English Grammar Lessons: Review English Usage

English Grammar Lessons

Do you need to take English grammar lessons to learn English? No. Children learn a language with no formal lessons at all-- just by listening and then beginning to speak. If you are just beginning to study English, don’t start with grammar terms.  

First listen to some basic conversations and learn some simple phrases. Listen and practice as much as you can. You will begin to understand the basics of English structure even without formal study.

Too much emphasis on grammar in the beginning may even make it harder to speak fluently. Thinking too much about what’s correct makes it more difficult to express your thoughts.

Instead, try to think in English. The best way to gain fluency and understanding is to listen a lot, read a lot, and speak freely. Don’t worry about perfect grammar.

So Why Study Grammar?

As your English improves, you do need to understand how English works. How are thoughts expressed? How are sentences organized?

If you have never taken a class in English, you might start studying online by listening to some of the basic conversations in Randall's ESL Listening Lab or a website teaching English in your first language. (For Spanish-speakers, Pumarosa is very good.)

When you can understand and speak enough for simple English conversations and reading, you may want to improve your comprehension and express yourself more clearly. Then some English grammar lessons might help you.

English Grammar Lessons: Why?

Image of a confused lady and Question 7 from the EnglishHints home page (to illustrate why understanding English grammar may be important as your English improves.)

Answer & Explanation for Quiz Question 7: Sentence C is the different one. Sentences A, B, D, and E all say that English is my native language. C is in the unreal conditional tense. It says I have NOT always spoken English, but considers how things might be if reality had been different.) For a short explanation of the unreal conditional tense, see the Modal Verbs section about 'would.'

When I thought about how to explain the difference, I realized I would need to teach some grammar terms. (I was trying to prepare students for advanced-level tests of thinking and judgment like the NCLEX or TOEFL.) Grammar explanations can help you understand the reasons behind confusing sentence structures.

To understand professional or academic tests, journals, or textbooks, you need to recognize distinctions like the difference between 'although'/'even though' and 'even if.' If you have doubts about these differences in meaning, see Complex Sentences. (You can also practice them with Adverb Clause and Complex Sentence Practice.)

Grammar Basics: Parts of Speech & Sentences

Grammar is the structure of a language, the way words work together. In the English grammar lessons in this section, we will look at English Parts of Speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.), as well as English Nouns, English Pronouns, and English Verbs for more detail.

See English Sentence Structure, as well as Negative Sentences, Question Formation, Compound Sentences, and Complex Sentences, for ways to form sentences in English. Subject-verb Agreement gives a little practice with this grammar point that gives trouble even to some native speakers, but can help make your writing clearer.

English Verb Forms

Learning English verbs may seem challenging. There are so many related tenses and modal verbs, each changing the meaning of a sentence. There are also many irregular verbs in the past tense. The good news is that English verb conjugations are much simpler than many other languages.

For most verbs, you only need to learn five forms, and most of those are closely related: the base form (for the simple present tense, or add 'to' to form infinitives), the third person singular present, the present participle (for continuous tenses), the simple past, and the past participle (for the perfect tenses.) All the tenses and moods are formed using these five forms and various helping (auxiliary) verbs.

Thus, for example, the five forms of the verb to live are:

live, lives, living, lived, and lived.

For the verb to do :

do, does, doing, did, done.

The verb to be is the most useful and most difficult. (Note that its infinitive (and what you might call its base form, 'be,' is not the same as its present tense plural form.) It is the only English verb with three forms in the present:

(I) am, (you, we, or they) are, and (he, she, or it) is (3rd person singular.)

'To be' has two forms in the past, unlike any other English verb:

(I, he, she, or it) was,

and (you, we, or they) were.

The present and past participles of ‘to be’ are simple: being and been.

For more information on the present, past, and future of verbs, see English Verb Tenses. (The present and past participles can also sometimes be used as nouns or adjectives. English parts of speech can be very flexible!)

Practice English Grammar

To practice with verbs (as well as other grammar) see Grammar Practice. For Modal Verbs, see Modal VerbsModals PracticeUsing Helping Verbs to Give Advice, and Practice Giving Advice, as well as Adverb Clause & Complex Sentence Practice.

Don't get discouraged! With a little practice (and a lot of listening and reading), English grammar will begin to feel natural to you.

Where to Start?

Still not sure where to start? Try English Sentence Structure, Negative Sentences, or Question Formation.

Home>English Grammar Lessons.

Top Of Page

New! Comments

What do you think about what you just read? Leave me a comment in the box below.

Didn't find what you needed? Explain what you want in the search box below. (For example, cognates, past tense practice, or 'get along with.') Click to see the related pages on EnglishHints.

site search by freefind advanced