Grammar Hacks Part 1:
5 Simple Tricks and Tips to Improve Your English
What comes to mind when you hear the word “grammar”? If you’re like me, you might shiver a bit. Maybe you have a strong desire to grab your phone and see what’s new on Facebook or Snapchat. My reaction stems from early experiences studying French. My grade 6 French teacher used to punish students by making them write out French conjugations of 25 to 100 verbs. In English, it would look like this:
- I have
- you have
- she has
- he has
- we have
- you have
- they have
Over and over again.
But after teaching English for over a decade to students from all around the world, I have found a new love for grammar. Why? It creates the framework for all our communication. It tells us what the rules are. Without knowledge of these rules, we can easily become lost.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to conjugate 50 verbs in English! It didn’t help me in grade 6, and it was not fun at all. Instead, to help you on your English learning journey, I’m going to share some grammar hacks. What’s a grammar hack? It’s a quick trick to up your fluency.
Here we go!
Prepositions + Noun or Gerund
Those little grammar words like up, down, in, out, on, and off are almost always followed by a noun or a gerund. What's a gerund? It's a verb + ing that is used as the object or subject of a verb. It's a way of making a verb a noun. Cool, right?
I’m into cooking.
He used to be good at tennis.
I’m looking forward to seeing you.
Every + Singular Noun
Every is followed by a singular countable noun.
Every table at the restaurant was taken.
Everybody was excited for the the concert to start.
Much and Many
Much is used with nouns that are uncountable: air, money and work. Many is used with plural countable nouns: books, students, opportunities and people. However, we don’t use “much” with a noun in an affirmative sentence by itself. In that case, you can use “a lot.”
How much money did you spend? (Question)
I didn’t spend much money last month. (Negative statement)
I spent a lot of money on the ticket to Toronto. (Positive statement)
Most and Most of the
Don’t make the mistake of using most of + noun. We can use most + noun to speak of something in the general sense. Or we can use most + of + the + noun to talk about a specific thing or group.
Most English textbooks have a few units about verb tenses.
Most of the people who voted for the president are unhappy with recent events.
In and On
When you talk about different forms of transportation, use the right preposition. Use in + smaller vehicles, like cars, taxis, trucks and vans. Use on + larger vehicles where it’s possible to stand and walk in, like planes, trains, buses and boats.
I got in the car. Later, when we got to the market, I got out of the car.
I fell asleep on the plane. We arrived at the airport a little after 8PM, and it took a few minutes for everyone to get off the plane.
- Gates Mcfadden