Standard English & Proper Grammar

Why should you learn to use proper grammar? People judge you based on how you write and speak. Taking the time to follow the rules of Standard English in your formal writing and speech allows you to present yourself in the best possible light.

Grammar Girl says, "The quality of your writing often has a huge influence on the first impression you make on people." On this page, you'll find lessons and tips that will help you use proper grammar. It's kind of a grab bag of topics, but I think they'll help you.

You can learn more about what Standard English is and how it impacts our lives by watching our documentary on grammar and grammar education

Proper Grammar Topics On This Page

Awhile vs. A While

Dictionary awhile or a while?

Passive Voice or Active Voice?

What the heck does this mean? How can sentences have voices?

Voice refers to whether the subject is performing the action or receiving the action of a verb.

How do you write these and which should you use? I'll teach you!

Learn more about active and passive voice here.

Capitalization Rules

capitalization rules

Learn some of the nitty-gritty about capitalization.

I've shortened this list to six main rules and a few sub-rules.

Learn more about the capitalization rules here.

Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs

We use phrasal verbs all of the time, but many people don't know what they are. Do you?

Learn more about phrasal verbs here!

Forming Compound Possessives

compound possessives

Where does the apostrophe go when you are forming compound possessives? 

Which are correct?

  • Jim and my cat is cute. 
  • Jim and my's cat is cute. 
  • Jim's and my cat is cute. 
  • David and Elizabeth's car is blue. 
  • David's and Elizabeth's car is blue.

Learn more about forming compound possessives (nouns and possessive pronouns) here!

Punctuation Rules

English punctuation baffles many of us. When do we use a semicolon or a colon? How about that always mystifying apostrophe? What is a comma splice?

See the punctuation rules page for a guide to help you punctuate better!

Or, check out the page on the lovely exclamation mark, the party animal of punctuation.

Everyday or Every Day

People often mistake the word everyday for the phrase every day.

Have you ever made this grammar mistake? The rule is fairly easy to grasp. Read the lesson and take the quiz!

Learn more about this common grammar mistake.

everyday or every day

There is... There are...

Learn how to find the subject in sentences that begin with There is and There are.

Read more about there is & there are here.

There is no place like home. What is the subject of that sentence?

Idiomatic Expressions

These things drive me up the wall. I'm just kidding. Actually, I really enjoy learning about idioms. Idioms are groups of words which have meanings that are not literal.

Drives me up the wall = Makes me crazy

A dime a dozen = Common

While they are fun to learn about, they can be difficult to grasp, particularly for people learning English as a second language.

Learn more about idiomatic expressions here.

Proverbs are similar to idioms. Learn about English proverbs here.

idiomatic expressions - It's raining cats and dogs!

Subject Verb Agreement

What does it mean for a subject and a verb to agree?

It refers to the number of the subject and the verb.

Learn more about subject verb agreement here.

subject verb agreement

Grammar Pet Peeves

Here are seven of the most common grammar pet peeves. Are any of these on your list?

Find out these seven grammar pet peeves here.

Who vs. Whom

Many people have a hard time knowing when to use which word. I'll teach you how you can figure it out, and I'll also teach you a little trick that will make it easy.

Read more about who vs whom here.


Misplaced Modifiers

Do you know what a misplaced modifier is? 

Today is your day to learn about these guys! 

Learn more about misplaced modifiers here.

Misplaced modifiers

Are You An ESL Learner?

Are you an ESL learner? Diana from Helping You Learn English has lots of great information to help you, including an ESL Cafe where you can meet people, share stories, and learn English.

The Beginner's Guide to Grammar gives you a fun and visual way to get started with grammar and sentence diagramming. Yay!

Proper grammar rocks!