Learning Some Grammar Basics
Learning a foreign language is never easy because you need to learn the rules of its sentence structure. The English language has many grammar rules to follow.
Knowing the rules of grammar does not mean that you will become a good writer, but at least it will help you avoid bad writing. In addition, knowing the essentials of grammar may give you the following advantages: avoiding grammatical errors in your sentences; providing clarity to your writing; giving credibility to your readers
Knowing grammar basics means knowing the eight parts of speech in English words and writing:
A noun names a person, place, or thing.
A noun can be singular (referring to only one) or plural (referring to more than one). Generally, you make a singular noun plural by adding an “s”; however, some nouns do not follow this general rule:
e.g. enemy becomes enemies
e.g. goose becomes geese
e.g. hero becomes heroes
e.g. sheep remains sheep
Some nouns are countable, e.g. books, while some are not, e.g. hunger and thirst.
A noun can be possessive (indicating ownership).
e.g. David and Daniel’s house (NOT David’s and Daniel’s house)
e.g. Jesus’ miracles (NOT Jesus’s miracles)
e.g. the bottom of the box (NOT the box’s bottom)
e.g. the characters of Star Wars (NOT Star Wars’ characters)
From the above, a possessive noun is applicable only to a person, and not to a thing.
A noun MUST AGREE with a verb in a sentence, that is, a singular noun requiring a singular verb, and a plural noun requiring a plural verb. A singular verb in the present tense generally needs an “s”; of course, there are exceptions, such as the following:
e.g. The data show (NOT shows) that people prefer this to that. (data is the plural form of datum.)
e.g. The criteria for selection are based (NOT is) on the recommendation of the mayor. (criteria is plural)
e.g. Human rights is an important issue in this country. (singular: human rights treated as a single unit and thus requiring a singular verb)
e.g. Human rights are ignored in many parts of the world. (plural: human rights considered individual rights of people)
e.g. Six thousand dollars is a lot of money. (singular: a monetary unit)
A proper noun names a specific person, place, or event, e.g. James Bond,
and the Civil War. New York
A proper noun is always capitalized, e.g. The Great Depression (BUT an economic depression).
Copyright© by Stephen Lau