To speak English well you need to learn how words are used and how they come together to form phrases and sentences. Only a lot of listening and reading can help you learn this. You need to train yourself to notice how the words are used when you listen and read. You need to master the natural phrases of English, in a natural way.
At The Linguist you save words and phrases to a database for regular review. Each time you save a word you automatically save the context which you can see in the REVIEW section. Soon you will get better at noticing which words normally go together, in which form and in what order.
If you want to buy a grammar book for reference, buy the smallest one you can find. The more rules of grammar you study, the less you will remember. You only need to know a few basic grammar terms and concepts which are outlined here.
Nouns refer to persons and things, like a “car”, a “tree” or a “house”. Most nouns do not stand alone. Normally an article (the, an) or some other word like “his”, “her” “many”, “both” or “some” will come before the noun. Only if the noun is a general term like beauty, love, money, or honour etc. can it stand alone.
Pronouns are words like “he”, “she”, “it” “his”, “her” or “which” and “that” which stand in place of nouns. When you use a pronoun instead of a noun, you must make sure that it is obvious which noun you are referring to. If it is not clear you must use the noun again.
Adjectives describe nouns. They may describe the colour, size, degree or any other quality of the noun. You will notice that many adjectives end in “-ate”. “-able” “-ive” -“ing” or “-ed”. Nouns often change into adjectives by adding the letter “y”, like “anger”- “angry”, “thirst”-“thirsty” “fun”-“funny” etc. Sometimes an adjective can change into a noun by adding a “y” as in “difficult” and “difficulty”. So you just have to observe the language and save the words and phrases you want to learn.
Prepositions are small words that indicate place, direction and time, such as “ in”, “at”, “on”, “by”, beside, before, after etc.
Verbs describe actions. Examples are “run”, “talk”, “sit”, “listen” etc. The form of the verb can change depending on when it happened (tense), who did it (person), and a few other factors. Watch carefully for these word forms. Some verbs combine with prepositions and have a special meaning. “Get in”, “get by”, “get with” are just some examples. These verbs are called phrasal verbs because the phrase is a verb.
Adverbs describe verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. Adverbs often end in “-ly”. Nouns, verbs and adjectives can become adverbs by adding “-ly”. Watch for the different forms of similar looking words.
Sentences almost always include a verb. Sentences can state a positive fact. “This is a book”. “My house is there”. Sentences can state a negative fact. “This is not a book”. “My house is not there”. Sentences can ask a question. “Is this a book?” “Where is your house?” Sentences should usually be as simple as possible.
Sentences will often contain logical relationships expressed by words such as “because”, “even though”, “if”,”since”, “more than”, better than” as much as” “the more I eat, the fatter I get” and many more. You will learn these relationships by seeing them often and getting used to them. The logic of languages can be different in different languages. First refer to your own language for the meaning. Then observe the logic of English. Notice how the words are used together. Get used to the relationships of English.
Learn how to connect your thoughts and how to start sentences. You can introduce your ideas with phrases like, “in fact”, “on the other hand”, “nevertheless”, “however” or simply “and” or “but” etc. Notice how these words are used. They will make your language more natural.
Choose the right word. Work hardest on knowing how words are used. This is more important than grammar rules. The form of a word will change depending on whether the word is a noun, verb, adjective or adverb, singular or plural, and for other reasons. “Enjoy” is a verb, “enjoyment” is a noun. “Act” is a verb, “action” a noun, “active” an adverb and “actively” is an adjective. Notice these differences as you read and listen and save words and phrases.
Many words look similar but have different meanings and are used differently. You have to get used to this by listening, reading and reviewing your saved words and phrases. You need to become observant of the language.
Wrong word form and wrong choice of words are the most common errors committed by non-native speakers. Become observant of the language and improve your word choice.
That is all the grammar you need to know. If you have questions about English ask your tutor or post on The Linguist Forum. I hope you will ask “how to say something” and not “why”. It is the not the rules of grammar but the practice and exposure to the language that will train you to become fluent.