Grammar is a part of writing that can intimidate many people, but becoming familiar with a few simple grammar rules can help tremendously as you learn to become a better writer. Here is a quick start to a few grammar basics.
Who, Which and That
Usually, the word who is used for mentioning people (or animals, if they have names.) The words that and which are normally used when mentioning things. For example, you could write, “I need the frying pan that I bought yesterday.” Or, you could write, “I need the frying pan, which I bought yesterday.” If you choose to use the word which, make sure there is always a comma before it. (This does not apply if you are using the word which to make a distinction between two things, such as “which sweater should I wear?”)
Whenever you use the word this, make sure there is a noun after it to describe what you are writing about. (A noun is a person, place, thing or idea: like mother, St. Louis, table or love.) For instance, instead of writing, “This is an outrage,” you should write, “This mistreatment is an outrage.” Always describe the thing to which this is referring.
Than or As with Me and I
When comparing two things that end with a pronoun (such as me, I, she, her, etc.) it can be tricky to know which word to use. For instance, in the sentence, “Sarah likes Becky more than me,” is it correct to use the word me, or should the word I be used? There is a very easy solution to this problem. When you are writing sentences like these, complete the sentences in your head. “Sarah likes Becky more than I do.” Therefore, in this case, the word to use would be I. In the sentence, Sarah likes Becky more than me,” you could complete the sentence in your head by saying, “Sarah likes Becky more than she likes me.” Therefore, in this case, the correct word to use would be me.
We and Us
Often the usage of the words we and us can be confusing. Usually this happens when the words we or us come before a noun in a sentence, like this: “We girls are going to beat you boys.” Many people are unsure if the words we girls or us girls should be used. If you would like to take a shortcut with the more complicated grammar rules, there is a very easy way to remember which word should be used. Simply remove the noun and think about what the sentence should sound like. For instance, saying “Us are going to beat you boys” sounds wrong to most people (and it is incorrect.) Therefore the correct word to use in that particular sentence is we.
Proper use of the English language can be complicated at times. However, getting a quick head start with your grammar skills will take your writing a long way.
Kristy Taylor is a syndicated freelance journalist with articles and short stories strewn across all forms of media. She has written and published numerous books, and is the executive editor of KT Publishing, which encompasses several web sites. For free listings of short story competitions visit http://www.shortstorycompetitions.com
To contact Kristy, email her at email@example.com
This piece may NOT be freely reprinted. Please contact editor @ howtotellagreatstory.com for reprint rights.