13 Grammar Rules to Know

Grammar Cheat Sheet 

The Grammar Rules You Must Know to Get High Marks


Rule 1: Subject-Verb Agreement

Rule 2: Noun-Pronoun Agreement       

Rule 3: Pronoun Subjects & Objects

Rule 4: Pronoun Consistency

Rule 5: Correct Tense

Rule 6: Adjectives & adverbs

Rule 7: Parallel Construction

Rule 8: Run-on Sentences & Sentence Fragments

Rule 9: Dangling Modifiers (Participles/participial phrases)

Rule 10: Sentence logic

Rule 11: Fixing commonly messed up expressions

Rule 12: Logical comparison

Rule 13: Comparative/superlative forms of words


But before we begin…

        Noun—person, place, thing, idea (joy), quality (stickiness), or act (drooling)

        Pronoun—word that takes the place of another noun (The Serpent is evil. He is cruel. He is a pronoun because it takes the place of Serpent.

        Verb—word that expresses action (jump) or a state of being (be). Tells what’s happening in a sentence.

        Subject—noun or pronoun that “does” the action of the verb in the sentence (He drooled. He is the subject because he is the thing that drooled.)

        Object—noun or pronoun that the verb acts on. (He tickled me. Me is the object because me is the thing that got tickled.)

        Preposition—Words like to at, in, up, over, under, after, of. They go with objects. (in the housein is the preposition & house is the object.)

        Singular—single thing or unit (noodle)

        Plural—more than one thing (noodles)


Rule 1 Subject-Verb Agreement 

Subject & verb must agree in number, so isolate the subject & the verb & make sure they match.


Incorrect: The proctor, as well as the students, were overcome by the tedious ticking of the timer and fell asleep.


Isolate             subject: proctor (singular)             verb: were (plural)            combine: the proctor were overcome


Correct: The proctor, as well as the students, was overcome by the tedious ticking of the timer and fell asleep.


Problem: the plural students; it is set off by commas, so it’s not part of the subject. Three expressions similar to as well are: in addition to, along with, and together with



  1. The anguish of the students have been a source of pleasure to the test. 
    • Note: the subject is never in a prepositional phrase


  1. Each of the streets were painted green. 
    • Note: 13 singular subjects: each, every, either, neither, one, no one, everyone, everybody, someone, somebody, anyone, anybody, & nobody. Each takes a singular noun.


Rule 2: Noun-Pronoun Agreement

Singular subjects take singular nouns; plural subjects take plural nouns. The 13 singular subjects above each take a singular pronoun. 

Incorrect:         Not one of the boys read their test book.

Correct:            Not one of the boys read his test book.


Rule 3: Pronoun Subjects & Objects

You must know when to use the words in the column on the left & when to use those on the right:

















I like hotdogs, but hotdogs don’t like me.

She is good enough for Grape-Nuts, but are Grape-Nuts good enough for her?


Rule 4: Pronoun consistency 

Pronouns should be consistent throughout a sentence.

 Incorrect: The more you study for the test, the more one thinks about moving to Mongolia.

Correct: The more you study for the test, the more you think about moving to Mongolia.


Rule 5: Correct Tense

Make sure the action is consistent. Look for key “time words” such as when, as, after, and so forth.

Incorrect: After he ate the newt and brushed his teeth, I will kiss him.

Correct: After he eats the newt and brushes his teeth, I will kiss him.

 Rule 6: Adjectives & adverbs

Adjectives describe a noun or pronoun and answer three questions: What kind? Which one? How many?

The _____ wombat (lascivious)


Adverbs tell where, when, how, or to what extent (how often or how much)

The wombat did it ___ (lasciviously)


 Rule 7: Parallel Construction

Ideas that are parallel (related) should be expressed the same way.

Incorrect: I like spitting, drooling, and to slurp.

Correct: I like spitting, drooling, and slurping.

Rule 8: Run-on Sentences & Sentence Fragments 

A run-on is usually two complete sentences that are incorrectly joined by a comma in stead of separated by a period or semi-colon.


Incorrect: JP ate the mysterious object, it was a noodle.

Correct: JP ate the mysterious object; it was a noodle. OR JP ate the mysterious object. It was a noodle.


Sentence fragments are parts of sentences that are made up to look like real sentences.


Incorrect: All the kids had rashes on their bodies. Especially those with uranium lunch boxes.

Correct: All the kids had rashes on their bodies, especially those with uranium lunch boxes.


Rule 9: Dangling Modifiers (Participles/Participial phrases)

Incorrect: Taking the test, his copy of the cheat sheet was in his pocket.

The sentence implies that the cheat sheet was taking the test.

Correct: Taking the test, he had his copy of the cheat sheet in his pocket.


Rule 10: Sentence logic

These questions will be grammatically correct on the test but don’t do a good job of saying what the writer wants them to say. 

Sample: There are often sentences that are sentences that are grammatically correct, and do not say what the writer wants them to say.

  1. correct, and do not say what
  2. correct and do not say that which
  3. correct but do not say what** (correct answer)
  4. correct, with the exception that
  5. correct saying not what


Rule 11: Fixing commonly messed up expression  

Sometimes “they” will deliberately mess up an expression to try to foil you. The only way to prepare for this type of question is by becoming familiar with standard, formal English and being able to hear or see which words or phrases just sound or look wrong. 


Incorrect: Since it’s a beautiful day, I’d just assume walk.

Correct: Since it’s a beautiful day, I’d just walk.


Rule 12: Logical comparison                                                                                                                             

Make sure that when you make a comparison, you compare two like things.


Incorrect: My mother’s salary is higher than Jane’s mother.

Correct: My mother’s salary is higher than Jane’s mother’s (salary).


Rule 13: Comparative/superlative forms of words

Adjectives have inflections. That is, adjectives change in spelling according to how they are used in a sentence.

Adjectives have three forms: positive, comparative, and superlative.

The simplest form of the adjective is its positive form. When two objects or persons are being compared, the comparative form of the adjective is used. When three or more things are being compared, we use the adjective's superlative form.


brave, braver, bravest

happy, happier, happiest 

Note:   Words of more than two syllables form the comparative with more and most:

beautiful, more beautiful, most beautiful.

resonant, more resonant, most resonate


Last few reminders

  •         Don’t split infinitives (incorrect: “to slowly walk” correct “to walk slowly”
  •         Don’t use slang (chirp) or clichés (cold as ice)
  •         Either goes with or; neither goes with nor
  •         When referring to a country, don’t use “they” 
    The US is the richest county in the world. They have the highest GNP. (It has the highest GNP.)