Basic Grammar Rules that are Actually Important


Hey, everyone!

Today I am bringing you a post on basic grammar rules and some important ones that are forgotten a lot. I learned all of these in my Writing Fundamentals class at uni, and I felt like they would be very helpful to everyone now since it’s NanoWriMo! Let me know down below what your stories for Nano are about because I love hearing about everyone’s writing journeys.


Also, the book I had to buy for the class is called Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark that you can purchase here. It is unbelievably informative and helpful, so I highly suggest reading it!



So, here are some important grammar rules:

  1. Punctuation

    • Dash

      • A dash separates, a hyphen joins
      • Dashes have spaces on either side

    • Ellipses

      • “…” indicates that part of a quote or citation has been removed
      • If it follows the end of a sentence, use four periods
      • NOT used to create a pause

    • Quotation marks

      • Periods and commas always go inside the quotation marks
      • Question marks and exclamation points go inside if they are part of the quote

  2. Apostrophe

    • If compound subjects are shared, only the second item has the possessive

      • Ex: “We ate dinner at Harry and Ginny’s house.”

    • If the singular word ends in “s” or an “s” sound, add “es”
    • For proper nouns:

      • Singular word not ending in “s” or “s” sound, add apostrophe “s”
      • Singular word ending in “s” sound, use apostrophe “s”
      • Singular word ending in “s,” use apostrophe “s” (for journalism, use only the apostrophe)
      • Plural words require only an apostrophe

    • If the word is possessive, use an apostrophe; if the word is descriptive, do not use an apostrophe

      • Ex: The farmers market vendor, Scarlet, sold the farmer’s tomatoes.

  3. Comma

    • The comma is NOT for a pause
    • Do not use between a subject and a verb
    • Do not use between a title and a name
    • Use a comma after a conjunction only if what follows has a subject and a verb
    • Place commas on both sides of appositives

      • The Night Court, Prythian, is ruled by Rhysand.

    • Use commas around years if it follows an exact date
    • Use a comma to shift from a quotation to an attribution
    • Insert a comma between equal adjectives

  4. That, Which, Who

    • “That” is used with essential clauses and never has a comma
    • “Which” is used with nonessential clauses and always has a comma
    • “Who” has a comma if the clause is nonessential

  5. Hyphens

    • A hyphen joins, a dash separates
    • Compound modifiers are joined by a hyphen if both are true:

      1. Each word is an adjective, is not an -ly adverb, or “very”
      2. Words appear before a noun or after a linking verb

        • Ex: The chest was dust-covered.

    • Suspensive hyphens involve an implicit word in a compound modifier

      • Ex: It was a ten- or eleven-month trek across the continent.

  6. Agreement

    • To choose the correct verb:

      • If singular, replace the word with “he” or “she” and see which word fits
      • If plural, replace with “they” and see which word fits

    • Compound subjects joined by “and” are plural except for single units

      • Single unit example: Macaroni and cheese

    • Subject agreement for words joined by “or” or “nor” depends on the last subject
    • “none” is usually singular
    • The word “team” is always singular, but team names are always plural
    • Cities, states, and nations are always singular

  7. Pronouns

    • For compound subjects and objects, get rid of the second person/object then evaluate the pronoun

  8. Who and Whom

    • If the word is used as a subject, use who

      • If you would use “he,” use who

    • If it is used as an object, use whom.

      • If you would use “him,” use whom

    • If it can go either way, use it as a subject

  9. Lay and Lie

    • Lay means to place
    • Lie means to recline

  10. Affect and Effect

    • If the word is a noun, use effect
    • If the word is a verb, usually use affect

      • To influence = affect; to cause or produce = effect


I hope this was helpful, and thank you for reading!


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