10 English Grammar Rules

Updated March 23, 2017

English grammar has many rules. Some of these rules follow a pattern; some don't. Learn the basic rules and patterns and then work on memorising the irregular grammar rules. English grammar is quite detailed and takes years to master, especially for a nonnative speaker. Don't get discouraged, just keep studying.


Adjectives are invariable. In English, nouns are not gendered. This means that regardless of the gender or number of the person or people you are speaking of, adjectives do not change. If you want to emphasise an adjective's meaning, you may add "really" or "very" before it. For example:

"An ugly boy" ("boy" is singular) "Those very ugly girls" ("girls" is a plural noun)


Adverbs, or modifiers, provide more detail about verbs. They also expand on the meaning of adjectives and even other adverbs. For example:

"The boy walks quickly." The adverb "quickly" tells us more about the verb "walk." "She is remarkably cunning." The adverb "remarkably" expands on the adjective "cunning." "The girl reads extremely well!" The adverb "extremely" tells us more about the adverb "well."


Determiners come before nouns to clarify them. When you use the word "building" in a sentence, you must also have a determiner such as "a" or "the." This clarifies whether you are speaking about "a building" (meaning any building) or "the building" (a specific building). There are many words used as determiners, all of which clarify nouns.

Countable and Uncountable Nouns

A noun is a person, place or thing. Some nouns are discrete, or countable, such as dogs, bikes and rocks. You can place a number before a countable noun. Uncountable nouns, such as sugar, honey and water, cannot be counted and do not take numbers before them.

How Much and How Many

"How much" and "how many" hold the same meaning but are used differently depending on the noun used in the sentence. "How much" accompanies uncountable nouns and "how many" goes with countable nouns. For example:

"How much sugar do you want?" "Sugar" is an uncountable noun. "How many dogs are there?" "Dogs" is a countable noun.

Proper Nouns

Always capitalise proper nouns, which are names and titles. Names and titles of people, countries, cities, streets, books, months, days and holidays are all proper nouns. For example:

"Queen Elizabeth:" This is her title, therefore capitalised. "France:" This is the name of a country, therefore capitalised. "I read 'The Cardinal' by Tom Clancy." The title of the book, "The Cardinal," and the name of the author, "Tom Clancy," are both proper nouns, so they are capitalised.

Plural Nouns

You can make singular nouns plural in a few ways. With many nouns, you can add "s" or "es" to make them plural. If the noun has a "y" at the end of it after a consonant, then use "ies" to make the noun plural. For example:

Car, cars: The addition of the "s" makes it plural. Horse, horses: The "es" makes it plural. Boundary, boundaries: The "y" after the "r" calls for the "ies" to make it plural.


Use the possessive form to express ownership of something. In most cases, just add "'s" (apostrophe s) to the end of the noun. Some plural nouns may already end with an "s." In this case just add an apostrophe after the "s." Names that end in "s" can use "'s" (apostrophe s) or just an apostrophe after the "s," though the first usage is more common. For example:

"This is Bob's car." Bob owns this car. "Let us go to Thomas's house." The house is owned by Thomas.

Verb Tense

Always use proper verb tense.There are several verb tenses; three basic verb tenses are past, present and future. For example:

"I went to the store yesterday." "Went" is the past tense of the verb "go." "I want to go to the store today." The verb "go" is present tense. "I will go to the store tomorrow." "Will go" is the future tense of the verb "go."


Punctuation marks structure a sentence and help to clarify its meaning and tone. The period, exclamation mark and question mark are just a few of many punctuation marks. For example:

"I live here." The period (.) at the end of the sentence marks the close of the statement. "She lives here!" The exclamation mark (!) at the end of the sentence marks the close of the sentence, but with an added sense of surprise, shock or excitement. "Who lives here?" The question mark (?) signifies that a question is being asked.

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About the Author

Jane Ann started writing in 2005 for the magazine "The Practising Midwife." In 2009 she began writing for Demand Studios. Jane is a certified midwife and has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New Mexico State University.