is usually followed by an exclamation point (!). These also help with intonation when you are reading. Sentences and questions are read differently. When asking a question, for example, one’s voice is raised at the end.
Now that you know about 10 important grammatical rules to help learn English, it is time to learn more about Interactive College of Technology’s Vocational ESL program. Learn English as a Second Language and prepare for both your personal and professional success. English is spoken throughout the world, and it is important to learn English to communicate with the masses. Let our Vocational ESL program prepare you to communicate with the world.
Want to Learn More?
Our Vocational English as a Second Language (ESL) training program is designed for student success. Interactive College of Technology offers live online and in-person English classes that fit into your busy schedule.
Our Vocational ESL classes are set up, so your English develops skill by skill. Four levels of rigorous courses help you to comprehend the English language by combining lecture, lab, class discussion, and group activities. This effective method ensures Vocational ESL students are provided English language skills as well as cultural transference.
You receive all Vocational ESL program materials to keep. You’ll also be provided with a personal email account, resume writing, and job placement assistance, media center access, and more! Our campuses are located across Georgia and Texas.
Let’s learn English together! Contact us now to learn more.