English Grammar at a Glance
Useful terminology for teachers and learners
|Parts of Speech||The Tenses|
|Indefinite article||There's a pen on the table.|
|Definite article||The pen is mine.|
|Zero article||Planning is important.|
|Singular noun||boy, box, baby, child, antenna, phenomenon|
|Plural noun||boys, boxes, babies, children, antennae, phenomena|
|Countable noun||one apple, two apples|
|Uncountable noun||some rice, some mayonnaise|
|Collective noun||furniture, cutlery, equipment|
|Concrete noun||apple, computer|
|Abstract noun||honesty, love, fear, happiness|
|Compound noun||bookshelf, word-processor, post office|
|Common noun||apple, computer|
|Proper noun||Linda has a house in London.|
Parkinson's (named after
sandwich (named after the 4th Earl of Sandwich)
Partitives, units and quantity
express a part of a whole. They also enable us to quantify
nouns: two rices two bags
None of the adults, some of the boys, all of the girls, both of the brothers, neither of the sisters, etc. (See also quantifiers)
A box of chocolates, a carton of milk, a can of soda, a bottle of Scotch, a jar of peanut butter, a tub of ice cream, a cup of coffee, a piece of cheesecake, a bag of peanuts, a packet of chewing gum, a tube of toothpaste, a roll of film, a tin of paint, a pack of cards, a bunch of grapes, a whole bunch of paparazzi, a company of girl guides, a gang of thieves, a flock of sheep, a herd of cows, a pack of hounds, a school or shoal of fish, a set of rules, a bouquet of flowers, a swarm of mosquitoes, etc.
|Demonstrative pronoun||This was fun. That was boring.|
|Indefinite pronoun||Some were good. Nobody is there. Is there any left?|
|Interrogative pronoun||What? Which? Who? Whom?|
|Personal pronoun (subjective)||I, you, he, she, it, we, you (pl.), they|
|Personal pronoun (objective)||me, you, him, her, it, us, you (pl.), them|
|Possessive pronoun||The car is mine / yours / his / hers / ours / theirs|
|Reflexive pronoun||Bill burned himself on the hot iron.|
|Emphasizing pronoun||The Queen herself visited the disaster victims.|
|Relative pronoun||The man
that won is here.
The prize which / that he won is also here.
|Finite verb||A verb form the use of which which is limited by subject and tense, e.g. I go, he goes, she went, they have gone.|
|Infinite verb||A verb form the use of which is unrestricted by subject or tense. In English this means the infinitive, the gerund and the participles.|
|Infinitive||The infinitive is the basic form of a verb you'll find listed in a dictionary.|
|Bare infinitive:||She can drink coffee.|
|to-infinitive:||She stopped to drink coffee.|
|Gerund||She stopped drinking coffee.|
|Present participle||Charlie is playing golf now.|
|Past participle||Emmy has played already.|
|3rd person singular||He likes cooking. She watches TV.|
|Regular verb||She walks, she walked, she has walked|
|Irregular verb||I swim, I swam, I have swum|
|Auxiliary verb||I have won! He is eating. Do you smoke?|
|Modal auxiliary verb (+ bare infinitive)||You must (had to) go. We can (could) drive. He may (might) come. They will (would) win. I shall (should) write to the manager. You ought to complain.|
|Verb of perception (+ adjective)||She seems reliable, appears confident and sounds interesting. The food looks good, smells superb and tastes delicious.|
|Action verb||Action verbs are used in both the simple and continuous tenses: Jane plays chess. She is playing chess now.|
|State (or stative) verb||State verbs are generally not used in the continuous tenses: Jane belongs to the chess club. Membership costs just $20 a year. Some people dislike playing chess, while others love it.|
|Performative verb||Performative verbs are utterances that constitute an action: He admits he made a mistake and promises not to do it again.|
|Transitive verb||The company raised its prices.|
|Intransitive verb||Prices rose.|
|Passive voice||Prices were raised.|
|Phrasal verb||His marriage broke up when his car broke down.|
|Positive adverb||Jenny works hard and carefully.|
|Comparative adverb||Kate works even harder and more carefully than Jenny.|
|Superlative adverb||Pam works (the) hardest and most carefully.|
|Adverb of degree||Jack is quite short but rather chubby.|
|Adverb of frequency||I never smoke but I sometimes drink alcohol.|
|Adverb of manner||Anne drives slowly but safely.|
|Adverb of place||He ran
She lives abroad.
|Adverb of time||Today he is still unwell.|
|Interrogative adverb||Why / when / where / how did he go?|
|Relative adverb||The town where I was born.|
|Sentence adverb||Hopefully she'll come. She definitely ought to.|
|Correct order of adjectives||
pattern origin material
I have a lovely large round new bright red and white
striped Spanish cotton tablecloth.
late train (= scheduled
later than others)
A heavy drinker (= he drank a lot of alcohol)
|Predicative adjective||The train was
The drinker was heavy (= he weighed a lot).
|Positive adjective||Dick is kind and generous.|
|Comparative adjective||Dan is even kinder and more generous than Dick.|
|Superlative adjective||Dave is (the) kindest and most generous.|
These / those pens.
All / both boys.
|Possessive adjective||My / your / his / her / its / our / their eyes.|
|Determiner||Word used to narrow the scope of a noun, such as a numeral, an article, or the demonstrative, distributive and possessive adjectives above.|
|Quantifier||A quantifier is either a distributive adjective or some other single word or phrase used to define quantity, e.g. "The old man had some CDs, a few DVDs, a lot of video cassettes, one hundred audio cassettes and half a ton of LP records!" (See also partitives.)|
strong as a lion, as blind as a bat, as dead as a doornail, as good as
gold, as cool as a cucumber, as light as a feather, as heavy as lead, as
daft as a brush, etc.
Although his wife has eyes like a hawk, he ate like a horse, drank like a fish, and then slept like a log.
|Synonym||big and large|
|Antonym||big vs. small|
|Definition||A preposition governs (and usually precedes) a noun or pronoun in order to define its relationship to other words. Here below some categories and examples:|
|Preposition of time||For two years, since 1999, I've worked from nine to five. I've always arrived in time for work and finished by 5 o'clock. I used to work until / till midnight, but now I can relax before going to bed, at weekends after 12 noon on Saturdays, and during my long summer holiday in July.|
|Preposition of location||I work in an office on the 5th floor of the port authority building near the River Thames. I sit at the back by the window with a panoramic view over this important shipping lane. My boss, the oldest among us, sits in front of me. His secretary works opposite him, there's a junior clerk behind her and my colleague Dan sits next to / beside me. There's a filing cabinet between the photocopier and the coffee machine, a clock above the door and a wastepaper bin under each desk. The lunchroom is on the floor below ours.|
|Preposition of movement||I got into my car and drove from Wall Street through Midtown Manhattan and then along the expressway to Long Island. I got out of my car at Montvale Race Track, where I got on / onto a horse. I didn't have to get off the horse because I was thrown from the saddle!|
|Preposition of means||You can go to the Chinese restaurant by bus or on foot, but you'll have to eat with chopsticks!|
Links two main
clauses or ideas of equal value:
He's big and strong but not so intelligent. She's both clever and reliable. The weather is either too wet or too windy. Frank is neither very rich nor very poor.
|Subordinating conjunction||Introduces a subordinate clause, i.e. one that cannot stand alone without the support of a main clause.|
|of time:||when, whenever, while, as soon as, until, before, after, since|
|of reason:||because, as, since, so|
|of result:||so...that, such...that|
|of purpose:||so that|
|of condition:||if, in case, unless, as long as|
|of contrast or concession:||although, even though|
Oh dear! She's late again.
Ah, here she is.
Ouch, that hurt!
|Cardinal number or numeral||one, two, three, four, five, six...|
|Ordinal number or numeral||first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth...|
|Small (lower case)||abc...xyz|
|Large (upper case)||ABC...XYZ|
|Morpheme||The smallest element of language that can convey meaning. For example, the word bricklayer is made up of three morphemes: brick, lay and -er.|
|Affix||An element added to the beginning of a word (prefix) or end of a word (suffix) to modify its meaning.|
|Prefix||An unusual day. A disobedient child|
|Suffix||The violinist played with the trumpeter.|
|Word||The smallest meaningful element of
language. When written it stands alone with a space on either side of
group of words forming a concept but not a sentence:
in a hurry; by himself; day by day.
|Binomial phrase||There are restaurants here and there where ladies and gentlemen can wine and dine their friends and pick and choose from this and that on the menu.|
|Clause||Part of a sentence including a subject and a predicate.|
clause that could stand
independently and still make sense on its own:
He apologized because he was late.
clause that wouldn't make much sense
without an accompanying main clause:
He apologized because he was late.
|Defining relative clause:||The hotel (that / which) I stayed in was rather old.|
|Non-defining relative clause:||The hotel, which is quite famous, is going to close.|
|Antecedent:||The hotel (that / which) you stayed in was more modern.|
|Sentence||A sentence consists of at
least one clause,
i.e. a subject
(which is sometimes only implied) and
Go! (=You go!)
|Paragraph|| A paragraph
is a section in a piece of writing, usually highlighting a particular
point or topic. It always begins on a new line and often with
indentation, and it consists of at least one
(This piece of text constitutes a single paragraph.)
He likes her.
Going on vacation is fun.
Pamela paints landscapes.
John lives in a house by the river.
Going on vacation is fun.
Pamela paints landscapes.
John lives in a house by the river.
|Object||She likes him although she thinks that he's crazy.|
|Direct object||They gave Tommy a present on his birthday.|
|Indirect object||They gave Tommy a present on his birthday.|
She seems amused.
We became tired.
|Direct speech||"My job is tough," she said.|
|Reported speech||She said (that) her job was tough.|
|Direct question||What's your name?|
|Indirect question||Ask him what his name is!|
|Tag question||"You keep fit,
"You don't smoke, do you?"
This kind of question is used
to make a statement rather than get an answer:
"Who cares?" (= Nobody cares.)
"Why bother?" (= It's a waste of time.)
|Indicative mood||The earth is round (a simple statement of fact).|
|Imperative mood||Save $200 a year on haircuts. Shave your head!|
|Old phrases and clichés still in common use||
Come what may...
Be that as it may...
Till death do us part.
|Jussive subjunctive||In British English, the optional inclusion of
should helps to clarify the
I suggested that she go early.
She insisted that something be done about his snoring.
I suggested that she (should) go early.
She insisted that something (should) be done about his snoring.
I were you, I would see a doctor.
(See type 2 conditional below!)
|as if / as though + past subjunctive||He
acts as if he owned the company.
She speaks as though she knew everything.
|it is time + past subjunctive (unreal past)||It is time we were leaving.|
|Type 1: probable (real) conditional||If I'm late I'll call you.|
|Type 2: improbable (unreal) conditional||If I had the time, I'd write a novel.|
|Type 3: hypothetical conditional||If I hadn't gone to Vegas, I wouldn't have lost a fortune.|
|Type 4: zero conditional||If she has a cold she goes to bed.|
|Future simple||She will sleep soon.|
|Future continuous||She will be sleeping at 11 PM.|
|Future perfect||At 7 AM she will have slept for 8 hours.|
|Future perfect continuous||By 5 AM she will have been sleeping for 6 hours.|
|Present simple||She sleeps well.|
|Present continuous||She is sleeping right now.|
|Present perfect||She has slept well since she was a child.|
|Present perfect continuous||Tonight she has been sleeping soundly for two hours.|
|Past simple||She slept for ten hours last night.|
|Past continuous||She was sleeping when her husband came home.|
|Past perfect||This morning he said she had slept all night long.|
|Past perfect continuous||She had been sleeping when the alarm clock rang.|
|Received pronunciation (RP)||The clearly articulated standard of British English that is prevalent among educated speakers in southern England.|
|General American (GA)||The standard, non-regional form of U.S. English|
|Phonetics||The written classification of spoken sounds.|
|Phonetic symbol||A symbol representing one particular sound.|
|Phoneme||The smallest phonetic element of language that can convey a distinction in meaning, e.g. the 'l' in late, the 'd' in date and the 'g' in gate.|
|Vowel||a e i o u|
|Consonant||b c d f g h j k l m n p q r s t v w x y z|
|Syllable||Canada has three syllables.|
|Monophthong||For example, the single vowel sound /æ/ in "hat".|
|Diphthong||For example, the double vowel sound /eɪ/ in "hate".|
|Homonym||A word with the same sound (a homophone) or spelling (a homograph) as another but with a different meaning.|
|Homophone:||I'll check if the Czech paid by cheque.|
|Homograph:||Everyone at the fair had fair hair. It's not fair!|
The rising and falling of your voice as you speak,
especially when this conveys added meaning.
|Stress||The accentuation of one particular word or syllable.|
|Word stress:||She's an English English teacher.|
|Syllable stress:||He's a photographer.|
|Formal style||Your children must be collected from school.|
|Informal style||You have to pick your kids up from school.|
|Idiom||The taxi driver took me for a ride (= tricked me).|
|Slang||The cops are coming! (= police officers)|
|Dialect||The language variant spoken in a particular area, e.g. Cockney in London's East End or Geordie on Tyneside.|
|Vernacular||A widely-spoken, non-formal regional language variant, such as the Estuary English of South-East England.|
|Jargon||I had to reboot my computer after it crashed.|
|Terminology||He held her software on his hard disk.|
was as emotionless as a robot.
She worked like a robot.
is a puppet of the regime.
Her writing was rubbish.