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 dear readers, my name is Taylor and I'm a twenty-something who's rarely caught without a book in her hand. I fervently believe in beautiful dresses and tasty desserts and fresh bouquets. In living as if the whole world is watching. That lemonades should always be pink, and nothing should ever be saved for best.