3 simple steps to learn English grammar
It is a fact that in communicative English, even if we say the wrong grammar or arrange the words in the wrong order, the listener can still understand the meaning of the sentence. For example: “She has a big beautiful gray cat” or “She has a beautiful gray big cat”? Whichever statement is true, we get it: She has a big, gray, and very beautiful cat.
In addition, a new trend of learning that is heavily advertised makes learners confused: there is no need to learn grammar, but always focus on communicating in English. So, should you study grammar or not? And what is the most effective way to learn English grammar? Let’s find us!
1. Learn English grammar by each component in a sentence
English grammar, a simple understanding is to put sentences in the right order, with the right relationship and harmony between words and elements to create a complete sentence. So, first, to learn how to arrange the elements in a sentence, we need to know what components an English sentence consists of.
1.1 Types of words in English sentences
A Part of Speech is a group of words that are used in a certain way.
There are a total of 8 groups of words in English:
– Noun (Noun)
– Pronoun (Pronoun)
– Adjective (Adjective)
– Verb (Verb)
– Adverb (Adverb)
– Preposition (Preposition)
– Conjunction (Conjunction)
In other words, all words in English are divided into 8 different groups. Each group has a different function and role in a sentence and is relatively similar to groups of words in Vietnamese.
For example, “she”, “James”, “my cat” are all words to describe a certain person, thing or phenomenon and they are all nouns.
Note: A word can be of many different types:
In English, there are many words that are used in different ways. This means that a word can function as many different words.
“I would like a drink” (I would like a drink.)
“He drinks too much” (He drinks too much.)
In the first sentence, the word “drink” is a noun. In the second sentence, “drink” is again a verb.
1.2 Basic sentence structure in English
Sentence is understood as a grammatical unit consisting of one or more words that are linked together to express an affirmation, question, exclamation, request or suggestion.
English sentences consist of two basic components: Subject (someone or something) and Verb (an action or state). Basically, a sentence will have the following structure:
Someone or Something
Being or Doing something
Tom (someone) calls me (action).
The book (what) is interesting (state).
A sentence can have different ways of saying English sentences have 3 possible: affirmative, negative and interrogative.
1.3 Phrases in English
Phrase is a group of two or more words that do not have a Subject + Verb structure. It can contain a noun or a verb but will not have a subject or predicate. The purpose of a phrase is to add some information or context to a sentence.
“After lunch, I will visit grandma” (After lunch, I will visit grandma).
“She must have jumped across the stream.”
1.4 Phrases in English
A clause (Clause) is also a group of two or more words, but it differs from a phrase in that it is complete with a subject and a predicate, in other words it can act like an English sentence. There are two types of clauses in English:
– Independent clause: a clause with complete meaning, can stand independently and act as a sentence.
Subordinate clause: a clause that modifies an independent clause.
“When the thief broke into the house, the dog barked at him”.
The first clause is a dependent clause, it does not carry complete meaning and has the effect of adding meaning to the second clause.
1.5 Sentence diagram in English
A Sentence Diagram is a visual representation of the grammatical structure of a sentence.
When you’re new to it, you may find the sentence diagram quite complicated, but you’ll quickly grasp the rules.
For a given sentence, we will write the main elements of the sentence on the first line (subject, main verb and pronoun). The complementing elements for each component will be shown by a downward slanting dash for each component.
The monkeys offer the bananas to the gorillas. (The monkeys give the orangutans their bananas.)
The three main components are “monkey” (noun), “offer” (verb) and “bananas” (pronoun). The complement components will be written below.
I jumped when he popped the balloon. (I jumped when he broke the ball.)
This sentence consists of two clauses that are connected by the conjunction “when”. Each sentence is written on a corresponding line.
This is a way to help us visually understand the function of sentence elements and build better sentences. Besides, we will have the most overview of what knowledge we are learning, and what role it plays in the sentence. Unlike the way of studying in high school, seeing trees without seeing forests: learning a lot of knowledge but not really understanding what you are learning.
2. Pay attention to common mistakes in English grammar
As you do grammar exercises and when speaking or writing, write down all the mistakes you make. Then, make sentences with that structure and vocabulary and try repeating the sentence 10 times a day until you can say the whole sentence again without thinking.
Besides, learn English grammar according to common mistakes in English. This helps you get an impression of the grammatical structure the first time you see it, and avoid making the same mistake later. Here are some common mistakes made in basic English grammar:
2.1 Misplaced commas
Use commas between days and months in English:
Wrong sentence: He was born in January, 1990.
Correct sentence: He was born in January 1990.
(He was born in January, 1990.)
Do not use a comma before two independent clauses joined by conjunctions:
Wrong sentence: I played chess but I could not win any competition.
Correct sentence: I played chess, but I could not win any competition.
(I play chess, but have not won any competitions.)
Use commas before verbs in sentences:
Wrong sentence: One of my hobby, is reading book
Correct sentence: One of my hobby is reading book
(One of my hobbies is reading.)
Use commas before relative clauses:
Wrong sentence: He is the man, whom I met on the plane.
Correct sentence: He is the man whom I met on the plane.
(He’s the man I met on the plane.)
Use a comma before the linking word in a sentence:
Wrong sentence: I caught a cold, because I had some ice cream.
Correct sentence: I caught a cold because I had some ice cream.
(I caught a cold from eating ice cream.)
2.2 How to use “assure”, “ensure” and “insure”
These three words all have the Vietnamese meaning of “guarantee”, and the pronunciation is similar, even the words ensure and insure are pronounced /ɪnˈʃɔːr/. In fact, they have quite different uses.
Assure is used to reinforce the ability to achieve something, or to make a convincing statement.
She assured him that the car would be ready the next day.
(She assured him that the car would be ready by tomorrow.)
Ensure means to make sure, to make sure something will or won’t happen.
Their 2–0 victory today has ensured the Italian team a place in the final match.
(The 2-0 win today secured Italy a ticket to the final.)
Insure is used when referring to insuring someone from the risk of loss of money or insurance.
The house is insured for two million dollars.
(The house is insured for two million dollars.)
2.3 Distinguishing “its” and “it’s”
This is a very common mistake in written English.
Its is a possessive pronoun, expressing the possessive relationship of a certain object or phenomenon to another object or phenomenon.
I really like her hat, its color is wonderful. (I really like her hat, its color is great.)
It’s is an abbreviation for it is or it has
It’s raining again (It’s raining again.)
It’s been raining for hours! (It’s been raining for hours!)
2.4 Distinguishing “farther” and “further”
When we learn about comparison in English, we are often taught that both words mean “further” and there is no distinction. Usually people tend to use further because it sounds more “luxurious”. However, there is a difference in meaning between the two words.
Farther is often used to describe when speaking to put distance in the literal sense
It took me two hours to find my dog. He ran farther than I imagine.
(It took me two hours to find the dog, it ran farther than I thought.)
Further is when referring to figurative distance
You must do something with him. You can’t let him go any further!
(What do you have to do with him, can’t let him go any further!)
2.5 Distinguishing “lie” and “lay”
Both lie and lay are irregular verbs and have similarities in both pronunciation and meaning (even lay is the past form of lie) so they often confuse learners.
Lie means “to lie down”, has the past tense and perfect forms lay and lain respectively.
She lies on the bed all day. (She lay in bed all day.)
Lay means “to put, let”, and the past tense and perfect are both laid.
Please lay the book on the right bookshelf.
(Please put the book on the correct shelf.)
3. Practice English grammar regularly
The reason why you have studied English grammar for so many years but still can’t remember is not outside of having “learn” without “practice”. Our brain always has a mechanism to refresh and automatically discard information that it feels is not needed and is not used often. Therefore, practice is the only way to remember information. And when it comes to practice, it means practicing with all four skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
3.1 Practice listening and reading English
If you think that you need to memorize the grammar formula before listening to understand the speaker’s meaning, the truth is quite the opposite. A child who hasn’t learned any grammar exercises and still speaks almost perfectly. When you hear a structure repeated over and over again, you will “guess” its usage. The same thing happens when you read English. For example, when you come across the phrase: “a small white house”, “a short green desk”, you will know what to do when you want to say “a large gray rock” – “a large gray rock”. instead of “the rock is large and grey”. This way of learning makes you remember knowledge much longer than traditional learning.
3.2 Practice speaking and writing English
The fact that you can get a 10/10 grammar score does not guarantee you will use grammar fluently in English conversations. When speaking, we will not have time to think or wonder whether to use “among” or “between”, “much” or “more”,… Therefore, repeating it over and over again to create Being responsive to language is essential. Besides, the regular practice of writing English is also how we “pre-select” the structure, grammar, style or expression for ourselves. This is both a way to practice writing skills and as a preparation for English communication skills.
Above is how to learn English grammar with 3 simple steps. Basic or advanced English grammar is not too complicated, but it is easy to make mistakes because it has some rules and countless irregular cases. Let’s learn and apply these 3 steps with eLib to learn English grammar effectively! Good luck!