Foreign education is gaining immense importance these days. In this competitive world, it is important to gain an edge over the rest of the crowd to make your identity. On that note, TOEFL is an examination that the students who wish to pursue quality foreign education are supposed to appear for. The full form of TOEFL is Test for English as a foreign language. The test is basically designed to measure the English speaking skill for people who are non-native speakers. The test measures the four main skills namely, reading, writing, speaking and listening. It also tests the capacity to understand the new information, to infer from it and create information on your own.
Concepts to master for creating grammatically correct sentences:
1. Your vs you're
When to use 'your'?
The possessive form of the word 'you' is known as 'your'. It is mostly followed by a noun or a pronoun. For example, "that is your house", which means, "the house belongs to you."
When to Use 'You’re'?
'You're' is an amalgamation of two separate words, 'you' and 'are'. It stands for 'you are'. For example, "you're working" means "you are working".
2. Showing possession vs apostrophes
Consider the sentence, "this is Mike's pen." Here the apostrophe s is used to show possession. Thus, the sentence means that the pen belongs to Mike.
Other uses of the apostrophe:
We also use apostrophe while denoting plural nouns such as CD's, years or eras such as 1960's, etc.
3. Than vs then
Than is used to show comparison. For example, "My sister is better than me". Then is used in situations where one has to tell what happened next. For example, "I reached home, then I cooked some food." This means I cooked food after I reached home.
4. Irregular plural form
When an irregular noun is used in plural form, it is known as an Irregular plural form. In order to modify the spelling, we use s or es at the end of the word.
5. Me vs. Myself
'Me' and 'Myself', both are pronouns. 'Me' is a personal pronoun whereas 'myself' is a reflexive pronoun.
When to Use Me
In a sentence, the object's function is taken by 'me.' It is an objective pronoun.
When to Use Myself
'Myself' is used in case of emphasis on a point. The speaker uses it to reference one-self.
6. There, their and they're
'There' refers to a place. For example, 'the pen is lying there.' 'Their' is used when something belongs to someone. For example, 'it is their house'.
'They're' is a combination of two different words, 'they' and 'are'.
7. Could, would, and should
'Should' is used mainly for the purpose of giving advice. Eg. You should lose some weight.
'Would' is used to talk about situations that are unlikely. Eg. I would have bought that house if I had more money.
'Could' is used to represent ability or polite requests. Eg. 'I could have done better' or 'Could you pass me the butter?'
8. Definite vs indefinite article
When a noun is defined, a determiner or a definite article is used. When the use of a noun is generalized, either indefinite article is used or no article is used at all. 'The' is a definite article and 'a' and 'an' are indefinite articles.
Example of the definite article: The boy is happy.
Example of indefinite article: A train is arriving.
In the second example it is not specified which train is arriving.
Grammar Rules You Need To Know:
Proper use of English grammar is something that even native English speakers find difficult to deal with, and it especially becomes a more challenging task for people who have English as their second language. If you do want to clear the TOEFL exam there are certain grammar rules that one must master.
1. Parallel construction:
It is very important to use parallel construction when you are listening to a series of ideas in a sentence. By this, we mean that same form must be used for words having equal importance.
Incorrect: Priya spent her weekend writing, reading and gardened.
Correct: Priya spent her weekend writing, reading, and gardening.
Make sure that you always review the sentences and you are consistent when you are creating lists or talking about numerous things on an equal level.
2. Always use the correct tense:
This is the simplest but also one of the most common mistakes that one makes. If you require your English writing to be clear, you must make your tenses regular throughout your essay. If you start your essay with present tense, you must use the same tense in the entire passage. It might happen that you would like to mention ideas in the past if that‘s the case make sure the primary verb in the sentence should be in present tense, and verbs in the supporting clauses can be in the past tense.
3. Objective and Subjective pronoun:
According to the usage in a sentence the form of a pronoun varies. People easily make mistakes while using an adjective pronoun when a subjective pronoun has to be used. For example instead of using he, she, they people tend to use him, her, them and vice versa.
To solve this problem, an easy way is to always remember using the required pronoun by looking at the verb in the phrase or sentence. For example, if the action is carried out by the pronoun then the subject form must be used. And if some action is being taken upon the pronoun, then the objective form should be used.
4. Noun and pronoun agreement:
You have to make sure that the noun and pronoun must agree. If you are not careful, pronoun usage can be very confusing. Make sure that before taking the test you study and practice using a pronoun in the sentences
5. Subject and verb agreement:
This is one of the most common mistake people make and its failing to have an agreement between the verb and the subject being used. Since English has a large number of irregular verbs and it is extremely important to familiarize with both list of irregular verbs and the standard verb conjugations.
6. Correct use of adverbs and adjectives:
Everyone knows that adjectives are descriptive words that describe nouns and adverbs are descriptive words that change verbs. You must keep in mind that there are also exceptions to this rule. The most common mistake people tend to make is using an adverb as an adjective and vice versa.
For making it clear, try to think about which word you are modifying and then use the right form.
For example, “He is a fast runner”, adjective ‘fast’ is describing the runner, you can also alternatively say “he ran quickly”, where the adverb ‘quickly’ has modified the verb ran.
7. Try to avoid run-on sentences and fragments:
A single idea must be presented by a well-structured sentence completely. When a sentence contains two independent clauses that themselves can function as a complete sentence without connecting words and punctuation is called a run-on sentence. A sentence that is incomplete, missing a verb or subject or any other important element is a fragment.
It should be kept in mind that a run-on sentence must be rewritten for more clarity or should be split into two sentences. A fragment, on the other hand, must be crafted in a complete sentence. If you want to do well in the exam you must learn to recognize mistakes being made in the sentence structure.
Some Additional English speaking and writing Tips:
1. Try to learn as much as you can:
You have to make it a point to learn the grammar rules as they group many language situations and provide you with information that you can apply to the context accordingly. It is going to be beneficial if you know which rules to study by taking a grammar diagnostic test that is easily available online. It will help you in learning about the topics you are weakest at. Go for a basic, intermediate or advanced level test, it recommended that the person first takes the basic level and proceed accordingly, making improvements at each step. When you do start studying for a rule, study it very carefully and practices and solve as many examples as you can.
2. One rule at a time:
Make sure that you are not rushing into just learning stuff and take your time to study one rule at a time thoroughly and then move forward. To achieve that try to practice each grammar rule well. Make sure you create your own examples and complete all grammar exercises.
3. Create your own English sentences:
When you try to make your own sentences with each rule being learned, it will give you clarity on the rules before you move to the exercise part. Try to look for the examples given after the rules and then make your own sentences. You can always take help of a native speaker or a teacher to go through your sentences to get them checked.
After this, include the grammar structure in writing tasks. When you write you have enough time to think and plan accordingly, so this won’t be difficult at all. Finally, make sure when you create sentences you also use the same grammar rules while you speak as well.
Practicing in this manner will also help you in the written and spoken English part of the exam, where you have the challenge to prove that you will be able to use complex grammar structures accurately to express your ideas.
4. English Practice exercises with every rule:
After you have worked with your own examples, try to complete exercises that are provided with the rule. There are so many resources online where you can practice as much as you want. After you are done with practicing the rule, don’t move towards learning a new one, until you have mastered the one you have been working on all this time. The simplest way is first to understand the rule well, then read examples, create your own sentences and finally practice the exercises as much as you are able to.
5. Be patient:
Last, but not the least, be patient. By being patient we mean do give yourself all the time that you need. Learning grammar is not a small task and must be regarded as a long-term objective. Generally, the more you learn and practice the better you get. The trick here is that you must allot of time each day that will be dedicated to grammar alone. But if you don’t have that much time to prepare for the exam, try to cover the basic areas first such as nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, and tenses. Only when you have mastered all these, move ahead with more complex areas of English grammar like different kind of clauses, active and passive voices, subjunctive etc.
Try to learn the rules in groups of five. This means you are still going to learn only one rule at a time, that includes understanding, reading examples, creating sentences and completing exercises. This going to help you recognize your mistakes and correct them, this will also ensure if you need to go through the rule just one more time.
In conclusion, one of the most effective ways to use your time efficiently is to follow every rule learned by practicing it and then moving forward. TOEFL exam is a very practical exam, and just memorizing a lot of theory without the proper understanding is going to be of absolutely no use. The exam is going to test your capacity of using the correct grammar in both written and spoken English. But the best part of learning English grammar well is that it is going to stay with you forever, even after you have cleared your TOEFL exam.