Basic Grammar Rules that are Actually Important

Thursday, November 16, 2017, by taylorisreading


Hey, everyone!

Today I am bringing you a post on basic grammar rules and some important ones that are forgotten a lot. I learned all of these in my Writing Fundamentals class at uni, and I felt like they would be very helpful to everyone now since it's NanoWriMo! Let me know down below what your stories for Nano are about because I love hearing about everyone's writing journeys.


Also, the book I had to buy for the class is called Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark that you can purchase here. It is unbelievably informative and helpful, so I highly suggest reading it!



So, here are some important grammar rules:

  1. Punctuation

    • Dash

      • A dash separates, a hyphen joins

      • Dashes have spaces on either side

    • Ellipses

      • "..." indicates that part of a quote or citation has been removed

      • If it follows the end of a sentence, use four periods

      • NOT used to create a pause

    • Quotation marks

      • Periods and commas always go inside the quotation marks

      • Question marks and exclamation points go inside if they are part of the quote

  2. Apostrophe

    • If compound subjects are shared, only the second item has the possessive

      • Ex: "We ate dinner at Harry and Ginny's house."

    • If the singular word ends in "s" or an "s" sound, add "es"

    • For proper nouns:

      • Singular word not ending in "s" or "s" sound, add apostrophe "s"

      • Singular word ending in "s" sound, use apostrophe "s"

      • Singular word ending in "s," use apostrophe "s" (for journalism, use only the apostrophe)

      • Plural words require only an apostrophe

    • If the word is possessive, use an apostrophe; if the word is descriptive, do not use an apostrophe

      • Ex: The farmers market vendor, Scarlet, sold the farmer's tomatoes.

  3. Comma

    • The comma is NOT for a pause

    • Do not use between a subject and a verb

    • Do not use between a title and a name

    • Use a comma after a conjunction only if what follows has a subject and a verb

    • Place commas on both sides of appositives

      • The Night Court, Prythian, is ruled by Rhysand.

    • Use commas around years if it follows an exact date

    • Use a comma to shift from a quotation to an attribution

    • Insert a comma between equal adjectives

  4. That, Which, Who

    • "That" is used with essential clauses and never has a comma

    • "Which" is used with nonessential clauses and always has a comma

    • "Who" has a comma if the clause is nonessential

  5. Hyphens

    • A hyphen joins, a dash separates

    • Compound modifiers are joined by a hyphen if both are true:

      1. Each word is an adjective, is not an -ly adverb, or "very"

      2. Words appear before a noun or after a linking verb

        • Ex: The chest was dust-covered.

    • Suspensive hyphens involve an implicit word in a compound modifier

      • Ex: It was a ten- or eleven-month trek across the continent.

  6. Agreement

    • To choose the correct verb:

      • If singular, replace the word with "he" or "she" and see which word fits

      • If plural, replace with "they" and see which word fits

    • Compound subjects joined by "and" are plural except for single units

      • Single unit example: Macaroni and cheese

    • Subject agreement for words joined by "or" or "nor" depends on the last subject

    • "none" is usually singular

    • The word "team" is always singular, but team names are always plural

    • Cities, states, and nations are always singular

  7. Pronouns

    • For compound subjects and objects, get rid of the second person/object then evaluate the pronoun

  8. Who and Whom

    • If the word is used as a subject, use who

      • If you would use "he," use who

    • If it is used as an object, use whom.

      • If you would use "him," use whom

    • If it can go either way, use it as a subject

  9. Lay and Lie

    • Lay means to place

    • Lie means to recline

  10. Affect and Effect

    • If the word is a noun, use effect

    • If the word is a verb, usually use affect

      • To influence = affect; to cause or produce = effect


I hope this was helpful, and thank you for reading!



  1. OMG so helpful. Though also creating yet more questions! However, I am pleased at least some of what little grammar I was taught at school stuck and is still true. And I seem to have picked up more than I thought. :) now I want to buy this book to learn more :)

  2. The book is so helpful, it doesn't have grammar stuff in it, but it has general writing tips about redundancy and word territory. It's a great read! and thank you :)

  3. I will surely try remembering all of these rules. Great post Traylor. Keep tailoring these sort of post. I know they will be useful to many who read it.

  4. Thank you so much!😊 I hope you found them useful



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About Me

Hello readers, my name is Taylor and I'm a twenty-something who's rarely caught without a book in her hand. You can usually expect me to read fantasy with a heavy dollop of romance.