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Grammar Guides


Finds example sentences containing the word you type in this box:

Word comparison - compare two words

Phrase comparison - compare example sentences for two phrases


Needs Analysis

There are four stages in needs analysis:

Click here for a Needs Analysis / Planning / Studying / Assessment Form that you can print out and fill in.



Make a list of the problems that you have with grammar, and the situations where you have these problems. For example:

Example Problem 1: My grammar is not good.

Example Problem 2: Speed - I want to speak and write with better grammar.

Example Problem 3: I don't want to copy large sections from books - I want to paraphrase.


Future Needs

Think about what English you will need in future, for example for your job. Here are some examples:

Example Future Need 1: I will need to write reports and memos.

Example Future Need 2: I will need to give presentations.

Example Future Need 3: I want to work for an international company, so my English, including grammar, must be very good.


Needs for Your Course

If you are a student you probably need to study English to help you with your course work; eg. for writing assignments.
Some example needs are:

Example Course Need 1: I need to write assignments and projects.

Example Course Need 2: I need to give a presentation on my final year thesis.

(Click here to see the English courses that most full-time HKPU students do.)



You need to decide:


Materials and Resources

Materials can be books, CD-ROMs and handouts
Resources can be teachers, classmates, computers, etc.

Working Alone or With Other People
Reasons for working with other people on grammar are:
- You get feedback from the other people
- They can suggest improvements
- They can tell you if you make a mistake
- They can encourage you to do better
- Explaining grammar to other people can help you understand better

Reasons for working alone are:
- If you share a task then you might learn only your part of the task, not how to do all of it. Your aim is to learn, not to finish quickly.


Click here to go back to the list of grammar materials on the Internet at the top of this page.


Grammar Strategies

- Deduction: This means using rules to work out the answer or how to do something. It is especially useful for grammar, for example Rule: To change normal speech to reported speech; eg. for writing minutes of a meeting, move the tenses back one past tense. Example: Mr. Chan - "I will see her tomorrow." Reported speech - 'Mr. Chan said that he would see her the next day.

- Recombination: This means joining together things you already know to make new things. For example, if you know that the simple past tense is used to describe things that happened in the past which have finished, and you know that the present perfect tense is used to describe experience, you can make a sentence that includes both of them:
"I first visited America in 1990. Last summer I went there again, so I have been there twice."

- Writing your own grammar book: this can contain rules, examples (e.g. from newspapers or magazines), your notes (e.g. on things you don't understand), lists of exceptions, etc.

- Using new grammar: after you learn some new grammar, use it in conversation or writing, and see what your listener's or reader's reaction is: do they understand you? You can ask "Did I say that right?"

- Get a grammar book: come to CILL or go to a bookshop and look at the different grammar books. Choose one that you understand.

- Read and listen: to see how writers and speakers use English grammar to communicate their ideas.



You can test your grammar:

Testing Yourself
Do some writing; eg. for an assignment. Proof-read the writing, looking to see if you have improved the grammar you have been learning.

You can test yourself with the HKPU Students':

  • Grammar Tests
  • Diagnostic Grammar Test: find out your grammar problems and how to solve them - use this link if you have a PolyU student ID, or else use this one

Testing with Classmates
Show your writing to your classmates and ask what they think. Discuss their answers. If you can't agree, check in grammar books.

Testing with a CILL Tutor
If you are a student or staff at H.K. Polytechnic University, you can show or e-mail your writing to a CILL tutor at . It is very important to tell the tutor what grammar you have been learning so that they can assess that. If you would like suggestions for other things to improve, please ask. CILL tutors do not believe that it is good to correct everything because we know you are not studying everything about writing, that would take a long time. We believe it is better for you to work on one small area of writing at a time.

Testing with a Teacher
Your English teacher will probably give you assignments, and give you feedback on the assignments. Read the feedback carefully, and use it to improve next time.


Further Planning

When you have finished your plan you need to test or assess yourself to see if you have fulfilled your need. Can you do what your Needs Analysis and your plan aimed for?
- If you can, then you can plan to learn another point from your Needs Analysis, or you can change it because of some new thing that you want to learn. Don't forget to come back and revise later.
- If you can't, you need to study more, so change your plan. You could, for example, do some of the Alternative Materials or Extra Materials if you are following a learner pathway. If you are bored you can do something else and come back later.

For more details on how you can test yourself, clickhere. The learner pathways also have details on how you can test yourself. Click here for an example.


Last updated on: Friday, August 19, 2016