Top Ten Grammar
That Must Be Eradicated From This World
3. Run-on Sentences and Fragments
4. Pronoun/Antecedent Agreement
5. Vague Wording
6. Shifting Verb Tense
7. Quotation Mark Rules
8. Other Comma Rules
9. Good/Well; Its/It's; Of/Have; And/Or; Who/Whom/Whose; There/Their/They're
10. Double Negatives
EVIL -- apostrophes are NOT used to show
plurals! (with one minor exception)
1. Use to show something left out
don't = do not
2. Use to show possessive forms of nouns
she'd = she would
it's = it is
A. Singular nouns are made possessive
by adding 's
cat = cat's
B. Pronominal possessives have
his - hers - its - theirs - yours
C. Possessive form of Jesus
and ancient proper names ending in -es and -is only have an apostrophe
Jesus = Jesus' cross
Isis = Isis' monument
Moses = Moses' staff
*NOTE* Good style, however, dictates that you avoid making these names
possessive. Use of instead:
the cross of Jesus
the staff of Moses
D. Plural nouns ending in s
only take an apostrophe
cats = cats'
E. Plural nouns ending in a
letter other than s gets an 's
octopi = octopi's
F. To show one object belongs
to two or more people, only make the last person possessive:
Anakin and Luke's lightsaber (both
people share one lightsaber)
*NOTE* Making all nouns possessive
indicates that each person owns a different item:
Mace's and Yoda's lightsaber (both
people have their own lightsaber)
G. For compound nouns, make
the last word possessive
1. For most words, add s
lightsaber = lightsabers
2. For words ending in:
A. -sh, -ch, -x, -s, -z just add -es
dish = dishes
lunch = lunches
fox = foxes
mess = messes
B. -y (preceded by a consonant) - change the y to i
and add -es
fly = flies
C. -y (preceded by a vowel) - just add -s
donkey = donkeys
D. -o (preceded by a consonant) - add -es
tomato = tomatoes
*EXCEPTION* Musical terms are always made plural by
just adding -s
alto = altos
banjo = banjos
E. -o (preceded by a vowel) add -s
radio = radios
F. -f or -fe (and sounds like "f" when made
plural) - add -s
roof = roofs
chief = chiefs
G -f or -fe (and soundsd like "v" when made
plural) - change the -f or -fe to -v and add -es
wife = wives
*Some words can go either way*
hoof = hoofs or hooves
dwarf = dwarfs or dwarves
H. -us change the -us to -i
octopus = octopi
3. For compound nouns, make the important word
mother-in-law = mothers-in-law
4. Some words follow their own rules:
child = children
criteria = criterion
crisis = crises
goose = geese
die = dice
deer = deer
5. When making words (as words), letters, or numbers
plural, add -s.
study the three Rs
How many ands are allowed in a sentence?
UNLESS it would be confusing - then
THIS IS THE ONLY EXCEPTION TO THE RULE!
How many s's are in "Mississippi"?
Evil - Subjects must agree with the
verb in number and person!
Subject/Verb agreement is problem mostly in complex sentences
and sentences that have prepostional phrases in them.
1. The basics:
A. Subject must agree in
They is my favorite team.
They (plural) is (singular)
Should be: They are my favorite team.
B. Must agree in person:
first, second, third
He dunk the ball like Michael
He (third person) dunk (first and second person)
Should be: He dunks the ball like Michael Jordan.
2. The problems:
A. Subject and verb are
1. Subject comes after the verb
(A.K.A. Yoda Syndrome)
Down the hole goes the snakes.
Subject = snakes (plural) NOT hole (singular). Must make verb plural
Down the hole go the snakes.
2. Prepositional phrases come
between the subject and verb
a word that connects (by time, space, or other logical relationship)
nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence
Object of preposition: the
very next noun after the preposition
Prepositonal phrase: the preposition, the object
of prepostion, and all words in between (these words will only be
articles, adjectives, adverbs, or conjunctions)
Lord Alford is the best teacher
in the world.
Of all the teachers, the one in this
clasroom with the handsome face is the best.
"in the world,"
"of all the teachers," "in this classroom,"
and "with the handsome face" are all prepositional
about, above, across, after, against, along,
among, around, at, before, behind, below, beside, between, beyond,
but, by, despite, down, during, for, from, in, inside, into, like,
near, of, off, on, onto, out, outside, over, past, since, through,
throughout, to, toward, under, until, up, with, within, without
This is an incomplete list. As a rule of thumb,
a preposition can fill in this blank:
A cat can go ________ a tree.
The group of students are walking down
Subject is group (singular) not students (plural). Make verb singular
The group of students is walking down the hall.
*NOTE* Fix both of the above by
finding the verb and asking, "Who or what _______?"
(fill in the verb of the sentence). Make your verb agree with
B. The subject is compound
1. If two subjects are joined by "and",
the verb will almost always be plural.
Jack and Jill (go, goes) up the hill.
The answer should be "go"
since the subject is plural.
*NOTE* This does not count for words
always found with "and" such as:
Macaroni and cheese is my favorite food.
*NOTE* When "every," "no,"
or "nothing" precedes the subject, treat as singular:
Nothing Jack and Jill says is important.
2. If two subjects are joined by "or"
or "nor", make the verb agree with the closest subject.
Jack or Jill (go, goes) up the hill.
The answer should be "goes" since "Jill" is
The dog or raccoons (tear, tears) up the
The answer should
be "tear" since "raccoons" is plural.
C. Indefinite pronouns
1. "anyone," "anybody," "each," "either,"
"none" are singular
None of the students (has passed, have passed)
the research paper.
The correct answer is "has passed" since the subject (none)
2. "both," "few," "many,"
"several" are plural
Several of the students (has passed, have
passed) the test.
The correct answer is "have passed" because the subject
(several) is plural.
3. "all," "any," "most," "some"
can be either singular or plural
All of the cats are up the tree.
All of your efforts is all we can ask.
D. Collective Nouns (Singular nouns that
are plural in meaning (band, class, dozen, team))
Since the people/things that make up this word act as one, use singular
The band (has, have) played that song too
In this case, use has since the band is acting as one unit.
E. Plural nouns that are singular in meaning
(athletics, politics, news)
Go by the meaning and use a singular verb.
Athletics is offering two new
courses for next semester.
Since it is the title of one book/series,
treat as singular.
is the best movie ever produced.
3. Sentence Fragments and Run-on Sentences