English Grammar 101


A Curious Man
This is a basic guide to English Grammar.

Alright, I’ll keep this sweet and simple. This is aimed toward people who struggle with English Grammar, and for ESL students. If you already have a strong grasp of the English language, this guide will not teach you anything that you do not already know.

I’ll add onto this guide over time as it is suggested, or if someone finds an error and corrects it.

Nobody has perfect spelling and grammar. That is why spellcheck was bequeathed to the world upon a golden chariot for us mere mortals. Use Microsoft Word, or LibreOffice. Google Chrome and Firefox both come with spellcheckers installed by default. (At least, so far as I can recall, anyway.)

Nouns, Verbs, Subjects
AKA: Elementary Grammar.

Just use this, it does it more succinctly and informatively than I ever could.

Use capitals...
  • At the beginning of a sentence. (Sentences are marked with periods.)
  • When using a proper noun, and specifically referring to an individual person, place, thing, or idea. (Ex: John is a name, Grand Rapids is a place, Sgraggles is a teddy bear I owned, and Capitalism is a theory of economics.)
  • When using a title. (Mr, Mrs, Doctor, Dr, et cetera.)

Common Errors
There vs Their vs They’re: “There” refers to a specific location. “Their” is a possessive, which refers to something belonging to, or associated with, the people or things previously mentioned or easily identified. “They’re” is a contraction, for “they are.”
“It’s right over there (location).”
“Their (possessive) work was completed with due haste.”
“They’re (they are) dancing in the pale moonlight.”
“Their (possessive) work was completed with due haste right over there (location). Afterward, they’re (they are) planning on dancing in the pale moon light.”

You’re vs Your: “You’re” is a contraction for “you” and “are”. “Your” is a possessive pronoun, referring to a specific person.
“You’re (you are) a scoundrel, and a thief!”
“Your (possessive) car has been washed.”
“Your (possessive) car has been washed, but you short changed me! You’re (you are) a scoundrel, and a thief!”

Then vs Than: “Then” refers to a point in time. “Than” refers a second element in a comparison.
“We walked to the store, then (time) we walked to the bar.”
“We discovered that John was much taller than (comparing) Samantha.”
“We walked to the store, then (time) we walked to the bar. There, we discovered that John was much taller than (comparing) Samantha.”

To vs Too vs Two: “To” is a preposition. They are normally used in front of nouns or pronouns, and show a relationship between the noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence. “Too” is used when noting something is excessive, or as a synonym for “in addition” and “also”. “Two” is the word for the number 2.
“She should go to (preposition) the store.”
“It was the same for him, too (in addition).”
“It was just too (excessive) bad, she just couldn’t take it.”
“There were two (number) people in line.”
“Samantha walked to (preposition) the store. There, she found that John had gone to (preposition) the store too (in addition). There were two (number) people in line, and that was too (excessive) many for Samantha to (preposition) deal with.”

AKA: How to do the apostrophe, like, 90% of the time.

A conjunction is a combination of two words into one. Some examples include...
  • “You’re” is the combined words “you” and “are”
  • “Don’t” is the combined words “do” and “not”
  • “Won’t” is the combined words “will” and “not”
  • “Couldn’t” is the combined words “could” and “not”
  • “We’re” is the combined words “we” and “are”
  • For more examples, click here.

To identify a contraction, and to know whether or not it should be used, simply ask yourself if the two words the contraction is made out of would make sense within the context of the sentence.

“We are committed to the task.”
“We’re committed to the task.”
“They’re over there.”
“They are over there.”
“I wish we weren’t so fragile.”
“I wish we were not so fragile.”

Conversely, if expanding the contraction into its two word base makes no sense in the sentence, do not use the contraction there.

“They’re work is great.” This turns into...
“They are work is great.” <- “They are” is referring to a specific person or a group of persons, so use “Their” instead.
“The cat hurt it’s paw.” This turns into...
“The cat hurt it is paw.” <- This also comes across oddly when spoken. Use “its” without the apostrophe.

Note: To remember when to use “its” instead of “it’s”, remember that “its” is possessive—it refers to a specific person, place, or thing.
“The cat hurt its paw.”
“The toy store celebrated its one millionth sale.”
“It’s a small world after all.”
“They found that it’s easier to attract bees with honey, than vinegar.”

Punctuation: Inside a quote, or outside?
It depends on which version of English you are using, and the context. If the punctuation is part of the quote, you always put it inside the quotation marks. If the punctuation is representing the end of a complete sentence that the quote is part of? American English puts the punctuation inside the quotation marks, whereas British English puts the punctuation outside the quotation marks.
British: “She danced beautifully”, he said.
American: “She danced beautifully,” he said.

Independent Clause/Dependent Clause
This is the basic structure of how English grammar is used. The kind of thing you should rightfully learn in high school.

An independent clause is a sentence which stands on its own—it is a complete thought, or idea. In order for a sentence to stand on its own, it requires a subject, and a verb. “Billy runs to the store” is a proper sentence, as “Billy” is the subject, and “runs” is the verb.

A dependent clause is a sentence which does not stand on its own—it is an incomplete thought or idea. As an example, “to acquire” is not a complete sentence—it contains a verb (acquire) but no subject.

To connect an independent clause to a dependent clause, you use a comma. “Billy runs to the store, in order to buy flowers.” ("Billy" is the subject and "runs" is the verb in the independent clause. The dependent clause uses "Billy" as its subject, and "buy" as its verb.)

To connect two independent clauses, you use a semicolon. “Billy runs to the store; Samantha also runs to the same store.” Note, that you should only connect two independent clauses if they make more sense together, than as distinct ideas on their own.

“Billy ran to the store, in order to buy flowers. Samantha bought some flowers for her mother; Billy bought the same flowers for his mother.”

Paragraphs: What are they?!
Because high school fucks this one up pretty consistently.

A paragraph is nothing more than “a distinct section of a piece of writing, usually dealing with a single theme and indicated by a new line, indentation, or numbering.”(1) In other words, a paragraph is literally just a single particular idea, separated from others by proper spacing.

A paragraph can be one sentence.

A paragraph can be numerous sentences.

Both of the above paragraphs, though being one sentence, are complete paragraphs—they convey a complete idea. Thus, using paragraphs as a description for how verbose you are, is rather absurd. Now you know!
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New Member
Waist: part of body between hips and chest. Waste: garbage or something generally useless
Through: she went through the drawer looking for her jacket. Throw: she threw her jacket at her chair.
Miner: someone who works in a mine. Minor: small/unimportant or underage (in many places under 18)
Effect: yelling had a negative effect. (noun) Affect: I didn't think that would affect her so much (verb)
Except: They picked everyone except her. Accept: they accepted her for the job
Bear: big fuzzy animal like Winnie the Pooh Bare: naked or empty

"Should of" doesn't mean anything. "Should've" is a contraction of "should have."
Descend and ascend don't need down/up to accompany then (descend down = went down down) She descended the stairs.
that/who The book that was on the table. The girl who found the book.
what/which What do you want to eat? Which of these things would you like?
good/well She is a good singer. (adjective) She sings well. (adverb)
since/for I've been here since Tuesday. I've been here for a week.
peek/peak I took a peek through the window. I can see the peak of the mountain.
week/weak There are four weeks in a months. I was really weak after the car crash.