Want to win the scary world of communication and sentence construction? Then you need to arm with all the basic English grammar rules.

Yes, either you’re en route on learning English, Spanish, French, or any other language, there are a set of combinatory grammar rules that generate logical communication. Your command over these rules gauges your grammar intellect and linguistic power.

The love for grammar flows in our blood; hence we decided to talk about some rules of grammar that are currently hindering English writers and readers, starting from the most confusing one!

20 Grammar Rules You Need to Look in 2020

Some of them might look basic, but believe me, we all miss to follow these grammar rules regularly. Now let’s look at each of them individually and improve.

1. The subject of the sentence decides the quantity of the verb

Both the subject and the verb should be either singular or plural like; 

This rule seems quite elementary and trivial, but many grammarians omit this, especially when writing longer or complex sentences. 

“She says” or, “they say.”

Have a look at this prepositional phrase!

“An oversupply of imported garments”

Now, guess the subject and tell me whether the verb would be singular or plural?

It is singular because of the subject – “Oversupply,” which is singular; no matter the subject is compound or singular, grab the idea being expressed by the subject. 

Another troubling matter is… “there,” especially if the sentence is inverted, where the actual subject follows the verb; have a look!

“There go our latest portfolios.” 


“There is still tough competition and market potential to be considered.”

The first one is correct, “there” is following the subject “portfolios.”

The second one is wrong, as the subject is compound – “tough competition and market potential,” that’s why the verb “is” is not correct.

One more pet peeve is

“The Chairman, along with the BODs and CFO, endorses the concept.”

You must be thinking why I have used “endorses” not “endorse” because the subject “Chairman” is singular; constructions like as well as, together with, and the like, are all singular. 

2. Flat adverbs – Thus, Doubtless, Fast, or Seldom – takes no -ly ending

There are extended-adjectives adverbs that require -ly suffix (largely, capably, quickly, amicably), at the same time, English also incorporates a fair number of adverbs that strictly are not meant for -ly rule. 

So, whenever you encounter adverbs like “Thus, Doubtless, Fast, Seldom, or else,” don’t add -ly suffix; you will sound like a grammar a**. 

3. It’s perfectly FINE to start a sentence with But or And.

Either you are making your high school assignment, writing a letter to the authority, your thesis, or any other fluid writing, effective transitions are what hold the readers’ attention throughout the content piece. 

And, frankly speaking, there is no better than the plain single-syllable transition words – “and” and “but.”

Thank God, the concept of not starting a sentence with conjunction has already been ignored and debunked by the best grammarians.

Not agreed?

Go and scan the op-ed or other pages of any well-reputed newspaper or magazine, you will find so many examples.

You will ask why? 

Because conjunctions are one of the best transition tools – though sharp, short, and fleet, but effective and less-clunkier than conjunctive adverbs. 

4. Yes, you can end a sentence with a Preposition.

end sentence with preposition

You can thank grammarians for dismissing this unnecessary concept of not ending a sentence with a preposition; do you know, a sentence ends on preposition sounds more original and natural. 

Though a preposition is rarely a powerful sentence-ender, but not an ungrammatical.

5. Both subjects – either and neither – take singular verbs.

Beware of all the distractions caused by prepositional phrases that contain plural objects, both subjects— “either and neither” – are singular. 

“Either of the options involves [not involve] huge investment.”

“Neither of your expressions requires [not require] feedback.”

6. Correlative conjunctions call for parallel phrasing

Correlative conjunctions – neither . . . nor, both . . . and, and not only . . . but also do work in pairs, joining related constructions in syntax; each conjunction precedes with the part of speech it describes. 

Parallelism is not a cause of concern with simple nouns – “neither money nor time,” but it gets tricky with clauses and phrases, as in the phrasing like; 

  • Incorrect: “We not only expanded our market but also our profits.” 
  • Correct: “We expanded not only our market but also our profits.” 

7. Relative pronouns (which, that, and who) should be alongside their antecedents.

All the relative pronouns, including that, who, which, whom, and various forms serve one of two purposes. 

First, it links a dependent clause to an independent one. 

“Whoever likes to attend the wedding is welcome.” 

Here, the dependent clause “whoever” is the subject of the main clause.

Second, it joins a clause with its antecedent. 

“Those who like to attend are welcome.” 

Here, the dependent clause “who like” adds information about its antecedent “those.”

8. Words, therefore, otherwise, and however cannot join two clauses without punctuation

An independent clause should contain a subject and a verb to express a complete thought, and to connect another clause, a comma and a conjunction (and, but, or) is needed.

“The new product portfolio is ready, but the marketing dept. has yet to approve it.” 

9. The corresponding adverb to the adjective good is well.

When describing the manner, performance, action, and the like, the adverb “well” is the most appropriate. 

“The employees work well under pressure.”

So, what to say “well or good” when someone asks, “How are you?”

The best answer is “I’m fine, thank you” (or “I’m doing well”); saying “I am good” is common but not refined.

 10. In a verb phrase, the adverb often goes after the first auxiliary verb.

Writing professionals have long agreed that mid-phase is the most natural place to fix an adverb.

What if the phrase has more than one auxiliary verb?

The most natural placement is after the first one.

“Our experts have long targeted on the quality of services.” 

11. An appositive should be set off by commas when essential to the sentence or vice versa

An appositive is a noun that follows another noun or pronoun and explains the noun thoroughly; consider these examples; 

“My friend Bill is not coming”

“The mechanic, a short-heightened man in an oversized coat, left his toolbox here.”

In the first sentence, appositive “Bill” is important to the sentence; therefore, no comma is used. Whereas, in the second sentence, the appositive “a short-heightened man in an oversized coat” is indefinite or nonrestrictive. This means the clause is an additional description, without which the rest of the sentence is easy to understand. 

12. With either/or and neither/nor in the subject position, the second element controls the quantity of the verb.

There is a rule of thumb – when the correlative conjunctions – “either/or and neither/nor” frame singular alternatives, the verb is singular, like;

“Either tablet or syrup is effective.”

And, when the alternatives are plural, the verb would be plural, like;

“Neither our managers nor our marketers like last year’s campaign.”

 13. Adjectives come before a noun (except when a verb separates them).

“I have a big house.”

“He married a long-sighted woman.”

“(Her father is rich.)”

14. With two or more adjectives, the order should be – opinion-adjective + fact-adjective + noun

“I bought a nice French chair.”

“It was an enjoyable Shakespearian play.”

 15. Add naturality with onomatopoeias

onomatopoeias in grammar

Hard to spell but, onomatopoeias are words that sound like what they mean.

Think for a minute, and you will come up with lots of examples – Hiss, meow, thud, snip, clonk, etc.

“Mia lay awake from the relentless tick-tock of the clock.”

 16. Past Perfect should be used for the First of Two Past Actions

If two things happen in the past, which will hold the right the “had” flag?

For this, first, mark which one happened first, then change that to the third form, and then, offer the helping verb, “had” to it.

“By the time I cleaned the kitchen, your daughter had cried a million times.”

17. Enough + Noun, Pronoun, Adverb, and Adjective

“Enough” means “sufficient” or “as many (or as much) as expected,” and is used before plural or uncountable nouns.


“I don’t have enough money to buy a toy for her.”

“Enough” as a pronoun – When used as a pronoun, “Enough” is used without a noun.

“Five pieces are enough.”

“Enough” as an adverb – Used after an adjective or another adverb, and mean “to the necessary degree.”


“This rocking chair isn’t comfortable enough.”


“You should come early enough to get a good seat.”

 18. Use Hyperbole

Hyperbole is an (obviously) exaggerated language and not meant to be taken exactly; it’s often used to emphasize or to be funny.

You will find hyperbole in so many English idioms like;

  • “She’s asked a million questions.”
  • “I was as quiet as a mouse.”

Just like metaphors and similes, Hyperbole is a figurative language, when used right, it will make your writing livelier yet engaging for readers. 

 19. Get command over Conditionals

conditional usage in grammar

To make your grammar life easier, here’s an overall guide to all types of conditionals.

IF ClauseMain Clause
Zero ConditionalTalks about truths/things that are always right.Present SimplePast 
Worry increases heartbeats.
First ConditionalTalks about real/possible situations.Present SimpleWILL + Verb-bareThose who win will get the prize.
Second ConditionalTalks about unreal /impossibilities at present.Past 
WOULD + Verb-bareI would have passed if studied hard.
Third ConditionalTalks about unreal /impossibilities of past.Past 
WOULD HAVE + Past participleYou would have cleared the exams if you had tried harder.

And, the last one is…

20. In general, use active voice more than the passive.

Yes, often passive voice makes the sentence quite complex and difficult to understand, so be natural in your English writing and speaking. 

And even if you are connected to digital or a writer, you should be very careful when using passive voice as the search engines do consider your writing in a certain way.

use active voice more in grammar

So that was all the essentials of grammar rules that we believe you should recap and meliorate. We’ll be doing more roundups on other English grammar rules and tips to make our readers a pro in writing.

Drop a comment below with your experience with grammar and a tip to make the community learn more.


Sabih is the founder and chief editor of The Usables. He's a creative thinker, entrepreneur and data-driven individual who loves to share his views with big audience. He likes talking about technology and playing video games. A foodie by choice and marketer by profession, and a proud father!

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