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9 Must Know Primary English Grammar Rules

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English grammar is a fundamental aspect when it comes to learning English, the lingua franca of Singapore and a mandatory subject in the primary school curriculum.

Students need an understanding of English grammar to develop their language proficiency, sentence structure, and communication skills. Understanding and applying basic rules can help students improve their writing, reading, and speaking abilities.

This article delves into commonly seen English grammar rules required in primary school and highlights their importance in shaping students’ ability to apply their language skills.

1. Rules For Articles

In English grammar, articles are a type of determiner that comes before a noun to indicate whether the noun is specific or nonspecific.

Two types of articles exist in English, namely definite and indefinite. The definite article “the” refers to a specific noun that’s already been mentioned or is clear from the context.


  • The dog chased the cat.” In this sentence, “the” refers to a specific dog and cat.

Meanwhile, indefinite articles like “a” and “an” are for nonspecific nouns. “A” is used before words that start with consonants, and “an” is usually used before words that begin with vowels i.e. a,e,i,o,u..

  • “I saw a bird in the tree.”
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

In the examples above, we use “the” for the keywords “dog” and “cat. We assume that someone is the owner of either the dog or the cat.

As for the second example, “an” is nonspecific and refers to any apple purchased from a market, grocery store, etc. We can also understand that sentence as: “[Eating] an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

If we change the articles as below:

  • “A dog chased a cat.” – This assumes that someone just happened to pass by a random dog chasing a cat and described what they saw.
  • “I saw the bird in the tree”. – This assumes the person who made the statement has seen that specific bird before. They are referring to a past encounter to describe what they had witnessed.

2. Rules For Quantifiers

Quantifiers in English grammar are words used to describe how many or how much of something there is. For example, “a few,” “some,” “a lot of,” “many,” and “most” are all examples of quantifiers.

When we use a quantifier, we give information about the amount or quantity of something, like how many cookies there are on a plate or how much water is in a glass.


  • “I have a few cookies.” – Cookies are countable nouns, so we use “few“.
  • “There are many stars in the sky.” – Stars are countable, but there are too many in the sky to come up with a definite answer. So, we use “many“.
  • “There’s a lot of water in the glass.” – Water is an uncountable noun; therefore, we use “a lot“.

Quantifiers help us be specific about the amount of something we are discussing. This is useful when we want to ask for or give information about quantities, like when we go shopping or when we share something with others. It also informs on whether an item is countable or uncountable in nature. 

3. Rules For Prepositions

Rules for preposition

In English grammar, prepositions indicate the relationship between a noun or pronoun and another word in the sentence. Prepositions are usually short words like “in”, “on”, “at”, “with”, “to”, “under”, “over”, etc.

Prepositions help us understand where something is, when it is happening, and how it is happening. Here are some examples of prepositions and how they can be used:

  • In: I am in the classroom. (shows location)
  • On: The book is on the table. (shows location)
  • At: We are at the park. (shows location)
  • With: I am playing with my friends. (shows relationship)
  • To: I am going to the library. (shows direction)

Prepositions can also be used to describe time and location. For example:

  • Before: I have to finish my homework before dinner. (shows time)
  • After: We can play outside after lunch. (shows time)
  • Above: The bird is flying above the tree. (shows location)

4. Rules For Proper Nouns

Proper nouns are special words for specific people, places, things, or animals. They always start with a capital letter, unlike common nouns. 

Examples include names of people such as John, Mary, or Singapore and names of places such as Universal Studios or Woodlands.

Proper nouns are essential because they help us be specific and clear about who we are talking about. They make our language more precise and avoid confusion.

For example, if we were talking about a boy and said “the boy”, it would be unclear which boy we’re referring to. But if we said “John the boy”, it would be clear that we’re talking about a boy named John. So, remember to use capital letters for proper nouns to make your writing clearer and more specific.

5. Rules For Personal Pronouns

Rules for personal pronouns

In Primary English Grammar, personal pronouns are words used to replace or refer to a person or a group of people. Examples of personal pronouns include:

  • I
  • You
  • He
  • She
  • We
  • They
  • It

Personal pronouns are essential because they help us avoid repeating the same noun repeatedly. For example, instead of saying, “Daniel is a teacher. Daniel teaches English at a local Primary School.”

We can say, “Daniel is a teacher. He teaches English at a local Primary School.” This makes the sentence sound more natural and less repetitive.

Personal pronouns like “I”, “you”, “we”, “he”, “she”, and “they” refer to a specific person or groups of people. However, “it” differs because it refers to an object, animal, or idea.

For example: “I am going to play video games.” refers to the person speaking, while “The paper is gone. I threw it away” refers to the object, which is “paper” in this context.

6. Rules For Determiners

Determiners are words we use before a noun to give more information about it. Examples include:

  • This
  • That
  • These
  • Those

Singular determiners like this and that point to one person or thing. Meanwhile, plural determiners like those and these point to multiple persons or things. Determiners also inform on the location of an object – this and these refer to objects that are here with us while that and those refer to objects that are not here with us. 


  • “Look at those dogs over there!”
  • That cheeseburger looks delicious.”
  • This shirt is too itchy.”
  • These cookies here are too sweet.”

7. Rules For Primary Auxiliary Verbs

We use primary auxiliary verbs or helping verbs to change the tense or mood of a sentence. They clarify the meaning of the main verb and offer additional information about the action being described.

Here are some examples of primary auxiliary verbs:

  • Am
  • Is
  • Was
  • Were
  • Have
  • Has
  • Had


  • “My mom is eating dinner.” – The word “is” is a helping verb that tells us the action is happening in the present.
  • “They have finished their homework.” – “Have” is a helping verb that indicates the action is completed.
  • “He will be going to the park.” – “Will be” is a helping verb that shows the action will happen in the future.

8. Rules For Contractions

Contractions are shortened versions of two words combined to form one word by omitting some letters and using an apostrophe to replace them. Contractions are commonly used in English to make the language more concise and easier to express. 

They are often used in casual conversation but are not always appropriate in more formal settings like comprehension or formal situational writing.

Here is a table illustrating how to contract personal pronouns and helping verbs together:

II am = I’mI will = I’ll
HeHe is = He’sHe will = He’ll
SheShe is = She’sShe will = She’ll
ItIt is = It’s It will = It’ll
WeWe are = We’reWe will = You’ll
TheyThey are = They’reThey will = They’ll
YouYou are = You’reYou will = You’ll

9. Rules For Verb Tenses

Three basic verb tenses exist in English grammar: past, present, and future. Each of these can be further divided into four types: simple, progressive, perfect, and perfect progressive. Here’s a brief explanation of each tense, along with an example:

Simple Present

This tense describes things that are currently happening or are always true. For example:

  • The sun rises in the east.
  • They eat breakfast every morning.

Present Progressive

This tense is used to describe actions that are currently in progress. For example:

  • I am eating dinner right now.
  • They are playing football in the park.

Simple Past

This tense is used to describe actions that happened in the past. For example:

  • I went to the store yesterday.
  • She played video games last weekend.

Past Progressive

This tense is used to describe actions that were in progress in the past. For example:

  • I was watching TV when my mom called.
  • They were studying all night for the exam.

Simple Future

This tense is used to describe actions that will happen in the future. For example:

  • I will go to the beach next weekend.
  • She will start her new job tomorrow.

Future Progressive:

This tense describes actions that will be in progress in the future. For example:

  • I will be taking a nap at this time tomorrow.
  • They will be meeting my friend next week.

English grammar has more complicated verb tenses, such as the perfect and perfect progressive tenses. While these tenses may be essential to learn in the future, they can be pretty complex and challenging for primary school students.

The perfect tense describes an action that started in the past but is connected to the present.

For example, “I have finished my homework” indicates that the homework was completed in the past but has relevance to the present, perhaps because it means the speaker is now free to do something else.

On the other hand, the perfect progressive tense is used to describe an action that started in the past, continues in the present, and may continue into the future.

For example, “I have been studying for three hours” indicates that the studying started in the past, is still ongoing in the present, and may continue for some time into the future.

It is recommended to focus on the basic verb tenses first and introduce these more complex tenses later when students have a better grasp of the language.

Conclusion On English Grammar Rules For Primary Students

Understanding how to use basic English grammar rules is essential for all primary school students to hone their communication skills. 

Prepositions, contractions, verbs, pronouns, and other grammar concepts can be challenging to grasp initially, but students can improve their ability to recognise these rules with practice and guidance.

Want to help your child succeed in Primary School English? Schedule a consultation with Teacher Daniel now. He is an award winning former MOE officer and current English language specialist who can boost your child’s confidence in reading, communicating, and writing in English.

Enrol your child now at his Primary School English Tuition Centre In Marine Parade Central!

Frequently Asked Questions About English Grammar Rules For Primary Students

What Are The Basic Parts Of Speech In English?

The basic parts of speech in English are the following

  • Nouns
  • Verbs
  • Adjectives
  • Adverbs
  • Pronouns
  • Prepositions
  • Conjunctions
  • Interjections

What Are Adjectives?

Adjectives like beautiful, smart, tall, little, etc., are words that describe or modify nouns or pronouns.

What Are Conjunctions?

Conjunctions are words that connect two or more words, phrases, or clauses. Some examples include and, for, because, still, while, and though.

What Are Interjections?

Interjections express strong emotions or feelings. Some examples include: Hi!, Oh!, and Hey!

What Is The Present Tense?

The present tense describes actions which are currently happening or are generally true.


  • Cows eat grass.
  • She likes chocolates.

What Are Uncountable Nouns?

Uncountable nouns cannot be counted and are therefore not used in the plural form. They are also known as mass nouns because they refer to things you cannot easily divide into separate units.

Examples of uncountable nouns include water, milk, sugar, and rice. You cannot say two waters or three rices – you can only refer to these nouns in the singular form. 

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