Grammar is not that difficult
I'm not going to go too much into sentence structure or advanced grammar like split infinitives and dangling participles. Or whether we should use US spelling and grammar or the British version--or if it's okay to use "and" or "but" at the beginning of a sentence--because a lot of that is stylistic choice in prose and, quite frankly, so long as the intention is clear, who cares? But some basic punctuation and word usage is covered.

Fact is, contrary to popular belief, grammar is actually very easy and English does have standard and consistent rules with few exceptions, if you learn to spell phonically instead of winging it. The main reason people don't believe this is because many of us are never taught the rules, or we're taught half a rule instead of a full one. I won't labour this point, but an example is "I before E except after C", then a whole list of exceptions that make the rule seem redundant.

The full rule is actually, "I before E except after C if the sound is EE. For any other sound (AY as in vein, for example) use EI".

If we'd been taught the full rule, then there'd be only 6 exceptions if you say "EYEther/NEYEther" instead of "EEther/nEEther" for either/neither, or 8 exceptions if you don't. Easy, see?

Some people misuse the stringed word "ghoti" to try and disprove that English has consistent rules, but in actuality, if those same people knew their English rules, and understood phonics, then they would also understand that there is no way that 'G-H-O-T-I' could ever, ever say "fish."

Why? Easy: gh will only say "f" when it is a part of the "ough" phoneme that is based in another language anyway (as in "enough"). By itself, especially at the beginning of a word, "gh" always says "g" ("ghost", "gherkin").

O says "i" once only, ever, in the exceptional plural "women".

"ti" only says "sh" when used in the "tion" phoneme (and only because our speech has become lazier over time), and besides, English words don't ever end in i.

If you read this blatantly abused string as "goatee" then you can read well. If you read "fish" then you either have a Masters or PhD in English (and therefore know the trick) or you're an idiot.

Differences in spelling and sound usage become easier when you understand where English roots are. Example: the phoneme "ch", which can say "tch", "ck" or "sh". Seems confusing, until you understand that all of the "sh" words came from French (chef, chatelaine) and all of the "ck" words were originally Greek (school, chaos).

Enough of that, though.

I will cover commonly misused and misspelt words and punctuation in this section, basically a guide to all of the things your spellchecker will not pick up for you. It is not a definitive or exhaustive list but enough to get by on. :-)

Basics Glossary
Nouns, pronouns, adjectives
A noun is a naming word. It names an object. Eg, man, chair, television.

A proper noun names a specific person, place or brand name, and is always capitalised. Eg, Reno, Australia or Maxis' The Sims 2 by EA Games. Titles of books, films and stories are also considered proper nouns and are capitalised, eg, "A Continent Too Far", "The Lord of The Rings", or "In Search of Shakespeare."

A pronoun is any word that replaces a noun, ie I, he, she, it, you, they, them, us, we, me, their, our, ours. The pronoun "I" is always capitalised. Some say this is because it names a specific person (ie, me), which is probably true, others say it's an ego thing (haha), but I reckon it's because I is easier to see in print than i.

An adjective describes the noun. Eg, "gorgeous" Reno, "brown" chair or "cheap" television.

Verbs and adverbs, oh my
A verb is a "doing word" (to confuse matters, grammar Nazis also like to use the word "participle"). A verb describes an action. Eg, "to sit", "to learn", "to kiss".

An adverb describes a verb, and usually ends in "ly". Eg, sit "carefully", read "attentively", kiss "passionately". In the previous sentence, "usually" was the adverb that described the verb "to end."

Next - Basic Punctuation

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