Basics of English Grammar
Do you want to be perfect in English grammar? But confused about where to start? When you want to learn English Grammar or spoken English it is always better to begin with the basics. Because the basics lay a strong foundation.
Without these basic concepts, it is difficult to understand further grammar. So here, you will find all the necessary basics of English Grammar to start with.
What is grammar?
Grammar is a system of rules and principles for speaking and writing a language.
The word grammar comes from the Greek, meaning “craft of letters.”
What is a syllable?
A syllable is a single unit of written or spoken word, pronounced in an unbroken sound. It joins consonants and vowels to form words. A word may contain one or more syllables.
|The number of times you hear the sound of a vowel is the number of syllables in a word.|
Examples of syllables:
One-syllable words are known as monosyllabic:
Cat, you, me, go, dog, car, sky, act. age. aid, aim etc.,
Two-syllable words are known as disyllabic:
Ho-tel, po-em, chor-us. cli-mate, clo-sure, clo-thing, clou-dy, clum-sy etc.,
Three-syllable words are known as trisyllabic:
Beau-ti-ful, met-a-phor, po-e-try, al-low-ance, an-nounce-ment, con-clu-sion etc.,
Four or more syllable words are known as polysyllabic:
Ox-y-mor-on – four syllables
ad-min-is-tra-tion – five syllables
re-spon-si-bil-i-ty – six syllables
What is a word?
A word is a letter or group of letters that have meaning when spoken or written.
long, provide, service, around, friend, important, father, sit, power, hour etc.,
A compound word is made up of two or more words that are linked together to produce a word with new meaning:
animal + lover = animal lover
tooth + brush = toothbrush,
eco + friendly = eco-friendly,
There are three types of compound words: Open, Closed, and Hyphenated.
Open compound words – The compound words with spaces between them.
full moon, child care, time saver, living room, full moon, real estate, dinner table, coffee mug, ice cream, high school, post office etc.,
Closed compound words – The compound words with no space between them.
skateboard, football, airport, notebook, superman, waistcoat, bookstore, fireman, railroad, sometimes, inside, upstream, basketball etc.,
Hyphenated compound words – The compound words that are joined by a hyphen.
passers-by, well-respected, son-in-law, and life-size, fifty-nine, fat-free, dry-clean, merry-go-round, father-in-law, long-term, up-to-date etc.,
The Phrase and The Clause
A phrase is a group of words that makes sense, but not complete sense.
in the east, on a wall, in front of, on the road, in a corner,
beside the lake, beneath the tree, as soon as possible etc.,
Points to focus:
- Phrases cannot stand by themselves.
- Phrases make complete sense only when they become a part of a sentence.
- Phrases do not have their own subject and predicate
A clause is a group of words that forms part of a larger sentence. It has its own subject and predicate.
- We are learning English Grammar. ( Single clause forms a Simple Sentence)
- My friends helped me when I was in trouble. (One main and one subordinate clause form a Complex Sentence)
- He worked hard and succeeded in examinations. (Two main clauses form a Compound Sentence)
What is a Sentence?
A sentence is a group of words that are arranged orderly to give proper and complete meaning. Every sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with its respective punctuation mark.
- Ricky is a student.
- Does Ricky speak good English?
- Please, give me your pen.
- What a lovely spot it is!
Kinds of Sentences:
According to their meaning and purpose, the sentences in English have been divided into four kinds.
- Declarative or Assertive Sentence – Statement
- Interrogative Sentence – Question
- Imperative Sentence – Request, Command or Advice
- Exclamatory Sentence – Exclamation and Wish
The below table gives you a quick idea of the sentences.
|Declarative or Assertive||Statements||The Sun rises in the East.||(.)|
|Interrogative||Questions||Where are you going? Do you like sweets?||(?)|
|Imperative Sentence||Requests, Commands or Advice||Please, help me. Close the door.||(./!)|
|Exclamatory||Exclamations and Wishes||How clever you are! What a brilliant idea!||(!)|
Declarative or Assertive Sentence:
A sentence that states or declares something is called a declarative or an assertive sentence. It ends with a full stop.
Subject + Verb + Object
He plays chess.
|He drinks coffee.||He does not drink coffee.|
|Tinkoo is learning karate||Tinkoo is not learning karate|
|My friend is a businessman||My friend is not a businessman|
|They have recovered from Corona||They have not recovered from Corona|
A sentence that asks a question is called an interrogative sentence. It ends with a question mark. It often begins with interrogative words like who, what, where, when, why, how, or auxiliary/helping verbs like do, did, does, may, might, can, shall, will etc.,
- Helping Verb +Subject + Verb +Object
Does he play chess?
Can he play chess?
Will he play chess?
Question word+Helping Verb+Subject+Verb+Object
Why don’t you play chess?
When will you play chess?
|Positive (Not Negative)||Negative|
|Why are you waiting here?||Why are you not waiting here?|
|Do you read fiction stories?||Don’t you read fiction stories?|
|Have you completed your assignment?||Have you not completed your assignment?|
|Do you know where that lady has gone?||Don’t you know where that lady has gone?|
A sentence that expresses a command, advice, or a request is called an imperative sentence. It usually ends with a full stop but sometimes ends with an exclamation mark.
Generally in Imperative Sentences, the subject is omitted or understood.
Verb + Object
Thank you. ( I thank you.)
Pay the fee. (You pay the fee)
|Go there.||Don’t go there.|
|Enter it in the register.||Don’t enter it in the register.|
|Submit your photo.||Don’t submit your photo.|
A sentence that expresses sudden emotions like excitement, surprise, happiness and anger, pain, disgust and wishes is called an exclamatory sentence. It ends with an exclamation mark.
What/How(Adjective/Adverb/Noun/Pronoun) + Subject + Verb
What a noise it is!
How he speaks!
- What a big liar he is!
- How foolish you are!
- What a grand party they have arranged!
- How excellent this picnic spot is!
What is a Complement?
A complement is a word, clause, or phrase that is necessary to complete the meaning of a sentence. The complements are concerned with the predicate part of a sentence.
Complements can be divided into two main types:
Subject Complement and Object Complement.
It can be an adjective, noun, or pronoun that follows linking verbs like be, smell, seem, taste, look, become, appear, feel etc.,. It describes the subject.
In the following sentences, the part which gives more information about the subject has been highlighted and that part is called the subject complement.
- English Grammar is easy.
(In this sentence, English Grammar is the subject, is is the linking verb and easy is the adjective that describes the subject English Grammar. So here, easy is a subject complement.)
More examples of subject complement:
- They are utterly weak.
- Tinkoo is a professor.
- They are students here.
- Her uniform is torn and dirty.
- They all appear good.
- Neha became a popular singer.
- The child looks disappointed.
- All the employees seemed surprised.
It can be an adjective, noun, or pronoun that follows a direct object and describes the object.
- Knowledge of grammar makes English easy.
(In this sentence, knowledge of grammar is the subject, makes is the verb, English is the direct object and easy is the object complement of English.)
More examples of object complement:
- His presence made me happy.
- I found the watchman sleeping.
- The students elected him secretary.
- The teacher called him a black sheep.
- The government declares the schools open.
What is an Adjunct?
In English Grammar there are five major elements of clause structure and an adjunct is one of them. They are subject (s), verb (v), object (o) and complement(c) and adjunct(a).
An adjunct is a word, a phrase, or a clause that is not necessary to the structure of the sentence grammatically. It is usually an adverb that modifies a verb.
Even if the adjunct part is removed from the sentence there will be no grammatical effect on it. It only adds extra meaning to the sentence but not necessary information.
- She met me yesterday.
- Balu eats his food like a Bhima.
- She goes to the library frequently.
- Mary goes to church every Sunday.
- She usually practises yoga in the mornings.
- They have a small talk in the afternoons.
- He goes for a walk every morning.
- They completed their arrangements before we reached there.
What is an Object?
An object is a noun or a pronoun that is affected by the action of the verb. When the Transitive Verb is used in a sentence, it requires an object to complete its meaning.
- My friend purchased the Audi car.
- Varma answered all the questions.
- She visited several places in the USA.
How do we identify the object in a sentence? Well! It is easy. The subject (noun or pronoun) answering What? or Whom? after the verb is called the object.
In sentence 1, what my friend purchased? or what did my friend purchase?
The answer is the Audi car. So this is the object.
There are two types of objects: – DIRECT OBJECT AND INDIRECT OBJECT
When there are two objects in a sentence –
Answer to the question What? is called the Direct Object.
Answer to the question Whom? is called the Indirect Object.
She offered me a cup of coffee.
What is offered? a cup of coffee. This is the Direct Object
To whom she offered a cup of coffee? to me. – so ‘me’ is an Indirect Object.
The Subject and The Predicate
The subject and the predicate are the two main parts of every complete sentence.
The subject: The name of the person, thing, or idea we speak about is called the Subject.
The predicate: What we say about the subject is called the Predicate.
The subject is highlighted.
- The students are playing cricket on the ground.
- She sings so melodiously.
- My mother was cooking dinner.
- He along with his friends saw the beggar standing outside.
How do we identify the subject in a sentence? Well! There is a technique. You can use the words Who? or What? before the verb and question it. The answer will be the subject.
The students are playing chess.
Here, ‘are playing’ is the verb.
Who are playing chess?
the answer is ‘the students’ – the subject.
Pints to focus on:
Mostly, we find the subject at the beginning of a sentence, but not always. But occasionally, the subject may come in the middle, at the end of a sentence, or maybe understood.
- All the students took part in the dance competition. (Subject in the beginning)
- Will there be your name on the final list? (Subject in the middle)
- There, in the shade of a big banyan tree, stood a small boy. (Subject at the end)
- Up went the flag. (Subject at the end)
- Drive your bike slowly. (Subject You is understood) (Imperative sentence)
- Thank you. (Subject I is understood) (Imperative sentence)
- Open the window. (Subject You is understood) (Imperative sentence)
What are Parts of Speech?
According to their positions and usages, all the words in English are divided into eight classes. These are called parts of speech. Parts of speech are a part of the basics of English grammar one needs to focus on avoiding any kind of mistakes and understand grammar properly.
NOUN – A naming word
A noun is a word used as the name of a person, place, thing, animal, activity or idea.
Person – Akshay, Ricky, Snehith, Julie, Catherine etc.
Place – Delhi, London, Hyderabad, Warangal, Mumbai, etc.
Thing – pen, ball, chair, door, house, car etc.,
Animal –Horse, cat, cow, tiger, lion etc.
Idea – happiness, success, beauty, excitement, etc.
The nouns can be further divided into five groups. Let us see them in the following table.
|Noun||What does it refer to?||Examples|
|Proper Nouns||a particular person, place, or thing||Mt. Everest, Taj Mahal, India, Anand, Kaveri, Nile, Hyderabad, Himalayas etc.|
|Common Nouns||people or things in general||teacher, man, country, city, fan, river, hills etc.,|
|Collective Nouns||a set or group of people, animals or things||class, army, staff, team, crew, herd, flock, bunch etc.,|
|Material Nouns||materials things/substances||gold, iron, silver, sand, soil, rice, milk, butter etc.,|
|Abstract Nouns||something in abstract form like ideas, emotions or concepts which we cannot see or touch||bravery, wisdom, childhood, love, time, beauty, happiness, creativity, belief, justice, freedom etc.,|
PRONOUN – For a noun
A Pronoun is a word used in place of a noun or noun phrase to avoid repetition.
I, you, we, he, she, it, they, me, us, them, him, this, those
Amar is a good student. He goes to school regularly.
Teachers are conducting online classes. So they advise all the students to attend them.
ADJECTIVE – Adds something to the meaning of a noun
An adjective is a word used to describe, or modify a noun or pronoun and usually adds something to their meaning.
- He is a brave boy.
- My friend is very happy now.
- He looks quite young.
- Our school campus is very big.
- There are twenty boys in this class.
- She always likes that red car.
- Ganesh is earning more money than his friend does.
Points to Focus:
Adjectives can be used in two ways attributively and predicatively.
- When an Adjective is used before the noun, it is called an Attributive Adjective
- I saw a black cat.
- It was a slow journey.
- The rose is a beautiful flower.
- She is carrying a large suitcase.
2. When an Adjective is used after the verbs like be, become, grow, look or seem it is called a Predicative Adjective
- The dog is black.
- The rose is beautiful.
- After a long journey, they look tired.
- By virtue of hard work, they grew rich.
There are 12 types of Adjectives. Let us see them in the following table.
|Type of the Adjective||Explanation||Examples|
|Proper Adjectives||derived from Proper Nouns||India – Indian culture,
Turkey –Turkish tobacco,
Japan –Japanese cars,
Africa –African people
|Qualitative Adjectives/Adjectives of Quality/Descriptive Adjectives||Answer the question (of what the kind or quality of a person or thing?)||Large city, honest man, good boy, bad character, ugly thing, beautiful flower|
|Quantitative Adjectives/Adjectives of Quantity||Answer the question (How much?)||Some money, no milk, any questions, all answers, little water, whole task, sufficient money, a few people etc.,|
|Numeral Adjectives/Adjectives of Number||Answer the question (How many?)||one ticket, two ways,
five films, first person, double page
|Demonstrative Adjectives||Answer the question (Which one?)||this room, these lessons, that problem, those days, any student, other girls|
|Interrogative Adjectives||the words modify a noun and ask a question||whose car, what book, which school|
|Distributive Adjectives||point out the persons or things named individually or collectively.||each player, every Monday, either book, neither neighbour|
|Possessive Adjectives/Pronominal||show that someone owns something.||my friend, our meeting, your name, her friends|
|Emphasizing Adjectives||used to lay stress on the proceeding noun||own business, own eyes, very toy, very book|
|Exclamatory Adjectives||used with nouns and indicate strong emotion||what nonsense! what a genius! what terrible!|
|Participle Adjectives||the verbs end in ….ED or..ING.||inspiring story, relaxed mood|
|Relative Adjectives||modify nouns and introduce relative clauses||what languages he speaks…,
which train to take….,
VERB – An action word
A verb is a word that shows action, possession, or state of being or existence of someone or something.
The verb is the most important part of a sentence. In fact, it may be called the heart of a sentence. Because without a verb the sentence doesn’t exist. Even if there is only one word in a sentence that one word must be a verb.
Examples: am, is, are, have, had, play, drink, go, speak, run, eat, play, live, walk, like etc.,
As stated in the definition verb can be described in three ways:
- Action or doing of the verb
- Possession or having of the verb
- State of being or existence of the verb
- Stand! (Action or Doing verb)
- Go. (Action or Doing verb)
- The child goes to school every day. (Action or Doing verb)
- They are playing chess now. (Action or Doing verb)
- I have a new car. (Possession or Having of the verb)
- She has no wristwatch. (Possession or Having of the verb)
- Radhika is a teacher. (State of being or Existence of the verb)
- Bhoopi and Gopi are professors at Delhi University. (State of being or Existence of the verb)
ADVERB – Describes a verb, an adjective, or another adverb
An adverb is a part of speech that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. It tells us how, where, when, how often, or to what extent something was done. Mostly, the adverbs end in -LY
slowly, quickly, fast, hard, rather, too, quite, doubtfully, dreamily, elegantly, enormously, especially, eventually, exactly, faithfully, unfortunately,, beautifully, bitterly, blindly etc.,
Examples of Adverbs in sentences:
- She is singing songs melodiously. – (“melodiously” modifies the verb “is singing”)
- She is a very melodious singer. – (“very” modifies the adjective “melodious.”)
- She sang all the songs really melodiously. -(“really” modifies another adverb “melodiously”)
PREPOSITION – Shows the relationship
A preposition is a word placed before a noun or a pronoun to show its relation to some other word in a sentence. They can indicate time, place, or relationship.
Examples: at, on, in, from, with, near, between, about, under, after, along, above, except, of, before, since, upon, with, to, after, towards, according to,…etc.,
Examples of prepositions in sentences:
- The frog is in the well.
- The cat is on the table.
- She sat between her two friends.
- Try to open it with the right key.
- He has recently come from Italy.
Types of Prepositions: The prepositions can be divided into five types.
- Simple Prepositions – consist of one word
Examples: in, at, on, to for, of, from, up, after, over, under, with, till, etc. by, out, off …etc.,
- Compound Prepositions – Prefix + noun/adjective/adverb.
These Compound Prepositions are made by prefixing a preposition to a noun, an adjective or an adverb.
amongst, amidst, above, around, along, across, about, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, outside, within, without .., etc.,
- Double Prepositions – formed by simple two prepositions.
Here, two prepositions are used together. These double prepositions are always used in two separate words.
Examples: from behind, according to, up to, from within, from across etc.
- Participle Prepositions – consists of words that end in “ing”
Examples: during, including, regarding, barring, concerning, considering, etc.
- Phrase Prepositions – These are a group of words that serve the purpose of a single preposition.
Examples: according to, by means of, owing to, with a view to, in place of, in front of, in spite of, instead of, in order to, by virtue of, by way of, on behalf of…. etc.
CONJUNCTION – Connecting word
A conjunction is a part of speech that is used to connect words, phrases, clauses in a sentence and shows how they are connected.
Examples: for, and, nor, yet, so, or, and, but, although, because, if, since, though, unless, when, where, however, therefore, whenever, while…. etc.,
Examples in sentences:
- They invited me to the function but I didn’t go.
- She offered me money and a position.
- Either you can do it or leave it.
- Neither a borrower nor a lender be.
- You must ask her otherwise she will not help you.
- Though Venu worked hard he didn’t succeed.
- The players would like to wait until the rain stops.
Types of Conjunctions:
There are three main types of conjunctions:
Coordinating conjunctions – These conjunctions join two or more words, phrases, clauses or sentences of equal rank.
Examples: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so (known as F.A.N.B.O.Y.S.)
Subordinating conjunctions – These conjunctions join subordinate/dependent clauses to independent clauses.
Examples: although, as, because, before, how, if, once, since, than, that, though, until, when, whenever, where, whether, while, why…etc.,
Correlative conjunctions – These conjunctions are used in pairs to join alternatives or equal elements.
Examples: either……or, neither…..nor, not only…..but also, both…….and, whether……..or, just as…….so
INTERJECTION – Expresses a strong feeling
An interjection is a word or phrase that expresses a strong feeling or emotion. It is a short exclamation of joy, sorrow, excitement, wonder, surprise, pain, sadness, happiness, and so on. It has no grammatical connection with any other parts of the sentence.
Examples: Oh! Wow! Great! Hey! Hi! Hurrah! Alas! Eww! Yahoo! Oops! Ouch! etc.,
Examples in Sentences:
- Wow! What a wonderful spot! (surprise)
- Alas! I have lost my purse! (sorrow)
- Yahoo! Finally I got it! (happiness)
- Ouch! It is really hurting! (pain)
- Hurrah! We have won the match! ( joy)
- Hey! Are you serious? (displeasure)
- Look! Who has come? (surprise)
Sometimes, the Adjectives and the Nouns can also be used as Interjections.
Adjectives as Interjections:
- Great! you did a good service!
- Nice! You convinced them well!
- Good! It is helpful!
Nouns used as Interjections:
- Congratulations! You got a good rank in Civil Services!
- Hello! Good morning!