English may be one of the most commonly spoken and studied languages on the planet, but that does not mean it is easy to understand.  Even those who grew up surrounded by English have trouble with grammatical structure and punctuation: and for good reason.  You see, English has some very odd  grammar rules that easily confuse foreigners; but, surprisingly, English’s strange grammar rules can confuse even those who learn it as their Robotel language lab native tongue!

COMPOUND POSSESSION

When multiple nouns share the same subjective relationship to an object, this is known as compound possession.  For example:

  • Martha and Matthew’s cars are black

Vs

  • Martha’s and Matthew’s cars are black

The first sentence is an example of a respective relationship, where Martha and Matthew, together, have black cars (compound possession).  The second sentence is an example of respective possession, where Martha and Matthew each have their own black cars.

ALTERNATIVE SUBJECT-PREDICATE AGREEMENT

The subject-predicate agreement is very important in the English language.  Basically, this rule follows that every sentence has, at the very least, a noun (the subject) who performs an action (a verb, the predicate).  In English, the conjugation of the verb must agree with the noun.

That probably sounds confusing, so here is an example:

  • Martha buys a car
  • Matthew and Martha buy a car

In these examples, the conjugation of the verb “to buy” changes in accordance with the subject.

Of course, all grammar rules have exceptions and this one is no different.  Essentially, adding a conjunction (a word which joins two independent clauses) to the end of a sentence can continue to add complications to this rule.

ADJECTIVE ORDER

So, here is a grammar rule that all native English speakers follow but, more than likely, are not even aware exists.  The adjective order rule describes that any time you list more than one type of adjective they need to be in a very specific order. The order is:

  • Opinion
  • Size
  • Age
  • Shape
  • Color
  • Origin
  • Material
  • Purpose

Here is an example:  “Martha will buy the best, mid-size, 2017, black, sport utility vehicle.

Of course, this is a limited example but you can more clearly understand this rule by simply rearranging the adjectives.  Read it aloud and you quickly realize the importance of following this rule.