Have you ever felt frustrated while doing English grammar exercises?
Do you want to go to sleep every time you start practicing English grammar?
Are you maybe “allergic” to grammar?
If you have answered Yes to at least one of the previous three questions, chances are (it is possible) you are doing something wrong.
How do I know?
I am an English grammar professor, and my students love their classes with me!
English grammar exercises are fun, useful and crucial (very important) for any learner who wants to take their English to the next level.
But sometimes, language teachers just give you a thousand exercises and forget about explaining the reasons why practicing grammar is necessary for you.
This post takes care of that and answers several key questions every English learner should know the answer to.
Get ready to know grammar exercises from a different point of view.
Why You Should Practice with English Grammar Exercises
Let’s start by answering why you should use English grammar exercises as a way to improve your English.
The reasons are as numerous as the grammar exercises you will be doing during your learning journey, but we do not have that much time and space.
So here you have the five most powerful ones.
1. English grammar exercises are efficient
Practicing English with the help of grammar exercises is far from being a waste of time.
By using drills (systematic repetition) and repeating constructions, you are learning basic English grammar rules that would take you hours to memorize.
Grammar exercises will save you time and help you remember concepts and rules fast and efficiently.
2. English grammar exercises provide amazing feedback
It does not matter if you are learning in a class with a teacher, a private tutor or by yourself, grammar exercises can be easily checked.
Having immediate feedback for your work tells you what you are doing right and what you have to review, which will allow you to save time once again.
Use grammar feedback wisely and learn from your mistakes.
3. English grammar exercises can be done on your own
You do not need to attend a language course or class to be able to see how you are doing.
Grammar exercises in books or online allow you to know the answers right away, so you do not need anyone correcting them as it happens with English writing exercises and assignments.
4. English grammar exercises can be revisited
One of the greatest things about grammar exercises is that you can go back to them anytime you want, as many times as you want.
If you know there is a grammar topic that is more difficult for you, just go back to specific exercises on it and do them again.
You can then compare your new results with the older ones and see how you are doing so far.
5. English grammar exercises are fun
Yes! Grammar can be fun if it is done and learned properly.
There are dozens of types of grammar exercises available (have a look at the section below), so it is very easy to keep things different to avoid boredom.
Try doing two or three different kinds of exercises each session so that studying does not feel like a repetitive routine.
Grammar is much more helpful when it is fun!
And do you know what is also fun and can help you improve your English in an entertaining way? FluentU!
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
FluentU has thousands of videos available that can help you improve your English grammar and vocabulary while you have the time of your life (have fun).
Each video includes contextual subtitles. If you see a word or a grammar construction you do not know, just hover (move) your mouse over it and you will get some basic information about the word and an explanation in context.
If you need to know more about the word or construction, just click on it.
An interactive flashcard including further information about your word will open.
FluentU’s flashcards are amazing. They include grammar info, explanations, pronunciation, sample sentences and even a list of videos where the word or construction is used.
Another awesome feature FluentU has to offer is the fact that you get exercises and quizzes that only include the vocabulary and grammar of the videos you have completed.
In our case, we would get exercises like this one:
As you can see, the present participle is mentioned as a hint. If you used FluentU, this and other grammar topics will never be a mystery for you.
If all this is not enough for you, you should give the video dictionary a try. FluentU lets you search for videos (instead of just words) that include the word or topic you want to know more about.
So what are you waiting for?
Try FluentU for free and see for yourself how much it has to offer.
Additionally, you can also use FluentU’s English YouTube channel.
FluentU’s English YouTube channel takes videos like movie trailers and scenes from TV series and transforms them into engaging and entertaining English grammar and vocabulary lessons.
For instance, you can learn how to use 10 powerful English verbs with the movie “Spider-man:”
Or learn tons (a lot) of new words and expressions with this analysis of the trailer of “Aladdin:”
If you like learning on YouTube and watching English movies, imagine having the two of them together! Subscribe now to FluentU’s English YouTube channel so you don’t miss any new videos!
How to Make the Most Out of English Grammar Exercises
We know why English grammar exercises are important, but how can we use them to our advantage?
Each student has their own learning methods and strategies, but when it comes to grammar, there are a couple of rules every English learner should follow.
Study the rules first
Unfortunately, English grammar exercises will not save you from having to study a little bit of grammar.
If you do not know how to learn English grammar, start from the obvious: study the rules on the topic you are dealing with.
Doing grammar exercises will help you remember the rules faster, but first you need to learn and understand those rules, too.
Study the exceptions to the rules
Many learners know all the rules about a specific topic, but they forget that exceptions are equally important.
If you really want to master a topic, you need to know what its exceptions are and how to overcome them.
Rules + exceptions = mastery.
Analyze the examples and create your own
The next step in the journey is having a look at examples that show the rules. By analyzing these examples, you will be able to see how you use what you have just learned.
Once you have done this, try to come up with (create) examples of your own.
This will help you understand how the rules and exceptions work and will allow you to use them in the future.
Pro-tip: A superb (great) way of getting plenty of examples is by reading children’s books. You will be surprised at how much they can improve your English grammar!
Do the grammar exercises
It is now during the fourth step that you should attempt (try) to do the grammar exercises.
Whether you are practicing grammar for the TOEFL exam or learning about the very basics of the present simple tense, practice makes perfect, and the more exercises you do, the better you will be able to apply the rules you have learned.
Besides, as we mentioned before, grammar exercises allow you to get immediate feedback, so you will know right away if you need to keep on practicing the same topic or you can move on to the next.
Put yourself to the test
Tests and exams are words that sound horrible for many English learners.
However, testing yourself is one of the best things you can do if you really want to know how much progress you have made.
There are plenty of resources and places where you can find grammar exercises to test your knowledge (have a look below).
What Are the Different Types of English Grammar Exercises?
Let’s have a look at what we can find when looking for English grammar exercises.
There are many different types of English grammar exercises available, which is great because each of us has different preferences when practicing grammar with exercises.
It would be impossible to include every single type of exercise in this post, so here you have a selection of the ones that are more commonly used to learn grammar:
- Multiple-choice exercises: You get different possible answers and have to choose the correct one.
- Odd-one-out exercises: You are given several words and have to find the one that does not go with the rest.
- Word rearranging exercises: You have some words and have to rearrange them to form a correct sentence.
- Matching words and definitions/images/translations: You normally get a list of words in one column and their translations, definitions or images in another one.
- Word-building exercises: You are given a base word and have to “build” a form of it that fits a sentence (for example, you are given the word care and need to come up with the word careful or carelessness).
- Synonyms and antonyms exercises: You get words and need to write their synonyms or antonyms.
- Fill-in-the-gaps exercises: There are some words missing in a text and you have to guess them.
- Sentence translation: You get sentences in your native language and have to translate them into English or vice versa (the other way around).
- Spaced-repetition exercises: These are exercises normally in the form of flashcards. You have to review/repeat/redo them at certain intervals, which helps you remember the rules or words more easily. FluentU uses the spaced-repetition technique, thus (this way) you can be sure that everything you are learning will come back to you at the exact right time so you do not forget anything.
What to Do with Your Results from English Grammar Exercises
You know all the different types of exercises you can do to practice English grammar, but how can you use them and your results to really improve and learn from your mistakes?
There are several ways in which you can use the results of your grammar exercises to improve your English.
Review your results
The first thing we should do after completing a grammar exercise is to check the answers and see what we have done right and where we have made mistakes.
Analyzing and reviewing your results will quickly tell you how your learning journey is going, and it will show you what you still need to work on.
This information is super important—especially for learners who are studying English by themselves—because you can have immediate feedback that will help you decide if you can go on to learning a new topic or if you should review the current one.
Write down your mistakes
Once you have found and analyzed your mistakes, write them down in your notebook or word processor of preference.
When you are writing your mistakes down, try to think of the rule or rules you have broken. Use your grammar book or the internet if necessary.
Write the rules down next to the error and add the correct version of the sentence without mistakes.
Thanks to this step, you will easily see what you have to review specifically and what your mistakes tend to be regarding a certain topic.
Study the grammar rules again
Read the grammar rules you have written down and have a look at the corrected sentences.
Study the rules and try to come up with at least one more correct example for each of them.
Try not to start studying the next rule until you are sure you have understood and memorized the previous one. After studying all the rules you had problems with, reread the whole topic once.
Redo the exercises that did not go well
You can redo all the exercises if you want, but if you do not have a lot of time, focus on the ones where you made the most mistakes.
The goal of this step is to find out if you have actually understood the rules during your second study session.
Hopefully, you will make fewer mistakes than you did the first time.
However, if you see that the rule is still giving you a headache and you keep on making the same mistakes over and over again, stop the learning session and come back to it the next day.
Repeat the previous steps until you have a mistake rate of around 10% at most (that is, only one in 10 sentences is wrong).
Review the topic after some time
It has been proven that spaced repetition is one of the best techniques to keep information in our brain long term.
You can use this method with those grammar topics that seem to be more difficult by revisiting them from time to time.
You are the one who ultimately (in the end) decides when to review a problematic topic, but my advice as a language teacher is that you go back to it after a week.
If you feel you have the topic under control, let it be (stop worrying about it) for two weeks before reviewing it again.
If, on the other hand, you still think that you need to work on it more, review it again in seven days.
As I have mentioned before, FluentU uses spaced repetition as the core (center) of its program. If you want to be sure you do not forget what you study, give FluentU a free try and see this method for yourself.
Practice English grammar exercises often
In the end, the most important tip I can give you is to practice often and be consistent.
Grammar can be difficult, but it is a very important component of a language and it should not be ignored.
By practicing English grammar often, you will make sure you do not forget what you have learned.
You will also create a good habit of including grammar in your language study sessions, which will create a great basis for when you start learning intermediate English grammar.
With time, practice and patience, you will acquire (get, develop) the necessary advanced English grammar skills to be able to say you have reached fluency.
Where to Find English Grammar Exercises
Now that you know all the theory, it is time to find some good practice.
But where to start?
There are so many options available that it can get a bit overwhelming (stressful) sometimes.
This section will tell you where to look for the best English grammar exercises so you do not have to waste time searching for them.
Grammar books and workbooks
It may seem a little bit obvious, but one of the best places to look for English grammar exercises are grammar books and workbooks.
English grammar books have the advantage of not only including rules and lots of examples, but also exercises to put them into practice.
If you use a grammar book, you know you will get practice specifically designed to follow the rules you are studying. This will allow you to divide big topics into smaller parts and study one at a time.
On the other hand, English grammar workbooks are normally created with a word in mind—practice!
If you use a grammar workbook, you will get so many exercises that it will be difficult to not master a grammar rule after you have done them all.
The choice is yours, although my recommendation is to find a grammar series that includes the grammar book and an accompanying workbook. Double the fun!
With more and more people using their phones to learn languages, it is only normal that the number of available apps to learn English is growing at the speed of light (very fast).
Apps can include almost everything, from grammar explanations, exercises and flashcards to videos with exercises, native audio files and speaking practice.
If you are looking for an app where you can have all this and more, try FluentU for free on your iPhone or your Android device.
Flashcards and SRS programs
Flashcards are normally used to learn vocabulary, but they are also an awesome tool to study grammar rules.
You can make your own flashcards and include a grammar rule on one side and a few sample sentences on the other.
You can also use your personalized flashcards to write down the mistakes you make while doing your grammar exercises.
This will give you material you can go back to any time you want, allowing you to revise rules and mistakes from time to time.
If you prefer using a program that will take care of your reviewing schedule, there are many awesome SRS programs available on the internet.
This kind of program uses the spaced repetition technique, so the system knows about the mistakes you have made and will tell you to review what you need at specific intervals.
One such program is FluentU, as you already know.
As I mentioned before, more and more people are using the internet to learn languages nowadays.
English grammar exercises online are available by the thousands (if not millions).
Now you can choose the level, the topic and even the type of grammar exercise you want to do with just a few clicks.
There are some websites that include everything you need to learn English grammar online.
Other sites give you the option of accessing and taking an English grammar test online. These come in handy when you are preparing for an official exam or you want to check your progress.
Whatever your needs, you are sure to find great resources for English grammar exercises.
Remember they will give you immediate feedback after completing the exercises, so they really are a great help in your way to improving your English skills.
When to Start Using English Grammar Exercises
The decision of when to start using English grammar exercises is honestly personal.
However, as a person who has been teaching English for over 20 years, my advice is very simple: start doing English grammar exercises as soon as you can.
Beginners do not really like grammar exercises because they think they do not help them reach higher levels.
They normally focus on vocabulary, and when they reach the intermediate level, they see themselves slow down, trying to go through the intermediate plateau without success for months or even years.
On the other hand, a learner who has been using English grammar exercises from the start has all their four major language skills (speaking, writing, reading and listening) at the same level, which allows them to go through the intermediate level much faster.
When they reach the C1 level, they are ready to gorge on (do a large amount of) those advanced English grammar exercises that seem impossible to digest for most of us, and before they know it, they have reached fluency.
I recommend you take an English level test as you start your English learning journey.
Even if you only know a few words of English, level tests are helpful because they tell you your specific level of the language.
You can go back to those tests as you progress and check yourself time and time again (many times).
As you learn more grammar and vocabulary, you will realize the level tests get easier for you, until one day your level test will tell you that you are no longer an A1 learner but a powerful B2 user of English.
Take level tests once a month to see if you are progressing as fast as you want. Check the answers and take advantage of your results (like we talked about earlier), and change your studying schedule accordingly.
Now that you have read this post, you have all the information necessary to use English grammar exercises to your advantage.
It is now your turn to make the most out of it.
I know in the end the decision will only be yours, but if you are ready to take a leap of faith with me, you will realize that using Engish grammar exercises as a tool to improve your English skills is one of the best decisions you can make in your learning life.
The results will blow your mind.
Stay grammar-curious my friends, and as always, happy learning!
Francisco J. Vare loves teaching and writing about grammar. He’s a proud language nerd, and you’ll normally find him learning languages, teaching students or reading. He’s been writing for FluentU for many years and is one of their staff writers.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.