This activity is probably the most basic grammar lesson you will find anywhere. For many, this is exactly what they want and need yes



Why do we write things?

  • to put down an idea that we've had
  • to say something
  • to record something in a diary or to remember 
  • to write a letter or email to someone
  • for fun

Writing is easier to read if it follows some simple rules.

The rules are called grammar laugh  Grammar is not a devil, nor is it anything to crying about!

Girl thinking about grammar

Look at the train images.

Illustration 1

The first is a train going off the rails. The second train is guided by the rails, travelling as it should. Grammar is like that. When it goes off the rails, there is chaos angry. When it's on the rails, it offers a comfortable ride for readers.


Grammar is to writing what a police officer is to traffic, creating order. When there are no signs or guides at a junction, there are traffic jams and sometimes even accidents.

Illustration 2


Now look at the traffic made orderly by a traffic officer.

Illustration 3


To have order in your writing, you apply grammar. Even basic grammar will make a big difference.

70% improvement

By learning these few simple grammar rules, you will find that the readability of your writing will improve by around 70%.


Writing Skill

There are three main aspects to writing. These are:

          1) Spelling

           2) Grammar

           3) Outline (to put down what is in your mind onto the page).

  1. Spelling

    Illustration 4 


        2. With simple grammar rules the words flow better.

Illustration 5


        3. I can write my ideas in a clear way that the reader can easily understand.


When you apply the above three points, you get Showing literacy

Rule 1) Phrases, clauses, sentences, and paragraphs

Phrases and clauses make up a sentence. A clause is that part of the sentence that contains the subject (what the sentence is about) and the verb (the action). Good sentences contain a subject and verb. In this lesson, we will refer to clauses as 'phrases'.

A sentence is made up of one or more phrases.

Look at the following sentence, which has two phrases:

The boy kicked the stone, which broke his toe. 

The boy kicked the stone is one phrase.

Illustration 6

which broke his toe is also a phrase.

Illustration 7

The boy kicked the stone could also be an entire sentence by itself. This broke his toe could also be a sentence.

So a sentence is made up of one or more phrases, but there should only be a few phrases in a sentence, and each phrase should relate to the one before.
If a sentence has too many phrases or too many words, it is harder to read and understand.

Look at how clumsy the following sentence is:

The boy kicked the stone, which broke his toe, he went to the doctor, who put it in plaster, and it took a month to heal, before he could play football again.

Not easy to read, is it?

A better way of writing it would be:
The boy kicked the stone, which broke his toe. He went to the doctor who put it in plaster. It took a month to heal before he could play football again.

A sentence should only have one or two ideas, and each of those ideas should relate to each other.


How many words should a sentence have?
A good sentence is one that is easy to read and should usually not have more than thirty words (this one has nineteen). There are exceptions, but sentences that fluctuate in length are more interesting to read.

For now, while you are learning, try to keep your sentences below thirty words.



A paragraph is made up of a series of sentences.
Each sentence in a paragraph should only contain one idea, for example, how the boy broke his toe by kicking the stone or his need to visit the doctor.

If you start writing about something different, such as what happens when the boy gets home, then that new idea should be put in a separate paragraph.

A paragraph is made up of sentences focused on one subject.
A sentence is made up of phrases focused on one subject/image/concept.
A phrase is one small idea.

How many words should a paragraph have?

If a paragraph exceeds more than two hundred words, then it can be rambling and clumsy.
There are exceptions, and having some shorter paragraphs with some longer ones can make for more interesting reading.


Your mother probably has a sewing kit. In it she'll have needles, pins, different coloured threads, buttons, and perhaps some material.

She would not have a screwdriver or a spanner in her sewing box, as screwdrivers and spanners need to be in a separate toolbox. Nor would you find sewing items in a toolbox.

Sentences and paragraphs are the same, you should not mix things that do not go together. Keep each sentence and each paragraph focused on one topic.

If you follow the above simple rules on phrases, sentences, and paragraphs, your writing will be easy to follow. Most new writers have long sentences and long paragraphs, and readers get frustrated because they can be difficult to follow.

Rule 2) Punctuation

Punctuation is an important part of grammar.

When writing, the writer must do his or her best to ensure that their thoughts are clearly separated, and that the reader can follow the flow of ideas. That is the purpose of punctuation.

Thoughts and concepts are like opening the door to the writer's mind.

Here are the three most important punctuation rules for a sentence. These are:

  • how a sentence starts
  • how phrases are joined together
  • how a sentence ends

The first letter of any sentence must always start with a capital letter.

The boy kicked the stone

Do you see that the first word of the sentence starts with a capital T?

To end a sentence use a full stop, which looks like a little dot. 

A full stop is sometimes called a period.

If you look at the last phrase of our example sentence, which broke his toe. you will see that it ends with a full stop.

Illustration 8

The full stop is just like a stop sign at the end of a road. It shows the reader that there is about to be a change of direction.

A comma ( , ) acts as a bridge between phrases or clauses.
Although not punctuation, it is useful to mention here that you can also use words to act as a bridge, such as andbut, soforwhich and or. These are called conjunctions, or joining words.

In the sentence, there are two phrases that are joined together with a comma.
The boy kicked the stone, which broke his toe.

Another way to join the phrases is to use the word andThe boy kicked the stone and broke his toe.

When reading the two sentences aloud, the first one seems to flow better. What do you think? Both are correct, but reading your work aloud will help you make it as easy as possible for your reader to understand.

A question mark ( ? ) is also used to end a sentence (thereby replacing the full stop) when a question had been asked.
The doctor asked the boy, "Why did you kick the stone?"    

There is no need for a full stop.

What follows are some of the other common punctuation marks that can help you write more clearly.

Quotation marks, either single ( ' ) or double ( " ) identify written speech.
For example: As he peered through the window, he said to Jill, "I don't think anyone is inside."

It can be clearly seen that someone was speaking. For example, in the other story, the doctor asked the boy, "Why did you kick the stone?"

Colons ( : ) and semicolons ( ; ) show a change in thought or concept that is still linked to the previous phrase, much the way that a comma would.
Colons  are used when a list is being made. For example Please collect all the equipment: hammer, wrench, tape measure, et cetera. 
Semicolons are used to connect two phrases that could each be a sentence on its own, but the two are still closely linked. It can be used instead of a word like so or therefore I have a big test tomorrow; I can't go out tonight.

Brackets ( ) are placed around a phrase as a way of isolating a specific thought from the rest of the sentence. This is usually placed when the writer wants to mention something, but does not want the reader to lose track of the rest of the sentence.
Here is an example: As he was walking home (which was still at least an hour away), his mind was on the trouble that he was in. Notice the comma after the last bracket, separating the two different clauses or thoughts.

Dashes (  ) are used in a similar way to a comma and brackets, separating thoughts, but allowing the writer to extend the sentence. 
As he jumped or rather hopped over the puddle, he realised he got mud on his trousers.


That's it.
If you master the rules in this lesson, your writing will be easy to read, the thoughts, and concepts will flow, and you will have done a good job.  laugh

You learnt about:
- phrases
- sentences and sentence sizes
- paragraphs and paragraph sizes
- punctuation, such as full stops and commas,
- conjunctions
As with everything though, practice makes perfect. Before you do the practice below, copy down the above lessons into your Decoding Book.

Why not practice forming sentences with 2, 3, or 4 phrases using different conjunctions?

If you have more than four phrases in a sentence, it is likely that there are more than thirty words in your sentence.


Once you understand these grammar basics, your confidence will grow and you can move on to more advanced grammar wink