English Grammar Tips


English grammar tipsI chose these English grammar tips based on the written questions I get from teachers and students around the world.

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The following points are a summary of the most common mistakes I see, and the way to correct them.

They are, however, by no means a summary of ALL the English grammar mistakes.

That list, I believe, is endless :)

So, let's start with the English grammar tips:


1. Capitalization

Capitalization is the act of making specific letters capital.


These are the capital letters in English:

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z


In which cases should you capitalize (use capital letters)?

Here are three common cases where you should capitalize:

A) Capitalize the first letter of the first word of a complete sentence.
  • Correct: He plays football.

  • Incorrect: he plays football.
B) Capitalize the first letter of a proper noun.
  • Correct: Let's call Jane.

  • Incorrect: Let's call jane.
C) Capitalize titles.

There are several rules on how to do it correctly.

Briefly speaking, you should always capitalize the first letter of the first and last words of the title.

Capitalize also the first letter of verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives and adverbs.

All the other words (such as a, an, the, and, or, but, in, on, of, to) should not be capitalized.

Here are some examples:
  • Correct: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

  • Incorrect: Little women by Louisa May Alcott

  • Correct: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

  • Incorrect: Alice's Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
 
  • Correct: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

  • Incorrect: the Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas


2. Writing two or three periods, instead of just one

In English, there are several ways to end a sentence.

These are:

A) Period ( . )

It indicates the end of the statement.
  • Correct: They went home.

  • Incorrect: They went home

  • Incorrect: They went home .

  • Incorrect: They went home..
There should be only ONE period. There should be no spaces BEFORE it and a single space after it.


B) Question mark ( ? )

It indicates a question.
  • Correct: Are you hungry?

  • Incorrect: Are you hungry ?

  • Incorrect: Are you hungry.?

  • Incorrect: Are you hungry????????????????

C) An exclamation point ( ! )

It indicates strong feelings or high volume (shouting).
  • Correct: Wow! We won!

  • Incorrect: Wow ! We won !

  • Incorrect: Wow!. We won!.

  • Incorrect: Wow!!!!!! We won!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

D) Ellipsis ( ... )


It indicates an intentional omission of words, a pause in speech, an unfinished thought, or that the end of the sentence leads to silence.

Examples:
  • The email says, "... and you must return the documents signed by the end of the month."
    (Words were omitted before the beginning of the quote)

  • Hmm... That's a good question.
    (A pause in speech)

  • I can't believe he could have...
    (An unfinished thought)

  • I guess it's too late now...
    (The end of the sentence leads to silence)
The ellipsis is probably one of the most overused punctuation marks. Take a look at the following sentence. It is definitively an incorrect example:

She entered the room... The room was big... Everybody was working........

3. Misusing the verb BE

The verb BE is one of the most important and common verbs in the English language. However, it does not need to be in every single sentence.

You can visit the link just above for the full, illustrated explanation, but here is the quick summary:

A) The verb BE is used to show different states of being.

Existence:

There is a cow in the room.

Occurrence:

The party is on Friday night.

Location:

He is home.

Identity:

I am Bob.

Quality:

They are clever.

B) The verb BE is used as an auxiliary verb (helping verb) in the progressive tenses:
We are having lunch.

C) It is used to express the passive voice:
They were hit by a car.


Where shouldn't you use the verb BE?


A) Don't use the verb BE if you already have a main verb in the sentence, unless it's a progressive/passive sentence (where BE is an auxiliary verb).
  • Correct: I am a girl.

  • Correct: I met a girl.

  • Incorrect: I am met a girl.

  • Correct: I am reading a book.

  • Incorrect: I am read books.

  • Correct: I was given an apple.

  • Correct: I gave her an apple.

  • Incorrect: I was gave an apple.

These were some of the main things I personally encounter. I hope you find these English grammar tips useful.

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