English Grammar Essentials

GRAMMAR   Grammar refers to the rules that govern the way in which words and their component parts combine to form sentences. In traditional English grammar, there are eight parts of speech:



NOUNS   A noun names something or somebody. A proper noun names something or somebody specific. For example Mary, Colorado, etc. COMPOUND NOUNS: Words such as mother-in-law, swimming pool, Memorial Day, breakthrough, etc. COLLECTIVE NOUNS: Groups may be thought of as a single unit, such as in “my family.”  


PRONOUNS   A pronoun is a word used instead of a noun. There are several types of pronouns: PERSONAL PRONOUNS: I, you, me, he, she, we, him, them, etc.
INTENSIVE PRONOUNS: Myself, yourself, herself, etc.
RELATIVE PRONOUNS: Who, which, that. Relative pronouns must have antecedents, meaning words they refer back to. Mary is a romantic girl (antecedent) who (relative pronoun) never takes love for granted.
INDEFINITE PRONOUNS: Anybody, somebody, anything, etc.
POSSESSIVES: Use the apostrophe to indicate the possessive case of nouns (including acronyms) and pronouns (except for personal pronouns). Singular: The student’s books or Everybody’s concern Plural: The students’ books or Her brothers’ room Compounds: My brother-in-law’s house or John F. Kennedy, Jr.’s tragic death.
The PERSONAL POSSESSIVES yours, theirs, its, hers, and ours HAVE NO APOSTROPHE. Avoid the common mistake of using it’s for its.
IT’S is a contraction, meaning “it is”, while ITS is a possessive.
VERBS   1. Verbs have two voices: active and passive. An active verb indicates the subject is acting: The professor teaches the class. A passive verb indicates the subject acted upon: The class is taught by the professor.


2. Verbs are transitive or intransitive. A transitive verb requires a direct object to complete its meaning: John likes Mary (Object: Mary). An intransitive verb doesn’t take a direct object to complete its meaning. It represents action without a specific goal: John runs every morning (where just John runs would have been sufficient.) The same verb may be transitive in one sentence, and intransitive in another: John reads newspapers. (Transitive)
John reads well. (Intransitive)The verb “to be” (is, was, etc.) is often considered a linking verb, because it links subject with *predicate without transmitting a specific action:
Hank is a student. (*Predicate: is made up of all the parts of sentence excluding the subject.)


3. Verbs come in three moods: indicative, subjunctive, and imperative.

An indicative mood indicates a fact. If it’s asking a question, then it’s a question about a fact: John loves Mary. Does Mary love John?

A subjunctive mood indicates a wish or thought rather than a fact: If I were smart, I would start working on my term paper today.

An imperative mood issues a command: Everybody go drink water! 


4. Verbs have six tenses: present, past, present perfect, past perfect, future, and future perfect.


John plays football. (Present progressive: John is playing football. )


John played football.


John has played football.


John had played football.


John will play football.


John will have played football.



ADJECTIVES   An adjective modifies a noun: She’s a charming girl. 


ADVERBS   An adverb modifies a verb: She spoke politely. He plays the piano beautifully. They quickly ran up the stairs. 


PREPOSITIONS   A preposition connects a noun or a pronoun with a verb, an adjective, or another pronoun: The luggage with the blue ribbon. 


CONJUNCTIONS   Conjunctions join sentences or part of sentences together. There are two types: coordinating and subordinating: COORDINATING Conjunctions – and, or, but, nor, for, so, yet – connect words of equal grammatical rank: My brother and I got up late, but we still managed to get to school on time. SUBORDINATING Conjunctions – e.g. who, that, although, if, when – connect a main clause with a subordinate one: When I sleep too much, I feel as if I’m in a daze. 


INTERJECTIONS   A interjection expresses a simple exclamation: Wow!