Mastery of the English language is a skill that pays off no matter what your occupation. It’s a proven fact that people with good spelling and correct grammar are more respected, more likely to earn promotions, and more likely to have the admiration of their peers. But the English language is a convoluted stew of concepts and principles from a multitude of mother tongues, including Latin, German, Dutch and many others. So keeping the rules of good grammar straight can be somewhat of a burden. In this article, I’m going to give you some of the most important rules to follow to ensure that you are using correct grammar, and then when I’m done you can read it again and find the ones that I’ve broken – just to keep you sharp, you see?
One very common mistake that people make in their quest for correct grammar is a split infinitive. This may sound like a term out of science fiction, but it’s actually something that we do every day in conversation. An infinitive is a verb with the word “to” in front of it, such as “to draw” or “to dance.” The problem is, many people try to wedge adverbs in between the “to” and the verb, resulting in a clunky sentence. Proper grammar mandates that the adverb be placed after the verb at all times when an infinitive is hanging around.
Another grammar mistake that is made all the time is improper use of “who” and “whom.” Thankfully, there is a simple exercise that you can do to ensure you are using correct grammar when you need to employ those words. Take your sentence, say “This apple belongs to who?” and swap the “who” with the words “he” and “him.” In this case, “him” would sound correct, so we’d use “whom.” If it was the other way around, we’d use “who.” This trick always works, and it’s easy to remember.
The third tip I’ll give you for keeping up your correct grammar is use of commas. Overuse of these handy little punctuation marks can drag even the best writing down, so be aware of the appropriate time to use them. Primarily, a comma should only be used to separate completely independent clauses in a sentence, or to emphasize an adverb. Of course, there are a number of exceptions, but those are the main uses. Think of a comma as a beat in the sentence, and if it seems wrong, leave it out.