10 Interesting Grammar Rules You Didn’t Know Existed

You might think you have figured out the grammar rules of the English language. But like any other language, English has tons of grammar nooks and corners you might not have explored yet. These grammar rules can significantly impact your writing and speaking in a quite positive way.

In this article, we will talk about some intriguing grammar rules that you can learn to communicate more fluently.

1. The Oxford Comma

Oxford comma, sometimes known as the serial comma, is a punctuation mark used before the conjunction (typically “and”, “or”) in a list of three or more items. For example, “I like apples, bananas, and oranges.” This rule is optional for some writing styles, although it can help to avoid confusion and improve clarity.

2. The Singular “They”

When a person’s gender is unknown or unimportant, the single pronoun “they” is used to refer to that person. “For example,” “someone left their books on the table.” The rule is gaining popularity because it encourages diversity in language usage. Also, you can use it to mention a friend whose gender you don’t want to reveal to the person you are talking to.

3. Ending sentence with a preposition

It was widely believed that ending a statement with a preposition, such as “to,” “for,” or “with,” was grammatically incorrect. The rule, however, has become more flexible through time and is now universally accepted in modern English. For example, “What are you waiting for?” Here, the preposition “for” has been placed at the end of the sentence.

4. Dangling participles

Dangling participles occur when the subject of a sentence is different than the participle phrase, causing uncertainty. For example, “walking down the street, the buildings appeared majestic.” Here, the sentence might appear confusing because it implies that the building was walking, which is illogical.

To correct this, make sure the subject matches the action mentioned in the participle phrase.
One method to improve the statement is to explicitly indicate the subject of the action: “As I was walking down the street, the buildings appeared majestic.”
Here, “I” is explicitly stated to make sense of the sentence and avoid any logical confusion.

5. Split infinitives

When an adverb is placed between the particle “to” and the base form of a verb, it forms a split infinitive. For instance, “to go boldly where no one has gone before.” While split infinitives have been criticized by some grammar traditionalists, modern usage acknowledges their validity and allows for more flexible sentence structures.

6. Anacoluthon

Anacoluthon is the intentional grammatical deviation in a sentence. It occurs when the structure or syntax of a sentence unexpectedly changes, frequently resulting in an unexpected or unfinished structure. It can be used in both artistic and rhetorical contexts.

Anacoluthon is a result of the confusion, excitement, or distraught of the speaker. For example, “I can’t believe how late we are, the train – wait, did you see that?”

Here, the speaker was expressing his disbelief about being late, then suddenly, got distracted by something else, and left the first part of the sentence structure unfinished.

7. Adverb placement

Adverbs are frequently used before the verb they modify, although they can also be used to emphasize the beginning or finish of a statement. For example, “Quickly, she hurried to catch the bus” or “She hurried to catch the bus quickly.”

8. Appositive phrases

An appositive phrase is a noun or noun phrase that renames or adds more detail about a preceding noun. It adds more information or explains the noun it relates to. For example, “My wife, a talented artist, painted a beautiful painting.”

9. Elliptical Construction

Certain words or phrases are omitted or dropped in elliptical construction because they are understood from the surrounding context. This is common in casual conversation or writing.

For example, “I like coffee; she, tea.” In this example, the full sentence would be “I like coffee; she likes tea”. However, the repeated verb “likes” in the second clause is omitted because it can be easily understood from the context.

10. Absolute Phrases

A set of words known as an absolute phrase alters the entire sentence rather than just one particular noun or pronoun. It consists of a noun and a participle or a modifying adjective. For instance, “The game over, they celebrated their victory.”

“The game over” serves as the absolute phrase in this sentence. It is made up of the noun “game” and the participle “over.” Together, they create a phrase that provides additional context or describes the circumstances around the sentence’s primary action—the celebration of their victory.

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