Fundamentals of English Grammar

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Understanding English grammar

English grammar is easier to learn compared to the grammar of other languages. Below we give you a brief overview of the most important topics in English grammar. This overview should help you to have a better understanding of English grammar and make it easier for you to create a learning plan.

We will look at all the English parts of speech together and dive into the English tenses. Especially the English tenses are an important part of English grammar. Therefore, you should study this topic extensively. We will help you to understand English grammar.

Understand basic concepts of English grammar

To better understand English grammar rules, it is important to know some basic English grammar terms. If you know these terms, it will be much easier for you to follow the explanations and apply the rules. For this reason, we recommend that you understand the terms and their meanings with the help of the corresponding parts of speech. We will show you all 9 English word types that you need to learn and understand English grammar.

Click here for explanations of English parts of speech »

Understand the tenses of English grammar

English tenses can be challenging for learners because there are a variety of different forms and usages. To understand the tenses of English grammar, it is important to proceed systematically and look at the different tenses one at a time.

A good place to start is to familiarize yourself with the basic tenses. The English language has several basic tenses, including the Simple Present, Simple Past, Present Continuous, Past Continuous, Present Perfect, Past Perfect, Future Simple, and Future Perfect. Each tense has its own rules and usages that need to be understood.

Understanding the rules and usages can be difficult, but with practice and patience, you can develop a good understanding of English tenses. It can be helpful to speak regularly with native speakers or read English texts to develop a feel for the different tenses.

To understand the rules of English tenses, you need a good understanding of English grammar, especially verbs and their conjugations. To help you do that, we've explained all the tenses of the English language for you. Take a look at the explanation of the tense you are currently working on and learn English grammar together with us.

The three English tenses at a glance

The sentence structure of the English language

English grammar follows some specific rules and patterns when it comes to sentence structure. You should familiarize yourself with these rules of English grammar. English grammar follows its own rules.

So that you can form sentences in English without errors, we will show you below how to use English grammar correctly and how to formulate good sentences in the English language. The basic structure of English sentences follows the SPO rule. We will now introduce you to this grammatical rule.

What is the SPO rule in English grammar?

Basically, English sentences are built according to the SPO rule. The SPO rule describes the order in which the constituents of English sentences are constructed. As a rule, English grammar follows the strict order of subject-predicate-object. The following example of a simple English sentence illustrates the sentence structure according to the SPO rule.

Example sentence: Paul (subject) is learning (predicate/verb) English (object).

About 35% of all languages use this sentence structure. Especially European languages use the SPO rule. For example, In the German language the SPO rule is not used, because the sentence components subject, predicate and object do not have their fixed place. Thus, in German, a verb can sometimes be placed right at the front.

English sentences with place and time and manner

The rule "place before time" applies to place and time information in English sentences. This rule states that if the place and time are at the end of the sentence, place information must always be placed before time information. The following example sentence illustrates the rule.

Here is an example: I have studied English in Frankfurt since 2022.

Here you can see that the place information Frankfurt is placed before the time information since 2022. So the rule "place before time" is fulfilled with this English sentence. If you want to describe something in your English sentence (How is something), you usually mention the information at the end of the sentence. However, you should keep in mind that the information must be placed before the place and time information. It is best to remember the grammatical rule "How follows Where follows When" for descriptions in combination with place and time information. Below you will find an example sentence that implements this scheme.

Example sentence: We were studying together in Malta since the beginning of summer.

In this example sentence, the word together is the descriptive part of the sentence. Thus, the word together describes the way studying was done. According to the English grammar rule "How - Where - When" the rule "place before time" follows next. Thus, the place Malta comes before the time beginning of summer.

Information on frequency in English sentence structure

For frequency information in English sentences, you should pay attention to the predicate. If the predicate of your English sentence consists of only one word, the frequency information must be placed between the subject and the predicate. The following example illustrates this:

Example sentence: I always take my bike.

In this example, you can see that the frequency information always is placed before the predicate take. It is different if the predicate of your English sentence consists of two or even more words. In this case, you must put the frequency information before the first word of the predicate.

Example sentence: I will never miss a train.

From this example, you can see that the frequency information never comes before the first word of the predicate.

English grammar rules on the topic of questions

In the English language, there are different ways to form questions. However, there are some basic rules and structures used when forming questions. Here are the most important five points to keep in mind when forming English questions. We'll show you what these points are below.

Use the question words of the English language

There are 6 different question words in the English language. These are "who", "what", "where", "when", "why" and "how" . English questions usually begin with these question words. Depending on the question word, a different piece of information is asked.

Use of Inversion

When certain adverbs and expressions such as "never", "rarely", "seldom", "hardly", "barely" or "not only" are used, the subject-verb order is reversed. Here are two examples of English interrogative sentences with inversion: "Never have I seen such a beautiful sunset" and "Not only did he finish the race, but he also won it".

Questioning with modal verbs

In English, questions are also often formed with the help of modal verbs. When using modal verbs such as "can", "should", "must", "will" or "would", the modal verb is placed directly in front of the subject. Here are two examples of questions with modal verbs: "Can you help me?" and "Should I call the doctor?

Use of auxiliary verbs

In English, questions are often formed with the help of auxiliary verbs. Again, here are two example questions that use auxiliary verbs to form the question: "Do you like pizza?" and "Are you going to the party?"

Types of questions in English grammar

English Explanation  
Question with question word An open question in which the W question words are used. Where are you travelling to this summer?
Question tag Question to confirm a statement. The weather is nice, isn't it?

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The basic rules of comma placement in English grammar

Commas in English grammar can sometimes be confusing and not so easy to understand. Therefore, it is good to remember some basic rules of English comma placement. These will help you to find the right place for the comma in your English sentences. The following overview gives you an idea of the basic rules of English comma placement.

Commas between two main clauses

There must always be a comma between two main clauses. You can recognize a main clause by the fact that the sentence can also stand alone without losing its meaning. If two main clauses are connected to one, a comma must be placed between the two main clauses. The following example illustrates this.

Example sentence: Linda traveled to Malta, and enjoyed her summer while learning English.

Comma placement in sentence insertions and subordinate clauses

If you include an insertion or subordinate clause in your English sentence, you must place a comma before the insertion or subordinate clause. You can recognize a subordinate clause by the fact that the main clause makes sense without the information mentioned in the subordinate clause or insertion. Here is an example of this English comma rule.

Example: Linda, who spent her holiday in Malta, has significantly improved her English.

Comma setting for bulleted lists

When more than two adjectives or three or more main clauses, phrases, or words follow each other, a comma is placed. For a better understanding, take a look at the following example of comma placement in bulleted lists.

Example sentence: He packed his suitcase, went to the airport and took a flight to Malta.

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