The English language can be a confusing beast, full of inconsistent rules and evolving usage. No matter what you study, a good grasp of English grammar is important in order to be taken seriously in your writing and can also help you gain a few extra marks, too.
So if you’re student struggling with your writing – and some might say we are all students in this world – improve your spelling, grammar and punctuation with this guide.
p.s As English can be such a confusing thing, this guide is really long! So if you’d like to receive a smaller segment of the info graphic. Let us know in the comments!
Here’s a text friendly version of this infographic:
The Ultimate English Grammar Cheat Sheet For Students
The English language can be a confusing beast, full of inconsistent rules and evolving usage. So, if you are a student struggling with your writing – some might say we are all students in this world – improve your spelling, grammar, and punctuation with this guide.
Me, Myself and I
Only use ‘I’ when you are referring to yourself in the subject of the sentence – you are the one taking action. ‘I used a cheatsheet to improve my grammar.’
Use ‘me’ when someone else will perform the action to, or for, you. ‘She gave the cheatsheet to me’
‘Myself’ should only be used when you are performing the action on yourself. No one else can do anything to yourself. ‘I’m so proud of myself for correcting my grammar.’
You’re and your; they’re, there, and their; it’s and its
Your – possessive; the thing belonging to you vs. You’re – a contraction of the words ‘you are’. The apostrophe is your signal that the word can be split into two words.
There – a location vs. They’re – a contraction of the words ‘they are’. The apostrophe is your signal that the word can be split into two words vs. Their – possessive, the thing belonging to them.
It’s – a contraction of the words ‘it is’ vs. Its – possessive, the thing belonging to it.
Who and Whom
Use ‘whom’ when you are referring to the object of a sentence. Use ‘who’ when you are referring to the subject of a sentence.
Use the he/him method to decide whether who or whom is correct:
he = who
him = whom
Who/Whom wrote the essay?
He wrote the essay. Therefore, who is correct.
Who/Whom should I listen to?
Should I listen to him? Therefore, whom is correct.
Then and Than
‘Then’ is mainly an adverb, often used to situate actions in time. ‘I read the cheat sheet, then corrected the grammar in my essay.’
‘Than’ is a conjunction used mainly in making comparisons—e.g., ‘My grammar is better than yours.’
Could’ve and Could of
The phrase ‘could have’ refers to something that was possible but did not occur in the past.
‘Could of’ does not exist and presumably has been picked up in speech when ‘have’ has been slurred.
Complement and Compliment
‘Complement’ refers to something that completes or goes well with something. E.g. ‘Your illustrations complement your writing.’
‘Compliment’ indicates the offering of praise or flattery to another person. ‘I must compliment you on your grammar.’
Different to, Different than and different from?
Different with prepositions to, than and from are used to contrast people or things, describing how one is not the same as the other.
The differences in current usage tend to reflect which variety of English you speak; British English or American English.
‘Different to’ and ‘different than’ are perfectly fine, but some people consider them wrong, so ‘different from’ is the safest choice.
Affect and Effect
‘Affect’ is a verb. It can be used as a noun to describe facial expression. E.g. ‘The girl took the news of failing her essay with little affect.’
or when trying to describe influencing someone or something rather than causing it. E.g. ‘I know this guide will affect her grammar choices in the future.’
‘Effect’ is a noun that can also be used as a verb. It means a change that occurred.
If you are talking about a result, then use the word ‘effect’ as a noun. E.g. What effect will bad grammar have on your writing?
It is appropriate to use the word ‘effect’ if one of these words is used immediately before the word: ‘into’, ‘on’, ‘take’, ‘the’, ‘any’, ‘an’ and ‘or.’ E.g. ‘ Her grammar had an effect on her final mark.’
Fewer and Less
Use ‘fewer’ if you’re referring to people or things in the plural. E.g. ‘Fewer students are having problem with their grammar after using this cheatsheet’.
And less when you’re referring to something that can’t be counted or doesn’t have a plural. E.g. ‘I now spend less time correcting my grammar.’
‘Less’ is also used with numbers when they are on their own and with expressions of measurement or time.
Rules that can be broken
There are many grammar rules that you should follow. But some can – and should – be broken. Sometimes. Here are three of them.
Never begin a sentence with a conjunction
Beginning a sentence with a conjunction can lead to redundant clauses or phrases that make your sentences look wordy. However, the occasional use of a conjunction can be very versatile and effective, in terms of style.
Do not end a sentence with a preposition
If you take the phrase ‘Then what should we end our sentences with?’ and rewrote it to follow this “rule,” it would become: With what should we end our sentences? Which just looks odd!
Some prepositions just float to the end of some sentences, and that’s OK!
Avoid sentence fragments
Not all sentence fragments are mistakes. Some are deliberate and are intended for style and voice. It’s all about choice and the intended meaning, so if it enhances the narrative.
What makes some English words difficult to spell? One reason is inconsistent pronunciation.
One poll carried out a study on 3,500 Britons and found the below were the most common misspelt words.
Caution: Some words in British English use ‘s’ where ‘z’ is used in American English. The -ize spelling is often incorrectly seen as an Americanism in Britain. British spelling mostly uses –ise
e.g. realize realise.
Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.
Never use no double negatives.
Use the semicolon properly, always where it is appropriate; and never where it is not.
Reserve the apostrophe for it’s proper use and omit it where it is not needed.
Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
Avoid commas, that are not necessary.
When you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetitions can be avoided by rereading and editing.
A writer must not shift your point of view.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you have anything that you think we should add, let us know in the comments below. Alternatively, if you’re coming to London as a student, check out our London student accommodation.