How to improve your English grammar? Follow these 13 steps
English Grammar, the instant we hear this word it reminds us of the school class years ago, about how we used to get confused with all the foundations and structure that our teachers taught us. Even after constant practice there had to be one section which always terrified us and we found ourselves thoroughly confused.
English Grammar is confusing as there are so many rules and those same rules have certain or in some cases too many exceptions. For any language or subject, your foundation has to be strong. English grammar is certainly tricky but with some common sense and simple steps we are going to make it understandable and easy to follow.
So, how do we improve our English grammar without going crazy? This article will comprehensively address the same.
Back to basics:
English Grammar being the foundation of English language plays an important role and one just can’t do without. We might be aware of the basics but as a non native speaker we don’t use them much. So, brushing up on our Basic English grammar is important as this will be the foundation of our speech
Remember the full sentence:
Do not focus on grammar to learn grammar- yes you read it right. The entire ruckus about subject, verb and object becomes too chaotic to remember. So instead of reminding yourself what is the subject, the object and which is the verb, what goes where etc it’s better to have a full template ready for you to recollect.
Template here means, a complete sentence ready for you to use handily. You can then make new sentences from it, simply change the subject, object or the verb one at a time.
- Where did you go? (if you take this sentence as your template)
Here if we replace DID with WILL, your sentence would be:
Where WILL you go?
Same way we can replace YOU with SHE
Where did SHE go?
We can also change the verb GO with any other action like eat or play.
Where did you PLAY?
In this manner, you can make many more sentences which are easy to remember without messing up the structure of the sentence. The trick here is not to break the sentence into smaller parts but to remember it as a working template.
Identify your problem areas:
Identifying our improvement areas in grammar is crucial as you will be able to focus in that particular area for a longer duration and not jump from one topic to another. To identify your weak area, you can read a small article or any short story which is easy for you. Then try to reproduce it by writing it on your own. You can then compare the two and improvise accordingly.
Make mistakes but avoid common mistakes. Common mistakes include:
- prepositions( at, on, in, to, by, with, for )
e.g.: Rita had a coffee at Nisha’s.
Rita had a coffee with Nisha.
In the first sentence it means that Rita had coffee at Nisha’s house.
In the second sentence it means that Rita had coffee with Nisha but it can be anywhere not necessarily at her house.
- article (a, an , the):
The: used with specific noun
Can we go to the community park? (Which is a specific park the person is talking about?)
A, an: used with general noun
Can we go to a park? (Here the person is talking about any park not a specific one)
- uncountable nouns :
Example: let’s compare lemons and advice
I have a few lemons for you.
I have a little advice for you.
- Auxiliary verbs(do, be, have)
Auxiliary verb is used with the main verb to describe an action in a sentence. The relationship between an auxiliary verb and the main verb in a sentence is quite simple.
Do is used in simple tenses
Be is used in continuous tenses
Have is used in perfect tenses.
These mistakes are common for both beginners as well as proficient students.
We all are conscious beings and we feel embarrassed when we make mistakes especially while speaking English. That in turn stops our growth. Don’t let that feeling take over you. Instead speak without fear as mistakes are the stepping stones, it will only help you grow and make your grammar better.
Imitate native English speakers:
Yes, copy native English speakers because they know the language well. You must have observed travel guides speaking in English or multiple languages without hesitation. How did that happen? The answer to this is simple, they learn from the tourists. They just observe them, listen to them, imitate them, slowly they start speaking the same way and sometimes use the same accent as well.
A simple yet fun exercise can be to watch movies or soap operas to imitate native speakers.
Seek help from English teachers
Communication is the key to all your problems whether its English grammar or English fluency. Talking to native speakers or English teachers is an extremely practical way of getting your grammar in place. There are many online English learning platforms which helps you to get in touch with native speakers and English teachers all over the world. Being a millennial, one can see how drastically the learning system has changed. It’s important that we try these new mediums and improve our speaking skills.
This word practice always reminds us of the quote we have been hearing since childhood “practice makes a man/woman perfect”. Though a cliché, the quote is not only true but also practical. Converstaional style of learning English fluency will help you in identifying your grammar errors while also practicing spoken English.
Exposure to English :
Learning English grammar does not mean we have to memomrise the rule books. We should just expose ourselves to more English mediums i.e. movies, novels, music, soap operas, interviews, vlogs, podcasts etc.
Apply English grammar to your everyday life
In the process of learning grammar, we do learn the rules and forms but we often forget to use them. Use the grammar you learnt by speaking to yourself aloud.
For instance if you have been learning about prepositions, write down examples and make your own sentences with those prepositions routinely. Using it constantly will make your forms stronger and inculcate them in your every day communication.
Here are some examples of prepositions used in different ways:
- Beneath: They were sitting beneath the tree.
The envelope was lying beneath the books.
- Beside : The old man was standing beside the pole.
The lady sat beside the groom during dinner.
Try using these prepositions with different combinations. This will give you a wide variety of examples and make it easy for you to remember.
English Grammar is changing:
When we are studying grammar we have to accept that grammar is changing and evolving with time. In order to improve an individual’s grammar one needs to be open to new ways of speaking and imbibing them in their daily language.
- Love is a stative verb, they cannot be used in the present continuous form. But these days we do use love in the present continuous form i.e. loving. You must have heard people saying “I’m loving it” this sentence was considered grammatically incorrect. Hence, people would refrain from using such sentences. But now this is a trend, English has become casual compared to what it was before.
- Another latest change that you see these days is starting a sentence with and or It’s completely acceptable to start a sentence with and or but. These days’ people want to read something that sounds natural just like the way we speak.
Study English grammar online:
You don’t need to buy a book especially for grammar. Everything is now available online. Having a reference book definitely is a great option. Ready guides like Wren & Martin: English grammar and composition are must haves!
Learning English grammar online is an easy option as it will not only answer your doubts and queries but also make them easy for you to understand in real time. There are many websites where you can practice and study grammar online. Some of them are mentioned below.
Read English articles:
Reading is the most important tool to learn a language. To start with, you can read small pieces like daily news and try highlighting the grammar in the passage itself. Analyze how the grammar is being used in these lines. You will be able to find lots of sentences that are useful and you can check how the sentence structure is formed.
Write and proofread:
You don’t have to be a good writer to compose grammatically correct articles. Writing and proofreading is very easy. All you have to do is maintain a journal. Just write about your day, who was a part of it or what activities you did. Try to express it in your own way.
After you have written a few lines you can read them out loud. Reading the text loudly will help you to spot the errors and correct them yourself. This will make you curious to learn more.
All English language learners find English grammar burdensome and grinding because it’s confusing. Grammar is indeed tricky but by following some simple ways mentioned above, you will be able to crawl out of this big black grammar hole!