Grammar is the backbone of any good conversation, writing or speech and this fact is universally applicable for any language. The grammatical usage of a person speaks volumes about his/her education, upbringing, social class etc. Then why take chances? Let us sharpen our Grammar skills to improve our verbal and written communication.

Like any other language, English too has its own grammar rules. What one should ideally do is identify the thumb rule of the particular context and stick to it, making note of the exceptions, if any. The only way to improve your grammatical strength is to make a conscious effort to work on your grammar literally, every day.

Let us begin by looking at some of the basic errors we commit in the usage of English Grammar.

1.AGREEMENT OF THE VERB WITH THE SUBJECT:

The subject of a sentence is a NOUN- meaning a person, place or thing.

The VERB is usually an ACTION word that follows the noun- it tells us what the subject is doing, has done or going to do.

For example- Peter ate his breakfast.

Here, ‘Peter’ is the SUBJECT and ‘ate’ is the verb in past tense.

Now the important THUMB RULE here is

THE VERB SHOULD AGREE WITH THE SUBJECT IN NUMBER.

Look at this simple table- it tells you how the verb has to agree with the subject.

Verb- to be        tense- present

Verb- to write         tense – present

Rule: SINGULAR SUBJECT TAKES ON A SINGULAR VERB.

PLURAL SUBJECT TAKES ON A PLURAL VERB.

Example: I am /You are/She is walking

They are walking.

  1. AGREEMENT OF THE VERB WITH SUBJECT FOR COLLECTIVE NOUNS

A collective noun is a term used to define a group of persons or objects as a single word.

Example: Crowd- a group of people

Some collective nouns are listed under:

Now the important THUMB RULE here is

ANY COLLECTIVE NOUN IS TAKEN AS A SINGULAR OBJECT AND MUST BE FOLLOWED BY A SINGULAR VERB.

For Example: An army of soldiers is passing by.

A bouquet is presented to every dignitary of the function.

  1. CONFUSION IN THE NUMBER OF THE SUBJECT WHILE USING “OF”

Generally, users of English make the common mistake of confusing themselves over whether the subject is singular or plural when “of” is used.

Example:

A shoal of fish looks colourful as it passes by.

Here “shoal” is a collective noun referring to a group of fish.

People often get confused becomes of the use of “of” after the subject. When the subject is followed by an “of”, learners assume the subject to become plural.

Now the important THUMB RULE here is

CHECK whether A COLLECTIVE NOUN appears BEFORE THE “OF”. Then it is SINGULAR.

Incorrect usage: A shoal of fish look colourful as they pass by.

Correct usage: A shoal of fish looks colourful as it passes by.

  1.  CORRECT VERB USAGE FOR 2 SINGULAR OBJECTS LINKED WITH

“EITHER/OR” & “NEITHER/NOR”

Sentences using “either/or” and “neither /nor” cause some confusion among learners. They are often unsure of how to use the following verb here.

Now the important THUMB RULE here is

WHEN 2 SINGULAR OBJECTS ARE LINKED USING “EITHER/OR” OR “NEITHER /NOR”, THE VERB WILL BE IN SINGULAR.

Incorrect usage:  Neither Sammy nor her mother are going to the party.

Correct usage: Neither Sammy nor her mother is going to the party.

Incorrect usage:  Either Philip or his dad are leaving today.

Correct Usage: Either Philip or his dad is leaving today.

  1. CORRECT VERB USAGE FOR 2 PLURAL OBJECTS LINKED WITH

“EITHER/OR” & “NEITHER/NOR”

When plural objects are used with “either/or” or” neither/nor”.

Now the important THUMB RULE here is

WHEN 2 PLURAL OBJECTS ARE LINKED USING “EITHER/OR” OR    “NEITHER /NOR”, THE VERB WILL AGREE WITH THE NOUN/PRONOUN THAT PRECEDES IT.

For example,

Neither the dogs nor the cat eats the food. – Here the verb “eats” is in agreement with the singular noun “the cat”.

Neither the cat nor the dogs eat the food – Here the verb “eat” is in agreement with the plural noun “the dogs”.

Keep these thumb rules in mind while you use nouns and verbs and surely, you will never go wrong.

English Grammar is like Algebraic Theorems- there are rules like theorems with exceptions like corollaries.

Just master the rules of English Grammar by memorizing them and use them wherever necessary. Like Math, you will always get it right.

Let’s Practise has a lot of study sheets and exam papers to help your child with their grammar. We assist students from 1st to 9th standard and have worksheets for CBSE, SSC, IGCSE, and ICSE Boards. You can check out the information about ICSE Board here.

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