GOLDEN GRAMMAR RULES
By Michael Swan
By Michael Swan
[coverattach=1] 1. Don’t use an with own.
Sue needs her own room. (NOT Sue needs an own room.)
I’d like a phone line of my own. (NOT … an own phone line.)
2. Use or rather to correct yourself.
She’s German – or rather, Austrian. (NOT She’s German – or better, Austrian.)
I’ll see you on Friday – or rather, Saturday.
3. Use the simple present – play(s), rain(s) etc – to talk about habits and repeated actions.
I play tennis every Saturday. (NOT I ** playing tennis every Saturday.)
It usually rains a lot in November.
4. Use will …, not the present, for offers and promises.
I’ll cook you supper this evening. (NOT I cook you supper this evening.)
I promise I’ll phone you tomorrow. (NOT I promise I phone you tomorrow.)
5. Don’t drop prepositions with passive verbs.
I don’t like to be shouted at. (NOT I don’t like to be shouted.)
This needs to be thought about some more. (NOT This needs to be thought some more.)
6. Don’t use a present tense after It’s time.
It’s time you went home. (NOT It’s time you go home.)
It’s time we invited Bill and Sonia. (NOT It’s time we invite Bill and Sonia.)
7. Use was/were born to give dates of birth.
I was born in 1975. (NOT I ** born in 1975.)
Shakespeare was born in 1564.
8. Police is a plural noun.
The police are looking for him. (NOT The police is looking for him.)
I called the police, but they were too busy to come.
9. Don't use the to talk about things in general.
Books are expensive. (NOT The books are expensive.)
I love music. (NOT I love the music.)
10. Use had better, not have better.
I think you’d better see the doctor. (NOT I think you have better see the doctor.)
We’d better ask John to help us.
11. Use the present progressive - ** playing, is raining etc - to talk about things that are continuing at the time of speaking.
I’m playing very badly today. (NOT I play very badly today.)
Look! It's raining! (NOT Look! It rains!)
12. Use for with a period of time. Use since with the beginning of the period.
for the last two hours = since 9 o'clock
for three days = since Monday
for five years = since I left school
I’ve been learning English for five years. (NOT I’ve been learning English since three years.)
We’ve been waiting for ages, since eight o’clock.
13. Don't separate the verb from the object.
very well . (NOT She speaks very well English.)
very much. (NOT Andy likes very much skiing.)
14. Don't use the present perfect - have/has seen, have/has gone etc - with words that name a finished time.
I saw him yesterday. (NOT I have seen him yesterday.)
They went to Greece last summer. (NOT They have gone … last summer.)
15. English (the language) normally has no article.
You speak very good English. (NOT You speak a very good English.)
16. After look forward to, we use -ing, not an infinitive.
I look forward to seeing you. (NOT I look forward to see you.)
We’re looking forward to going on holiday. (NOT … to go on holiday.)
17. Information is an uncountable noun.
Can you give me some information? (NOT Can you give me an information?)
I got a lot of information from the Internet. (NOT I got a lot of informations from the Internet.)
18. Use -ing forms after prepositions.
I drove there without stopping. (NOT I drove there without to stop.)
Wash your hands before eating. (NOT Wash your hands before to eat.)
19. Use this, not that, for things that are close.
Come here and look at this paper. (NOT Come here and look at that paper.)
How long have you been in this country? (NOT How long have you been in that country?)
20. Use a plural noun after one and a half.
We waited one and a half hours. (NOT We waited one and a half hour.)
A mile is about one and a half kilometres. (NOT A mile is about one and a half kilometre.)
21. Use the present perfect, not the present, to say how long things have been going on.
I've been waiting since 10 o'clock. (NOT I'm waiting since 10 o'clock.)
We've lived here for nine years. (NOT We live here for nine years.)
22. The majority is normally plural.
Some people are interested, but the majority don't care. (NOT ... but the majority doesn't care.)
The majority of these people are very poor. (NOT The majority of these people is very poor.)
23. Use too much/many before (adjective +) noun; use too before an adjective with no noun.
There's too much noise.
I bought too much red paint.
Those shoes are too expensive. (NOT Those shoes are too much expensive.)
24. Use that, not what, after all.
I've told you all that I know. (NOT I've told you all what I know.)
He gave her all that he had.
25. Don't say according to me to give your opinion.
I think it's a good film. (NOT According to me, it's a good film.)
In my opinion, you're making a serious mistake. (NOT According to me, you're making a serious mistake.)
26. Don't ask about possibilities with May you ...? etc.
Do you think you'll go camping this summer? (NOT May you go camping this summer?)
Is Joan likely to be here tomorrow? (NOT May Joan be here tomorrow?)
27. Use who, not which, for people in relative structures.
The woman who lives upstairs is from Thailand. (NOT The woman which lives upstairs is from Thailand.)
I don't like people who shout all the time. (NOT I don't like people which shout all the time.)
28. Use for, not during, to say `how long'.
We waited for six hours. (NOT We waited during six hours.)
He was ill for three weeks. (NOT He was ill during three weeks.)
29. Use to ..., not for ..., to say why you do something.
I came here to study English. (NOT I came here for study English.)
She telephoned me to explain the problem. (NOT She telephoned me for explain the problem.)