English Grammar A Short Guide

Graham Tulloch

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

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

This is the question.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). Examples: As soon as the Green Knight entered the room all were astounded. Subordinate clauses can be classified according to their function: Adverbial Clause Example: As soon as the Green Knight entered the room. The house. The house stands on the hill. Examples: I am a man. Examples: I am a man. all were astounded. is empty. Noun Clause 4 . When I come home. The noun following the verb to be is called the complement. He said that the Green Knight was really orange. In this sentence the clause fulfills the same function as an adverb such as immediately in the sentence immediately all were astounded. and subordinate (or dependent) clauses. Principal Clauses A group of words which includes a subject and a finite verb and makes a complete statement. which stands on the hill. I will let the cat in. CLAUSE There are two kinds of clauses: principal (or main) clauses. 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.

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

A king was here.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'. He adjudicates between the parties concerned. a (and an) is called the indefinite article. Verbs have various qualities: Tense This is the feature of the verb indicating when the action took place 6 . ARTICLE The articles are: the. It expresses the carrying out of an action. Virtue is its own reward. people. an. Examples: The house is old. Accidents will happen. Examples: It stands. I am. With an active verb this action is carried out by the subject. abstract ideas. a. With a passive verb the action is carried out upon the subject: Examples: The cakes were burnt by Alfred. Alfred burnt the cakes. The Bible is read in many languages. The is called the definite article. VERB A verb is a "doing word". they denote things.

The passive is formed with the appropriate tense of the verb to be and the past participle. 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 . 7 . Examples: Active: Passive: I place I am placed A full complement of passive verbs exists in English. it is called simple. in the passive the action of the verb is carried out upon the subject. Voice In English we have the active and the passive voice. In the active voice the subject carries out the action of the verb. If the verb is unmarked as to whether it is completed. 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.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. 'perfect' or continuous. 'progressive'.

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

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

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

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