19 Most Common And Useful Chinese Idioms (You Can Actually Use)
Do you know what Chengyu means? Well, if you aren't a Chinese learner, you probably don't know.
If you are looking to learn English as a second language, you will need to learn English grammar step by step. You may be wondering, why? After all, why not just memorize common words or phrases? Won’t that be enough to help you get around? Well, yes and no.
Yes, if you want to know how to order food in a restaurant, maybe all you need to know is a few words. However, if you want to make friends, learn more about other people, the answer is no.
To cultivate meaningful relationships, you need to be able to hold a conversation in English. To have a conversation, you need to be able to understand what is being said and make yourself understood and for that, you need grammar.
English, like any other language, has a set of rules about how certain words and phrases can be used to convey a thought, an emotion, or a request. You need to understand these grammar rules in order to properly be able to communicate.
English grammar can seem tricky and even daunting to learn, but it is an essential part of becoming fluent in the language. In order to help you out, we’ve broken down the process of learning English grammar into five essential parts.
Learning these five parts in the proper sequence will ensure that you learn English grammar quickly so that you can communicate your thoughts to native speakers. Being able to make yourself understood is crucial in order to make new friends and cultivate meaningful relationships that will help you navigate daily life in areas where English is a major language.
Words are the building blocks of language and you need to learn to put them together properly in order to communicate. Before you start putting words together, however, you need to learn not just what they mean but how to use them.
To know how to use a word properly, you need to know what part of speech it is. Every word can be categorized as a part of speech and this determines how a word is used. Here are the common parts of speech and how they are used.
Nouns – describe a person or thing. They can also describe a place. Take the following examples:
Person – man, woman, child
Thing – cat, tree, laptop
Place – school, house, Japan
Pronoun – a word that can be used to take the place of a noun. Here are a few examples.
Person – I, he, she
Thing – it, that
Place – there
Adjective – words that are used to describe a noun or pronoun. Examples: red, big, beautiful
Verb – words that describe either an action or the state of being of someone or something. Example. Examples: run, eat, sleep
Adverb – words that are used to modify or describe a verb, adjective, or another adverb. Examples: fast, very, many
Articles – words that are used before a noun in a sentence. Examples: a, an, the
Conjunctions – words that join the two parts of a sentence. Examples: And, but, for, or
Preposition – words that are used with either a noun or a pronoun to make a phrase that describes or modifies another part of speech. Examples: of, from, up, down
Interjections – words that express emotional states. Examples: oh, wow, ouch
Quick learning tip:
A quick search on the internet or on our site will reveal a wealth of lists of “common words to know” in English. Download and print out these lists then book a session with a native English-speaking online tutor.
Ask your tutor to help you classify these words according to what part of speech they are. This will help you grasp the meaning and use of the words quicker.
Basically, what part of speech a word is classified as is already a big clue as to how it is used. However, there are certain rules about the usage of each part of speech.
For example, nouns can be common or proper. This is mostly seen when talking about a person or a place. For example, country is a common noun, it is non-specific. Japan, however, is a proper noun. It refers to a specific place.
The verb conjugation is also important to learn and can trip up new learners. When a verb is conjugated, the verb’s form changes to show a different person, tense, mood, or number. For example, the verb ”run” is in the present tense, which means it is happening now. “Ran” is the past tense, which means it happened before; while “will run” is in the future tense which means it will happen at a later time.
Quick learning tips:
There are apps that can help you learn grammar and textbooks that can enumerate the different rules of usage for the parts of speech.
Learning on your own however or just memorizing the rules as you see them in a textbook can be boring and often ends up discouraging new learners. Language is a living thing that is best understood when experienced – when you hear it spoken or when you try to speak it.
An online tutor can really help here because not only will they be able to tell you the “textbook” explanations of these grammar rules, but also provide you with “live” examples. Drilling with an actual person is so much better than just mouthing the different word forms to yourself.
A sentence is basically a set of words that are put together to convey a thought. Going back to the idea that words are building blocks, a sentence is when you take certain blocks and make a structure out of them.
Article – the
Noun – child
Verb – ran
Adverb – fast
Sentence – The child ran fast.
See? The proper words put together to make a sentence that communicates a complete thought.
1. The most basic sentence is made up of a subject and an action. So, basically, put a noun and a verb together. The noun or pronoun is the subject and it is performing the action.
2. Be mindful of subject-verb agreement. This rule basically means that, if you have a singular subject, use a verb in its singular form and if you have a plural subject, use a verb in its plural form.
Let’s go back to the sentence: The child ran fast. “Child” is a singular noun and the subject so “ran” is a verb in its singular form.
There are, however, other rules about the subject-verb agreement that you need to know and this could vary depending on the language you are learning.
3. Learn how to form compound sentences. This is when you use a conjunction to join two sentences with related thoughts together. Compound sentences sound more fluid and native speakers are more likely to use compound sentences instead of multiple short sentences.
Going back to the example of “The child ran fast”, why was the child running fast? Maybe he was playing football. So, in basic sentences, you might say “The child ran fast. He chased the football.” As a compound sentence, with the conjunction “and” joining the two sentences, this would be “The child ran fast and chased the football”.
Watching movies on Netflix or following a TV series can help you learn how to form proper sentences. Pay attention to the dialogue (subtitles can help here) and try to break the words according to what part of speech they are and pay attention to how they are put together.
Looking at lists of basic phrases in English can also help here. Most phrases are simple sentences themselves so break them down and try to figure out how they were put together.
Your native English speaking tutor will also be a great help here. They explain and provide examples to illustrate the more difficult or confusing points of sentence construction. Conversation drills, where they say a sentence and you need to say something back, can also help you learn how to construct sentences in your head before saying them out loud.
Punctuation marks are written symbols that affect the meaning of a sentence and affects how they are read and said out loud. To gain fluency in English and learn English grammar, you need to be able to identify punctuation marks and use them correctly.
Period (.)– a simple dot that is used to mark the end of a sentence.
Comma (,) – used to separate words in a sentence. Usually, signify a slight pause when read aloud.
Question mark (?) – used at the end of a sentence. This means the sentence is a question, not a statement.
The exclamation mark (!) – when a sentence ends with this mark, it indicates surprise or anger.
These are the four most common types of punctuation marks used in English, but there are others that you might encounter such as colons, ellipses, quotation marks, apostrophes, and parentheses.
To familiarize yourself with the different pronunciation marks, you should need to read material written in English. We suggest that you start with short news articles first.
Take note of the punctuation marks that are used and make sure to discuss the material with your English speaking tutor. You should make it a point to ask your tutor about what they mean and about other punctuation marks that you should know.
When you use several sentences to either convey information or a train of thought, you have a paragraph.
A paragraph usually has three to seven basic or compound sentences. There must be:
A topic sentence, which introduces the idea that will be discussed in the paragraph
A supporting sentence or two, which expand on the idea introduced in the topic sentence
A concluding sentence, which summarizes the information that was presented in the other sentences.
Again, you should read materials written in English to begin to learn how to properly use sentences to understand and create your own paragraphs. News articles are good to study with this in mind, but you can also try to challenge yourself by reading books or short stories in English.
It’s also a good idea to ask your native language speaking tutor to help you learn more about paragraphs. They can construct and present you with short exercises, have you read, and break down simple paragraphs. They can also help you learn how to construct your own paragraphs to improve your writing skills.
Learning English grammar is challenging but important. If you want to be able to properly communicate with native English speakers, you need to be able to present your ideas and convey your needs properly. This means that you need to be able to create sentences and even paragraphs that are comprehensible.
For example, if you are in a restaurant and want a glass of water, you can always just say “water”, but wouldn’t you rather be able to politely say “I would like some water, please.”? Being able to politely make a full request will make native speakers feel more comfortable around you and is key to developing good relationships with them.
While there are resources out there that will allow you to learn English grammar on your own, with textbooks, apps, or podcasts, the best way to really internalize them is to use them in conversation. This is why working with a tutor is key to really learning grammar.
A good online native English speaking tutor can provide you with examples of grammatically correct English and can coach you on the various rules. They can help you practice having actual conversations in English and can let you know if you are “speaking” correctly.
Do you know what Chengyu means? Well, if you aren't a Chinese learner, you probably don't know.
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