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There are hundreds of grammar rules but the basic ones refer to sentence structure and parts of speech, which are noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition and conjunction. Let’s look at the way sentences are put together and the words that form them.
Basic General English Grammar Rules
Some of the most basic and important English grammar rules relate directly to sentence structure. Some of these rules specify that:
- A singular subject needs a singular predicate.
- A sentence needs to express a complete thought.
Another term for a sentence is an independent clause.
- Clauses, like any sentence, have a subject and predicate too.
- If a group of words does not have a subject and predicate, it is a phrase.
- The group of words if they can stand alone and make a complete thought, then they are independent and called sentences.
- If they do not express a complete thought, they are called “dependent clauses.” An example of a dependent clause, which is not a sentence, is “when I finish my work”.
Subjects and Predicates
Basic to any language is the sentence, which expresses a complete thought and consists of a subject and a predicate.
- The subject is the star of the sentence; the person, animal, or thing that is the focus of it.
- The predicate will tell the action that the subject is taking or tell something about the subject.
Basic Parts of Speech – General English
Once you have a general idea of the basic grammar rules for sentence structures, it is also helpful to learn about the parts of speech.
Some parts of Speech are
- Other parts
1. Noun identification
2. Count, Mass, and Collective Nouns
3. Plural and Possessive Nouns
What is a noun? A noun is a person, place, thing, quality, animal, idea or activity.
Person — Maria
Place — Detroit
Thing — Desk
Quality — Width
Animal — Dog
Idea — Independence
Activity — Navigation
The functions of nouns
Nouns sometimes function differently in sentences. For example:
Subject: Maria likes ice cream
Object of Preposition: He gave the ice cream to Maria
Subject complement: The best customer is Maria
Grammar vocabulary: Nominal means any word, or group of words, used as a noun. The nominal word used in the original noun example is Maria.
Types of Nouns
- The names of specific things, places, and people, like Maria or Detroit, are Proper nouns.
- General, colloquial names, like table or house, are Common nouns. Common nouns can either be concrete or abstract.
- When an object is concrete i.e. you can see it and touch it, like a phone or a chair, it is a Concrete noun.
- When it is a quality or idea, like freedom or justice, it is an Abstract noun.
Count nouns are anything that can be counted. They are singular or plural. Plurals usually end with “s.”
Singular — Car
Plural — Cars
Singular — Chair
Plural — Chairs
Singular — Mouse
Plural — Mice
Singular — Child
Plural — Children
Most nouns ending in s, sh, o, or ch need an -es suffix to be plural
Singular — Bus
Plural — Buses
Singular — Dish
Plural — Dishes
Nouns ending in a consonant followed by y become plural by changing y to I and adding -es
Singular — Mystery
Plural — Mysteries
Mass Nouns are nouns that cannot be counted and they usually do not have a plural form
- Examples: Freedom, sand, money
Collective nouns refer to groups of people and/or things. Unlike mass nouns, they can usually be counted, so they usually have plural forms.
Singular — Staff
Plural — Staffs
Singular — Herd
Plural — Herds
The Plural nouns are the nouns that have been changed into their plural states by adding -s or -es. Remember your irregular nouns, such as mice and children! They too are plural nouns.
Nouns can be possessive and express ownership, usually following the use of “of.”
Example: The life of Maria
Most singular possessives are formed by adding an apostrophe and “s.” If the noun is plural, the possessive form becomes “s” and apostrophe.
Singular Common: Dog
Singular Possessive: Dog’s
Plural Common: Dogs
Plural Possessive: Dogs’
Exception: if the plural noun does not end with an “s,” the possessive is formed by adding an apostrophe and “s.”
Singular Common: Woman
Singular Possessive: Woman’s
Plural Common: Women
Plural Possessive: Women’s
A pronoun takes the place of an unknown noun. The unknown noun is called the “antecedent.”
Example: Maria wondered if she was late for work.
Maria is the antecedent of “she.” Instead of saying: Maria wondered if Maria was late for work, “she” appears to take the place of “Maria.”
The Nine forms of Pronouns:
- Personal, possessive, indefinite, reflexive, reciprocal, intensive, interrogative, relative, and demonstrative.
- The pronoun must always agree with antecedent, so if the antecedent is male, the pronoun must be male, if the antecedent is plural, the pronoun must be plural, etc.
Correct: When Maria bought the detergent, she used her credit card.
Incorrect: When Maria bought the detergent, they used his credit card.
Nominative Cases: I, you, he, she, it, we, they, who
The nominative or subjective, case pronoun is the subject of the sentence.
Examples: She went to the store.
Who has the book?
I am he.
This is she.
Objective Cases: Me, you, him, her, it, us, them, whom
These function as direct or indirect objects.
- We gave HER the bus money.
- We gave IT to HER.
- The bag is with HER.
Personal Pronouns can refer to the person/people speaking (First person,) spoken to (second person,) or spoken ABOUT (third person.)
The First person subject singular: I
First person subject plural: We
The First person object singular: me
First person object plural: us
Like regular nouns, personal pronouns can also be possessive. Possessive Determiners are possessive forms of personal pronouns. Possessive Determiners must have the following noun.
The First person determiner singular: My (book)
First person determiner plural: Our (book)
The First person pronoun singular: Mine
First person pronoun plural Ours
Example: They have MY bags but they know they’re MINE.
My — Determiner, dependent on “Bags”
Mine– stands in place of “My bags.”
These have no specific antecedents. These are usually identified with general words like: all, any, some, or none.
Singular: another, both, nobody, everything, nothing, somebody, everyone, no one, something, etc.
Plural: all, many, most, much, some
Examples: Somebody has her bags.
Plural: Everyone knows about Maria’s bags.
Indefinite pronouns are only pronouns if they are used ALONE. If they are used with a noun, they become indefinite adjectives.
These are used to ask questions and can be personal or non-personal
The Personal subject: Who/Whoever
Personal object: Whom/Whomever
Personal possessive: Whose
Non-personal subject: Which
Non-personal subject: What
- Who has the bags?
- Which bagger has them?
- Whose bags are these?
These substitute specific nouns, usually when someone is gesturing toward something.
Example: These are for her.
A verb is an active part of speech. It can also express a state of being or the relationship between two things. It is most powerful when following a noun. Example: He HIT her. Verbs are the most complicated part of speech because they can sometimes become nouns, depending on their use.
The three kinds of verbs: transitive verbs, intransitive verbs, and linking verbs.
These take objects. Transitive verbs carry the action of the subject and apply it to the object.
Example: She TOOK the bags.
These do not take an object but express actions that do not require the agent doing something to something else.
Example: She LEFT.
These link the agent with the rest of the sentence and explain the link between the subject and the rest of the sentence.
Examples: appear, grow, seem, smell, taste
Example: Maria seems tired from shopping.
An adverb is a word that is used to change or qualify the meaning of an adjective, a verb, a clause, another adverb, or any other type of word or phrase with the exception of determiners and adjectives that directly modify nouns.
Adverbs can always be used to modify verbs. Notice that the second of these two sentences is much more interesting simply because it contains an adverb:
- The dog ran. (You can picture a dog running, but you don’t really know much more about the scene.)
- The dog ran excitedly. (You can picture a dog running, wagging its tail, panting happily, and looking glad to see its owner. You can paint a much more interesting picture in your head when you know how or why the dog is running.)
Adverbs are often formed by adding the letters “-ly” to adjectives. This makes it very easy to identify adverbs in sentences. There are many exceptions to this rule; everywhere, nowhere, and upstairs are a few examples
Examples of Adverbs:
- She was walking rapidly.
- The kids love playing together in the sandbox.
- Please come inside now.
- His jokes are always very funny.
- You don’t really care, do you?
A word belonging to one of the major form classes in any of numerous languages and typically serving as a modifier of a noun to denote a quality of the thing named, to indicate its quantity or extent, or to specify a thing as distinct from something else
- The word red in “the red car” is an adjective.
In the following examples, the highlighted words are adjectives:
- They live in a big, beautiful
- Since it’s a hot day, Lisa is wearing a sleeveless
- The mountaintops are covered in sparkling
- On her birthday, Brenda received an antique vase filled with fragrant
Types of Adjectives
As the name indicates, possessive adjectives are there to indicate possession. They are
Like the article the, demonstrative adjectives are to indicate or demonstrate specific people, animals, or things. These, those, this and that are demonstrative adjectives.
- These books belong on that
- This movie is my favourite.
Coordinate adjectives are separated by commas or the word and, and appear one after another to modify the same noun.
When we use number adjectives in sentences, numbers are almost always adjectives. You can tell that a number is an adjective when it answers the question “How many?”
- The stagecoach was pulled by a team of six
- He ate 23 hotdogs during the contest and was sick afterwards.
A conjunction is a part of speech that is used to connect words, phrases, clauses, or sentences. Conjunctions are considered to be invariable grammar particle, and they may or may not stand between items they conjoin.
Types of Conjunctions
There are several different types of conjunctions that do various jobs within sentence structures. These include:
- Subordinating conjunctions – Also known as subordinates, these conjunctions join dependent clauses to independent clauses.
- Coordinating conjunction – Also known as coordinators, these conjunctions coordinate or join two or more sentences, main clauses, words, or other parts of speech which are of the same syntactic importance.
- Correlative conjunction – These conjunctions correlate, working in pairs to join phrases or words that carry equal importance within a sentence.
- Conjunctive adverbs – While some instructors do not teach conjunctive adverbs alongside conjunctions, these important parts of speech are worth a mention here.
- I tried to hit the nail but hit my thumb instead.
- I have two goldfish and a cat.
- I’d like a bike for commuting to work.
- You can have peach ice cream or a brownie sundae.
- Neither the black dress nor the grey one looks right on me.
A preposition is a word which will link nouns, pronouns, or phrases to other words within a sentence. Prepositions are usually short words, and they are normally placed directly in front of nouns. In some cases, you’ll find prepositions in front of gerund verbs.
- I prefer to read in the library.
- He climbed up the ladder to get into the attic.
- Please sign your name on the dotted line after you read the contract.
- Go down the stairs and through the door.
- He swam across the pool.
Tenses of verbs
Verbs come in three tenses: past, present, and future.
- The past is to describe things that have already happened (e.g., earlier in the day, yesterday, last week, three years ago).
- The present tense is to describe things that are happening right now or things that are continuous. The future tense describes things that have yet to happen (e.g., later, tomorrow, next week, next year, three years from now).
- The future tense describes things that have yet to happen (e.g., later, tomorrow, next week, next year, three years from now).
The following table illustrates the proper use of verb tenses:
|Simple Present||Simple Past||Simple Future|
|I read nearly every day.||Last night, I read an entire novel.||I will read as much as I can this year.|
|Present Continuous||Past Continuous||Future Continuous|
|I am reading Shakespeare at the moment.||I was reading Edgar Allan Poe last night.||I will be reading Nathaniel Hawthorne soon.|
|Present Perfect||Past Perfect||Future Perfect|
|I have read so many books I can’t keep count.||I had read at least 100 books by the time I was twelve.||I will have read at least 500 books by the end of the year.|
|Present Perfect Continuous||Past Perfect Continuous||Future Perfect Continuous|
|I have been reading since I was four years old.||I had been reading for at least a year before my sister learned to read.||I will have been reading for at least two hours before dinner tonight.|
Voices of Verbs
There are 2 types of Voices of Verbs. They are
- Active Voice
- Passive Voice
When the subject is the door of the action (verb), the voice of the verb is active.
To make an active voice:
Subject + main verb
Example: He passed the test.
In this sentence, the subject He did the action which was passing the test.
The verb is in passive voice when the subject receives the action.
To make a passive voice:
Subject + auxiliary verb (to be) + main verb (past participle*)
Example: The test was passed by him.
In this sentence, the subject test did not do the action. It was “him” who did. The subject “test” receives the action done by him.
Uses of passive voice
Passive voice is used to:
1. Give importance to the object.
Rather than saying: Aldrin won the presidency; we say:
The presidency was won by Aldrin. (presidency is given more importance).
Idioms – General English
what are Idioms?
- An idiom is a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual word.
- There are thousands of idioms, occurring frequently in all languages.
- As the estimation says that there are twenty-five thousand idiomatic expressions in the English language.
Common idioms that refer to people include:
- A chip on your shoulder – means you are holding a grudge
- High as a kite – means you are drunk or on drugs
- Sick as a dog – means you are very ill
Idioms that refer to your actions would be:
- Rub someone the wrong way – meaning to annoy or bother
- Jump the gun – would mean to be doing something early
- Pay the piper – means you need to face the consequences of your actions
Some idioms use colour words to convey other meanings.
For example, there are several that use the word “blue:”
- “The blues” can refer to both a style of music and feeling sad.
- If something occurs rarely, it is said to happen “once in a blue moon”, because a blue moon is two full moons in one month, which doesn’t happen often.
- “Out of the blue” means something happens that was unexpected.
Synonym – General English
What is a synonym?
- A synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language.
- Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is known as synonymy.
Here is a list of adjectives and their synonyms that are commonly used to describe people.
- Beautiful: Attractive, Pretty, Lovely, Stunning
- Fair: Just, Objective, Impartial, Unbiased
- Funny: Humorous, Comical, Hilarious, Hysterical
- Happy: Content, Joyful, Mirthful, Upbeat
- Hardworking: Diligent, Determined, Industrious, Enterprising
- Honest: Honorable, Fair, Sincere, Trustworthy
General English – Antonym
What is an Antonym?
- A word that has the exact opposite meaning of another word is its antonym.
- Life is full of antonyms, from the “stop” and “go” of a traffic signal to side-by-side restroom doors which will be label as “men” and “women.”
Working with Antonyms
Sometimes you need to take two steps to enlarge your findings when doing antonym research:
- Search for the antonyms for a word.
- Here is an example of antonyms for the word “good”
- bad, badly, badness, evil, evilness, ill, malevolent, malicious, poorly, wicked
- Search for synonyms of the antonyms identified in step one.
- If you take the first antonym listed, “bad,” and search for synonyms, you would be shown 73 synonyms for “bad.”
- That would give you a lot of antonyms to choose from when looking for that perfect antonym for good, including words such as: awful, dreadful, hard, hopeless, inferior, lousy, painful, rotten, severe, stale, terrible, and tough.
Categories of Antonyms – General English
There are three categories of antonyms:
- They deal with levels of the meaning of the words, like if something is not“good”, it may still not be “bad.”
- There is a scale which involves with some words, and besides good and bad there can be average, fair, excellent, terrible, poor, or satisfactory.
- They have a relationship where there is no middle ground.
- There are only two possibilities, either one or the other.
- They are sometimes considering a subcategory of complementary antonyms.
- With these pairs, for there to be a relationship, both must exist.
- Achieve – Fail
- Idle – Active
- Afraid – Confident
- Ancient – Modern
- Arrive – Depart
- Arrogant – Humble
- Ascend – Descend
Reading Comprehension – General English
What is Reading Comprehension?
- Reading comprehension is the ability to read a text, process it, and understand its meaning.
- Although this definition may seem simple, it is not necessarily simple to teach, learn or practice
Reading Comprehension consists of two levels of processing.
- Shallow (Low-Level) Processing
- Deep (High-Level) Processing
Deep processing involves semantic processing, which happens when we encode the meaning of a word and relate it to similar words
Shallow processing involves structural and phonemic recognition, the processing of sentence and word structure and their associated sounds.
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