If you have studied English before you may have come across many grammar rules that your teacher encouraged you to memorize. However, many times when we bump into language exceptions, we tend to end up more confused. English learners are often frustrated as no English grammar or vocabulary rule is simple: there are always exceptions!

It is normal to make mistakes even when we speak our mother tongue. However, if you want to succeed in English, you have to learn the grammar rules and remember all the exceptions. Even native English speakers often break grammar rules, make common mistakes in every aspect of English or spell words incorrectly. Today, we will explore the top exceptions of the English language to make your life easier. English rules can be complex, however, we are here to help you master them! Let's team up!

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Get to know all the exceptions in English!
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Some surprising facts about English grammar!

  • The word grammar comes from the Greek grammatiké, which means the art of writing.
  • Did you know that many English words come from French? Oh la la! Bah Ouais!
  • Did you know that the word goddessship, which means goddess, is the only word in the language with three "s"? One of the exceptions!
  • Every year 4,000 new words are added to the English dictionary.
  • The famous poet William Shakespeare added approximately 1700 words into the English language, try to select some of them below:
Alligator critic fashionable swagger balance rare deserving
kissing woman yellow game puppy dog honest gossip
baby genius fair play cold-blood skim milk respect bedazzled
salad days treasure century auspicious worthless still fancy

Check more about William Shakespeare here! And more about his glossary here!

Why learn the English grammar rules?

Never forget that grammar studies three main aspects: phonetics (sounds of language), morphology (construction of words), and syntax (the way we form sentences). There are many good reasons for you to become a master of English grammar, however, the motives we consider the most important are:

  • Understanding the grammar will allow you to appreciate any language, the spelling, and phonetics, and much more. Fall in love with its learning!
  • Also, this can help you better comprehend how the construction of phrases and sentences works, as well as their organization, and the very basics such as the word structure.
  • Grasping how English grammar works will help you express yourself better! What is better than expressing yourself as you are?

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The key to learning is practice, practice, and more practice to master English as soon as possible!

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7 English grammar rules you cannot miss!

We have created this brief list with the most important grammar rules we recommend you to learn when studying English. We are sure that you are already aware of most of them!

  • Pay attention to adverbs and adjectives.

Using both correctly is very important. Remember that adjectives are used to describe or quantify things or people. On the other hand, adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and even other adverbs. For example:

  1. That's a fluffy cat: fluffy is an adjective.
  2. He ate fast to go to work: fast, in this case, is an adverb.
  • Practice the homophones!

Homophones are words that have the same sound. However, they are written differently, and also have different meanings. For example:

  • Example 1: Muscle: I want to go to the gym to make these muscles grow!; Mussel: Every time I go to the beach I ate mussels. They are just delicious!
  • Example 2: Knows: He knows me pretty well. He can even read my mind!; Nose: I need to get my nose fixed. I cannot breathe correctly and I am fed up with it!
  • Example 3: Accept: We accept the love we think we deserve.; Except: I like to eat almost everything except vegetables, milk, and eggs. Well, actually I am quite picky.
  • The importance of the correct conjugation of the verb.

To conjugate English verbs correctly, first, you have to identify the subject since it can be singular (he/she/it) or plural (they/we). For example:

  1. Correct → This cookie is delicious. 
  2. Incorrect → This cookie are delicious.
  • Use conjunctions! 

To better specify what you are saying or writing, use coordinating conjunctions. These are: For, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. For example:

  1. I don't like black coffee, nor tea. But, I prefer sweetened latte.
  2. Julian took the dog out for a walk, and I drank my latte. It was freezing outside!
  • Don't forget to use commas! 

The consecutive comma is generally placed before "and." For example:

  1. I should buy apples, grapes, and some cherries for lunch. In this example, the consecutive comma is after “grapes”.
  • Use the "semicolon" to join ideas. 

For example: My mom is the best mother in the world; she is the best cook, the best listener, and the funniest person ever!

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  • Use the verb tenses correctly. 

Present simple: The present tense reflects actions that occur daily. For example:

  1. I try to stay active, but during wintertime is very complicated.
  2. Angela watches TV every day after work.
  3. Generally, I sleep very late during the weekend.

Present progressive or present continuous: Talk about an action that happens at this moment. The auxiliary verb to "be" is always conjugated in the present tense, and we add an "ing" to the verb. For example:

  1. My dog ​​is bothering the other dogs, that is why there is so much noise!
  2. My husband is cleaning the house perfectly.
  3. Gaby is writing her undergraduate thesis right now. She is a very hardworking person.

Present perfect: This verb tense is used to talk about an action that occurred in the past but that has not ended (or we don't know if it has already ended). The auxiliary verb "have" is conjugated in the present tense, and the verb is ALWAYS conjugated in the past participle. For example:

  1. I have played Nintendo four times today so far.
  2. I have started exercising in the morning.
  3. I have taken the same metro line since high school.

Past perfect tense: We use it when we highlight two actions that happened in the past, and which of them happened first. We use the auxiliary verb "had", and the verb is conjugated in the past participle. For example:

  1. I had not yet finished my homework when my sister arrived.
  2. Olivier had already bought the tickets for the game before you invited him.
  3. Sam had already stopped smoking.

Simple past: Ending “-ed” is added to regular verbs in the past tense. Try to identify irregular verbs, due that they conjugate differently. For example:

  1. Regular verb: Julian played Nintendo in the morning.
  2. Irregular verb: Julian woke up late yesterday.

You already know the essential English grammar rules. Now, are you ready to take a look at the exceptions? Take it easy and let us begin!

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Break the Rules: Grammar exceptions!

  • Simple present with an auxiliary verb?

As we have already mentioned, the present tense is used to talk about events that happen daily. Generally, no auxiliary verb is needed. The exception to this rule is adding this auxiliary verb to give more strength and emphasis to the sentence. For example:

  1. I do care about you. (Better than I care about you).
  2. Marie does think about looking for another job. (She is willing to change).
  3. Julian does try to quit smoking. (He is trying hard to quit smoking.)
  4. Gaby does need to improve her French. She will stay in Paris forever! (For her is mandatory to become bilingual in French).
  5. I do take his opinion into account. (His opinion is important).

However, with these exceptions, it is also easy to make mistakes. For example, it's incorrect to write: "She does bakes muffins every day". Since the auxiliary verb "does" is already written in the simple present for the singular pronoun "she", there is no need to add an "-s" on the verb "bake". The correct sentence would be "She does bake muffins every day", with no "-s" on the word "bake".

  • Talk about the future with a present tense!

Generally, the present simple tense is used to talk about day-to-day events, such as You want to improve your English.

The exception to this rule is when the present tense talks about events that will happen in the future. Is this possible? Of course, it is!

  1. We have an English test next Thursday morning.
  2. The school reopens after the holiday period.
  3. The taxi arrives as soon as you request it.

In these examples, the verb is in present, but the action will occur in the future. And, generally is a programmed future.

  • Are there nouns with the ending -ing? 

Of course, there are! Let's take an example: "I am studying right now." Here, "studying" is part of the verb or action. However, when we use "I like studying after school", it becomes a gerund. A gerund is a verb that has the -ing termination, and that is used as a noun. A bit difficult? It just takes practice!

  • Are there nouns that can look like adjectives? 

Is this something crazy? Not that much. Let's see an example:

  1. "I drink my latte in a porcelain cup." 

"Porcelain" can be identified as an adjective in this sentence, as it describes the type of material the cup is made of. But, in the sentence: "My favorite cup is made of porcelain", "porcelain" is identified as substantive.

  • Is it true that adjectives can act as nouns? 

Totally! Let's look at another example. "Hungry" is an adjective in the sentence "My hungry dad stole food from the fridge." However, adding "the" can make it work as a substantive or noun, like "We must help the hungry."

  • Can nouns act like verbs? 

Yes! Nouns can be used as verbs too. Let's look at another example: "Julian challenged Gaby to finish the Advanced Bikini Cardio challenge by the end of the year." The verbs that can be also nouns are: address, back, break, brush, cheer, color, crack, dance, design, echo, finish, fish, garden, hand, iron, joke, kiss, laugh, love, number, play, pop, rock, and roll, among others.

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Keep breaking the Rules: Spelling exceptions!

  • When we use the I before E:

The rule is that "-i" is used before "-e", except after "-c", or when it sounds like "-a". Examples: "neighbour" and "weigh". Let's read more examples:

  1. I believe everything will be just fine.
  2. She is craving a piece of double chocolate cake.
  3. I am willing to achieve the best marks at school. 

However, here are some exceptions to the rule: weird height, caffeine, either, leisure, science, and foreign (such a coincidence!).

  • Drop that final E!

Drop the final "-e" before a suffix that begins with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) but not before a suffix that begins with a consonant. Let us give you some examples to make it easier to understand:

  • Correct: ride + ing = riding; Not correct: ride + ing = rideing.
  • Correct: hope + ing = hoping; Not correct: hope + ing = hopeing.

However, there are always exceptions: truly, noticeable

  • Agree + able = agreeable
  • Shoe + ing = shoeing
  • Notice + able = noticeable

See? This one is easy! As many other exceptions.

  • Change the Y to I:

Usually, this happens before a suffix, unless it begins with "-i". For example:

  • apply = applied.
  • beauty = beautiful
  • contrary = contrarily
  • happy = happier
  • marry = marriage

But, here comes the exceptions!

  • sky = skiing
  • shy = shyness
  • spry = spryer
  • cry = cries
  • dry = dries
  • fry = fries

If you are curious here are more vowel rules!

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  • Doubling that Final Consonant!

This often happens before a suffix that begins with a vowel. For example:

  • stop + ing = stopping
  • admit + ed = admitted
  • benefit + ed = benefited
  • delight + ful = delightful

But, like everything in life, here come the exceptions: 

  • flow = flowing
  • fix = fixed

Generally, we apply this exception when words end in "-w" or "-x".

  • The famous Silent E:

In English, the "-E" at the end of most words is generally not pronounced. Its only function is to define the sound of the syllable that is before it (a very lazy E). For this, we use the VCV pattern, which means vowel-consonant-vowel. Let's read some examples:

  • made
  • done
  • date

As you can see, in all words the final "-e" is silent. In words borrowed from other languages, such as French, words like fiance, risque, macrame, and recipe, have originally an accent on the last letter "-e". However in English, since we do not use accents, we can say that we just borrow the phonetic. Ha!

However, here comes the exceptions. When there is a long "-a", the magic silent E can't be applied anymore. For example:

  • care
  • rare
  • ware
  • share
  • spare
  • square

Break the English article rules!

The article, "the", is used to indicate something specific or unique like The Sun is the most important star in our solar system. Similarly, "the" is generally always used before superlatives:

He ate the most delicious cake in the world. Meaning: that cake is unique and special.

On the contrary, the article "a" is used for more general circumstances such as a bagel, a latte, a cookie, a muffin, a large chocolate cake (ok, stop, I'm hungry!).

So, when do we use the exception? When there are phrases in which unique or specific objects must be expressed with the article "a":

Our planet would not be the same without a sun. Even though our sun is the most important star of the solar system, here its importance is not the priority. Could you tell the difference?

Learning the proper use of articles and perfecting the use of their exceptions will give you many extra points when speaking or writing English! Fortunately, The Oxford English dictionary offers an excellent resource to help students to master everything about English! 

Spoken English vs. Written English:

Spoiler alert! Spoken English and written English can be different. Due to that, the English language is spoken all over the world, this results in great language diversity across the countries. Learn how to avoid common mispronunciations with this blog. But not only that. Like all languages, English will be transformed when speaking and writing. When we express ourselves orally, we tend not to pay much attention to the correct structure of the sentence, nor the conjugation of verbs (sometimes even we make terrible mistakes). And we tend to be a little more practical and less formal. Surely, you know what we are talking about if you have tried to learn French or any other language. Once you leave the classroom and hear it on the street, it will be completely different. Well, the same goes for English! Although this is not a grammatical exception, it is an additional survival tip. Your welcome friend!

And no worries, soon you will be speaking English even better than a native!

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How to learn English effectively?

If you are learning English as a second language, one of your goals could be to have more fluency while speaking or improve your vocabulary. However, to upgrade your proficiency in English, you must:

  • Know how grammar rules and their exceptions work.
  • Improve your reading comprehension.
  • Develop your writing skills.
  • Improve and acquire a more extensive vocabulary.
  • Practice your English as much as possible and use it at every opportunity that comes your way.
  • Practice your oral comprehension.
  • Look for someone to practice.

Remember that if you aspire to become bilingual in English, you can always look for brilliant private courses that will help you improve once and for all. Give it a chance to practice and learn English in the best way! All the virtual tools available will make the difference since through great learning platforms, such as Superprof, you can excel in English in the most personalized way! Did you know that English is the language most taught through online platforms? Do not stay behind. It is never too late!

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Improve your English grammar in the best way!

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Is this a dream? Nope! Superprof is an ideal online platform where you can find the best English teachers near you, no matter where you are in the Great White North!

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  • Be part of a global community of students present in more than 38 countries!

Be part of this new generation of learning, and stop procrastinating to improve in English! Remember that learning has never been so dynamic, practical, and easy as now! 

With Superprof, private tutoring is the most flexible. You can decide when and how to study. Whether on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, in the comfort of your home or your favorite cafe, you will find the perfect tutor that can adapt to your availability. Yup! No doubts about this!

For us, the most important thing is that you are safe and feel as comfortable as possible with your private tutor. For this reason, all our tutors are constantly certified by our platform. Also, we offer you the best and safest payment options, and safe handling of your data. And this is not ending here!

To achieve the best learning you need a good class dynamic and good communication between your teacher and you. With Superprof, you can have a free try-out with your tutor to see if there is good chemistry between you. Having suitable personalities is the most important thing to achieve the desired learning and stay motivated! Two heads will always think better than one.

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...By the way, all the words included in the table above were added to the English language by Shakespeare! Mindblowing!

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Jon

As an Englishman in Paris, I enjoy growing my knowledge of other languages and cultures. I'm interested in History, Economics, and Sociology and believe in the importance of continuous learning.