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Welcome to the English grammar summary! Grammar is what we use to structure language. It is an essential part of any language. Without it, our language would not make sense! This summary will provide you with all of the necessary information about grammar. The summary will be split into two main parts: Basic English Grammar and Advanced English Grammar.
The elements of basic English grammar are:
Let's look at these in more detail!
|Type of common noun||Example|
|Countable nouns (things that can be counted)||Apples(e.g. one apple, two apples, three apples)|
|Uncountable nouns (things we can't count with numbers)||Water(e.g. I would like some water)|
|Abstract nouns (things that we cannot feel with our senses)||Love|
|Concrete nouns (tangible things that we can feel with our senses)||Pencil|
|Compound nouns (nouns made up of two existing words)||Bedroom(Bed + room)|
|Collective nouns (words referring to a group of things/people as a whole)||Family|
The main adjectives are: descriptive, evaluative, quantitative, interrogative, proper, demonstrative/indefinite, possessive, compound, and degree of comparison (e.g. positive, comparative and superlative).
A verb is a word that expresses an action, event, feeling, or state of being. They normally describe what the noun or subject is doing.
Linking verbs (copula verbs) connect a subject to a noun/adjective (e.g. to be).
Inflections on verbs can express tense, person/number, mood, and voice.
Phrasal verbs are a combination of a main verb and an adverb particle, which create their own unique meaning (e.g. drop off, track down, let go).
A copula verb is used to link the subject and the subject complement in a sentence.
The subject of a sentence precedes (comes before) the copula verb and can be a noun, noun phrase or a pronoun.
The subject complement follows the copula verb and can be a noun, noun phrase or adjective.
An example of a copula verb is 'to be.' This is one of the most commonly used copula verbs in English.
Copula verbs can be easily mixed up with auxiliary verbs. Remember that copula verbs link subjects and subject complements. Auxiliary verbs add meaning to or complete main verbs.
A pronoun is a word that can replace a noun or a noun phrase in a sentence. The noun that is replaced by the pronoun is called the antecedent.
There are seven main types of pronouns: personal pronouns, reflexive pronouns, relative pronouns, possessive pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, indefinite pronouns, and interrogative pronouns.
Personal pronouns show person, number, and gender. They consist of subject and object pronouns. For example, I, you, they, we, she, he, it.
Possessive pronouns tell us who owns something. For example, mine, yours, ours, theirs, hers, his.
Reflexive pronouns refer back to a person. For example, myself, yourself, ourselves, themselves, herself, himself, itself.
Relative pronouns connect a noun or pronoun to a clause or phrase. For example, who, whose, whom, which, that.
Demonstrative pronouns point to a specific person or thing. For example, this, that, these, those.
Indefinite pronouns refer to people or things that you don't need to or want to specify precisely. For example, anybody, everybody, somebody, nobody, each, every, either, neither, something, nothing.
Interrogative pronouns are wh-words that are used to ask questions. For example, who, whom, whose, what, which.
A preposition is often a small word showing how two parts of a sentence are connected in relation to time, place, movement/direction, or relationship.
Prepositions often come before a noun, a noun phrase, or a pronoun; however, they may be used in a variety of ways.
Prepositions can be split into three main groups: prepositions of time, prepositions of place, and prepositions of movement/direction.
|Type of preposition||Example|
|Preposition of time||We will sleep until 8 am.|
|Preposition of place||The book was underneath the bed.|
|Preposition of movement/direction||She ran towards him.|
Prepositions can also be grouped based on how they look; this includes single-word prepositions, two-word prepositions, and three-word prepositions.
A conjunction is a word that connects two words, clauses, or phrases. They help to form longer, more complex sentences from simple sentences.
The three main types of conjunction are coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and correlative conjunctions.
Coordinating conjunctions join two parts of a sentence that have equal meaning/importance. The acronym FANBOYS helps us to remember the 7 coordinating conjunctions: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, and So.
Subordinating conjunctions join two parts of a sentence that have unequal importance as one clause/phrase depends on the other. This is mainly an independent clause and a dependent clause.
Correlative conjunctions are two conjunctions that work together in a sentence e.g either/or.
A determiner is a word that specifies a noun and gives more information about location, quantity, or ownership. Determiners always come before a noun or a noun phrase. If the word replaces the noun then it is most likely to be a pronoun.
There are six main types of determiners; articles, demonstratives, possessive determiners, interrogative determiners, quantifiers, and determiners as numbers.
Articles are words that determine a noun. They are the/a/an.
Demonstrative determiners point to the thing that they mention. They are this/these/that/those.
Possessive determiners show ownership. For example, my/his/hers/their.
Interrogative determiners are used to formulate questions. They are whose/what/which.
Quantifiers give information about the quantity of a noun. They include words such as some, any, none/all as well as cardinal and ordinal numbers (e.g. one, two, three, first, second, third).
An article is a type of determiner that comes before a noun to show whether it is specific or non-specific.
The English language has two main types of articles: definite and indefinite.
The definite article 'the' is used before specific, unique, or known nouns.
The indefinite articles 'a/an' are used before unspecific and general nouns.
The article 'a' comes before nouns beginning with a consonant sound and 'an' comes before a noun beginning with a vowel sound. Articles can also come before adjectives in a noun phrase.
A noun phrase is a group of words that consists of a noun (or pronoun) and other words that modify the noun. It adds information about the noun.
An adjective phrase is a group of words that consists of an adjective and other words that modify or complement it. It is used to add detail to a noun.
An adverb phrase is a group of words that consists of an adverb and often its modifiers. It functions as an adverb in a sentence, with the purpose of modifying verbs, adjectives or other adverbs.
A verb phrase is a group of words that consists of a main verb and other verbs (such as copulas and auxiliaries). It can also include other modifiers.
A prepositional phrase is a group of words that acts as either an adjective or adverb in a sentence. It consists of a preposition and an object, and can also include other modifiers.
A noun phrase consists of two or more words that function as a noun; this includes the main noun and its pre and post-modifiers. Noun phrases can act as subjects or objects in a sentence.
Premodifiers include determiners, adjectives and nouns.
Postmodifiers include complements and general postmodifiers. The key difference between the two is that complements are necessary to complete the meaning of the noun phrase, whereas general postmodifiers are not necessary.
Expanded noun phrases consist of the main noun and one or more adjectives or nouns.
An example of a noun phrase is 'I smiled at the woman across the street.'
An adjective phrase is typically a group of words that acts as an adjective.
Adjective phrases can go before or after a noun acting as a premodifier or a postmodifier.
There are different types of adjective phrases such as adjective phrases with multiple adjectives, adjective phrases with comparative and superlative adjectives, adjective phrases with prepositions, and adjective phrases with adverbs.
An example of an adjective phrase is, 'This flower is nicer than the others.'
An adverb phrase is a phrase that modifies a verb, adjective or adverb by answering how, where, when, why, or to what degree an action has occurred.
Different types of adverbs include adverb phrases of time, adverb phrases of place, adverb phrases of manner, and adverb phrases of reason.
We can form adverb phrases using prepositional phrases, infinitive phrases, and adverb + intensifier phrases.
What distinguishes adverb clauses from adverb phrases is this subject-verb element. Phrases do not contain both a subject and a verb.
An example of an adverb phrase is, 'I go to the gym twice a day.'
Clauses are the basic building blocks of a sentence.
There are two major clause types: independent clauses and dependent clauses
An independent clause (also called the main clause) can be a complete sentence.
A dependent clause (also called a subordinate clause) can only be used to complete a sentence alongside an independent clause.
Independent clauses are the foundation for all sentences.
Independent clauses contain a complete idea and can stand alone as sentences. For example, 'Kevin sat on the chair.'
They are formed with a subject and a predicate (they can optionally include a modifier and an object).
Independent clauses can be joined together with punctuation and conjunctions.
Independent clauses can be combined with other independent clauses and dependent clauses to create different sentence types in the English language.
Dependent clauses add extra information to a sentence.
Dependent clauses rely on independent clauses; they do not make sense on their own. For example, in the sentence 'I drank water because I was thirsty', the dependent clause is 'because I was thirsty.'
Dependent clauses can be used in two types of sentences. They are included in complex sentences and compound-complex sentences.
Dependent clauses contain information about time, place, etc., and always relate to the independent clause somehow.
There are three main types of dependent clauses: adverbial clauses, adjective clauses and noun clauses.
There are four types of sentences: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences.
Simple sentences contain one independent clause.
Compound sentences contain two (or more) independent clauses, joined together by a comma and a coordinating conjunction or a semicolon.
Complex sentences contain at least one dependent clause linked to the main clause with a subordinating conjunction.
Compound-complex sentences contain at least one dependent clause and at least two independent clauses.
|Type of sentence||Example|
|Simple||Sarah stroked the cat.|
|Compound||I love chocolate, but Adam loves cake.|
|Complex||If it rains today, I will stay at home.|
|Compound-complex||Because I studied hard, I passed my exam and I was so pleased.|
A simple sentence is a type of sentence. The four types of sentences are simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences.
Simple sentences are formed using an independent clause. Clauses are the building blocks for sentences, and independent clauses work on their own.
Simple sentences are direct, easy to understand, and clear about their information.
Simple sentences must contain a subject and a verb. They can optionally also have an object and/or a modifier.
An example of a simple sentence is 'The bus was late.'
A compound sentence is one of four types of sentences. The others are simple sentences, complex sentences, and compound-complex sentences.
A compound sentence comprises two or more independent clauses. Each independent clause contains a subject and a verb and can work on its own.
Compound sentences are useful when trying to link together multiple ideas.
You can identify compound sentences by looking at the number and type of clauses. If they are all independent clauses and there is more than one clause, you know it's a compound sentence.
An example of a compound sentence is 'She has a cat, but wants a rabbit too.'
The four sentence types are simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex.
Complex sentences contain one independent clause and at least one dependent clause.
Complex sentences are often used when we need to add information or give a reason for something - this is when we would use a dependent clause.
We can identify a complex sentence by looking at the number and type of clauses it contains. If there is one independent and at least one dependent clause, we know the sentence is complex.
An example of a complex sentence is 'If you don't come home now, you'll be grounded.'
Sentence functions describe the purpose of a sentence.
There are four main sentence functions: Declarative, Interrogative, Imperative, and Exclamative.
|Declarative||This type of sentence states a fact.|
|Interrogative||This type of sentence asks a question.|
|Imperative||This type of sentence expresses a command/request.|
|Exclamative||This type of sentence expresses strong emotion/excitement.|
Sentence functions are sometimes referred to as sentence types.
Sentence functions are different from sentence structures as the focus is on the sentence's purpose, not what it consists of.
We use declarative sentences to state facts, offer our opinions, provide explanations, or convey information.
Declarative sentences always end with a full stop.
Declarative sentences are the most common type of sentence.
Declarative sentences consist of a verb + a predicate.
An example of a declarative sentence is 'The cheetah is the world's fastest land animal.'
An interrogative sentence is another term for a direct question and usually requires an answer.
There are four main types of interrogative questions: Yes/no interrogatives, alternative interrogatives, WH interrogatives, and tag questions.
|Type of interrogative||Example|
|Yes/no interrogative||Question: Do you like cheese?Answer: Yes or no|
|Alternative interrogative||Question: Would you prefer the red dress or the blue dress?Answer: Either the red or blue dress|
|WH interrogative||Where do you live?|
|Tag question||I'm doing good thanks, you?|
An interrogative always ends with a question mark.
Interrogatives typically start with a 'wh-' question word or an auxiliary verb.
Negative interrogatives can be used to ask literal questions, emphasise or point, or highlight an expected answer.
|Purpose of the imperative||Example|
|Command/request||Stop running in the hall.|
|Instruct||Mix the flour and egg in a bowl.|
|Advise||Perhaps consider choosing an easier task.|
|Invite||Stay for a while.|
|Wish||Have a great time on your trip.|
|Give warning||Be careful!|
Some elements of advanced English grammar are:
Tense is a grammatical term used to show whether a sentence (or verb) refers to an action that happened in the past, is happening in the present, or will happen in the future.
Aspects show the time-related characteristics of a sentence such as whether a verb is ongoing, repeated, or completed.
We show tense through the use of inflections and verb patterns. For example:
Tense can be shown through inflections and verb patterns
There are four tense aspects; simple, progressive (continuous), perfect, and perfect progressive (continuous).
The past tense is one of the three main tenses in the English language.
There are four aspects of the past tense: past (simple), past progressive (continuous), past perfect, and past perfect progressive (continuous).
The main functions of the past tense are: to express that an action/state of being has happened in the past, to talk about repeated habitual actions/events in the past, to refer to the present tense, or to refer to the future tense.
To turn a regular verb into a past tense verb, we add the inflection '-d/-ed'
An example of the past tense is 'I danced for three hours last night.' This shows that the event has already taken place.
The main function of the future tense is to express an action (or state of being) that has not yet happened but is expected to happen in the future.
We can use the future tense to talk about plans, predictions, make invitations, express willingness, make suggestions, look back at a future event, and much more.
The four future verb tenses are: future simple tense, future continuous (progressive) tense, future perfect tense, and future perfect progressive (continuous) tense.
We form the future tense using the modal auxiliary verb 'will' + the verb root. For example, 'tomorrow I will visit my grandma.'
We can also talk about the future using a combination of other tenses and aspects.
Aspect tells us important time-related characteristics of a sentence such as whether the verb is ongoing, repeated, or completed. The four aspects are: simple, continuous, perfective, and perfect continuous.
The simple aspect simply states that an action or state has taken/is taking/will take place.
The progressive aspect expresses that the action or state of a verb is ongoing and uncompleted.
The perfective aspect expresses that an action is complete. The action is normally linked to a specific point in time in the past, present, or future.
The perfect progressive aspect expresses an ongoing (progressive) action or state that was/is/will be completed at a later point in time (perfect).
The progressive aspect expresses an action or state of being that is ongoing and not yet completed.
Aspect is combined with tense to create verb tenses.
The three progressive verb tenses are the past progressive tense, present progressive tense, and future progressive tense.
|Type of progressive aspect||Example|
|Past progressive||We were baking a cake.|
|Present progressive||He is playing tennis.|
|Future progressive||I will be working tomorrow.|
The progressive aspect is the opposite of the perfective (completed) aspect which tells us that an action or state has been completed.
The perfect aspect is one of the two aspects used in the English language, along with the progressive aspect.
It is used to show that an action or state has already been completed.
The perfect aspect is paired with a tense to create verb tenses. These verb tenses are perfect past tense, perfect present tense, and perfect future tense.
|Type of perfect aspect||Example|
|Past perfect||They had already eaten.|
|Present perfect||He has finished his painting.|
|Future perfect||She will have left by midnight.|
The opposite of the perfect aspect is the progressive aspect, which shows that an action is ongoing.
A grammatical voice describes the relationship between a participant (e.g subject and/or object) and an action (e.g verb)
There are two types of grammatical voice: active voice and passive voice.
The active voice shows that the subject is doing the action.
The passive voice shows that the subject is being acted on i.e. the subject is not doing the action themselves but having the action done to them by someone/something else.
The active voice is more common, although the passive voice can be useful in certain instances - such as to draw focus on the object.
The passive voice is a type of grammatical voice.
The passive voice is formed when the verb acts upon the subject of the sentence rather than the subject enacting the verb.
Other common characteristics of the passive voice include: a form of the verb -to be, a past participle of a verb, a direct or implied 'by.'
There are two types of passive voice: short passive voice and long passive voice.
There are some situations where the passive voice is appropriate and some when it should be avoided. For example, the passive voice is generally not acceptable if used to avoid blaming someone for something they did.
Grammatical mood refers to the use of verb forms which show the purpose of a sentence and how it should be understood.
The indicative mood is the use of verb forms to show that a sentence is a statement. It indicates something that is assumed to be true such as facts, opinions, or fact-checking questions.
We recognise the indicative mood from the basic form of the verb which can be changed according to tense, person, or number.
We use the indicative mood to form declarative sentences.
An example of a sentence that uses the indicative mood is 'I sang karaoke at my friend's birthday party.'
The potential mood is a type of grammatical mood. The term grammatical mood refers to the use of verbs and different verb forms to indicate the purpose of a sentence.
The potential mood expresses possibility and potential, including obligation, necessity, willingness, liberty, and power.
The potential mood is used when the speaker believes that there is potential that the event or situation being discussed will take place.
We form the potential mood using modal verbs (a type of auxiliary verb) and the infinitive form of a verb without 'to'.
An example of a sentence that uses the potential mood is 'She might be visiting tomorrow.'
Grammatical mood refers to the use of verb forms which show the purpose of a sentence and how it should be understood.
The imperative mood is a verb form that expresses a command. This includes requests, instructions, orders, warnings, and advice.
We form the imperative mood using the base form of the verb. For negative commands, we place the word 'Don't' (i.e. 'do not') in front of the verb.
When writing a command, we often use exclamation marks to add emphasis.
An example of a sentence that uses the imperative mood is 'Read the book aloud.'
|Conditional sentence type||Meaning||Example|
|Zero||The tense in both parts of the sentence is the simple present.||If it snows, the roads get slippery.|
|First||The structure is usually: if/when + present simple >> will/won't + infinitive||If the bus is delayed, she'll be late.|
|Second||If + past simple >> would/wouldn't + infinitive||If I were you, I would stay here.|
|Third||If + past perfect >> would/wouldn't have + past participle||If you had told me where you were, I would have come to get you.|
|Mixed||The two parts of a conditional sentence use different tenses.||If I had paid attention to the directions, I wouldn't be lost.|
Morphemes are the smallest lexical unit of meaning.
There are two types of morphemes: free morphemes and bound morphemes.
Free morphemes can stand alone, whereas bound morphemes must be attached to another morpheme to get their meaning.
Morphemes are made up of two separate classes called bases (or roots) and affixes.
Difference between base/root words and affixes
Most words are free morphemes, and most affixes are bound morphemes.
Free morphemes fall into two categories; lexical and functional. Lexical morphemes are words that give us the main meaning of a sentence, and functional morphemes have a grammatical purpose.
A prefix is a type of affix attached to the beginning of a base word (or root) to change its meaning.
The word prefix itself is the combination of the prefix - pre and the base word - fix.
Prefixes can be used to make a word negative, show repetition, or indicate an opinion.
A prefix is a bound morpheme, meaning it must be attached to a root word.
A hyphen can be used alongside a prefix for several reasons, such as:
|re||redo, reapply, rearrange|
|un||unhappy, unkind, unsure|
|im||impossible, improper, imperfect|
|in||injustice, invalid, incomplete|
|il||illegal, illogical, illiterate|
|dis||disconnect, disappear, dislike|
|co||co-exist, co-worker, co-operation|
|anti||antisocial, antibiotic, anticlockwise|
A suffix is a type of affix that is placed at the end of a root word to change its meaning or grammatical function.
Suffixes are often used to change the word class of a word, show plurality, show tense, and more.
A suffix is a bound morpheme, meaning it must be attached to a root word.
There are two types of suffixes in the English language: derivational and inflectional.
|Derivational Suffix||Examples||Inflectional Suffix||Examples|
|ly||slow slowly||ed||turn turned|
|en||dark darken||er||small smaller|
|ive||impress impressive||s||cup cups|
Derivational suffixes create new words that ‘derive’ from the original root word. Adding a derivational suffix to the root word can change the syntactic category of the word (class-changing suffixes) or maintain the root word’s syntactic category (class-maintaining suffixes).
Inflectional suffixes change the grammatical properties of words, meaning they create new forms of the same word.
An allomorph is a phonetic variant of a morpheme. Sometimes morphemes change their sound or their spelling but not their meaning. Each of these different forms is classed as an allomorph.
Past tense allomorphs include different pronunciations of the suffix '-ed'.
Common plural allomorphs include the different pronunciations of the morpheme '-s'.
Negative allomorphs include the prefixes we use to make a negative version of a word, such as '-in'. '-im', '-un', and '-a'.
A null allomorph (also known as a zero allomorph) has no visual or phonetic form - it is invisible! For example, the plural form of the word sheep is sheep.
Grammar is what we used to structure language.
Basic English grammar consists of:
Parts of speech (word classes)
12 basic rules of grammar are:
A sentence begins with a capital letter.
A sentence ends with a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark.
A complete sentence should contain a subject and a verb at the very minimum.
Proper nouns should always be capitalised.
Only use a comma if you are also using a coordinating conjunction.
You can use an oxford comma when necessary - not everyone likes them, which is okay!
It is preferable to use the active voice as opposed to the passive voice.
Keep a consistent verb tense.
Only use apostrophes with possessive nouns and contractions.
Make sure you know the difference between homophones (words with the same pronunciation but different meaning or spelling).
Use the article ‘a’ for consonant sounds and ‘an’ for vowel sounds.
Subjects and verbs should be consistent, e.g. a singular subject needs a singular verb and a plural subject needs a plural verb.
Advanced English grammar consists of elements beyond the basic parts of speech. This includes:
You can improve your advanced English grammar by developing your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. The more you practice reading, writing, and having natural conversations with others, the easier you will be able to pick up on more complex grammar.
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