English grammar is a huge subject, and one that often stumps both native and non-native speakers alike. In this in-depth guide we look at the vast field of English grammar and pick out some points to help you avoid common pitfalls in your writing.
Quick Tip 1
Lay and Lie
To lay is to put something down. Lay down your pen. The verb must act on another object.
To lie is to recline. Lie down on the couch. I will lie in bed until noon.
The past tense of "lay" is "laid." After the test I laid down my pen.
Unfortunately, the past tense of "lie" is "lay," which can cause confusion.
Yesterday I lay on the couch all afternoon.
Quick Tip 2
Then and Than
"Then" always indicates a relationship in time. Something happened, and then something else happened after that. When you use "if" with "then" to show a cause-and-effect relationship, the effect still comes after the cause. For example, "If you help me, then I will be grateful."
"Than" is used for comparisons. Brazil is bigger than Portugal. Mice are smaller than cats. Chess is more complex than checkers. Even when talking about time, use "than" for comparisons. Autumn is later than summer.
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