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English/Grammar/Notes/01

PARTS OF SPEECH
Roles played by the words in sentences are parts of speech.
There are only eight roles to be played by all the words in the English language. A single word
though cannot be used in sentences in all the eight ways.
How many words are there in English?
According to The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), published by the Oxford University Press, there is
no single sensible answer to this question. It's impossible to count the number of words in a language,
because it's so hard to decide what actually counts as a word. Isdog one word, or two (a noun meaning 'a
kind of animal', and a verb meaning 'to follow persistently')? If we count it as two, then do we
count inflections separately too (e.g.dogs = plural noun, dogs = present tense of the verb). Is dog-tired a
word, or just two other words joined together? Is hot dog really two words, since it might also be written
ashot-dog or even hotdog?
It's also difficult to decide what counts as 'English'. What about medical and scientific terms? Latin words
used in law, French words used in cooking, German words used in academic writing, Japanese words
used in martial arts? Do you count Scots dialect? Teenage slang? Abbreviations?
The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words
in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included
as subentries. Over half of these words are nouns, about a quarter adjectives, and about a seventh verbs;
the rest is made up of exclamations, conjunctions, prepositions, suffixes, etc. And these figures don't take
account of entries with senses for different word classes (such as noun and adjective).
This suggests that there are, at the very least, a quarter of a million (1 ml= 10 lakh) distinct English
words, excluding inflections, and words from technical and regional vocabulary not covered by the OED,
or words not yet added to the published dictionary, of which perhaps 20 per cent are no longer in current
use. If distinct senses were counted, the total would probably approach three quarters of a million.

NOUN
Nouns are naming words. They name people, places things, qualifies, ideas, states of existence and
action .
KINDS OF NOUNS: Nouns can be classified in several ways (Cont, Cases etc.) which have been
discussed in class elaborately.
As per the own nature of the words, there are four different kinds of nouns:
1.
2.
3.
4.

Common nouns. e.g. table , man , dog


Proper nouns. e.g. Holland, Edison, India, Mr. Smith
Abstract nouns e.g. courage, joy, beauty, fear
Collective nouns e.g. team, flock, group, swarm

English/Grammar/Notes/01

COUNTABLE AND UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS


A. COUNTABLE NOUNS:
Those nouns that can be counted or are physically separate so as to determine the distinct number. e.g.
Chairs, Buildings, Bottles, Pens.
B. UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS:
Those nouns that cannot be counted. e.g. milk, rice, grain, water, silver, happiness, attention, philosophy,
heat etc.
Note:
Uncountable Nouns may be referred to by measures or quantities which are countable.
Example:
Two loaves of bread, five logs of wood etc.
Uncountables may be used as countables but with a different meaning.
Example:
Have you read the works of Shakespeare? Thus, here works means plays, though
work is an uncountable noun.

NOUNS: SINGULAR OR PLURAL? SOME SPECIAL CASES


Rule 1. Nouns such as a group (of things), a crowd (of people ) , a herd ( of cattle) , a flock ( of sheep) , a
regiment ( soldiers) , a congregation ( of worshipers ) are known as collective nouns and are usually
singular , even when followed by the of adjunct , and they therefore generally take a singular verb.
e.g.

A crowd of people has gathered at the scene of accident.


A flock of sheep was grazing in the field.

Exception.
If we take the members of the group individually, a plural verb may be used.
e.g.

A herd of cattle were straying all over the highway.


The audience are requested to leave by the nearest exit.

In the first sentence, the plural is used because some of the cattle were straying in one direction and some
in another, so we take individual cattle and not the herd as whole. In the second, though the request is
made to the audience as a body, they will not leave as a single body. Some will go out by one exit and
some by another.
Rule 2. Class nouns such as clothing, food. furniture, crockery, cutlery, stationary and footwear are
singular, and must therefore take a singular verb.
e.g.

The furniture has been delivered earlier today.


Leather footwear is considered a necessary component of good dressing.

English/Grammar/Notes/01
Rule 3. A pair of, when applied to things where the two components are always thought of together
(scissors, shears, shoes, gloves, trousers, glasses) is singular .
e.g.

That pair of scissors belongs to me


Not a single pair of socks was clean.

Exception:
If we omit the words a pair of and merely use the plural word, then it must take a plural verb.
e.g.

Those scissors belong to me.


His trousers were well-tailored.

Rule 4.
A lot of, a great deal of, plenty of, most of and some of are not collective nouns, these are
used in sentences as adjectives.
When these adjectives are used with uncountable nouns (when they refer to amount or quantity), the noun
words remain singular,
When these adjectives are used with countable nouns (when they refer to number) the noun words remain
become plural.
e.g.

A lot of people prefer tea to coffee.


There is a lot of work to be done.

e.g.

There are plenty of opportunities for hardworking graduates.


There is plenty of room in the back row.

Rule 5.
News, though from its word-origin seems like a plural word, is always treated as singular.
Another word advice is never used in the plural.
e.g.

What is the latest news from the USA?


He gave me much good advice. (not many good advices)

Rule 6.
Names of certain ailments and of certain sciences or branches of knowledge which end in s
are also singular: measles, mumps, shingles, mathematics, physics, ethics
e.g.

Mumps is a serious illness for grown-up-people.

Exception:
When mathematics means mathematical calculations economics means economic facts, the words are
plural.
e.g.

The area of the room is 160 square feet, if my mathematics are correct.
The economics of the situation have been discussed at some length.

English/Grammar/Notes/01
CASES OF NOUNS
Cases tell us the relation of the noun to some other word or words in the sentence.
These are three main cases
1. Nominative (or Subject) case: when the noun is the subject in a sentence, e.g. The
sculptor is carving a statue.
2. Objective case: when noun is the object in a sentence, e.g. The duck waddled across
the road.
3. Possessive case: when noun shows possession, e.g. Toms toy, pages of book.
CORRECT USAGE OF NOUNS
A. Some nouns have the same form in the singular and the plural:
Some examples are: Sheep-sheep; Fish-fish; Aircraft- aircraft; Deer-deer
B. Some nouns appear to be plural but are singular :
Some examples are: Politics, Athletics, Mathematics, Physics, News.
Yet other nouns are always used in the plural.
Some examples: Scissors, Trousers, Tongs, Socks, Savings.
C. Collective nouns refer to a group but they generally take a singular verb.
The committee meets at 4 p.m. today.
The collective noun committee has taken a singular verb meets.
However, in British usage, collective nouns take the plural form when they refer to the members of a
group considered as individuals. For example,
The members of the committee were divided over the issue.
Other similar words include club, college, company, electorate, family, government, population, police,
people, staff.
D. Some nouns have different meanings in the singular and in the plural

Singular
Premise
Proposition
Wood
(Meaning) The Material

(Meaning)

Plural
Premises
Buildings
Woods
Forests

E. Inanimate objects do not usually take the (s) form t indicate possession.
Example:
The ministers house indicates possession by living things, however, the railing of the staircase and not
the staircases railing.
Exception:
1. Personified objects will take the apostrophe to show possession. Hence we say Natures
Cruelty instead of Cruelty of nature.

English/Grammar/Notes/01
2. Nouns denoting time, space, weight, .e.g. In a years Span, a miles distance, a kilos
weight.
F. Use(s) only when the nouns do not end in s
Daughters son; Sons daughter
Use a simple () when plural nouns end in s
Sons daughters, princes mother, princesses mother
G. In some case where the possessive case is used, certain nouns can be used without the second
noun.
Example:
We decided to meet at the dentists.
Here the noun clinic is not mentioned because it is implicit.

EXERCISE
1. Supply the correct form of the verb (present tense) in the following sentences. The infinitive of
the verb to be used is given in brackets at the end of each sentence
1. All the water been drunk.(have )
2. A large crowd expected at the football match(be )
3. These shoes .almost worn out( be )
4. A pair of socks been washed (have )
5. Good cutlery ..expensive (be)
6. A great number of people visited the exhibition(have )
7. Most of the houses in this street .at least a 100 years old(have )
8. Bad news .fast ( travel)
9. A great deal of money..to be spent on the upkeep of my car(need)
10. These scissors .sharpening(need)
11. A lot of these apples .bad(be)
12. A lot of time .been wasted(have )

2 Answer true or false to the verbs used in the following sentences.


1. The people waiting for the train is getting impatient.
2. Mathematics is his weakest subject.
There are plenty of time before the bus leaves.
3. There is plenty of books lying on the tables.
4. Most of the students have passed their examination.
5. The food we took with us on the picnic were insufficient.
6. His trousers were covered with mud.
The whole flock of sheep are to be sold.
7.

An epidemic of measles has broken out in the district.


Most of the land in this part of the country is uncultivated

English/Grammar/Notes/01

PRONOUN
Pronoun is a word used in place of a noun.
Look at the following sentence:
Seeta wanted the golden deer. Seeta implored Rama to get the deer. Rama caught the deer and gave the
deer to Seeta.
And now the rewritten sentence:
Seeta wanted the golden deer. She implored Rama to get it. He caught it and gave it to her.
Thus we see that pronouns eliminate repetition of nouns and improve readability.
CORRECT USAGE OF PRONOUNS
1. Use of personal pronouns
Personal pronouns are broadly divided into three: subject pronounsI, you, he, she,
it ,we, they; object pronouns me , you, him, her, us, them, possessive pronounsmine, yours, his, hers,
its, ours, their,. The general rules are
A. The verb to be is always followed by subject pronoun.
Example:
It was she who did it. (was followed by she)
B. When the sentence is comparing two things always use the case of pronoun that would finish the
clause.
Example:
Murali came later than he/she (did)
C. Before a gerund always use a possessive pronoun.

Example:
Her crying caused a commotion in the office.
D. Always bear in mind :
Who and Whom are used to refer only to people.
That can refer to people, animals, and things.
Which cannot refer to people?
Example:
Who is responsible for this error?
This is the man whom I met yesterday
The police impounded the car that had hit the ministers car.
Tip: When there is confusion between who and whom, you can substitute he and him or she and her to
see which makes more sense.

English/Grammar/Notes/01
2. Use of demonstrative pronouns:
This, That, These and Those are known as Demonstrative pronouns:
This is what I want. Those are your books. This is better than that.
This is used for the nearer object and that is used for the farther object.
That with its plural those is used to avoid the repetition of the preceding Noun.
Examples:
The population of Mumbai is more than that of Bhopal
The temples in South India are bigger than those in Western India.
3. Use of indefinite pronouns:
These are pronouns that do not refer to any specific person or thing. Examples are one, none, all, some,
everyone, anybody etc.
A. One, if used in a sentence, should be used throughout.
Hence,
One must look after ones belongings
B. None is a shortened form of no one, but it is commonly used with plural verbs:
None of his deeds are commendable.
C. Use of anybody, everybody, everyone, anyone: These indefinite pronouns take singular verbs as in:
Everybody shuns a loser.
Anyone cares?
Note however, that the adjective his or her is used as per the context of the pronoun:
Every one of the ladies values her independence
D. Use of each , either , neither
Each, either and neither are distributive in nature and refer to persons and things, one at a time. Hence,
they always take a singular verb. Either implies the one or the other of the two. Neither is negative of
either. If more than two persons or things are referred .to, none or anyone should be used.
Examples:
Either of you is guilty.
Neither of the two attended the seminar.
Each of you is responsible.
E. Use of its and its:
The pronoun It will not take the apostrophe to indicate possession.
Hence
Its Possessive Its wing was broken.
Its- Abbreviated form of it is- Its getting late.

4. Use of reflexive pronoun


When the action of a subject falls back on the subject, we say the pronoun is reflexive.

English/Grammar/Notes/01
Examples:
He hurt himself.
They enjoyed themselves.
The common reflexive pronouns are myself, yourself, himself, herself itself, ourselves, yourselves,
themselves.
When verbs like avail of, absent, acquit, enjoy are used reflexively, never omit the reflexive pronoun.
Incorrect
We availed the opportunity to meet the President.
Correct
We availed ourselves of the opportunity to meet the President.
Emphatic Pronoun: The form of Reflexive pronoun is used for emphasis
When the subject is emphasized, the reflexive/emphatic pronoun is used.
Example
I myself cooked the meal.

Notes prepared by: Abhranil Das. (Ph: 9832376051, e-Mail: abhranil.d@gmail.com)


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