Over here in the UK, we like to choose at least one New Year’s resolution to help us make improvements to our lives, our health or sometimes even our behaviour throughout the year to come. However, choosing a New Year’s resolution is often the easy part, it is keeping it that can be difficult and we Brits are as good at making excuses, as we are resolutions.
Of course, the trick with New Year’s resolutions is to choose one to which you have a fair chance of sticking. If you were looking to improve your spoken and written English, a great resolution would be to work on your English grammar. You could achieve this in a number of ways, for example you might:
- Choose six English books to read
- Listen to ten famous English speeches
- Play some English board games
One great way to improve your English grammar would be to select a few common grammar mistakes and do your very best to avoid them. We have listed below a selection of English grammar resolutions, which would be suitable at New Year or at anytime:
- I will always check that my subject and verb agree
Nobody likes an argument, particularly in the middle of a sentence but all too often we don’t take the time to make sure that the subject (the doer) agrees with the verb (the action), for example:
‘The most difficult of the New Year’s resolutions is the ones that leave you hungry.’
‘The most difficult of the New Year’s resolutions are the ones that leave you hungry.’
- I will never misplace my modifier
We all know how annoying losing or misplacing things can be. In a sentence however, misplacement can cause confusion and sometimes hilarity.
‘Whilst taking the dog for a walk, Joe found a green girl’s shoe.’
Here Joe found something belonging to a green girl (unlikely).
‘Whilst taking the dog for a walk, Joe found a girl’s green shoe.’
Here Joe found a green shoe (far more likely).
- My pronoun references will not be vague
Vagueness, in the world of grammar, can lead to sentence chaos and nobody likes a chaotic sentence. Pronouns, smaller words used to replace nouns, should clearly indicate, by their position in a sentence, which noun they are replacing.
‘When the girls heard the birds singing, they were so happy.’
Was it the girls or the birds, or maybe both, that were happy?
The girls were so happy when they heard the birds singing.
Happy girls, melodic birds and not a hint of vagueness.
- All my comparisons will be complete
All comparisons need two elements, the thing you are considering and the thing to which you are comparing it. Whether you want to compare your ancient aunt to a wizened cabbage or your new born baby to a plump peach, you should make sure that any comparative adjective (often ending in ‘er’) has something that it is compared to.
My teacher was meaner and stricter.
Was she was meaner and stricter than Father Christmas or than Mr Scrooge?
My teacher was meaner and stricter than Mrs Gigglebottom.
I always liked Mrs Gigglebottom.
- My voice will never be passive
My mother always told me to speak my mind, so I told her that her nose was too big. There are maybe times when we should take a more passive approach to life, but in a sentence, a passive voice can make your writing sound weak and your meaning unclear.
The English grammar book was read by Patrick’s brother in one day.
Patrick’s brother read the English grammar book in one day.
It sounds like Patrick’s brother kept his New Year’s resolution to read a grammar book in one day but I wonder how much it improved his grammar. Whichever New Year resolution you choose for 2018, we hope it will be a good year, free of subject disagreements and incomplete comparisons, and with plenty of active voices and carefully placed modifiers.
Happy Grammar Year!
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