How to Understand English Grammar
If you've ever wondered where to put an adverb in a sentence -- ate quickly or quickly ate? -- you've tangled with grammar. If words are the bones of a language, grammar is its skeleton, the framework of rules that dictates what goes where, so that the speakers (and writers) of a language can be consistently understood by other speakers of the same language. English grammar is complex, and trying to learn it as a non-native speaker can be frustrating. But the basics can be boiled down to a few simple principles.
Know the parts of speech. What is commonly referred to as the "parts of speech" are the words you use to make a sentence -- nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, interjections. Find a good book on grammar or visit an online grammar site (see "Resources" below) and learn the role each part of speech plays in a sentence.
Learn the structure of a sentence. Once you have a good grounding in the parts of speech, you can use them to build a sentence. There are three basic parts to a sentence: 1) The subject (who or what is the subject of your sentence?); 2) The predicate (what is the subject doing?); and 3) The complement (one or more words that give added information about the subject and verb). For more information about each part of a sentence, refer to your grammar book or online source (see "Resources" below).
Practice. As with anything else, practicing your grammar on a regular basis will improve it. Find a native speaker who is willing to practice with you and correct your mistakes. Or use any of the online resources listed below. These are an excellent substitute for, or complement to, practicing with a native speaker. You can sign up to receive grammar lessons by email, take interactive quizzes, access a grammar hot line and clinic, get tips on style and presentation, learn to write more effectively, and much more.