The first and earliest mistake made by learners of English is to speak in words and phrases, not sentences. This is a very natural and convenient thing to do at first but oh so dangerous when it starts to become a habit. If you’re a student and you start your English study by taking the easy road (that is, speaking in words and phrases), your English study is doomed right from the start. You might as well give up on your first day. Once you get into the habit of speaking in words and phrases, it's going to be very tough to break.
So, before anything else, a good piece of advice I can give you is to always make an effort to speak in a complete sentence. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, each and every time you open your mouth.
Now don’t worry. It isn’t so hard to do if you know what I mean by a “complete sentence.” Every student thinks a complete sentence is a long sentence, which is of course impossible for Beginner students. This is a wrong idea. When we say “complete sentence,” we just mean an expression that has the two most basic parts:
- The Subject &
- The Verb
This means every time you want to say “Study,” you’d better stop and say “I will study.” And it's much, much better to practice saying “Yes, I am” than just “Yes.”
Difficult? I don’t think so.
First, let’s try to study the meaning of the grammar term “Subject.” A Subject, if you remember from your high school or elementary school grammar, is just a Noun or a Pronoun. A Subject is just the person, place, thing or animal that you are talking about. And because of this, a word that refers to this same person, place, thing or animal (a Pronoun) is also a Subject. For example, “he,” “she,” “I,” “you,” “we,” “they” and “it,” – in fact, the good news is, just these. These seven Pronouns are all the Pronouns you are ever going to use as the Subject of your sentence. Just seven.
A Subject, one of the only two parts of a sentence that you need to learn, is basically only this. Now you need only one more to make a complete sentence: the Verb.
Now, the Verb is a little tougher because it has many kinds, but it’s not impossible for you to learn.
The first kind of Verb learners usually think of is what we call the Action Verb, simply because it often talks about an action or movement. For example, “eat,” “study,” “run,” “jump,” “talk,” “meet,” “get” etc. Sometimes this big group of Verbs might include non-action words like "think," "love" or "believe.”
The second most common kind of Verb is the “Be” Verb, also called the Linking Verb by some books. This Verb can be very confusing for learners who try to use it too many times. You can see this "Be" Verb as “am,” “is,” “are,” “was” and “were.”
The third kind of Verb that you need to learn is the “Have” Verb which in fact comes from the Present Perfect Tense. You can see this Verb as “have,” “has” and “had.”
And last, we have the Modal Verbs such as “will,” “would,” “can,” “could,” “must,” “have to,” “might,” “may” and “should.”
These aren’t so many things to learn if you think that all of English - a whole different language, a whole different world, a whole different universe - can be summarized into just these 4 kinds of Verbs. Personally, I think English is the perfect language for you to learn if you're looking for a simple one.
For learners, this table might not look like a lot; but if you were already a regular speaker of English, you’d be seeing a huge chunk of the universe of English.
Now the next thing you have to learn is what kind of Verb to use and why.