5 Tricky Grammar Rules to Make You a Better Writer

5 tricky grammar rules to make you a better writer

Grammar rules – we all need to know them. If you intend to ever make it as a writer or blogger, you have to be prepared to follow grammar rules. Although grammar comes naturally to some, for others, it is a difficult task. But if you know the rules, your writing will reflect that and your readers will have a more pleasant experience reading your content. Not only that, but you will gain greater respect from readers the better your grammar is.

Have you ever had to read a piece of writing that was riddled with grammatical errors? How did you feel? Did you want to just stop reading it and go on to read something else that was free from grammatical errors? If that’s how you felt, that is quite possibly exactly how your readers feel if you produce content that is grammatically incorrect. I know for me, that whenever I read a piece of writing that does not follow grammar rules, that I immediately begin to question the intelligence of the writer. I know that not everyone is a good writer but it pays to know the grammar rules. It will definitely help to create a better impression of the writer and of his/her intelligence or level of education. So here are 5 grammar rules that you can follow that will make you a better writer.

Grammar Rule # 1: “I” Before “E”

Okay so this is not strictly a grammar rule. It is more like a spelling rule but if you follow it, you are less likely to make spelling mistakes. The rule is

“I” before “E”, except after “C”.

What this means is that whenever you want to spell a word that includes an “i” and an “e” together, you should always put the “i” before the “e” except when they follow a “c”. Here are some examples:

  • Achieve
  • Believe
  • Relieve
  • Chief
  • Niece
  • Piece

Notice that the “i” always precedes the “e”. In the case where a “c” precedes the “i” and the “e”, however, the “i” and the “e” should switch places and the “e” should come before the “i”. Here are some examples of this:

  • Receipt
  • Receive
  • conceive
  • perceive

I learned this rule while at elementary school and I have never ever forgotten it. If you follow this rule, you will never spell another “ie” word incorrectly. Of course there are exceptions, but generally speaking, the rule holds true.

Grammar Rule #2: When to Use “a” versus “an”

Some persons are uncertain about when to use “a” versus “an”. Simply put, you should use “a” before a word that starts with a consonant, and you should use “an” before a word that starts with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y). So you would say:

  • A dog
  • A cat
  • An eagle
  • An orange
  • A butterfly
  • A fish
  • An eel
  • An octopus

Also, if the word starts with a consonant, but that consonant is silent, you should use “an” before it. An example of such a word is “honor”. Even though the word “honor” starts with the consonant “h”, it is pronounced “onor”, so it should be preceded by “an” instead of “a”. So the proper thing to say (or write) would be, “It is an honor to work with you” rather than “It is a honor to work with you.”

When to Use “Who” Versus “Whom”

This is a tricky one but if you remember what I am about to tell you, you can’t go wrong. “Who” is used when you are referring to the subject of the sentence and “whom” is used whenever you are referring to the object of the sentence. The subject of a sentence is always the person or thing that is doing something, while the object is the other noun in the sentence that is receiving the action. The subject usually precedes the verb and the object normally follows the verb.

If you are confused by the “subject/object” method, you can simply substitute the words he/him or she/her for the noun that is performing the action in the sentence, and if he/she works there then the correct word to use is “who”. If him/her works, then the correct word to use would be “whom”. Here are some examples:

  • To whom are you referring here? (You are referring to him/her here?)
  • The girl whom I sat with, was quite intelligent (I sat with her)
  • You never know whom you are going to fall in love with (You never know you are going to fall in love with him/her)
  • It was Trisann who left the pipe running (She left the pipe running)

This one could take some practice but you should eventually get it right.

Singular Collective Nouns Take Singular Verbs

Singular collective nouns should be followed by a singular verb. Singular collective nouns are nouns that refer to a group or to more than one person such as “everyone”, “team”, “staff” etc. These verbs must always be followed by a singular verb. And we know that in the English language, a singular verb usually takes an “s” at the end. Yes, this is weird since adding an “s” normally indicates “plural” but not in the case of verbs, only in the case of nouns. Okay so here are some examples:

  • Everyone learn learns better when they are not hungry.
  • My team play plays better than any other.
  • The staff believe believes that appraisals are not effective.
  • The bunch of grapes grow grows wildly unless pruned. (Note that even though it is grapes (plural), the noun is not “grapes” but “bunch (of grapes)”, so the verb should be singular – grows, not grow.
  • An army of ants are is crossing the floor.
  • A basket of fruits was were given to her.

No Such Word as “Mine’s”

This one is a personal pet peeve that I have. There is no such word as “mine’s”. The correct word is “mine” and it does not need the apostrophe to indicate ownership. So the correct thing to say is:

  • When will I get mine?
  • Please send mine to my new address.
  • That is yours and this is mine.

If you follow these 5 grammar rules, you will become a better writer. The great thing about that is that you will earn greater respect and gain more influence the better your grammar is.

Have you been using these grammar rules correctly?






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