5 Grammar Tips From An English Teacher

We’ve got a guest blogger today! Our mom, whom we lovingly refer to as Kimbo, is an amazing English teacher and is going to share about common grammar mistakes that many people make and how to correct them. Whether you’re writing a paper or an email, posting on social media, or starting a blog, these tips will help you know how to use common phrases in the right way. Take it away Kimbo!

As a high school English teacher, I strive to help teenagers properly navigate and utilize the English language, a task that has become more challenging with the truncated and distorted usage in texting, tweeting, and Instagram posting. Too many people–teens and adults alike–just want to share their ideas with the world and rarely take time to think about or proofread their words before hitting send or post. Too quickly, bad writing habits become commonplace, and people begin using them, which makes correct grammar then “sound bad,” according to many of my students. Never fear, I am here to set the record straight about some very common (and to me very annoying!) grammatical errors.

  1. Starting sentences with a conjunction:  Conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, for, yet) are meant to connect words, phrases, or clauses; they are NOT to be used at the beginning of sentences, especially as an introductory word followed by a comma.

Incorrect usage:  I am tired of people using bad grammar. Yet, I don’t know how to counteract the negative trends that have become annoyingly common.

Correct usage:  I am tired of people using bad grammar, yet I don’t know how to counteract the negative trends that have become annoyingly common.

  1. Using the phrase “being that”:  Somehow this phrase has snuck into people’s conversations and even into their writing (which is worse because people should take time to proofread their writing). “Being that” is not only improper grammar, but it is also just plain awkward. Instead, you should use the word since.

Incorrect usage:  Being that I’m tired of people using improper grammar, I’m sharing this blog post to identify and help people correct some common errors.

Correct usage:  Since I’m tired of people using improper grammar, I’m sharing this blog post to identify and help people correct some common errors.

  1. Using the word badly as an adjective:  Many people have begun using the word badly to describe how they feel; however, since the word feel in this case is a linking verb, not an action verb, it should be followed by a predicate adjective–bad. Badly is an adverb, and adverbs are used to modify adjectives, verbs, or other adverbs, never nouns or pronouns.

Incorrect usage:  I feel badly that so many people use incorrect grammar.

Correct usage:  I feel bad that so many people use incorrect grammar.

  1. Conjugating verbs incorrectly:  Okay, I will concede that this one is pretty complicated since (NOT being that!) the English language is comprised of words from so many different languages, which is why some verbs follow the rules while so many others do not. For instance, to make most verbs past tense, you need only add -ed to the end–walk becomes walked and talk becomes talked. However, run does not become runned but ran, and speak does not become speaked but spoke. This process becomes even more confusing when using the past perfect tense of verbs:  We have walked this path many times before, but we have never drunk (a fun example to use with my high schoolers) this drink before nor have we spoken these words before.

Unless you had a super strict grammar teacher in high school who drilled you on verb conjugations (which is highly unlikely in today’s educational system) or majored in English in college, you probably will struggle with this convoluted system. My solution for you? Use the internet. It is better for you to take the time to discover how to conjugate verbs correctly than to share something with errors that might make you look incompetent. Remember, your high school English teacher may be following you on social media 🙂

  1.  Mixing up commonly confused words:  “When your to lazy to proofread, their will be many mistakes.” Can you find the three errors in the previous sentence? Your/you’re, to/too, and their/there/they’re are some of the most commonly confused words. However, once you really learn how to use each word, you should have no trouble keeping them straight. Just follow these simple guidelines:

your–shows ownership and requires an object (This is your house.)

you’re–contraction for you are or you were (You’re going to be late.)

to–a preposition (We are going to school.) or start of a verb phrase (We need to talk.).

too–an adverb that means very (I am too tired.) or also (I would like to go too.)

their–shows ownership and requires an object (Their house is for sale.)

there–indicates a place (My car is over there.) or an existence (There are 5 dogs left.)

they’re–contraction for they are or they were (They’re coming over tonight.)

There you have it–5 grammar rules that should help you get back on track and help me in my quest to correct all the grammatical errors I see in social media, advertisements, and printed materials. I need all the help I can get!

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