How to Improve Your Grammar

The word "grammar" comes from the Greek grammatike, meaning the "art of letters." We use grammar to organize the words we write or speak, ensuring that the letters we form into sentences are not rendered senseless. With the help of this guide, you'll learn the basics of grammatical structure. You'll delve into the time-tested method of diagramming sentences, and find links to innovative grammar checkers. Teachers will discover resources to help students of all ages communicate clearly and effectively. Finally, we've included resources designed specifically for students of grammar with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. 

Grammar Fundamentals

Just as you can't learn to spell without first understanding the ABCs, it's difficult to write effectively in English without first learning the rules of grammar. The resources in this section define "grammar" and will help you understand some of the most important rules structuring the English sentence.

What is Grammar?

"Grammar" (Linguistic Society of America)

The Linguistic Society of America outlines grammar's underlying components in this article. Learn about word order, word structure, and their linguistic importance.

"What is Grammar?" (Daily Writing Tips)

In this blog post, Dr. Maeve Maddox takes a look at three elements that make grammar good or bad: orthography, accidence, and syntax.

"Grammar in English: Definition and Examples" (ThoughtCo)

ThoughtCo. offers an extended definition of grammar, as well as links to more full explanations of grammar-related topics and linguistic theory.

"Does Grammar Matter?" (TED-Ed)

This video from TED-Ed explores how language standardization evolved over time, and examines grammar's role in speech as opposed to writing.

Basic Grammar Rules and Terms 

"What Are Basic English Grammar Rules?" (YourDictionary)

In this article, YourDictionary covers the most central tenets of grammar—from subjects and predicates to parts of speech and punctuation.

"English Grammar Basics from Socratica" (YouTube)

This introductory YouTube video on grammar links to individual lessons on the Socratica channel that discuss basic grammar rules, such as the parts of speech.

"24 of the Most Basic Grammar Rules" (Grammarly)

Shundalyn Allen of the Grammarly blog aggregates articles on grammar fundamentals, from pronouns to "verbing" (the practice of making a verb from a noun).  

"English Grammar 101: All You Need to Know" (Daily Writing Tips)

Daniel Scocco outlines the grammar rules everyone should know in this post for Daily Writing Tips. Find out how to tell the difference between a "subject" and a "predicate."

"Grammar Rules Review" (English Grammar)

This post from English Grammar, which reviews grammar rules for nouns and verbs, can be downloaded in PDF format for on-the-go study.

"Grammar Rules" (GrammarBook.com)

This page contains digitized portions of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation that cover the basics of grammar and punctuation.

How to Learn Grammar

No matter your age, grammar is an essential building block for written and spoken communication. Here, you'll find links to interactive activities, study guides, videos, and more to help you improve your knowledge of grammar. Whether you are in grade school or out of college, you'll find tools tailored to your learning needs and quizzes to test your progress.

Grammar Practice for Children

"Grammar Activities" (Education.com)

Education.com provides over a dozen activities for kids to practice their grammar, from madlibs and a "sen-tense card game" to a "nonsense book."

"Grammar and Vocabulary" (British Council)

Grammar practice, videos, chants, and games are included on this page from the British Council, which can all help solidify grammatical concepts for children.

"Basic English Grammar for Kids" (B For Ball)

B For Ball has resources with simple examples to teach preschool-aged kids the basics of English grammar, from sentences to tenses.

"Interactive Grammar Games" (FunEnglishGames.com)

This free online resource offers interactive grammar games to teach kids about punctuation, conjunctions, prefixes and suffixes, and verbs and nouns.

"English Grammar for Kids" (YouTube)

FreeSchool's four videos demonstrate the most central concepts of grammar for kids. The one linked to above is "all about nouns."

Grammar Practice for Adults

English Grammar 101

Kitty Nash's grammar website includes interactive lessons divided into fifteen units of study for adults. (Note: many of these resources require an annual subscription.)

"Word Grammar" (BBC)

The BBC's "Skillwise" English for Adults program includes this resource on grammar. Watch videos on grammatical concepts and take quizzes to boost your skills.

"Sentence Grammar" (BBC)

BBC's "Skillwise" continues its exploration of grammar with this resource, which discusses elements of sentences from punctuation to structure.

"Oxford English Grammar Course Online" (Oxford Univ. Press)

This free course from Oxford University Press offers grammar quizzes and games for adults at the basic, intermediate, and advanced levels.

"14 Must-Visit Websites to Learn English Grammar Online" (FluentU)

FluentU has prepared this list of 14 resources for learning and practicing English grammar on the web, including the Grammar Bytes site and 5 Minute English.

Grammar Practice for Students with Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities

"10 Apps and Tools for Individuals with Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities" (Friendship Circle)

In this blog post, Brenda Berg discusses resources that can help people with learning challenges improve their reading and writing skills. 

"Help for Dyslexic Adults Wanting to Improve their Writing and Grammar" (Dyslexia Victoria Online)

This post from Dyslexia Victoria Online lists tips and resources for improving your grammar, from technical writing classes to speech recognition software.

"Grammar Lessons: Help Your Child Learn It" (Learning Abled Kids)

This post from Learning Abled Kids offers tips and lesson resources for parents looking to supplement their children's grammar education.

"Interventions for Students with Writing Disabilities" (LD@school)

In this article, learn how grammar is processed in the brain, and how motor issues can hamper grammatical expression. You'll also find resources to help children overcome learning challenges in order to expand their grammatical abilities.

How to Improve Your Grammar

Everyone makes grammatical errors. If you're looking to reduce these errors, though, the following resources can help. Strategies such as sentence diagramming and getting a handle on grammar terminology will give you the confidence to express yourself with precision. We've also included some online grammar checkers, as it's always a good idea to double-check your written work.

Sentence Diagramming and Other Tools 

"This Old Grammar Trick Still Works! How To Diagram A Sentence" (Huffington Post)

Sentence diagramming may not be new or innovative, but it gets the job done. This article from the Huffington Post walks you through the principles of grammar diagramming with a step-by-step guide.

"How to Diagram a Sentence (Absolute Basics)" (YouTube)

Grammar Girl provides this brief YouTube video to instruct you on how to diagram a simple, two-word sentence: "squiggly snored." 

"Diagramming Sentences Tutorial" (ThoughtCo)

This post from ThoughtCo. shows you how to diagram increasingly complex sentences, from finding the subject and verb to the indirect object and appositives. 

"7 Tips to Improve Your Grammar Skills" (Varsity Tutors)

Aimed at students, this post from the Varsity Tutors blog outlines seven strategies to improve your grammar. It suggests getting a grammar manual, proofreading, and more.

"10 Resources To Upgrade Your Grammar And Writing Skills" (Life Hack)

Jessica Millis describes 10 online tools that can take your grammar to the next level. Try out Grammar Monster, UsingEnglish.com, or one of the eight other websites listed here.

"10 Websites to Help Improve Your Grammar" (ProWritingAid)

This ProWritingAid post cites 10 web resources to improve your grammar abilities, from the WritingForward blog to Daily Grammar.

Expanding Your Understanding of Grammar Terminology

"Quiz: Grammar Terms" (UsingEnglish.com)

Test your knowledge of grammar terminology—and find areas for improvement—with this eight-question quiz from UsingEnglish.com.

"Glossary of English Grammar and Usage Terms" (Grammarist)

This glossary from Grammarist offers definitions for a comprehensive range of grammar terms, from antecedent and appositive to superlative and subjunctive mode.

"100 Key Grammatical Terms" (ThoughtCo)

ThoughtCo. offers these brief definitions for a lengthy list of terms, including "abstract noun," "complement," "negation," "participle," and "transitive verb."

"Glossary of Grammar Terms" (Daily Grammar)

This grammar glossary from Daily Grammar defines terms and offers links to lessons, making it easy to put the concepts you learn into practice.

Apps and Software to Test and Improve Your Grammar

"7 Apps to Help Anyone Improve Their English Grammar" (MakeUseOf)

Kayla Matthews highlights seven apps at various price points to help you improve your grammar. You'll find everything from games to glossaries.

"Top Grammar Apps to Help You Improve Your Writing" (Insider Guides)

Insider Guides has compiled a list of apps and software designed to improve your grammar, helpfully explaining some pros and cons of each product.

"English Grammar Learn & Test" (iTunes)

This app for Mac systems features 1000 English grammar questions on tenses, articles, prepositions, and more, along with 2000 English words used in everyday life.

"English Grammar Test" (play.google.com)

This top-rated app, designed for Android, features 1200 grammar tasks. You'll find 20 English grammar units with simple explanations, along with 60 tests.

How to Use Grammar Checkers

LitCharts is not affiliated with any of these software programs, many of which require a paid subscription to access advanced features. You'll want to take a look at some unbiased reviews from users before choosing between them.

Grammarly

Grammarly works as a Chrome plugin to check your online writing, but also offers grammar checking options for MS Office software. 

WhiteSmoke

WhiteSmoke's newly re-designed proofreading software will catch spelling and grammar mistakes. (Note: its paid subscription is inexpensive compared to Grammarly, but you'll want to read user reviews to determine the best fit for your needs).

Ginger

Ginger detects grammatical errors as you type. Like the other two checkers mentioned above, its more robust version requires a paid subscription.

ProWritingAid

This software will suggest style improvements even when the text is grammatically correct, allowing you to write more fluidly. Its "Premium" version also requires a paid subscription.

Advanced Grammar Practice

Now that you've covered the basics, perhaps you're ready to take on a grammar challenge. As you seek to improve your grammatical prowess, consult the following resources to increase your understanding, produce complex sentences, and practice your advanced skills. You'll find advanced grammar exercises and quizzes, along with resources that can help you delve deeper into the mechanics of complex sentence structure.

Advanced Grammar Courses and Exercises

"Learn English: Advanced Grammar And Punctuation Specialization" (Coursera)

A cluster of four grammar courses offered by Coursera, this series culminates in an advanced grammar and punctuation project to test your skills.

English Grammar Exercises website

Divided by skill level from elementary to advanced, the English Grammar Exercises site provides over 100 online worksheets to improve your grammar skills.

"Grammar Exercises" (Purdue OWL)

The Purdue Online Writing Lab offers grammar exercises on topics ranging from adjectives to tenses. Use the navigation bar on the left to browse topics.

"Grammar Exercises" (Perfect English Grammar)

You can access dozens of online grammar exercises on the Perfect English Grammar website. Topics range from linking words to phrasal verbs to relative clauses.

"Improve Your Writing" (Univ. of Bristol)

Over 50 online exercises are available here from the University of Bristol. They are designed to help you avoid common grammatical errors.

Complex Sentence Structure

"What are Complex Sentences in English Grammar?" (ThoughtCo)

ThoughtCo. offers definitions, examples, and explanations of complex sentences, and explains how complex sentences can add interest to your writing.

"Complex Sentence Examples" (YourDictionary)

YourDictionary provides examples of complex sentence structure, defines independent and dependent clauses, and demonstrates how to connect clauses.

"How to Write Complex Sentences" (EnglishGrammar)

This step-by-step guide from EnglishGrammar teaches you how to write complex sentences, and provides exercises to help you take your writing to the next level.

"Complex Sentences" (YouTube)

Khan Academy's five-minute video on syntax provides an audio-visual guide to composing complex sentences. Paige and Rosie explain how to spot subordinate clauses.

Advanced Grammar Quizzes

"English Grammar Exercise: Advanced Levels" (St. George International)

These 10 multiple-choice questions, courtesy of the language specialists at St. George International, assess your advanced grammar skills.

"Advanced Level Grammar Review Quiz" (ThoughtCo)

This ThoughtCo. quiz, written by ESL teacher and trainer Kenneth Beare, offers 20 advanced grammar questions. Test your knowledge of when to use "whose" and "who" or "was and "were" and more.

"Grammar Exercises: Advanced Level" (ESL Lounge)

Here, you'll find dozens of quizzes to test your advanced grammar knowledge, courtesy of ESL Lounge. This is an especially helpful resource for students of English as a second language.

How to Improve Your Punctuation

Did you know that in the ancient world, writers often composed sentences without spaces or punctuation?  Today, we use punctuation marks to guide readers and eliminate confusion. Punctuation is essential to written communications, as it clarifies phrase and sentence divisions. Below, you'll find resources to evaluate your knowledge in this area, enhance your punctuation skills, and understand common punctuation errors to avoid.

Assessing Your Punctuation Skills

"Punctuation Marks Exercise" (Univ. of Bristol)

This 10-question exercise from the University of Bristol will help you spot areas for improvement when it comes to your punctuation skills.

"Quiz: How Good is Your Punctuation?" (The Telegraph)

This quiz from the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph will help you assess your punctuation skill level. Find out whether you can correctly place colons and semicolons or pick out a comma splice.

"Punctuation Quiz" (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Encyclopedia Britannica offers this quiz to see how much you know about punctuation. Do you know how to use an Oxford comma? Can you use en dashes and em dashes correctly?

"Punctuation Mastery Test" (GrammarBook.com)

Have you mastered your punctuation skills? Take this test from GrammarBook.com to find out. You'll be tested on punctuation, capitalization, and writing out numbers.

Improving Your Punctuation

"Top Ten Punctuation Tips" (The Punctuation Guide)

The Punctuation Guide site offers a list of top ten punctuation tips you'll need to write clearly, such as using apostrophes and colons correctly.

"Punctuation: Signs and Symbols" (SkillsYouNeed)

This in-depth guide to punctuation from the SkillsYouNeed site includes explanations and examples of each kind of punctuation mark, from hyphens to brackets.

"Punctuation" (Purdue OWL)

The Purdue Online Writing Lab dives deep into the topic of punctuation and provides handouts for practice and better understanding.

"Practice Exercise" (EnglishGrammar)

This punctuation exercise from EnglishGrammar is a close approximation to copy-editing text for correct punctuation in the real world.

"Practice Exercises for Punctuation" (Butte College)

Butte College offers exercise PDFs to put punctuation rules into practice. Try an exercise focused on conjugation, or another on the exclamation point.

Avoiding the Most Common Punctuation Pitfalls

"10 Common Punctuation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them" (Walsworth)

In this post for the printer Walsworth, Kristin Mateski shares strategies to avoid common punctuation errors. Learn how to cut out extraneous apostrophes, quotation marks, and commas.

"21 Common Grammar Mistakes and How to Avoid Them" (Business Insider) 

This article from Business Insider shows you how to avoid grammar missteps, from confusing "fewer" and "less" to misusing irregular verbs.

"6 Punctuation Marks You May Be Using Incorrectly" (Oxford Dictionaries) 

The Oxford Dictionaries site offers six common mistakes alongside strategies to avoid them. Learn how to use possessive apostrophes, ellipses, hyphens, and semicolons correctly.

"The 7 Most Common Mistakes Students Make At University And How To Avoid Them" (The Independent)

This article for The Independent serves as a good reminder of how to use "your" and "you're" correctly, and how to avoid other such punctuation pitfalls.

Resources for Teaching Grammar

No matter if you're teaching elementary students or high schoolers, grammar instruction is essential for students to communicate effectively and precisely. In this section, you'll find resources divided by grade level that make teaching grammar simple and engaging. We've compiled links to handouts, lesson plans, books, and more.

Teaching Grammar to Elementary School Students

"Grammar for Kids" (Scholastic) 

Check out Scholastic's curated list of books that can help your students learn the fundamentals of grammar. Try Super Grammar for middle school students, or Nouns and Verbs Have a Field Day for K–2 levels.

"Elementary Grammar" (Teachers Pay Teachers) 

Use these worksheets, lesson plans, and activities (produced by teachers for teachers) to help you plan grammar instruction in your elementary classroom.

"Grammar Lesson Plans and Activities" (Scholastic) 

Covering grades one through eight, these lesson plans and activities will engage your students and teach them about grammar conventions, parts of speech, punctuation, and praxis.

"No Nonsense Grammar" (PBS)

PBS Learning Media offers these short videos and activities to help elementary and middle school students learn grammar fundamentals.

"Five Grammar Activities" (Education World) 

This education site offers games like "Synonym Scramble," which will ensure that your students are having fun while learning grammar.

Teaching Grammar to Middle School Students

"Middle School Grammar and Mechanics" (Better Lesson Plans)

The Better Lesson Plans site provides these grammar and mechanics lesson plans. Try "Fortune Cookie Verbs" or "Tongue Twister Parts of Speech."

"Good Grief! It's Grammar Time" (Education World)

This article from Education World, written by a middle school teacher, offers strategies on making grammar fun and relevant for middle schoolers.

Grammar Alive! A Guide for Teachers (Colorado State Univ.)

This book, written by members of the National Council of Teachers of English and available as a PDF through Colorado State University's website, has over one hundred pages of content for instruction in grammar.

"6 Ways to Make Teaching Grammar Fun (I'm Serious)" (WeAreTeachers)

This post from the WeAreTeachers site outlines strategies for middle school teachers to engage students when teaching grammatical concepts.

"Middle School Grammar" (Teachers Pay Teachers)

Use these worksheets, lesson plans, and activities (produced by teachers for teachers) to bring grammar into your middle school classroom.

Teaching Grammar to High School Students

"High School Grammar" (Teachers Pay Teachers)

These teacher-produced lesson plans, activities, and worksheets will help you make grammar instruction engaging for high school students. 

"5 Ways to Improve Teaching High School Grammar" (Concordia Univ.)

The Concordia University blog for teachers offers these five tips for making grammar exciting and relatable for high school students.

Grammar-Worksheets.com

This free resource features over a dozen printable grammar worksheets for high school students and beyond, on topics ranging from comma splices to run-on sentences.

"High School Grammar and Mechanics" (Better Lesson Plans)

The Better Lesson Plans site offers plenty of grammar lesson plans for the high school classroom. Try out a lesson plan on adverb subordinate clauses, or one on compound sentences.

NoRedInk

An app created by a Chicago-area English teacher, NoRedInk provides personalized quizzes for your students to hone their grammar skills.

Additional Resources for Learning More About Grammar

Grammar reveals information about our linguistic habits and what we prioritize in communication. Here, you'll find additional resources to continue exploring the world of grammar. Whether you're looking to improve your grammar skills even further, or are simply interested in better understanding how grammar works, you'll find material here to spur your curiosity.

Grammar Girl Podcast 

The award-winning Grammar Girl podcast contains hundreds of episodes on a variety of grammar-related topics, and provides answers to tough grammatical questions.

Grammar Grater Podcast 

This Minnesota Public Radio program discusses the nuances of the English language and grammar conventions, and includes tips about navigating tricky grammatical conventions. 

"English Grammar and Style" (edX) 

This edX course, offered from the University of Queensland, allows you to explore concepts and strategies relating to grammar and style as a way to improve your writing.

"Grammar" (Khan Academy) 

The Khan Academy's Arts and Humanities division offers this 21-part course on grammar, which runs the gamut from basic to advanced levels.

The Elements of Style (Bartleby)

Strunk and White's famous writing guide—first published in 1918—has long been a standard in the classroom. Learn more about grammar usage through this free, online copy of the book.

Alexandrak
About the Writer: Alexandra Kennedy

Alexandra Kennedy earned her Master's degree in English from the University of Oxford, and her Bachelor's degree from Middlebury College. As an undergraduate, Alexandra served as a First Year Seminar Mentor and Peer Writing Tutor. Most recently, she has gained experience in Montessori education while teaching at the Oneness-Family School.