Teaching English Rules

This is a simple way to teach basic English to any age.  It gives lots of practice in a very short amount of time each day.  I used this over several years to prepare my kids for the ACT test, and they did great.  Hint: Always use the best speaking grammar you know how when talking to your children, and they will pick up correct grammar the easy way!


image mom helping child.gif (3424 bytes) On the first week, teach the first  two rules. The students should then write an interesting  sentence for each rule that shows they know how to use that rule. For example, to illustrate rules 1-2 they could write:

1.  I like to color.
2.  Kendal is my best friend.

Each day that week, they should write a new sentence for each rule.  The next week, teach the next rule.  Now the students will write a sentence for rules 1-3.   Keep teaching new rules, and assigning all the rules learned so far.  When the student has learned 6 rules, allow him/her to show more than one rule in a sentence.   My kids enjoyed trying to see how few sentences they could write, but still show all the assigned rules.    Eventually you can stop assigning some of the rules if they seem to have been mastered, but go back and review them often.  Use these rules year after year.   Young students may only get through a few rules in a year.  Once the student has practiced a rule for a while, require that rule to be observed in his/her other writing assignments.


THE RULES and example sentences

1.. Use a period, question mark, or exclamation point at the end of a sentence.
2. Capitalize names.
    Dad likes to dance on Ash street in Ohio on Easter in April.
3. Don't capitalize names of kinds of things. (like animals, foods, and plants)
    Three deer ate all the roses in my flower garden.
4. Use commas to separate items in lists.
    Tristann  put marshmallow, chocolate, and a cherry on his ice-cream.
5.  Remember the rules for paragraphs
    A paragraph is a group of sentences about one topic. The first line of a paragraph should be indented. A paragraph should usually have at least 3 sentences.      The first paragraph should be an overall statement that let you know what the whole paragraph will be about.
• A compound sentence is a sentence with two or more sentences joined together.
• A connector is any of the following words: and, but, or
6. Use a comma in a compound sentence with a connector. The most common connectors are the words: and, but, or
    Hannah skipped down the sidewalk, and Jessoe followed her.
7. Use a semi-colon in a compound sentence without a connector.
    Ben brought an umbrella; he was hoping for rain.
• The subject is the thing or person doing the action.
8. Use a comma in front of the subject.
    After winning the basketball game, the team celebrated at Taco Time.
9. Use there, their, they're correctly.
    They're is the contraction for the two words: they are
        They're my best friends.
Use their when they own something.
        They dyed their hair orange.
"There" is used in these two ways:
        There are two doors in my house.
        I put the keys over there.
10. Use two, to, too correctly.
    It is too soon to know if I need to put two more cookies on the plate.
    I want to go too.
11. Use its, it's correctly:
    It's time to go to work. It's = it is
    It licked its fur. its = shows that something is owned
• Possessives are words that show something/someone owns something.
12. Use possessives correctly:
    singular:     The bird's feathers were blue.
                      Charles's coat was warm. (Or Charles' coat was warm.)       
    plural:        All the birds' nests were empty.
                      The children's faces were clean.

13. Capitalize titles:
    Capitalize the first and last word and all important words.
    The Adventures of Captain Hook and the Island of Never-Never Land
14. Underline titles of whole, long works:
    titles of books    Black Beauty
    movies        The Little Mermaid

15. Use quote marks around titles of short works or parts of works:
    songs    "Blue Suede Shoes"
    poems    "The Highwayman"
    chapters    " Adventures in the Cave"
    articles    "Bush to Authorize Tax Cut"

16. Quotation rules:
    Put quotation marks around direct quotes.
    Capitalize the first word of a quote.
    Use commas to separate the quote from the sentence.
    Put ending punctuation inside the quote.

    "Please," directed the Policeman, "Stay inside your car and show me your drivers license."

17. For quotes inside quotes use apostrophes.

Dad said, "When I was young, your grandfather would always say, 'Keep the shower curtain inside the tub!' "

18. Note punctuation and form for a friendly letter.

January 20, 2001

Dear Mom, (Comma after greeting)

    I hope your holiday was great. Thanks for the amazing tie; it will be fun to see everyone's reaction when I wear it. I'll enjoy the fuzzy  new socks too. Tell everyone hello for me. I will call you soon.



19. Form and punctuation for a business letter. (Be direct, formal, brief and polite.)

Mr. Dan Smith (Your address)
144. Riverside
Pocatello ID 83201

Acme Company (Who you are writing  to)
1111. W. Factory Rd.
Chicago IL 20014
July 29, 2002

Dear Sir: (Semicolon after greeting)

    On January 3, 2002, I ordered a Doohickey 2000, item 336 from your Jan. 2002 catalog. Although it has been over 6 months, I have still not received the part. Please refund my payment of $25.99 immediately.


Mr. Dan Smith
20. Writing Effectively
Choose specific words that really say what you mean.
Avoid repeating the same words over and over.
(Bad Example) I had fun. The movie was fun.. It was fun to see everyone.
(Better) Yesterday was packed with all my favorite activities. The movie was exciting and it was great to see everyone.

21. Vary the length of your sentences - some long, some short.
What an evening! After the exciting movie, we savored the Chicken Alfredo and salad at the Olive Garden. We also had strawberry shortcake. The romantic walk along the beach was the perfect ending to the day.

22. Keep your sentences in the same tense (time).
Wrong: We were at the movie and I am so tired, I fell asleep.
This sentence starts out in the past tense and changes to present tense then back to the past..

Correct: We were at the move and I was so tired, I fell asleep.

More Examples:
I sing songs and play the piano. (present)
I sang songs and played the piano. (past)
I will sing songs and play the piano. (future)
Use these words as shown by the examples:
Practice the ones your student needs help with.

23. I / ME
Use "I" as the subject, usually at the beginning of a sentence.
"Me" is used as an object, usually near the end of a sentence.
I am going to the movies, do you want to come with me?
John and I are going out to dinner.
Do you want to come with John and me?

24. HE / HIM
"He" is used as a subject usually near the beginning of a sentence.
"Him" as an object, usually found near the end of a sentence.
He and Jessie are good students.
I want to be just like Jessie and him.

I have a new car.
We have a new car.
They have a new car.
You have a new car.

26. HAS
He has a car.
She has a car.
It has a car.

Look at those birds.
He wants those CDs.
Look at them.
He wants them.

I went to a movie.
I have gone to that movie twice.

I was going to call you.
He was going to call you.
You were going to call me.
We were going to call you.
Jim and Bill were going to call you.

Mean people make me angry.
Rabies can make dogs go mad.

31. Use "I " at the beginning of a sentence. Use "me" at the end of a sentence.
I went to the mall.
Tom and I went to the mall.
Tom went with me.
Tom went with Julie and me.

I see you over there.
I saw you yesterday.
I have seen that movie three times.

33. DO/DID
I do 20 push-ups each day.
I did 30 sit-ups yesterday.
I have done chin-ups for three days.

I won the game.(Not: I won him)
He beat me at checkers. (Not: He won me at checkers.)

Please teach me how to sing.
I want to learn how to sing.

Chickens lay eggs.
I need to lie down.

She has a pretty smile.  Better than: She's got a pretty smile.
I got the measles. (got means to obtain)

Would you lend me your baseball glove? (Lend is a verb.)
I got a loan at the bank.  (Loan is a noun.)

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Revised: June 21, 2005.