Easy Grammar Rules to Improve TOEFL Writing

Have you been studying grammar rules a long time and still fail to improve your sentence structure, variety, and writing style? On the TOEFL writing section, knowing the parts of speech and select grammar rules to create structured, clear sentences helps advance your writing style. The parts of speech are the following:  noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, and conjunction. If you master how sentences are formed and vary vocabulary in your sentences, you’ll be on your way to smoother essay writing. Here are a few of the most basic and crucial grammar rules are related to sentence structure:

  1. Subject/verb agreement is either singular or plural.
  2. A sentence, also called an independent clause, needs a subject and verb in a complete (logical) idea.
  3. A clause, either dependent or independent (like a sentence,) has a subject and verb.
  4. A stand-alone independent clause that completes a thought is a sentence.
  5. A clause which does not have a complete idea (such as when I study…) is dependent because it relies on the other independent part of the sentence to be complete: When I study, I sit for an hour.
  6. A phrase is a group of words that does not have a subject and verb. Common phrases in English are prepositional phrases or noun phrases.

Stay tuned for more English grammar points to improve your sentence structure and writing.


Can You Write a Simple Sentence Painlessly?

How to:

You may not know what a complete sentence is. In which case, you might be having trouble with writing proper sentences. No doubt, your writing may have a fragment (an incomplete sentence) or a run-on sentence (a sentence that runs on too long.)


So, what is a simple sentence? In the English language, each simple sentence must have both a subject and verb in a complete idea. Well, except for commands (imperatives) such as “Do that.” However, most likely, you will not be writing commands on the TOEFL exam.


Subjects and verbs:


A subject is a noun (a person, place or thing such as a child, a city, or a cat), pronoun (I, you, he/she, it, we, they) or a gerund (playing, studying, sleeping.) Clearly, your complete sentence will not have just one word, or it would be called a fragment. Most likely, you will have to put an article such as a, an, or the before your subject. Then, your main verb (the action word such as have) will follow the subject, and it may be made up of two words such as have gone.


Samples of simple sentences with a main subject and verb:

  • A child sleeps.
  • The city has grown.
  • The cat is meowing.


After the main subject and verb, a sentence often has an object: direct or indirect.


She (subject) gives (verb) her brother (indirect object) a present (direct object).

The kid (subject) was drinking (verb) milk (direct object).


With prepositional phrases, adverbs, and adjectives added, your sentences will expand. A prepositional phrase is a group of words with a preposition followed by an object. Prepositions (short words such as to, of, for, on, above, below) show relations between nouns, and after a preposition comes an “object of the preposition,” often a noun or a gerund.


She (subject) gives (verb) her brother (indirect object) a present (direct object) at (preposition) his graduation (object of the preposition).

The kid (subject) was drinking (verb) milk (direct object) with (preposition) strawberries (object of the preposition).


An adverb describes non-noun words such as verbs or adjectives, while an adjective is a word that describes a noun.


The thirsty (adjective) man (subject) was drinking (verb) quickly (adverb) at (preposition) the dirty (adjective) bar (object of the preposition.)

Incredibly (adverb), he (subject) studied (verb) consistently (adverb) until (preposition) the (article) big (adjective) exam (object of the preposition.)


In essence, simple sentences are a piece of cake once you get the basic structure. If you like this article, check out the blog Use Technology for Proficiency in English.