A BRIEF ENGLISH GRAMMAREnglish grammar uses words based on eight parts of speech: the verb, the noun, the pronoun, the adjective, the adverb, the preposition, the conjunction, and the interjection. Each part of speech explains not what the word is, but how the word is used. The same word can be a noun in one sentence and a verb or adjective in the next.
PARTS OF SPEECH
Proper nouns are capitalized and include: name of a specific person, place, or thing, days of the week, months of the year, historical documents, institutions, organizations and religions, including their holy texts and their adherents.
A common noun is a noun referring in general to a person, place, or thing.
A concrete noun is a noun, that names anything (or anyone) that you can perceive through your physical senses: touch, sight, taste, hearing, or smell.
book, house, meal, song, flower
An abstract noun is a noun, that names anything you cannot perceive through your five physical senses.
philosophy, thought, freedom
A countable noun (or count noun) is a noun with both a singular and a plural form, and it names anything (or anyone) that you can count.
box, boxes; hour, hours; apple, apples; car, cars; house, houses
A non-countable noun (or mass noun) is a noun that does not have a plural form, and that refers to something you could (or would) not usually count.
cheese, milk, weather, traffic
A collective noun is a noun naming a group of things, animals, or persons.
flock (of sheep); pride (of lions)
Most nouns change their form to indicate number by adding -s'' or -es'' (along with a few other ways:)
book, books; fox, foxes; child, children; woman, women.
Usually, nouns become possessive by adding a combination of an apostrophe and the letter s.
the boy’s book; the children’s toys; a woman’s life
Nouns may serve as subjects, objects, or complements.
Juan is here. He reads the book. There is Carla.
There are several types of pronouns.
A personal pronoun refers to a specific person or thing and changes its form to indicate person, number, gender, and case.
A subjective personal pronoun indicates that the pronoun is acting as the subject of the sentence. The subjective personal pronouns are ``I, you, she, he, it, we, you, they.''
An objective personal pronoun indicates that the pronoun is acting as an object of a verb, compound verb, preposition, or infinitive phrase. The objective personal pronouns are: "me, you, her, him, it, us, you, and them.''
A possessive pronoun indicates that the pronoun is acting as an indication of possession and defines who owns a particular object. The possessive personal pronouns are "mine, yours, hers, his, its, ours, and theirs."
A demonstrative pronoun points to and identifies a noun or a pronoun. "This" and "these" refer to things that are nearby either in space or in time, while "that" and "those" refer to things that are farther away in space or time. The demonstrative pronouns are "this, that, these," and "those."
"This" and "that" are used to refer to singular nouns or noun phrases and "these" and "those" are used to refer to plural nouns and noun phrases.
An interrogative pronoun is used to ask questions. The interrogative pronouns are "who, whom, which, what" and the compounds formed with the suffix "ever" ("whoever, whomever, whichever, whatever").
You can use a relative pronoun to link one phrase or clause to another phrase or clause. The relative pronouns are: "who, whom, that, which." The compounds "whoever, whomever, and whichever" are also relative pronouns. You can use the relative pronouns "who" and "whoever" to refer to the subject of a clause or sentence, and "whom" and "whomever" to refer to the objects of a verb, or a preposition.
An indefinite pronoun refers to an unspecified person or thing. An indefinite pronoun depicts the idea of all, any, none, or some. The most common indefinite pronouns are "all, another, any, anybody, anyone, anything, each, everybody, everyone, everything, few, many, nobody, none, one, several, some, somebody, and someone."
The reflexive pronouns are "myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves."
An intensive pronoun is a pronoun used to emphasize its antecedent.
An adjective usually precedes the noun or the pronoun that it modifies. An adjective can be modified by an adverb, or by a phrase or clause functioning as an adverb. Some nouns, many pronouns, and many participle phrases can also act as adjectives.
A possessive adjective is similar or identical to a possessive pronoun; however, it is used as an adjective and modifies a noun or a noun phrase.
The demonstrative adjectives "this, these, that, those, what" are identical to the demonstrative pronouns, but are used as adjectives to modify nouns or noun phrases.
An interrogative adjective ("which, what") is like an interrogative pronoun, except that it modifies a noun or noun phrase rather than standing on its own.
An indefinite adjective is similar to an indefinite pronoun, except that it modifies a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase.
Verbs are words that express action or existence: speak, learn, run, be, have, seem
Verbs can be inflected to show person (I am, he is), time (I sing, I sang), voice (I write, it is written), and mood (if I am here, if I were you).
Adverbs have a complex grammatical relationship within the sentence or clause as a whole. An adverb can be found in various places within the sentence. An adverb can modify a verb, an adjective, another adverb, a phrase, or a clause. An adverb indicates manner, time, place, cause, or degree and answers questions such as "how, when, where".
You can use a conjunctive adverb to join two clauses together. Some of the most common conjunctive adverbs are "also, consequently, finally, furthermore, hence, however, incidentally, indeed, instead, likewise, meanwhile, nevertheless, next, nonetheless, otherwise, still, then, therefore," and "thus." A conjunctive adverb is not strong enough to join two independent clauses with the aid of a semicolon.
A preposition usually indicates the temporal, spatial or logical relationship of its object to the rest of the sentence.
A prepositional phrase is made up of the preposition, its object and any associated adjectives or adverbs. A prepositional phrase can function as a noun, an adjective, or an adverb.
The most common prepositions are "about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, but, by, despite, down, during, except, for, from, in, inside, into, like, near, of, off, on, onto, out, outside, over, past, since, through, throughout, till, to, toward, under, underneath, until, up, upon,with, within, and without."
Co-ordinating conjunctions ("for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so," (FANBOYS)) are used to join individual words, phrases, and independent clauses.
The conjunctions "but" and "for" are also used as prepositions.
A subordinating conjunction introduces a dependent clause and indicates the nature of the relationship among the independent clause(s) and the dependent clause(s). The most common subordinating conjunctions are after, although, as, because, before, how, if, once, since, than, that, though, till, until, when, where, whether, and while.
Correlative conjunctions always appear in pairs -- you use them to link equivalent sentence elements. The most common correlative conjunctions are: "both... and, either...or, neither...nor, not only.., but also, so...as, and whether...or.
Usually correlative conjunctions consist of a co-ordinating conjunction linked to an adjective or adverb. Some words which appear as conjunctions can also appear as prepositions or as adverbs.
I study English every day.
SIMPLE PAST [verb + ed]
Two years ago, I studied English in Canada.
1. [am/is/are] + [going to] + [verb]
2. [will] + [verb]
I am going to study English next year in Canada.
I will help you study English tomorrow.
PRESENT CONTINUOUS [am / is / are] + [verb + ing]
I am studying English now.
PAST CONTINUOUS [was /were] + [verb + ing]
I was studying English when you called this morning.
1. [will be] + [verb + ing]
2. [am /is /are] + [going to be] + [verb + ing]
I will be studying English when you arrive today.
We are going to be studying English next year in Canada.
PRESENT PERFECT [has /have] + [past participle]
I have studied English in several Canadian cities.
PAST PERFECT [had] + [past participle]
I had studied English before I moved to Canada.
1. [will have] + [past participle]
2. [am/is/are] + [going to have] + [past participle]
I will have studied all the verb tenses by the end of today.
We are going to have studied all the chapters by five o'clock.
PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS [has/have] + [been] + [verb + ing]
I have been studying English for two years.
PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS [had been] + [verb + ing]
I had been studying English for two years before I moved to Canada.
FUTURE PERFECT CONTINUOUS
1. [will have been] + [verb + ing]
2. [am/is/are] + [going to have been] + [verb + ing]
I will have been studying English for one hour by the time you arrive.
We are going to have been studying for three hours.
PERIOD [ . ]
Use a period at the end of a sentence that makes a statement. There is no space between the last letter and the period.
Use a period at the end of an indirect question. Use a period with abbreviations. The period comes after the parenthetical citation which comes after the quotation mark.
COMMA [ , ]
Use a comma to separate the elements in a series.
Use a comma + a little conjunction (and, but, for, nor, yet, or, so) to connect two independent clauses.
Use a comma to set off introductory elements; parenthetical elements; or quoted elements.
Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives.
Use commas to set off phrases that express contrast.
Use a comma or a set of commas to make the year parenthetical when the date of the month is included.
Use a comma to separate a city and a state, a name and a title, and to separate long numbers.
APOSTROPHE [ ' ]
We use an apostrophe to create possessive forms, contractions, and some plurals. Generally, if the noun is singular, the apostrophe goes before the s. If the noun is plural, the apostrophe goes after the s. If the word is pluralized without an s, the apostrophe comes before the s. An apostrophe is also used to form some plurals, especially the plural of letters and digits. The apostrophe shows where a letter or letters have been left out of a contracted verb.
QUESTION MARK [ ? ]
Use a question mark at the end of a direct question. When a question constitutes a polite request, it is usually not followed by a question mark. When brief questions are more or less follow-up questions to the main question, each of the little questions can begin with a lowercase letter and end with a question mark.
EXCLAMATION POINT [ ! ]
Use an exclamation point at the end of an emphatic declaration, interjection, or command.
SEMICOLON [ ; ]
Use a semicolon to help sort out a monster list; to separate closely related independent clauses: to separate two independent clauses even when those two independent clauses are connected by a coordinating conjunction.
COLON [ : ]
Use a colon before a list or an explanation that is preceded by a clause that can stand by itself. You can use a colon to separate an independent clause from a quotation.
HYPHEN [ - ]
Hyphens are used to create compound words; modifiers before nouns (the well-known actor, my six-year-old daughter, the out-of-date curriculum, writing numbers twenty-one to ninety-nine and fractions, five-eighths, one-fourth), creating compounds; on the fly for fly-by-night organizations. Hyphens are used to add some prefixes to words such as when a prefix comes before a capitalized word or the prefix is capitalized, use a hyphen (non-English, A-frame, I-formation). The prefixes self-, all-, and ex- nearly always require a hyphen (ex-husband, all-inclusive, self-control), and when the prefix ends with the same letter that begins the word, you will often use a hyphen (anti-intellectual, de-emphasize).
QUOTATION MARKS [ " " ]
Use quotation marks to set off material that represents quoted or spoken language; titles of things that do not normally stand by themselves: short stories, poems, and articles. Some writers will set such unspoken language in italics or indent it in order to set it off from other "regular" language. In the United States, writers use single quotation marks [‘] to enclose quoted material (or the titles of poems, stories, articles) within other quoted material.
PARENTHESES [ ( ) ]
Use parentheses to include material that you want to de-emphasize or that does not fit into the flow of your text but you want it included.
Parentheses tend to de-emphasize text whereas dashes tend to make material seem even more important.
DASH [ — ]
Use a dash as a super-comma or set of super-commas to set off parenthetical elements. The dash is used to show breaks in thought and shifts in tone when writing dialogue. A dash is sometimes used to set off concluding lists and explanations in a more informal and abrupt manner than the colon. Do not use dashes to set apart material when commas would do the work for you.
SLASHES [ / ]
Many writers use the slash to indicate "or" and "and" to avoid gender he/she/plurals problems. These formats are not acceptable in formal business or academic writing. Use the forward slash [ / ] for WWW addresses and the backward slash [ \ ] to indicate file locations on computer drives.
SUMMARY: Grammar Terms by Example