7 Most Difficult English Grammar Rules for Non-Native Speakers

If English is not your first language, consider learning it. You might have put in a lot of effort to learn English grammar. However, your ultimate objective may be to be able to write in English without making any mistakes. People who do not speak English as their first language often do not realize when they make mistakes in English. Even people who speak English well may not be aware of their mistakes, either because they do not know enough or because they “learned” them from non-natives. So, in this article, we are going to talk about some complicated English grammar rules for non-natives.

Looking for a language tutoring platform that teaches native English? AmazingTalker is here to help you. With 104 language tutors and tons of great features, AmazingTalker is the best online tutoring platform in the game.

1. Tenses

Changes in verb tenses seem to be easy for readers to spot. When an author switches from the moment to the past tense, for example, it shatters the flow of the article and can fool readers. Keep in mind the big picture of your studies and whether it is about the past, the present, or the future. When necessary (like when talking about what the research could lead to in the future), you can switch between tenses, but in general, choose the primary tense of your studies and stick to that as much as possible.

2. Article

When articles are misused, it is because English grammar differs from the author’s native language. “An article can follow a study” or “the study,” but plural countable nouns never need an indefinite article (“studies”). An indefinite article is often used to talk about something being brought up for the first time (“According to a study…”). However, use the definite article when discussing that thing again (“The study further showed…”). The right way to use articles can be understood with practice, making your research easier to read.

3. Phrasal Verbs

Be careful when you see phrasal verbs in your texts because they can sometimes be very mean. Just think about how everyone knows the word “to come.” Remember that the phrase “to come across” means to run into someone or something. If you notice these little things that change the definition of sentences, you are a good translator and should be proud of yourself.

4. Homonyms

Yup, the English language is full of them: “wound” (injury) and “wound” (past participle of “to wind”), “tear” (water drops from our eyes), and “to tear” (to destroy by pulling apart), “affect” and “effect,” “ate” and “eight,” etc. These can be words with the exact spelling but different pronunciations, words with the same English spelling, or lexemes with different letter sets that sound the same. The essential thing is to always check online for more information if something in your text does not feel right or if you know that a word’s meaning does not fit.

5. First-person Writing

Academic writing is usually done in the third person and writing in the first person is seen as opinionated and informal. However, this way of thinking has changed, and first-person references are now more common. Some journals even encourage this style. Since this is still being discussed, it is best to be safe and avoid making personal statements. Review the journal’s guidelines and decide based on what you find.

6. Compound Possession

Compound possession is when two things are being owned at the same time. First, you must determine if the two people have the object together or on their own. For example, in the sentence “Peter’s and Karen’s cars are blue,” Peter and Karen do not share ownership of their blue cars. Instead, they each own one or more blue cars. “Peter and Karen’s cars are blue,” on the other hand, means that Peter and Karen both own at least two blue cars.

7. Ending a Sentence with Parentheses

Parentheses, also called brackets, let a writer add more information. If the phrase in parentheses comes at the end of a sentence, the last punctuation mark must go outside the parentheses. So, for example, the correct way to write this sentence is “The children wanted to go to the park because they love kicking the soccer ball.” However, if the parenthetical is a complete sentence and not part of some other sentence, the punctuation mark goes inside the parentheses, like this: “It was true. (But even if it was not, who would know.


I hope that reading this article has provided you with some fundamental knowledge that will help you avoid making typical grammatical errors when you are writing a research paper, an essay, a proposal, or even your homework. Nevertheless, there may be circumstances in which you are required to contact a knowledgeable language or technical instructor who can polish your work and provide you with some more pointers on how to improve your writing.

Speaking of language instructors, AmazingTalker is the best language tutoring platform for you to get the best language lessons. Check out their online English classes and language instructors online .

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.