How to Improve Grammar Skills for TOEFL

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    Many aspirants dream to work or study abroad and while planning the same in an English native country, the candidates need to show their proficiency in TOEFL as well. While preparing for the TOEFL, there are a lot of topics that you should be focusing which includes TOEFL Grammar as well. Though there are no questions specifically on grammar, the candidates will be evaluated on their grammar skills during the Speaking and Writing responses. So it is important that the candidates must have flair knowledge of grammar as well before taking the test, there are a few grammar rules that are useful TOEFL preparation tips that will help you score good marks in the test.

    FewCommon Grammar Mistakes People Make on the TOEFL

    Below we are discussing some of the common grammar issues which the learners struggle with. In case you have learned these rules then you can develop a strong understanding of TOEFL grammar which will not be useful while giving the TOEFL test but while studying in an English native country as well. We tried to offer the best and useful information to you and added a few examples as well to make the concepts clear to you.

    Run-on Sentences

    It is a common issue that mostly happens when the test-takers are nervous and stuff in maximum words in a particular sentence, which results in filling the test with run-on sentences. Not only these sentences are grammatically wrong but it makes it difficult for the examiner to understand your point clearly. A run-on sentence means when two or more independent clauses are joined in a wrong way, there are many different ways through which multiple independent clauses can be combined in the right way.

    Some ways to combine independent clauses:

    • You can separate the clauses with a semi-colon.
    • Separate the clauses with a semi-colon and linking words like therefore, thus, however, etc can be used to separate the clauses.
    • Using a period to separate the clauses can also be done.

    Using Present Tense After Time Clauses is a useful TOEFL preparation tip

    Many times, the test-takers use words like “will” which are not needed in a particular phrase or sentence. This kind of mistake mostly happens during the Speaking responses, when due to lack of time, the test-takers don’t know which words they should use. The candidates must not use words like “will” to refer to the future in time clauses; rather they must use the present tense with time clauses.

    Defined vs. Undefined Articles

    Articles are those small words that sometimes are difficult to understand for the test-takers. The test takers must have a flair understanding of defined and undefined articles like “A” is the indefinite article which is used in front of general or undefined nouns while “The” is the definite article that goes in front of the people, places, or things that are “defined” for the speaker. For instance, The café is located on the second floor or “The restaurant you recommended was great” are some examples of using them in a right way.

    Could, Should, and Would

    These three words sound very similar to each other, but all of them have different meanings and one word can’t be used in place of another. For instance, it could is used to describe things that can be done in the past, describe future possibilities, and make polite requests. While should be used to give the advice and the candidates appearing for the TOELF must use “would” to talk about unlikely situations that might happen in the future.

    Some useful example

    • My doctor said I should eat more fruits.
    • If I were president, I would make school free for everyone.
    • I could make dinner if you want to sleep.

    Adjective Order

    Some learners get confused between the adjectives and adverbs, which lowers their marks. Adjectives are describing nouns (people, places or things) and in case you are describing anything using many adjectives, then be sure that you are using the adjectives in proper order, otherwise, it will look strange to the English speakers. For instance, in case you are saying, “ten small cats” sounds correct, but while “small ten cats” will sound odd to the examiner who is listening to those words.

    Exercise to put the adjectives in the proper order

    • Cats: young, brown, tiny- tiny young brown cats
    • Socks: old, two, wool- two old wool socks
    • Beers: Irish, four, small- four small Irish beers


    Adverbs are mostly formed from adjectives by adding -ly at the end of the adjective. Adverbs are used to describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Some of the examples of an adverb describing a verb include:

    The bird sang beautifully- Here the word “Beautifully” talks about the verb “sang.” You can ask, “How did the birds sing?” and you get the answer, “beautifully.” While another example of an adverb describing an adjective is “She is a really beautiful girl”. Here “Really” refers to the adjective “nice.”

    Right the correct spelling of adverbs

    The test-takers many time while using adverbs in writing, make the spelling mistakes which negatively impact their TOEFL scores as well. While using adverbs in the TOEFL written exam, first of all, consider the adjective it comes from; in case the adjective ends in an “l,” then at the time of adding -ly you get two l’s like:

    • beautiful + ly will become beautifully
    • interesting + ly will become interestingly

    The candidates can start practicing more by writing the correct spelling and using adjectives and adverbs in the sentences.

    However,” “nonetheless” and “though”

    The above-mentioned words can be used independently to express contrast with the sentence before. These words can be separated using a comma from the rest of the sentence in which they are coming. For instance, “However” can be used in the beginning and at the end of the sentence as well while one must use “nevertheless” at the beginning only and “though” can be used only at the end of the sentence. Some examples of correct usage of these words include:

    • Her response is not positive at all. However, she is a good teacher by heart.
    • This has been a tough year for the company. Nevertheless, there is hope for appraisals this year.
    • The rooms were very spacious and loud. The location wasn’t ideal, though.

    These kinds of phrases are used in the TOEFL exam as they help in connecting complex ideas and we might have heard about them in the academic lectures as well. In the reading passages, these words will help in establishing connections between main ideas; additionally, they will be helpful in expressing your thoughts to the speakers. In case you are able to use them correctly in writing, then it will help in organizing ideas more effectively and will guarantee to help you in scoring extra marks.

    Words like “Who,” “Whom” and “Which” can’t be interchanged

    Many times, the test-takers get confused between the words like who, whom and which especially in the speaking section. To make it clear, we are discussing the meaning and usage of all of them, “Who” refers to people, “which” is used to refer things and “that” can refer to both people and things. Few examples explaining the same include:

    • I know the woman who you talked to earlier.

    Difference between Who and Whom

    “Whom” refers to people, but many candidates mistakenly overuse “whom” to sound more academic. The rule that applies here is that you should use “who” when you are talking about the subject of a clause, and use “whom” when you are talking about the object of a clause.

    Some useful preparation tips to remember the difference

    • Use “whom” in case you can replace “whom” with “him” or “her.”
    • Use “who” in case it you can change “who” with “he” or “she.”
    • For instance, you can write “Whom are you going to invite” when talking about the person you are inviting

    Is Grammar Tested on the TOEFL?

    In the TOEFL test, there is no separate grammar section and no questions specifically about the grammar are asked in the test; however, grammar is an important part of the TOEFL that can help you to score high. The candidates’ grammar knowledge will be tested based on their responses in English. While attempting the Speaking and Writing sections, when the candidates have to use their creativity to write the answers, the examiners look for the loop-holes in the grammar section. In case there are a lot of errors in the TOEFL English grammar, then it will impact your score in these sections. So it is important that you develop a flair understanding of grammar so that you can get high scores; TOEFL preparation tips will help you to improve your grammar and avoid common mistakes that otherwise can catch the examiner’s eyes.

    So start studying the TOEFL grammar practice before taking the test to enhance your grammar skills which are important to score high, specifically in the Speaking and Writing sections. So adhere to the above-mentioned useful preparation tips that can help in avoiding the common grammar issues which the TOEFL students struggle with.



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