Grammar sends many people into a panic, as they desperately try to recall what they learned in English lessons at school. But grammar doesn't have to be an impenetrable mass of rules and regulations. Breaking the English language down into bite-sized chunks and understanding the basic principles of grammar can really help you to improve your writing and make it clearer for others to understand. So here are a few basic tips to help you with grammar in your writing.
1. Parts of speech
English can be complicated and it's easy to get in a muddle. Here's a reminder of some of the language's parts of speech:
A noun. This is a 'naming' word to indicate someone or something. There are various types of noun: common nouns (cat, flower); proper nouns (Berlin, Andy Warhol); and collective nouns (group, team).
A verb. This is most easily remembered as a 'doing' or 'action' word, for example, the boy eats a big bag of sweets. All sentences must contain a verb.
An adjective. This is a word that describes a noun. There are different sorts of adjective: descriptive adjectives (a brilliant party, a sunny day); numerical adjectives (seven apples, five gold rings); and possessive adjectives (my hat, your coat).
An adverb. There are several categories of adverb: adverbs of manner (he ran quickly, she walked slowly); adverbs of time (I hope that Gran will visit us soon); and adverbs of place (please sign here). In each instance, the adverb tells us more about the verb.
2. Match your subjects and verbs
Make sure that the verb you use always matches your subject. Consider the following sentence: 'A bunch of grapes cost ¬£1.99.' This is incorrect, because the subject is 'a' bunch of grapes, so you should treat it as singular. The correct version would be: 'A bunch of grapes costs ¬£1.99.'
3. Make words in a list match
When listing items in a sentence, make sure that the words you use complement each other. Consider the sentence: 'You can get to sunny Scunthorpe by train, car or cycling.' Here two nouns ('train' and 'car') have been mixed with a verb ('cycling'). It would be better to say: 'You can get to sunny Scunthorpe by train, car or bicycle.
You can find out more about grammar on an Emphasis in-company or public course. Or you can email us to find out how we can help your organisation.