Cheat Sheet

Basic English Grammar For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Basic English Grammar For Dummies, UK, UK Edition

By Geraldine Woods

English grammar is not a mystery; it’s a set of traditions and patterns of language handed down through the ages. With a little practice, you can learn the rules of Standard English so you can express yourself confidently and correctly.

Sorting Pronouns

Pronouns are handy words that take the place of the names of people, places, and things. Be sure to give every pronoun a proper job. Here is what you need to know about pronouns:

  • Singular subject pronouns (when one person or thing does the action or exists in the state of being): I, you, he, she, it, who, whoever.

  • Plural subject pronouns (when more than one person or thing does the action or exists in the state of being): we, you, they, who, whoever.

  • Singular object pronouns (one person or thing receiving the action): me, you, him, her, it, whom, whomever.

  • Plural object pronouns (more than one person or thing receiving the action): us, you, them, whom, whomever.

  • Singular possessive pronouns (showing ownership by one person or thing): my, mine, your, yours, his, her, hers, its, whose.

  • Plural possessive pronouns (showing ownership by more than one person or thing): our, ours, your, yours, their, theirs, whose.

Dealing with Verb Tenses

In English grammar, verbs change in form to tell the time period, or tense. You use different verbs to indicate whether an action has already happened, is currently happening, will happen in the future, and several different variations. Remember these tenses:

  • Present: happening at the current time (I talk, he talks, they talk)

  • Present progressive: in the process of happening (I am talking, he is talking, they are talking)

  • Past: happened before now (I talked, he talked, they talked)

  • Past progressive: happened over a period of time before now (I was talking, he was talking, they were talking)

  • Future: will happen after the present time (I will talk, he will talk, they will talk)

  • Future progressive: will happen over a period of time, after the present time (I will be talking, he will be talking, they will be talking)

  • Present perfect: started in the past and continues in the present (I have talked, he has talked, they have talked)

  • Past perfect: happened in the past before another event in the past (I had talked, he had talked, they had talked)

  • Future perfect: will happen in the future before a deadline (I will have talked, he will have talked, they will have talked)

Elements of a Complete English Sentence

To write a complete sentence, applying proper rule of English grammar, you must use several different items. Make sure that your sentences have all of these elements:

  • Subject–verb pair: The verb is a “doing’ or a “being’ word. Someone or something has to do the action or exist in the state of being. That is the subject. Every complete sentences needs at least one subject–verb pair.

  • End punctuation: Every sentence ends with a punctuation mark. A statement ends with a full stop, a question with a question mark, and a strong statement with an exclamation mark.

  • Complete thought: The sentence must include one complete idea.

When to Use Capital Letters

In English grammar, you need to know when to capitalise words. Sometimes the capital letter signifies the part of a sentence or simply indicates someone’s name (proper nouns). Use capital letters for the following:

  • Specific names: Capital letters are used for the names of people, places, and brands. (Bill, Mrs. Jones, River Dee, Burberry). Lowercase letters are for general names (girls, mountains, clothing).

  • First word: The first word in a sentence, a title, or a subtitle is always capitalised.

  • Personal pronoun: The pronoun I, referring to the speaker or writer, should be capitalised.

  • Titles of full-length literary works: The first word in the title of a book, play, newspaper, or magazine, plus all the important words, should be capitalised. (God Save the Queen, The Times, A Tale of Two Cities). If you have a subtitle, capitalise only the first word, specific names, and the personal pronoun I.

  • Titles of songs, poems, and articles: Capitalise the first word, proper names, and the personal pronoun I.

  • Titles for people: When a title comes before a name, capitalise it (Reverend Ames). After the name, capitalise titles only when they refer to very important positions (Prime Minister, Secretary General of the United Nations).