9 English Grammar Tips From an ESL Speaker

The grammar of the English language is one of the easiest in the world. Most ESL speakers can become fluent in no time. Here’s how.

9 English Grammar Tips From an ESL Speaker

You always hear about how English grammar is easy compared to German, Finnish, or Icelandic grammar (there are even memes on the matter). And that’s true. English grammar can be super fun and easy to learn if you want it to be. Think about it: most probably, English wouldn’t be a lingua franca if it were very difficult to learn. However almost 900 million people mastered it as a second language. And you can, too.

I for one successfully learned English as a second language as a young child living in Eastern Europe. All it took was a dedicated teacher, daily grammar lessons (for some time), and a lot of passion. Now, I want to share my tips and tricks with you. Yes, English grammar is all about verbs, verb tenses, nouns, and adverbs. But it is also about feeling. I believe in learning the English language, but I‌ also believe in feeling it. So here’s exactly what you could do to learn English grammar easily.

1. Start with basic grammar rules

Basic grammar rules are a must if you really want to get proficient. You may not like them (most people don’t), but the truth is you can’t escape them. So, first things first: learn what are the English parts of speech and how to recognize each of them.

The main parts of speech in English are noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, conjunction, interjection, numeral, article (or determiner). Let’s see some definitions and examples for the most important of them.

Coming from the Latin nomen (name), a noun is a word used to identify any of a class of people, places, or things (common noun), or to name a particular one of these (proper noun).

For example, in “the apples are green”, the common noun is “apples” and in “Sarah is 20 years old”, the proper noun is “Sarah”.

A verb, on the other hand, is a word used to describe an action. In “Jon sings while I cook”, both “sings” and “cook” are verbs used to describe actions.

An adjective is a word naming an attribute of a noun. In “Hannah is beautiful”, “beautiful” is an adjective used to describe the proper noun “Hannah”.

And the list can and should continue (check the English grammar courses from Oxford for more). But in today’s lesson we’re focussing more on curriculum and tips, so let’s move on to your next step.

2. Continue with verbs and verb tenses

Verbs and verb tenses are important because they can make your whole language sound off if you don’t use the correct form. And what better way to understand verb tenses than examples?

Verb Tenses in EnglishExamplesWhen does the action take place?

Simple Present
I read a poem every day.an action that happens now or regularly (every day, every month, etc.)

Present Continuous
You are reading a really nice book.an action that happens now and may continue into the future

Simple Past
She watched Harry Potter last Christmas.the action was completed in the past

Past Continuous
I was watching a movie and he arrived.a continuing action happening at some point in the past

Present Perfect
I have worked here since 2010.an action that occurred at an indefinite time in the past or began in the past and continued to the present time

Present Perfect Continuous
I have been working here for years.an action that started in the past and is continuing at the present time

Past Perfect
I had watched at least 500 films by the time I was 15.the action was completed in the past before before something else happened

Past Perfect Continuous
I had been working for at least 10 hours when I realized I lost track of time. an action that started in the past and continued up until another time in the past

Future Perfect
We will have arrived at your place by the time you get this card.an action that will be completed before some other point in the future

Future Perfect Continuous
I will have been reading for at least one hour before our meeting tonight. an action that will continue up until a point in the future

Simple Future
She will go to Belgium next month.an action that hasn't happened yet

Future Continuous
She will be traveling by plane.an action that will occur in the future and continue for an expected length of time

At first glance, there is a lot of information you need to remember. But rest assured: you won’t always have to analyze the situation over and over again in order to choose the correct tense. In time, you will get used to using the correct form naturally.

3. Learn the English irregular verbs

There are about 200 irregular verbs (and significantly more if prefixed forms are counted) in English. In most cases, the irregularity concerns the past tense or the past participle.

Again, 200 may seem like a lot, but learning the English irregular verbs is like learning the periodic table. Once you know it, you just… know it. Especially if used regularly.

Don’t forget that this is a central part of English grammar and mastering it will help you sound like a true native fast. Besides, mistaking one verb form for another is something you should avoid at all costs!

4. Focus on context instead of rules

When it comes to speaking English, Mondly is probably the best tool that can get you there really fast. Why? Because Mondly is based on the inductive method: learn by doing, context and example, and extrapolate to rules. In other words, start thinking in English rather than construct a phrase in your native language, apply the rules and only then translate it accordingly.

Unlike deductive learning, where learners are given a set of rules they will need to apply, inductive learning is a discovery process where students discover rules by themselves by looking at examples. Think about those endless pages of rules you had to memorize in high school. That was no easy task. But once in a while, there was a teacher who really enjoyed the job and took the time to properly explain all the thinking behind them. Only then would the rules stick.

Learning rules mechanically is usually next to impossible. But when you understand the process, collect bits of information and draw the conclusions yourself, everything becomes easier. And that’s exactly the teaching technique Mondly uses. You basically teach yourself.

The experts behind Mondly know how amazing the human brain is. This is why they carefully selected the content so that you’ll practice and the brain will make the connections itself. You don’t focus on the process but on the final result: speaking English like a native.

5. Learn the most common exceptions

Forget about rules. Focus on the most common exceptions. Once you begin using the inductive learning method, rules will follow naturally. So it’s the exception you need to study and master.

Whether we are talking about adjective forms, irregular verbs, or nouns without plurals, exceptions are fewer and can help you achieve the level of English fluency and correctness you always dreamed you’d have.

6. Practice English Grammar with Oxford

Being the best always requires hard work and practice. Thus, if you want to take a step further and grow from beginner to advanced and later proficient, you should practice grammar with the special workbooks from Oxford.

Add at least 15 minutes of grammar exercises from Oxford to your learning routine, and soon enough, your brain will begin to make the connections naturally and faster.

english grammar lessons
“Find your favorite book” by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič©

7. Don’t overthink it

Go with the flow and let the inductive method work. Trust your instinct. In time, once you get used to the language, you’ll be able to speak English as easily as you speak your native language.

Don’t calculate your next ten moves. Instead, think directly in English and just speak. If you overthink a phrase now, you’ll overthink it forever.

8. Read your favorite books in English

What better way is there to get used to English grammar in context than reading your favorite books in English? I, for one, started with Harry Potter because it is easy to read and it does not use complex vocabulary.

But you can choose any book you want. Just make sure it matches your proficiency level.

Seeing the English grammar in context will help you assimilate the information faster and learn to use it successfully yourself.

9. Make English grammar your friend

After reading, it’s time to practice what you’ve learned with a nice English writing session. Write about your passions, your hobbies, or just about anything you want. The idea is to practice expressing yourself in English in regard to the things you are more likely to talk about in a future conversation with an English speaker.

Speak English fluently in just 10 minutes a day

Do you want to speak English like a true American? Or maybe you dream of acquiring the unique British accent? No matter the choice, we have the perfect tool for you: Mondly, the award-winning language learning app that will help you speak English as if it were your first language.

It’s true: it can be really tricky to master English grammar and pronunciation if you don’t actively live in an English-speaking country. But with Mondly, you’ll have access to a unique, fast and highly efficient learning method that allows you to learn the English grammar naturally with practical topics, authentic conversations and bite-sized Daily Lessons.

Get Mondly now and speak English like you never dreamed you would!

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Diana Lăpușneanu - Linguist at Mondly Blog

Diana is a Linguist at Mondly by Pearson. Learning English as a second language early on fueled her lifelong passion for language learning, leading her to pursue a diverse array of languages as a hobby alongside her academic endeavors. With a Master’s Degree in advertising and a fascination for historical linguistics, she brings a unique perspective to her role, making language learning fun for readers worldwide.

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