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Some Important English Grammar Rules You Don’t Even Realize You Know

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English can be a strange language. There are a lot of grammar rules that you never really learn and, to be honest, can often be overlooked. Still, if you would like to speak English properly, here are some English grammar rules you should have learned through Language labs from Robotel when you were young (and probably don’t even realize you know).

THAT vs WHICH

While they seem interchangeable, there is actually a difference between “that” and “which”.  For one, “which” is typically used in formal language, but more specifically, you should use “that” when you want to define something, and you should use “which” when you want to inform something or add detail.

Here is an example:  “This is the simple story that I wrote.  That story, which Laura wrote, is more complex.”

As you can see, “that” in the first sentence defines that I wrote a story while in the second sentence “which” indicates another person, which is a new detail.

LIKE vs SUCH AS

Another common English grammar exchange mistake is “like” for “such as”.  In this case “like” should be inclusive while “such as” should be exclusive.

Here is an example:  “Citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruits, are high in Vitamin C. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and kale, can also be high in Vitamin C.”

In the first phrase, “like” helps to suggest that a majority of citrus fruits share a common trait while the “such as” in the second phrase helps to suggest that this trait is not so common among cruciferous vegetables.

AS vs SINCE

“As” and “since” seem innocuous enough but these are often used interchangeably—and mistakenly.  A simple way to think about this difference is to remember that “as” suggests a causal relationship while “since” suggest a temporal relationship.

Here is an example:  “It has been a few years since I have seen a doctor as I have not been sick.”

SENTENCE ORDER

Finally, you may not realize that you learned an intuitive adjective order in your development of English as your spoken language.  This instinctive little grammar rule is pretty sneaky, as you don’t really know that you understand it until you find a sentence with adjectives in the wrong order. The order rule is as follows:  opinion – size – age – shape – color – origin – material – purpose.

For example, The best, little, Restoration-era, square, red, French, brick, brunch restaurant.