Learning proper grammar is a fundamental part of your education. Good grammar skills translate to good writing skills which will ultimately play an important role in your future. Not only getting accepted to the university of your dreams, but also getting jobs later on.
The usage of proper English will open many doors for you in the future, which is why you need to learn all its rules and clauses while you're still in high school.
The best way to learn English grammar is by starting with basic things. Learning to identify nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives, is as important as learning the correct use of tenses (present tense, past tense, future tense, etc), as important as it is mastering spelling and more.
You can find many books in the market that will help you learn all these things, but in this article, we aim to guide you on some simple things like the correct use of parenthesis, the difference between hyphen and dash, what are adjectives and adverbs, and how to use they're, there and their correctly.
Learning to use all of these parts of speech correctly will make your sentences look better which will make your writing more sophisticated and advanced. Even though it seems like a long list, you'll see that learning English grammar can be an easy task.
If you continue to have questions, you can always consider hiring a private tutor to help and guide you through the subject. You can find an in-person or online tutor right here on Superprof.
Keep in mind that learning English grammar isn't something you do overnight. It will take time and you have to be patient while you're learning all the things that encompass the subject. Remember that this is a continuous subject, which means that you'll learn it throughout your years in high school.
They're, There and Their
'Their', 'they're', and 'there' are homophone words that often confuse students who are learning the language. Homophones, you will learn in a grammar lesson, are words that sound identical but are spelled differently and have different meanings.
There can be used as an adverb (a word used to describe a verb) that means the opposite of here; “at that place” and it can also be used as a pronoun (pronouns replace nouns).
Example as an adverb:
- I don't want to go there, I want to stay home and read my book because I love books.
Example as a pronoun:
- There is something about intermediate French that I find really hard.
Their means “belongs to them.”
- I don't know their names but I can figure it out if I read their University application forms.
They’re is a contraction of “they are” or “they were.”
- They're asking a question about my hometown.
Click on the link to learn more about the differences between They're, There, and Their.
Differences between Adjectives and Adverbs
It's common for students who are learning English grammar to mix up and confuse adjectives and adverbs since the goal of each one is to describe more about another part of speech. But the key to understanding them is by learning the specific rules.
First, let's talk about adjectives. An adjective is a word used to describe a noun. A noun can be a person, animal, or place. The adjective will add and modify the meaning of the noun or pronoun it precedes or succeeds.
- The hyperactive girl doesn't like nap time.
In this phrase the word hyperactive is describing the noun in the sentence, therefore, it is the adjective.
On the other hand, the job of the adverb is similar to the job of the adjective, but there is one key difference. An adverb is a word that describes more about the verb, adjective, or adverb in a sentence.
Another way to identify adverbs is by paying attention to what they answer. Adverbs usually respond to questions of time or space, this means that they respond to how, when, where, why, how often, or how much.
- He walks slowly (tells how)
- He talks very slowly but at least it is continuous (very – tells how slowly)
- My sister left yesterday (tells when)
- My sister will arrive in an hour (this adverb phrase tells when)
- We looked for her bicycle in the garage (tells where)
In these phrases, you can see how each adverb answers something regarding the verb. If you want, you can continue reading about the Differences between Adjectives and Adverbs.
What's the Difference Between a Hyphen and a Dash
Another topic students often confuse in English grammar is the hyphen and the dash. Learning their differences is quite easy even though they almost have the same shape.
A hyphen (-) is a punctuation mark used to join two words together or to separate syllables in a word. If you connect two words with the hyphen, you make it clear to readers that the words work together. The hyphenation of words happens when two words have to function as one.
Here are some examples of hyphenated words:
On the other hand, a dash (–) has many different functions and rules but ultimately it works to separate sentences, years, and more.
Specifically, there are five occasions in which you can use a dash. To show range, spans, to extend a sentence, to replace parentheses, and to credit a quotation.
Here is a list of examples:
- Range: The Cold War (1945–1989) had continuous events.
- Spans: My LA–Huston flight is delayed.
- Sentence extension: The perfect relationship need one thing – trust.
- Replace parenthesis: The perfect relationship — as my mother describes it — needs trust.
- Quotation credit: "I had a dream..." — Martin Luther King Jr.
For more details on this punctuation form and its correct usage go read our article about The difference Between a Hyphen and a Dash.
Parenthesis and Their Different Uses
Finally, a key aspect of English grammar (and any other language) is the use of parenthesis. Students are easily confused with the proper use of this punctuation sign since it can be replaced with commas or dashes, and it's usually mixed up with brackets. Also, the rules for the usage of parenthesis aren't set in stone, therefore, they can be easily confused while writing an essay for a language class.
Parentheses are commonly used by writers who need to add new information to the text but don't want to interrupt the sentence entirely. The information inside the parentheses is important because it provides context, but never so important that without it the sense of the sentence changes.
One way to know if you are using parenthesis right is by removing the information within the sentence. If the sentence still makes sense without the information in the parenthesis then you've used it correctly.
There are many ways a writer can use parenthesis in their text. It can be to add examples, clarifications, or explanations; for in-text-citations; translations or pronunciations; or abbreviations.
Examples (the following sentences are incomplete):
- Clarification: Ignoring any clause or clauses in the contract (see annex #5) is a violation of...
- In-text-citations: According to a study done in Massachusets (Paul, 2011)...
- Translations: One of these famous phrases is Carpe Diem (seize the day) which is used when...
- Abbreviations: The most basic clause in the Declaration of Human Rights written by the United Nations (UN) is...
Keep reading about this subject on Parenthesis and Their Different Uses and feel free to use it as a reference when studying for your upcoming English grammar test.