Proper use of English grammar is something that eludes even some native speakers, and it is particularly challenging for people who are learning English as a second language. The rules are complicated and may sometimes seem arbitrary. However, if you want to do well on the TOEFL, there are some rules that you must master.

With that in mind, here are the 7 most essential English grammar rules that you need to know to take the TOEFL.

Rule #1: Subject/verb agreement

One of the most common mistakes that people who are learning English make is failing to have agreement between the subject of a sentence and the verb used. English has a large number of irregular verbs and it is essential to familiarize yourself with both the standard verb conjugations and lists of irregular verbs.

Here is an explanation for this grammar rule: webapps.towson.edu

Rule #2: Noun/pronoun agreement

Another common problem new English-speakers encounter is making sure that their nouns and pronouns agree. Pronoun usage is common in English, but it can get confusing if you’re not careful. Study pronoun usage and practice using pronouns in sentences before you take the test.

Here is a more detailed explanation for this grammar rule: academicguides.waldenu.educhompchomp

Rule #3: Subjective and objective pronouns

The form a pronoun takes varies depending upon how it is used in a sentence. When you’re learning English, it’s easy to make the mistake of using an objective pronoun (him, her, them) when you should use a subjective one (he, she, they) and vice versa.

A good way to remember which pronoun to use is look at the verb in the sentence or phrase. If the pronoun is carrying out an action (He threw the ball), then you should use the subjective form; if something is taking action upon the pronoun (Sally hit him with the ball), then you should use the objective form.

Here is a more detailed explanation for this grammar rule: factmonster.com

Rule #4: Avoiding run-on sentences and fragments

A well-structured sentence must express a single idea fully. A run-on sentence is one that contains two independent clauses that could function as complete sentences without connecting words or punctuation. A fragment is a sentence that is incomplete, missing a subject, verb, or other key element.

A run-on sentence should be rewritten for clarity or split into two sentences. A fragment must be expanded and crafted into a complete sentence. Learning to recognize mistakes in sentence structure is essential if you want to do well on the TOEFL.

Rule #5: Using the correct tense

When it comes to writing in English, it is fairly common for people to switch between verb tenses as they write. If you want your writing to be clear, the tense you use must be consistent throughout your essay. An essay that begins in the present tense must use that tense throughout, although you may want to express ideas in the past. In such cases the primary verb in the sentence must be in the present tense, while verbs in supporting clauses may be in the past tense, such as in this sentence: I know that she went to the store. “I know” is in the present tense, and “she went” is in the past tense.

Rule #6: Proper use of adjectives and adverbs

Adjectives are descriptive words that describe nouns, and adverbs are descriptive words that modify verbs. There are exceptions to this basic rule, but the most common mistakes in usage happen when we use an adjective as an adverb and vice versa.

To get it right, think about which word you are modifying and use the proper form. For example, in the sentence, He’s a fast runner, the adjective “fast” describes the noun “runner.” Alternatively, if you say, He ran quickly, the adverb “quickly” modifies the verb “ran.”

Rule #7: Parallel construction

Whenever you are listing a series of ideas in a sentence, it is essential to use parallel construction. What that means is that words that have equal importance must be in the same form. Here are examples:

Correct: Sandra spent her weekend painting, writing, and gardening.

Incorrect: Sandra spent her weekend painting, writing, and gardened.

Review your sentences to make sure that you are being consistent when you create lists or talk about multiple things on an equal footing.

These seven rules are not comprehensive, but they represent the most common mistakes made on the TOEFL. If you master them, you will be ready to do well on the exam.

 
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