I am part of a generation that was not taught grammar at school. Back in the seventies and eighties the fashion in teaching English in England was that learning grammar wasn’t necessary. But, I can assure you from personal experience that learning the basics of grammar will help you enormously with your written English. Thankfully the educationalists have changed their view and my children are taught grammar.
The Eight Parts of Speech
There are eight different jobs that English words can do. Here is a list of them, with a brief description of each.
Nouns are the names of people or things. They tell you who or what the sentence is about.
Pronouns are simply words like he, she and it. They save us the trouble of having to repeat nouns. For example, instead of:
The secretary typed the letter and the secretary gave the letter to the manager.
We usually say:
The secretary typed the letter and she gave it to the manager.
Verbs are action words, they tell what happened:
The secretary typed the letter.
Adjectives describe other words:
The secretary typed the long letter.
Adverbs describe verbs:
The secretary typed the letter quickly.
(How did she type it? She typed it quickly!)
Prepositions show how a noun is related to another word:
John is in the car.
John is on the car.
John is under the car.
John is beside the car.
John is behind the car.
Those five sentences are all about John and the car. The five different prepositions give us five different meanings, because they place John in five different positions in relation to the car.
Conjunctions help us to add more information to a sentence. Or, they help us to join two parts of a sentence:
John was in the car when it crashed.
John owns a car and he goes to work in it every day.
Interjections are words that people use to show emotions rather than logical thoughts. They have meaning, but do not fit into the logical structure of the sentence. For example:
Oh! Really! Nonsense! Hello! Goodbye! My Goodness!
These are used almost exclusively when you are speaking or in dramatic writing. As far as business letters, memos and reports are concerned you can ignore them.
Learning the Parts of Speech
It will help you to learn the parts of speech if you think how they affect each other when you build a sentence.
You can make a basic sentence with one noun and one verb.
The man sleeps.
To describe the man, add an adjective.
The big man sleeps.
To describe the verb, add an adverb.
The big man sleeps quietly.
To show where he sleeps add a preposition.
The big man sleeps quietly on the bed.
To add more information, use a conjunction.
The big man sleeps quietly on the bed but his wife sleeps on the floor.
By using seven of the eight parts of speech we have just constructed a sentence that tells us a lot about the man and his wife.
Remember, do not construct sentences that are too long and complex. Communication is about making people understand what you want. The best way to achieve this is to write short simple sentences. It is better to write two short sentences rather than one very long, complex one.