You should concentrate on several topics throughout your TOEFL preparation, and TOEFL grammar is one of them. Even though the TOEFL does not feature any grammar questions, you will be examined on your TOEFL grammar skills throughout the Speaking and Writing tests, so make sure you acquaint yourself with the different grammar rules before taking the TOEFL.
Many English learners find it difficult to recall and apply some grammar rules correctly, and that is what this article is for.
We will go over the top 10 grammar rules you should know for the TOEFL, with examples and short quizzes to evaluate your understanding. Read on.
What is TOEFL?
The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a standardized test used to assess non-native speakers’ English language competence to enroll in English-speaking universities.
It assesses all four language skills:
The TOEFL is a collection of tests, with the TOEFL IBT and TOEFL Essentials being the most popular. TOEFL ITP (Institutional Testing Program), TOEFL Junior, and TOEFL Primary are the other tests in the TOEFL series.
These other TOEFL forms are only available through students’ schools. In April 2021, the TOEFL PBT (Paper Based Test or Paper-delivered Test) was phased out.
Why Study Grammar in TOEFL?
Grammar is one key element that will help you get a high score in the TOEFL. But what exactly is Grammar?
Grammar is the expected set of guidelines that regulate the sounds, words, sentences, and other aspects of a language and how they are combined and interpreted. It also refers to the study of these abstract aspects and a book that lays forth these rules.
As stated earlier, the TOEFL does not directly test grammar. However, all four components: Speaking, Writing, Reading, and Listening, indirectly assess your grammar understanding. You must produce grammatically acceptable words in the TOEFL Speaking and Writing.
When rating your speaking and writing, the examiners utilize a criterion called grammatical accuracy. It refers to the right application of a wide range of grammar structures.
Additionally, you must comprehend the language used in the TOEFL Reading and Listening language. Even if you are not required to utilize grammar actively, you must comprehend sophisticated language used by speakers or presented in the reading passages.
What are the Common Mistakes in Grammar?
The English language is well-known as the modern world’s language of worldwide communication.
Regardless of the place you’re from or what native tongue you speak, learning English is likely beneficial in your personal and professional lives.
Often, the English language frustrates non-native speakers with various grammatical obstacles that make it more difficult to be acquired.
Below are the most prevalent mistakes in TOEFL Grammar that you need to watch out for.
Wrong Subject-Verb Agreement
Sentences must include subjects and verbs that agree in number when speaking or writing in the present tense. The verb must be singular if the subject is singular. The verb must also be plural if the subject is plural.
Wrong: "The organizers meets every week to plan the activities."
Correct: "The organizers meet every week to plan the activities."
Wrong: "She like to knit during her spare time."
Correct: "She likes to knit during her spare time."
This happens when pronouns do not have the same number as the nouns they refer to. The pronoun must be singular if the noun is singular. The pronoun must be plural if the noun is plural.
Wrong: "Every girl should tie their hair properly."
Correct: "Every girl should tie her hair properly."
Wrong: "The boys took his bags after the practice and went home."
Correct: "The boys took their bags after the practice and went home."
Usage of Apostrophe
Possession is indicated with apostrophes. After the possessive pronouns like ‘my’, ‘mine’, ‘ours’, ‘our’, ‘hers,’ ‘his’, ‘it, their’, or ‘theirs’, you do not use an apostrophe.
Wrong: "My sisters new friend is from another city."
Correct: "My sister’s new friend is from another city."
Wrong: "I think I saw his’ new laptop in the living room yesterday."
Correct: "I think I saw his new laptop in the living room yesterday."
You should insert a modifier immediately next to the word it is designed to alter to effectively explain your intentions. The modifier should clearly refer to one of the sentence’s words. Misplaced modifiers can lead to ambiguity and confusion.
Wrong: "On his way home, Max found a diamond girl’s ring."
Correct: "On his way home, Max found a girl’s diamond ring."
Wrong: "My torn brother’s book is on the table."
Correct: "My brother’s torn book is on the table."
A subject and a verb are required components of a sentence. After another connected concept has been communicated, a fragment frequently occurs.
Wrong: "She did not go to school yesterday. Because she was sick."
Correct: "She did not go to school yesterday because she was sick."
Wrong: "Despite the rain. They went to see the movie."
Correct: "Despite the rain, they went to see the movie."
A compound sentence describes two distinct but linked ideas, and it frequently includes conjunction to link the two sections together. To demonstrate that the two thoughts are linked, a comma should be placed before the conjunction. If that information is lacking, readers will notice.
Wrong: "My mom will pick me up and we will go to the park."
Correct: "My mom will pick me up, and we will go to the park."
Wrong: "I want to go with you tonight but I have exams to study for."
Correct: "I want to go with you tonight, but I have exams to study for."
Ending a Sentence with a Preposition
By definition, a preposition signifies that another word will come after it. This type of blunder is not a major concern in casual conversation, but it is something you should avoid in TOEFL.
Wrong: "Whom do you want to give this to?"
Correct: "To whom do you want to give this?"
Wrong: "What reason are you calling her for?"
Correct: "For what reason are you calling her?"
Interchanging Possessives and Plurals
When you add ‘s’ at the end of a word, many people become confused. When is it necessary to use an apostrophe?
An apostrophe before ‘s’ is used to denote possession or as a contraction, such as ‘that’s’ for ‘that is’. You do not need the apostrophe if you are only attempting to say something is plural. This, like other rules in the English language, is subject to change. However, if you follow the general rules, you will be correct most of the time.
Wrong: "The teachers desk is full of books."
Correct: "The teacher’s desk is full of books. "
Wrong: "The siblings’ surprised their dad with a new car."
Correct: "The siblings surprised their dad with a new car."
Order of Adjectives
If you are describing anything with a lot of adjectives, be sure they are in the right order, or the sentence will seem bizarre to English speakers.
Wrong: "There are small ten puppies in the yard."
Correct: "There are ten small puppies in the yard."
Wrong: "That is a gold wonderful antique wall clock."
Correct: "That is a wonderful antique gold wall clock."
Use of Could, Would, and Should
These three words might seem the same, but they each have their own distinct meanings and are not interchangeable.
Used to express what you’ve done in the past, describe what you can accomplish in the future, and make polite requests
Examples: "If you practice enough, you could get a high mark in the test." "Could I have some water?"
Used to explain what you would do in a strange situation; also used to respectfully offer something
Example: "I would explore the world if I won the sweepstakes." "Would you like some tea?"
Used to give advice
Example: "You should follow your instincts." "You should eat breakfast before working out."
Grammar Rules to Ace the TOEFL Exam
Before taking the TOEFL, you should concentrate on strengthening your TOEFL grammar knowledge. Unless you possess great knowledge of the English language, you will not achieve a good TOEFL score.
It is crucial to realize that learning grammar takes more than a day or two. You must commit an ample amount of time to gain a thorough understanding of TOEFL grammar. To attain the requisite degree of grammatical command, you must put in a lot of effort.
We have collected a list of some crucial but straightforward TOEFL grammar rules. It will assist you in passing the TOEFL.
Nouns are names of places, things, people, events, and animals.
They can be classified as countable and uncountable.
- Countable nouns are those that can be counted and have singular and plural forms.
- Uncountable nouns are nouns that cannot be counted and need quantifiers to identify whether they are singular or plural.
Tenses are verb-based methods used to indicate the time when an action is done.
Tenses are categorized into three: present, past, and future tenses.
- Present Tense denotes action in the present time, habitual activities and universal facts.
Examples: "The sun rises in the east." "I like to play basketball every afternoon." "His sister lives in Germany."
- Past Tense expresses action that either started or finished in the past. Verbs in past tense usually end with ‘-d’ or ‘-ed’ for regular verbs. However, for irregular verbs, their spelling changes entirely.
"We loved the food your aunt served last week."
(love, serve - regular verbs)
"I visited my grandparents yesterday."
(visit – regular verb)
"He brought an umbrella when he went out yesterday."
(bring, go - irregular verbs)
- Present Perfect Continuous Tense represents a past action or event that is still occurring, or a past action or circumstance that was completed at a given point in time but the consequence is still ongoing.
Examples: "I have been waiting for him for two hours." "He has been studying in the university for four years." "She has been looking for the dree for an hour."
The basic rule states that a singular subject takes singular verb and a plural subject takes plural verb.
Example: "She (singular) takes (singular) the bus to go to work." "Mike (singular) attends (singular) piano lessons every week." "The cats (plural) wait (plural) for their owner in the hallway." "The players (plural) rest (plural) after the practice."
- Modals are auxiliary verbs that express probability, ability, permission, request, capacity, order, or suggestions.
- They are also called helping verbs.
Example: "You should not deprive yourself of sleep." "I can accompany you to the dentist next week." "You may ask the flight attendant for a blanket if you feel cold."
Conjunctions are words that combine two or more words, phrases, or clauses.
They allow you to construct rich, elegant statements without the choppiness that several short sentences might cause.
Example: "He usually sleeps late because he enjoys reading at night." "I will go to the party after I finish my homework." "The party was canceled as there was a typhoon."
Reported speech is a type of speech that describes what someone said but does not utilize the person’s actual words.
Direct Speech: “I do not want to come to school today.” said Julie.
Reported Speech: "Julie said that she does not want to come to school that day."
Direct Speech: “Can you call me as soon as you get home?” Laurie asked her younger brother.
Reported Speech: "Laurie asked her younger brother if he could call her as soon as he get home."
Adjectives and Degree of Comparisons
Adjectives are words that describe the states or qualities of nouns.
They may be in the form of quality, number, shape, size, value and color.
They may be in positive, comparative and superlative forms.
- The positive form of adjective is used to describe nouns, without comparing them to anything.
Examples: "My mother is a caring person. "Jane was born to a wealthy family." "She looks lovely in that dress!"
- The comparative form of adjective is used to describe nouns by comparing it to another noun.
Examples: “My older sister’s pad is more spacious than mine." "Max cooks better than Colin does." "An iPhone is more expensive than a Nokia."
- The superlative form of adjective is used to describe nouns by comparing it to two or more other nouns.
Examples: "The beaches in the Philippines are the best I have ever been." "Lucy is the brightest student in her class" "I am the eldest in the family."
A conditional sentence is one that states that the occurrence of one scenario is contingent on the occurrence of another. To put it another way, most conditional phrases have a basic structure that may be written as “If this, then that.”
The most common types of conditional sentences that are covered in the IELTS Speaking test are the zero, first and second conditionals.
- Zero Conditionals
They are used to describe factual situations. Both clauses are in simple present tense.
Examples: "I cook my meals if I have time." "When it rains, I take the subway." "If I study hard, my parents give me rewards."
- First Conditionals
They are utilized to express what might likely occur in the future if a specific condition is encountered. The ‘if’ phrase is generally stated in the present tense, and the clause that follows often includes a verb such as can,’ might, or will,’.
Examples: "If you get a high score in TOEFL, you will study in the US." "If I wake up early tomorrow, I might go for a walk with my dog." "I can buy a new house if I will get promoted at work."
- Second Conditionals
They are used to express a circumstance that is highly not likely. The ‘if’ phrase is expressed in the past tense, while the following clause normally has a verb such as ‘could’ or ‘would’.
Examples: "If I were the president of the company, I would give everyone a salary hike." "If I won the lottery, I could establish my own business." "You would buy yourself a mansion if you were rich."
They make references to individuals or things without specifying who or what they are. For people, we use pronouns ending in -body or -one, whereas for things, we use pronouns ending in -thing.
Example: "No one knew who the man in the black suit was." "I’m thinking of giving her something she can’t refuse."
A reflexive pronoun is one that refers back to the subject of a phrase or clause and can both be the direct and indirect object in a sentence.
Example: "He painted the house himself." "They divided the money between themselves." "We went to the post office by ourselves."
The infinitive is a verb’s fundamental form. When we talk about infinitives in English, we usually mean the present infinitive, which is the most prevalent.
- Present Infinitive is a verb-form with some noun-like characteristics. When it is utilized as the subject of a sentence, its two-sided character comes out.
Example: "To pray and hope is all we can do. " "To make the right decisions seem to be my downfall." "To go to sleep is the last thing on my mind."
- Past Infinitive is constructed by combining the infinitive form of the correct assisting verb with the past participle of the verb that shows the activity.
Example: "She left after having said her goodbyes" "He was fired from work for having lied about his credentials." "She got dressed after having a wash."
Practical Tips and Tricks to Improve Your English Grammar
TOEFL grammar is an area that many students find stressful because it can be fairly confusing and challenging. On the other hand, correct TOEFL grammar is critical as this could mean the difference between a high and a low score.
As such, employing some basic techniques to improve your grammatical skills is critical. Here they are.
- Practice: Several fantastic online and print resources are available to help you improve your TOEFL grammar skills. Allot a few minutes each day to conduct grammatical activities if you know this is an area you struggle. Even a few different levels of English practice examinations might help you improve your grammar.
- Read… a lot: One of the most effective strategies to improve your TOEFL grammar skills is to read. You reinforce accurate grammar in your thoughts when you read. The mix of seeing, saying, and hearing reinforces what you have learned when you read aloud.
- Write: More writing, as well as a lot of reading, will benefit you. The more you write using correct grammar, the easier it will become.
- Listen (and speak) in English: DO not think of learning English as something that takes place solely in the classroom. You may learn English by seeing and listening to what is going on around you, whether on the street, on the bus or train, or at the supermarket. Keep your mind, ears, and eyes open, and you will be surprised at how much English and the culture of the people who speak it will come back to you.
- Have a grammar manual: While studying for the TOEFL grammar, having a comprehensive reference book nearby is helpful. This way, if there is a grammar question, you can look up the answer in the manual with no difficulty.
- Recognize the reasoning behind a grammar rule: A grammar rule always has a reason for being established. List all the rules you broke before and then figure out why a specific word or sentence is the way it is. You would never make that mistake again once you understand its rationale.
- Proofread: Read what you have written out loud to help your brain fill in the gaps of missing information that you may have missed while writing. We do not always catch our own mistakes when proofreading. It is a good idea to read what you have written out loud, preferably to someone else, to make sure you have used perfect grammar.
- Be committed: It takes a lot of motivation to learn English grammar. When you are ready to start studying, stick with it to the end. Commitment is the key.
Practice Grammar Questions
Before taking the TOEFL, we strongly recommend that you take time to answer grammar practices. Doing so will make you at ease and confident when you finally have to take the test.
Here are some of them.
Example: Pick the best word or words to complete the sentence.
- It seems that your condition is getting worse. You should ___________ a doctor.
B. consult to
C. consult by
D. consult for
- Do you enjoy ___________?
B. to fish
D. to fishing
- The poster states that tourists ___________ their shoes outside.
A. should leave
B. should leave to
C. must leave at
D. must leave to
- I ___________ rather go to the mountains than to the beach.
- Using a telescope, one can view the planets in ___________ detail.
B. less great
C. more great
D. most great
- The new student, _________ is from China, is welcomed by his classmates.
- They are selling ___________ tangerines.
A. twelve fresh orange small
B. twelve small fresh orange
C. fresh twelve small orange
D. fresh twelve orange small
- If you ___________ the bear, it will attack you.
C. has provoked
D. would have provoked
- I left the party early ___________ I was feeling tired.
- The horrible accident took place ___________.
A. two weeks ago
B. two weeks last
C. two weeks past
D. two weeks before
Example: Choose the grammatically correct sentence.
A. He went to live in the city after finishing his degree.
B. He went to live in the city when finishing his degree.
C. He went to live in the city then finishing his degree.
A. It has been raining while three days.
B. It has been raining for three days.
C. It has been raining since three days.
A. The woman wearing black, who is the wife of the deceased, looks really sad.
B. The woman wearing black, that is the wife of the deceased, looks really sad.
C. The woman wearing black, which is the wife of the deceased, looks really sad.
A. There are seven continent in the world.
B. There is seven continents in the world.
C. There are seven continents in the world.
A. The Burj Khalifa is the tall building in the world.
B. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world.
C. The Burj Khalifa is the most tall building in the world.
Additional FAQs — Grammar Rules in TOEFL
What Grammar is Needed for TOEFL?
Even if there is no grammar section in the TOEFL, you need to study the basic TOEFL grammar rules before taking the test.
The area that you should give your attention to include nouns, tenses, subject-verb agreement, modals, and conjunctions.
You should also focus on the use of conditionals, adjectives, and pronouns. Ensure that you equip yourself with the knowledge and skills of these topics, and you will be good to go.
Is Grammarly Good for TOEFL?
There are hundreds of tools that you can utilize to enhance your TOEFL grammar skills. Grammarly is one of them.
It gives you immediate feedback on your writing, allowing you to learn as you type. It not only corrects your grammar mistakes but also suggests ways to make them seem more natural and native.