English Tutor's Notes| Refresher 101

By Khuthadzo Malinda, South Africa:

It is the beginning of a new year; everyone needs a refresher course in something. If you ate too much, your thighs need a refresher stair master focus at the gym – shame those skinny jeans won't lie to you, not just your muffin top which you can cover up with a loose fitting top.

Check how much time you spend on Google chat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site that you spend time on. If you can, I dare you to check the history of your grammar. Now, if breaking grammar rules were to be compared to being on holiday and seriously ignoring all the food labels, how much junk have you been eating or dishing out?

I am not asking that you stop slanging it or uphold the serious propriety of the English Language; however, a detox is always good. In this case, a refresher course to remind youself about the rules of grammar. If you can, deactivate the predictive text on your cell phone and test your spelling and vocabulary.

These are from my English teacher, and I will share them with you.

What Are Basic English Grammar Rules?

There are hundreds of grammar rules but the basic ones refer to sentence structure and parts of speech, which are noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition and conjunction.  Let's look at the way sentences are put together and the words that form them.

Basic English Grammar Rules

Some of the most basic and important English grammar rules relate directly to sentence structure. Some of these rules specify that:

  • A singular subject needs a singular predicate.
  • A sentence needs to express a complete thought…(take serious note of your sentences)

Another term for a sentence is an independent clause.

  • Clauses, like any sentence, have a subject and predicate too. If a group of words does not have a subject and predicate, it is a phrase.
  • If they can stand alone and make a complete thought, then they are independent and called sentences.
  • If they do not express a complete thought, they are called “dependent clauses.” An example of a dependent clause, which is not a sentence, is :
      • “When I finish my work”.

So, what are the other basic rules of sentence structures?

  1. Subjects and Predicates

Basic to any language is the sentence, which expresses a complete thought and consists of a subject and a predicate.

  • The subject is the star of the sentence; the person, animal, or thing that is the focus of it.
  • The predicate will tell the action that the subject is taking or tell something about the subject.
  1. Basic Parts of Speech

Once you have a general idea of the basic grammar rules of sentence structures, it is also helpful to learn about the parts of speech:

  • A noun names a person, animal, place, thing, quality, idea, activity, or feeling.  A noun can be singular, plural, or show possession.
  • A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun, like: “I”, “you”, or “they.”
  • A verb shows action and can be a main verb or a helping verb, like: “were” or “”  Verbs also indicate tense and sometimes change their form to show past, present, or future tense. Linking verbs link the subject to the rest of the sentence and examples are: “appear” and “seem.”
  • An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun. It adds meaning by telling how much, which one, what kind, or describing it in other ways.
  • An adverb will modify a verb and tell more about it, like how much, when, where, why, or how.
  • A preposition shows a relationship between nouns or pronouns. It is often used with a noun to show location, like: “beside”, “in”, or “on”. It can also show time, direction, motion, manner, reason, or possession.
  • Conjunctions connect two words, phrases, or clauses, and common ones are: “and”, “but”, and “or.”

Mention needs to be made about other types of words that are considered by some, but not all, to be parts of speech.

  • One of them is the interjection. It shows emotion and examples are: “yea”, “hurray”, “uh-oh”, and “alas.” [Use as many new words as often as you can, it is really fun.]
  • Articles are very useful little words that are also sometimes considered to be parts of speech. The articles are: “a”, “an”, and “the”.  Indefinite articles are “a” and “an” and “the” is a definite article.


To fully understand basic grammar rules, you also need to look at punctuation rules.

  • All sentences must start with a capital, or upper case, letter.
  • Titles of people, books, magazines, movies, specific places, etc. are capitalized.
  • Organisations and compass points are capitalised.
  • Every sentence needs a punctuation mark at the end of it. These would include a period, exclamation mark, or question mark.
  • Colons are used to separate a sentence from a list of items, between two sentences when the second one explains the first, and to introduce a long direct quote.
  • Semicolons are used to take the place of a conjunction and are placed before introductory words like “therefore” or “however.” They are also used to separate a list of things if there are commas within each unit.
  • There are a lot of rules for commas. The basic ones are commas separate things in a series and go wherever there is a pause in the sentence. They surround the name of a person being addressed, separate the day of the month from the year in a date, and separate a town from the state.
  • Parentheses enclose things that clarify and enclose numbers and letters that are part of a list. Apostrophes are used in contractions to take the place of one or more letters and to show possession. An apostrophe and “s” is added if the noun is singular and an apostrophe alone is added if the noun is plural.

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