Grammar Terms

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  1. Noun
    A noun is a word for a person, place, or thing. (You might like to think of nouns as naming words.)
  2. Adjective
    • Adjectives are describing words. 
    • Large, grey and friendly are all examples of adjectives.
  3. Adverb
    • An adverb can be added to a verb to modify its meaning.
    • Usually, an adverb tells you when, where, how, in what manner, or to what extent an action is performed.
    • Many adverbs end in ly — particularly those that are used to express how an action is performed.
    • Although many adverbs end ly, lots do not, e.g., fast, never, well, very, most, least, more, less, now, far, and there.
  4. Conjunctions
    • Conjunctions are used to join words or groups of words together.
    • The most common ones are and, or, and but. (There are many others.)
  5. Interjections
    • Interjections are words used to express strong feeling or sudden emotion.
    • They are included in a sentence - usually at the start - to express a sentiment such as surprise, disgust, joy, excitement or enthusiasm.
  6. Preposition
    • A preposition is a word which precedes a noun (or a pronoun) to show the noun's (or the pronoun's) relationship to another word in the sentence.
    • (The word preposition comes from the idea of being positioned before. It is not true to say that a preposition always precedes a noun or a pronoun, but it does most of the time.)
    • The following are all prepositions:
    • above, about, across, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, down, during, except, for, from, in, inside, into, like, near, of, off, on, since, to, toward, through, under, until, up, upon, with and within.
  7. Pronoun
    • Most of the time, a pronoun is used to replace a noun.
    • The following are all pronouns: he, she, they, none, and which.
    • There are lots more. As you can see, pronouns are usually short words.
    • They are used to make sentences less cumbersome and less repetitive.
  8. Verb
    • Verbs are doing words.
    • A verb can express:
    • A physical action (e.g., to swim, to write, to climb).
    • A mental action (e.g., to think, to guess, to consider).
    • A state of being (e.g., to be, to exist, to appear).

    • The verbs which express a state of being are the ones which take a little practice to spot, but, actually, they are the most common.
    • The most common verb is the verb to be.
  9. Phrases
    • A phrase is a group of words that stand together as a single unit, typically as part of a clause or a sentence.
    • A phrase does not contain a subject and verb and, consequently, cannot convey a complete thought.
    • (A phrase contrasts with a clause. A clause does contain a subject and verb, and it can convey a complete idea.)
  10. Clause
    • A clause is a group of words that includes a subject and a verb.
    • A clause can be distinguished from a phrase, which does not contain a subject and a verb (e.g., in the afternoon, drinking from the bowl).
    • An independent clause can express a complete thought (and can be a standalone sentence).
    • A dependent clause is usually a supporting part of a sentence, and it cannot stand by itself as a meaningful proposition (idea).
  11. Subordinating Conjunctions
    • A subordinating conjunction is used to link a subordinate clause (also known as a dependent clause) to the main clause (also known as an independent clause). 
    • In each example below, the main clause is in bold, and the subordinating conjunction is shaded.
    • She left early because Mike arrived with his new girlfriend.
    • Keep your hand on the wound until the nurse asks you to take it off.
  12. Modifiers
    • A modifier is a word, phrase, or clause which functions as an adjective or an adverb to describe a word or make its meaning more specific.
    • Examples of Modifiers:
    • Modifiers can play the roles of adjectives or adverbs.

    • Modifiers As Adjectives:
    • When a modifier is an adjective, it modifies a noun or a pronoun. (In these examples, the modifiers are shaded, and the words being modified are bold).
    • Lee caught a small mackerel.(Here, the adjective small modifies the noun mackerel.)
    • Lee caught a small mackerel.(Don't forget that articles (i.e., the, an, and a) are adjectives too.
    • Here, a modifies the noun mackerel as does small.)
    • Lee caught another one.(Here, the adjective another modifies the pronoun one.)

    • Modifiers As Adverbs:
    • When a modifier is an adverb, it modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.
    • For example:
    • Lee accidentally caught a small whelk.(Here, the adverb accidentally modifies the verb caught.)
    • Lee caught an incredibly small mackerel.(Here, the adverb incredibly modifies the adjective small.)
    • Lee supposedly accidentally caught a small whelk.(Here, the adverb supposedly modifies the adverb accidentally.)

    • A Modifier Can Be a Phrase or a Clause:
    • Don't forget that phrases and clauses can play the roles of adjectives and adverbs too.
    • For example:
    • Lee caught a mackerel smaller than a Mars bar.(This is an adjective phrase modifying the noun mackerel.)
    • Lee caught a mackerel of tiny proportions.(This is a prepositional phrase functioning as an adjective. It modifies the noun mackerel.)
    • Lee caught a mackerel which was smaller than a Mars bar.(This is an adjective clause modifying mackerel.)
    • When alone, Lee tried to catch mackerel.(This is an adverbial phrase (of time) modifying the verb tried.)
    • When we left him alone, Lee set up his rod to catch mackerel.(This is an adverbial clause (of time) modifying the verb set up.)
  13. Subject
    • The subject of a sentence is the person or thing doing the action or being described.
    • For example (subjects shaded):
    • Lee ate the pie.(Lee is the subject of the sentence. Lee is the subject of the main verb ate; i.e., Lee is the doing the action.) 
    • Lee is putting on weight.(Lee is the subject of the sentence. Lee is the subject of the main verb is; i.e., Lee is being described.)
  14. Predicate
    • The predicate is the part of a sentence (or clause) which tells us what the subject does or is.
    • To put it another way, the predicate is everything that is not the subject.

    • At the heart of the predicate is a verb. In addition to the verb, a predicate can contain direct objects, indirect objects, and various kinds of phrases. 
    • A sentence has two parts: the subject and the predicate. The subject is what the sentence is about, and the predicate is a comment about the subject.
  15. Cases
    • Grammatical case pertains to nouns and pronouns.
    • A noun's or a pronoun's case shows its relationship with the other words in a sentence.
    • The main cases you will encounter in English are:
    • The Subjective Case (or Nominative Case)
    • The Possessive Case (or Genitive Case)
    • The Objective Case (or Accusative Case or Dative Case)
    • The Vocative Case
  16. Subjective (Nominative) Case
    • The subjective case is for a noun or pronoun that is the subject of a verb.
    • For example:
    • Anne went to the shop. 
    • She went to the shop.
    • The subjective case is also used for a subject complement.
    • For example:
    • Bill is a policeman.
    • It is he.(In informal writing, the objective case (him) can be used.)
  17. Possessive (Genitive) Case
    • The possessive case is used to show possession. With nouns, it is shown with an apostrophe. (Read the rules about using apostrophes for possession.)
    • For example:
    • This is Anne's bag.
    • This is her bag.
  18. Objective Case
    • The objective case is for a noun or pronoun that is either the direct object or indirect object of a verb or the object of a preposition.
    • For example:
    • I visited Anne.
    • I visited her.
    • Take me to her.
  19. Vocative Case
    • The vocative case is used to indicate when a person (usually) is being addressed directly.
    • In terms of spelling, it is identical to the subjective case.
    • However, words in the vocative case should be offset from the remainder of the sentence with comma(s).
    • For example:
    • Paul, is this your tent peg?
    • You, get off my lawn.
  20. Transitive Verb
    • A transitive verb is a verb that can take a direct object.
    • In other words, it is done to someone or something.
    • Most verbs are transitive.
  21. Intransitive Verb
    • An intransitive verb is one that does not take a direct object.
    • In other words, it is not done to someone or something.
    • It only involves the subject.The opposite of an intransitive verb is a transitive verb.
    • A transitive verb can have a direct object.
    • For example:
    • He laughed.(Laughed is an intransitive verb. It has no direct object. You cannot laugh something.)

    • Every single person voted.
    • The jackdaws roost in these trees.
    • The crowd demonstrated outside the theatre.(In this example, demonstrated is an intransitive verb. However, to demonstrate can be used transitively too, e.g., He demonstrated a karate chop to the class.)
  22. Linking Verb
    • A linking verb is a verb which connects a subject to its predicate without expressing an action.
    • A linking verb is used to re-identify or describe its subject.
  23. Helping Verb
    • A helping verb (which is also known as an auxiliary verb) sits before a main verb to help express the main verb's mood, tense, or voice.
    • Be, do, and have are the most common helping verbs.
    • You will see them in these forms:Be: am, is, are, was, were, being, beenDo: does, do, didHave: has, have, had, having
  24. Passive Sentence
    • In a passive sentence, the subject does not perform the action in the sentence.
    • In fact, the action is performed on it.

    Nowadays, black kites are protected.(The action is being done to the subject, black kites.)
  25. Active Sentence
    • In an active sentence, the subject performs the action of the verb.
    • An active sentence is the opposite of a passive sentence.
    • Examples:
    • The dog ate all the biscuits.(In this example, The dog is the subject of the sentence. 
    • The dog is the subject of the verb to eat. 
    • The dog is performing the action of the verb; i.e., it is the thing doing the eating.)
  26. Definite Article & Indefinite Article
    • The definite article is the word the.
    • It is used before a noun to specify it as something previously considered.
    • There are two types of articles:
    • The Definite Article (the)
    • The Indefinite Article (a and an).
    • The articles are classified as adjectives.
  27. Prepositional Phrase
    A prepositional phrase is phrase that starts with a preposition and ends with noun (or a pronoun).
  28. Prepositional Phrases Functioning As Adjectives
    • Prepositional Phrases Function As Adjectives or Adverbs
    • Answering: Which one, how many, whose, what kind?
    • Here are some more examples of prepositional phrases.
    • In each example, the prepositional phrase is shaded with the preposition in bold.
    • Be aware that prepositional phrases function as adjectives or adverbs.
    • Prepositional phrases functioning as adjectives:
    • Please read the message from Lee.(The prepositional phrase describes the noun message.)
  29. Prepositional Phrases Functioning As Adverbs
    • Prepositional Phrases Function As Adjectives or Adverbs
    • Answering: How, why, when , where?
    • Here are some more examples of prepositional phrases. 
    • In each example, the prepositional phrase is shaded with the preposition in bold. 
    • Be aware that prepositional phrases function as adjectives or adverbs.
    • Lee caught a small mackerel with utmost pride.(The prepositional phrase modifies the verb caught. It is an adverb of manner; i.e., it tells us how he caught it.)
  30. Verbal Phrases
    • A verbal is a verb form which functions as a noun or an adjective.
    • In English, there are three types of verbals:
    • Participles (past participles and present participles).
    • Gerunds
    • Infinitives
  31. Gerunds (Verbal Phrases)
    • A gerund is a noun formed from a verb.
    • All gerunds end -ing.
    • For example:
    • swimmingrunningdrinking
    • Even though a gerund is a noun, a gerund can still take a direct object (like a verb).
    • This is known as a gerund complement.
    • For example:
    • swimming the lake
    • running a mile
    • drinking a beer
  32. Participles (Verbal Phrases)
    • A participle is a word formed from a verb which can be used as an adjective.
    • The two types of participles are the present participle (ending ing) and the past participle (usually ending -ed, -d, -t, -en, or -n).
  33. Infinitive (Verbal Phrases)
    • The infinitive form of a verb is the verb in its basic form.
    • It is the version of the verb which will appear in the dictionary. 
    • The infinitive form of a verb is usually preceded by to (e.g., to run, to dance, to think).
    • The infinitive form is not always preceded by to.
    • Look at these examples:
    • I need to run every day.(The infinitive form with the word to is called the full infinitive or to-infinitive.) 
    • I must run every day.(After certain verbs, the to is dropped (more on this below).)
    • run every day.(This is not in the infinitive form. This is a finite verb, i.e., a verb functioning as the main verb.)
  34. Dangling Modifier
    • A dangling modifier is a modifier that has nothing to modify.
    • Remember, modifiers describe a word or make its meaning more specific.
    • A dangling modifier is an error caused by failing to use the word that the modifier is meant to be describing.

    • Meticulous and punctual, David's work ethic is admirable. 
    • In this example, the missing word is David (as a standalone subject).
    • A correct version would be:
    • Meticulous and punctual, David has an admirable work ethic. (In this example, the modifier Meticulous and punctual is modifying David as it should, not David's work ethic.)
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Grammar Terms
Grammar Terms
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