The Top 10 English Grammar Rules

Written by Dan

Last updated

As a teacher, you know that there are specific grammar rules that students need to master to succeed academically and professionally.

While some of these rules may seem arbitrary, they are essential in communication.

To help your students (and yourself!) avoid common grammatical errors, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 English grammar rules.

From subject-verb agreement to proper pronoun usage, familiarize yourself with these essential rules before returning to the classroom!

Related: For more, check out our article on The Top 10 Grammar Games Online  here.

top 10 grammar rules

English grammar rule #1: Make sure you use proper verb tense

If you’re a student or professional writer, mastering proper verb tense is the key to easily constructing sentences. Using appropriate verb tenses can lead to clarity and understanding in written communication – something you want to avoid.

Whether using past, present, or future tense, ensuring your words reflect the correct meaning is essential for capturing attention and effectively communicating an idea.

Knowing when and how to use the correct verb tense can be challenging, but with practice and patience, you can understand and use it more accurately.

Make sure to take the time to mentally review each sentence before submitting a school paper or professional document to ensure the context matches with correct verb grammar usage.

English grammar rule #2: Pay attention to your pronoun usage

Proper pronoun usage is a crucial component of any well-crafted sentence. Correct use increases the honesty and clarity of what you are communicating, and sloppy pronoun usage can discredit excellent work, diminishing its effectiveness.

For that reason, it’s essential to take the time to consider who or what your pronouns are pointing towards to ensure accuracy and precision.

In addition to being a grammatical rule of thumb, using the correct pronoun can make all the difference in ensuring that your reader understands your intended message without confusion. All it takes is some extra attention when crafting your sentences!

English grammar rule #3: Be careful with homophones

If you have ever stopped to think about why English can be so difficult, homophones are one of the main culprits. Homophones are words that sound alike but have different spellings and different meanings, such as “to,” “two,” and “too.”

These three words may all say the same, but if you want to communicate clearly in English, you must understand when to use each. This grammatical rule requires careful attention and conscious effort to avoid common mistakes made by even the most advanced English learners.

Mastering this tricky rule will help enhance your writing skills and help you gain more confidence when speaking English with native speakers.

Related: For more, check out our article on How To Fix Grammar Mistakes here.


English grammar rule #4: Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly

It is said that clarity comes from concision, a tenet of literature that can be hard to establish. It is tough when trying to express sentiment or opinion with language.

This is why English grammar rule #4 is essential: use adjectives and adverbs sparingly to ensure your message is heard loud and clear. Stripping away extraneous modifiers will strengthen our writing and impart a more delicate touch.

Despite the challenge, this skill needs honing as it allows us to create a robust communication much more profound than simple facts alone can support.

If you’re finding this article helpful, then you will enjoy our article about the 9 Components of Speech!

English grammar rule #5: Connect your ideas with conjunctions

Many of us learned in school that making connections between ideas is one of the most important rules for good grammar. Learning how to assemble those connections can be simple.

Remembering English grammar rule #5—connect your ideas with conjunctions—you can quickly and easily create sentences that flow together nicely.

Intersections bridge gaps between your thoughts, allowing you to lay out one picture and then add another, blending them into an organized and thoughtful whole.

With a bit of practice, making these connections can become second nature, ensuring your writing is as strong as it can be.

Related: For more, check out our article on How To Use Speech Marks Correctly here.

English grammar rule #6: Use the active voice whenever possible

Writing in an active voice is easy to make your writing more lively and engaging for readers. Rather than slog through dense passages of text written in the passive voice, corresponding with the active voice brings life and vigour to your work.

From something as simple as a blog post to more deliberative documents such as research papers, using the active agent can take you from a humdrum author to a captivating storyteller.

When creating any written communication, take a few moments to run through your piece and swap any needless passive verbs for active ones – your audience will thank you!

English grammar rule #7: Subject-Verb-Object

The basic structure for a favourable sentence in English follows the Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) order. This means that the subject would come first when creating sentences, followed by the verb and the object.

An example is: ‘He buys apples.’ In this sentence, ‘He’ is the subject, ‘buys’ is the verb, and ‘apples’ is the object.

It may seem like a simple rule, but knowing this order can help you construct strong sentences with precise meanings. Breaking this rule can confuse readers, so paying attention to grammar structure when writing in English is essential.

English grammar rule #8: Every sentence needs a subject and a verb

The essential components of any sentence are the subject and the verb. Both elements must be present when constructing a sentence in English to create an understanding between you and your readers. This is why it’s crucial to understand how subjects and verbs work together.

Understanding the basics, such as conjugating correctly and matching subjects with the proper verbs, helps ensure that your writing has a strong structure, is easy to understand and won’t confuse readers. 

English grammar rule #9:  Adjectives usually come before a noun

Adjectives are essential to writing as they can help paint readers a vivid picture. English grammar rule #9 states that adjectives typically come before a noun, so it is important to remember this order when describing something.

For example: ‘The blue’ would be correct, but ‘the sky blue’ would not. Knowing where to place an adjective can make a huge difference when writing and help you communicate clearly.

English grammar rule #10: Avoid doubling up words

Doubling up words is an easy mistake, but it is also one of the best ways to distract your readers.

When someone notices two similar terms next to each other, it can be off-putting and make them less likely to trust your writing. It’s essential to take the time to read through your work and eliminate any unnecessary words or phrases.

With a bit of practice and awareness, you can soon ensure that no duplicate comments ever slip into your sentences again! 

English grammar rule #10: ‘Your’ and ‘You’re.’

‘your’ and ‘you’re’ are two of English’s most commonly confused words. Due to their similar spelling, they can often be misused when writing. To avoid confusing or incorrect usage, it’s important to remember that your is a possessive pronoun while you’re is a contraction of ‘you are’.

Knowing the difference between these words helps ensure your writing is clear, accurate and error-free.

Familiarising yourself with English grammar basics can ensure that your writing is clear, easy to understand and free from any errors. Attention to these rules can significantly affect how readers perceive and engage with your text.

With practice and dedication, you’ll soon be writing high-quality sentences with impressive grammar!

Rule NumberGrammar RuleExplanationExample Sentence(s)Common Mistakes to Avoid
1Subject-Verb AgreementThe subject and verb must agree in number (singular or plural).She runs every morning. They run every morning.Mismatching singular and plural subjects and verbs.
2Correct Tense UsageUse the correct verb tense to indicate the time of action or condition.I ate dinner. (past) I will eat dinner. (future)Confusing different verb tenses.
3Proper Use of ArticlesUse ‘a,’ ‘an,’ or ‘the’ correctly before nouns.A cat. An apple. The book.Using ‘a’ before a vowel sound or ‘an’ before a consonant.
4Sentence Fragment AvoidanceEnsure every sentence has a subject and a verb and expresses a complete thought.I enjoy swimming. (Not: Enjoy swimming.)Writing incomplete thoughts as sentences.
5Comma UsageUse commas to separate items in a list, after introductory elements, and to set off nonessential information.I bought apples, oranges, and bananas.Overusing or underusing commas.
6Pronoun-Antecedent AgreementPronouns must agree with their antecedents in number, gender, and person.Every student must bring his or her book.Using the wrong pronoun for the antecedent.
7Consistent Point of ViewMaintain the same point of view (first, second, or third person) throughout your writing.She loves gardening, and she often plants flowers.Shifting point of view within a sentence or paragraph.
8Adjective and Adverb UsageUse adjectives to modify nouns and adverbs to modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.The quick fox. (Adjective) He ran quickly. (Adverb)Confusing adjectives and adverbs.

Below is our Grammar Quiz #1! For more quizzes, plans and units of work, visit our TES store.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.

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