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Grammar course

I began learning English when I started middle school in Korea. I started to write exclusively in English when I began my career in the US as a graduate student in philosophy. I managed to write philosophy papers, but I wanted to write clearly and crisply. To do that, I decided to relearn English grammar since the grammar taught in Korea was far inadequate to construct good English sentences. I wanted to understand what makes good English sentences good. Luckily, I was able to study the renowned Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style” and many other grammar books written by English natives. These books helped me understand some of my mistakes in sentence constructions. However, I also noticed that none of these books satisfactorily addressed problems that I was struggling with, such as “Should I use “the” or not with this noun?” or “Should this idea be expressed in a countable noun or uncountable noun?” Eventually, I learned that my questions are non-questions for the natives as natives do not make the-type-of grammar mistakes that I was making. Ironically, the grammar mistakes that some natives make were the ones that I knew even in middle school: e.g., I observed some natives’ saying “between you and I” instead of “between you and me.” I realized that, to solve my grammar questions, arising due to being a non-native speaker, I needed to write my own grammar book. 

Since I wanted to make my sentences grammatically correct, all I needed to do was to make sure that all grammatically related items in a sentence agree with each other in grammatically relevant aspects. So for instance, the preposition phrase, “between you and I” is wrong because a preposition requires an objective case, but “I” is in a subjective case. When I conceived “grammar” in light of the agreement in related parts, the so-far tedious and often inconsistent grammar rules, 3,500 grammar rules according to some grammarians, can be categorized under just six essential principles of agreement as follows:      

  1. Noun-determiner agreement in specificity and countability

  2. Noun-noun/noun-pronoun agreement in number and case

  3. Subject-verb agreement in number

  4. Verb tense agreement

  5. Verb mood agreement

  6. Modifier-modificand agreement

In this course, you learn English grammar rules that are undergirded by these six essential principles of agreement. This course is work in progress. Video lectures will be added weekly. This is the course syllabus. 

Grammar Course Syllabus


English syntax principles

Parts of speech

Elements of a sentence

Word order

Noun-determiner agreement

    Introduction to the principle of noun-determiner agreement

Countable nouns vs uncountable nouns

Uncountable nouns used as countable nouns
Singular countable noun use
Definite article use 

Idiomatic use of THE

Indefinite Quantifiers

    Quantifiers used only with singular countable nouns

    Quantifiers used only with plural countable nouns

    Quantifiers used only with uncountable nouns

    Quantifiers used both with plural countable nouns and with uncountable nouns

Determiner Order

Noun-noun/noun-pronoun agreement in number and case

Noun-noun agreement in number

Pronoun-antecedent agreement in number, gender and person

Agreement in case

Subject-predicate agreement in number

Identification of the subject

Always singular subject

Always plural subject

Singular or plural subject depending on the reference

Verb tense agreement

  Simple tenses vs progressive tenses (or aspects)

  Simple tenses vs perfect tenses

  Tense sequence

Time clauses

Indefinite time markers with perfect tenses

         Definite time markers with simple tenses

         Tense back shifting

         Tenses of verbals (infinitives, gerunds and participles)

Verb mood agreement

Types of moods

Subjunctive types

Subjunctive present necessary

Subjunctive past

Subjunctive past perfect

Mixed subjunctive

Real hypothetical vs unreal hypothetical

Modal auxiliary verbs

Deontic modality

Epistemic modality

Modifier-modificand agreement

   Adjectival -- nominal agreement

           Adverbial -- non-nominal agreement

  Comparative and superlative use

 Restrictive and non-restrictive modifiers  

Participle phrases

Bad sentences 

Wordy, choppy, or incorrectly-subordinated sentences

Misplaced modifiers

Dangling modifiers

Squinting modifiers 

Faulty shift in person

Faulty shaft in tense

Faulty shift in mood

Faulty shift in voice

Faulty parallelism 

Run-ons, fragments

Mixed construction

Incorrect use of punctuation marks