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Basic English Grammar Rules

Are you interested in learning the basic English grammar rules? Then read the following article that
will help you in laying the foundation of grammar for learning English.
No language has 'rules' and English is no exception. People describe grammar as a set of rules. But
I think grammar is only a guideline that helps you understand and learn a language. It is not
mandatory that you learn the grammar and composition of a language to learn the language. If
you don't agree with me, just recall how you learned your mother tongue. But grammar does help
you grasp a foreign language faster. So learning the English grammar standard rules will make it
easier for you to learn English. Below are some very basic English grammar rules which you will
find in all the basic English grammar lessons.
Simple English Grammar Rules
These are some easy English grammar rules that you ought to understand well before you start
learning English. The actual list of all the proper English grammar rules can go on for hundreds of
pages, but here we are going to discuss only the basic rules of English grammar. The spoken
English grammar rules are not much different from the ones below.
Sentences Clauses and Phrases
A sentence is the most basic entity of any language. It is made up of a subject and a predicate.
Subject is the person or thing that is the point of focus of what you are expressing through the
sentence. Predicate is the rest of the sentence that says something about the subject or its action.
Example - Jack runs on the beach. Jack is the subject and the rest is predicate.
A clause is an incomplete sentence that contains a subject and a predicate. In other words, it is a
part of a complete sentence. Example - The boy is going to the school, and he is going to eat
there. Here we have two clauses, one before the comma and one after it.
A phrase is a group of words. It does not have a subject or predicate. Example - During the night,
I watched a movie. Here during the night is a phrase.
Parts of Speech
The words used in English are categorized into eight parts of speech. The same words may fall
under different categories depending upon the way it is used. The eight parts of speech are noun,
pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, proposition, conjunction and interjection.
Noun - It is the name of any person, object or place. Further there are various types of nouns used
in grammar.
Pronoun - A pronoun is a word that is used instead of a noun. He, she, they etc are all pronouns.
Verb - A verb is a word that shows some sport of action. There are types of verbs too. One
important type is helping verbs.
Adjective - An adjective is a word that gives you additional information about the noun. Here is a
list of adjectives as examples.
Adverb - An adverb is a word that provides some more information about the verb. Example - He
runs fast. Here fast is an adverb.
Preposition - A preposition is a word that shows the relation between two nouns, pronouns etc.
Here are some examples of prepositions.

Conjunction - A conjunction is a word that connects two words, sentences etc. Some examples of
conjunctions are 'and', 'but', 'since' etc.
Interjection - Interjection is a word that shows exclamation and it is commonly followed by an
exclamation mark.
Articles
Articles are these three simple words - a, an and the. They are sometimes categorized as a part of
speech. The reason I have mentioned them separately is that they are very important and so is
their correct usage. Because correct usage of articles leads to correct grammar usage.
Capitalization
All the words at the starting of a sentence are not the only ones that are supposed to be written in
capital letters. You have to capitalize all the proper names such as people and places. Also, all
sorts of titles and acronyms should be written in capital letters. If you are quoting a sentence, its
first word should be capitalized.
Punctuation
This is an important rule of grammar because one misplaced comma can change the meaning of
the entire sentence. Use of comma is made to indicate a pause in the statement. Whereas use of
semicolon is made to separate words or sentences of opposite meaning. Use of colon indicates the
beginning of a list or series. Hyphen use shows connected words or two separate syllables of a
single word. There are other rules of punctuation too.
Tenses
Tenses mean the time that is being spoken or written about. There are three major tenses - past,
present and future. Depending upon the tense the verbs used in the sentences change their form.
The tenses may also be used in a mixed way. That is, using two or all three tenses in one
sentence. There are different forms of tenses like simple present, present continuous, simple past
etc.
I hope that was enough information on the basic English grammar rules. But you should note that
this was only a brief overview of the rules of grammar, and to master the language you will have to
study numerous rules in depth, which is never ending.

Rules of English Grammar


Here is an article which aims to guide you through the rules of English Grammar.
Grammar for any language is a set of rules that helps us to use the language better. The first step
while learning a language is to learn the grammar of that language and master it, though there are
always some parts of grammar, which cannot be explained logically, but they form only a minor
portion of the language. English is a language, which is spoken all across the world by numerous
people. Thus being the most popular language there have been major discussions about the basic
rules of English Grammar. The need to go into the details of English Grammar has increased
because of Globalization, which makes it imperative for people to have a common language, which
can be used as a means of communication. Moreover as a result of the fact that most of the
European business is being outsourced to Asian countries the need for the knowledge of English
has grown manifold. So let us sneak a quick look at the rules of English Grammar.
Basic Rules of English Grammar
Subject-Verb agreement
Before going into the details of Subject Verb agreement, we would discuss "subject" and "verb".
Subject is the thing or person that you are talking about and Verb as we all know is the doing

word.
Example: John is kicking the ball.
In this particular sentence John is the subject and kicking is the verb. Let me tell you that "is" is
also a verb. In grammar it is generally referred to as the modal verb which tells us if John is doing
the action in Present, Past or Future. Now we will see where the Subject verb agreement comes
into play. When we talk about John we are talking about a single person so the modal verb, which
is being used, is for a singular noun and that is "is". Now of instead of John if we had two names
or two subjects the verb would change to "are" which is the verb for Plural nouns. So this is the
most common example of Subject Verb agreement. The most common mistake of Subject Verb
agreement is the use of "has" and "have". "Has" is used in case of singular nouns, third person
and "Have" is used in case of Plural Nouns.
Noun: Number
As we discussed Subject Verb Agreement two other concepts that came up were Number of
Subjects and Tense of the action done. So let us first discuss Number here. There can be two
conditions in case of numbers; either the number of subjects can be one or more than one. In case
of one subject, the subject would be called Singular noun and in case of subject being more than
one, it would be called Plural noun. As stated earlier with the number the verb would also alter so
here is an example.
Singular: Boy
Sentence: The boy walks.
Plural: Boys
Sentence: The boys walk.
Now the obvious difference, apart from the number is the deletion of the "s" from the verb as the
subject becomes plural, so that is the case: Whenever the subject is singular and third person the
verb would have "s" added to it. In case of modal verbs, the verb would be "has".
Singular

Verb

Plural

Verb

First Person

am, have, was

We

are, have, were

Second Person

You

are, have, were

You

are, have, had

Third Person

He, She

has, had

They

have, had

This chart would surely help you to understand the number and the verb concept. Let us now
come to the Tenses,
Tenses
Tense implies the time of the action, which can be past, present or future. If there is a timeline
wherein 0 where you stand is present, anything that is to the left side of zero is past and anything
that is on the right side of 0 on the time is future. If that was difficult, let me put it this way,
whatever happens today or right at this moment is present, whatever has happened yesterday or
day before is past and whatever will happen tomorrow or day after is future. Here are a few
examples that would make things easier to understand.
Past: I kicked the ball

Present: I kick the ball.


Future: I will kick the ball.
Articles
Articles are pointers of nouns being definite or indefinite. "The" is a definite article which is always
used when you are referring to a specific noun and most of the time that noun has been
mentioned once before. So when it comes to indefinite articles that are "a or an" it refers to any
noun in that category. "A" is used when the noun begins with a vowel and "an" is used when a
noun begins with a vowel. The following examples would make it much more comprehensible.
John: I saw a monkey yesterday on the parapet.
Smith: Did you? Is it the same monkey, which was on windowsill the other day?
Paul: Ye! Ye! I bought an owl yesterday.
If you are a beginner these are the basic rules of English Grammar, which you have to assimilate
before proceeding towards the more complex rules of the language. So all the best and happy
learning!!

Why Learn English as a Second Language


Learning a new language is often begun at a young age and, in some schools, is continued
throughout a person's education. While it may be easier to learn and retain a second language
at a younger age, those who are interested in learning a second language later on in life
should not be discouraged. In fact, the older a person gets, the more apparent the need for the
English language becomes. Consider the following instances in which mastery of the English
language is crucial for success.
1. Obtaining a job in an English speaking country, or having to frequently interact with
English speaking colleagues overseas. With trading between countries is at a high,
people are expected to speak more than one language in order to ensure the
completion of a transaction. This means that English as a second language is
becoming more common and expected in the business community.
2. Anyone moving to a country that is predominantly English speaking will need to
master the English language to complete daily tasks and communicate with others on
a daily basis. Without having knowledge of the English language it may be very
frustrating to complete simple tasks and interact with others.
3. For parents new to an English speaking country, learning English will not only benefit
the parent, but children as well. When children are exposed to English in an academic
environment, they typically bounce back between speaking a primary language at
home and English in school. When parents commit to learning English as a second
language it provides a bonding experience between the parent and English speaking
child, and makes communicating with the child's school much easier.
There are a number of reasons why a person would want to learn English as a second
language, each reason is individual, and will provide countless benefits in future
communications. As with any type of learning, it is important to find a learning methodology
that works best for you, and that is easy to access. With this in mind, there are many amazing
English as a second language courses online that provide a positive environment for both

students and teachers. By using the resources available online, it is possible to quickly and
effectively master the English language.

Types of Nouns

N
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A
N
P
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What is a Noun?
A noun is a name...and any name is a word (sometimes, two words or more).
Let's look at some names...

girl - name of a human being

city - of a place

soap - of a thing

anger - of an emotion

mentorship - of a power or ability someone has

difficulty - of a situation

Various Answers to the Question


"What is a Noun?"
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1. A noun is a name of person, place, thing, emotion, power, ability,
situation, etc.
Some people would define noun like this.

2. A noun is a name of a person, place, thing, or idea.


For those who like this definition, the word idea includes emotion, power, ability,
situation, etc.

3. A noun is a name of a person, place or thing.


Very traditional definition, this is. Just because something is traditional, we should
not reject it. I think this is a very good definition and does not leave out anything.

I Can Hear You Saying


"So, you like this definition number 3."
Yes, I do.
Why?
We often say:

"I don't want to get mixed up in such things."


(By such things we mean such unwanted situations)

"What a thing to say!"


(Here, by thing, we mean some spoken comment either undesirable or
surprising.)

In these two instances, thing clearly does not refer to material things. The word can also
refer to immaterial realities.

The word thing can include everything, except...


1. a person.
Does the word thing, include person?
Very rarely. Sometimes, we hear someone sympathetically exclaim, "Poor thing!"
when speaking of some damsel in distress (i.e. some girl in trouble). Otherwise,
we don't commonly apply the word thing to human beings.

2. a place.
Are places included in things?
I don't think so. I have never heard anyone using the word for a place.
So, definition number 3 is a good one, according to me.

But, You Must Choose Your Own Definition

If you have an analytical mind, and tend to break up things into parts and go
into the details of everything, in order to understand it, then definition 1 is for
you.

If you have a comprehensive mind, and have the tendency to see the "big
picture" and you see the parts as making sense only as related to the whole, then
you will be comfortable with definition no. 3.

If you are an in-between person as regards the comprehensive and


analytical mind, then definition 2, may be for you.

Although I like definition 3, I have a personal improvement upon it, and I feel extremely
comfortable with the change: a noun is a name of everything that can be named.
To my mind, this is the ideal definition.
Suppose, you asked me very privately, "Denzil, you have said many things about the
noun. But...according to your most heartfelt belief, 'What is a noun?'" My answer would
be:
"A noun is a name."
Very comprehensive indeed!
I think, you must have already started analyzing whether I have an analytical or
comprehensive mind! You are most welcome.
But meanwhile, you'd sure like to do something more profitable...at least, as profitable
as exploring the question: "What is a noun?"

Types of Nouns
We have different types of nouns in English.
They are:

Common nouns and Proper nouns

Countable nouns and Uncountable (or Mass) nouns

Collective nouns

Concrete nouns and Abstract nouns

Compound nouns

Predicate nouns

When we talk or write, we talk or write about someone or something. If so, then we
need to give a name to that someone or something. We cannot avoid names. So we
cannot avoid nouns.
In real life we use different kinds of names. In grammar, different types of nouns
represent different kinds of names.

What Do We Mean by Different Kinds of Names in Real Life?


It appears to be easy to understand this, but it is not immediately clear to many
people what grammar means by different kinds of names.
If you were Albert Einstein. People would call you different things: Albert, Mr. Einstein, or
even Al. Your close friends might even call you Mr. Intelligent or Mr. Genius (either to
praise you or to make fun of you). If you happened to be in my country, we would
address you as Einsteinji or Einstein Sahab or even Albertji.
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All these names of Einstein (that is you) are different names. We refer to them as
names, surnames or nicknames.
However, grammar does not treat names, surnames, nicknames as belonging to
different types. All of them belong to one type in grammar.

What Are the Different Kinds of Names According to


Grammar?
Let's take an example.
Suppose a man comes to meet me at home while I am in my study. My wife receives him
at the door and reports to me, "A man has come to see you." She refers to him as a
man.
Now suppose both she and I know that he is Joseph, my student. In that case, she
would tell me, "Joseph wants to meet you." She would refer to him as Joseph. These two
(man and Joseph) are different names for the same person.
When my wife said man, I had a vague idea that the person waiting for me was a man
and not a woman or child. The information was helpful...somewhat. When she said
Joseph, I knew exactly who was waiting for me.

A difference of this kind between two names (man and Joseph) is not the same
as the difference between a name, surname or nickname, as in (Albert or Mr.
Einstein or Mr. Genius).
In our day-to-day conversation, it is common to say, My name is Joseph or Jane or Anil
or Asha. We use these names for ourselves. None of us says: "My name is a man" or
"My name is a woman".
We don't usually think of man, woman etc as names. Yet in truth they are names
because we use those words to refer to people. Grammar recognizes this fact. So
grammar is more true to life than life itself!

How Do We Distinguish
the Different Types of Nouns?
The answer to this question depends on the criterion we use to distinguish one noun
from another.

We say a noun is common or proper based on the generality or specificity of


the name.

Whether concrete or abstract is based on how we perceive the named thing.

Countable and Mass nouns are based on whether the named people or places or
things can be counted or not.

Collective nouns refer to group names and not to names of individuals.


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When we talk of compound nouns we are concerned about the morphology of the
word, i.e. how the word is formed.

When we want to discuss Predicate nouns we are busy with the syntax, i.e. the
part played by the noun in the structure of the sentence.

Singular and Plural


Singular and plural relate to a property of the noun. That property is called 'number.
Number' means counting: 1,2,3,...etc. In English grammar too it is related to counting.
People refer to it also as 'grammatical number.'

What is Number in Grammar?


Number is a form of the noun, by which we know whether the name (noun) refers to one
of something or more than one of that thing.
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When the thing named is one, we say that the noun has a Singular number; when it is
more than one, we say that the noun has a Plural number.
Since mass nouns cannot be counted, they have no plural.
The Singular and the Plural forms of the noun are usually similar. This is because a plural
is formed out of a singular. In most cases this is done by making a small change in the
spelling or sound.

Ways of forming the Plural from the Singular


Singular

Plural

Method

chair, girl, goat,


computer, stone,
table, uncle, teacher

chairs, girls, goats,


computers, stones,
tables, uncles,
teachers

Adding 's'.This is
the most common
way of forming
the plural.

mango, tomato, box,


tax, match, watch,
catch, stitch, lash,
crash

mangoes, tomatoes,
boxes, taxes,
matches, watches,
catches, stitches,
lashes, crashes

Add 'es' for words


ending in 'o', 'x',
'ch' or 'sh'.

photo, dynamo, piano, photos, dynamos,


stomach
pianos, stomachs

Exceptions to
no. 2 above.
Add only 's'. The
first three words
are commonly
used short forms
for photograph,

dynamoelectric,
pianoforte. In the
word stomach,
the 'ch' is
pronounced as 'k'
bamboos, igloos,
cuckoos

bamboo, igloo, cuckoo

boys, donkeys, days,


boy, donkey, day, key,
keys, bays, ways,
bay, way, toy,
toys

10

lady, lorry, body,


berry, story

leaf, wife, life, thief,


sheaf

brief, chief, roof, belief

scarf, hoof

man, tooth, goose,


foot

11 louse, mouse

Add 's' for words


ending in 'oo'
Add 's' towords
ending in 'y'
before which
comes a vowel
letter.

Add 'es' after


changing the 'y'
into 'i'. This is for
ladies, lorries, bodies, words which end
berries, stories
in 'y' and have
a consonant letter
coming before the
'y'.

leaves, wives, lives,


thieves, sheaves

Change the 'f' or


'fe' ending of
these words into
'v' and then add
'es'.

briefs, chiefs, roofs,


beliefs

These words are


exceptions to the
ones given in 7
above.

scarves or scarfs,
hooves or hoofs

Both forms of
plural (nos. 7 and
8 above) can be
used for these
words.

men, teeth, geese,


feet

The vowel sound


(between two
consonant
sounds) is
changed to form
the plural.

lice, mice

The same rule as

in 10 above,
except that the
last consonant
(sound) has also
its spelling
changed.

12 deer, sheep

13

hundred, thousand,
million

14 No singular

deer, sheep

The plural is the


same as the
singular.

(two) hundred,
(five) thousand,
(seven) million
OR
hundreds (of trees),
thousands (of
people),
millions (of stars).

When a number
comes before
these words, the
plural is the same
as the singular.
At other times, we
can have the
plural form with
an 's'.

scissors, pants, pliers,


These words have
tongs, pincers,
no singular form
tweezers

measles, diabetes,
mumps, aerobics,
15 gymnastics,
economics,
mathematics, politics

No plural

These words
appear to be
plural, but they
are singular
always.

16 child, ox

children, oxen

by adding 'ren' or
'en'

son-in-law,
commander-in-chief,
17 grand-parent,
step-daughter,
man-servant

In compound
words:
The change may
sons-in-law,
be in the first part
commanders-in-chief,
of the word, or in
BUT
the last.
grand-parents,
Sometimes both
step-daughters,
parts change.
AND
These changes
men-servants
depend mostly on
the meaning of
the word.

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The Singular and Plural forms of nouns are important not only because of meaning. They
are important also because of subject-verb agreement, where the verb in a sentence
depends on the grammatical number of the noun in the subject of the sentence.

Grammatical Gender
In English, grammatical gender is a property of only nouns and pronouns. It is one of the
simplest parts of English grammar for the concept is clear and consistent.
This is because gender in English is based on natural gender (i.e. maleness and
femaleness) rather than grammar (e.g. morphology).
It is not so in many other languages, where the concept of grammatical gender is based
on morphology and may apply not only to nouns and pronouns but also to other parts of
speech such as adjectives and verbs.
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Parts of speech

What is Gender in English?


In English, the idea is simple. A male person or male animal belongs to one genderclass; a female person or female animal belongs to another. Simple, isn't it?
If English had grammatical gender then nouns, pronouns, even other parts of speech
would have belonged to different gender groups depending upon their word-endings
and even these would have had exceptions!
Mercifully, English is much simpler than those languages. Look at these sentences:

He gets upset. She remains calm.

The lioness stays with the cubs. The lion goes out to hunt.

The man is an actor. The woman is an actress.

The pronoun he and the nouns lion, man, actor refer to male persons or animals. They
belong to one class of gender. The pronoun she and the nouns lioness, woman, and
actress refer to female persons or animals. Hence these belong to another class of
gender.

Does this mean that English has only two gender-classes? No. English has four.
This fact makes it easy for us to have clear divisions. The simplicity of this part of
grammar in English comes from having four classes. I will explain this to you in a
moment.

Gender is of Four Kinds in English.


English divides nouns and pronouns into four genders in this way:
1. Masculine: All males (and only males) are said to belong to the masculine
gender. (examples: boy, man, landlord, god, tiger, horse, rooster, stag, he, etc)

2. Feminine: All females (and only females) belong to this gender category.
(examples: girl, woman, goddess, landlady, tigress, mare, hen, doe, hind, she,
etc)

3. Common: Nouns and pronouns that belong to this gender are either male or
female, but we are not concerned about it. (examples: teacher, child, worker,
baby, infant, human being, person, etc)

4. Neuter: All nouns and pronouns to which maleness or femaleness doesn't apply
belong to this gender category. (Material things: stone, table, gold, book; all
abstract nouns: e.g. childhood, independence, intelligence, chairmanship, etc.)

Gender in Modern Usage.


Nowadays some words in the Masculine Gender are used as Common Gender. Everybody
doesn't do it, but if you follow this trend, you will be considered modern!
I wish to give you a few examples:

actor (for both male and femaletraditionally, actor and actress), poet (for both
poet and poetess). The purpose is to avoid gender bias about which people are
very conscious today.

governor (for both male and female). This is perhaps because the woman ruler
of a province would not like the word 'governess' to be used for herself lest
people misunderstand that she is someone employed in a rich family to teach its
children.

priest (for both male and female). A modern ordained clergywoman would not
like to be called a 'priestess,' because, I think, the word reminds people of temple
prostitution in ancient cultures.

A Problem.
Look at this example.
A teacher should not say lies. ________ should always speak the truth.
Would you put a he or a she in the blank space? English uses the pronoun 'he' for
masculine, 'she' for feminine, and 'it' for neuter (all singulars). English has no pronoun to
use for common gender singular (third person, i.e. someone else than you and I).
The nature of this problem and the various solutions offered, even strange ones such as
the 'singular they' is another story.
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Grammatical Case
of Nouns and Pronouns
Grammatical Case refers to a set of forms related to a noun's or pronoun's grammatical
function (i.e. job) in a sentence.

Forms already seen...


We have already seen two other form-sets: number and gender.
Here's a quick recap of those two using the noun poet.

number (i.e. singular and plural)a set of forms which conveys meanings of
oneness (e.g. poet) and manyness (e.g. poets).

gender (i.e. masculine, feminine, common, neuter)this form-set conveys


meanings of maleness (as in poet) or femaleness (as in poetess).

What is Case in Grammar?


Case is a third set of forms and the most important.
Case is that form of a noun (or pronoun) which tells us about it's grammatical function in
a sentence.
Note there are forms and functions.
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Different Case Forms


Can you notice the different forms of the first person pronoun I and the noun poet in the
two sets of sentences below?

I saw the boy.

The boss called me.

That book is mine.

and...

The poet came here.

We called the poet.

That book is the poet's.

I, me, and mine are different forms of the first person pronoun I and poet, and poet's
are different forms of the noun poet.
These different forms illustrated above are associated with different functions in
sentences.
I is used for the subject and me for the object.
You cannot say...

*Me saw the boy. (* means grammatically incorrect)

*The boss called I.

I, me, mine and poet, poet's are called Case forms. These forms signal to us the
functions performed by nouns and pronouns in sentences.

So what you have to do boils down to...


learning the forms and their associated functions.

Peculiarity of English Case forms


In English, there is no one-to-one correspondence between forms and functions.
(See the word poet doing two functions in the sentences we have seen above.)
There are five cases in English...but all of them do not have unique sets of forms today.
1. Nominative case.

2. Accusative case. (for the nouns you have the same form for both nominative and
accusative)

3. Genitive case

4. Dative case (In modern English, the dative is identical to the accusative)

5. Vocative Case (this case has the same form as the nominative)
So, you end up having three sets of forms for the pronouns and two for the
nouns!

Grammatical Case-Forms in English


They are as follows:
nominative case

accusative case

genitive case

me

mine (my)

we

us

ours (our)

you

you

yours (your)

he

him

his

she

her

hers (her)

it

it

its

they

them

theirs (their)

boy

boy

boy's

boys

boys

boys'

lady

lady

lady's

ladies

ladies

ladies'

man

man

man's

men

men

men's

child

child

child's

children

children

children's

potato

potato

potato's

potatoes

potatoes

potatoes'

In modern English...

the dative case has the same form as that of the accusative.

the vocative case form is identical to the nominative.

Grammatical Case Functions


The Nominative Case is used for the following functions:

subject of a verb

subjective complement (predicate nominative)

The Accusative Case is used for these functions:

object of a transitive verb

object of a preposition

object of a non-finite verb

objective complement

The Genitive Case is used for showing:

possession

ownership

relationship

The Dative Case is used for the indirect object of a ditransitive verb.
The Vocative is used when we address someone.

What is finally important is always to learn the different forms in grammar and
functions associated with them. Grammatical Case is expecially important because it
relates to the noun's syntax, i.e. its relationship with other words in a sentence.

Forms and Functions


of Nouns and Pronouns
Here is a summary table of all the forms of nouns and pronouns and the functions
associated with them.

Number
form
name

function

noun
example

pronoun
example

singular

represents the name of one of someone


or something

poet

he

plural

represents the name of two or more of


someone or something

poets

they

More information about Singular and Plural is available here.

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Gender
form
name

function

masculine represents a male human being or animal


feminine

noun
example

pronoun
example

poet

he

represents a female human being or animal poetess

she

common

a representation where it does not matter


teacher
whether male or female but IS one of them

---

neuter

represents something where maleness and


femaleness does not apply

it

stone,
thought

Learn more about Gender in grammar here...

Case
form
name

function

noun
example

pronoun example

nominative

subject of a verb
subject complement

poet

I, we, you, he, she,


they

accusative

object
object
object
object

poet

me, us, you, him,


her, them

genitive

shows possession, ownership or


relationship

poet's

mine

dative

indirect object

poet

him

vocative

used as an address

poet

---

of a finite verb
of a non-finite verb
of a preposition
complement

Click here for more details about Grammatical Case, the all-important set of forms of
nouns and pronouns.

Person
The Person category affects Pronouns. Pronouns can be of different grammatical
persons. All nouns are in the Third Person.
a noun
example

a pronoun
example

form name

function

first person

represents the person speaking ---

I, we

second
person

represents the person spoken


to

you

---

third person

represents the person spoken


about

poet
(all nouns)

he, she, it, they

You can find more information about Grammatical Person here.

Pronouns
For a thorough understanding of Pronouns we need to know:

What they are;

Their types; (See list with description and examples)

Grammatical Number (Singular and Plural);

Grammatical Gender;

Grammatical Person;

Grammatical Case

What are Pronouns?


They are words that take the place of nouns. They are substitutes for nouns.
It is painful for the ear to hear and the eye to read the same noun over and over again.
When the same word is repeated often, we get irritated.
Here's what I mean. Read the following paragraph about a former tennis star. Try to read
it aloud.
Vijay Amrithraj was a brilliant tennis player. Vijay Amrithraj's shots were graceful and
appeared effortless. Vijay Amrithraj had a great quality. Whenever an opponent made a
good shot, Vijay Amrithraj would applaud. It showed that Vijay Amrithraj was a great
human being. I am Vijay Amrithraj's fan even today.
Here I am trying to talk about brilliance and grace...
but see how tedious the language is
to read about those things!
1

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Now let's read that paragraph about Amrithraj


with a pronoun substituted for the name Vijay Amrithraj
every time it occurs, except the first time.

Vijay Amrithraj was a brilliant tennis player. His shots were graceful and appeared
effortless. He had a great quality. Whenever an opponent made a good shot, he would
applaud. It showed that he was a great human being. I am his fan even today.
That sounds better, doesn't it? Pronouns make things easier to read and hear. They
are substitutes for bigger-looking or harder-sounding words.

More Accurately Speaking...


Pronouns Are Substitutes for Noun Phrases
Look at these sentences:
1. Boys like bikes.
2. Those very smart boys like bikes.
3. They like bikes.
The word they in sentence 3 is a substitute for the phrase those very smart boys in
sentence 2. If the word they had replaced only boys, the sentence would have read:
*Those very smart they like bikes.
That would be an ungrammatical sentence. (The asterisk * indicates an ungrammatical
sentence in English language teaching.)
So we know they are substitutes for noun phrases, not merely for single nouns.In
grammar, even the single word boys of sentence 1 is considered to be a noun phrase.

A Pronoun Has the Properties of a Noun


and More...
Since it takes the place of a noun, it must be like a noun. It has the grammatical
properties of a noun and does the work of a noun.
Like a noun, it has number, gender and case.
A fourth property which it has is that of person.

Grammatical Number
A pronoun may be singular or plural.

I, me, he, him, she, her, it, anyone, this, that, are all singular.

we, us, they, them, all, these, those, are all plural.

Grammatical Gender
It may be masculine, feminine, common, or neuter:

Masculine - he, him, his

Feminine - she, her, hers

Common - they, them, theirs

Neuter - it, its, that, this

Grammatical Case
Case refers to the different forms associated with the different jobs a noun or a
pronoun does in a sentence. In the examples below, I show you the different forms of
he performing different functions in sentences.
A pronoun can be...

the subject of a verb, as in He helped the poor man.

the object of a finite verb The boys saw him.

the object of a non-finite verb The boys wanted to help him.

the object of a preposition Give this money to him.

indirect object of a verb The boys gave him the money.

or show possession The blue shirt is his.

or be a complement after a linking verb It is he.

or perform an appositive function The Company's troubleshooter, he, solved this problem.

These various functions of pronouns become visible to us through the different forms
they can take in a sentence.
Unfortunately, in English, we don't have a unique form for every particular use, unlike in
languages like, Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, or Hindi. There is no one-to-one correspondence
between the different forms and uses.
In English, we economize on the number of forms! We make do with a few of them for
the many tasks, I have listed above.
Read this page for more about...
Case forms and functions of nouns and pronouns.

Person
Pronouns are divided into three grammatical persons. They are:

First Person - refers to the one(s) doing the speaking. (I, me, mine, we, us, ours)

Second Person - refers to the one(s) spoken to, i.e. directly addressed. (you,
yours)

Third Person - refers to the one(s) spoken about, be they human, animal,
vegetable, mineral, or abstract. (it, its, they, theirs, them.)

All nouns belong to the Third Person; so we usually don't talk about person when
referring to nouns.

A Closed Set of Words


Pronouns consist of a limited number of words. You can't keep adding to their number.
Nouns are numerous and we can keep adding to a list of nouns.

The Different Types of Pronouns


Here I am just listing the names of the various kinds of pronouns with examples just to
give you a basic idea. You will find a more detailed list at list-of-pronouns.html.
1. Personal
(Possessive Pronouns are merely the Genitive/Possessive Case of Personal
Pronouns.)

2. Compound Personal
(Reflexive and Intensive are two sub-types. They are similar in form but different
in function.)

3. Demonstrative
4. Indefinite
5. Distributive
6. Reciprocal
7. Interrogative
8. Relative

A List of Pronouns
of Different Types
The following list of pronouns gives you a description of the various types of pronouns
along with examples for each type.

Personal Pronouns.
These are pronouns that refer mostly to human beings. However, the word it does not
refer to human beings, but is a Personal Pronoun.
So, we have a more grammatical way of defining Personal Pronouns so that we can
include the hapless it in the Personal Pronoun family.
A Personal Pronoun is a pronoun which belongs to any of the three grammatical
persons.

The list of pronouns which belong to this group are:


I, we, you, he, she, it, and they.
1

Pronoun
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Often you'll find Personal Pronouns divided into:

Subjective Pronouns (I, we, you, he, she, it, they)

Objective Pronouns (me, us, you, him, her, it, them)

Possessive Pronouns (mine, ours, yours, his, hers, its, theirs;


with also the following ones, which strictly speaking, are adjectives - my, our,
your, her, their).

Just remember that these three so-called "types" are not really different types. They are
just different Case forms of one type of pronoun, i.e. Personal Pronouns.

Compound Personal Pronouns


There are two sub-types of these pronouns: Reflexive pronouns and Intensive
pronouns. These two sub-types have the same forms, but different functions.
A list of pronouns of this kind are:
myself, ourselves, yourself, yourselves, himself, herself, itself, themselves.

Reflexive Pronouns function as grammatical objects or complements which


mirror the subject.

She blamed herself for the mishap.

He is himself today.

Intensive Pronouns act as appositives of nouns or pronouns for the sake of


emphasis.

You yourself wrote those words.

This request came from the employees themselves.

Demonstrative Pronouns
These pronouns point out someone or something. They are identical in form to
Demonstrative Adjectives/Determiners.
The difference is that a Demonstrative Pronoun stands alone (because it is a
substitute for a noun or noun phrase), but a Demonstrative Adjective is accompanied by
the noun it modifies.

She gave me this gift. (this - Demonstrative Adjective)

I like this. (this - Demonstrative pronoun)

More examples of Demonstrative Pronouns:

these - These are my children.

that - That is a good idea.

those - The streets of Chennai are more crowded than those of Kodaikanal.

such - Such are the people whom you once trusted.

Indefinite Pronouns:
These pronouns do stand for some person or thing, but we don't know for exactly
whom.
When we say, "Somebody stole my watch," we don't know to whom the word somebody
refers to. The word somebody is an Indefinite Pronoun.
A list of pronouns of this type are...

one - One should speak the truth.

somebody - Somebody immediately called the doctor.

anybody - Anybody can solve this problem.

nobody - Nobody was present.

many - Many are called, but few are chosen.

others - Do good to others.

you - You don't take coal to Newcastle, or coconuts to Kerala!

they - They say that a poor workman blames his tools.

Distributive Pronouns
These pronouns refer to individual elements in a group or a pair, one individual at a
time.
Here's a list of pronouns of this type...

each - "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

either - You may answer either of these (two) questions first.

neither - Neither of the answers is correct.

any - You may bring any of your friends.

none - None of our students failed last year.

Reciprocal Pronouns
These pronouns are found in pairs. They are really a subject-object pair compressed.
We'll find this if we expand the sentence in which they are present, as in the first
example below.
When one gives, the other member of the pair also gives in return. That's what we mean
by reciprocity...hence Reciprocal Pronouns.
Examples:

each other - They love each other. (i.e. Each loves the other.)
Each (the subject) is used in a distributive sense; the other (the object)
automatically takes the reciprocal position. Each stands for both individuals, one
at a time.

one another - Good people help one another to succeed.

Relative Pronouns
These pronouns are very important words in the language. A Relative Pronoun performs
two functions:

It acts as a substitute for a noun (like any pronoun)

It also functions as a joining word for two clauses.

So, besides being a noun-substitute, it performs a function similar to that of a


subordinating conjunction.
Here's a list of pronouns that belong to this important category...

who - Give this to the boy who wins the race.

whose - This is Mohan, whose mobile phone was stolen last week.

whom - Rita, whom you praised in class yesterday, is my sister.

which - This is the problem, which we are struggling to solve.

that - This is the day that we have waited for so long.

what - Eat what is set before you.

You also have Compound Relative Pronouns:


They are: whoever, whatever, whichever, whosoever, whatsoever, and whichsoever
Using any of the last three is old-fashioned.

Interrogative Pronouns
These look like Relative Pronouns, but have a different function. We use them for
asking questions. There are three of them:

who (with its other forms, whose and whom)

who - Who is that man?

Whose - Whose is this wallet?

Whom - Whom do you seek?

which - Which is your seat?

what - What is your name?

From this list of pronouns, I can tell you, that you will need more time to study
Personal Pronouns and Relative Pronouns, than any other. Their study involves
dealing with more language elements than the others.

Parts of Speech: Adjectives

Adjectives describe or give information about nouns or pronouns.


For example:The grey dog barked. (The adjective grey describes the noun "dog".)
The good news is that the form of an adjective does not change. It does not matter if the noun
being modified is male or female, singular or plural, subject or object.
Some adjectives give us factual information about the noun - age, size colour etc (fact adjectives
- can't be argued with). Some adjectives show what somebody thinks about something or
somebody - nice, horrid, beautiful etc (opinion adjectives - not everyone may agree).
If you are asked questions with which, whose, what kind, or how many, you need an adjective to
be able to answer.
There are different types of adjectives in the English language:

Numeric: six, one hundred and one

Quantitative: more, all, some, half, more than enough

Qualitative: colour, size, smell etc.

Possessive: my, his, their, your

Interrogative: which, whose, what

Demonstrative: this, that, those, these

!Note - The articles a, an, and the and the possessives my, our, your, and their are also
adjectives.

Articles, Determiners and Quantifiers

This article was written by M.J.Mardan

close Author: M.J.Mardan

Name:

Mohammad Javad Mardan


Email: m.j.mardan@gmail.com
Site: http://www.mardanweb.ir
About: Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), Student of English Translation, Imam Reza university,
MHD, IRI, English-Learners.com Administrator, English Teacher, ICDL Instructor
-------------------------------------------------------------------- Interests: English Teaching and Learning, Music,
Psychology, Computer engineering, Internet, See Authors Posts (90)

Published on Sunday, August 8, 2010, 23:07 in Articles category and has 0


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Definition

Articles, determiners, and quantifiers are those little words that precede and modify nouns:
(the
teacher,
a
college,
a
bit
of
honey,
an
apple)
Sometimes these words will tell the reader or listener whether were referring to a specific or
general thing (the garage out back; A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!); sometimes
they tell how much or how many (lots of trees, several books, a great deal of confusion). The
choice of the proper article or determiner to precede a noun or noun phrase is usually not a
problem for writers who have grown up speaking English, nor is it a serious problem for nonnative writers whose first language is a romance language such as Spanish. For other writers,
though, this can be a considerable obstacle on the way to their mastery of English. In fact,
some students from eastern European countries where their native language has either no
articles or an altogether different system of choosing articles and determiners find that
these little words can create problems long after every other aspect of English has been
mastered.
Determiners are said to mark nouns. That is to say, you know a determiner will be followed
by a noun. Some categories of determiners are limited (there are only three articles, a handful
of possessive pronouns, etc.), but the possessive nouns are as limitless as nouns themselves.
This limited nature of most determiner categories, however, explains why determiners are
grouped apart from adjectives even though both serve a modifying function. We can imagine
that the language will never tire of inventing new adjectives; the determiners (except for

those possessive nouns), on the other hand, are well established, and this class of words is not
going to grow in number. These categories of determiners are as follows: the articles (an, a,
the see below; possessive nouns (Joes, the priests, my mothers); possessive pronouns,
(his, your, their, whose, etc.); numbers (one, two, etc.); indefinite pronouns (few, more, each,
every, either, all, both, some, any, etc.); and demonstrative pronouns. The demonstratives
(this, that, these, those, such) are discussed in the section on Demonstrative Pronouns. Notice
that the possessive nouns differ from the other determiners in that they, themselves, are often
accompanied by other determiners: my mothers rug, the priestss collar, a dogs life.

The (Definite article)


Developed by a word meaning this.
Signals as a particular person or thing the student sitting next to you.
Used with singular or plural nouns.

Uses
1. For known persons or objects in the environment:
He walked in to the house and huge his coat in the closet.
2. For persons, things or ideas particularized by the verbal context:
a. Preceding context- A strange dog came in to the porch. The dog seemed very friendly.
b. Following context- the man standing near the window will be our guest speaker tonight.
3. For a class as a whole:
The lion is an animal.
4. With a ranking adjectives:
The best way, the fifth lesson
5. With nouns or gerunds
The election of officers
The changing of the guard
6. In of phrases after words of quantity
Most of the men in the factory
Four of the children from that school
7. For place names

The Mississippi River


The Alps

A (Indefinite article)
Developed from a word meaning one. An used before vowel sounds.
Signals an unspecified one of others- a student sitting in the front row.
Used chiefly with singular countable nouns.

Uses
1.

In the sense of one, or each.

I waited an hour.
His rent is $200 a month.
2.

For an unidentified member of a class.

We saw a lion at the zoo.


3.

For a representative member of a class.

a. Identifying an individual member


That animal is a lion.
b. Defining a smaller class
The lion is an animal

GENERIC USE OF ARTICLES


In general statement, it is possible to use the, a, an , or no article with a concrete countable
noun that represent a class.
The The lion is a wild animal
The emphasizes the class itself, without regard for concrete representative of the class.
A A lion is a wild animal.
A emphasizes an individual representative of a class. It has the sense of any.
No article Lion are wild animals.
The plural forms without an article emphasizes all the representative of this class.
NOTE

Since many general statements may be made with class words that are either singular or
plural, it is often preferable to use the plural for persons so that further reference to the class
word can be made with the pronoun they, which is neutral with the respect to gender.
Singular class word:
A student should always try to do his (or his or her) best. (pronouns that are required by strict
grammatical rules.)
Plural class word:
Students should always try to do their bests.
(their refers to both males and females)

Determiners
What are determiners?
A determiner is used to modify a noun. It indicates reference to something specific or
something of a particular type. This function is usually performed by articles,
demonstratives, possessive determiners, or quantifiers.

Determiners vs pronouns
Determiners are followed by a noun.

The man

This book

Some people

Subject pronouns ( I , you , he , etc.) and possessive pronouns (mine, yours, his, etc.)
cannot be determiners because they can never be followed by a noun.

Types of determiners
Articles
The definite and indefinite articles are all determiners.

Definite article - the

Indefinite article - a or an (a is used before a consonant sound; an is used before a


vowel sound.)

Examples:
Close the door, please.
I've got a friend in Canada.
Demonstratives
There are four demonstrative determiners in English and they are: this, that, these and those
Note that demonstrative determiners can also be used as demonstrative pronouns. When
they are used as determiners they are followed by the nouns they modify. Compare:
This is my camera. (Demonstrative used as a pronoun, subject of the verb is)
This camera is mine. (Demostrative usesd as a determiner modifying the noun camera.)
Possessives
Possessive adjectives - my, your, his, her, its, our, your, their - modify the noun following it in
order to show possession.
Possessive determiners are different from possessive pronouns - mine, his, hers, yours, ours,
their.

Possessive pronouns can stand alone and are not followed by nouns.

Possessive determiners, on the other hand, are followed by nouns.

Compare:
This is my house. (my is a possessive determiner. It is followed by the noun house which it
modifies)
Is that car yours? (yours is a possessive pronoun. It is not followed by a noun.)
Quantifiers
Quantifiers are followed by nouns which they modify. Examples of quantifiers include:
some, any, few, little, more, much, many, each, every, both, all, enough, half, little,
whole, less etc.
Quantifiers are commonly used before either countable or uncountable nouns.
He knows more people than his wife.
Little knowledge is a dangerous thing .

Demonstratives - This, That, These, Those


What are demonstratives?
Demonstratives are words that show which person or thing is being referred to. In the
sentence:
'This is my brother',
'this' is a demonstrative
The demonstratives in English are this, that, these, and those

Demonstrative pronouns vs demonstraive adjectives


A distinction must be made between demonstrative adjectives (or demonstrative
determiners) and demonstrative pronouns (or independent demonstratives).
A demonstrative adjective modifies a noun:
This apple is good. I like those houses. (This modifies 'apple' and those modifies 'houses')
A demonstrative pronoun stands on its own, replacing rather than modifying a noun:
This is good. I like those. (This and those don't modify any nouns they stand alone and
replace other nouns)

Use of demonstratives
Demonstratives differ according to:

distance: near or far,

or number: singular or plural.

Here are the main distinctions:

This modifies or refers to singular nouns that are near to the speaker.

That modifies or refers to singular nouns that are far from the speaker.

These modifies or refers to plural nouns that are near to the speaker.

Those modifies or refers to plural nouns that are far from the speaker.

Demonstratives

Singular

Plural

This

That

These

Those

Near

Far
-

Quantifiers
What are quantifiers?
A quantifier is a word or phrase which is used before a noun to indicate the amount or
quantity:
'Some', 'many', 'a lot of' and 'a few' are examples of quantifiers.
Quantifiers can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.
Examples:
There are some books on the desk
He's got only a few dollars.
How much moeny have you got?
There is a large quantity of fish in this river.
He's got more friends than his sister.

Examples of quantifiers
With Uncountable Nouns

much

a little/little/very little *

a bit (of)

a great deal of

a large amount of

a large quantity of

With Both

all

enough

more/most

less/least

no/none

not any

some

any

a lot of

lots of

plenty of

With Countable Nouns

many

a few/few/very few **

a number (of)

several

a large number of

a great number of

a majority of

* NOTE
few, very few mean that there is not enough of something.
a few means that there is not a lot of something, but there is enough.
** NOTE
little, very little mean that there is not enough of something.
a little means that there is not a lot of something, but there is enough.

Adjectives are words used to describe nouns.


Adjectives give more information about a noun.
Use adjectives to make your writing more interesting.
"Fast, fun, new, old, red, ugly" are all adjectives. They
describe a noun.

READ THESE EXAMPLES:


It's a fast car. It's a fun car. It's a new car.
It's an old car. It's a red car. It's an ugly car.
Adjectives can come BEFORE the NOUN (adjective +
noun)

EXAMPLES:
It's an expensive bicycle. It's a racing bicycle. It's a red
bicycle.
Adjectives can come AFTER a BE verb. (BE + adjective)

EXAMPLES:
The butterfly is pretty. The butterfly is blue. Butterflies
are interesting.
Nouns can also work as adjectives. A noun can help
describe an object.

EXAMPLES:
It's a business meeting. They're having a job
interview. It's a school conference.

Present participles (-ing verbs) can also work as


adjectives.

EXAMPLES:
Baseball is an exciting game. Baseball is
interesting. It's an interesting game.
Past participles (verb 3) can also work as adjectives.

EXAMPLES:
The man is tired. The exhausted man fell asleep. He
was worn out by work today.
Adjectives can be hyphenated.

EXAMPLES:
The computer-generated error message made the program
freeze.
My friend isn't very good at do-it-yourself
projects.
Numbers can be used as adjectives.

EXAMPLES:
That's a three-ton truck.
The man is a thirty-seven-year-old trucker.
In his 20-year career, he's never had an accident.
Adjectives can be used to compare things.

EXAMPLES:

Cats are softer than dogs. My cat is the cutest cat I know.

Can you describe what it looks like?


Lesson Topic: Using Adjectives and the Order of Adjectives
Let's say you want to buy a new car. You could not go to the car dealer and
say, "I have been dreaming about having a car for a long time. I know
exactly what I want. Please give it to me."
Of course he would think you are a bit crazy, but he would also ask you a
very important question: "What does your dream car look like?" You would
need to describe it to the car dealer, or you simply wouldn't get the car you
had been dreaming about. You would most likely get the automobile the
dealer couldn't sell. That wouldn't be a dream car; it would be a nightmare!
Fortunately, you could use words to describe the car of your dreams. The
words that describe things are called adjectives. Adjectives describe nouns
(nouns are people, places, and things). Adjectives are a terrific way to make
your writing a lot more interesting, too. Take a look at the following sentence:
I want to buy a car.
Is this an interesting sentence? Does it describe the kind of car you want to
buy? The answers are NO and NO! The listener/reader doesn't know what
kind of car you want. Do you want a big car or little car? Fast or slow? Red
or blue? Old or new? It is quite unclear. It is also poor writing because it is
very boring. Would you buy a book that was written like this? Probably
not. Unfortunately, many students and writers write like this. It is a very
common problem which is quite easy to fix.
So what kind of car do you want? Well, um, . . .
I want to buy a blue car.
I want to buy a new car.
I want to buy a European car.
I want to buy a beautiful car.

Did you find the adjectives? They are the words that describe the car. The
adjectives above are blue, new, European, and beautiful. The above 4
sentences are written as if the writer wants 4 different cars. However, if the

writer just wants 1 car, how would he/she combine the sentences
into 1 sentence? The writer needs to put all of the adjectives
together. Therefore, we get
I want to buy a blue, new, European,
beautiful car.

How's that? Are there any problems? YES, there are problems!
The ORDER of adjectives is quite important in English. There is an
order of adjectives that native speakers of English normally follow.
The list below shows how the order of adjectives is usually
presented; however, there are exceptions and different
combinations depending on the situation.

OPINION APPEARANCE AGE COLOR ORIGIN MATERIAL


good
bad
beautiful
ugly
smart
dumb

usually follows new


red
this order:
antique purple
old
pink
size/measure
young dark
big
two- green
small
year- navy
old* blue
high
low

Korean iron
Chinese brass
French cotton
Italian
gold
American wooden
vegetable

shape
round
circular
square
condition
broken
cracked
ripped
fresh
rotten

*Adjectives are never plural. Therefore, when the adjective


contains a number and noun, the noun associated with the
number is singular.
This is a three-year-old car.

CORRECT

This is a three-years-old car.

INCORRECT

Using the above list, we can put all four adjectives together to get
the following sentence:
I want to buy a beautiful, new, blue,
European car.
Adding adjectives is very important if you want to make your writing
more interesting. It helps the reader/listener form a picture in
his/her mind.
For example, which of these two sentences is more descriptive and
interesting? Which draws a picture in the reader's mind?
1

I want to buy a car.

Of course the second sentence is more descriptive and interesting.


The reader can see the car in his/her mind. If you would like to
learn more ways to make your writing interesting, please see our
other lessons on this topic. Just go to
http://www.MyEnglishTeacher.net/previous.html.

Quiz
Directions: Look at the following sentences and adjectives. Rewrite
the sentences using the adjectives in blue. Be sure to write them in
the correct order.
1. Aunt Betty wants a coffee table. (stone, square, gray)
2. The king took a trip. (2-week, exhausting)
3.
are cookies!
(chocolate
chip,
delicious,
huge)
1. These
Aunt Betty
wants a square,
gray,
stone
coffee table.
4.
prefers
(leather,
Italian,
black)
2. Alice
The king
tookfurniture.
an exhausting,
2-week
trip.
*exhausting refers to opinion

3. These are delicious, huge, chocolate chip cookies!


*chocolate chip refers to a material used to make the cookies

4. Alice prefers black, Italian, leather furniture.


5. Archeologists get very excited when they find large, prehistoric, animal bones.
*prehistoric refers to age

Rules to Remember!
1

Use commas after each adjective except the last one (no comma between the last
adjective and the noun). For example,
Alice prefers black, Italian, leather furniture.

If an adjective has 2 words, do not put a comma between the words. For example,
These are delicious, huge, chocolate

chip cookies!

It is not necessary to use adjectives with all nouns. It is suggested that you use
adjectives to describe things that are important to both the writer and the reader.

There are three forms of comparison:


- positive
- comparative
- superlative

A - Comparison with -er/-est

clean - cleaner - (the) cleanest


We use -er/-est with the following adjectives:
1) adjectives with one syllable
clean

cleaner

cleanest

new

newer

newest

cheap

cheaper

cheapest

2) adjectives with two syllables and the following endings:


2 - 1) adjectives with two syllables, ending in -y
dirty

dirtier

dirtiest

easy

easier

easiest

happy

happier

happiest

pretty

prettier

prettiest

2 - 2) adjectives with two syllables, ending in -er


clever

cleverer

cleverest

2 - 3) adjectives with two syllables, ending in -le


simple

simpler

simplest

2 - 4) adjectives with two syllables, ending in -ow


narrow

narrower

narrowest

Spelling of the adjectives using the endings -er/-est


large

larger

largest

leave out the silent -e

big

bigger

biggest

sad

sadder

saddest

dirty

dirtier

dirtiest

Change -y to -i (consonant before -y)

shy

shyer

shyest

Here -y is not changed to -i.


(although consonant before -y)

Double the consonant after short vowel

B - Comparison with more - most

difficult - more difficult - (the) most difficult


all adjectives with more than one syllable (except some adjectives with two syllables see
2 - 1 to 2 - 4)

C - Irregular adjectives
good

better

best

bad

worse

worst

much

more

most

uncountable nouns

many

more

most

countable nouns

little

less

least

little

smaller

smallest

D - Special adjectives

Some ajdectives have two possible forms of comparison.


common

commoner / more common

commonest / most common

likely

likelier / more likely

likeliest / most likely

pleasant

pleasanter / more pleasant

pleasantest / most pleasant

polite

politer / more polite

politest / most polite

simple

simpler / more simple

simplest / most simple

stupid

stupider / more stupid

stupidest / most stupid

subtle

subtler / more subtle

subtlest

sure

surer / more sure

surest / most sure

Difference in meaning with adjectives:


farther

farthest

distance

further

furthest

distance or
time

later

latest

latter

last

older

oldest

far

late

old

people and things

elder

eldest

people (family)

nearer

nearest

distance

next

order

near

Verbs
When I was a child, my teachers taught me: "A verb is an action word." I too taught the
same to children when I became a teacher.
It never occurs to young students to ask where the action word is in the sentence: I am
a student. If a smart little one asked you that question, you'd be faced with a bit of a
challenge, wouldn't you?
Little children's language stomachs can only digest the "milk" of English grammar. But
you as a smart adult are surely looking for more 'solid food.'
So here are some verb-dishes for you. Try all, but not all on one day; lest you get
grammatical indigestion!

What is a Verb?
It is one of the parts of speech.
A verb is a word which expresses any one of the following concepts:
doing, being or having.
You may think of the three concepts as three families...and every verb as belonging to
one of these families.

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The Doing Family


The house of doing is a large house with many rooms and accomodates a large family.
All action words live in this house. The head of the family is known by the name to do.
The other members (the children of 'to do') are these: to eat, to drink, to work, to sleep,
to read, to play, to help, to open, to shut, to write, and all other words which imply
action.
These children are so active that they often get an unfair advantage over other verbs.
They get more publicity in speech and writing because people tend to notice these verbs
more, even when elderly ones like be, do or have are present.

Some of the members of this family are considered regular and the others irregular. The
regulars (because they are docile and predictable) are sometimes called weak and the
irregulars (because they are rebellious and unpredictable) are sometimes described as
strong.

The Being Family


The second house is the house of being. It is dominated by 'to be.' In fact, the poor word
doesn't dominate at all. It does a lot of work, but more often that not, its work goes
unnoticed. For instance, when people see the words 'is singing,' they pay attention to the
word 'singing' and ignore the 'is.'
'To be' has eight different forms: am, is, are, was, were, be, being and been. These
forms are like uniforms - i.e. different kinds of clothes it wears on different occasions.

The Having Family


The third is the house of having. To have' is the lone resident here. It describes the act
or state of possessing, besides the many other useful jobs it does.
One such important job is to show the state of completion of an action. This is the area
of perfect tenses which we will see when we learn about tenses. 'To have' puts on four
different type of costumes: has, have, had, and having.

Here are Some Summary Facts


on the Three Families of Verbs
Family Name

Doing

Being

Having

Head of the
Family

do

be

have

Official Name
of Family Head
(Infinitive)

to do

to be

to have

Other members
of the family
(The children)

sing, eat, drink, play,


sleep, study, and
innumerable others

Regular Verbs
(External
Appearance

An example
play, plays, playing, played

have, has,
having, had

Always Predictable)
Irregular Verbs
(External
Appearance
Often
Unpredictable)

An example
sing, sings, singing, sang,
sung

am, is, are, was,


were, be, being,
been

Types of Verbs
You will meet different types of verbs as you learn English grammar. Some people get
confused. Don't be. This page tells you...
1. the names of different kinds of verbs and
2. their relationship to each other.

The Verb's Role in a Sentence


Verbs can be divided according to the job they do in a sentence. The grammarexpert's way of saying this is that we can divide verbs syntactically.
These are the divisions and sub-divisions according to syntax:

finite verbs
o

transitive verbs

intransitive verbs

linking Verbs

non-finite verbs (also called verbals)


o

infinitives

gerunds

participles

What is a participle?

present participle

past participle

perfect participle

helping verbs (auxiliaries)


o

primary auxiliaries

modal auxiliaries

Kinds of verbs
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Formation of the Verb-Word


We know that verbs are words, just like any other part of speech. The words that
represent the verbs follow different patterns of spelling or sound. Verbs can, therefore,
be divided into various kinds depending upon how they are formed. Grammarians
would call this a morphological division.

regular verbs

irregular verbs

compound verbs

phrasal verbs

Verbs According to Meaning


I have earlier answered the question: What is a verb? There I used this division of
verbs according to meaning to explain what a verb is. Those who know grammar well
call this division of verbs a semantic classification.

action words (action verbs)

being

having

Now you know the names of different verbs and how they are classified. We can classify
them in three ways...
1. according to their role in a sentence (i.e. syntactically),

2. or based on their formation (morphologically),


3. or their meaning (semantically).

Finite Verbs
Finite verbs and non-finite verbs are two broad categories of verbs.
Look at these two groups of sentences.

Group A

Group B

I like to sing songs.

I am fond of eating mangoes.

We like to sing songs.

We are fond of eating mangoes.

You like to sing songs.

You are fond of eating mangoes.

He likes to sing songs.

He is fond of eating mangoes.

She likes to sing songs.

She is fond of eating mangoes.

Anita likes to sing songs.

Antony is fond of eating mangoes.

They like to sing songs.

They are fond of eating mangoes.

In sentences in Group A, we have the verbs like and sing. The verb like takes on
different forms (like, likes) in the six sentences in the group. The verb sing has the same
unchangeable form to sing in all the sentences. So, we have one verb which changes and
the other which does not change.
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Group B
In the sentences in Group B, we have a similar thing. We have the verb be in different
forms (am, is, are) and the unchangeable verb form eating of the verb eat. So, here too,
we have again one changing verb and the other an unchanging verb.

What are Finite Verbs?


The verb like in group A and the verb be in group B are verbs which change. The reason
these verbs change their forms must surely be because of the words I, we, you, he, she,

Anita, they...since it is clear that all other words within the same group of sentences are
the same.
These verbs which change according to words I, we, you, he, she, Anita, and they, are
called Finite Verbs.
The word finite means limited. Since the words I, we, you, he, etc., can make these
verbs change, the power of these verbs must be limited indeed! This idea will help
us to remember what these verbs are.

What are Non-finite Verbs?


They are verbs which do not change. In group A above, the verb to sing and in group B,
the verb eating are non-finite verbs of two different types. No word in a sentence can
impose a change on these verbs. I suppose, that is why we call them non-finite, which
means not limited by other words in a sentence.
Verbs of this type are...

the infinitive,

the gerund, and

the participle.

Are Finite Verbs Necessary?


Yes. Every sentence in English needs such a verb. It is an essential part of a
sentence. You may find sentences in which a noun or a pronoun is missing (because it's
hidden), but you don't usually find a sentence in which a finite verb is missing.

What are their types?


They may be transitive, intransitive or linking. In a sentence you can have any one of
these types.
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What is there to learn about them?


About these verbs we need to understand important things like:

agreement with the subject;

tense and aspect;

voice; and

mood.

We can think of these as properties of the verb or as "rules" which finite verbs obey.
They are obedient and reliable verbs!
Non-finite verbs are the wayward ones. Though they are born in the verb family, the
non-finites often act like nouns, and sometimes like adjectives or adverbs.

Transitive Verb
A transitive verb is a type of finite verb. A finite verb is considered transitive or
intransitive depending upon its relationship with some other words in the sentence.
Another way of saying this is that the division into transitive and intransitive is based on
syntax.

What is a transitive verb?


Look at these sentences.
1. He met her yesterday.
2. She wrote a story last year.
3. Rust destroys iron.
In these sentences, the verbs are the words met, wrote and destroys. In each sentence,
you ask the question , 'met whom/what?' You will get the answers as follows:

sentence 1 question: met whom? answer: her

sentence 2 question: wrote what? answer: story

sentence 3 question: destroys what? answer: iron

(note that we use whom in the questions for human beings and what for things and also
for animals.)
The words her, story and iron in the sentences above are called objects in grammar.
A transitive verb is, therefore, a verb which has an object.

What is an object?
An object, we may say, is the aim or purpose or destination or target of a verb's
action. In our three example-sentences above, the verbs met, wrote and destroys have
the words her, story and iron as their targets. These targets are called objects. With a
transitive verb, we can expect these objects.

Why do we use the word transitive?


We call these verbs transitive because these verbs have the property of transitivity.

What is transitivity?
To transit means to pass through. Each of the verbs met, wrote and destroys in our
examples has its action conveyed (carried) to the object. We might also say that the
action begins with the subject (he, she, rust in our sentences) and passes through the
verb to the object. This property of the verb is transitivity. Hence we call these verbs
transitive.
Understanding these verbs in this way helps us to remember what they are.

Here's a list of transitive verbs


eat, drink, read, write, play, see, hear, answer, buy, find, love, like, understand, catch,
bring, sing, meet, give, take, get, forget, buy, sell, pay, help.
Here are some of these verbs used in sentences.
Sentence

verb

object

(a) The teacher answered the question.

answered

question

(b) My friend bought a house.

bought

house

(c) The children found the money.

found

money

(d) Most Indians love cricket.

love

cricket

(e) Keralites like football.

like

football

What is an intransitive verb?


Simple, I suppose. It is a verb which is not transitivea verb which does not take an
object. Here are some examples along with some sentences.
walk, jump, sleep, sit, lie, stand, weep, kneel, fall, fly, flow,remain, die, belong, wait,
come, go.
(a) We walk to the railway station.
(b) The children jump with joy.
(c) Babies sleep for many hours.

(d) My brother stood there.


(e) Jesus wept.

Some Exceptions
You will often find transitive verbs used intransitively, i.e. without an object.

They are eating.

We play> in the evening.

I understand.

At rare times intransitive verbs are used transitively.

How did you cover all that distance? We walked it. ('walked' has the object 'it' in
this sentence)

I cannot stand such nonsense. ('stand' has the object 'nonsense' in this
sentence)

Besides transitive and intransitive verbs, we have linking verbs in the finite verbs family.

What is an intransitive verb?


Simple, I suppose. It is a verb which is not transitivea verb which does not take an
object. Here are some examples along with some sentences.
walk, jump, sleep, sit, lie, stand, weep, kneel, fall, fly, flow,remain, die, belong, wait,
come, go.
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)
(e)

We walk to the railway station.


The children jump with joy.
Babies sleep for many hours.
My brother stood there.
Jesus wept.

Some Exceptions
You will often find transitive verbs used intransitively, i.e. without an object.

They are eating.

We play> in the evening.

I understand.

At rare times intransitive verbs are used transitively.

How did you cover all that distance? We walked it. ('walked' has the object 'it' in
this sentence)

I cannot stand such nonsense. ('stand' has the object 'nonsense' in this
sentence)

Besides transitive and intransitive verbs, we have linking verbs in the finite verbs family.

Verbals
Verbals is another name for non-finite verbs.

The Important Questions Are...


1. What are non-finite verbs?
2. Why are they called Verbals?
3. What are the things to learn about them?

What Are Non-Finite Verbs?


Simply put, non-finite verbs are verbs which are NOT finite verbs. Looks very simple,
but it's not entirely so.
The basic points of difference between finites and non-finites are...
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1. A non-finite verb does not change according to its subject, as a finite
verb does.
He likes to drive. They like to drive.
The non-finite verb to drive remains constant, while the finite verb like/likes
changes (number and person) according to the subject he/they. You can read
more about this point in the subject-verb agreement page.

2. Non-finite verbs are not affected by tense changes, finite verbs are...
They like to drive. They liked to drive.
The finite verb shows two different forms like and liked for the simple present and
simple past tenses respectively. For the non-finite verb to drive, tense is
irrelevant.

Why Are Non-finites Called Verbals?


We often call the different types of non-finite verbs a "verbal something," depending on
the non-verblike work they do. So the word verbal becomes a kind of generic (common)
name for them. There are three types of Non-finite verbs, the Infinitive, the Gerund, and
the Participle.

The Gerund is known as a verbal noun.

the Participle is often called a verbal adjective.

The Infinitive too does the work of a noun, or an adjective, or an adverb


(adjective modifier, purpose modifier, etc). We usually don't call the infinitive a
verbal noun or a verbal adjective, only because we don't want to confuse it with
the gerund or the participle.

What do we need to learn about Verbals?


Besides what we have already seen above, we need to learn about their different types.
(Follow the links below for the three different non-finite verbs.)
The Infinitive
This page deals with...

What is an infinitive?

How we can recognize an infinitive?

What work does it do in sentences?

What meaning does it convey?

The Gerund
This page discusses...

What is a gerund?

Its morphology (its word-shape)

Its syntax (its functions)

The semantics of a gerund (its meaning)

The Participles
Since there are different types of participles, you will find several pages here dealing
with them...

what is a participle?

present participle

past participle (two pages discussing its forms and its functions)

perfect participle

errors in the use of participles

Infinitives
Infinitives are one of the three groups of non-finite verbs (also called verbals), the
others being gerunds and participles.
We shall look at this particular type of verb from three angles:
1. how it looks (its form or morphology);
2. what work it does in a sentence (its function or syntax); and
3. its meaning (or semantics).
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How Can You Recognize an Infinitive?


We can recognize it from its form, which is usually as follows:
to eat, to drink, to play, to be, etc. (with a 'to' before it).
In some cases the word 'to' is dropped. We speak of such a verb (with the word 'to'
dropped) as a bare infinitive.
The bare infinitive is the standard form of an English verb.

What Work Does an Infinitive Do?


If we look at the function, that is, the work it does in a sentence, we may consider it
to be both a noun and a verb.

The Infinitive As Noun and Verb


Here is an example:
I like to finish the work quickly.</I< p>
In this sentence the phrase to finish does the following jobs:

It is the object of the finite verb like - therefore to finish is similar to a noun
(because being an object is a noun's job).

The phrase to finish has its own object, work - so to finish is a verb (since
verbs have objects).

The adverb quickly modifies (i.e. tells us something more about) to finish.
Since the phrase to finish is modifiable by an adverb, it must be a verb.

We can say that the infinitive, though born in the verb family, does not limit itself to
being a verb. It often behaves like a noun when it goes around socializing in the world of
sentences!
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Lose weight quickly


The Meaning
How Can
The Word

The Infinitive As Adjective or Adverb


In some cases...

It behaves even like an adjective, as in the following sentence.


That was a game to watch!
In this sentence, to watch tells us something more about the quality of the game
(a noun). Describing a noun is the work of an adjective.

Sometimes it behaves like an adverb. The sentence below illustrates this.


Her voice is pleasant to hear.
The phrase to hear tells us something more about the quality of being pleasant.
The word pleasant is an adjective, and words that tell us more about an adjective
(adjective modifiers) are traditionally called adverbs.

The Infinitive and Meaning.


If we take the meaning (semantics), then the infinitive could be viewed as a pure,
unadulterated form of a verb.
This pure meaning we modify, change, or mutate, by imposing on it such things as
tense, modality, voice, etc. The infinitive in itself (semantically) is a pure action word (to
do, to write, etc) or a word denoting existence (to be).

The Gerund
A Gerund is a verbal or non-finite verb and is often referred to as a verbal noun. There
are three kinds of non-finite verbs. The other two are the infinitive and the participle.
To understand this non-finite verb, we shall look at its...

morphology - i.e. its word-form

syntax - i.e. its function in a sentence

and semantics - i.e. its meaning.

The Morphology Of the Gerund


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It has an "-ing" ending. Please note that all verbs ending in "-ing" are not gerunds.
Present participles also have the same form.
It is easy therefore to confuse it with a present participle. Hence, we cannot depend on
morphology alone to identify (recognize) it. We need to look also at the work it does in a
sentence.

The Syntax of the Gerund


The Gerund does the work of a noun in a sentence. This means, it can be any one of
the following:
1. The subject of a verb, as in the sentence...
Swimming is good exercise.
The word swimming is the subject of the verb is.

2. The object of a finite verb, as in...


You enjoy learning a new language.
The word learning is the object of the finite verb enjoy.

3. The object of a non-finite verb...


She intends to begin writing the story soon.
The word writing is the object of to begin, an infinitive (i.e. a non-finite verb).

4. The object of a preposition...


He is interested in joining the group.
The word joining is the object of the preposition in.

5. The indirect object of a verb...


She gave reading great importance in her life.
The word reading is the indirect object of the verb gave.
All these functions which the Gerund is shown doing are usually those of a noun.
Depending on the function, the grammatical case of the gerund will be nominative or
accusative or genitive, etc.

The Semantics of the Gerund


You know that the noun is a name. The Gerund is also a name. It's the name of an
activity.

In so far as it is an activity, it is a verb.

In so far as it is a name, it is a noun.

Avoiding Confusion
Sometimes, not only the morphology, but also the syntax may lead us to believe a word
is a present participle. At such times semantics helps us to recognize a Gerund.
Here are two examples:

walking stick - the word walking looks like an adjective describing stick...but it is
not.
walking stick is not a stick which walks. It is a compressed form of "stick for
walking". So walking is the object of the preposition for. So walking is a Gerund.

reading room - the phrase does not mean that the room reads. It is a
compression of "a room for (the purpose of) reading". So reading is a Gerund.

Participles
Participles are a type of non-finite verbs (verbals).
Others are the infinitives and gerunds.

Things to Learn
Related to this non-finite verb (or verbal) are several issues. You can find them discussed
in the pages mentioned and linked below.

What is a Participle?
This page answers three questions:

What is a Participle?

What are its various types?

How can we recognize Them?

The Present Participle


By the end of this page you will have a deeper knowledge of the various functions of
this particular non-finite verb.
I have made an effort to make the explanation both simple and clear. Remember that
you don't have to master all the functions in one sitting.

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The Past Participle


You have two pages here on this verbal:

Page 1 explains how it is formed; therefore, how you can recognize it from its
form.

Page 2 explains its work in sentences and the meaning it conveys.

Common Errors in the Use of Participles


When this page comes, it will help you to recognize and avoid errors like dangling
participles. It will also deal with some related things which look errors, but aren't.

What is a Participle?
In this article on what is a participle, I am going to deal also with two related questions
which will help you understand participles.
These two other questions are:
1. What are the various types of participles?
2. How do we recognize them?
(i.e., how do they look or what are the forms of each type?)
So here we go...

What is a Participle?
Look at these two sentences:
1. The stranger ignored the barking dogs.
2. I saw a boy riding a bicycle.
In sentence 1, the word barking...

is formed from the verb 'bark' and it also denotes an action;


therefore it is a verb;

describes the noun 'dogs' and therefore it is like an adjective.

In sentence 2, the whole phrase riding a bicycle...

acts like an adjective. It describes the noun 'boy'. The whole phrase is called a
participial phrase and the word 'riding' is called its head...and as the head it is
mainly responsible for the adjectival function.

The word 'riding' also acts like a verb, because it has 'bicycle' as its object. Also
remember that the phrase 'riding a bicycle' is an action-based description of the
boy.

So then, what is a participle?


A participle is a verbal adjective.
It is by birth a verb, but mostly serves nouns and pronouns
as an adjective does.
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Types of Participles
They are of three types:

the Present Participle

the Past Participle

the Perfect Participle

How many types? Two or three?


Sometimes you may hear or read that there are two (not three) types of participles.
This is said because the Perfect Participle has no independent form, but one that
depends on the form of the Past Participle.
What is important is to recognize the different forms whether you classify them as
two or three.
The question, "What is a participle?" dealt with what is common in all participles;
and the current question should help us distinguish the types.

It is possible to recognize each of these types:

from their morphology (form)

and the syntax (the work they do in sentences).

The meanings they convey are also different. An expert writer can use participles in
subtle ways.

How Can We Recognize Participles?


They are sometimes difficult to understand or deal with; but it need not be so for you, if
you go through the following carefully. Understanding the types is part of the original
and larger question: what is a participle?
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The forms of the three types of Participles are as follows:

The Present Participle


This non-finite verb can be recognized from its -ing ending (e.g. eating, playing,
singing, studying, sleeping). However, this fact alone is not enough to recognize it for
sure, because the gerund also has the same ending.
So then, how can you know for sure that an -ing word is a present participle?
Here's how...
A present participle does the work of an adjective, but a gerund does the work
of a noun. Though both have the same form, they are different in the jobs they do.
These two examples will make this point clear to you...

I enjoy singing.
('singing' is the object of the verb 'enjoy' - being an object of a verb is the mark
of a noun - therefore, 'singing' is a gerund.)

She is a singing girl.


('singing' describes the noun 'girl' - describing a noun is the function of an
adjective - therefore 'singing' is a participle.)

So if you want to recognize a present participle you need to take into consideration not
only its form but also its use in sentences.

The Past Participle


All past participles do not have one type of form. So they are harder to recognize. Here
are some ways to help you recognize them...

They often have one of these endings: -ed, -d, -t, -en, -n (as in: developed,
hoped, burnt, fallen, grown).

Sometimes they are formed by making an internal change in the basic form of the
verb (e.g. sung from sing, won from win, bound from bind, met from meet).

A third way of forming the past participle is by not changing the form of the verb
at all (as in verbs: put, cut, set).

The Perfect Participle


The form of this particular non-finite verb depends on that of the previous one, i.e. the
past participle.
The form is:
the word 'having' + the past participle.
(e.g. having sung, having won, having met, having rested, having seen, etc).

You are Now Ready


for the Remaining Questions...
We have seen the important questions of:

What is a participle?

What are its types?

What are its forms it takes?

The questions that remain are:

What different jobs do the different participles do?

What different shades of meaning are associated with the different types of
participles?

What are some of the problems we are likely to encounter (meet with) when we
begin to use them?

You will find the answers if you follow the links in the page on Participles. You will see
that each type of participle has some jobs in common with the others, and some specific
to it.

Present Participle
About the Present Participle, we already know two things:
1. that it has an -ing ending; and
2. that we can distinguish it from a Gerund.
(Refresh your memory if needed, by reading just this part on Recognizing Participles
and then come back and continue.)
By the end of this lesson, you will get a deeper understanding of the
Present Participle. With the help of a number of examples, you will be able to
understand every job it is capable of doing in sentences.
It can function in these ways:

1. As Part of Some Finite Verb Phrases...


The Present Participle is the word in any finite verb phrase that shows the continuous
(progressive) aspect.
If you go to the page on list of verbs, you will see all the finite verb phrases that can be
formed from the verb eat.
Out of these forms, I will take four examples and show you what I mean:

am eating

had been eating

was being eaten

will be eating

These phrases show the aspect of continuity. The word in bold in each of these phrases
is the word which is specially responsible for expressing continuity and that word is a
present participle.
(Please be aware, that this participle can sometimes occur along with a past participle,
as in the second and third examples above, where been and eaten are past participles.)

2. As a Participial Adjective...
An adjective is a word that describes a noun. The adjective lazy in the phrase lazy dog
describes the noun dog.
When we use a participle in this way, we call it a participial adjective. In the phrase
sleeping dog, the word sleeping describes the dog.
Now there is some difference between an ordinary descriptive adjective and a
participial adjective.
The word sleeping (participial adjective) is derived from a verb (sleep) and therefore, is
an action-based descriptive word. The word lazy (descriptive adjective) is a qualitybased descriptive word.
The present participle (as well as, the past participle) can be used in this way. This type
of use, where the adjective, is close to the noun (almost always on its left side in
English) is called an attributive use.

3. As a Predicative Adjective...
Look at this sentence:
The little boy is smart.
The adjective smart is an essential part of the predicate. If you remove smart from the
sentence, you don't have a sentence. The adjective smart is called a predicative
adjective. The other adjective little (an attributive adjective) can be removed and we
would still have a sentence.
A present participle can be used as a predicative adjective, as in the following
sentence:
The news is disturbing.
If you remove the present participle (disturbing) from this sentence, you will not have
the sentence.

4. As a Verb with an Object...


Look at these sentences:

Opening the gate, the man entered the compound.

We saw the man, carrying a box on his head.

The participle opening has the noun gate as its object; and the participle carrying has
the noun box as its object.

This is not surprising, because participles are verbs by birth. They may go around
doing other things (like describing nouns) which "respectable" verbs don't do, but the
verb-gene is in them!

5. As an Adjective with Modifiers and Determiners.


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Look at these phrases:

the loudly shouting boss

my two extremely struggling friends

The present participle shouting is modified by the degree modifier loudly and the word
the (an article) precedes the modifier.
In the next phrase, the participle struggling is modified by the degree modifier extremely
and we have the determiners two and my preceding.
The participle is behaving here exactly like an adjective in a noun phrase. It allows
modifiers and determiners to keep it company.
(You will see later that the past participle also behaves in this way.)

6. As a Verb with an Active or a Passive Meaning...


Look at these sentences.

The crowd watching the match loudly cheered.

The games being played occupy a lot of our time.

The participle watching has an active meaning because it describes the crowd as doing
the watching activity.
The participle being played has a passive meaning because the games don't do the
playing, but have the playing done to them.

My Advice...
Try to understand one function at a time (say, one per day). It's better not to try to get
them all at one sitting. As you learn the rest of grammar, the fine points about
participles (present or past or perfect) will become clearer.

The Past Participle


To understand the Past Participle, we shall look at its forms, functions, and meaning.

The Forms
The Past Participle form is one of the principal parts of the verb.

The Past Participle of Regular Verbs


Verbs which are called Regular Verbs have a regular form of this verbal. The Past
Participle of Regular Verbs are formed by adding the suffix -ed, as shown in the table
below.

Basic Form of Verb

Past Participle Form

play

played

jump

jumped

walk

walked

talk

talked

escape

escaped

chase

chased

stop

stopped

Please note that some slight adjustment can precede (come before) the adding of the
suffix.
For the verbs escape and chase, the last e is dropped, and for the verb stop the last
letter is doubled.

The Past Participle of Irregular Verbs


These are formed irregularly. What I mean is that we cannot in all cases make the same
one type of change to the basic verb form and get the past participle form.

Look at this table:

Basic Form of Verb

Past Participle Form

sit

sat

sing

sung

eat

eaten

write

written

see

seen

sleep

slept

put

put

What do you see in this last table?

The Different Ways of Forming


the Past Participle of Irregular Verbs
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There is no single rule that can be applied to all. From the table above we can draw
out the different ways the past participle is formed from the basic form of an irregular
verb.
1. for the verbs sit and sing, an internal vowel change takes place.

2. For the verbs eat, write, and see, the suffix -en is added.
(Note that some pre-adjustment is made before adding the suffix -en. For the
verb see, one e is dropped before adding the suffix; for the verb write, an e is
dropped and the t is doubled.)

3. for the verb sleep, the internal vowel is changed and then the suffix t is added.

4. for the verb put, no change is made.


Since, there is no one way of forming the past participle of irregular verbs, we
memorize them along with the base form and the past tense form.
Like this:

"sing, sang, sung"

"eat, ate, eaten"

"drink, drank, drunk"

"put, put, put"

"bind, bound, bound"

Of course, we need to do this only for the irregular verbs.


For the regular verbs, as I have explained above, we need only add -ed to the basic
form; so there is no need to memorize those.

Functions of the Past Participle


Once you are able to recognize the Past Participle by its form, we can move on to its
functions (i.e. the work it does in sentences). Some of its functions are similar to those of
the Present Participle and some are different.

Here are the functions


along with examples:
1. Perfect Tenses
In perfect tenses, the past participle is part of the finite verb phrase, as in...

has sung
had sung
will have sung

has been sung


had been sung
will have been sung

2. Passive Voice
In all the passive voice forms of finite verb phrases, the past participle is the main verb...

is sung

was being sung

was sung
will be sung
is being sung

has been sung


had been sung
will have been sung

3. As Participial Adjectives
Past participles too behave like adjectives (participial adjectives) in the same way as the
present participles do...

healed person
written instructions risen sun
trained teacher
fallen angels
beaten path

4. Usually has an passive meaning, but can have an active meaning


sometimes...
In the four examples on the left column of the table above, please note:

the healed person is not doing the healing;

the instructions are not doing the writing;

the teacher is trained by somebody else;

the path does not beat itself, people beat (create) the path by regularly walking
there.

So each past participle in these examples has a passive meaning.


But less frequently, you can find past participles with active meanings, as in the two
examples in the right column above...

risen sun, where the sun does the rising;

fallen angels, where the angels fell.

The verbs rise and fall, from which risen and fallen are formed, are both intransitive; so,
rising and falling cannot be done to the sun or the angels.

5. Acts like a Verb


Like the present participle, the past participle too can function as the head of a
participial phrase. What we mean by this is that just like any verb, the past participle
can have an object and can be modified by modifiers.

See this example:

Lovingly taught English by her father, she eventually became a fine writer.

In this sentence, the word English is the object and the adverb lovingly modifies the past
participle taught, which is the head of the participial phrase 'lovingly taught English by
her father'.

6. Acts as an Adjective
Like the present participle, the past participle shares the nature of an adjective, in that it
can be modified by a degree modifier.

Fully healed of his own bad memories, he went on to become an outstanding


counsellor.

In the participial phrase 'fully healed of his own bad memories', the past participle
healedis modified by the degree modifier fully.

The Use of the Past Participle


The meaning which this participle conveys is of an action-based description, where the
action is completed action.

risen sun - the rising activity of the sun is complete

broken glass - the glass is not breaking at the moment of speaking; the breaking
activity is complete before that.

This and the previous page on the past participle have together shown you:
1. its word-forms,
2. its function in sentences,
3. the meaning it is meant of convey.

Principal Parts of Verbs


By 'principal parts of verbs' we mean the most important forms of any verb, out of all
the forms it can have.
When we use a verb in a sentence, we use different forms of it for different purposes.
Suppose we wanted to use the verb 'to write.' The available forms of verbs would be:

one-word forms as,


write, writes, wrote, writing, written; or

multiple-word forms as,


am writing, is writing, are writing, was writing, were writing, have written, has
written, had written, will write, will be writing, will have written, has been writing,
have been writing, had been writing, will have been writing, am written, is
written, etc.

See the number of forms! And the list is not complete, there are still more...! Almost all
verbs have these many forms. This looks like bad news, doesn't it?

Here's the Good News!


You don't have to remember all these forms!
First of all, we need to remember only some of the single-word forms...

Remember only ONE form of verbs which belong to the group called Regular
Verbs.
If we remember the verb-form 'play' alone, we can derive all the other forms
from itplays, playing, played, and all the forms with more than one word in
them.

Remember only THREE forms of verbs which are called Irregular Verbs.
Here, if we remember the three forms 'sing, sang, sung", we can get all other
forms'sings' and 'singing' and all the multi-word forms.

The remaining forms can be derived from these ONE or THREE forms according to
definite patterns.
When we talk of Principal Parts of Verbs, we mean only these one or three forms, which
we need to remember.

There is one major exception...


How many forms have we to remember for the verb 'to be'?
'To be' is an irregular verb, but we need to remember more than the three forms.
The single-word verb forms of 'to be' are eight in number:
am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been. You probably know most of them already.

A List of Verbs
(Finites and Non-finites)
This list of verbs gives us all the possible finite verbs and verbals (non-finite verbs) that
can be formed from a single verb to eat.
For self-learners of English grammar, help is needed in the form of tables and lists for
ready reference. This list is one such resource. The end of this page explains why this list
is useful.

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A List of Finite Verbs


of the Verb "to eat"
The finite verb phrases may have as helping verbs either primary auxiliaries or modals.
Finite verbs are those that are essential in a sentence and have to follow rules of
subject-verb agreement and tense.

The Active Forms With Primary Auxiliaries


as Helping Verbs.

eat / eats - used in the simple present tense. (Both these verbs use the dummy
primary auxiliary 'do' in negative and interrogative (question) sentences.)

am / is / are + eating - present continuous tense.

has / have + eaten - present perfect tense.

has / have + been + eating - present perfect continuous.

ate - simple past tense.

was / were + eating - past continuous.

had + eaten - past perfect.

had + been + eating - past perfect continuous.

The Passive Forms With Primary Auxiliaries


as Helping Verbs.

am /is / are + eaten - simple present.

am / is / are + being + eaten - present continuous.

has / have + been + eaten - present perfect.

was / were + eaten - simple past.

was / were + being + eaten - past continuous.

had + been + eaten - past perfect.

The Active Forms Using Modals


as Helping Verbs.
The modals are: can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will, would, ought to, used
to, dare (to), need (to).
In the examples below I have used shall / will to illustrate the finite verb phrases using
modals.
Most of the modals above can replace shall / will in the phrases below to give us
meaningful English.

shall / will + eat

shall / will + be + eating

shall / will + have + eaten

shall / will + have + been + eating

The Passive Forms Based on Modals


as Helping Verbs.
The passive forms are fewer than the active. Here too most of the other modals can
replace shall / will.

shall / will + be + eaten

shall / will + have + been + eaten

A List of Non-finite Verbs


(Verbals)
Infinitives, Gerunds and Participles are Non-Finite Verbs. They are not bound by rules of
subject-verb agreement and tense.

Infinitive
to eat - infinitive
(as in 'He likes to eat slowly.')

Gerund
eating - gerund
(as in 'Eating too much spoils your health.')

Participles

eating - present participle


(as in 'I saw him eating those mangoes.')

eaten - past participle


(as in 'The sweets eaten just now are a gift from our neighbour.')

having eaten - perfect participle


(as in 'Having eaten the sweets, we decided to send a thank-you note to our
neighbour.')

Helping Verbs
Correct Sentences
Sentence Structure
Pronouns

How to Use This List of Verbs?


If you want to know whether the verb 'is writing' is finite or not, search for a similar form
in the list. You will see 'is eating' listed as a finite verb. Therefore 'is writing' is a finite
verb. If your verb was only 'writing', then it would be a non-finite verb (i.e. gerund or
participle in this case).

The Usefulness of This List of Verbs


The List of Verbs, both Finite and Non-finite, is complete.
As you learn English grammar, you will find this list useful for several reasons:
1. Grammar learners sometimes write a non-finite verb in place of a finite
verb, as in these examples of incorrect use:
o

*She singing a song. (*asterisk implies grammatically incorrect)


Correct sentence is: She is/was singing a song.

*I seen the marks.


Correct sentence is: I have/had seen the marks.

This list of verbs will help those learning English to clearly recognize finite verbs
as well as the non-finites (if any) in a sentence.

2. Identifying the finite verb is necessary, because it is the essential verb in a


sentence; non-finites are helpful but not essential for the existence of a
sentence.

3. the subject, object, indirect object, etc are built around the finite verb.
The finite verb is like a nucleus of the clause or sentence.

4. Knowing the exact words in a finite verb phrase helps us to correctly identify
the operator (i.e. the first word of a finite verb phrase). This is required because
the construction of negative and interrogative (question) sentences have
something important to do with the operator.

Adverbs

Adverbs are an important part of speech. They usually answer questions such as how?,
where?, when?, how often? and how much?
What is an Adverb?
What do adverbs do? What's their job?
Adverb Form
How do we make adverbs?
Kinds of Adverbs
What are the main kinds of adverbs?
Adverb Position
Where do we place the adverb in a sentence?
Adverbs of Frequency
hourly, weekly, once a year...
always, sometimes, never...
Adverbs Quiz
See also adverb vocabulary:

Adverbs of Manner List

Adverbs of Place List

Adverbs of Time List

Adverbs of Degree List

What is an Adverb?
An adverb is a word that tells us more about a verb. It "qualifies" or "modifies" a verb (The
man ran quickly). In the following examples, the adverb is in bold and the verb that it
modifies is in italics.

John speaks loudly. (How does John speak?)

Afterwards she smoked a cigarette. (When did she smoke?)

Mary lives locally. (Where does Mary live?)

But adverbs can also modify adjectives (Tara is really beautiful), or even other adverbs (It
works very well). Look at these examples:

Modify an adjective:
- He is really handsome. (How handsome is he?)
- That was extremely kind of you.

Modify another adverb:


- She drives incredibly slowly. (How slowly does she drive?)
- He drives extremely fast.

Note that adverbs have other functions, too. They can:

Modify a whole sentence: Obviously, I can't know everything.

Modify a prepositional phrase: It's immediately inside the door.

Adverb Form
We make many adverbs by adding -ly to an adjective, for example:

quick (adjective) > quickly (adverb)

careful (adjective) > carefully (adverb)

beautiful (adjective) > beautifully (adverb)

There are some basic rules about spelling for -ly adverbs. See the table below:
Adjective ending

do this

adjective

adverb

most adjectives

add -ly

quick
nice
sole
careful

quickly
nicely
solely
carefully

-able or -ible

change -e to -y

regrettable
horrible

regrettably
horribly

-y

change -y to -ily

happy

happily

-ic

change -ic to -ically

economic

economically

But not all words that end in -ly are adverbs. The words friendly, lovely, lonely and
neighbourly, for example, are all adjectives.
And some adverbs have no particular form. Look at these examples:

well, fast, very, never, always, often, still

Note that the form of an adverb can also change to make it comparative or superlative.
Kinds of Adverbs

Here you can see the basic kinds of adverbs.

Adverbs of Manner
Adverbs of Manner tell us the manner or way in which something happens. They answer the
question "how?". Adverbs of Manner mainly modify verbs.

He speaks slowly. (How does he speak?)

They helped us cheerfully. (How did they help us?)

James Bond drives his cars fast. (How does James Bond drive his cars?)

We normally use Adverbs of Manner with dynamic (action) verbs, not with
stative or state verbs.

He ran fast. She came quickly. They worked happily.

She looked beautifully. It seems strangely. They are happily.

Adverbs of Place
Adverbs of Place tell us the place where something happens. They answer the question
"where?". Adverbs of Place mainly modify verbs.

Please sit here. (Where should I sit?)

They looked everywhere. (Where did they look?)

Two cars were parked outside. (Where were two cars parked?)

Adverbs of Time
Adverbs of Time tell us something about the time that something happens. Adverbs of Time
mainly modify verbs.
They can answer the question "when?":

He came yesterday. (When did he come?)

I want it now. (When do I want it?)

Or they can answer the question "how often?":

They deliver the newspaper daily. (How often do they deliver the
newspaper?)

We sometimes watch a movie. (How often do we watch a movie?)

Adverbs of Degree
Adverbs of Degree tell us the degree or extent to which something happens. They answer the
question "how much?" or "to what degree?". Adverbs of Degree can modify verbs, adjectives
and other adverbs.

She entirely agrees with him. (How much does she agree with him?)

Mary is very beautiful. (To what degree is Mary beautiful? How beautiful is
Mary?)

He drove quite dangerously. (To what degree did he drive dangerously?


How dangerously did he drive?)

Adverb Position

When an adverb modifies a verb, there are usually 3 possible positions within the sentence or
clause:
1. FRONT - before subject

Now I will read a book.

2. MID - between subject + verb

3. END - after verb/object

I often

I read books

read books.

carefully
.

When an adverb modifies an adjective or another adverb, it usually goes in front of the word
that it modifies, for example:
100% always, constantly
adverb

usually, normally

adjective

She gave himfrequently,


a reallyregularly dirty

look.

often
adverb
50% sometimes

adverb

occasionally

We quite

rarely, infrequently

often

study English.

The position of an adverbseldom


often depends on the kind of adverb (manner, place, time, degree).
The following table giveshardly
you some
everguidelines for placement based on the kind of adverb.
0% never

Warning: these are guidelines only, and not complete. There are many
exceptions.

kind of
adverb

mainly
modifi
es

manner

verbs

place

verbs

tim

verbs

definite

sentence
adverb
She stroked his
gently.
hair
He was
here.
working
He finished the yesterd

usual
position

END

END

END

job ay.
e

frequen
cy

We often

I nearly

degree

verbs,
adjectiv
es and
adverbs

It was terribly

He works really

go to Par
is.

MID

died.

MID

funny.

before adject
ive

fast.

before
adverb

Adverbs of Frequency

Adverbs of Frequency are Adverbs of Time that answer the question "How frequently?" or
"How often?". They tell us how often something happens. Here are some examples:
a. daily, weekly, yearly
b. often, sometimes, rarely

You probably see a difference between a) and b) above. With words like daily we know
exactly how often. The words in a) describe definite frequency. On the other hand, words like
often give us an idea about frequency but they don't tell us exactly. The words in b) describe
indefinite frequency.
We separate them into two groups because they normally go in different positions in the
sentence.
In this lesson we will look in more detail at:

Adverbs of Definite Frequency

Adverbs of Indefinite Frequency

Adverbs of definite frequency


Examples:

hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly

every second, once a minute, twice a year

once, twice, once or twice, three times

Adverbs of definite frequency, like all adverbs of definite time, typically go in END position.
Look at these examples:

Most companies pay taxes yearly.

The manager checks the toilets every hour.

The directors meet weekly to review progress.

Sometimes, usually for reasons of emphasis or style, some adverbs of definite frequency may
go at the FRONT, for example:

Every day, more than five thousand people die on our roads.
100% always, constantly
usually, normally
frequently, regularly
often
50% sometimes
occasionally
rarely, infrequently
seldom
hardly ever
0% never

Adverbs of indefinite frequency


Examples:

never, seldom, sometimes, often, always

Adverbs of indefinite frequency mainly go in MID position in the sentence. They go before
the main verb (except the main verb "to be"):

We usually go shopping on Saturday.

I have often done that.

She is always late.

Occasionally, sometimes, often, frequently and usually can also go at the beginning or end of
a sentence:

Sometimes they come and stay with us.

I play tennis occasionally.

Rarely and seldom can also go at the end of a sentence (often with "very"):

We see them rarely.

John eats meat very seldom.

Adverbs of Manner List

Alphabetical list of common single-word manner adverbs


Adverbs of manner form the largest group of adverbs. We make most of them simply by
adding -ly to their corresponding adjective. This is an alphabetical list of 130 common singleword adverbs of manner. Adverbs of manner that do not end in -ly are shown in bold.
accidentally
angrily
anxiously
awkwardly
badly
beautifully
blindly
boldly
bravely
brightly
busily
calmly
carefully
carelessly
cautiously
cheerfully
clearly
closely
correctly
courageously
cruelly
daringly
deliberately
doubtfully
eagerly

easily
elegantly
enormously
enthusiastically
equally
eventually
exactly
faithfully
fast
fatally
fiercely
fondly
foolishly
fortunately
frankly
frantically
generously
gently
gladly
gracefully
greedily
happily
hard
hastily
healthily
honestly
hungrily
hurriedly
inadequately
ingeniously
innocently
inquisitively
irritably
joyously
justly
kindly
lazily
loosely
loudly
madly
mortally
mysteriously
neatly
nervously

noisily
obediently
openly
painfully
patiently
perfectly
politely
poorly
powerfully
promptly
punctually
quickly
quietly
rapidly
rarely
really
recklessly
regularly
reluctantly
repeatedly
rightfully
roughly
rudely
sadly
safely
selfishly
sensibly
seriously
sharply
shyly
silently
sleepily
slowly
smoothly
so
softly
solemnly
speedily
stealthily
sternly
straight
stupidly
successfully
suddenly

suspiciously
swiftly
tenderly
tensely
thoughtfully
tightly
truthfully
unexpectedly
victoriously
violently
vivaciously
warmly
weakly
wearily
well
wildly
wisely
Adverbs of Place List

Alphabetical list of common single-word place adverbs


about
above
abroad
anywhere
away
back
backwards (also backward)
behind
below
down
downstairs
east (etc)
elsewhere
far
here
in
indoors
inside
near
nearby
off
on
out

outside
over
there
towards
under
up
upstairs
where
Common suffixes

-wards or -ward (backwards, downwards, eastward, forwards, homewards,


upwards)

-where (anywhere, everywhere, nowhere, somewhere)

Note that some adverbs can also be prepositions.

She was waiting with a red scarf on. (adverb)

She put the red scarf on the table. (preposition)

Adverbs of Time List

List of common single-word time adverbs


points of time (definite):

now

then

today

tomorrow

tonight

yesterday

frequency (definite):

annually

daily

fortnightly

hourly

monthly

nightly

quarterly

weekly

yearly

The word "bimonthly" is ambiguous and best avoided. Bimonthly can mean
"twice a month" or "every two months". The same is true of
"biyearly"/"biannually".

frequency (indefinite):

always

constantly

ever

frequently

generally

infrequently

never

normally

occasionally

often

rarely

regularly

seldom

sometimes

regularly

usually

relationships in time (indefinite):

already

before

early

earlier

eventually

finally

first

formerly

just

last

late

later

lately

next

previously

recently

since

soon

still

yet

Adverbs of Degree List

Alphabetical list of common single-word degree adverbs


almost
absolutely
awfully*
badly*
barely
completely
decidedly
deeply

enough
enormously
entirely
extremely
fairly
far
fully
greatly
hardly
highly
how
incredibly
indeed
intensely
just
least
less
little
lots
most
much
nearly
perfectly
positively
practically
pretty*
purely
quite
rather
really
scarcely
simply
so
somewhat
strongly
terribly*
thoroughly
too
totally
utterly
very
virtually
well

*informal
English Prepositions

A preposition is a word governing, and usually coming in front of, a noun or pronoun and
expressing a relation to another word or element, as in:

She left before breakfast.

What did you come for?


(For what did you come?)

Short List of Common Prepositions


A Simple Rule for Prepositions
Prepositions of Place
at the bus stop, in the box, on the wall
Prepositions of Time
at Christmas, in May, on Friday

English Preposition Rule


There is one very simple rule about prepositions. And, unlike most rules, this rule has no
exceptions.
Rule
A preposition is followed by a "noun". It is never followed by a verb.
By "noun" we include:

noun (dog, money, love)

proper noun (name) (Bangkok, Mary)

pronoun (you, him, us)

noun group (my first job)

gerund (swimming)

A preposition cannot be followed by a verb. If we want to follow a preposition by a verb, we


must use the "-ing" form which is really a gerund or verb in noun form.
Quick Quiz: In the following sentences, why is "to" followed by a verb? That should be
impossible, according to the above rule:

I would like to go now.

She used to smoke.

Here are some examples:


Subject + verb

preposition

"noun"

The food is

on

the table.

She lives

in

Japan.

Tara is looking

for

you.

The letter is

under

your blue book.

Pascal is used

to

English people.

She isn't used

to

working.

I ate

before

coming.

Answer to Quick Quiz: In these sentences, "to" is not a preposition. It is part of the
infinitive ("to go", "to smoke").
What are prepositions?

What are prepositions?


Prepositions are words that specify place, direction, and time. There are three types of
prepositions.
Time Prepositions - Time prepositions define time. Time prepositions - In - At - On For During - While
Place Propositions - Place prepositions clarify the place someone or somebody. Place
Prepositions - In - On -At
Direction Prepositions - Direction prepositions are used to clarify the direction of someone or
something. Examples: under, over, right, left etc.
How to use a prepositions?
1. The prepositions usually comes before the noun.
2. Prepositions can be used with all forms of nouns (e.g. collective nouns, pronouns etc).

3. Prepositions can't come after a verb, but can be used before a gerund or verb in noun form.
4. The rules above do not change and there are no exceptions to the rules.
Place Prepositions
Prepositions of place are used to clarify a specific place. Place prepositions are used with all
nouns. The preposition usually comes before the noun or the pronoun. The preposition never
comes before a verb.
Common Place Prepositions:
aboard - She is aboard the boat.
above - The picture is above the sofa.
across - My house is across the street.
against - The desk is against the wall.
around - My house is around the block.
at - Is your house at the end of the street.
at the back of - We are going to sit at the back of the theater.
at the bottom of - The coins are at the bottom of the lake.
at the top of - The books are at the top of the shelves.
between - We sit between the two boys.
behind - The girls sit behind the two boys.
below - The desk is below the window
by - The books are by the door.
in - I live in the big green and white house.
inside - I live inside the big green house.
on the corner of - We live on the corner of 3rd avenue
in the middle of - We live in the middle of the street.
near - I don't live near the supermarket.
next to - I live next to my best friend.

At

On

a specific place a place that is physically on


top of a place

In
a place that is enclosed or
within boundaries

at the mall

on the table

in the city

at the table

on the floor

in the box

at work

on the wall

in the park

to the
left of
- The
blue
box is
to the
left of
the
green
box.
to the
right
of The

orange box is to the right of the yellow box.


on - The sun heater is on the top of the building.
on the side of - There is a big sign on the side of the house.
on top of - There is a man on the top of the roof.
on the other side of - Do you see what is going on over there on the other side of the
roof?
opposite - The post office is on the opposite side of the street.
outside - The car is outside the garage.
under - The blanket is under the bed in a box..
underneath - The pen is underneath the box.
Time Prepositions
Time prepositions are used to define time. Prepositions usually come before a noun or
pronoun. Prepositions never come after a verb.

after - I will be there after work.

around - We will be there around 3 PM

before - I will be there before I go to school.

between - I will be there

by - I will be there by the time that you leave for work.

during - I will be there during your class.

for - I will be there for your birthday.

past - I wasn't there for the past 2 months.

since - I didn't see her since I was 10 years old.

until - I will not be home until 7:00 PM.

within - I will be there within 2 hours.

Time Prepositions

Time prepositions are used to clarity what time an event happened or will happen. Time
prepositions are used nouns and pronouns. Prepositions usually come before nouns or
pronouns. Prepositions never come before a verb. List of Time Prepositions
At

On

In

a specific time

days and dates

period of time - years, months,


seasons

at 2:00

on my birthday

in a few days

at lunchtime

on the first day of


the school year

in a couple of months

at 4:00 AM

on 11/10/90

in the summer

IMPORTANT: In English we say:


o

in the morning -because it is considered a period of time

in the afternoon

in the evening

at night -

Note: We say in the morning, in the afternoon, or in the evening BUT we say 'at night'
What are place prepositions?

Place prepositions , are prepositions that are used to describe the place or position of all types
of nouns. It is common for the preposition to be placed before the noun. When we refer to
Place prepositions we usually refer to "in", "at" and "on".
In - Is usually used to state that someone or something is in a (the boundaries can be physical
or virtual place.
On - Is usually used to state someone or something is on top of a surface.
At - Is usually used to state something or someone is at a specific place.
A list of most prepositions of place.
At

On

a specific place a place that is physically on


top of a place

In
a place that is enclosed or
within boundaries

at the mall

on the table

in the city

at the table

on the floor

in the box

at work

on the wall

in the park

IMPORTANT: In English we say:

on the island

in the city/country side

in the mountains - except when you mean that something or someone is


physically on the mountain.

at the office

For - During - While - Prepositions

How are prepositions - for - while - during used?


The 3 most common English prepositions that are used to represent time are: for - while during.
For - The preposition "for" is used to express how long something or someone is doing
something. "For" is used to state a period of time and is usually used with a noun/pronoun (or
any other noun forms) .

I have been riding my bicycle for 2 hours.

The dog has been barking for a long time.

The traffic has been bad for the last three days.

While - The preposition "while" is used to represent the length of time an action has been
happening.
"While" is used when speaking about 2 actions that are happing at the same time. The length
of the action is not important.
"While" is used with a subject and a verb.
o

While I was playing with my dog, my sister was doing her


homework.

While we are playing cards, the radio was playing.

My mother doesn't like the T. V. on while we are eating dinner.

During -The preposition "during" is used to represent the length of time of an action that is
while the action is happening.
"During" is used with a noun/pronoun (or any other noun forms).

I will be really busy during the week.

The kids were sleeping during the party.

The lights went out during the storm.

Conjunctions

A conjunction is a word that "joins". A conjunction joins two parts of a sentence.


Here are some example conjunctions:
Coordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating Conjunctions

and, but, or, nor, for, yet, so

although, because, since, unless

We can consider conjunctions from three aspects.

Form
Conjunctions have three basic forms:

Single Word
for example: and, but, because, although

Compound (often ending with as or that)


for example: provided that, as long as, in order that

Correlative (surrounding an adverb or adjective)


for example: so...that

Function
Conjunctions have two basic functions or "jobs":

Coordinating conjunctions are used to join two parts of a sentence that


are grammatically equal. The two parts may be single words or clauses,
for example:
- Jack and Jill went up the hill.
- The water was warm, but I didn't go swimming.

Subordinating conjunctions are used to join a subordinate dependent


clause to a main clause, for example:
- I went swimming although it was cold.

Position

Coordinating conjunctions always come between the words or clauses


that they join.

Subordinating conjunctions usually come at the beginning of the


subordinate clause.

In this lesson we will look in more detail at:

Coordinating Conjunctions

Subordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating Conjunctions
The short, simple conjunctions are called "coordinating conjunctions":

and, but, or, nor, for, yet, so

A coordinating conjunction joins parts of a sentence (for example words or independent


clauses) that are grammatically equal or similar. A coordinating conjunction shows that the
elements it joins are similar in importance and structure:
+
Look at these examples - the two elements that the coordinating conjunction joins are shown
in square brackets [ ]:

I like [tea] and [coffee].

[Ram likes tea], but [Anthony likes coffee].

Coordinating conjunctions always come between the words or clauses that they join.
When a coordinating conjunction joins independent clauses, it is always correct to place a
comma before the conjunction:

I want to work as an interpreter in the future, so I am studying Russian at university.

However, if the independent clauses are short and well-balanced, a comma is not really
essential:

She is kind so she helps people.

When "and" is used with the last word of a list, a comma is optional:

He drinks beer, whisky, wine, and rum.

He drinks beer, whisky, wine and rum.

The 7 coordinating conjunctions are short, simple words. They have only two or three letters.
There's an easy way to remember them - their initials spell:
F

For

And

Nor

But

Or

Yet

So

Subordinating Conjunctions
The majority of conjunctions are "subordinating conjunctions". Common subordinating
conjunctions are:

after, although, as, because, before, how, if, once, since, than, that, though, till, until,
when, where, whether, while

A subordinating conjunction joins a subordinate (dependent) clause to a main (independent)


clause:

+
Look at this example:
main or

subordinate or

independent clause

dependent clause

Ram went swimming

although

it was raining.

subordinating
conjunction
A subordinate or dependent clause "depends" on a main or independent clause. It cannot exist
alone. Imagine that somebody says to you: "Hello! Although it was raining." What do you
understand? Nothing! But a main or independent clause can exist alone. You will understand
very well if somebody says to you: "Hello! Ram went swimming."
A subordinating conjunction always comes at the beginning of a subordinate clause. It
"introduces" a subordinate clause. However, a subordinate clause can sometimes come after
and sometimes before a main clause. Thus, two structures are possible:

+
Ram went swimming although it was raining.

+
Although it was raining, Ram went swimming.

Interjections
Hi! That's an interjection. :-)
Interjection is a big name for a little word. Interjections are short exclamations like Oh!, Um
or Ah! They have no real grammatical value but we use them quite often, usually more in
speaking than in writing. When interjections are inserted into a sentence, they have no
grammatical connection to the sentence. An interjection is sometimes followed by an
exclamation mark (!) when written.
Interjections like er and um are also known as "hesitation devices". They are extremely
common in English. People use them when they don't know what to say, or to indicate that
they are thinking about what to say. You should learn to recognize them when you hear them
and realize that they have no real meaning.
The table below shows some interjections with examples.
interjectio
n

meaning

example

ah

expressing pleasure

"Ah, that feels good."

expressing realization

"Ah, now I understand."

expressing resignation

"Ah well, it can't be heped."

expressing surprise

"Ah! I've won!"

expressing grief or pity

"Alas, she's dead now."

expressing pity

"Oh dear! Does it hurt?"

expressing surprise

"Dear me! That's a surprise!"

asking for repetition

"It's hot today." "Eh?" "I said it's hot


today."

expressing enquiry

"What do you think of that, eh?"

expressing surprise

"Eh! Really?"

inviting agreement

"Let's go, eh?"

er

expressing hesitation

"Lima is the capital of...er...Peru."

hello, hullo

expressing greeting

"Hello John. How are you today?"

expressing surprise

"Hello! My car's gone!"

calling attention

"Hey! look at that!"

expressing surprise, joy etc

"Hey! What a good idea!"

hi

expressing greeting

"Hi! What's new?"

hmm

expressing hesitation, doubt or


disagreement

"Hmm. I'm not so sure."

expressing surprise

"Oh! You're here!"

expressing pain

"Oh! I've got a toothache."

expressing pleading

"Oh, please say 'yes'!"

ouch

expressing pain

"Ouch! That hurts!"

uh

expressing hesitation

"Uh...I don't know the answer to


that."

uh-huh

expressing agreement

"Shall we go?" "Uh-huh."

um, umm

expressing hesitation

"85 divided by 5 is...um...17."

expressing surprise

"Well I never!"

introducing a remark

"Well, what did he say?"

alas
dear

eh

hey

oh, o

well
1

Subject-Verb Agreement
The Fundamentals
Everything about subject-verb agreement follows this basic rule:
The finite verb agrees with the subject in person and number.
Four concepts are involved here...
1. finite verb
2. subject
3. person
4. number
The agreement between the subject and the verb is not as difficult as it seems. This
page will guide you through the fundamentals of the topic.
1

Propertie
Properties
Parts of speech
Sentence Structure

The Subject-Verb Agreement Story


In our subject-verb agreement story, we have two characters and two character traits.

The two characters are...


1. The subject
2. The finite verb
For a general understanding of these two characters, click here.
If you want a more intimate understanding of them, click these links: subject and finite
verb.

The two character traits are...


1. Person
2. Number
Both these traits (properties) are important.

The Usually Heard Agreement Story


What you usually hear is this:

a singular subject takes a singular verb.

a plural subject takes a plural verb.

A man sits at the counter. Two men sit at the counter.

a man is singular; so we have the singular verb sits.

two men is plural; so we have the plural verb sit.

Good! Singular and plural takes care of the number; but, what about the person part
of the rule?

So let's complete the basic story.


Here's the bit that remains.
Look at these examples:

I am sitting at the computer.

He is sitting at the computer.

The subjects 'I' and 'He' are both singular. Why then are the verbs different?
It's because they belong to different grammatical persons.

The subject 'I' is in the first person;


so the verb is 'am sitting.'

The subject 'He' is in the third person;


so we have 'is sitting' - a different form of the verb.

So let's repeat the fundamental lesson


The finite verb agrees with the subject in person and number.
Not "number" only, but "person and number."

Subject-Verb Agreement for Simple Subjects


We now know what finite verbs do.

A finite verb has a good look at the subject (from top to bottom)! In that one look, it
determines the person and number of the subject, and then it responds appropriately
with its own sweet form!

Agreement in the Present Tense


Let's take an action verb first...
"to sing"
singular

plural

First Person

I sing

We sing

Second
Person

You sing

You sing

He/She/It/ any singular

They/ any plural


subject sing

Third Person

subject sings

Note that the third person singular subject has sings.

For the verb 'to be', you have...


I am, we are, you are, he/she/it/singular is, they/plurals are.
Note the difference in the verb in two places: first person singular and third person
singular.

For the verbs 'to have' and 'to do'...

'to have' - I have, we have, you have, he/she/it has, they have.

'to do' - I do, we do, you do, he/she/it does, they do.

Agreement in the Past Tense


It is necessary to remember only the different forms of the verb to be; the other verbs
have the same form throughout.

'to be' - I was, we were, you were, he/she/it was, they were.

'to sing' - I sang, we sang, you sang, he/she/it sang, they sang.

Will, Shall, Can, Could, and Other Modals


When the first word of a finite verb phrase is a modal (e.g. will or shall, as in "future
tense" verbs), we need not worry about subject-verb agreement.

Modals don't change form. Also, the form of the next verb after a modal is always the
base form (i.e. the bare infinitive).
Examples: will sing, will be, will have, can sing, can be, can have, etc.

Agreement with Compound Subjects


Subjects which have more than one element in them are called compound subjects.
Examples of compound subjects are: he and she, he or she, you or they.
The problem will be to determine the number or person of the subject so that the rule
can be applied.
The rule itself remains unchanged:
The finite verb agrees with the subject in person and number.

Subject-Verb Agreement
The Fundamentals
Everything about subject-verb agreement follows this basic rule:
The finite verb agrees with the subject in person and number.
Four concepts are involved here...
1. finite verb
2. subject
3. person
4. number
The agreement between the subject and the verb is not as difficult as it seems. This
page will guide you through the fundamentals of the topic.
1

Propertie
Properties
Parts of speech
Sentence Structure

The Subject-Verb Agreement Story


In our subject-verb agreement story, we have two characters and two character traits.

The two characters are...


1. The subject
2. The finite verb
For a general understanding of these two characters, click here.
If you want a more intimate understanding of them, click these links: subject and finite
verb.

The two character traits are...


1. Person
2. Number
Both these traits (properties) are important.

The Usually Heard Agreement Story


What you usually hear is this:

a singular subject takes a singular verb.

a plural subject takes a plural verb.

A man sits at the counter. Two men sit at the counter.

a man is singular; so we have the singular verb sits.

two men is plural; so we have the plural verb sit.

Good! Singular and plural takes care of the number; but, what about the person part
of the rule?

So let's complete the basic story.


Here's the bit that remains.
Look at these examples:

I am sitting at the computer.

He is sitting at the computer.

The subjects 'I' and 'He' are both singular. Why then are the verbs different?
It's because they belong to different grammatical persons.

The subject 'I' is in the first person;


so the verb is 'am sitting.'

The subject 'He' is in the third person;


so we have 'is sitting' - a different form of the verb.

So let's repeat the fundamental lesson


The finite verb agrees with the subject in person and number.
Not "number" only, but "person and number."

Subject-Verb Agreement for Simple Subjects


We now know what finite verbs do.
A finite verb has a good look at the subject (from top to bottom)! In that one look, it
determines the person and number of the subject, and then it responds appropriately
with its own sweet form!

Agreement in the Present Tense


Let's take an action verb first...
"to sing"
singular

plural

First Person

I sing

We sing

Second
Person

You sing

You sing

He/She/It/ any singular

They/ any plural


subject sing

Third Person

subject sings

Note that the third person singular subject has sings.

For the verb 'to be', you have...


I am, we are, you are, he/she/it/singular is, they/plurals are.
Note the difference in the verb in two places: first person singular and third person
singular.

For the verbs 'to have' and 'to do'...

'to have' - I have, we have, you have, he/she/it has, they have.

'to do' - I do, we do, you do, he/she/it does, they do.

Agreement in the Past Tense


It is necessary to remember only the different forms of the verb to be; the other verbs
have the same form throughout.

'to be' - I was, we were, you were, he/she/it was, they were.

'to sing' - I sang, we sang, you sang, he/she/it sang, they sang.

Will, Shall, Can, Could, and Other Modals


When the first word of a finite verb phrase is a modal (e.g. will or shall, as in "future
tense" verbs), we need not worry about subject-verb agreement.
Modals don't change form. Also, the form of the next verb after a modal is always the
base form (i.e. the bare infinitive).
Examples: will sing, will be, will have, can sing, can be, can have, etc.

Agreement with Compound Subjects


Subjects which have more than one element in them are called compound subjects.
Examples of compound subjects are: he and she, he or she, you or they.
The problem will be to determine the number or person of the subject so that the rule
can be applied.
The rule itself remains unchanged:
The finite verb agrees with the subject in person and number.

Helping Verbs
Helping Verbs (also called Auxiliary Verbs) are not always clearly understood.
It is not uncommon among students of English, especially those who began seriously
learning the language late in life, to mistakenly believe that some words are always
auxiliary verbs and others always main verbs.

For instance, in the minds of such students, the verb 'is' in the sentence, 'John is a good
student.' is incorrectly branded as an auxiliary verb. They consider all occurrences of
'is' as auxiliary verbs.
1

Helping Verbs
Free online writing courses
Parts of speech
Verbs
The truth is that the verb 'is' can function as a helping verb in one sentence and as a
main verb in another...

John is a good student.


(is - is a main verb in this sentence).

John is reading a book.


(is - is a helping verb and reading is the main verb, both these verbs together
forming a single finite verb phrase).

So then...

What are Helping Verbs?


Helping Verbs are part of finite verb phrases. Finite verb phrases usually have a
main part and a helping part.
Finite verbs are usually phrases (groups of words), except for two instances, when they
are single words.
Those two exceptional cases are:

the simple present tense active affirmative (e.g. sing/sings)

the simple past tense active affirmative (e.g. sang)

Here are some examples


of finite verb phrases in sentences...

I write an article every week.

Now the article is written.

My daughter has been writing it since last Monday.

In my wife's opinion, I should have been writing it.

The finite verbs in these sentences


can be broken up as follows:
Helping verb(s)

Main Verb
write

should

is

written

has

been

writing

have

been

writing

From this table we know that write, written and writing are the main verbs. Each of them
is a different form of the verb 'to write.'
All the other verbs in the table are helping verbs.

Both is and been are forms of the verb to be.

has and have are forms of the verb to have.

The verb should is called a modal auxiliary (or simply a modal).

You can also notice that in the four sentences above...

there is no helping verb in the first sentence,

you find one, two, and three of them in the second, third and fourth sentences
respectively.

There is a main verb in all the sentences. So, a helping verb requires a main verb to
receive its help. Without a main verb, there can be no helping verb.

How Do Helping Verbs Help?


Some helping verbs (called Primary Auxiliaries) help syntactically, i.e. they perform
some grammatical function, as in...

in forming the passive,

in expressing the continuity (progressive) aspect,

in expressing the perfect (completed) aspect,

in providing a dummy verb where a negative or interrogative sentence is to be


made in particular tenses.

Other helping verbs (called Modal Auxiliaries) perform semantic functions. They add
meaning to the meaning of the main verb. What they add are meanings like...

ability,

possibility,

permission,

command,

habitual action, etc.

Helping Verbs
Helping verbs are also called "auxiliary verbs".

Helping verbs have no meaning on their own. They are necessary for the grammatical
structure of a sentence, but they do not tell us very much alone. We usually use helping verbs
with main verbs. They "help" the main verb (which has the real meaning). There are only
about 15 helping verbs in English, and we divide them into two basic groups:

Primary helping verbs (3 verbs)


These are the verbs be, do, and have. Note that we can use these three verbs as helping verbs
or as main verbs. On this page we talk about them as helping verbs. We use them in the
following cases:

be
o

to make continuous tenses (He is watching TV.)

to make the passive (Small fish are eaten by big fish.)

have
o

to make perfect tenses (I have finished my homework.)

to make negatives (I do not like you.)

to ask questions (Do you want some coffee?)

to show emphasis (I do want you to pass your exam.)

do

to stand for a main verb in some constructions (He speaks faster


than she does.)

Modal helping verbs (10 verbs)


We use modal helping verbs to "modify" the meaning of the main verb in some way. A modal
helping verb expresses necessity or possibility, and changes the main verb in that sense.
These are the modal verbs:

can, could

may, might

will, would,

shall, should

must

ought to

Here are examples using modal verbs:

I can't speak Chinese.

John may arrive late.

Would you like a cup of coffee?

You should see a doctor.

I really must go now.

Main Verbs
Semi-modal verbs (3 verbs)
The following verbs are often called "semi-modals" because they are partly like
modal helping verbs and partly like main verbs:

need

dare

used to

Helping verbs, popularly known as auxiliary verbs, are words that occur in the sentence
along with the main verb, to give a better idea of the tense of the sentence. Helping verbs
enhance the quality and meaning of the sentence to a great extent. The user can tell
definitely about the actions if the proper helping verb is used to complement the main
verb. In short, a helping verb can specify the link or relation between the verb (action) and
the time (tense). Following helping verbs list and examples will shed some light on the
usage of helping verbs in the context of rules of English grammar.

In all, there are 23 verbs in the helping verbs list. These helping verbs further fall into two
subcategories namely, primary helping verbs and modal helping verbs.
Primary Helping Verbs
Primary helping verbs are those verbs that can also be used as main verbs in a sentence.
The sentence makes complete sense even if any one of these verbs is used without any
other verb acting as the main verb; provided they are used in a grammatically correct
manner. It means that any one of the below specified verb can act as the main verb of the
sentence.
Primary Helping Verbs List
be

do

have

is

does

had

are

did

has

am
were
was
being
been

Examples: Following are the sentences that will show how these words can be used as
main verbs as well as helping verbs.
'be' as a main verb: To be in this position is a great honor.
'be' as a helping verb: It is an honor for me to be standing here with you.
In the first sentence, 'be' is acting as the main verb whereas in the second sentence, 'be' is
acting as a helping verb to the main verb 'standing'. The same goes for all the forms of
'be', 'do' and 'have' verbs.
Modal Helping Verbs
Modal helping verbs are those verbs that can never be used as a main verb in a sentence.
Modal verbs modify the meaning and tense of the sentence. Modal helping verbs help in
directing some stress on the main verb and expresses possibility or necessity of the action
in the sentence. You will never find any of the following verbs occurring by themselves in a
sentence; there will always be some main verb accompanying them.
Modal Helping Verbs List
may

should

will

might

would

can

must

could

shall

Examples: Following are the sentences that will show what effect these words produce
when used with and without a main verb.
'may' as a helping verb: You may have a drink from the bottle.
'may' as a main verb: You may (?) a drink from the bottle.
In the above example, 'may' acts as a helping verb to the main verb 'have' (shows the use
of the primary helping verb 'have' as the main verb in this sentence) whereas in the

second sentence there is no main verb after the helping verb 'may', due to which the
sentence does not make sense grammatically. The same rule applies to all modal helping
verbs.
You may say that in the second sentence if you remove the article 'a', the sentence makes
sense grammatically. So, let me bring it to your notice that due to the article 'a' that
comes before 'drink', the word 'drink' is acting as a noun in the sentence. If you remove
the 'a' and make the sentence 'You may drink from the bottle', the word 'drink' no more
remains a noun and becomes the main verb of the sentence.
'may' as a helping verb: You may eat the pizza.
'may' as a main verb: You may (?) the pizza.
Here, the main verb 'eat' is a proper action and not a verb that can be used as a helping
verb too. Again, in the second sentence there is no main verb due to which the sentence
has become grammatically meaningless.
Verbs are one of the most important parts of speech of English grammar. Once you learn
to implement the rules of grammar correctly, you can master the English language. Hope
the above helping verbs list as well as the examples and their explanations have been
helpful to you in understanding the grammar related to verbs.

"How to Study Verb Tenses


and Never Again Forget Them?"
Verb tenses is a topic we have learned in school or college year after year; yet few have
confidence in the use of it.
This page will show you an approach to the study of tenses, so that...

you can have an intimate understanding of the topic, and

be able to guide others to a better understanding.

What is Tense?
In English, tense and aspect are two things which are intertwined. When people speak of
tense, they usually include the aspect without making a special mention of it.

Tense refers to the time of an event - it could be present, past or future.

Aspect refers to the state of the event - the event could be...
o

in progess (progressive or continuous aspect), or

completed ( perfect aspect)

English language learning


Building a house
English language learn

Three Distinct Things to Consider


When You Study Verb Tenses
1. Forms of tenses - A form refers to the spelling and combination of words used
for a particular tense. It is the word-symbol to represent some meaning.
2. Names of tenses - A name refers to the name given to a particular tense form.
3. Uses of tenses - A use refers to the meaning(s) associated with a particular
form.

Symbols are part of our lives


In our daily lives too, we can find these three facets (form, name, and meaning) in our
use of symbols...
1. We use pictures, gestures, sounds, words, as symbols (forms)
2. We give each symbol a name to distinguish it from other symbols, and
3. we use the symbol to convey some message (meaning) to other people.

If you want an example,


See how we use picture symbols...

Symbol
(i.e. the form)

Name of the Symbol

Meaning of the Symbol


(i.e. its Use)

"red flag"

"Stop"

"black flag"

"We protest"

The symbol, which we call "red flag," may be of cloth or paper and may come in any
number of sizes; but all of them are called "red flags" and can carry the intended
message.

In the Study of Verb Tenses


We Use Phrase Symbols
In the table below, as symbols we have phrases (word-combinations) instead of pictures.
Just as there could be varieties of red flags, we can have many similar wordcombinations which deserve the name "Present Continuous Tense."

Phrase-Symbol
(Form)

am/is/are singing

am/is/are writing

am/is/are playing

sang

wrote

played

Name of
the PhraseForm

Meaning of the Word-Form


(i.e. its Use)

An action or event in progress


at the time the words of the
tense are spoken.

Sometimes, also used for


announcing certain types of
future events.

"Present
Continuous
tense"

An action or event which happened at


a particular point of time before the
"Simple Past time called "now." Exactly when it
tense"
happened (a little before or long
before) needs to be separately
indicated.

What Seems to Me the Problem


in Learning or Teaching Verb Tenses
'Being' is different from 'Doing'. I think, the inability or carelessness or refusal to
distinguish between the two is the problem.
Let's suppose, someone asked you, "What is a brick?"
Your answer shouldn't be "something that is used for building a house."
That is not the answer to the question asked. It is an answer to some other question:
"What is the use of a brick?"

Similarly, in English Language Learning...


When learning or teaching grammar, the teacher-student dialogue should go something
like this:

Question: What is the present continuous tense?

Answer:

Question: What do we use these forms for?

Answer: To convey the meaning that the action of eating or studying or working
is in progress....

am/is/are eating; am/is/are studying; am/is/are working; etc.

So, identify a tense by its form; you can then seek to know which meanings are
conveyed by that particular form.

Present tense is used to express actions that occur in the present.


1

To continue, please choose one of the English present tenses:


Present Simple ("I choose")
Present Perfect ("I have chosen")
Present Continuous ("I am choosing")
Present Perfect Continuous ("I have been choosing")
Basic form
Subject + Verb (Present Form)

Quick Examples

John lives in New York.

We play football every day.

You are really kind.

The meeting starts at 3 PM.

The Present Simple is the most basic tense in the English language. It is an interesting tense
because it can be used to express the future. Generally, though, we use it to describe the present
activities or to talk about routines or habits.

Use
1.

Facts, generalizations and universal truths

2.

Habits and routines

3.

Permanent situations

4.

Events that are certain to happen

5.

Arrangements that we can't change (e.g. timetables, official meetings)

6.

State verbs (e.g. be, have, suppose, know)

7.

Narrations, instructions or commentaries

Note
Apart from the above uses, this tense is also used in:

Zero Conditional ("If it doesn't rains, I go play football.")

First Conditional ("We won't get our pocket money, if we don't pass this exam.")

In sentences after when, before, till, after, as soon as ("Before you leave, please take
the keys.")

Use 1: Facts, Generalizations and Univeral Truths


We use the Present Simple to talk about universal truths (for example, laws of nature) or things
we believe are, or are not, true. It's also used to generalize about something or somebody.

Water boils at 100 degrees Celcius. Universal Truth

It is a big house. Fact

The Earth goes around the Sun. Universal Truth, Fact

Dogs are better than cats. Generalization

Berlin is the capital city of Germany. Fact

The Elephant doesn't fly. Fact

London is the capital city of France. Fact (Remember: the sentence does not have to be
true)

To understand this use better, watch this interactive animation:

[ Scientist: The Earth goes around the Sun (Use 1) ]

Explanation
In this cartoon, you can see a scientist who says: "The Earth goes around the Sun".

Why is Present Simple used in this sentence? Because the scientist expresses a fact,
something that he believes is true (in this case, he is right: the Earth really orbits the
Sun).

Use 2: Habits and Routines


We also use this tense to describe actions that happen frequently. For example: habits, routines,
tendencies.

We leave for work at 7:30 AM every morning. Routine

My husband watches the TV in the evening. Habit, Routine

Susan often meets with her friends after school. Habit, Routine

They usually play football on Sunday. Habit, Routine

Mark rarely visits his sick grandmother. Tendency

Pinocchio usually tells lies. Tendency

Adverbs of Frequency
The Present Simple is often used with the frequency adverbs:

always

frequently/often

usually

seldom/rarely

nowadays

never

every week/year

sometimes/occasionally

from time to time

every now and then

A few examples how to use them in sentences:

I always go to church on Sundays.

I never eat anything after 10 PM.

To understand this use better, watch this interactive animation:

[ John: I play basketball every Friday ]

Explanation
In this cartoon, you can see a boy who says: "I play basketball every Friday" (click on the present
button to see this).

Why is this in Present Simple? Because the boy talks about a habit, something that he
does regularly.

Use 3: Pernament Situations


Use the Present Simple to talk about situations in life that last a relatively long time.

I live in Boston

He works as a fireman.

Margaret drives a Volkswagen.

Jerry doesn't teach maths at highschool.

Use 4: Events Certain to Happen


Use the Present Simple when an event is certain to happen in the future.

My grandmother turns 100 this July.

Winter starts on December 21.

Use 5: State Verbs


You should use the Present Simple with state verbs.

I like swimming.

We know this man.

Speaker 1: Ronaldinho, do you like football? (Use 4)


Ronaldinho: Yes, I do.

Note
Some of the verbs used in the simple form can also appear in the continuous form. This is
typically when they have an active meaning or emphasize change.

I'm thinking of moving to San Francisco.

I'm loving your new hairdo!

Read more

Use 6: Future Arrangements


Use the Present Simple to talk about events that we can't change (for example, an official meeting
or a train departure).

The meeting starts at 4 PM.

The train leaves at the noon.

When does the plane take off?

Jerry doesn't teach maths at high school.

Use 7: Narrations, Instructions or commentaries


The Present Simple is also used in narrations (e.g. to tell a story or a joke), instructions (e.g.
cooking) or commentaries (especially sport commentaries).

"A man goes to visit a friend and is amazed to find him playing chess with his dog. He
watches the game in astonishment for a while [...]"

Read more

Form
Forming a sentence in the Present Simple is easy. To form a declarative sentence, all you need is
the subject of the sentence (e.g. I, you, he, a dog) and the verb (e.g. be, talk, swim). Questions
and negative sentences are only a little more difficult, because they require an auxiliary verb.

Declarative Sentences
Subject

Verb (present form)


+

e.g. he, she, a dog, etc.

e.g. go, make, have, etc.

Sharks have sharp teeth (Use 1)

EXAMPLES

USE

A dog is an animal.

I learn English twice a week.

I have two eggs.

The course starts in April.

The man enters the room and looks at the clock.

Questions
Questions require the auxiliary verb "to do" or, in the third person singular, "does".

Do or Does

Subject
+

Verb (present form)


+

e.g. he, she, a dog, etc.

e.g. go, make, have, etc.

Compare these examples:

Person A: Does she like going to the mountains?

Person B: Yes, she does.

Person A: Does John have a dog?

Person B: No, he doesn't.

When asking a question, the verb does not conjugate:

Does she have a dog?

Does she has a dog?

For the verb "to be", we do not use an auxiliary:

Is he tall?

Does he be tall?

EXAMPLES

USE

Is he a lawyer?

Doe Mike go swimming every Sunday?

Doe she live in London?

Do you turn 40 in April?

Negative Sentences
Subject

Don't or Doesn't
+

e.g. he, she, a dog, etc.

Contracted forms (more)

do + not = don't

does + not = doesn't

Verb (present form)


+
e.g. go, make, have, etc.

EXAMPLES

They don't live in New York anymore.

I don't like winter.

He doesn't go to the cinema at all.

USE

Basic form
Subject + HAS/HAVE + Verb (Past Participle Form)

Quick Examples

I have read this book.

The man has gone away.

John has worked as a teacher for over 25 years.

The Present Perfect is used to express actions that happened at anindefinite time or that began
in the past and continue in the present. This tense is also used when an activity has an effect on
the present moment.

Use
1.

Actions which happened at an indefinite (unknown) time before now

2.

Actions in the past which have an effect on the present moment

3.

Actions which began in the past and continue in the present

Use 1: Indefinite time before now


Use the Present Perfect to talk about actions that happened at some point in the past. It does
not matter when exactly they happened.

I have already had a breakfast.

He has been to England.

Remember
You should not use this tense with time expressions like yesterday, a week ago, last year, etc.

I have seen it yesterday.

We have gone to Paris last year.

Use 2: Effect on the present moment


We also use this tense to when an activity has an effect on the present moment.

He has finished his work. (so he can now rest)

I have already eaten the dinner. (so I'm not hungry)

He has had a car accident. (that's why he is in the hospital)

To understand this use better, watch this interactive animation:

[ Marcus: I have been struck by a bolt of lightning! ]

Explanation
In this cartoon, you can see a mother asking her son: "Markus, what's happened". Marcus replies:
"I have been struck by a bolt of lightning".

Why is the Present Perfect tense used in this example? Click on the button labled as
"event 1". You can see that Marcus was struck lightning bolt. Now click on the other
button. The use of Present Continuous is correct here because the action has an effect on
the present moment (it explains why he looks this way).

Use 3: Continuation in the present

We often use the Present Perfect when we want to emphasize that an event continues in the
present.

Mary has worked as a teacher for over 25 years.

Patrick has achieved a lot in his life.

To understand this use better, click on the buttons and read the message:

For and Since


Since and For are very common time expressions used with the Present Perfect.
We use For with a period of time, for example:

I have lived here for 20 years.

When talking about a starting point, we use Since, for example:

I have lived here since 1960.

More about time expressions.

Form
To form a sentence in the Present Perfect, you need:
1.

The proper conjugation of the auxiliary verb "to have".

2.

The Past Participle of your verb.

1. Auxiliary Verb "to have"

We conjugate the auxiliary verb "to have" the same way we would conjugate the normal verb "to
have".

Person

Singular

Plural

Person

Singular

Plural

First

I have

We have

Second

You have

You have

Third

He/she/it has

They have

As you can see, the third person singular is irregular.


More examples:

She has never seen my brother.

Neither Mike nor Tom has ever driven a truck.

2. The Past Participle


The past participle of a verb is a verb form that appears with the perfect tenses. The past
participle can be either regular or irregular.

The regular verbs are formed by adding -ed to the verb:

Verb

Past Participle

Verb

Past Participle

talk

talked

explain

explained

use

used

deliver

delivered

include

included

Verb

Past Participle

achieve

achieved

The formation of the irregular verbs does not follow one rule. Therefore, they should be
memorized.

Verb

Past Participle

Learn more

Verb

Past Participle

Learn more

be

been

be

become

become

become

see

seen

see

go

gone

go

eat

eaten

eat

grow

grown

grow

Declarative Sentences
Subject

HAS/HAVE
+

e.g. he, she, a dog, etc.

EXAMPLES

Verb (past participle form)


+
e.g. gone, taken, done, etc.

USE

We have already had breakfast.

I have bought new shades.

I am having my first driving lesson this week.

He's studying to become lawyer one day.

Someone has just taken my bag!

Jane has never been so angry.

He has been our most serious partner for so long that I can assure you he's
a very decent man.

Questions
HAS/HAVE

Subject

Verb (past participle form)

e.g. he, she, a dog, etc.

e.g. gone, taken, done, etc.

EXAMPLES

USE

Have you ever seen this program?

Where has she lived for the past 21 years?

Have you found the telephone number?

Has anyone taken my bag?

Have you ever been to France?

Has anyone taken my bag?

Trivia
In sentences with adverbials such as ever, already or yet, American-English speakers may use
the Past Simple rather than the Present Perfect. So, an American would say:

Did you go to the post office yet? (Past Simple)

rather than:

Have you gone to the post office yet? (Present Perfect)

Negative Sentences
Subject

HAS NOT / HAVE


NOT

Verb (past participle


form)

e.g. he, she, a dog,


etc.

EXAMPLES

He hasn't taken any drug for two years.

I haven't met my perfect partner yet.

They haven't contacted you, have they?

e.g. gone, taken, done, etc.

USE

Basic form
Subject + IS/ARE + Verb (Continuous Form)

Quick Examples

He is sleeping.

I am visiting grandpa in the afternoon.

You are always coming late for the meetings!

The Present Continuous is mainly used to express the idea that something is happening at the
moment of speaking. The Present Continuous also describes activities generally in progress (not
at the moment). Another use of the tense is to talk about temporary actions or future plans.

Use
1.

Present actions

2.

Temporary actions

3.

Longer actions in progress

4.

Future (personal) arrangements and plans

5.

Tendencies and trends

6.

Irritation

Use 1: Present Actions


Most often, we use the Present Continuous tense to talk about actions happening at the moment of
speaking.

He is eating a dinner.

Mary is talking with her friends.

They are swimming in the pool.

Stative (State) Verbs


There is a certain group of verbs that usually does not appear in the Continuous form. They are
called Stative (State) Verbs, and if used in the Continuous form, they have a different meaning.
Examples:

I think you look pretty today. meaning: Opinion

I'm thinking of moving to San Francisco. meaning: Act of thinking

Read more)

[ Johny: I'm having a shower now. ]

Explanation
In this cartoon, you can see a man in the shower who says: "I'm taking a shower now".

Why is the Present Continuous tense used in this example? Because the Johny is
taking shower at this precise moment.

Use 2: Temporary Actions

This tense is also used for activities continuing only for a limited period of time.

I'm riding a bike to get to work because my car is broken. Temporary Action (His car will
soon be repaired)

They are not talking with each other after the last argument. Temporary Action (They will
soon make up)

Mary is working at McDonald's. Temporary Action (She is working there only during the
summer holidays)

Use 3: Longer Actions in Progress


We also use the Present Continuous when we are in the middle of doing something timeconsuming (i.e. something that takes time to complete). An example of such an activity is writing
a book, saving money or studying for an exam.

They are working hard to earn money.

I am training to become a professional footballer.

Mike is studying hard to become a doctor.

Elizabeth is currently writing a children's book titled I am the World.

To understand this use better, watch this interactive animation:

[ Alex: I'm writing an adventure book ]

Explanation
In this cartoon, you can a man who says: "I'm writing an adventure book".

Why is the Present Continuous tense used in this example? Click on the buttons
located on the Timeline to see the other scenes. You will find out that Alex (the writer) was
writing the book a month ago, two months ago and four months ago. Clearly, it's a longer
action in progress.

Use 4: Future (Personal) Arrangements and Plans


Sometimes we use the Present Continuous to show that something is planned and will be done
in the near future.

I'm meeting Katie in the evening.

He's flying to Rome in September.

We're not going anywhere tomorrow.

Use 5: Tendencies and Trends


This tense is also used for expressing tendencies or trends.

Our country is getting richer.

The Internet is becoming less of a novelty.

The Universe is expanding.

Use 6: Irritation or Anger


And the last use of this tense is to express irritation or anger over somebody or something in the
present with adverbs such as: always, continually or contantly.

She is continually complaining about everything!

Johny is always asking stupid questions!

My boss is contantly critising me!

Form
To form a sentence in the Present Continuous, you have to:

know the proper conjugation of the auxiliary verb .

Person

Singular

Plural

Person

Singular

Plural

First

I am

We are

Person

Singular

Plural

Second

You are

You are

Third

He/she/it is

They are

add the "ing" suffix to the verb (to form the present participle of the verb). Examples:
o

try + ing = trying

go + ing = going

Contracted forms (more)

I + am = I'm

is + not = isn't

are + not = aren't

he + is = he's

she + is = she's

it + is= it's

Declarative Sentences
Subject

IS/ARE
+

Verb + ING
+

e.g. he, she, a dog, etc.

EXAMPLES

I am reading a book.

They are swimming in the sea.

I am having my first driving lesson this week.

e.g. walking, going, taking, etc.

USE

He's studying to become lawyer one day

She is always asking me stupid questions.

Questions
IS/ARE

Subject
+

Verb + ING
+

e.g. he, she, a dog, etc.

e.g. walking, going, taking, etc.

EXAMPLES

Is she eating my cake now?

Are they having the party on Friday or Saturday?

Are you meeting David today?

Is Mary having breakfast now?

Negative Sentences

USE

IS NOT / ARE
NOT

Subject
+
e.g. he, she, a dog,
etc.

EXAMPLES

He isn't joking.

We aren't waiting for my uncle.

He is not going to school tomorrow.

Basic form
Subject + HAS/HAVE + BEEN + Verb (Past Participle Form)

Quick Examples

I have been working as a teacher for 30 years.

What have you been doing?

Use

Verb + ING
+
e.g. walking, going, taking,
etc.

USE

1.

Actions that started in the past and continue in the present

2.

Actions that have recently stopped

3.

Temporary actions and situations

Use 1: Continuation in the Present


We use the Present Perfect Continuous to show that something started in the past and
continues in the present.

He has been painting the house for 5 hours. He's still painting it

I have been working as a fireman since 1973. I still work as a fireman

Use 2: Past actions recently stopped


Use this tense also to talk about actions that began in the past and have recently stopped.

I have been waiting for you for half an hour! I'm not waiting anymore because you have
come

Look at her eyes! I'm sure she has been crying. She stopped crying when she saw them

For and Since


Since and for are very common time expressions used with the Present Perfect Continuous.
We use for with a period of time, for example:

I have been living here for 20 years.

When talking about a starting point, we use since, for example:

I have been living here since 1960.

Learn more

To understand this use better, watch this interactive animation:

[ Mother: What have you been doing? ]

Explanation
In this cartoon, you can see a mother asking her son: "What have you been doing?". The boy
replies: "Nothing, mum".

Why is this in Present Perfect Continuous? Click on the button labled "event 1". You
can see that the boy is playing a computer game. Now click on the button labeled "event
2". In this scene, someone knocks at the door. It's his mother. In the next scene, she asks
him "what have you been doing?". The use of Present Perfect Continuous is correct here
because in this last scene Marcus no longer is playing a computer game (he stopped the
moment he heard someone knocking at the door). This is exactly use 2 described above.

Use 3: Temporary Actions and Situations


We use this tense when an action or situation is temporary.

I have been living in Boston for two months.

I have been working as a waitress for the past week.

Form
To form a sentence in the Present Perfect Continuous, you need:
1.

The proper conjugation of the auxiliary verb to have.

2.

The auxiliary verb to be in the Past Participle form: "been".

3.

The Present Participle of your verb (verb + ing)

1. Auxiliary Verb "to have"


We conjugate the auxiliary verb "to have" the same way we would conjugate the normal verb "to
have".

Person

Singular

Plural

Person

Singular

Plural

First

I have

We have

Second

You have

You have

Third

He/she/it has

They have

As you can see, the third person singular is irregular.


More examples:

She has never seen my brother.

Neither of my brothers has ever driven a truck.

2. Auxiliary verb "to be"


The past participle of the verb "to be" is "been". This is also an auxiliary verb, and you must never
forget about it

I have working as a teacher for 10 years.

I have been working as a teacher for 10 years.

3. The Present Participle


The present participle is of a verb is a verb form that appears with the present tenses. The present
participle is formed by adding -ing to the verb.

talk + ing = talking

be + ing = being

There are exceptions.

Positive Sentences
Subjec
t
e.g. I/a
dog etc.

Auxiliar
y verb
has/have

Auxiliar
y verb
been

Verb + ing
e.g.
swimming/talkin

g etc.

Examples

Use

I have been sleeping.

(Use 2)

Tom has been working as a postman for 30


years now.

(Use 1)

She has been learning English for 3 hours now.

(Use 1)

Questions
Auxiliar
y verb

Subjec
t

+
has/have

e.g. I/a
dog etc.

Auxiliar
y verb

Verb + ing

+
been

Examples

e.g.
swimming/talkin
g etc.

Use

Have you been running?

(Use 2)

Has Tom been walking the dog?

(Use 2)

How long have you been learning English?

(Use 1)

Q: What have you been doing there?


A: I've been eating.

(Use 1 or Use 2)

Negative Sentences
Subjec
t
e.g. I/a
dog etc.

Auxiliar
y verb
has
not/have

Auxiliar
y verb
been

Verb + ing
e.g.
swimming/talkin

not

Examples

g etc.

Use

No, I haven't been crying. I'm just cold.

(Use 1)

His car is broken, so he hasn't been driving


it lately.

(Use 2)

The past tense is a verb tense expressing activity, action state or being in the past. In English,
there are two types of past tense:
1. simple past
2. present tense
1. Simple past include:
Past Progressive
Past Simple
Past Perfect
Past Perfect Continuous
2. The present tenses:
Present Perfect Continuous
Present Perfect
Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous (Progressive) both refer to the present and to the
past.
I have just eaten my chocolate bar.
Mike has never seen a car like this before.
We usually use the Past Continuous to talk about activities that lasted for some time in the past.
The actions can be interruped by something or can be happening at the same time.

Use
1.

Duration in the past

2.

Interrupted actions in progress

3.

Actions in progress at the same time in the past

4.

Irritation

5.

Polite question

USE 1: Duration in the past


We use the Past Continuous to talk about actions or situations that lasted for some time in the
past, and whose duration time is unknown or unimportant.
Examples:

I was watching TV yesterday in the evening.

She was sleeping on the couch.

The dog was barking.

USE 2: Interrupted actions in progress


The Past Continuous is often used when one action in progress is interruped by another action in
the past. We usually use when or while to link these two sentences.
1.

Sentence in Past
Continuous

WHEN

e.g. I was singing

Sentence in Past Simple


e.g. my wife came home

3.

WHEN/WHILE

Sentence in
Past
Continuous

Sentence in Past Simple

e.g. I was
singing
Examples:

I was talking with James when the telephone rang.

While Angelica was playing tennis, the plane crashed .

When Bob was painting windows, it started raining.

To understand this use better, watch this interactive animation:

e.g. my wife came home

[ Peter: When I was jogging, someone stopped me and asked what time it was ]

Explanation
In this cartoon, you can see a man who says: "When I was jogging someone stopped me and
asked what time it was.".

Why is this in Past Continuous? Click on the button labled "event 1". You can see that
the man is jogging. This is a continuous action. Suddenly, another man stops him and
asks what time it is. This is "event 2". Notice that the action of jogging is interrupted by
event 2. This is why the use of Past Continuous is correct here.

USE 3: Actions in progress at the same time


We also use this tense to talk about two or more activities happening at the same. We usually use
when or while to link the two sentences.
1.

Sentence in Past
Continuous

WHEN/WHILE

e.g. I was singing

Sentence in Past Continuous


e.g. She was cooking

3.

WHEN/WHILE

Sentence in Past
Continuous

Sentence in Past Continuous

e.g. I was singing

e.g. She was cooking

Examples:

I was watching TV and Barbara was reading a book.

The family was eating the dinner and talking.

When Bob was painting windows, Mary was working in the kitchen.

USE 4: Polite questions


If we want to ask a polite question, we can use the Past Continuous.
Examples:

I was wondering if you could open the window.

I was thinking you might help me with this problem.

Even though the sentences have a Past Continuous form, they refer to the present moment. Their
meaning is similar to the "could you" sentences, but they are more polite.

USE 5: Irritation
Remember that you can also express irritation over somebody or something in the past.
Examples:

She was always coming late for dinner!

Form
To form a sentence in the Past Continuous, you need:
1.

The proper conjugation of the auxiliary verb "to be" in the past form

2.

The Present Participle of your verb (verb + ing)

1. Auxiliary verb "to be"


The past form of the auxiliary verb "to be" is:
1.

For the first and third person singular: "was"

2.

For all others: "were"

Examples:

She was always coming late for dinner!

You were always coming late for dinner!

2. The Present Participle


The present participle is of a verb is a verb form that appears with the present tenses. The present
participle is formed by adding -ing to the verb.

talk + ing = talking

be + ing = being

There are exceptions.

Positive Sentences
Subject

Auxiliary

Verb + ing

verb
e.g. I/a dog
etc.

was / were

e.g.
swimming/talking
etc.

[ A rhinoceros was swatting flies with its tail when suddenly a fly bit him (Use 2) ]

Examples

Use

At 3 p.m., I was having lunch

(Use 1)

They were talking about her when she walked


into the room.

(Use 2)

While Kenneth was cleaning the living room,


Sam was washing the dishes.

(Use 3)

We were all thinking about our holidays.

(Use 2)

Questions
Auxiliary
verb

Subject

+
was / were

e.g. I/a dog


etc.

Verb + ing

Examples

e.g.
swimming/talking
etc.

Use

Was she going to the theater when it


started raining?

(Use 2)

What were the defenders doing when


Kenneth struck the ball?

(Use 2)

Were you painting your house yesterday at


5 p.m.?

(Use 1)

Was Mary shopping when the mall was


burning?

(Use 3)

Negative Sentences
Auxiliary
verb

Subject

e.g. I/a
dog etc.

was not /
were not

Examples

He asked me why I wasn't having dinner


at the hotel.

Verb + ing

e.g.
swimming/talking
etc.

Use

(Use 1)

We weren't playing football when the


earthquake began.

(Use 2)

Quick Examples

I was sleepy.

He didn't learn any Italian when he was in Italy two year ago.

I went to the cinema, bought popcorn and watched a movie.

We use the Past Simple to talk about actions that happened at a specific time in the past. The
actions can be short or long. There can be a few actions happening one ofter another.

Use
1.

Events in the past that are now finished

2.

Situation in the past

3.

A series of actions in the past

USE 1: Past actions that are now finished


The first use of the Past Simple to express actions that happened at a specific time in the past. The
actions can be short [1] or long [2].
Examples:

John cut his finger last week. [1]

I went to college 3 years ago. [2]

He ate the dinner 1 hour ago. [1]

I slept well last night. [2]

USE 2: Situation in the past


Another use of this tense is talk about situations in the past.
Examples:

I lived in New York for 10 years (I don't live there anymore).

USE 3: A series of actions in the past


The Past Simple can also be used with a few actions in the past happening one after another.
Examples:

He entered a room, lit a cigarette and smiled at the guests.

Form
Forming a sentence in the Past Simple is easy. To form a declarative sentence, all you need is the
subject of the sentence (e.g. I, you, he, a dog) and the past form of your verb (e.g. was, talked,
swam). Questions and negative sentences are only a little more difficult, because they require an
auxiliary verb.

Declarative Sentences
Subject

Verb + ED or an irregular verb form

e.g. I/a dog etc.

e.g. worked/went/made

I saw two colorful fishes in the lake yesterday (Use 1)

Examples

Use

He entered the room, lit a cigarette


and smiled at the guests.

(Use
3)

Mary tried the soup but it was too hot


to eat.

(Use
1)

I lived in New York for 10 years (I


don't live there anymore).

(Use
2)

They saw us playing football.

(Use
1)

He married a woman who lived in the


same village.

(Use
3)

I ate the cake yesterday.

(Use
1)

I have eaten the cake yesterday.


Time Expressions

Common time expressions (time adverbials) in the Past Simple are:

yesterday

the other day

just now

the day before yesterday

Questions
Auxiliary
verb

Subject

did

e.g. I/a dog


etc.

Examples

Verb in the present


form
e.g. work/go/make

Use

How long did he work there?

(Use 1)

Did the telephone ring?

(Use 1)

Did you see that?

(Use 1)

Negative Sentences
Subject
e.g. I/a dog
etc.

Auxiliary verb
+ not
didn't

Examples

Verb in the present


form
e.g. work/go/make

Use

He didn't learn any Italian when he


was in Italy two year ago.

(Use
1)

I wasn't at my grandma's when you


came.

(Use
1)

He didn't get any good grades when


he attended school.

(Use
3)

Quick Examples

I had written the letter before you came home.

If she had studied hard, she would have passed the English language exam.

I wish I had been brave enough.

Mary looked as if she had not slept for 48 hours.

We use the Past Perfect tense to emphasize that an action in the past finished before another
action in the past started. This tense is also used in reported speech, third conditional sentences,
or to show dissatisfaction with the past.

Use
1.

Completed action before another action in the past

2.

Third conditional sentences

3.

Reported speech

4.

Dissatisfaction with the past

USE 1: A completed action before another action in the past


The first use of this tense is to emphasize that one action in the past happened before another
action in the past.
Examples:

I had finished my homework before I went playing football.

John had never been to London before we went there last year.

Good to know
People (especially native speakers) do not use the Past Perfect in above sentences very often. For
example, they will say:

After I washed my car, I went to fill up.

Rather than:

After I had washed my car, I went to fill up.

This is because "after" and "before" tell the listener which action happened first. Still, keep in mind
that it is better to use the Past Perfect, especially in written English or when writing exams.

To understand this use better, watch this interactive animation:

[ Father: My son Julius had never seen a camel before we went together to the zoo in summer
1990. ]

Explanation
In this cartoon, you can see a man who says: "My son, Julius, had never seen a camel, before we
went together to the Zoo in summer 1990 ".

Why is this in Past Perfect? Click on the button labled "event 1". The father asks his
son, Julius, the following question: "Have you ever seen a camel?". Julis replies that he has
never seen it. In the next scene, they are in the Zoo, watching the animal. Notice that the
event 1 occured before event 2. It means that the use of Past Perfect is correct here.

USE 2: Third conditional


Use the Past Perfect with third conditional sentences.
Examples:

If we had gone by taxi, we wouldn't have been late.

If Mary had studied harder, she would have passed the exam.

This use is the so-called hypothetical past: we are talking about things that never happened.

I wish I had fixed my umberella. (but I didn't)

If only I had known the answer to that question. (but I didn't)

USE 3: Reported speech


Use the Past Perfect with sentences in reported speech.

Examples:

Mary said she had already seen this film.

He asked if I had read Harry Potter.

USE 4: Dissatisfaction with the Past


We often use the Past Perfect to show our dissatisfaction with the past. Such sentences typically
start with "I wish ..." or "If only ...".
Examples:

I wish I had taken more food. I'm hungry now.

If only I had taken more food. I'm hungry now.

The Past Perfect is also used with expressions such as "as if" and "as though":

John looked as if he had done something terrible.

She looked as though she hadn't slept all night.

Form
To form a sentence in the Past Perfect, what you need is:
1.

The proper conjugation of the auxiliary verb "to have" in the past form.

2.

The Past Participle of your verb.

1. Auxiliary verb "to have"


The past form of the auxiliary verb "to have" is "had":

Mary had finished her homework before Mike came home.

Mary has finished her homework before Mike came home.

Mary hads finished her homework before Mike came home.

2. The Past Participle


The past participle of a verb is a verb form that appears with the perfect tenses. The past
participle can be either regular or irregular.

The regular verbs are formed by adding "-ed" to the verb:

Verb

Past Participle

Verb

Past Participle

talk

talked

explain

explained

use

used

Verb

Past Participle

deliver

delivered

include

included

achieve

achieved

The formation of the irregular verbs does not follow one rule. Therefore, they should be
memorized.

Verb

Past Participle

Learn more

Verb

Past Participle

Learn more

be

been

be

become

become

become

see

seen

see

go

gone

go

eat

eaten

eat

grow

grown

grow

Positive Sentences
Auxiliary
verb

Subject

e.g. I/a dog


etc.

Past participle

+
had

e.g.
eaten/given/gone
etc.

Examples

Use

Before I went to the park, I had finished my


work.

(Use 1)

If he had made the right choice, he wouldn't be


unhappy now.

(Use 2)

Mary said she had already seen this movie


before.

(Use 3)

I wish I had had enough courage to kiss her!

(Use 4)

Questions
Auxiliary
verb

Subject

+
had

e.g. I/a dog


etc.

Examples

Past participle

e.g.
eaten/given/gone
etc.

Use

Had she eaten the dinner before she


went to the cinema?

(Use 1)

Negative Sentences
Auxiliary
verb

Subject

e.g. I/a dog


etc.

Examples

Past participle

+
had not

e.g.
eaten/given/gone
etc.

Use

I had not seen this movie before we went to


the cinema yesterday to see it.

(Use 1)

If he hadn't made the mistake, he would be


happy now.

(Use 2)

Mary said she had not visited for a long time.

(Use 3)

I wish I hadn't done it!

(Use 4)

Quick Examples

The boys had been quarreling for half an hour when we arrived home.

I had been dating Angelina for 3 years before we got married.

If it hadn't been raining, we would have gone to the park.

She told me that she had been working as a teacher for over 40 years.

The Past Perfect Continuous is used to talk about actions or situations that were in progress
before some other actions or situations. There are also other uses.

Use
1.

Duration of a past action up to a certain point in the past

2.

Showing cause of an action or situation

3.

Third conditional sentences

4.

Reported speech

USE 1: Duration of a Past Action


The main use of the Past Perfect Continuous is to express actions or situations that were in
progress before some other actions or situations.
Examples:

The boys had been quarreling for half an hour when we arrived home.

I had been dating Angelina for 3 years before we got married.

USE 2: Showing Cause


Use this tense to show cause of an action or situation in the past.
Examples:

John was in a detention because he had been misbehaving.

The road was wet because it had been raining.

I had to go on a diet because I had been eating too much sugar.

Jessica got sunburnt because she had been lying in the sun too long.

USE 3: Third Conditional


Remember that this tense is also used in third conditional sentences.

Examples:

If it hadn't been raining, we would have gone to the park.

USE 4: Reported Speech


This tense also appears in Reported speech.
Examples:

She said she knew Charlie had been lying to her.

Reported Speech
In the English language reported speech affects the sequence of tenses, if the main clause is in the past
("I said", "She asked"). It applies to some of the tenses.

Original tense

Original tense

Reported tense

Example

Present Simple

Past Simple

"I work here" - He said he worked there

Present
Continuous

Past Continuous

"She is dancing" - He said he was dancing

Present Perfect

Past Perfect

"I have never been to Alaska" - He said he


had never been to Alaska

Present Perfect
Continuous

Past Perfect
Continuous

"Jane has been driving for 8 hours" - He said


that Jane had been driving for 8 hours

Past Continuous

Past Perfect
Continuous

"I was singing" - He said that he had been


singing

Past Simple

Past Perfect

"I saw you in the mall" - She said that she


had seen him in the mall

will

would

"You will thank me" - She said that he would


thank her

Changes in time and place words

Original word

Original
word

Reported
word

Example

here

there

"I work here" - He said he worked there

this

that

"What are you doing this weekend?" - He asked what


she was doing that weekend

now

then

"He's praying now" - She said he was praying then

yesterday

the day before

"I saw you yesterday" - He said that he had seen him


the day before

tomorrow

the day before

"I will repair my bike tomorrow" - He said that he


would repair her bike the day after

last week

the week
before

next week

the week after

ago

before

"I was born 30 years ago" - He said that he had been


born 30 years before

Read more...

Form
Positive Sentences
Subject
I/a dog
etc.

Auxiliary verb

+
had

Auxiliary
verb
been

Verb + ing

eating/swimming,
etc.

[ Father: When I looked at our daughter Kathy I knew she had been crying. (Use 1) ]

I had been running for an hour when it started raining. (Use 1)

Mary said she had never been swimming so much in one day. (Use 4)

Kathy put on weight because she had been eating too much sugar. (Use 1)

Everything had been going well in my life until my world fell apart several months ago.
(Use 1)

[ He said he had been training. (Use 4, Reported Speech) ]

Questions
Auxiliary
verb

Subject

Had

Auxiliary verb

+
I/a dog etc.

Verb + ing

+
been

eating/swimming,
etc.

For how many hours had Fred been painting the house when the ladder fell? (Use 1)

How long had the player been playing before he scored? (Use 1)

The difference between the Present Perfect Continuous and Past Perfect Continuous
The Past Perfect Continuous, in contrast to the Present Perfect Continuous, never expresses actions that
continue up until now.

He has been playing for two hours. (He is still playing or he has just stopped.)

He had been playing for two hours when I arrived. (He is not playing football now.)

Negative Sentences
Subject
I/a dog /Mary,
etc.

Auxiliary verb
+ not

Auxiliary verb

hadn't

Verb + ing

+
been

going/swimming,
etc.

He said he wasn't tired because he hadn't been working that day. (Use 3)

If it hadn't been raining, we would have played football. (Use 2)

Had I not been studying all night, I would have problems with this test now. (Use 2)

Futurity in English is expressed either by using words that imply future action ("I go to Berlin next
week") or by employing an auxiliary construction combined with the main verb which represents
the true action of the sentence.
The most common auxiliary verbs used to express futurity are "will", "can", "should", "may", and
"must".
May and might
Of these, "will" is the most neutral and it is the most commonly used:
Simple Future
Future Continuous
Future Perfect
Future Perfect Continuous
Apart from that, we can also use "going to":
Going to
This is usually a little confusing for English learners but we can also use some of the present
tenses to talk about the future:
Present Simple
Present Continuous

Quick Examples

I will clean up my room. I promise!

The telephone is ringing. I will pick it up!

I think it will rain.

He will stay there for hours, doing nothing.

The Future Simple is used in many situations such as when making promises or predictions.

Use
1.

Promises

2.

Unplanned actions

3.

Predictions based on experience or intuition

4.

Habits (obstinate insistence, usually habitual)

Going to
You can also use going to to express future. We use it to express predictions based on observing
the present situation:
Example:

It's going to rain. Look at the clouds!

Read more

USE 1: Promises
The first use of the Future Simple to make promises.
Examples:

I promise I will buy you this toy.

Promise you will never leave me!

USE 2: Unplanned actions


Use this tense also to talk about unplanned (spontaneous) decisions.
Examples:

Don't worry! I will help you with this problem.

I will close the window. It's starting to rain.

USE 3: Predictions
We often use the Future Simple when making a prediction based on experience or intuition.
Examples:

It will rain in a moment.

It will get more difficult.

USE 4: Habits
The last use of this tense is interesting: we can also use the Future Simple to express habits.
Examples:

She will bit her lip if she is thinking or if she's nervous about something.

He will always make noise when we are sleeping.

Shall
You can also use shall to express future in Future Simple. It is more formal than will, and usually
appears in formal speeches, agreements or guarantees.
Examples:

The guarantee shall be provided on the following conditions: (...)

We shall never surrender!

Form
Contracted forms (more)
WILL = 'LL

She'll dance = she will dance

WILL + NOT = WON'T

She won't dance = she will not dance

Declarative Sentences
Subject
e.g. I/a dog
etc.
Remember

Auxiliary
verb
will

Verb

e.g.
work/go/make

Remember, you should never use will to say what somebody has already arranged or decided to do
in the future:

Correct: Mike is moving to New Jersey next month.

Incorrect: Mike will move to New Jersey next month.

Read more

I think he will regret his choice. (Use 3)

I will come back at 10 p.m. (Use 1)

If you will keep your watch half an hour slow it is hardly surprising that you are late for
your appointments. (Use 4)

John will keep dropping his towel on the floor after a bath. (Use 4)

I will visit my grandma at hospital. (Use 1 or Use 2)

Let's buy the snacks at the supermarketitwill be cheaper that way. (Use 3)

[ When I'm 60 years old, I will be completely bald. (Use 3) ]

Questions
Auxiliary
verb
will

Subject

e.g. I/a dog


etc.

Verb

e.g.
work/go/make

Remember
We often use "will" with:

probably, most likely

I'll probably drop in on uncle.

I think

This gift is great. I think we'll love it.

I'm sure

It's not going to be boring there. I'm sure there will be a


lot of boys at your age

I wonder (if, what,


when, etc.)

It's a bit late. I wonder if he'll come.

I expect

I haven't seen Matthew today. I expect he'll call today.

Will he be surprised when he sees me? (Use 3)

Will Mark be able to do the shopping before 10 a.m.? (Use 3)

Will there be plenty of people in church? (Use 3)

Will you study harder? (Use 1)

Negative Sentences
Subject
e.g. I/a dog
etc.

Auxiliary
verb

Verb

will not

e.g.
work/go/make

I won't take any heavy equipment with me. (Use 2)

I'm sorry I won't be able to help you with your English today. (Use 2)

I expect that Sally will not clean up her room, unless you help her. (Use 3)

Quick Examples

Tomorrow at this time, I will be taking my English langauge exam.

Ben won't be eating the dinner now. He usually eats it around noon!

Will you be coming to the party tonight?

We mainly use the Future Continuous to indicate that we will be in the middle of doing
something in a specified time in the future. There are also two other uses, listed below:

Use

1.

Future actions in progress

2.

Guesses about the present or the future

3.

Polite questions about somebody's intention

Good to know
If you want to learn about somebody's intentions, you should always use the Future Continuous
rather than the Present Simple. Using the Future Simple implies that you want to influence
somebody's decision. Questions become much more objective if formed in the Future Continuous.
Compare:

Will you come home? (= I want you to come home)

Will you be coming home? (= I just want to know)

USE 1: Future actions in progress


The first use of the Future Continuous is to express future action in progress.
Examples:

In an hour, I will be sitting in front of my TV.

In the evening, I will be baking a birthday cake.

USE 2: Guesses
Use this tense also to make guesses about something in the present or future.
Examples:

He won't be coming any time soon. He is still at the office.

Beatrice will be getting married very soon.

USE 3: Questions
And the last use of the tense is to make polite questions about something or somebody.
Examples:

Will you be coming home before or after 10 p.m.?

Will you be going to the supermarket? I have something to buy.

Form
Contracted forms (more)
Important
The Future Perfect appears in two forms: "will" form and "going to" form which can be used
interchangably.
Example:

"She will have finished" means "she is going to have finished"

Declarative Sentences
Subject

Auxiliary
verb

Auxiliary
verb

Verb + ing

e.g. I/a
dog etc.

will

e.g.
working/going/making

be

She'll be having a bath when I'm back home. (Use 1)

Tomorrow at nine, I will be hosing off (=washing with a hose) my car. (Use 1)

This time next week, I am going to be throwing a party. (Use 1)

I'll be watching TV when my mother arrives. (Use 1)

They will be getting home just about now. (Use 2)

Notice
Like any of the Future Tenses, Future Continuous cannot be used in sentences beginning with:
while, when, before, by the time, if, etc.

By the time, you will be finishing your paiting.

[ Tomorrow at this time, I will be getting bored at school! (Use 1) ]

Questions
Auxiliary
verb
will

Subject
I/you/we etc.

Auxiliary verb
be

Verb + ing

dancing / taking

Is she going to be cooking when we knock at the door? (Use 1)

Will Mark be playing football at 6 p.m.? (Use 1)

Will you be using the screwdriver? (Use 3)

Negative Sentences
Subject
e.g. I/a
dog etc.

Auxiliary
verb

will not

Auxiliary
verb

Verb + ing

be

e.g.
working/going/making

We won't be having supper tomorrow before 8 o'clock. (Use 1)

I am not going to be learning English tomorrow at this time. (Use 1)

John won't be sleeping now (= I think John isn't sleeping now) (Use 2)

Quick Examples

I will have graduated from university by May.

Patrick will have lived in Hong Kong for 20 years by the next month.

The train will have left by now.

We use the Future Perfect tense to talk about actions that will be finished before some point in
the future. We also use this tense to express situations that will last for a specified period of time
at a definite moment in the future. The last use is to express certainty that an action was
completed.

Use
1.

Completion before a specified point in the future

2.

Actions or situations that will last in the future (for a specified time)

3.

Certainty that an action was completed

USE 1: Completion before a specified point in the future


The first use of this tense is to talk about future actions that will be finished before some specified
point in the future.
Examples:

Before they come, we will have cleaned up the house.

John will have eaten the whole cake, by the time the birthday party starts!

USE 2: Duration in the Future


Another use of this tense is to talk about actions will last after a given point in the future.
Examples:

By the next year, I will have known Monica for 30 years.

Patrick will have lived in Hong Kong for 20 years by 2012.

Common Time Expressions


Time expressions that are commonly used with the Future Perfect:

By

By the time

Before

By tomorrow/7 o'clock/next month

Until/till

USE 3: Certainty About the Near Past


The last use is to express conviction that something happened in the near past.
Examples:

The train will have left by now. We have to look for another way to get there. (I'm sure
the train has left)

The guests will have arrived at the hotel by now. (I'm sure the guests have arrived at
the hotel)

Form
Contracted forms (more)
WILL = 'LL
Example: She'll have finished = she will have finished
WILL + NOT = WON'T
Example: She won't have finished = she will not have finished

Important
The Future Perfect appears in two forms: "will" form and "going to" form which can be used
interchangably.
Example:

"She will have finished" means "she is going to have finished"

Positive Sentences
Subjec
t
e.g.
I/a dog
etc.

Auxiliar
y verb

Auxiliar
y verb

+
will

Past
participle

+
have

Examples

e.g.
eaten/given/go
ne etc.

Use

I will have retired by the end of this


year.

(Use
1)

I read 40 pages a day. If I keep up the


pace, I will have read the book by
Tuesday.

(Use
1)

Questions
Auxiliar
y verb

Subjec
t

+
will

e.g.
I/a dog
etc.

Auxiliar
y verb

Past
participle

+
have

Examples

e.g.
eaten/given/go
ne etc.

Use

Will they have graduated from


Cambridge by July 2009?

(Use
1)

Will I have retired by the end of the


year?

(Use
1)

Will you have bought a new


processor by the end of this week?

(Use
1)

Negative Sentences
Subjec
t

Auxiliar
y verb

Auxiliar

Past

e.g.
I/a dog
etc.

+ not

y verb

participle

will not

have

e.g.
eaten/given/go
ne etc.

Examples

Use

They won't have graduated from


from Cambridge by July 2009.

(Use
1)

My uncle won't have retired by the


end of the year.

(Use
1)

Quick Examples

By the next year, I will have been working as a teacher for 30 years.

We will be making a rest stop in half an hour, because you will have been driving the car
for 6 hours by then.

We use the Future Perfect Continuous tense to express situations that will last for a specified
period of time at a definite moment in the future. We also use this tense to express certainty about
the cause of some future situation.

Use
1.

Duration at a definite moment in the future

2.

Cause of a future situation

USE 1: Duration
We use this tense to express situations that will last for a specified period of time at a definite
moment in the future. It is important that we expect these situations to last longer.
Examples:

Before they come, we will have been cleaning the house for 5 hours.

By the next year, Ben and his wife will have been living together for 50 years.

[ By the next month, I will have been saving money for a new house for 4 years ]

Common Time Expressions


Time expressions that are commonly used with the Future Perfect Continuous:

By tomorrow / 8 o'clock

This year / month / week

Next year / month / week

USE 2: Cause
English speakers also use this tense when they want to express certainty about the cause of some
future situation.
Examples:

By this time, he will have been working for 12 hours, so he will be very tired.

We will be making a rest stop in half an hour, because you will have been driving the car
for 6 hours by then.

Form
Contracted forms (more)
Positive Sentences
Subj

Auxili

Auxili

Auxili

Verb + ing

ect

ary
verb

ary
verb

ary
verb

e.g.
I/a
dog
etc.

will

have

been

Examples

e.g.
eating/givin
g/going etc.

Use

We will have been driving 6 hours by


the time we get home.

(Use
1)

In the summer Mike will have been


trying to find a new job for five
months.

(Use
1)

Jane will be very tired when she comes


home, because she will have been
flying over 24 hours.

(Use
1)

My father and I will have been


breeding sheep for 20 years tomorrow.

(Use
1)

By the year 2020, linguists will have


been studying and defining the IndoEuropean language family for more than
200 years.

(Use
1)

Note
If duration of an activity (e.g. "since April", "for three hours") is unknown then the Future
Continuous should be used instead of the Perfect Form.
Example:

I will be taking a bath.

I will have been taking a bath.

Negative Sentences
Subj
ect

Auxili
ary

Auxili
ary

Auxili
ary

Verb + ing

verb
e.g.
I/a
dog
etc.

verb

will
not

verb

have

Examples

e.g.
eating/givin
g/going etc.

been

Use

She won't have been writing the


book for four months by the end of
October.

(Use 1)

Note
Negative sentences sound rather unnatural. This is probably because the answer to a question
like, "Will she have been teaching for 30 years this year?", would simply be, "No, I don't think so".

Questions
Auxili
ary
verb

+
will

Auxili
ary
verb

Subj
ect
e.g.
I/a
dog
etc.

Auxili
ary
verb

+
have

Examples

Will he have been writing the


composition for a month by the end
of February?

Verb + ing

+
been

e.g.
eating/givin
g/going etc.

Use

(Use 1)

Good to know
Questions beginning with "how long" are more common.
Examples:

How long will you have been learning German this year?

How long will you have been trying to get your driving license this week? I hope you'll
finally make it!

Conditional Sentences

Definition: The conditional tense says that an action is reliant on something else. The conditionals
are used to talk about real or unreal situations, they are sometimes called if-clauses. Real
Conditional describes real-life situations. Unreal Conditional describes unreal, imaginary situations.
For example: If a certain condition is true, then a particular result happens.
There are four basic conditionals that we use in English.

Zero Conditional

First Conditional

Second Conditional

Third Conditional

* There are some more conditionals formed by mixing some of these four.
Structure of Conditional Sentences
The Zero Conditional is used for actions that are always true when the conditions are satisfied. The
structure of the conditionals is straightforward. There are two basic possibilities in terms of order
in the sentence:
IF
If

Condition
it rains,

Result
we will get wet

Result
we will get wet

IF
If

Condition
it rains,

* Notice that we only use a comma in the first example.


Conditionals: Time and Probability Table
Probability

Conditional

Certain

zero conditional

Likely
Unlikely

first conditional
second conditional

Impossible

second conditional

Impossible

third conditional

Example
If you heat water to 100 degrees
celsius, it boils
If it rains, I will stay in.
If I won the lottery, I would retire.
If I had the money, I would lend it to
you
If I had seen him, I would have given
him the message.

Time
any time
future
future
present
past

Zero Conditional: Certainty


The Zero conditional is used for things that are always true as long as the condition is met.
Formation: if + present simple, + present simple
IF
If
If

Condition
present simple
you heat water to 100 degrees celsius,
present simple
I drink coffee,

Result
present simple
it boils.
present simple
I get a headache.

Situation
fact- universal
fact- personal

In these examples, the result will always occur if the condition is met, so the time is not important.
First Conditional: A real possibility in the future
A First Conditional sentence is for future actions dependent on the result of another future action

or event, where there is a reasonable possibility of the conditions for the action being satisfied.
Formation: if + present simple, + will
For example: If she gets good grades, she will go to university.
We are talking about the future, but we use a present tense for the condition and will for the
result. In this case, the person is sure about going to university. We can use other modal verbs in
the result part of the sentence. For example:
IF
If
If
If
If
If
If

Condition
she gets good
grades,
he gets good
grades,
she gets good
grades,
he gets good
grades,
she gets good
grades,
he gets good
grades,

Result
she will go to
university.
he may go to
university.
she should go to
university.
he can go to
university.
she could go to
university.
he might go to
university.

Possibility
If the condition is met, then she definitely
will go
He is not sure about going to university.
The speaker is expressing his or her
opinion, giving advice.
This means that it is possible.
This means that it is possible, but not that
likely.
This means that it is possible, but not that
likely.

We can also use different present forms in the condition part of the sentence like: present simple,
present progressive, present perfect, etc
Second Conditional: Imaginary Present or Unlikely Future
The Second Conditional can be used used to talk about imaginary present situations, where we are
imagining something different from what is really the case. We can also use it to talk about things
in the future that are unlikely to happen, as the condition is unlikely to be met. We use the past
tense in the condition part and would for the result.
Formation: if + past simple, + would + base form
For Example: If I were you, I'd tell her.
IF

Condition

Time

Result
WOULD + base
past simple present
verb
I had the
I would learn
If
time,
Italian.
WOULD + base
past simple future
verb
I won the
I would travel
If
lottery
around the world.

Possibility
impossible
I don't have the time, so I'm not going
to learn Italian.
unlikely
There's a very small chance of winning
the lottery, so the trip is unlikely

We can use other modal verbs in the past tense in the result part of the sentence:
IF

Condition

Result
WOULD + base
past simple
verb
I had the
I would learn
If
time,
Italian.
I had more I might learn
If
time,
English.
I should learn
I had more
If
some more about
time,
IT.

Certainty

Although unlikely to happen, the speaker is sure


that they would do it given the opportunity.
Although unlikely to happen, it is only a
possibility anyway.
Although unlikely to happen, the speaker is saying
that it would be a good idea, but is not
committed to it.

If

I had more
time

I could learn
Hindi.

Although unlikely to happen, it is only a


possibility anyway.

Third Conditional: Imaginary Past The third conditional is used when we are talking about the
past and imagining something different from what actually happened, that means for imaginary
past actions, where the conditions for the action WERE NOT satisfied.
Formation: if + past perfect, + would have + past participle
For example: If I had known, I would have helped. I didn't know and didn't help.
IF

Condition
past perfect

If

I had known,

If

I had known,

If

I had known,

If

you had
known,

Result
WOULD HAVE+ past
participle

Certainty

Although this didn't happen, the speaker is


sure about the result.
Although this didn't happen, the result is
I could have helped.
only a possibility.
Although this didn't happen, the result is
I might have helped.
only a possibility.
you should have
Although this didn't happen, it is only a
helped.
good suggestion or piece of advice.
I would have helped.

Third Second Mixed Conditionals For imaginary present actions or situations that are not
possible because the necessary conditions were not met in the past.
Formation: if + past perfect, + would + base form
For example:

If you had taken the course, you would know about it. (The conditions were not met
because the person did not do the course and as a result does not know about it now.)

Second Third Mixed Conditionals To avoid the illogicality of saying 'If I had been you', which
means that I was not you on that occasion, but could be in the future, which is, of course,
impossible.
Formation: if + past simple, + would have + past participle
For example:

If I were you, I wouldn't have done that.

When the first part is still true


For example:

If I could speak English, I wouldn't have needed to get the letter translated. (This means
that I couldn't speak English then when I needed the translator and still can't)

Conditional sentences play an important role in grammar. They describe a condition and the result
that follows. On this page, I will shed some light on the subject.

Conditional sentences are made up of two parts: the if-clause (condition) and the main clause
(result that follows).

IF-CLAUSE

MAIN CLAUSE

If it rains,

will take an umbrella.

Basically, there are four conditionals:

Zero conditional

First conditional

Second conditional

Third conditional

Apart from them, you can also form mixed conditionals.

But how do we form those variations?


The easiest way is to understand that both clauses (the if-clause and the main clause) can be real
or unreal and refer to present (future) or past. Depending on these factors, the clause will look
different.
Real conditional describes real-life, possible situations.
Unreal conditional describes imaginary situations.
We'll deal with each clause separately.

If-clause
First of all, you must decide if the situation in the if-clause is real or unreal.
Examples of real if-clauses:

I have some money, I go to a club. (zero conditional or first conditional can be used)
It's a situation that happens very often.

When my uncle visited us, he would always help me with my homework.


My uncle visited us many times.

Examples of unreal if-clauses.

If I could fly, I...


But that will never happen.

If she had told me about that,...


but she didn't tell me.

Once you've decided about that, it's time to choose the correct tense. As I mentioned, there are
two choices: the present (future) or the past.

Examples of present if-clauses:

If meet him again, I will tell him that. (zero conditional or first conditional can be used)
I will probably meet him soon.

If I were a bit taller, I would be more attractive.


But I'm not taller.

Examples of past if-clauses:

When my uncle visited us, he would always help me with my homework.


My uncle visited us many times.

If she had told me about that,...


But she didn't tell me.

If these examples have confused you a bit, don't worry I'm sure everything will become more
and more obvious in just a moment.
The table below sums up what has been said about the if-clause.

Real

Unreal

Present / Future

Simple Present
If he says

Simple Past
If he said

Past

Simple Past
If he said

Past Perfect
If he had said

Main-clause
The main-clause is also formed in two steps: first decide if you're talking about a real or an unreal
situation, and then choose the correct tense.
If the main-clause is real, then it is exactly the same as a normal sentence. For example:

If he's late again, I will fire him. (first conditional]


The situation is real because it can happen at any time.

If the weather was nice, she often walked to work.


The situation is real because it happened (at least according to the speaker).

If the main-clause is unreal, then it is formed in accordance with the table below:

Present /
Future

Modal + Infinitive

Examples: would, might, should, could

Modal + Perfect Infinitive

Past

Examples: would have, might have, should have, could


have

If it wasn't raining, we would go for a walk. (second conditional)


But it is raining.

If he had been late again, I would have fired him. (third conditional)
But he wasn't late.

OK, so far I've been mostly using examples that were, in fact, the four basic conditionals (as
mentioned in the parentheses) and the Mixed Conditional. If these were the only conditional
sentences that there are, two thirds of this article would be worthless. Of course, that's not the
case - the purpose of this was to use simpler sentences that would accustom you to the method
b) .
Now that you are accustomed to it (I hope you are!), we can proceed to the more advanced
examples, which are the essence of the article. Let's start:
1. If neither of you saw the dog, I might have had hallucinations.
The if-clause is about a real situation. The main-clause is unreal because the speaker is unsure of
the truth. Both clauses are about the past.
If it were a part of conversation, it might look similar to this:
1: Have you seen that? Something has moved in the bushes.
2: Where?!
1: Over there. It's a dog!
2: We can't see anything there, Mark.
The next day (Mark's conclusion):

Zero Conditional
The zero conditional is used when describing situations which have automatic or habitual results.
Using this conditional suggests that we are 100% sure of the result.

If you heat ice, it melts. (will melt is also possible)

If there is a shortage of any product, prices of that product go up.

My parents get angry if I come home late.

As you can see, both the main clause and the if-clause are in the Present Simple.
The zero conditional is often used to give instructions:

Press the button if you want a receipt.

If you want to leave a message, speak after the tone.

First Conditional
We use the First Conditional to talk about a future situation that is possible.
The verb in the if-clause is in the present tense; the verb in the main clause is in the Future
Simple. It doesn't matter which comes first. There is usually a comma between the two clauses.

If you try very hard, you'll see the difference.

John will be late, if you don't lend him your car.

This type of sentence implies that the action is very probable.


Note that the meaning here is present or future, but the main verb in the if-clause is in a present,
not future tense.

1 . Possible variations of the basic form


Sometimes instead of if + present + future, we may have:
a) if + present + may/might (possibility)

If the climate keeps warming, the Arctic might be warm enough for swimming.

b) if + present + may (permission) or can (permission or ability)

If your documents are in order, you may/can leave at once. (permission)

If it stops raining, we can go out." (permission or ability)

c) if + present + must, should or any expression of command, request or advice

if you want to look slim, you must/should eat less meat.

if you want to look slim, you had better eat less meat.

if you want to look slim, eat less meat.

d) When if is used to mean as/since, a variety of tenses can be used in the main clause

2. Variations of the if-clause


Instead of if + present tense, we can have:
a) if + present continuous, to indicate a present actions or a future arrangement."

If you are waiting for a bus (present action), you'd better join the queue.

If you are looking for Peter, you'll find him upstairs.

If you're staying for another night (future arrangement), I'll ask the manager to give you a
better room.

b) if + present perfect

if you have finished dinner, I'll ask the waiter for the bill.

If has written the letter, I'll post it.

If they haven't seen the museum, we'd better go there today.

We use the Second Conditional:


to give advice
to talk about a future situation that is unlikely to happen

IF-CLAUSE

MAIN CLAUSE

If he did that,

would leave him.

The verb in the if-clause is in the past tense; the verb in the main clause is in the conditional
tense.
If someone stole my bag, I would immediately contact the police. (But I don't think that
anyone will try to steal the bag. The meaning here is future.)

Note

There is no difference between the first and second conditionals as far as time is concerned. The
first conditional, like the second conditional refers to the present or future. The past tense in the ifclause is not a true past but a subjunctive, which indicates improbability or unreality.

Use
1. When the supposition is contrary to known facts
"If I lived in New York, I wouldn't have to commute there each day." (But I don't live in New York.)
"If I were you, I would plant some trees in your garden." (But I'm not you.)
2. When we don't expect the action in the if-clause to happen:
"If I saw a zombie, I would run as fast as I could." (But I don't expect to see a zombie.)
"If I bought a car like this, everyone would admire me." (But I don't intend to buy the car.)

Possible variations of the basic form


Variations of the main clause might or could may be used instead of would:
If you tried again, you would succeed. (certain result)
If you tried again, you might succeed. (possible result)
If I knew her number, I could ring her up. (ability)
If he had a permit, he could get a job. (ability or permission)
The continuous conditional form may be used instead of the simple:
Peter is on holiday; he is touring Italy. ~ "If I were on holiday I would/might be touring
Italy too."

On this page, you will learn about the Third Conditional. We use it when talking about a past
condition that cannot be fulfilled, because the action in the if-clause didn't happen.
For example, imagine that you missed a train (and as a result you were late for an important
meeting). You could say:
If I hadn't missed the train, I wouldn't have been late for the meeting.
Do you know what tenses each of the clauses is in? Let's see:
The verb in the if-clause is in the Past Perfect Tense
The verb in the main clause is in the Perfect Conditional

If-clause (Past Perfect)

Main clause (Perfect Conditional)

If I hadn't missed the train,

I wouldn't have been late for the meeting.

More examples:
If I had known that you were coming, I would have met you at the railway station. (But I
didn't know that you were coming so I didn't come)
If he had tried to leave the country, he would have been stopped at the frontier. (But he
didn't try)

Variations
The form of the conditional can be a little different.
a) could or might may be used instead of would:
If the rescue crew had found him earlier, they could have saved his life. (ability)
If the rescue crew had found him earlier, they might have saved his life. (possibility)
If we had the necessary documents, we could have left at once. (ability or permission)
b) The continuous form of the Perfect Conditional may be used:
If I had had any money I would have been watching the film with my girlfriend that
evening.
c) We can use the Past Perfect Continuous in the if-clause:
I wasn't wearing a seat belt. If I had been wearing one, I wouldn't have been seriously
injured.

d) A combination of types 2 and 3 is possible:


The airplane I intended to catch crashed. If I had caught that airplane, I would have been
killed or I would be dead now(type 3)
If he had worked harder at school, he would be working in a comfortable office now; he
wouldn't be sweeping the streets. (But I didn't work hard at school and now he is
sweeping the streets.)
e) Using inversion, we can place "had" before the subject, omitting the "if": For example, instead
of saying:
If you had obeyed orders this disaster would not have happened.
we can say:
Had you told me about your problems, this disaster would not have happened.
Mixed conditionals are those unreal conditional sentences whose time in the if-clause is different
than the time in the main-clause. Let's first have a look at unreal conditional sentences:
If she were shorter, she would be more attractive.
I am busy next week. If I had time, I would come to your party.
If they hadn't trained hard, they wouldn't have won.
As you can see, they refer to the same time: the present, the future or the past. If we mix the
sentences, we get mixed conditionals.

Past and Present


If my father hadn't lost his keys, we wouldn't have to wait until he finds them.
But my father lost his keys and therefore we have to wait until he finds them.
If I had installed an anti-virus, my computer wouldn't be so slow now.
But I didn't install an anti-virus and therefore my computer is so slow now.
If our house had been broken into, we would be very sad.
But our house wasn't broken into and we aren't sad.

Past and Future


If our house had been broken into, we would call the police.
But our house wasn't broken into and we are not going to call police.
If we had won the lottery last week, we would buy a new sofa today.
But we didn't win the lottery and we are not going to buy a new sofa today.

Present and Past


If I were smarter, I would have graduated from Stanford.
But I am not smarter and therefore I didn't graduate from Stanford.
If Mary weren't a snob, she wouldn't have had so many parties this year.
But Mary is a snob and therefore she had so many parties this year.

Present and Future


If you were more eloquent, you would become a politician.
But I am not more eloquent and I won't become a politician.
If you had more time, I would go to the cinema with you.
But you don't have more time and I won't go to the cinema with you.
Soon the rest of mixed conditionals.

The World of English Sentences


English sentences, that is, sentences in the English language, are supposed to be groups
of words which make complete sense. The question immediately arises: What exactly do
we mean by complete sense?
The following pages will guide you through the interesting world of english sentences.
They will help you understand phrases, clauses and sentences, sentence-parts, structure
and types.

English Phrases
Here you have a syntactic explanation of what a phrase is. A phrase is a grammar unit.
How can we recognize a grammar unit? From its behaviour. Four features of its
behaviour are listed and explained.

What is a Phrase?
A different approach to the question. The phrase is understood as a word-group which
can do the work of a part of speech. A traditional approach to the question.
Helpful to parents and teachers who have learnt grammar in the old days but want to
help their children, grandchildren or students to learn "today's grammar."

What is a Clause?
Explains what a clause is and what its various types and sub-types are.

What is a Sentence?
Shows us how we can recognize a sentence and describes the various types. Also
explains the two possible types of relationship between clauses when they are joined
together to construct sentences of greater complexity.
1

Sentence Structure
Parts of speech
Grammar
Online Learning

Sentence Structure
Lists five common sentence structures and gives examples which show how sentenceparts are inter-related in each of the given sentence patterns.

Parts of a Sentence
Lists and explains the various sentence parts, such as: subject and predicate, finite
verbs, object, complement, adverbial adjunct.

The Subject of a Sentence


Here you'll find a detailed explanation of the different features of the subject, both
syntactically and semantically.

What we can learn from the very word sentences


When I hear the word sentences, my mind is immediately forced to make a choice. This
fact tells us something important about the English language.

In Traditional Grammar
Even in traditional grammar, which identifies phrases and clauses from their function
e.g. "a group of words that does the work of an adjective is an adjective phrase, etc."
there is a better way to identify sentences than by using the vague "complete sense"
criterion.
1

Understanding English Phrases


English phrases or phrases in English language are grammar units (aka syntactic units).
But aren't clauses too such units? Yes, but the phrase is a basic type of grammar unit.

What is a phrase?
Since we call the phrase the basic type of grammar unit, we need to understand the
following things...

What is a grammar unit?

What do we mean by a basic type of unit?

Parts of speech
Grammar
Functions
Homes
The Other

What is a Grammar Unit?


When we call something a grammar unit, we mean that we look upon it through the
eyes of grammar as being a single whole, whatever the number of parts it has.

We consider the phrase as a grammar or syntactic unit because it has a wholeness or


unity in itself though it may have many words in it.

How do we know something is a grammar unit?


If we get some groups of words in English, we cannot at once say that they are English
phrases or clauses. Just any collection of wordse.g. thoughts and in swam wowis not
a unit.
Before we call something a phrase, we need to find out first if it is a grammar unit. How
do we do that?

A grammar unit has a certain type of behaviour.


Let's take a given phrase and see how it behaves. Let the words four very simple
questions be our given phrase and we shall carefully watch its behaviour.

1. The words within a phrase know who their boss is and who stand
where in that grammatical environment.
In the given phrase, we know that the word question is the most important. It is
called the head and the other three words serve it.
The words four and simple serve the head word directly: 'four questions' and
'simple questions' are acceptable utterances.
The word very serves the head indirectly: 'very simple' is acceptable. The word
very serves simple which in turn serves questions.

2. A phrase does not welcome "foreign elements" into it unless...


...the "foreigner" is ready to serve the original phrase and blend with the words in
it.
The words, four very are simple questions are NOT a phrase because the word
'are' does not fit in but disturbs the unity. The word behaves like a pebble in your
plate of rice.
On the other hand, four very simple grammar questions is a phrase because the
word grammar acts as a modifier to questions and blends into the original phrase,
like sugar in your cup of coffee.
Whatever disturbs the wholeness (unity) of the original phrase cannot be part of
the phrase. It is rejected. Whatever can faithfully serve the wholeness of the
original phrase is welcomed as part of it! How interesting! How human!
Grammar belongs to the depths of human existence. That's why we take it so
much for granted!

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o
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3. The words in a phrase travel together as one family.


Look at how our given phrase performs in different locations in a sentence.
1. Four very simple questions were answered in that lecture.
2. I think that four very simple questions should not be avoided.
3. We want to ask four very simple questions.
You cannot move one part of the phrase to one place and another part to a
second location in a sentence.
o

*Four very were answered simple questions in that lecture.

*I think that four should not be avoided very simple questions.

*We want four very simple to ask questions.

Such breaking up of the phrase has destroyed the phrase as well as the sentences
it was a part of.

2 It is often possible to substitute the whole phrase with a pronoun


or some other word.
In our three numbered sentences, it is possible to substitute our given phrase
as...
1. They/these/those/all were answered in that lecture.
2. I think that they/these/those should not be avoided.
3. We want to ask them.

What is a Phrase?
Another View of the Question
You will find the modern approach to this question, what is a phrase, in the page on
English Phrases.
On this page, you have a traditional approach that is still valuable for teachers,
parents and students.

It will help parents and teachers who have learned grammar in the old days
and want to help their children, grandchildren or students to learn today's
grammar.
This page and the page on English phrases read one after the other will help
remove whatever confusion they have about this topic. In fact, the old knowledge
can help them to understand the new in greater depth.
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More than one
Today's students too can gain from this page for it can make them better
informed about different approaches to the study of grammar. It can help
sharpen their minds as well.

How Was a Phrase Defined?


A phrase was defined as a group of words, which together did the work of a particular
part of speech. So...

group of words A phrase had to be more than one word.

did the work of what mattered was the function of the group of words, not the
part of speech of any of the words in the group.

A Look at Some Phrase Types

Adjective Phrase
An adjective phrase was described as "a group of words which does the work of
an adjective."
It is a pen of green colour.
In this sentence, the group of words of green colour describes the noun pen. The
phrase is equivalent to the adjective green in the sentence: It is a green pen.

Noun Phrase
A noun phrase was described as "a group of words which does the work of a
noun."

A group of words that acted in any of the following capacities was called a noun
phrase.
o

subject of a verb

direct object of a verb

indirect object

object of a preposition

subjective complement

objective complement

object of preposition

appositive

See the sentence...


He has helped a few needy young men.
The group of words a few needy young men is a noun phrase because the group
acts as the object of the verb has helped.

Not Different, But...


The traditional noun phrase and the modern noun phrase are not different...only,
that we look at the same thing from two different viewpoints.
While in traditional grammar you looked at the function ("does the work of.."), in
modern grammar you look at the structure (head word, modifiers, complement,
etc) of the group of words.
In the case of a noun phrase, you get the same result, except that in traditional
grammar, a single-word noun or pronoun would not be called a phrase.
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Adverb Phrase
An adverb phrase was described as "a group of words that does the work of an
adverb."

Take the sentence...


She wrote it in the morning.
The group of words in the morning is an adverb phrase because it tells us
something more about the verb wrote.
Q: wrote when?
A: in the morning.

Comparing the Old and the New...


Please note that when we look at structure (as in modern grammar) the words
in the morning, are a prepositional phrase with the preposition 'in' as the head
word.
Modern grammar does not avoid looking at functions of groups of words such as,
in the morning. It considers these word groups as an adverbial complements or
adverbial adjuncts, depending upon whether they are essential to a sentence or
not.

What is a Clause?
1

Like the phrase, a clause is also a group of words, but it is different from a phrase.
In a clause, you must find a subject and a predicate.
For our purpose here, it is enough to remember just this much about the subject and the
predicate:

a subject is someone or something about which we say something;

a predicate is whatever we say about that someone or something. The predicate


must have a verb.

Types of Clauses
A clause may be built around a finite verb or a non-finite verb.

If it is based on a finite verb, it is called a finite clause.


Since the team lost the match, the coach resigned.
"Since the team lost the match" is a finite clause because
the verb 'lost' is a finite verb.

If it is based on a non-finite verb, it is called a non-finite clause.


The team having lost the match, the coach resigned.

"The team having lost the match" is a non-finite clause because


the verb 'having lost' is a non-finite verb (perfect participle).
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What is important for us on this journey (i.e. to reach our destination - the answer to the
question: 'what is a sentence?') is the route of finite clauses.
So in this article, we shall ignore the non-finite clauses.

Types of Finite Clauses


A finite clause may be independent or dependent.

Here are some famous examples


of independent clauses:

"The light has gone out of our lives." (Jawaharlal Nehru)

"I have a dream." (Martin Luther King Jr.)

"The weak can never forgive." (Mahatma Gandhi)

These clauses are said to be independent because they are sufficient the way they are.
They don't need any other group of words to depend upon. They can stand on their own.

Here are some examples


of dependent clauses:
1. The light that shone in this country was no ordinary light.
2. You can learn grammar freely here, if you read these pages.
3. We are declaring to you what we have seen.
In the last three sentences above, we shall select the dependent clauses and see on
what they depend.

'that shone in this country' depends on the independent clause 'the light was
no ordinary light'.

'if you read these pages' depends on 'you can learn grammar freely here'.

'what we have seen' depends on 'we are declaring to you'.

Types of Dependent Clauses


They are of three types, depending upon the work they do.
See the three numbered sentences above.

Adjective (Relative) Clauses


In sentence 1the clause 'that shone in this country' describes the noun light.
Words that describe a noun are called adjectives. Therefore, clauses that describe a noun
are called adjective clauses.They are also known by the name relative clauses,
because they always begin with a relative pronoun or relative adverb.

Adverb Clauses
In sentence 2the clause 'if you read these pages' tells us something more about verb
'can learn'.
Words that tell us something more about verbs are called adverbs. Therefore, clauses
which do the same job are called adverb clauses.

Noun Clauses
In sentence 3We are declaring to you 'what we have seen'if we ask the question,
"are declaring what?", we get the answer 'what we have seen'.
A word which has this kind of relationship to a verb is called an object. To be an object is
the privilege of nouns, pronouns, noun phrases, and noun clauses. So, 'what we have
seen' is a noun clause.

The Sentence
We now come to the sentence. You already know about the phrase and the clause.

What is a Sentence?

It is a single finite independent clause

or a group of connected clauses among which at least one is finite and


independent

A Sentence with a "Single Clause"


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Example: A man had two sons.
A single clause (as above) is sufficient for a sentence since it is a finite and
independent...

finite - because it contains a finite verb had.

independent - because it can stand on its own without needing another.

Having a finite independent clause is both a necessary and sufficient condition.

"necessary condition" - i.e. required (or there would be no sentence)

"sufficient condition" - i.e. it is enough for a sentence; nothing extra is needed.

A Sentence with a "Group of Clauses"


Example: After he had collected his share of the property, the younger son left for a
distant place and there (he) wasted his money on a life of debauchery.
There are three clauses and two connecting words in this example.
1. After
2. he had collected his share of the property
3. the younger son left for a distant place
4. and
5. there (he) wasted his money on a life of debauchery
2, 3, and 5 are the clauses; and 1 and 4 are the connecting words.

How are Clauses Connected


Within a Sentence?
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When two clauses are connected, they may have either a relationship of equality or
one of dependence.

The Relationship of Equality


The following two clauses...

the son left for a distant place

there (he) wasted his money on a life of debauchery

...are connected with the connector and, and in the resulting sentence, either clause has
equal rank.

How do we know they are of equal rank?


Here's a test...
If with either of the two clauses, we ask any of the following questions: what, whom,
which, what kind of, how, when, where, why; we do not get the other clause as an
answer, because that clause is independent.

The Relationship of Dependence


Here too, we have two clauses...

(after) he had collected his share of the property

the younger son left for a distant place

...connected with the connecting word after. In the resulting sentence, the first clause
depends on the second.

How do we know that?


If you use the test I mentioned above, and ask the question when with the second
clause, you get the first clause as an answer along with the connecting word.
That's why we always include the connecting word as part of the dependent
(i.e. depending) clause.

Question: "The younger son left for a distant place." - When?

Answer: "after he had collected his share of the property"

So, What is Essential in a Sentence?


There should be "at least one finite independent clause"
whatever be the total number of clauses;
whether it is only one or interconnected many.

You may have any number of clauses.


You may have more than one independent clause.
It does not matter.
It doesn't also matter if there are non-finite clauses or not.
They are not essential.

Types of Sentences:
The various types are Simple, Complex and Compound (also sometimes a fourth type,
Complex-compound). They are based on the pattern of combination of independent
and dependent finite clauses.

Simple Sentence
It contains a single clause. Remember it needs to be an independent finite clause. - e.g.
Then he came back to his senses.

Complex Sentence
It contains a number of clauses, which depend, directly or indirectly, upon one single
independent clause. - e.g. When he had spent all the money, that country experienced a
severe famine.

Compound Sentence
It is a mixture of sentences. Each sentence that is part of a Compound Sentence is called
a Coordinate Clause.
A Compound Sentence may have any of the following mixing patterns:

1. Simple + Simple + ....


e.g. I will leave this place and (I will) go back to my father.
When the Coordinate Clauses are all Simple Sentences, then the combined sentence is
called simply a Compound Sentence. (In my opinion, it should be called a Simple
Compound Sentence.)

2. Complex + Simple + ....


e.g. While the young man was still a long way off, his father saw him and (he) was
moved with pity.
Some people call this type of sentence (as well as the one following) a Complexcompound Sentence because at least one of the constituents is a Complex Sentence.

3. Complex + Complex + ....


e.g. Now the elder son, who was out in the fields, was coming back and as he drew near
the house, he heard music and dancing.

I Think...
As I implied a little earlier, I would find it more consistent to divide Compound Sentences
into...

Simple Compound Sentences, and

Complex Compound Sentences

...if we have at all to divide them!

Sentence Structure
In this page on Sentence Structure, I would like to show how the various parts of a
sentence interplay to form a sentence.
You will understand better how a sentence is structured if you know its parts. Therefore,
I suggest that you first read about sentence parts here.
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Parts of speech

Sentence Construction - Five Ways:


I am now going to show you five ways (patterns) of constructing a sentence. Each
pattern or sentence structure can be used for making any number of sentences.
The adverbial is not an essential part of the sentence. The brackets around the word
'adverbial' indicate this fact.

1. The "S-V" Structure:


Subject

Intransitive Verb

(Adverbial)

The boys

jumped

over the wall.

He

sleeps

during lectures.

Birds of the same feather

flock

together.

2. The "S-V-O" Structure:


Subject

Transitive Verb

Object

(Adverbial)

She

teaches

English

at the university.

His car

hit

a tree

this morning.

They

will meet

the boss

next Monday.

3. The "S-V-IO-DO" Structure:


Subject

Transitive Verb

Indirect
Object

Direct
Object

(Adverbial)

The woman

gave

her daughter

a gift

on her
birthday.

The bank
manager

reluctantly
granted

the poor farmer a loan

this morning.

Mr. Mendoza

taught

us

in those days.

Greek

4. The "S-V-Sc" Structure:


Subject

Linking Verb

Subject(ive) Complement

(adverbial)

Hannah

was

a teacher

in Delhi.

The old man

looks

happy

today.

Those young people

will become

experts

soon.

5. The "S-V-O-OC" Structure:


Subject

Transitive
Verb

Object

Object(ive)
Complement

(Adverbial
)

The PM

appointed

Mr X

a minister

in 2004.

The
Inspector

found

the man

innocent.

The landlord

called

the new
tenant

a crook.

More About Sentences...


All the sentences I have given as examples above are affirmative sentences, i.e. those
that state (declare, mention) some fact. Other types of sentences, such as negatives
and questions can be constructed from affirmatives by using consistent methods.
More importantly, you will have noticed that in each of these sentences there is only one
finite verb (word or phrase). Such sentences are called Simple Sentences.
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Sentence structure has different levels. This page has shown you how various sentence
parts can come together to form a Simple Sentence. Constructing a simple sentence is
like building a room.
What about a house with several rooms?
We do have sentences which can be built from two or more Simple sentences. They are
called Complex Sentences and Compound Sentences. To Enter deeper into the world
of english sentences...

Parts of a Sentence
If you know the parts of a sentence, you understand the sentence better.
A sentence is not simply some words randomly thrown together. It is something built
from words and phrases (i.e. groups of words) according to some system.

How does a sentence work?


As I said, according to some system...

What is a system?
Not as difficult as it sounds...
A system is something in which...

there are parts,

all the parts do different tasks,

so that the purpose of the whole is fulfilled.

A sentence too is a system. So, the important questions are...


1. What are the different parts of a sentence and
what jobs do these sentence parts do?

2. How do these parts inter-relate so that a grammatically correct sentence is


created?
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What are the Different Sentence Parts?


As we learn about the parts of a sentence, we shall hear more about these different
names.

Subject
(For a detailed treatment of this part, click here)

Predicate

Finite Verb (Transitive, Intransitive, or Linking)

The Object (Direct or Indirect)

Complement (Subjective or Objective)

Adverbial

Subject and Predicate


Traditionally, a sentence is divided into two parts:
1. The Subjecttells us which person, animal, place or thing we are talking about;

2. the Predicatetells us what we are saying about that subject.


Have a look at these sentences...

Mohan ate those mangoes.

Cricket is played in India.

His sister is a teacher in Delhi.

The bold-faced part is the subject and the remaining part is the predicate in each of the
three sentences above.
This division of the sentence into Subject and Predicate is clearly according to meaning.
There is a more sophisticated explanation of these two sentence parts. Read here a
detailed explanation about the Subject.

Finite Verb
A finite verb is a one-word, two-word, three-word or four-word verb, which acts as a
single meaningful sentence part and is essential (necessary) for the existence of the
sentence.
Examples of finite verbs are:

eat

is eating

has been eaten

will have been eating

Read more about finite verbs here.

The Object
This is usually a noun phrase, i.e. a group of words built around a noun or a pronoun.
The object answers the question:

finite verb + whom?


or

finite verb + what?

as in these examples:

The teacher praised the student. (praised whom?Answer: the student)

Mohan eats mangoes. (eats what?Answer: mangoes)

The student and mangoes are the objects in the above sentences.

Adverbial
Sentences may contain words or phrases of information about when, where, how or why
some action took place or something is in existence. Such words or phrases are called
Adverbials.
Here are some examples...

in the morningShe completed the story in the morning.

at the railway stationI met him at the railway station.

brilliantlyShe played the piano brilliantly.

for permission to go homeYou should meet me for permission to go home.

Complement
As the name suggests, a complement is something that completes something.
What does it complete?
A complement completes...

sometimes the meaning of the Subject (subject complement or subjective


complement)
and

sometimes that of the Object (object complement or objective complement).

How does the Complement Complete?


The Complement completes either by renaming the subject or object or by describing
them.
Here are some examples:

Peter is a student.the phrase a student renames the subject Peter. (Subject


Complement)

That girl is clever.the word clever describes the subject that girl. (Subject
Complement)

We made Mohan monitor of the class.the word monitor renames the object
Mohan. (Object Complement)

The people found Susanna innocent.the word innocent describes the object
Susanna. (Object Complement)

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Sentence Structure

What next?
The answer to the second question, which is...
How do the various parts of a sentence (which I have listed and explained above)
interplay to form a sentence? This is the subject-matter of this page on sentence
structure.

The Subject of a Sentence


I mentioned the Subject of a Sentence and the Predicate earlier in the page about the
Parts of a Sentence. I had said there that the division of a sentence into these two
parts was according to meaning. (Click here to refresh your memory about Subject and Predicate).
There I had promised to give you a more sophisticated explanation...and this is what I
am going to do now. I am going to explain the Subject of a Sentence according to
English syntax (i.e. the various relationships between words within a sentence).
Try to follow me slowly step by step, so that you perfectly understand this particular part
of a sentence.

What Do We Mean by the Subject?


When we talk of the subject in grammar, we mean the grammatical subject, i.e. a
particular part of the sentence. This part has certain special properties and behaves in a
particular way in a sentence.

Look at these sentences...


1. Boys ride bikes.
2. Smart boys ride bikes.
3. Very smart boys ride bikes.
4. Some very smart boys ride bikes.
5. They ride bikes.
In all these sentences, the italicized part is the subject and the remaining words (ride
bikes) is the predicate.

What Can We Learn About the Subject


from the Above Five Sentences?
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Grammar
Subject
Parts of speech
Propertie
Properties

The subject may be one word or more.


In sentences 1 and 5 above, we have one-word subjects. in others, we have more than a
word. The groups of words (as well as the single words in sentences 1, and 5) in italics
are called phrases.

The main word of the subject


is always a noun or a pronoun.
In sentences 1-4, the main word is a noun (boys). In the last sentence, it is a pronoun
(They). This main word is usually called the head word of the phrase. Any phrase that
has a noun or pronoun as its head word is called a noun phrase.

The whole subject


can be replaced by a pronoun.
The pronoun 'they' in sentence 5 is a perfect replacement for the noun phrases in the
previous sentences.

The head word of the subject


can be modified.
Adjectives, adverbs, and determiners can modify the head word of the subject.
The words: smart (adjective), very (adverb), and some (determiner), illustrate this
idea.

The head word will always be


in the nominative case.
The head word in the first four sentences cannot be boys'; it has to be boys. In sentence
5, the head word has to be the word they; it cannot be them or theirs or their. Words
such as boys and they are said to have the nominative case form.

The head word has


Number, Gender, and Person.
The word 'boys' has plural number, masculine gender, and is in
the third person.
The concept of person is this:

the first person refers to the person speaking (I, we);

the second to the person spoken to (you); and

the third to person spoken about (he, she, it, they, man, woman, stone, tree,
etc.)

Semantically, the Subject of a Sentence


May Be an Agent or a Patient.

If the verb is an active verb, it shows that the subject is an agent (i.e. someone
who does an action - a doer). In our examples, the verb 'ride' is an active verb.
Therefore, the subject 'boys' and 'they' are agents.

The subject could be a patient (one who suffers an action, good or bad) in
another sentence. This happens if the verb is a passive verb.

Look at the sentence: "The workmen were praised by the boss."


Here, the verb 'were praised' is in passive form; and therefore, the subject head
word 'workmen' is a patient.

What can the word sentences tell us


1

about the nature of English language?


When I hear the word sentences,
my mind is immediately forced to make a choice...
without usually being aware of it.
It goes through certain options and almost instantaneously, the choice is made. This
happens not only with me, but with all who understand English when they encounter
certain words in the language.
In my case, for the word sentences the choice would be from the following alternatives. I
would ask myself...
1. Is the speaker or writer referring to punishments allotted to criminals by
judges at the end of certain legal procedures in a court of law?

o
o
o
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2. Is he or she discussing philosophy or theology and referring to Peter Lombard's


books? We often refer to the collection as just 'Sentences' and to him as the
'Master of Sentences.'

3. Is the speaker or writer referring to something which people make up by


putting words together?
When someone says that in a certain State, the judges give harsh sentences, I know he
or she does not mean that the grammar of the judges' utterances is unpleasant. I
understand that they mean the punishments alloted are severe.
When theologians refer to Peter Lombard as the Master of the Sentences, I know that
they are not trying to say that Peter Lombard was an excellent grammarian, though he
must have been one! People in those days really knew their grammar, unlike large
groups of people today who don't.
Be that as it may, but that brings me to the two points I want to make...

1. In this Site, we are in the world of language and grammar. Here, the word
'sentences' means some word-groupings which have certain syntactic or semantic
features. The whole section on English sentences is created to give you
sufficient knowledge about them.

2. Here is the more important point. Those who are learning English should take it
as a way of life that in English you cannot expect one-to-one correspondence
between...

words and meanings,

words and spelling,

words and pronunciation.

Hence, having to judge the context (what is said where and when) is an experience a
student of English will often encounter on his learning journey.

Active Voice, Passive Voice


There are two special forms for verbs called voice:
1. Active voice
2. Passive voice
The active voice is the "normal" voice. This is the voice that we use most of the time. You are
probably already familiar with the active voice. In the active voice, the object receives the
action of the verb:
subject

verb

active

object
>

Cats

eat

fish.

The passive voice is less usual. In the passive voice, the subject receives the action of the
verb:
subject
passive

verb

object

<
Fish

are eaten

by cats.