Basics of English Grammar
These are some useful and crisp explanations of common terms in English grammar. These explanations can be used to have a basic understanding of English grammar. This can also be used as a quick reference guide by anybody who is comfortable with the language.
Sentence: Sentence is a meaningful arrangement of words to convey a thought.
Example: New Delhi is the capital of India.
A sentence has two main parts which are as follows:
Subject: In the given example something is being said about New Delhi, so ‘New Delhi’ is the subject in this example.
Predicate: In the given example whatever is being said about New Delhi, is predicate.
Following illustration will further simplify this concept
Life is not as simple as ‘A is B’. There can be many words in a subject or a predicate. Usually noun makes a subject and verb makes a predicate. In case of many words making a subject or a predicate the noun or the verb helps as supporting words to convey the full meaning of the sentence.
Example: His long time friend is now a world champion. Here the main subject is ‘friend’ but supporting words preceding ‘friend’ helps convey the full meaning of the context in which ‘ friend’ has been used. Similarly ‘is’ is the predicate but cannot convey a meaning all on its own. Words succeeding ‘is’ are helping to convey the contextual meaning of the sentence.
Phrase: A phrase is a group of grammatically related words that does not contain a main verb. The words in a phrase act as a unit and convey a particular meaning.
Example: I am on leave today, but tomorrow I may go to the office. Here ‘on leave’ and ‘to the office’ are working like phrase.
Clause: A clause is a group of grammatically related words that does contain a main verb.
Independent Clause: Some clause can convey a meaning even if they are taken as independent sentences, that is why they are called ‘independent’.
In the previous example, ‘I am on leave today’ can convey a meaning even if it is an independent sentence. Similarly, ‘Tomorrow I may go to the office’ is an independent clause.
Subordinate or Dependent clause: Some clauses cannot convey a meaning if they are taken as an independent sentence. They need some supporting sentences to convey a meaning.
Example: Global warming is increasing because of which there is dramatic change in weather pattern.
Here, ‘Global warming is increasing’ can convey the meaning all alone. The next part of the sentence; ‘because of which’; needs the initial part of sentence to convey some meaning. So this is a subordinate clause.
Object: Object is the word which receives the action of an action verb.
Example: Harry waved the magic wand.
In this example ‘magic wand’ is the recipient of the action ‘waving’.
Direct Object: Direct object is one which directly receives the action.
Indirect Object: Indirect object indirectly receives the action.
Example: Papa bought chocolates for me.
In this example ‘chocolate’ is the direct object, while ‘me’ is indirect object.
Complement: Those verbs which are not action verbs need a noun or adjective to complete the meaning. These words, which help being or sensing verbs to convey a meaning are called complements. They can be termed as predicate adjective, or predicate noun/pronoun.
Example: New Delhi is the capital of India.
In this example ‘the capital of India’ helps ‘is’ to convey a meaning.
Parts of Speech:
When words are used in sentence then they become parts of speech. A word can have different meanings in different contexts. Depending upon the context a word may behave as a different kind of parts of speech. There are following parts of speech
Noun: The name of a person, place, thing, event, feeling, etc. Nouns usually function as subjects or objects in a sentence. Nouns have ‘number’, so they can be singular or plural.
Types of Noun:
- Proper Noun: Proper noun is used to describe a unique person or place or thing. Proper noun always starts with a capital letter in a sentence. Example: New Delhi is the capital of India.
- Common Noun: Common noun is used to describe a category of a person or a thing or a place. Example: Asian, Wooden, Man.
- Concrete Noun: Concrete noun is used to describe a tangible thing, or those things which can be sensed by our sense organs.
- Abstract Noun: Abstract noun is used to describe intangible things. Usually feelings are described by abstract noun.
- Countable Noun: As the name suggests they can be counted. All nouns except abstract noun, discussed above are countable nouns.
- Non-countable Noun: They cannot be counted.
Rules to make plural forms of nouns:
- Usually, ‘s’ is added at the end of a noun to make it plural.
- Nouns ending in –s, -x, -ch or –sh need addition of –es at the end to make them plural.
- Nouns ending with a consonant followed by a –y need change of –y to –i and addition of es to make them plural.
- Nouns ending with –o need –es at the end to make them plural.
- Nouns ending with –is need change of –is to –es to make them plural. Example: Axis: Axes.
- Nouns ending with –f and -fe need change of –f to –v and –es followed by –v to make them plural.
- Some nouns need the change in internal vowels to make them plural. Example: Woman – women, Foot – feet.
The word which is used to replace a pronoun to avoid repetition of words is called pronoun.
Pronoun can be used both as subject and object.
Types of pronoun:
Personal pronoun: When the pronoun is simply used to replace the noun it is called as personal pronoun.
- Subject Forms: I, you, he, she, we, they.
- Object Forms: me, you, him, her, it, us, them.
Possessive pronoun: When pronoun is used to indicate possession then it is called possessive pronoun. Example: my, his, her, your, our.
Reflexive Pronoun: This kind of pronouns is used when object and subject is same. Example: myself, herself, yourself.
Interrogative Pronoun: When the pronoun is used to convey a question. Example: What, which, who, whom, whose.
Demonstrative Pronoun: When pronoun is used to differentiate a noun from other entities in a sentence, it is called demonstrative pronoun. Example: this, that, these, those.
Indefinite Pronoun: When the pronoun is not indicating anything specific it is called indefinite pronoun. Example: somewhere, nowhere, someone, etc.
Relative Pronoun: When the pronoun is relating to something it is called relative pronoun. Example: Whom, which, where, etc. Relative pronoun is used to join two clauses in a sentence.
Adjective: The word which is used to describe a noun is called an adjective.
Attributive Adjective: When an adjective is used to describe a noun. Example: The beautiful model won the Miss World title.
Predicative Adjective: When the adjective is separated by a verb from the noun or pronoun it is describing. Example: This flower is smelling nice. In this example ‘nice’ is a case of predicative adjective.
Verb is a word which conveys some actions.
Types of Verbs:
- Transitive Verbs
- Intransitive Verbs
- Incomplete Verbs
Transitive Verbs: When the action is carried across to a receiver then the verb is called transitive verb. Example: Sonu Nigam sings a song.
Intransitive Verbs: When the action is not carries across to a receiver the verb is called intransitive verb. Example: Sonu Nigam sings.
Incomplete Verbs: When verb is used as linking word. Example: be, taste, may, have, shall, etc.
Forms of Verbs:
Present: This form is used to indicate present.
Past: This form is used to indicate past.
Past Participle: This form is used to indicate present perfect or past perfect.
Voice of Verbs:
Active Voice: When the subject is performing the action.
Passive Voice: When the object is performing the action.
Example: He is writing a letter.
A letter is being written by him.
Adverb: The word used to describe a verb, adjective, clause, or another adverb is called adverb. Example: Sonu Nigam sings melodiously.
Preposition: When a word is used to show spatial or temporal relationship between the noun and the object it is called preposition.
Example: The thief hid under the bed. Here ‘under’ is the preposition.
Conjunction: When a word is used to join words or group of words. Example: and, but, for, not, etc.
Interjection: When a word is used to express some feelings. Usually sign of exclamation is used along with interjection.
Example: Oh! What a view.