This similar question regarding pronunciation made me think about verifying other aspects of language when you do not have access to a native speaker frequently or at all.

I have many self-instruction books and kits for many different languages and I have used them with varying success. Often, there are example sentences and frameworks for basic sentences, but these tend to be simple and may or may not reflect actual usage in real life. Sometimes, I have found that some examples are very similar to what I want to say, but different enough that the actual usage seems (to me as a language learner) to be clumsy and I question whether my created expression is grammatically correct.

What learning techniques can be used to help check grammar during self-instruction? How can I make sure that I am understanding the grammar properly enough to ensure that I am using it correctly, even if I do not have access to a native speaker?

  • When you ask for "tools", what are you looking for? Book recommendations? Software? Mind tricks? Or are you more concerned about "How can I make sure that I am understanding the grammar..."?
    – Hatchet
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 20:08
  • The latter about understanding the grammar. Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 20:10
  • 2
    Have you tried lang-8?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 1:08
  • So this question is about correct grammar in/for language production and not just for understanding input?
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 14:27
  • You really need to interact with a native speaker. The rest is just a fool's errand. Language is a social thing; so get social about it.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 16:01

4 Answers 4


The quest for learning grammar is a valiant one, and it is not only difficult, but everybody is going to learn grammar differently. Thus, it's well-nigh impossible to write an exhaustive answer here. So I'm not gonna. :)

Pronunciations are relatively static; spellings and definitions are, too. Grammar, on the other hand, can be different for every sentence. That's part of what makes it so hard.

Here are a couple of tips:

Familiarize yourself with the basics

You're not going to know everything about the grammar when you begin-- in fact, you may never know all the grammar rules of your target language.

Nevertheless, familiarize yourself with the basic grammar as much as possible: read, listen, read, listen. Then practice what you know. Don't sweat it if you don't get it right the first, fifth, or fiftieth time.

Once you have the basics down, you should be good for a while.

Study the grammar academically

Just like in school. Get a textbook or study articles online. This isn't necessarily the most fun, but stick it out-- it will help.

Do grammar exercises

Quiz yourself with simple sentences. Even working on the easiest stuff can help you with the most complex sentence structures.

Immerse yourself in the language

Grammar is not the most important part of learning a language. It's important, indeed, but not the most important. Ability to communicate in that language is the most important.

Specifically studying grammar may not be what helps you the most. Watch movies, read books, listen to music in your target language. Your brain will find the "method to the madness" eventually.

Don't be afraid to make mistakes

If someone asked you "Yourself show me bathroom, please?", you would understand them, no? Is it proper grammar? Not quite, but it gets the point across, and that's what language is about, anyways: communication.

If you're making mistakes in your grammar and don't realize it, that's OK. You might not sound quite right, but if your vocabulary is mostly there, you'll be communicating adequately. Once you do realize your mistakes, you're halfway to fixing them; as you familiarize yourself more with your target language, the grammar will come.

In the end, the more you work at it, the better you'll get.

Do I have perfect grammar skills even in my own native language? Nope. Will I ever? Probably not.

As I mentioned in this answer, try changing up how you study: it'll give your brain a new challenge.

  • Unconditional statements such as "Grammar is not the most important part of learning a language. It's important, indeed, but not the most important. Ability to communicate in that language is the most important." are suspect; it certainly depends on one's goals, and not everyone has communication as the most important goal.
    – Tommi
    Commented Apr 20, 2020 at 6:45
  • One needs to learn gradually; familiarize yourself with the basics just sounds like you never actually learned another language....
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 16:03

When writing something in french, I usually use verb tables. I don't know whether there is something similar for other parts of grammar, and obviously things like that are no use when speaking.

  • Does studying verb tables also help you when you speak French? I curious about studies on the effectiveness of studying verb tables.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 14:47
  • I use them to verify the correct use of grammar, as the question suggests. Of course, there is not enough time to do so when speaking.
    – geh
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 19:01

I think doing language tests will show you, how familiar you are with grammar. One can speak with mistakes and feel no problem with it, but the only way to know, how are you good in grammar is doing test. One can read texts and understand almost all (concerning context) and know only basics of grammar.

  • 2
    Hi Dmitry! It seems that you have a good thought, but it would be wise to flesh out your answer further and add more detail to it.
    – fi12
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 1:09

My opinion about this issue is more open-minded (maybe, to the extent it's narrow-minded). Anyway, it's how I progressed from B2 to C1.

Stop burying yourself into grammar references
We are living in the cutting-edge world; the era of learning grammar by heart has gone. What I would recommend you is to master your already usable grammar - accuracy, not diversity (especially, on the first steps).

Treat a foreign language as your lifestyle, not an ordeal
Watch movies, listen to podcasts, read books (adjusted to your level, unless you're a C1-C2 user.) This way, your curiosity will push you: 'That's something unknown to me, let's check it out!' The Internet is fraught with hands-on grammar resources, which will come in handy when you do need them.

Some A.I. tools (for English learners)
Are you familiar with Grammarly or Pro Writing Aid? They're indispensable when it comes to perfecting your writing. If you can eliminate grammar mistakes in your writing, you will build the writing-speaking bridge to express yourself fluently and precisely (the personal experience, disputable?) in any kind of output.

P.S. When writing this, I'm using Grammarly Premium, and it helps me.

  • 1
    Oh, that's a decent remark. Thanks, Tommi :) Commented Apr 20, 2020 at 7:10

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