Introduction to the Developing Essential Grammar Skills Sections

Parts of Speech:

Why is knowledge of parts of speech important?

Learning about parts of speech:

  • is like learning the letters of the alphabet for reading and spelling.
  • helps with an understanding of how words can be joined together to make interesting and grammatically correct sentences.
  • makes punctuating sentences easier.
  • helps with an understanding of how sentences are put together, making comprehension easier.
  • helps with an understanding of how some words can be used in several different ways.
  • helps improve overall writing skills.

What will you learn in this section?

  • There are 8 basic parts of speech. Every word in every sentence can be categorized as one of these parts: noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, conjunction, and interjection.
  • Noun
    • A noun names a person, place, thing, or idea.
    • Some nouns need to be capitalized.
    • Most nouns can be made into plurals, and there are rules for doing this.
    • Nouns can be used to show ownership.
    • Every noun has its own job or function within a sentence. There are six main noun functions.
    • Some nouns can be used as other parts of speech.
    • Some words that look like other parts of speech (driving) can be used as nouns.
  • Verb
    • Most verbs are action words.
    • Verbs can also show states of being (am, was) or link the subject to the rest of the sentence (appear, seem).
    • Some verbs help out the main verb in the sentence (can drive)
    • Verbs have tense, which tells when the action is taking place.
    • Most verbs form their tenses in a regular pattern, but some do not. These are irregular verbs.
    • Verbs have voice, which tells whether or not the subject is acting.
  • Adjective
    • Adjectives describe nouns or pronouns.
    • Adjectives tell what kind or, which one, or how many.
    • Some verbs that end in –ing or –ed can be used as adjectives.
  • Adverb
  • Adverbs describe verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.
  • Adverbs tell how, when, where, or to what extent (how much).
  • Many adverbs end in –ly, but some do not.
  • Identifying a word as an adjective or adverb helps with correct usage of many words such as good and
  • Pronoun
    • A pronoun is a word that can take the place of a noun.
    • Personal pronouns are the most commonly used.
    • Personal pronouns can be used as any of the six noun functions.
    • Personal pronouns have case (nominative, objective, possessive) and person (first, second, third).
    • Knowing the case, number, and function of pronouns helps with correct usage of these words, such as he and
    • There are other types of pronouns: interrogative, relative, and indefinite.
  • Preposition
  • A preposition is a word that connects a noun to some other word in the sentence.
  • A preposition can indicate space (near), time (after), or direction (toward).
  • Prepositions begin grammatical structures called prepositional phrases.
  • Conjunction
    • A conjunction is a word that connects two words, phrases, clauses, or sentences.
    • Coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, nor, for, yet) join parts of a sentence.
    • Subordinating conjunctions (since, although, because) begin dependent clauses.
  • Interjection
  • An interjection is a word used to show surprise or another emotion, such as
  • An interjection is not connected to any other part of a sentence.


Why is knowledge of mechanics important?

  • Unlike other areas of grammar, we cannot learn about mechanics (capitalization, punctuation, spelling) from oral language. We must practice with written language.
  • Correct use of mechanics can make writing both clearer and more accurate.
  • Knowing how to capitalize and punctuate gives clarity and style to writing.
  • Knowledge of mechanics makes it easier to edit written work.
  • Understanding use of commas and other punctuation marks can help with reading comprehension.

What will you learn in this section?

  • Capital letters are used for proper nouns, but they have other uses as well. These uses follow a set of rules.
  • Comma rules can be divided into those that are most basic (for example, to separate items in a series) and those that are more advanced (for example, to separate independent adjectives).
  • Commas and semicolons are used differently in sentences.
  • Quotation marks are used to identify a speaker’s exact words, but they have other uses as well. All of these uses follow a basic set of rules.

Sentence Structure:

Why is knowledge of sentence structure SO important?

  • Knowing how a sentence is put together can help tremendously with both writing and reading comprehension.
  • Knowing about sentence structure helps you see the relationships between ideas in sentences and paragraphs and can help you determine main ideas and details.
  • “Untangling” complex sentences is critical to help you understand more complex texts.
  • Knowledge of sentence structure helps you be able to expand and rearrange items in written sentences to make your writing clearer and more sophisticated.
  • Learning about different types of sentence structure helps you be able to combine simple written sentences into more interesting ones. 


What will you learn in this section?

  • Fragments are parts of sentences, and fragments should be avoided when writing.
  • Run-on sentences consist of two or more sentences written incorrectly as one and should be avoided when writing.
  • Clauses and phrases are different parts of sentences, and they can both be added to sentences to make them more interesting and meaningful.
  • Simple sentences can be combined by using phrases and clauses.
  • All sentences have at least one independent clause and may have one or more dependent clauses.
  • Dependent clauses can be used as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs. Every noun clause has its own function in a sentence.


Why is knowledge of correct usage important?

  • Using correct language is the mark of an educated speaker and writer.
  • Knowing how to use words correctly helps with editing written work.
  • Knowing the rules for correct usage makes it easier to speak and write in a consistent manner.

What will you learn in this section?

  • Verbs and subjects in sentences must always agree.
  • Singular subjects need singular verbs: plural subjects need plural verbs.
  • Rules exist for subject-verb agreement.
  • A review of previously learned usage rules (irregular verbs, adjective/adverb usage, pronoun usage) is important for consistently correct writing and speaking.

Correcting Sentence Problems:

Why is the ability to correct common sentence problems important?

  • Being able to correct common problems in sentences helps to improve the clarity and structure of writing.
  • Being able to correct common problems keeps writing from becoming awkward and confusing.
  • Knowing the most common types of sentence problems and how to correct them helps with editing of written work.

What will you learn in this section?

  • Words and phrases that modify other words must be placed close to the words they modify.
  • Words and phrases listed in a series must have the same structure.
  • When using pronouns, the noun to which the pronoun refers must be clearly stated or understood.
  • The verbs in a sentence should be the same in both tense and voice.
  • There are a number of word pairs that are commonly confused, such as accept and Understanding the difference in these pairs helps with both speaking and writing.