Which English grammar should I study? This is a question I hear quite a bit from students. When it comes to English grammar, there are a lot of opinions out there. Recently I’ve seen posts and articles on LinkedIn and elsewhere saying that grammar isn’t that important. Or that you should just focus on grammar if you’re a beginner and then switch to ‘conversational’ English when you reach the intermediate and advanced levels.
On the other hand, there are still some who urge students to continue studying grammar and point out how important it is for clear self-expression: https://www.thoughtco.com/why-does-grammar-matter-1691029.
Having taught grammar for many years and to students from all over the world, I can tell you that the answer is actually pretty simple: it all depends on what your native language is.
If your native language is French, much of the basic grammar is similar, but you’ll have to pay more attention to the use of present perfect. This is because the structure in French that resembles present perfect (the passé composé ) is actually used differently. It looks like the same verb tense, but it’s not the same. And native French speakers make mistakes here for that reason.
Another difference is in word order with adjectives – in French, adjectives often come after the noun. (There are some similar issues between Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and English.)
If your native language is Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, etc, you’ll have to focus a lot more on the English verb tense system. Unfortunately, English verbs are challenging for speakers of Asian languages, where tense is often contextual. In English, it’s not implied – you have to use the correct verb tense, or you’ll confuse your listener. (You might also misunderstand what you’re hearing!)
Speakers of Asian languages also have to focus on articles (a, an, the) and singular and plural nouns as your languages usually don’t contain these.
So my advice to non-native speakers is simple. To answer the question “What English grammar should I study?,” first figure out what the differences are and work on those first and foremost.
This sounds difficult, but in reality it reduces the amount of grammar you have to study. It gives you a smaller set of problems and shows you what you have to focus on. Spend 15-20 minutes per day working on the target grammar and within a few months, you should see improvement~!
For more tips on how to improve, here’s a blog I wrote on the subject: https://omnienglishpro.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2101&action=edit