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English Grammar A Short Guide

Graham Tulloch

For a more detailed introduction with exercises see J.This book was prepared in the English Discipline of the Flinders University of South Australia and printed by Flinders Press. Sidney Greenbaum. A University Grammar of English (London: Longman. 1973) and for a very detailed. ©1990 Graham Tulloch FURTHER READING This is intended as a basic and simple guide to English grammar. 1985). 2 . very complex (and very expensive) treatment of the subject see Randolph Quirk. For a longer study read Randolph Quirk and Sidney Greenbaum. Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartik. l975) to which I am much indebted. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (London: Longman. Bernard's excellent book A Short Guide to Traditional English Grammar (Sydney: Sydney University Press.R.

g. OBJECT The object is the person. it is called the indirect object. It overlooks the plain. e. Examples: The house stands on the hill. For example. instead of He gave me the book we can say He gave the book to me. Examples: The house stands on the hill. thing or topic upon which the subject carries out the action of the verb. It overlooks the plain. Example: He said that the Green Knight was really orange. dog walk s in dogs ed in walked In some cases a whole clause can act as object. the house overlooks what? Answer: the plain. COMPLEMENT 3 . Where one of these can alternatively be expressed by placing to before it. in the sentence The house stands on the hill. thing or topic which the sentence deals with. PREDICATE The predicate is all of the sentence except the subject. ask who or what after the verb. Examples: The house overlooks the plain. Here the book is the direct object and me the indirect object .PARTS OF A WORD A word can be divided into its STEM (the basic part of the word containing its meaning) and its INFLECTIONS (the endings added to indicate such things as that a noun is PLURAL or a verb is in the past tense). what stands on the hill? Answer: the house. To discover the subject.g. ask who or what before the verb. He watches himself carefully. e. To discover the object. I see him clearly. Sometimes we apparently have two objects. Examples: Stem: Inflections: PARTS OF A SENTENCE SUBJECT The subject is the person.

I will let the cat in. When I come home. Noun Clause 4 . He said that the Green Knight was really orange. Principal Clauses A group of words which includes a subject and a finite verb and makes a complete statement. Examples: As soon as the Green Knight entered the room all were astounded. In this sentence the clause fulfills the same function as an adverb such as immediately in the sentence immediately all were astounded. Subordinate clauses can be classified according to their function: Adverbial Clause Example: As soon as the Green Knight entered the room. This is the question. all were astounded.After the verb to be there is no object since the noun which follows refers to the same thing as that which precedes the verb (the subject). The following are not principal clauses because they do not make a complete statement which can stand by itself: Which is a problem That the house is standing on the hill When I come home The house which stands on the hill Subordinate Clause A group of words which includes a finite or non-finite verb but does not make a statement which stands by itself. which stands on the hill. The house. is empty. CLAUSE There are two kinds of clauses: principal (or main) clauses. The house stands on the hill. and subordinate (or dependent) clauses. Examples: I am a man. The noun following the verb to be is called the complement. Examples: I am a man.

Example: He said that the Green Knight was really orange. (principal clause) When they say nice things about you they are not lying. Nonfinite verbs include participles and infinitives . Relative Clause Example: The house. he moved slowly up the aisle. he began to consume the biscuits. Clauses can also be classified by whether they contain a finite verb. usually. Examples: It is on the hill. is empty. which stands on the hill. The clause fulfills the same function as a noun such as the words in He said the words. He went over the sea. Filled with joy. A non-finite clause cannot be a principal clause. a subject. It can be a principal clause or a subordinate clause. Examples: They say nice things about you. (subordinate clause) Non-Finite Clause A non-finite clause contains a non-finite verb but does not contain a finite verb and cannot stand alone. Relative clauses are adjectival in nature. Examples: Singing and dancing. The clause fulfills the same role as an adjective such as high-placed in the sentence The high-placed house is empty. he left the room. Having eaten all the cakes. PARTS OF SPEECH Examples: house The house The house stands The house stands firmly 5 noun article + noun article + noun + verb article + noun + verb + adverb . Finite Clause A finite clause contains a finite verb and. He gave me an invitation to bring you to the party. PHRASE A phrase is group of words without a verb.

The is called the definite article. a (and an) is called the indefinite article. people. Examples: The house is old. ARTICLE The articles are: the. Alfred burnt the cakes. A king was here. With an active verb this action is carried out by the subject. VERB A verb is a "doing word". I am. a. He adjudicates between the parties concerned. It expresses the carrying out of an action. With a passive verb the action is carried out upon the subject: Examples: The cakes were burnt by Alfred. Examples: It stands. Virtue is its own reward.The house stands firmly on the hill article + noun + verb + adverb preposition + article + noun The empty house stands on the hill article + adjective + verb + adverb + preposition + article + noun It stands on the hill pronoun + verb + preposition + article + noun Since it stands on the hill it overlooks conjunction + pronoun + verb + the plain preposition + article + noun + pronoun + verb + article + noun NOUN Nouns can be thought of as 'names'. The Bible is read in many languages. an. abstract ideas. Verbs have various qualities: Tense This is the feature of the verb indicating when the action took place 6 . Accidents will happen. they denote things.

In the active voice the subject carries out the action of the verb. Examples: Present Progressive Passive: Past Perfect Passive: Future Perfect Passive: I am being placed I had been placed I will be placed Mood There are three moods in English. 7 . Hence we can draw up the following scheme: Simple Present: Simple Past: Simple Future: Present Perfect: Past Perfect: Future Perfect: Present Progressive: Past Progressive: Future Progressive It stands It stood It will stand It has stood It had stood It will have stood It is standing It was standing It will be standing The present perfect is often know simply as the perfect and the past perfect is sometimes called the pluperfect . it is called simple. The passive is formed with the appropriate tense of the verb to be and the past participle. 'perfect' or continuous. 'progressive'.Examples: Present tense: Past Tense: Future Tense: It stands It stood It will stand Aspect This is the feature of the verb which indicates whether the action is was or will be a completed one or a continuous one. Voice In English we have the active and the passive voice. If the verb is unmarked as to whether it is completed. Examples: Active: Passive: I place I am placed A full complement of passive verbs exists in English. in the passive the action of the verb is carried out upon the subject.

They are developing rapidly. However the infinitive is not always preceded by to: in the sentence I will stand the infinitive is stand. 8 . Examples: If I were going to the pictures. The present participle is the form of the verb used in constructions like: I am going. it expresses a hypothetical action. Imperative: The imperative mood expresses an order. Subjunctive: The subjunctive mood is much rarer in PE. Finite and Non-Finite Verbs Verbs are either finite or non-finite. I wish I were going to the pictures.1. or as an adjective (in which case it is called a gerundive or verbal adjective: Examples: The third world is made up of the developing countries. Walking is pleasant in the summer. It is often combined with to as in I am going to stand here. It has developed into a major argument. One kind of non-finite verb is the infinitive. She is a growing child. Combined with will the infinitive stand makes the finite (future tense) verb will stand. The past participle is used in constructions like: I have walked. The infinitive is the basic form of the verb. The same form of the verb can also be used as a noun (in which case it is called a gerund or verbal noun: Examples: Developing is not easy. 3. Indicative: The indicative mood is the normal one in present-day English (PE): Example: I was going to the pictures 2. Non-finite verbs do not include any indication of tense. Other non-finite parts of the verb are the participles. Example: Go to the pictures. She has grown. He is combing his hair.

PREPOSITION A preposition connects a noun (with or without an article) or a pronoun to some other word. Prepositions are the "little words of English". it describes the attributes of a noun. I grew). What stands on the hill? The house stands on the high hill. Examples: It stands on the hill. The house is very firm. I see myself.This form is often the same in PE as the past tense (cf. I walked) but not always (cf. Examples: It stands on hills. This also appears as an adjective: A grown man ADVERB An adverb modifies a verb. The house which stands on the hill overlooks the plain. It can also modify an adjective or another adverb. He dresses beautifully. Examples: PRONOUN Pronouns take the place of nouns. She answered most considerately. Precious purple prose provokes profound professors. England is over the sea. She speaks well. it indicates how the action of a verb is carried out. Examples: The house stands firmly. There are a number of different kinds of pronouns: Personal Pronouns These are divided into "persons" as follows: 9 . ADJECTIVE An adjective qualifies a noun. She told the good news to him. The swagman jumped into the billabong. That stands on the hill.

it Plural we you they The personal pronouns also include the reflexive and emphatic pronouns. I think myself that it is wrong. These are the same in form but different in function. that whose I see myself. They are also used as demonstrative adjectives: Examples: This man is green. This is the man that I saw. This is the man whom I saw. himself. People help themselves. Interrogative Pronouns These are used in questions: People Subject 10 who Things what. Demonstrative Pronouns These are: Examples: This these That those This is the house. themselves etc. This s the man whose house I saw.First person Second person Third person Singular I you (thou) he. That is the question. That house is red. These are used in relative clauses such as: Examples: This is the man who saw me. which . that which. she. that whose Things which. They are myself. Examples: Reflexive: Emphatic: Relative Pronouns The relative pronouns are as follows: Subject Object Possessive People who. They themselves want to stay on. This is the house that Jack built. that whom.

Although I say this she says that. as. who whose Who(m) did you see? Who is that man? Which is the right way? Who(m) did you speak to? what. joining a subordinate clause to a main clause) like when because. which What and which can be also used as interrogative adjectives in which case they can be applied to people. Examples: It stands on the hill and overlooks the plain. joining elements of the same kind) like and or but. I say this but she says that.Object Possessive Examples: whom. 11 . Examples: Which house stands on the hill? Which Prime Minister was drowned? What sweet do you recommend? CONJUNCTIONS Some conjunctions are coordinating (i. When Gawain saw the Green Knight he did not show that he was afraid.e. Examples: Since it stands on the hill it overlooks the plain.e. Other conjunctions are subordinating (i. since.