Translate this Page






Total de visitas: 495157

Practical English Usage is recommended for any teacher, trainee teacher, or advanced-level student looking for answers to questions about the English language. The material is now organised in two parts (grammar and vocabulary), making it easier than ever to find the answers, either online or in print.

Part 1 is a complete practical learner's grammar with 28 sections, covering all the structural points that cause problems for learners.

Part 2 is a guide to vocabulary problems covering:

rules for word formation and spelling
a survey of high-priority vocabulary areas
an A–Z guide to over 250 common word problems
The 600+ entries provide answers to the questions that learners typically ask, for example:

the truth about conditionals
article problems
get as a passive auxiliary
can, could, may or might?
classic or classical?
the language of emails

the grammar of speech and formal writing
British–American differences
questions of style and idiom
changes in English
avoiding offensive language
lists of learners' most common mistakes



7 English Grammar Rules You Should Know


This post outlines seven general areas of grammar and syntax that writers must be familiar with to enable them to write effectively.

  1. Subject-Verb Agreement

Use singular verbs for singular subjects and plural verbs with plural subjects. A verb should agree with its subject, not with an intervening modifying phrase or clause: “The box of cards is on the shelf.”

Singular verbs are appropriate with the following parts of speech:

  • indefinite pronouns: “Everyone is here”


  • uncountable nouns: “The rain has stopped”


  • inverted subjects: “Where is the car?”


  • subjects plural in form but singular in meaning: “Statistics [the academic subject] is boring,” but “Statistics [sets of data] are sometimes misleading”


  • compound subjects: “Breaking and entering is different than burglary”


  • the constructions “the only one of those (blank) who . . . ,” “the number of (blank) . . . ,” “every (blank) . . . ,” and “many a (blank) . . .”


  • a measurement when considered as a unit: “Three months is a long time to wait”


  • collective nouns: “The team is ready for the game” (but if referring to all individual members of a collective, reword for clarity, as in “The members of the team stand behind the coach’s decision”)

  1. Nominative and Objective Pronouns and Reflexive Pronouns

Pronouns are sometimes used erroneously when a phrase contains more than one object. For example, although “My sister and I are coming” is correct because “My sister and I” is the subject and therefore the nominative I is appropriate, “He invited my sister and I” is wrong because “my sister” and I are the objects, and the pronoun should be in objective form (me, not I).

Reflexive pronouns, compound of a pronoun and -self, are correct only if they are associated with an antecedent pronoun, as in “I did it myself”; “Contact John or myself” is an error because there is no previous reference to the self-identifying person.

  1. Dangling Participles


When a sentence begins with an incomplete phrase or clause, the person, place, or thing it modifies must immediately follow it as the subject of the main clause, or the introductory phrase or clause must be rewritten. For example, in “Rolling down the slope, my eyes beheld a curious sight,” the writer intends to express that he or she was rolling down the slope, but the subject of the sentence is “my eyes,” leading to the impression that the rolling was performed by the eyes, not the individual. To resolve the problem, amend the sentence to “Rolling down the slope, I beheld a curious sight” or “As I rolled down the slope, my eyes beheld a curious sight.”

  1. Misplaced Modifiers

A modifying phrase should immediately follow the word or phrase it modifies. For example, in the sentence “I overheard that they’re getting married in the rest room,” because “in the rest room” follows “getting married,” the reader is given the impression that the nuptials will take place in the rest room. However, “in the rest room” modifies the subject, “I overheard,” so those two phrases should be adjacent: “I overheard in the rest room that they’re getting married.”

  1. Incomplete Sentences

Many justifications exist for sentence fragments, but they are best used judiciously and in such a way that it is clear to the reader that the writer is deliberately writing an incomplete sentence, and not obliviously making an error.

  1. Phrase and Clause Lists

In-line lists, those presented within the syntax of a sentence, should be structured to be grammatically consistent. For example, the sentence “Insights are actionable, adaptive, and help achieve the desired objectives” is erroneously constructed because are serves the first adjective and help is associated with achieve, but adaptive cannot share are with actionable unless a conjunction rather than a comma separates them: “Insights are actionable and adaptive and help achieve the desired objectives.”

If a sentence, unlike in this revision, is to remain in list form, each list element must follow parallel construction, as in the revision of “Teapots may be embellished with landscapes, scenes from paintings, historical figures, or natural elements such as orchids or bamboo” to “Teapots may be embellished with landscapes, scenes from paintings, portraits of historical figures, or depictions of natural elements such as orchids or bamboo,” where each element must refer to representations of phenomena rather than the phenomena themselves.

  1. Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Phrases and Clauses

Although the use of which in a sentence such as “She prefers a job which is more stable” is technically correct in American English (and ubiquitous in British English), careful writers will help their readers by maintaining this distinction between which and that: Use the former with a nonrestrictive phrase “She prefers a job, which is more stable than freelance work” (what follows the comma and which is not essential to the sentence) and use the latter with a restrictive phrase “She prefers a job that is more stable” (“that is more stable” is an essential part of the sentence).