Here you’ll find the general English grammar terms in alphabetical order with brief simple explanations and examples.
- An adjective is a word used to describe someone or something.
Your sister is such an interesting character. She’s witty, wise, warm and weird!
- An adverb tells you how an action is performed. It answers the question: How does he/she do it? Rapidly, easily, quickly, etc.
- An adverb can also modify adjectives and other adverbs.
Hurry up, we’re very late. We need to get there as quickly as possible. Come on! You walk so slowly!
- Adverbs are also used to connect sentences and paragraphs.
After, now, later, finally, however, then, next, suddenly.
- An article goes before a noun and it tells you whether the noun is specific or general. (Check the definition of noun in this section)
- There are two types of articles: the definite article and the indefinite article.
The definite article tells you the word that is being referred to is specific: the
Pass me the magazine (a specific magazine).
The indefinite article tells you the word that is being referred to is general: a/an.
Pass me a magazine (any magazine).
- A clause has a subject and a verb. (Look at subject and verb definitions)
My dog Fido (subject) ate (verb) my homework.
There are main clauses and subordinate clauses.
- A main clause could be a sentence by itself. It can express a complete thought.
Tara ate all the cheesecake.
- A subordinate clause depends on another clause. It would not make sense by itself.
While she was watching the movie.
For the previous sentence to make sense, it needs the main clause:
Tara ate all the cheesecake while she was watching the movie.
- It’s a connecting word that links clauses or sentences.
You’ll save money if you stay. If you go, you’ll spend money but you’ll have fun and you’ll get to see your cousins.
- They show where an object, person or event is in relation to the speaker: this, that, these, those.
Which biscuits do you want? These ones with cinnamon? Or those ones with coconut flakes?
- It’s the name of a person, place or thing.
Peter bought a house in Dublin.
- The object of a sentence is what is affected by the subject. The subject does the action, the object receives or is affected by the action.
- The object pronoun replaces the person or thing that’s affected by the subject to avoid repetition.
Example without object pronouns:
Take these grapes, wash the grapes, and put the grapes in a bowl.
Example with object pronouns:
Take these grapes, wash them, and put them in a bowl.
PARTS OF SPEECH
- They’re words classified according to their use and function. When you combine different classifications you form phrases and sentences.
- The major parts of speech in English grammar are nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, articles, and interjections.
- A phrase is a small group of words. It normally has nouns but it doesn’t have a subject doing a verb.
At the crack of dawn.
An easy way to identify the predicate: it’s everything that goes after the subject.
The movie was very scary.
Jamie and Sean called to invite us to their graduation party.
I need to post these letters before 5:00 pm.
- Preposition means positioned before. It is placed before a word (a noun, a pronoun or a phrase) to show the word’s relationship with another word. A preposition can indicate a place, movement or time.
- They are usually short words: of, by, in, etc.
I’ll see you outside the bank beside the cinema on George’s Street at 5.00 pm sharp. Be there on time!
- The Possessive Adjectives are the words used to show ownership. They tell you to whom something belongs.
These are Brian’s clothes. This is his favourite jumper.
- The Possessive Pronouns indicate possession and they’re sometimes used to avoid repeating information that’s already clear. They can stand alone or if the noun is mentioned, they come after it.
Example without possessive pronouns:
This pen is my pen, not your pen.
Example with possessive pronouns:
This pen is mine, not yours.
- A prefix is a group of letters at the beginning of a word.
Untrue, disagree, mislead, impossible.
- A pronoun replaces the noun (a person, a place or a thing)
Example without pronouns:
Robert invited Mike and Paul to the concert.
Example with pronouns:
He invited them to the concert.
- A sentence has two parts: the subject (the person, place or thing that is doing or being something) and the predicate (the verb and complement that gives more information about the subject).
A sentence can have one clause or two or more clauses
Henry (subject) buys (verb) a lotto ticket every weekend (complement).
Henry (subject) buys (verb) a lotto ticket every weekend (complement) but (conjunction) he (subject) hasn’t won (verb) anything so far (complement).
- It’s the person, place, thing or idea that’s doing or being something. It answers the question: who or what is being something? Or who or what is doing the action?
- The subject is usually everything that goes before the verb.
These pancakes are great with maple syrup.
What or who is being or doing something? These pancakes
My little brother won’t go to sleep unless he’s got his stuffed koala.
What or who is being or doing something? My little brother.
- The subject of a sentence is the person or thing that performs the action of a verb. The subject pronoun replaces the person or thing that does the action to avoid repetition.
Example without subject pronouns:
Julian likes to play football but Julian can’t play now because Julian is injured.
Example with subject pronouns:
Julian likes football but he can’t play now because he is injured.
- They are a group of letters that are added at the end of a word to make a new word.
Sweetness, slowly, friendship, sharpen
- It’s the pronoun that refers back to the subject of the sentence.
I did all this by myself.
They brought it on themselves.
- Relative pronouns are used to join two sentences. They refer to nouns mentioned previously. They make it clear which person or thing we’re talking about.
- Use who, whom and which for people and which and that for things.
The bike that I bought last year was stolen.
The man, who was just standing there, is my best friend.
- It’s an action word.
Mark went to the races.
- And it’s also a state of being.
She is not in a good mood now.
Simple Present Tense: It tells you what normally happens or about present facts.
Frank lives in Dublin.
Simple Past Tense: It tells you what happened before now.
I’m sorry I missed your call last night.
Simple Future Tense: It talks about what has not happened yet.
I‘ll call you when I get there.
Present Continuous: It can tell you that an action is happening now, that’s in progress or that it’s temporary in the present.
I‘m writing an essay.
It also expresses future plans. For example: Sheila is bringing the cake.
Past Continuous: It is used to describe the background of a story.
The music was playing, the kids were singing.
It also shows that an action was in progress and it was interrupted by another action.
I was having a wonderful dream when suddenly the alarm went off and I woke up.
Future Continuous: It’s used to express that an action will be in progress in the future.
I’ll be waiting for you.
Present Perfect Tense: It expresses an action or a state of being in the present that has some connection with the past.
Patty has worked in the same place for 15 years.
Past Perfect Tense: It tells you that an event in the past happened before another event.
By the time I got home, they had already eaten all the food.
Future Perfect Tense: It talks about something that has not happened yet in relation to another event in the future.
This time next week we will have already finished the exams.