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All About Grammar and Tenses (Part 1)

Sentences

Sentences are made of two parts: the subject and the predicate.

The subject is the person or thing that acts or is described in the sentence. The predicate, on the other hand, is that action or description. Complete sentences need both the subject and the predicate.

Clauses

Sentences can be broken down into clauses.

For example: The boy is going to the school, and he is going to eat there.

This is a complete sentence composed of two clauses. There are mainly two types of clauses: independent clauses and subordinate clauses.

Independent clauses act as complete sentences, while subordinate clauses cannot stand alone and need another clause to complete their meaning. For example:

Independent clause example: The boy went to the school. Subordinate clause example: After the boy went to the school…

Phrases

A group of two or more grammatically linked words that do not have subject and predicate is a phrase.

Example of a complete sentence: The girl is at home, and tomorrow she is going to the amusement park. Example of a clause: The girl is at home Example of a phrase: The girl

You can see that “the girl” is a phrase located in the first clause of the complete sentence above.

Phrases act like parts of speech inside clauses. That is, they can act as nouns, adjectives, adverbs and so on.

Parts of Speech

A word is a “part of speech” only when it is used in a sentence. The function the word serves in a sentence is what makes it whatever part of speech it is.

For example, the word “run” can be used as more than one part of speech:.

Sammy hit a home run.

Run is a noun, direct object of hit.

You mustn’t run near the swimming pool.

Run is a verb, part of the verb phrase must (not) run.

Traditional grammar classifies words based on eight parts of speech: the noun, the pronoun, the adjective, the verb, the adverb, the preposition, the conjunction, and the interjection. We are going to cover them individually below.

Nouns

A noun is a word used to describe a person, place, thing, event, idea, and so on. Nouns represent one of the main elements of sentences, along with verbs, adjectives, prepositions and articles.

Nouns usually function as subjects or objects within sentences, although they can also act as adjectives and adverbs.

Here is a list with the different types of nouns:

1. Proper nouns

Used to describe a unique person or thing, proper nouns always start with a capital letter. Examples include Mary, India, and Manchester United.

2. Common nouns

Common nouns are used to describe persons or things in general. Examples include girl, country, and team

3. Concrete nouns

Nouns that can be perceived through the five senses are called concrete nouns. Examples include ball, rainbow and melody.

4. Abstract nouns

Nouns that cannot be perceived through the five senses are called abstract nouns. Examples include love, courage, and childhood.

5. Countable nouns

Countable nouns can be counted. They also have both a singular and a plural form. Examples include toys, children and books.

6. Non-countable nouns

These nouns (usually) can not be counted, and they don’t have a plural form. Examples include sympathy, laughter and oxygen.

7. Collective nouns

Collective nouns are used to describe groups of things. Examples include flock, committee and murder.

Plural Form of Nouns

The English language has both regular and irregular plural forms of nouns. The most common case is when you need to add -s to the noun. For example one car and two cars.

The other two cases of the regular plural form are:

1. nouns that end with s, x, ch or sh, where you add -es (e.g., one box, two boxes) 2. nouns that end with consonant + y, where you change the y with i and add -es (e.g., one enemy, two enemies)

On the irregular plural form of nouns there are basically eight cases:

1. nouns that end with -o, where you add -es (e.g., one potato, two potatoes) 2. nouns ending with -is, where you change -is to -es (e.g., one crisis, two crises) 3. nouns ending with -f, where you change -f to -v and add -es (e.g., one wolf, two wolves) 4. nouns ending with -fe, where you change -f to -v and add -s (e.g., one life, two lives) 5. nouns ending with -us, where you change -us to -i (e.g., one fungus, two fungi) 6. nouns that contain -oo, change -oo to -ee (e.g., one foot, two feet) 7. nouns that end with -on, where you change -on with -a (e.g., phenomenon, phenomena) 8. nouns that don’t change (e.g., sheep, offspring, series)

It might appear overwhelming, but after using these nouns a couple of times you will be able to memorize their plural form easily.

Pronouns

Pronouns are used to replace nouns within sentences, making them less repetitive and mechanic. For example, saying “Mary didn’t go to school because Mary was sick” doesn’t sound very good. Instead, if you say “Mary didn’t go to school because she was sick” it will make the sentence flow better.

There are several types of pronouns, below you will find the most common ones:

1. Subjective personal pronouns. As the name implies, subjective pronouns act as subjects within sentences. They are: I, you, he, she, we, they, and it.

Example: I am going to the bank while he is going to the market.

2. Objective personal pronouns. These pronouns act as the object of verbs within sentences. They are: me, you, him, her, us, them and it.

Example: The ball was going to hit me in the face.

3. Possessive personal pronouns. These pronouns are used to indicate possession, and they are placed after the object in question (as opposed to possessive adjectives like my and your, which are placed before the object). They are: mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs and its.

Example of possessive adjective: This is my car. Example of possessive pronoun: This car is mine.

4. Reflexive pronouns. This special class of pronouns is used when the object is the same as the subject on the sentence. They are myself, yourself, himself, herself, ourselves, themselves and itself.

Example: I managed to cut myself in the kitchen.

5. Interrogative pronouns. As you probably guessed these pronouns are used to ask questions. They are what, which, who, whom and whose.

Example: What are the odds?

6. Demonstrative pronouns. These pronouns are used to indicate a noun and distinguish it from other entities. Notice that demonstrative pronouns replace the noun (while demonstrative determiners modify them). They are: this, that, these, those.

Example of a demonstrative determiner: This house is ugly. Example of a demonstrative pronoun: This is the right one.

7. Indefinite pronouns. As the name implies, indefinite pronouns do not refer to a specific thing, place or person. There are many of them, including anyone, anywhere, everyone, none, someone and so on.

Example: Everyone is going to the party.

Adjectives

An adjective is a word that describes a noun. There are two kinds: attributive and predicative.

An adjective is used attributively when it stands next to a noun and describes it.

For example: The black cat climbed a tree.

Notice that the verb participle forms can be used as adjectives:

The man felt a paralyzing fear. Flavored oatmeal tastes better than plain oatmeal.

The usual place of the adjective in English is in front of the noun. You can have a whole string of adjectives if you like: The tall thin evil-looking cowboy roped the short, fat, inoffensive calf.

Sometimes, for rhetorical or poetic effect, the adjective can come after the noun: Sarah Plain and Tall (book title) This is the forest primeval.

An adjective is used predicatively when a verb separates it from the noun or pronoun it describes: The umpire was wrong. The crowd was furious. She seems tired today. This soup tastes bad. The dog’s coat feels smooth.

The verbs that can be completed by predicate adjectives are called being verbs or copulative verbs. They include all the forms of to be and sensing verbs like seem, feel, and taste. Adjective Classifications

* qualitative: good, bad, happy, blue, French * possessive: my, thy, his, her, its, our, your, their * relative and interrogative: which, what, whatever, etc. * numeral: one, two, second, single, etc. * indefinite: some, any, much, few, every, etc. * demonstrative: this, that, the, a (an), such

The demonstrative adjectives the and a (an) are so important in English that they have a special name: articles. They are discussed separately below.

Articles

The words a, an, and the are generally called articles and sometimes classed as a separate part of speech. In function, however, they can be grouped with the demonstrative adjectives that are used to point things out rather than describe them.

Definite Article The is called the definite article because it points out a particular object or class. This is the book I was talking about. The dodo bird is extinct.

Indefinite Article A is called the indefinite article because it points out an object, but not any particular specimen. a book, a dog, a lawn mower

The indefinite article has two forms: A is used before words beginning with a consonant sound or an aspirated h: a car, a lamb, a hope, a habit, a hotel

An is used before words beginning with a vowel sound: an ape, an image, an untruth, an honorable man

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