How well do you know your grammar rules? Grammar is the basic structure of a language. Without its rules and guidelines, communication would be a mess. Speakers and writers would be making up their own rules, and there wouldn’t be any common guide for how to arrange sentences and ideas.
That being said, grammar rules can be obscure and difficult to follow, especially in an ever-evolving language like English where rules come hand-in-hand with exceptions.
Check out these five practical tips toward improving your language skills and staying safe from internet trolls and mean grammarians.
Learn the parts of speech
Whether you’re someone who picked up the language later in life, or are a native speaker, brushing up on the basics every now and then is never a bad idea.
Remember: the parts of speech are nouns, adjectives, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, interjections, and sometimes articles. Properly understanding what each part does will make it easier to string sentences together, and fluidly at that.
Read. A lot.
Even 10 minutes of reading a day can go a long way toward improving your language skills, because reading gives you a practical vehicle to understand the guidelines and rules.
Make sure to include a variety of material in your readings, spanning multiple authors of different writing backgrounds, as well as varied genres. Pay attention to how fiction differs from nonfiction and how different styles create distinctive effects.
As for your own written work, read it out loud. Often times that’s the easiest way to pick up on any syntax errors.
Listen to how others speak
One of the most readily available resources are the people around you. Pay close attention to their speech. How are they structuring their sentences? What’s their word order? What is their vocabulary like? How do they phrase common expressions?
Many English speakers were never explicitly, or thoroughly, taught the rules of grammar and instead picked up on it from others. However, not every speaker has a grasp on proper grammar so take their speech with a grain of salt. On the other hand, you can also use it as an opportunity for self assessment by seeing if you pick up on any errors.
If you’re learning English, or even another foreign language, check out meet-up sites for a conversation group in your dialect of choice. Most metropolitan areas have a group for almost any language.
Play grammar and word games
Why not have some fun while you learn? The internet and your smartphone’s app store are brimming with educational games that work at improving syntax and structure. Online ESL resources consist of a number of interactive games and quizzes that will boost your language skills.
Take a class
In this day and age, there are endless educational resources available. The internet is a boon for learners of all ages. Check out free courses on platforms such as Coursera and Udemy. Your local community college might also offer online classes. Then there’s always YouTube, with an almost endless repository of educational videos.
Bonus tip: Download Grammarly, a digital writing tool equipped with a grammar checker, which can be installed on your computer as well as your phone. It highlights problem areas and not only provides you with the correct solution, but also gives you an explanation so you can learn to correct your own mistakes.