1. Use of Articles
A proper noun (e.g. John, India, Alice, and Chicago) does not take an article. It always begins with a capital letter.
- My name is John. (NOT My name is john.)
- He lives in Chicago. (NOT He lives in the Chicago.)
A common noun (e.g. boy, girl, cat, rat, country) must have an article.
- The cat was chasing the rat. (NOT Cat was chasing rat.)
A plural noun can be used with or without an article.
2. Past perfect tense
The past perfect tense must be used when the time of one past tense verb is more past than that of another.
- I realized that I had met him before. (NOT I realized that I met him before.)
- The patient had died before the doctor arrived. (NOT The patient died before the doctor arrived.)
3. Tense in subordinate clauses
In subordinate adverb clauses, a present tense is used to refer to the future.
- If you invite him, he will come. (NOT If you will invite him, he will come.)
- After I finish my studies, I will go to London. (NOT After I will finish my studies, I will go to London.)
4. Too and very
Too means ‘more than it ought to be’. It has a negative meaning.
- She is very nice. (NOT She is too nice.)
- The story was very interesting. (NOT The story was too interesting.)
5. Sentences beginning with a negative word
In sentences beginning with a negative word (e.g. never, hardly, scarcely, no sooner), we use the inverted word order. That means the auxiliary verb comes before the subject.
- Never have I seen such a sight. (NOT Never I have seen such a sight.)
- Hardly have I had any rest since Monday. (NOT Hardly I have had any rest since Monday.)
6. Don’t use two conjunctions when one is enough
One conjunction is enough to join two clauses. English does not require a second conjunction.
- Correct: Though he was clever, he could not solve the problem.
- Correct: He was clever but he could not solve the problem.
- Correct: He was clever yet he could not solve the problem.
- Incorrect: Though he was clever but he could not solve the problem.
- Incorrect: Though he was clever yet he could not solve the problem.
If there are two clauses in a sentence, they must be linked by a conjunction or a relative pronoun.
- Incorrect: This is my friend, he was at school with me.
- Correct: This is my friend who was at school with me.
- Incorrect: This is my house, I live here.
- Correct: This is my house where I live.
8. Since and for
When counting from a particular date we use since, but we always use for for a period. Examples are: since last Monday, since Friday, since July, for two weeks, for three months etc.
- Incorrect: He has been ill since three months.
- Correct: He has been ill for three months.
9. According to
We do not give our own opinions with according to.
- According to Jane, things are going to get better. (= If what Jane says is true, things are going to get better.)
To give our own opinions, we use an expression like in my opinion.
- In my opinion, this is a big mistake. (NOT According to me, this is a big mistake.)
10. Position of adverbs
Do not put adverbs between a verb and its object. The adverb can go either before the verb or after the object.
- I often buy comics. (NOT I buy often comics.)
- She speaks English well. (NOT She speaks well English.)