PSLE English Grammar: What You Will Face in PSLE Exams

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Grammar & Its Importance in PSLE English

English Grammar is the lifeline of the subject. In fact, language cannot exist without grammatical rules, concepts, and nuances. However, it is not easy to learn English Grammar by memorisation. Like mathematics and Science, rote learning does not work for Grammar concepts. It can only be mastered through continuous writing, reading, and speaking in English.

This article focuses on the important Grammar concepts that Primary students need to hone before the actual PSLE Exam. Master these concepts and score full marks in PSLE English!

6 English Grammar Concepts To Master for PSLE Exams

1. Verbs with Tenses

The subject-verb agreement is a concept that’s always tested in PSLE English. The general grammar concepts that you need to perfect in this subtopic are:

  • Perfect Tenses

Present Perfect

The tricky part of Multiple-Choice Questions tests your ability to differentiate between simple past or present tenses with perfect tenses.

What is a Present Perfect tense? It is a tense that denotes past actions that continue into the present. This tense is identified with the use of:

Has/ Have + Verb (Past participle)

For example: The dog has not been taken out for a walk since this morning.
The couple has been happily married for twenty years.

Past Perfect

The Past Perfect tense indicates an action that was completed in the past before it was followed by another action. This tense is denoted by the use of:

Had + Verb (Past participle)

For example: By the time we arrived, the train had left the station.
Luckily, I had saved the document before my computer crashed.

What we see in the above examples is the use of two verbs in one sentence that is set in the past. Here, the first verb or action is always denoted with the past perfect tense.

2. Verbs of Perception / Obligation / Permission

A verb of perception conveys the experience of one’s senses like touch, hear, see, feel, look, watch, and taste. These verbs are denoted by:

Past tense followed by an Object + infinitive without to or Object + ing form
For Example: Tina heard them laughing.

Verbs of Permission/ Obligation

These verbs are mostly preceded or followed by the words:

  • Can’t
  • Can
  • Musn’t
  • Must
  • Have to
  • Don’t have to

Verb Permission uses words like “Can”, “May”, and “Could.”

For example:

Can I make a suggestion?
Could I borrow your car?
You may leave now.

Verb Obligation

To express obligation, we use “Have to” and “Must.” Here’s where most students confuse one with the other. “Have to” denotes an external obligation.

For example: We have to wear our lab coats while working with chemicals.

On the other hand, “Must” denotes a necessity that comes from the speaker.

For example: I must go to the doctor today.
You must wear your seat belt while driving your car.

Note that the verbs “Go” and “Wear’ are used as such without “s”, “ed”, or “ing”.

A student encircling the correct answer with a red sketch pen in the exam sheet and a table clock is seen on the table.

3. Multiword Phrases

Multiword phrases denote the following:

Together with In addition to Not to mention As well as

These phrases are often used to trick students into thinking the subject-agreement is plural, which is not.

For example: Mary, as well as her friends, is going on a school excursion.

In a sentence like this, students often make the mistake of using “are” instead of “is”, which is the correct verb because Mary is the only subject in this sentence.

4. Either…or / Neither…..nor

These questions are often asked in PSLE English because students find it difficult to decide whether to choose singular or plural since the sentence usually contains more than one subject or noun.

For example: Neither Johnny nor his friends are good at horse riding.

The correct verb used in such a sentence is “Are” because of the Rule of Proximity. What is this “Rule of Proximity?” This rule is the practice of relying on the noun closest to the verb. Questions of this type should NOT be confused with Either/Neither/None questions! Often, they sound like they should carry plural verbs, but they are singular and carry singular verbs.

5. Pronouns

PSLE English question paper often has tricky questions that test students’ knowledge of pronouns. Let’s take a look at the important pronouns.

  • Reflexive pronouns

What are Reflexive Pronouns? These pronouns include words like:

  • Itself
  • Myself
  • Yourself
  • Himself
  • Herself

These pronouns refer back to a person, place, or thing. There are many classic examples of reflexive pronouns:

As the maid was on leave, Stacey had no choice but to do all the household work herself.
The snake wound itself on the tree branch and fell asleep.

Also Read : How to Improve Memory Retention for PSLE Science Questions

  • Demonstrative Pronoun

Demonstrative pronouns are words like ” Who, Whom, Whose, This, That, Those, These.” This list of words refers to specific people or things.

This and These refer to things or persons that are close to the speaker. That and Those, on the other hand, denote things or people far away from the speaker.

For example:

  • That house over there belongs to my aunt.
  • This geometry box is an old one.
  • Who are those people standing on the balcony of your house?
  • These shrubs over here need to be pruned.

Primary students often confuse pronouns like Who, Whom, and Whose.

Here are some simple tips to use these pronouns correctly in a sentence.

  • Who is always followed by a verb.

Example: Jenny, who is my daughter, is studying medicine.

  • Whom is always followed by the name of a person, the pronoun, or their profession.

Example: Mr John, whom we met last week, is a teacher.

  • Whose is a possessive pronoun that indicates ownership.

Example: She owns a house whose construction work has been going on for many years.

6. Countable and Uncountable Nouns

As their names imply, countable nouns refer to a person, place, or thing that can be counted. Uncountable nouns denote anything that cannot be separated or counted individually. Uncountable nouns are also known as mass nouns and have no existing plural form.

Example for countable nouns:

This basket has two dozen freshly-picked apples.

Example of uncountable nouns:

  • How much homework do I have today?
  • How much sugar does this sweet require?
  • This paper has all the information you require.
  • What is the Science equipment you have in school?

PSLE English can be a tricky gauntlet of receptive pronouns, tenses, and multi-word prepositions. You can master these Grammar challenges by doing multiple grammar exercises every day.

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