Basic English Grammar For Dummies - US
The easy way to brush up on your English skills Is it good or well? There, their, or they're? Some people don't have to think twice about using proper English, but for the rest of us it can get tricky and confusing. Whether you're writing or speaking, it's all too easy to fall prey to simple mistakes that will represent you in a less-than-desirable light—which can potentially cost you a job or put you in an embarrassing social situation. Avoiding complicated grammar rules, Basic English For Dummies sticks to the basics and makes it easy to get up and running on what you need to know to partake in successful everyday communication, no matter your audience or medium. Inside, you'll find plenty of examples and exercises, guidance on how to structure sentences to make yourself easily understood, and so much more. In no time, you'll leave the 'me or I?' debate at the door and speak and write confidently and correctly. Plus, you'll expand your vocabulary, find the right tone and style you want to convey in your communication, and avoid common English language pitfalls. Includes quizzes and self-tests Provides guidance on composing letters, emails, texts, and phone calls Explains in plain English how to improve your English skills Gives you instruction and exercises on putting your skills to practice right away If English is your first language, but you missed or have forgotten the nuances that were taught in school, Basic English For Dummies is your go-to guide. It is also ideal for those learning English as a second language.
Introduction 1 About This Book 1 Foolish Assumptions 2 Icons Used in This Book 2 Beyond the Book 3 Where to Go From Here 3 Part I: Getting Started with Basic English Grammar 5 Chapter 1: Getting a Grip on Grammar 7 Getting to Know the Elements of Proper English 7 Building Language, Block by Block: Parts of Speech 8 Making Sentences 10 Action or being words 11 Subjects 12 Complements and descriptions 14 Small but Important: Punctuating, Capitalizing, and Spelling 14 Punctuation 15 Capitalization 16 Spelling 17 Facing Everyday Writing Tasks 18 Chapter 2: Language in Action 21 Adjusting Language to Suit Your Audience 21 Friendspeak 22 Conversational English 23 Standard English 24 Getting Help from Spelling and Grammar Checkers 26 Recognizing Your Grammar Profile 28 Part II: The Parts of Speech 31 Chapter 3: People to See, Places to Go, Things to Remember: Recognizing Nouns 33 Identifying Nouns 33 Naming people with nouns 34 Naming places with nouns 35 Naming things with nouns 36 Naming ideas and emotions with nouns 37 Sorting Out Singular and Plural Nouns 39 Adding the letters “S” or “ES” to form plurals 39 Creating plurals of words that end with the letter “Y” 40 Plurals that break the rules 42 Attaching “This,” “These,” and Other Words to Nouns 43 Chapter 4: Practicing Pronouns 47 Replacing Nouns with Pronouns 47 Pronouns for the speaker or writer 48 Pronouns that speak to others 50 Pronouns that speak about other people or things 51 Avoiding errors with two common pronouns 52 Solving the Case of Pronouns 54 Subject pronouns 54 Object pronouns 57 Sorting subject and object pronouns 58 Forming Possessive Pronouns 62 Chapter 5: Doing and Being Words: Verbs 65 Searching Out Verbs 65 Asking Questions to Find the Verb 66 Telling Time with Verbs 68 Present tense 68 Past tense 69 Future tense 71 Recognizing Forms of Some Important Verbs 72 The verb “be” 72 The verb “do” 73 The verb “have” 75 Getting Assistance from Helping Verbs 76 Asking questions with helping verbs 76 Creating negative statements with helping verbs 78 Expressing duty, ability, and possibility with helping verbs 80 Chapter 6: Describing with Adjectives and Adverbs 83 Adding Detail with Adjectives 83 How to find adjectives 85 Where to find adjectives 86 Writing Well with Adverbs 89 Adding information to verbs 89 Adding meaning to descriptions 91 Choosing between Adjectives and Adverbs 93 Placing “a” and “an” in the Proper Place 96 Making Comparisons with Adjectives and Adverbs 97 Single-word comparisons 97 Two-word comparisons 98 Irregular comparisons 99 Chapter 7: Little Things Mean a Lot: Prepositions 101 Recognizing Prepositions 101 Locating items and actions with prepositions 102 Telling time with prepositions 103 Discussing other relationships with prepositions 104 Identifying Objects of Prepositions 105 Finding objects through meaning 106 Locating objects with questions 107 Choosing Pronouns as Objects of Prepositions 109 Placing Prepositional Phrases in the Proper Place 110 Chapter 8: Joining and Commenting: Conjunctions and Interjections 113 Linking Ideas with Conjunctions 113 Adding meaning with conjunctions 114 Connecting equals 114 Paired conjunctions 116 Joining unequal ideas 118 Punctuating sentences with conjunctions 120 Identifying Interjections 123 Part III: Creating Correct Sentences.127 Chapter 9: Making Progress: Verbs Ending in –ing 129 Keeping Time with –ing Verb Forms ........129 Present progressive 130 Past progressive 131 Future progressive 132 Choosing between Simple and Progressive Tenses 133 Present 133 Past 135 Future 137 Some Help with Spelling –ing Verb Forms 138 Chapter 10: Revisiting the Past: The Perfect Tenses 141 Building a Bridge between the Present and the Past: Present Perfect Tense 141 Present perfect forms 142 When to use present perfect tense .144 Placing Events in Order with Past Perfect Tense 145 Past perfect forms 146 When to use past perfect tense 147 Breaking the Rules: Irregular Past Forms 150 Glancing at the Future Perfect Tense 152 Chapter 11: Searching for Subjects 155 Locating the Subject of a Sentence 155 Statement subjects 156 Question subjects 160 Command subjects 161 Matching Subjects and Verbs Properly 162 Sorting out subjects and verbs in common situations 163 Tackling tougher sentences 164 Dealing with Tricky Subjects 166 Singular subjects that look like plurals 166 Subjects in sentences with “here” and “there” 168 Changeable subjects 169 Chapter 12: Adding Meaning with Complements 171 Surveying Complements 171 Taking action: Objects 172 Finishing the thought: Subject complements 174 Popping the Question to Identify Objects and Subject Complements 176 Locating subject complements 180 Choosing the Proper Complement Pronoun 182 Chapter 13: Finishing the Job: Writing Complete Sentences 185 Halfway Is Not Enough: Expressing a Complete Thought 185 Cooking Up a Complete Sentence: The Essential Subject–Verb Pair 188 Not flying solo: Verb forms ending in –ing 188 Help wanted: Past verb forms that cannot stand alone 190 Do not be alone 191 Ending Sentences with Proper Punctuation 193 Changing the Rules for Texting 195 Dropping words 195 Skipping punctuation 196 Part IV: Punctuation and Capitalization 199 Chapter 14: Small Punctuation Mark, Big Trouble: Apostrophes 201 Possessed: Using Apostrophes to Show Ownership 201 Apostrophes and ownership 202 Forming singular possessives 204 Forming regular plural possessives 205 Forming irregular plural possessives 207 Shortening Words with Apostrophes 208 Avoiding Common Apostrophe Mistakes 211 Apostrophes in plurals 211 Possessive pronouns 212 Expanding contractions 213 Chapter 15: Pausing for a Rest: Commas 215 The Sound of Silence: Why Commas Matter 215 Making a List with Commas 217 Placing Commas before Conjunctions 221 Punctuating two connected, complete sentences 221 Punctuating other elements of a sentence 222 Placing Commas after Introductory Words 223 Single words and short phrases 224 Longer introductory elements 224 Introductory phrases containing verbs 225 Introductory subject–verb statements 226 Talking to People: Commas in Direct Address 228 Chapter 16: Who Said What: Quotation Marks 231 Telling the Truth with Quotation Marks 231 Quoting or Paraphrasing: Which Is Better? 232 Signaling exact words 233 Paraphrasing 234 Identifying the Source of a Quotation 236 Adding Punctuation to Quotations 238 Quotations with speaker tags 238 Quotations without speaker tags 241 Identifying Titles with Quotation Marks 242 Chapter 17: Big or Small? When to Write Capital Letters 245 Knowing the (Capital) ABCs of Capital Letters 245 Setting Up Sentences with Capital Letters 246 Naming Names 248 Who are you? Names for people 248 Where are you? Names for places 249 What’s that? Names of things 250 Mr. Mayor or mr. mayor: Capitalizing Titles 251 Titles appearing before a name 252 Titles appearing after a name 252 Titles appearing alone 254 Mom or mom? Capitalizing Family Relationships 255 Capitalizing Creative Works 256 Capitalizing Abbreviations 259 Part V: Grammar in Action 261 Chapter 18: Writing with Electronic Media 263 The Unbreakable Rule: Communicating Clearly in Texts, Instant Messages, and Tweets 263 Omitting words 264 Writing Proper Emails 268 Exploring email structure 269 Writing for Websites and Social Media 273 Chapter 19: Presentation Slides and Bulleted Lists 275 Ladies and Gentlemen, May I Present . . . Slides! 275 The title 277 The introduction 279 Writing Bullet Points 281 Matching bullets 281 Capitalizing and punctuating bullet points 284 Chapter 20: Writing at School and on the Job 287 A Is for Accomplished: Writing at School 287 Essays and research papers 287 Science lab reports 292 Get to Work: Writing on the Job 295 Letters 295 Memos 298 Emails and other electronic media 299 Part VI: Common Errors 301 Chapter 21: Spelling Your Way to Perfection 303 Following the Rules of English Spelling 303 I before E 304 Double letters 305 Dropping the silent E 306 Mastering Spelling Demons 308 How does the word end? 308 One or two? 310 Which vowel? 310 Checking the Dictionary for Spelling Help 311 Chapter 22: Tricky Word Traps 313 Same Sounds, Different Spelling: Sorting Out Word Pairs 313 Homonyms 314 Similar, but not alike: Other word pairs 318 Together or Apart? One- and Two-Word Expressions 320 Staying Away from Improper Expressions 322 Chapter 23: Avoiding Common Mistakes 325 Writing Clear Descriptions 325 Descriptions attached to the wrong word 326 Descriptions and missing words 328 Writing Clear Pronouns 329 No! No! Understanding Double Negatives 332 Part VII: The Part of Tens 335 Chapter 24: Ten Easy Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills 337 Listening 337 Reading 338 Writing 338 Rewriting 338 Recognizing Your Weak Spots 339 Asking for Help 339 Proofreading 340 Making Friends with a Dictionary 340 Using Spelling and Grammar Checkers 340 Solving Puzzles and Playing Games 341 Chapter 25: Ten Mistakes to Avoid 343 Substituting “Me” for “I” 343 Switching Verb Tenses 344 Adding Apostrophes to Plurals 344 Confusing “An” and “A” 345 Forgetting Endmarks 345 Pairing “You” with the Wrong Verb 345 Connecting Sentences with a Comma 346 Omitting Capital Letters 346 Using Half a Verb 347 Being Unclear 347 Index 349
Geraldine Woods is the author of more than 10 Dummies titles, including English Grammar For Dummies. She is a hugely experienced educator with a gift for helping students realize their potential and come to grips with even the hardest subjects. Her friendly style and good humor make learning easy.
Learn to: Become confident with written and spoken English Develop your skills without learning complex grammar Improve your spelling and avoid common mistakes The easy way to brush up on your English skills Is it good or well? There, their, or they're? Some people don't have to think twice about using proper English, but, for the rest of us, it can get tricky. Avoiding complicated grammar rules, this friendly guide sticks to the basics and makes it easy to take part in successful everyday communication, no matter your audience or format. Talk the talk — come to grips with the different parts of speech and see examples of language in action That is correct! — discover how to use the right verb form in each tense, pair subjects and verbs correctly, make sense of complements, and complete sentences in the right way There's a reason for that — find out the proper way to use apostrophes, commas, quotation marks, and capitalization Wherever you go… — find out how to use grammar correctly in any situation, whether you're writing in electronic media, making bulleted lists for presentation slides, or completing letters, reports, or school assignments Open the book and find: Helpful sidebars that make complicated material easy to understand Everything you need to know about punctuation Plain-English reasoning behind strict grammar rules An easy-to-follow lesson in spelling Commonly confused words Ten easy ways to improve your grammar Top grammar mistakes to avoid
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