Reading books is useful! Nobody will argue with this truism. Today we want to tell you how to sharpen the knowledge of English grammar while reading. For this, we offer you a list of simple and effective exercises. You do not need to use them all, just select a few in your particular case. You will be able to determine the most useful ones experimentally. You should be interested in the method that will be optimal for you, because it is always curious to find out something new about yourself.
To begin with, we would like to remind you once again that reading is one of the best ways to consolidate the knowledge of grammar: it’s fascinating and efficient. If, while studying the rules, you are acquainted with theory only, reading allows you to see how English works, how theory is applied in practice.
It is important to mention that this is also an excellent way of general development in various directions, the possibility to consider something new, which, perhaps, will later become your hobby or even a vocation. There are many examples of how books have changed people's lives.
To get the most from reading, observe two main conditions:
- Choose interesting books or articles. Reading under compulsion will not give you anything;
- Read a variety of literature: if possible, alternate reading serious books and entertaining ones, small cognitive articles and blog entries, short stories from life and newspaper articles. So that you "feel" different styles of writing texts, learn new words from the context.
- Identify all auxiliary verbs
This exercise will be useful for beginners and those who forget about auxiliary verbs in written or oral speech. Select them with a marker or write in the exercise. Understand why you need to put an auxiliary verb in each case. After a while, all cases when it is necessary to use them will be automatically stored in memory.
- Analyze a sentence
Read a sentence and determine which word is subject, which one is predicate, the circumstance, etc. Also, determine parts of the speech: what is a noun, a verb, an adjective, etc. It is a sort of how it was at school, so it is not likely to be difficult for you. You can imagine that you are answering the teacher's question, but in this case, you can be both a student and a teacher. This is your advantage.
In time, you will learn to "feel" to which part of the speech this word or another belongs, what function it fulfils in the sentence. Later you can guess about the role of concepts unfamiliar to you. Do not rush to do it right away, start with small tasks and soon you will feel some progress.
- Pay attention to the use of tenses
While reading, pay attention to the use of tenses. Try to explain why a particular one is used in a particular sentence. If you are reading a newspaper, mark all the sentences where you encounter the tense you are studying at this stage, with a marker. Also, highlight the tense, the use of which causes difficulties for you. When reading an article on the Internet or a book, we recommend that you write out such sentences or passages. After reading, try to retell the text using all words written. This way, you can fix in practice, in which cases this tense or another is used, and such an exercise will be useful for your colloquial speech.
- Highlight linking words
Pay attention to the linking words (however, because, etc.). Determine how they connect two parts of a sentence, which word is used in a particular case. This will help you form an idea of how to use these elements and in which cases you need to do this.
- Pay attention to punctuation marks
The rules of punctuation of the English language are strikingly different from others. Some students complain that it is difficult to memorize them by heart. Pay attention to how punctuation marks are arranged in the text, after which words or in which sentences they are used.
- Fill in knowledge gaps
Identify your gaps in grammar. To do this, you can use various tests. Work with gaps found in the same way as described in the previous paragraphs. Highlight similar points in a text, try to make a couple of sentences with each of them. Bring the skill of using a particular construction to automatism.
- Use search engines
After completing the previous paragraph, you are already aware of your weaknesses. To better work them out, we suggest doing the following exercise. Suppose you do not understand the use of Past Simple tense. Google a part of the phrase, for example, "I went to" or "I gave it" (for accuracy, take words in quotes). As a result, you will receive several hundred articles with the natural use of this tense. Read small fragments of several texts, note with which words and in which cases Past Simple is used. This is a "live" example of how grammar of English works.
- Read the news
Reading good classical literature is always helpful, but do not forget that the language is constantly changing. The most up-to-date version of English can be seen in newspapers and news. Hence the conclusion: if you want to learn how to build a sentence as a native speaker – read the news.
Nobody says that you have to study everything consistently regardless of whether you are interested in a particular topic. Choose sections about which you really want to learn something new. If you do not like politics, no one forces you to explore its latest trends.
The most interesting news without politics can be read at the Newsinlevels website, the resource is suitable even for beginners. And for people with an intermediate level of mastering, we recommend starting to read articles in the well-known British newspaper The Times. Newspapers are good for three reasons:
- Articles use modern language, the text is written competently, sentences are built according to the modern rules of English;
- Articles on different subjects will help you not only to sharpen your grammar skills, but also to increase your vocabulary and broaden your horizons;
- Most of the texts are not too long, you will have to work with an article for about 30 minutes a day.
The proposed exercises are simple and useful. To make it interesting for you to do it, take care of the proper selection of the material for reading. This is a very important point, since your further motivation depends on this. If you force yourself to read, and finally even read one article a day, dreaming that it go to the hell, nothing will come of it.
Firstly, this will not last long. One day, you will decide that today you will not read anything and arrange a day off for yourself, and the next day you will have to read already two articles. On the day after, you will not want to read anything once again, and the number of accumulated tasks will increase to three. Then you will just decide that it is not so vital to you as it seemed to be.
Secondly, the knowledge gained through forced reading will not linger in your head. The brain will regard it as something unnecessary and causing bad emotions, and will try to quickly get rid of it.
Therefore, do so that reading brings you joy. In the end, this is one of the most exciting activities.