15 Basic Rules of Grammar for TOEFL Preparation


Have you a dream to get admission in American universities or institutions of higher education? Your dream can come true if you crack TOEFL with a very high score. 'Test of English as a Foreign Language' is the basic need for the top universities of the English-speaking countries. For the enrollment in such institutions of higher education, the TOEFL score is a must. One must have exceptional English reading, listening, speaking and writing skills. This can ensure the test taker's entry into the top-rated universities of America.

TOEFL Grammar Rules

You can not learn English if you are not an expert in English grammar. You need to focus on improving your understanding of grammar. Unless your grasp of grammar is perfect, you can't score the desired high score in the TOEFL. Here it is important to note that you can't learn grammar in a day or two. You must devote all your 24 hours to having extensive knowledge of grammar. You must work hard to achieve the required level of command over grammar. We have enlisted some basic but important grammar rules. This will help you qualify for the TOEFL.

Use of Definite Article:

Use of definite article 'The' is quite confusing especially for those who are not native-English speakers. It is quite embarrassing to misuse a basic word like 'The' in a sentence while writing or speaking. The situation can be even more awkward if you find yourself fumbling while speaking due to your doubt of the right use of 'The.'

A word which you have already used once in a sentence, usually you should use 'The' before that word. Thereafter whenever the same word you will repeat, you have to use 'The.' For example: "I saw a beggar asking for money. It was surprising for me to see people were shouting at the beggar who was looking shabby and dirty." Here it is quite clear that 'The' has used when 'beggar' repeated in the sentence.

'The' is also used before such words (nouns) about which we already know. As we are already aware of the person, place or thing we are talking about, it's ideal to use 'The' before such words. For example: "The man we saw in the market yesterday is my neighbor." Here it seems like that person is already known to the speaker and the listener as well. That is why definite article 'The' is used before man.

Use of Reflexive Pronouns:

You should use reflexive pronouns such as myself, yourself, themselves, herself, himself and itself in a correct way. Keep it in mind during test preparation.

The main use of reflexive pronouns is to emphasize the word. You should use it to show the result of action falling upon the subject that is the doer of an action. For example: "I myself went to The New York to meet him." Here 'myself' is used to put emphasis on the statement that is expressing.

"You don't underestimate yourself." In this sentence, 'yourself' is the object of the subject and 'You' is the subject of the recipient of the action here.

Correct use of the Verb Forms:

One of the most common mistakes made while taking the TOEFL test is that use of verbs in a sentence. A verb is the most important part of a sentence as it signifies what actually is being done. A mistake in the use of a verb can affect your score with you losing the chance of desired high marks in the test. Make sure that you are capable enough to use correct verb forms in a sentence while speaking and writing.

For example: "I have had tea." Here the use of 'Had' is a verb in the third form with the first form being 'have.' 'Have' in the sentence is the helping verb signifying the use of 'Present Perfect Tense.'

"I took tea." 'Took' is the second form of the verb 'Take' and the use of the second form denotes an action done in the past. If we replace 'took' by ''take', the meaning changes completely. The use of 'take' in "I take tea" denotes that something happens on a regular basis. Whereas the use of 'take' in "I am taking tea" denotes something is being done at present, and the action is in progress.

If you do not use the verb forms well, you may make lots of silly mistakes which will affect your score in negative means. Make sure you use correct verb forms.

Right Use of Adverbs:

An adverb is a word which gives the extra information about a verb, adjective or another adverb. Like you use the verb in a correct sense while speaking and writing you should use the adverb also with the same manner. For example: "He is a very intelligent boy." Here 'very' modifies the adjective 'intelligent' and it is an adverb here.

"He read the chapter quickly." Here 'quickly' gives the information about the verb 'read' as it tells how he read the chapter. Correct use of adverbs in a sentence can fetch you good marks in TOEFL. Because the test is all about the correct use of grammar. You should practice questions as possible to improve your grammar skills.

Use of Adjectives:

Adjectives are essential components of a sentence. Their correct use can help you score high marks on a standardized test like TOEFL. If you get confused while using the correct adjective, you will make lots of mistakes. You have to be aware of using adjectives in the positive, comparative and superlative degree in a sentence. For example: "I am a smart man"- The word 'smart' is an adjective in the positive degree.

"I am smarter than you." 'Smarter' is the adjective used in the comparative degree and notice the use of 'than' in the sentence. Comparative degree of an adjective is used for comparisons between two persons, places or things.

"I am the smartest of all people present in the meeting." The word 'smartest' is an adjective in the superlative degree.

Here keep in mind that you needn't remember the rules. Most important is you have to understand that how to frame the sentence.

Consistency in the Sentences:

The sentences you make while speaking or writing have to be consistent with regard to the use of tenses. You must be good at sentence structures. You should understand how to leave a good impression on the listener's or readers. You can do it by being consistent in the use of different tenses in a long sentence.

The sentence -"I never knew that I will not be able to achieve this target" - lacks consistency as "I never knew" is in past tense, whereas "I will not be able to achieve this target" is in the present. As per grammar, the sentence is incorrect as the required rules of grammar are not following.

"I never knew that I would not be able to achieve this target"- is a correct sentence with consistency throughout the sentence.

Avoid 'Will' or 'Shall' in Time and Conditional Clauses:

Avoid using future tense in time or conditional clauses. The right way to use conditional clauses beginning with 'if,' 'when,' 'before,' 'after,' 'as soon as,' 'as long as' and 'while' requires the use of the simple present.

For example: 'If you will not invite me, I will not come to the party.'-Wrong

'If you do not invite me, I will not come to the party.'-Right.

'As long as I will be with you, you needn't worry.'-Wrong.

'As long as I am with you, you needn't worry.'-Right.

Use of Present Perfect Continuous Tense if Past has Connection with the Present:

Usually, people confuse Present Perfect Continuous Tense with Present Continuous Tense. They make clear mistakes while making sentences. You must know throughout how and where to use Present Perfect Continuous Tense. It takes place when the past has continued to affect the present. For example: 'I have been preparing for the test since 2016.' Here an action commenced a long time back, but its effect is still felt in the present too.

Have a look at some other sentences where past seem to be affecting the present:

'The boys have been dancing since morning.'

'Lata has been staying with me for 10 years.'

'I have been walking for 6 hours.'

Now observe the difference of the sentences as mentioned above with sentences written below:

'The boys are dancing.'

'Lata is staying with me.'

'I am walking.'

In these sentences, action is being done, but there is no mention of for how long it is going on.

Pause After Verbal Phrases:

You should also know where and when you have to pause while reading and speaking during the test. If you pause at a wrong point in a sentence, you'll end up uttering a meaningless and improper sentence. For example, if you are speaking out- "After eating the dogs all appeared satisfied"-it is something that messes with the real meaning of the sentence. You must give a small pause after speaking "After eating" and thereafter you must articulate the next half, i.e. "the dogs all appeared satisfied."

Take a close look at the following sentences:

"To make more money// you must work harder."

"Seeing the child playing all alone// I went ahead to play with him."

Be particularly attentive towards where you have to give pause. You need to listen to English news, Hollywood movies to have a better understanding of giving a pause while speaking a sentence.

Right Use of Prepositions:

Use of prepositions is an indispensable part of English as a language. Use of the wrong preposition not only makes writing flawed but also affects the chances of a good score in the TOEFL. There are lots of prepositions like 'to', 'for', 'into', 'down', 'off', 'on', 'towards, 'across', 'along', 'at', 'with', 'out', 'forward', 'after' and 'before', etc.

You must adequately use these prepositions. Unless and until you are good at grammar, you will not be able to use correct prepositions in sentences. This will make it difficult for you to pass a test like TOEFL.

Take a look at some common errors in prepositions:

'I live in Chandigarh in India.'- Wrong.

'I live at Chandigarh in India.'- Right.

'I will meet you in Monday on 7 PM.' -Wrong.

'I will meet you on Monday at 7 PM.' - Right.

Always use correct prepositions in the writing and speaking sections of the TOEFL. Else your aim of being a part of one of the best American universities never gets fulfilled.

Use of Contractions While Writing:

'Don't', 'Didn't', 'Isn't', 'It's', 'You're', 'You've', 'can't', 'should've', 'would've', 'Hasn't', 'Haven't', etc. are the contractions. You have to be particularly attentive towards the use of contractions. The misuse of these words can mar the meaning of a sentence.

For example: By mistake, if you write 'Its' instead of 'It's', the sentence will go wrong, and it will be a silly mistake.

Same, there is a little difference between such words as 'Your'- 'You're,' 'There'-'Their' and 'They're.' Substituting one for other will make a childish mistake. This will affect your score and reduce your chances of success in the TOEFL.

Avoid Run-On Sentences:

As per TOEFL grammar rules avoid making run-on sentences while writing. Run-on sentences leave a very poor impression on the examiner. The writing section of TOEFL requires you to write vast on given topics in the form of essays. If you make the mistakes of making run-on sentences, your actions will affect your clearance in the TOEFL.

Use a comma, conjunctions such as 'and,' 'or,' 'but,' 'since' and 'Because,' etc. to write a correct sentence according to grammar. Let us take an example of a run on sentence which has been duly corrected afterward:

Run-on Sentence-"I enjoyed dancing at the party my brother cheered while I danced."

Correct Form- "I enjoyed dancing at the party, and my brother cheered while I danced."

Incorrect-"It took many days for me to recover from illness my mother nursed me during my sickness."

Correct- "It took many days for me to recover from illness. My mother nursed me during my sickness."

Compare the run-on sentences with the correct sentences. You'll at once come to know where the mistake lies.

Correct Use of Apostrophe:

While writing a sentence, there should be a proper use of an apostrophe followed by 's'. Wrong use of an apostrophe is one of the most common mistakes in writing sections of the TOEFL. Pay particular attention to how to use an apostrophe in a sentence.

For example: 'The boy's dream was to become an engineer.'

'The boys' dream was to be rich in future.'

Both of the above sentences are right. The first one hinting at singular 'boy' and the second sentence referring to the dream of all the boys.

Noun-Pronoun Agreement:

Be very attentive to the use of the noun-pronoun in a sentence while speaking and writing. A singular subject takes singular noun and plural subject take plural noun with a pronoun as per the noun or pronoun used earlier in the sentence. If you do not use the correct noun and pronoun in a sentence, you will make a blunder mistake in the test which will lower your entire score.

Let us cite a few instances of the noun-pronoun agreement:

'John and Jack didn't know where they had lost their belongings.'

'Do you know where your mother had kept her luggage?'

'None of the girls was ready to accept her mistake.'

Correct Use of Conjunctions:

Use of conjunctions should be appropriate while speaking and writing. You can avoid the wrong use of conjunctions by having complete knowledge of how to use conjunctions in English. Conjunctions are the connecting words. That makes complex sentences out of simple ones.

For example: 'I know him' is a simple sentence, but 'I know him because he lives in my neighborhood' is a long, complex sentence, made by two simple sentences. The word 'because' is the conjunction used to connect two sentences, i.e. 'I know him' and 'he lives in my neighborhood.'

There are lots of conjunctions in English such as 'after', 'before', 'and', 'since', 'though', 'whether', 'whereas', 'whenever', 'whoever', etc.

It is your comfort level with conjunctions that will make you speak and write impressive and effective English.

These are some of the most important grammar rules you must learn to raise your TOEFL exam score. That is one of the most challenging tests of English right now. Your entry to the topmost United States-based educational institutions depends on how proficient you are in grammar.

If you have an impressive writing and speaking style with excellent knowledge of English, for sure, you can qualify TOEFL with very high marks. You can make it to the university or the institution of your dream.

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