Writing/basic grammar rules of American English writing

The basic grammar rules of American English writing cover a wide range of topics, from sentence structure to punctuation.[1] Here is an overview of some essential grammar rules:

  1. Sentence Structure:
    • Subject-Verb Agreement: Ensure that the subject and verb in a sentence agree in number (singular or plural).
      • Example: The cat is on the roof. (singular)
      • Example: The cats are on the roof. (plural)
    • Complete Sentences: Every sentence should have a subject and a verb and express a complete thought.
      • Example: She went to the store.
    • Punctuation at the End of Sentences: End sentences with a period (.), question mark (?), or exclamation point (!).
      • Example: I have a question?
  2. Pronouns:
    • Agreement: Ensure that pronouns agree with the nouns they replace in gender and number.
      • Example: Each student must bring his or her own lunch.
    • Clear Antecedents: A pronoun should have a clear noun (antecedent) it refers to.
      • Example: Mary gave Jane a book, and she thanked her.
  3. Verb Usage:
    • Tense Consistency: Maintain consistent verb tense (time reference) throughout a sentence or paragraph.
      • Example: She is studying for her exams because she wants to do well.
    • Avoiding Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers: Place modifiers close to the word they modify to avoid confusion.
      • Example: Running quickly, the finish line was reached. (Dangling)
      • Corrected: Running quickly, she reached the finish line.
      • Example: We saw a cave running down the street. (Dangling)
      • Corrected: While we were running down the street, we saw a cave.
  4. Articles:
    • Use of "A" and "An": Use "a" before words that begin with a consonant sound and "an" before words that begin with a vowel sound.
      • Example: A car, an hour.
  5. Prepositions:
    • Proper Use: Ensure correct usage of prepositions to convey relationships between words.
      • Example: She is good at playing the piano.
  6. Conjunctions:
    • Use of Coordinating Conjunctions: Combine independent clauses with coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet).
      • Example: She likes to read, but he prefers to watch movies.
  7. Punctuation:
    • Commas: Use commas to separate items in a list, set off introductory phrases, and separate independent clauses.
      • Example: I need to buy eggs, milk, and bread.
    • Apostrophes: Use apostrophes to indicate possession or to form contractions.
      • Example: The cat's tail (possession), don't (contraction for do not).
    • Quotation Marks: Use quotation marks to enclose direct quotations and titles of short works.
      • Example: He said, "I'll be there by 3 o'clock."
    • Hyphens: Use hyphens to connect compound words, numbers, and in some prefixes.
      • Example: well-known, twenty-two, pre-existing.
  8. Capitalization:
    • Sentence Start: Capitalize the first word of a sentence.
      • Example: The sun is shining.
    • Proper Nouns: Capitalize proper nouns, including names of people, places, and specific things.
      • Example: Mary, New York City, the Eiffel Tower.
  9. Spelling:
    • Correct Spelling: Pay attention to proper spelling. Use dictionaries or spell-check tools as needed.
  10. Parallelism:
    • Parallel Structure: Use parallel structure when expressing similar ideas within a sentence or a series of sentences.
      • Example: She likes swimming, hiking, and to ride her bike.

Understanding and applying these basic grammar rules will contribute to clear, effective, and standard American English writing. Regular practice and proofreading are essential to improving and maintaining grammatical accuracy.

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