You are on page 1of 98

Hi, I've got a question.

"It's important to me" vs "It's important for me"

What's the difference between to and for in this case..
I guess there is nothing wrong with both of those sentences but do you feel
any difference from each?
It's almost impossible to get the difference of it.
Hiya June4ever
In my opinion I would say that there is no significant difference.
All I can say is that I would use "It's important for me...", when I want to:
1. make a stronger statement, i.e. I must/have to do it.
"It's important for me to learn English."
2. make a comparitive statement, i.e. have this rather than something else.
"My neighbour is an American and therefore it's important for me to learn
English (rather than any other language)."
3. convey a feeling of immediacy
"It's important for me to learn English now, if I am to speak with my
American neighbour."
4. give a list of criteria, i.e. I must have this, that and the other.
"It's important for me to have a phone that can take photographs and
connect to the web."
If I replace the above 4 statements with the words "It's important to me...", it
does not sound right. Maybe it is something to do with the repetitiveness of
'to' that I don't like, anyway, if I replace "It's important for me to..." with "It's
important to me that I...." then it sounds better.

I hope this helps you. Perhaps there is someone out there can explain this
better in terms of grammar.

It's a very difficult subject - to use 'to'or 'for'

My family is very important to me. That is the right sentence.
a) I sent a letter to Mary. In that sentence I wrote a letter to Mary and sent it
to her in another city, country... b) I sent a letter for Mary. In that one Mary
wrote a letter for someone and couldn't mail it then other person maybe a
friend maild it because she was very busy.



I gave a present to him. = I gave him a

Ill show the figures to you. = Ill show you
the figures.
He sold a car to me. = He sold me a car.
He sent a letter to Mary. = He sent Mary a
Can you lend this book to me? = Can you
lend me this book?
The boss told a joke to us. = The boss told
us a joke.
Who teaches English to them? = Who
teaches them English?
I paid $10 to the repairman. = I paid the
repairman $10.
Will you pass the sugar to me? = Will you
pass me the sugar?
Read a story to the children. = Read the
children a story.
I wrote a letter to my friend. = I wrote my
friend a letter.
Hand that book to me, please. = Hand me
that book, please.
He offered a job to Mary. = He offered Mary
a job.
He'll bring something to me. = He'll bring
me something.
She sang a lullaby to the baby. = She sang
the baby a lullaby.
I'll throw the ball to you. = I'll throw you the

Let me buy a present for you. = Let me

buy you a present.
I got some food for you. = I got you some
She made a sandwich for me. = She made
me a sandwich.
Did she cook dinner for you? = Did she
cook you dinner?
Can you do a favor for me? = Can you do
me a favor?
He can find a job for you. = He can find
you a job.
He left a message for you. = He left you a
Shall I pour more tea for you? = Shall I
pour you more tea?
Reserve hotel rooms for us. = Reserve us
hotel rooms.
Save the stamps for him. = Save him the



The teacher said "Good morning" to the

Hes going to introduce Mary to his family.
I already explained the project to the staff.
Mr. Cole described the new house to his wife.
I sometimes speak English to (with) my wife.
Bob reported the accident to the police.
I repeated your ideas to my parents.
He admitted his mistake to the boss.
I'll mention your plan to the director.
Dr. Bishop recommends this medicine to
some patients.
Richard has announced his engagement to
his friends.
It sounds good to me.
The salesgirl suggested a gift to Philip.

Can you carry the suitcases for me?

Could you open the door for me?
He asked the bank teller to cash a check for
Doctors like to prescribe medicine for the
She is going to prepare the meal for the
I asked her to sign the letter for me.
Can you hold this for me, please?
I changed the traveler's checks for you.
I asked the secretary to make an
appointment for me.
He translated an article for me.
I recorded a tape for you.
I'll take the car to the mechanic for you.
The salesgirl suggested Philip a gift for his
Can you play the piano for me?



go to
go to
go to
go to
go to
go to
go to
go to
go to
go to

go for a walk go for a ride go for a drive go for a beer

go for it

Porto Alegre
the bank, go to the office,

How to use to and for

Your questions answered by Fadzilah Amin

I AM very confused about the use of to and for. Can you tell me when to use them and give some

2) Can I use American English in writing essays for the SPM exam?
3) Which one is correct: I havent did this before, I havent done this before, I didnt do this
before or I havent do this before? Why?
4) For plural, should I say others people, other peoples or just other people?
6) Ive seen and heard I really am sorry in books and movies but when I write that in an essay, my
teacher says it should be I am really sorry. So, which one should I use?
Form 5 student
1) To and for are very common words and have many meanings in English. It would take me too
long to explain all the uses of to and for to you.
I can think of one area, though, where a learner can be confused about which of these words to use
as a preposition, for example in these sentences:
a) I gave a book to my mother.
b) I bought a book for my mother.
In a), to is used to indicate someone who receives something. In b) for indicates who is
intended to have something, for example, you bought the book to give to your mother on her
birthday. But for in b) can also mean in order to help, meaning that you bought the book not to
give as a present for your mother, but because your mother wanted the book but didnt have the
time to go to the bookshoop. So, she gave you some money and you bought the book in order to
help her.
2) Youll have to ask your teacher about that. She should know the SPM requirements. But let me
quote what I wrote in answer to another student:
From what I know of English language examiners in Malaysia nowadays, they would be happy if you
write in either style, or a mixture of both, as long as you write good English. But dont mistake an
informal American style for an acceptable American style: words like gonna, wanna, dude or
dawg should not be used.
3) I havent done this before. is correct. In British English, when before is used as an adverb to
mean at an earlier time than now, the present perfect tense is used. This tense consists of:
has/have or hasnt/havent (havent) + past participle of main verb (done).
4) Other people is the right thing to say. People is the plural form of person.

5) Both expressions are used. I think there is a difference of degree between them. I really am
sorry is more emphatic than I am really sorry.
Here are more examples of the latter, from the Internet, to add to what youve read and heard:
I really am sorry if people were denied their vote because of decisions that people made and
because of any failure of administration. (Des Browne, Scottish Secretary in the British cabinet)
I really am sorry to hear about all your problems. (David, a doctor)
Only one employee?
THIS sign (above) was recently erected at a public car park in Bayan Baru, Penang, presumably by
a multinational company.
Is there only one employee working for Motorola? Also, does it mean that the employee has a visible
sticker on his/her body?
What do you think?
Belinda, Penang.
Question structure
1. WHATS the difference between how much profit can we make and how much profit we can
2. Can I use how much profit we can make as a question?
3. Is there any sentence structure or pattern in a question?
4. Is Do you know ... a question?
Ashley Tan
Let me answer your Question 3 first in order to clarify my answers to your other questions. Yes,
there are question structures in English. A question has a different word order from a statement, and
often begins with the auxiliary verb do (in its many forms) or wh question words such as how,
how much how many, what, why and where.

1. How much profit we can make is not a question but can be part of a statement such as I am not
certain how much profit we can make. Here, the word order in we can make is: subject (we) +
verb (can make). The verb is in two parts, the modal auxiliary verb can and the main verb make.
How much profit can we make? stands by itself as a question. Here, the word order of the subject
and verb is: modal auxiliary verb (can) + subject (we) + main verb (make).
If the verb used does not have a modal auxiliary verb before it, we use a form of do with the main
verb (except if the main verb is be), e.g.
a) How much profit did we make? OR
b) Did we make a profit? (a question which does not use a wh question word).
Note that the word order in both a) and b) is: auxiliary verb (did) + subject (we) + main verb (make),
which is the same order as in How much profit can we make?. The only difference is that can is
a modal auxiliary verb, but did is only an auxiliary verb, not a modal.
2. No we cant, as I have explained in my answer to your Question 1.
4. Do you know ... can begin a question, but it is not a complete question. To complete it, you can
say, for example: Do you know her? or Do you know that tomorrow is a holiday?
Note that the word order in do you know is also auxiliary verb (do) + subject (you) + main verb
(know), which is the basic word order of the subject and verb in a question.
Is he dont know right?
THROUGHOUT my whole life, I had thought a singular verb comes after a singular noun. Then I
came across a singular noun that seemed to match with a plural verb in a line from Carrie
Underwoods song Before He Cheats and he dont know.
Is this a grammatical error or is it valid?
Marcus Lim, Penang
In current formal usage, dont is a contraction of the negative plural verb do not.
However, in older, dialect and non-standard usage, it was/is also used as the contraction of does
According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Dont is the earliest attested contraction of
does not and until about 1900 was the standard spoken form in the United States (it survived as
spoken standard longer in British English).

The same dictionary also says that It is sometimes used consciously, like aint, to gain an informal
That is why, perhaps, it is used in the lyrics of Carrie Underwoods song.
Correct paragraph?
1. IS the paragraph below grammatically correct?
I felt relieved totally at that point. I mean everyone knows the feeling of relief. But, when youre in a
situation literally meaning life or death, and you cheated death. You would know that nothing tastes
sweeter than that.
2. Which of these sentences is correct?
a. Basically, what I felt was relieved and joy.
b. Basically, the feeling I was relieved and joy.
3. Should it be The award goes to James and Lisa. or The awards go to James and Lisa.?
1. Not entirely. It can be improved to read:
I felt totally relieved at that point. I mean, everyone knows the feeling of relief. But when
youd been in a situation that had literally meant life or death, and you cheated death, you
would know that nothing tastes sweeter than that.
2. Neither is correct. The correct versions are:
a. Basically, what I felt were relief and joy.
b. Basically, the feelings I had were relief and joy.
3. It depends on how many awards there are. If there are two, it should be The awards go to
James and Lisa. If James and Lisa share one award, it should be The award goes to James and

Syntax - English sentence structure

"If you are not sure whether you have written a good, correct sentence, ask your
teacher! And remember: The more you read in English, the better a writer you will

Introduction: This page contains some basic information about sentence structure (syntax) and
sentence types. It also includes examples of common sentence problems in written English. ESL
students who understand the information on this page and follow the advice have a better chance
of writing well.
[Note to teachers/advanced students] [Presentation mode]
Definition: Linguists have problems in agreeing how to define the word sentence. For this web
page, sentence will be taken to mean: 'a sequence of words whose first word starts with a capital
letter and whose last word is followed by an end punctuation mark (period/full stop or question
mark or exclamamtion mark)'. On the basis of this definition, some of the sentences written by
ESL students (indeed by all writers) will be correct, and other sentences will be problematic.
Good readers (teachers, for example!) can quickly see the difference between a correct and a
problematic sentence.

Subject/predicate: All sentences are about something or someone. The something or someone
that the sentence is about is called the subject of the sentence. In the following sentences the
subjects are shown in red. Note how the subject is often, but not always, the first thing in the

John often comes late to class.

My friend and I both have a dog named Spot.

Many parts of the Asian coastline were destroyed by a tsunami in 2004.

The old hotel at the end of the street is going to be knocked down to make
way for a new supermarket.

Sitting in a tree at the bottom of the garden was a huge black bird with long
blue tail feathers.

The grade 7 Korean boy who has just started at FIS speaks excellent English.

On Saturdays I never get up before 9 o'clock.

Before giving a test the teacher should make sure that the students are wellprepared.

Lying on the sofa watching old films is my favourite hobby.

The predicate contains information about the someone or something that is the subject. The
example sentences above are shown again, this time with the predicate marked in green.

John often comes late to class.

My friend and I both have a dog named Spot.

Many parts of the Asian coastline were destroyed by a tsunami in 2004.

The old hotel at the end of the street is going to be knocked down to
make way for a new supermarket.

Sitting in a tree at the bottom of the garden was a huge black bird with
long blue tail feathers.

The grade 7 Korean boy who has just started at FIS speaks excellent

On Saturdays I never get up before 9 o'clock.

Before giving a test the teacher should make sure that the students
are well-prepared.

Lying on the sofa watching old films is my favourite hobby.

Simple subject/predicate: As you can see from the example sentences above both the subject
and the predicate can consist of many words. The simple subject is the main word in the subject,
and the simple predicate is the main word in the predicate. The simple subject is always a
noun/pronoun and the simple predicate is always a verb.
In the following sentences the simple subject is shown in red and the simple predicate is shown
in green.

My ESL teacher speaks a little Russian.

The young girl with the long black hair fell from her bike yesterday in heavy

At the back of the line in the cafeteria yesterday was a large brown dog with
a yellow collar around its neck!

My friend and I are going on holiday together this year.

Your mother or your father must come to the meeting.

Sitting in a tree at the bottom of the garden was a huge black bird with long
blue tail feathers.

From the last three examples sentences above you will notice that the simple
subjects and simple predicates can be more than one word.

Advice: To write strong, clear sentences you must know who or what you are writing about
(subject) and what you want to say about them or it (predicate). Your writing will be more
interesting if the subject is not the first thing in every sentence you write.

Sentence types: One way to categorize sentences is by the clauses they contain. (A clause is a
part of a sentence containing a subject and a predicate.) Here are the 4 sentence types:

Simple: Contains a single, independent clause.


I don't like dogs.

Our school basketball team lost their last game of the season 75-68.

The old hotel opposite the bus station in the center of the town is probably going to
be knocked down at the end of next year.

Compound: Contains two independent clauses that are joined by a

coordinating conjunction. The most common coordinating conjunctions are:
and, or, but, so.)

I don't like dogs, and my sister doesn't like cats.

You can write on paper, or you can use a computer.

A tree fell onto the school roof in a storm, but none of the students was injured.

Complex: Contains an independent clause plus one dependent clause. (A

dependent clause starts with a subordinating conjunction. Examples: that,
because, although, where, which, since.)

I don't like dogs that bark at me when I go past.

You can write on paper, although a computer is better.

None of the students were injured when the tree fell through the school

Note: A dependent clause standing alone without an independent clause is called a

fragment sentence - see below.

Compound-complex: Contains 3 or more clauses (of which at least two are

independent and one is dependent).

I don't like dogs, and my sister doesn't like cats because they make her

You can write on paper, but using a computer is better as you can
easily correct your mistakes.

A tree fell onto the school roof in a storm, but none of the students was injured
although many of them were in classrooms at the top of the building.

Advice: Writing that contains mostly short, simple sentences can be uninteresting or even
irritating to read. Writing that consists of mostly long, complex sentences is usually difficult to
read. Good writers, therefore, use a variety of sentence types. They also occasionally start
complex (or compound-complex) sentences with the dependent clause and not the independent
clause. In the following examples the dependent clause is shown in red:

Although it was raining, we decided to go fishing.

If it doesn't rain soon, the river will dry out.

Because the road was icy and the driver was going too fast, he was unable to
brake in time when a fox ran into the road in front of him.

Note: Sentences can also be categorized according to their function. [More]

Note: Independent clauses are also called main clauses. Dependent clauses are also called
subordinate clauses.
Do a quiz to identify clause types. Do a quiz to identify sentence types.

Problematic 'sentences': To write a correct sentence, you need to have a good understanding of
what a sentence is. Students who don't have this understanding, or don't take care, often include
problem sentences in their writing. Native English speakers are just as likely to write problem
sentences as ESL students. There are three main types of problem sentence:

Run-on sentences: These are two sentences that the writer has not
separated with an end punctuation mark, or has not joined with a
conjunction. (Click the following run-ons to see where they should be
separated into two sentences.)

I went to Paris in the vacation it is the most beautiful place I have ever

It's never too late to learn to swim you never know when you may fall
from a boat.

If you're going to the shops can you buy me some eggs and flour I
want to make a cake.

I like our new math teacher, she always explains the work very clearly.

He was late to school again, his bus got caught in heavy traffic.

Advice: It is helpful to read your written work aloud. When you speak, you will
make natural pauses to mark the end of your sentences or clauses. If there is no
corresponding end punctuation mark in your writing, you can be almost certain that
you have written a run-on sentence.

Sentence fragments: Fragment sentences are unfinished sentences, i.e.

they don't contain a complete idea. A common fragment sentence in student
writing is a dependent clause standing alone without an independent clause.
In the each of the following examples the fragment is the second 'sentence',
shown in red:

I don't think I'm going to get a good grade. Because I didn't study.

She got angry and shouted at the teacher. Which wasn't a very good

He watched TV for an hour and then went to bed. After falling asleep
on the sofa.

She got up and ran out of the library. Slamming the door behind her.

I have to write a report on Albert Einstein. The famous scientist who

left Europe to live in the USA.

After riding my bike without problems for over a year, the chain broke.
40 kilometers from my house!

Advice: If your 'sentence' is a dependent clause, or it doesn't contain both a

subject and a predicate, then it is not a proper sentence. You can often detect
fragments if you read your writing backwards sentence by sentence, i.e. from the
last sentence to the first one. You can usually correct a fragment by connecting it to
the sentence before or after it.
Good writers, who have a full understanding of the sentence, occasionally choose to
write a sentence fragment. So you may see sentence fragments in the fiction or
even some of the non-fiction you read. As an ESL student, however, you should
avoid fragments (except when writing your own creative stories).

Rambling sentences: A rambling sentence is a sentence made up of many

clauses, often connected by a coordinating conjunction such as and, or, so.

John usually gets up before 7 o'clock, but yesterday his alarm clock did
not ring, so he was still asleep when his boss called him at 10.30 to ask
where he was and tell him that he would lose his job if he was late

Although the blue whale has been protected for over 30 years and its
numbers are increasing, especially in the North Pacific, where whale
hunting has been banned, it is still at risk of extinction as its habitat is
being polluted by waste from oil tankers and its main food, the
plankton, is being killed off by harmful rays from the sun, which can
penetrate the earth's atmosphere because there is a huge hole in the
ozone layer over Antarctica.

Advice: A rambling sentence is quite easy to spot. You have almost certainly written one
if your sentence contains more than 3 or 4 conjunctions. If you read the sentence aloud
and run out of breath before reaching the end of it, you have written a rambling sentence.
If your sentence stretches over many lines of writing, you have certainly written a
rambling sentence and most probably a run-on sentence too.
Unlike run-ons or fragments, rambling sentences are not wrong, but they are tiresome for
the reader and one of the signs of a poor writer. You should avoid them.
Do a quiz to identify problematic sentences.

General advice: If you are not sure whether you have written a good, correct sentence, ask your
teacher! And remember: The more you read in English, the better a writer you will become. This
is because reading good writing provides you with models of English sentence structure that will
have a positive influence on your own written work.
Note: Good writing consists not only of a string of varied, correctly-structured sentences. The
sentences must also lead from one to the next so that the text is cohesive and the writer's ideas
are coherent. For information on these two important concepts, go to the Language words for
non-language teachers page and click on Cohesion.
There are links to more sentence identification and sentence building exercises on
the Writing Index of this website.

Word order

Most English sentences (clauses) conform to the SVO word order. This means that the Subject
comes before the Verb, which comes before the Object. Examples:
I (S) bought (V) a new computer (O).

She (S) doesn't like (V) dogs (O).

Why did you (S) do (V) that (O)?

It is more complicated when an indirect object (I) is added to the sentence. In this case the word
order depends a.) on whether the direct and indirect objects are nouns or pronouns, and b.) on
whether the indirect object is preceded by the word to. Here are the basic rules:

Indirect object with to:

Two nouns
Two pronouns
Pronoun object/noun indirect object

I showed the computer to my

I showed it to them.
I showed it to my friends.
She gave the present to her mother.
She gave it to her.
She gave it to her mother.

Indirect object without to:

Two nouns
Two pronouns
Noun object/pronoun indirect object

I showed my friends the computer.

I showed them it.
I showed them the computer
She gave her mother the present.
She gave her it.
She gave her the present.

Many English sentences also contain adverbials. The problem for the English learner is that some
adverbials can be located in different places within the sentence, while other adverbials must
appear in one place only. For example, it is correct to say both: I very quickly did my
homework .. and I did my homework very quickly .., but only I did my homework in a hurry .. is
possible. I in a hurry did my homework .. is wrong.
Learners who want to get their English word order right should ask a native speaker.
Alternatively, they can consult a good usage guide such as Swan's Modern English Usage or
'google' the sentence/clause.*

* For example, the learner might not know which of the following sentences contains the more
normal word order: "a. I want to get this right .." or "b. I want to get right this ..". If he or she
enters the words into Google, the results are: sentence a - 731 hits; sentence b - 0 hits. The
correct choice is clear!
Do a quiz on word order: quiz 1 - quiz 2.

War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
Bertrand Russell
Inflection is the name for the extra letter or letters added to nouns, verbs and adjectives in their
different grammatical forms. Nouns are inflected in the plural, verbs are inflected in the various
tenses, and adjectives are inflected in the comparative/superlative. Here are some of the most
important inflection rules:
Original word type

Inflection Rule


Words ending with a sibilant: -s/-ss/sh/-ch/x.

Add -es in the plural noun or 3rd person singular


bus buses (n) / busses (v)

miss misses
wish wishes
watch watches
fox foxes
potato potatoes
do does

Words ending consonant - y.

Change the -y to ie before the ending -s.

party parties
study studies
cry cries

Words ending consonant - y.

Change the -y to i before the endings -ed/-er/-est/ly.

try tried
happy happier
easy easiest

Words ending consonant - y.

Do NOT change the -y before the ending -ing.

carry carrying
try trying

Words ending vowel - y.

Do NOT change the -y.

buy buys
play played

Words ending with the letters -ie.

Change the -ie to a - y before the ending -ing.

die dying
lie lying

Verbs ending consonant -e.

Omit the -e before the ending -ing.

ride riding
love loving
write writing
provide providing

One-syllable words ending consonantvowel-consonant.

Double the last consonant before the endings -ing/ed/-er/-est.

hit hitting
stop stopped
wet wetter
fat fattest
begin beginning
prefer preferred

Words ending with the letter -o.

Two or more syllable words ending

consonant-vowel-consonant that are

stressed on the last syllable.

Two or more syllable words ending
consonant-vowel-consonant that are
stressed on the first syllable.

Do NOT double the last consonant before the

endings -ing/-ed/-er/-est.

happen happening
visit visited

Tense selector
This page will help you to choose the right tense (verb form) to convey various
Click the tense link for more information and examples.

express a simple truth

(not limited in time)

express a world truth



She works very hard.

My friend speaks four


John lives in Berlin.

I don't like dogs.

Do you smoke?

Water freezes at 0

Trees lose their leaves in


Cats don't live as long as


Does wealth bring


express an intention
about the future

express an untrue or
unlikely thought about the
past (conditional 3)

express an untrue or
unlikely thought about the
present (conditional 2)

express annoyance at

going to

I'm going to be a teacher

when I grow up.

I'm going to try and learn

10 new words a day.

She's going to buy a new

computer as soon as she
has enough money.

What are you going to do


If I had known she was

here, I would have called

If I had had enough

money, I would have
bought you a better mp3

I wish I had studied for my


I would have been in big

trouble if you hadn't
helped me.

If I had a lot of money, I'd

buy a new car.

If you bought an iPod, you

wouldn't have to use

It would be better if you

didn't do that!

You are always

interrupting me when I'm

past perfect

past simple


repeated actions

make a prediction
about the future

refer to a future
scheduled event



report words said in the past perfect

present perfect

My mother's always telling

me to clean my room.

The sun will rise at 6.30


You will be in trouble if you

do that again.

We will run out of oil by

the end of the 21st

Will you be here next


I'm sure my parents won't

let me go to the party.

Hurry up! The train leaves

in 10 minutes.

The meeting starts at


My plane departs from

Frankfurt at 5am and
arrives in Seoul 14 hours

I told her that I had never

eaten sushi before.

He said that he hadn't

done his homework.

I asked him if he had ever

seen a ghost.

report words said in the past simple

present simple

summarize the plot of a
book or film

talk about actions

happening at some time in
the past

talk about future




She said she was 12 years

old. ("I'm 12.")

He said he could speak 5

languages. ("I can speak 5

Romeo thinks that Juliet is

dead and he kills himself.

Frodo decides to leave his

home and go in search of
the ring.

You phoned while I was

having a bath.

Sorry, I wasn't listening.

Can you say it again

What were you doing at 8

o'clock yesterday? .

How fast was she driving

when she had the

I threw my calculator
away because it wasn't
working properly

I'm meeting my sister in

town tomorrow.

I can't go to the dance

next week. I'm playing
tennis with John.

I'm not going to the doctor

after school today as

planned. I feel much


talk about past events

with a connection to the

talk about the past in

the past

talk about the past

using a word of unfinished


I have lost my dictionary.

Mary has fixed my


You haven't eaten very

much. Don't you feel well?

Have you seen my


I arrived very late at the

party. All my friends had
already gone home.

As soon as she had done

her homework, she went
to bed.

I was very hungry because

I hadn't eaten lunch.

Had you seen the film


I've lived in Germany

since 1986.

He's had a lot of bad luck


I haven't seen my mother

for 2 months.

Have you ever seen a


past perfect


talk about things

happening now

talk about things that


talk about what

happened in the past
(finished time)

tell a joke or retell past

events in a such way as to



past simple


Has she lived here all her


I can't come now; I'm

doing my homework.

Look! Someone is trying to

break into your locker.

Your work is getting better

and better.

It isn't raining any more.

Why are you talking? You

should be listening to me?

I always clean my teeth

before breakfast.

Once a week I play golf

with my brother.

I came to Germany two

years ago.

Italy won the World Cup in


I didn't see you in school


Did you like the film?

Why didn't you do your


A man walks into a bar

and orders 5 glasses of

beer ..
make them seem more

use a verb of mental

processes or senses


So I go up to him and
knock his hat off ..

I know the answer.

I don't believe you.

This cheese tastes


Do you smell something


"Agreement is the word for the correct matching of the subject and the verb in a

Agreement is the word for the correct matching of the subject and the verb in a sentence.
(Another way to say this is that the subject and verb go together.) English has very few verb
endings and the only one that learners really have to worry about is the -s ending in the present
simple tense. As an example let's look at the verb to work:


1st person

I work

We work

2nd person

You work

You work

3rd person

He works
She works
It works

They work

It can be seen that the -s is needed in the 3rd person singular*. It has to be: My father works in a
bank. My mother drinks green tea for breakfast every day. Oil floats on water.

Of course, the same rule applies when the 3rd person subject is a pronoun. So you have to say:
He works in a bank. She drinks green tea for breakfast every day. It floats on water.
You also need to remember the -s in sentences with relative pronouns. So, for example, it must
be: Do you know the man who lives in the next apartment? A carnivore is an animal that eats
other animals. And don't forget the -s when the verb is used as an auxiliary: Does your mother
like English food? She has forgotten her homework again.

Learners often make agreement mistakes when the noun is unexpectedly singular or plural. So,
for example, everybody, news and data are singular, whereas people, police and jeans are plural:

Where is everybody going?

The news was bad.

The data is too old to be useful.

The police are looking for the killer.

Most people want to be rich.

Your trousers are too tight!

Similar mistakes of agreement occur between such nouns and their pronouns. It has to be:

Do you want to hear the news? It's very good!

You need to buy some new jeans. Those are too tight!

The police? They are never here when you need them.

Do a quiz on agreement.
War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
Bertrand Russell

The words some and any are used when the speaker cannot specify or does not need/want to
specify a number or an exact amount. Compare the following sentences:
- I saw seven deer when riding my bike in the forest yesterday. (It is important that
you know how many deer I saw.)

- I saw some deer when riding my bike in the forest yesterday. (I don't know exactly
how many deer I saw. Or: It is not important that you know exactly how many deer I

The "rules" that follow apply also to words containing some and any: somebody/anybody,
something/anything, etc.
In general, some is used in positive sentences:
I got some nice presents for Christmas this year.

This job is going to take some time.

Look! There are some large black birds on the roof of the church.
You have some butter on your chin.

If you are hungry, there are some biscuits in the cupboard.

I'm sure I'll return to Japan some day.

There is somebody on the phone for you.

I'd like to go somewhere hot this summer.

In general, any is used in negative sentences and questions:

I didn't get any nice presents for Christmas this year.

I looked in the cupboard but I couldn't find any biscuits.

I don't need any help.

She's so rude. No wonder she doesn't have any friends.

I don't have anything to wear to the dance.

I'm not hungry. I don't want anything to eat.

Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Did you catch any fish?

Have you seen any good films recently?

Does anyone know the answer?

Are you going anywhere this Christmas?

In fact, the use of some/any is a little more complicated. Following are two common occasions
when the above "rules" are "broken":
1. We can use some in questions when offering/requesting:

Would you like some more tea?

Could I have some milk, please?

Do you want something to eat?

2. We use any in positive sentences when we mean it doesn't matter which ..:
You can come and ask for my help any time.

Which book shall I read? - Any one. It's up to you.

You can sit anywhere but here. This is my seat!

Relative clauses
Relative clauses are clauses starting with the relative pronouns who*, that, which, whose, where,
when. They are most often used to define or identify the noun that precedes them. Here are some

Do you know the girl who started in grade 7 last week?

Can I have the pencil that I gave you this morning?

A notebook is a computer which can be carried around.

I won't eat in a restaurant whose cooks smoke.

I want to live in a place where there is lots to do.
Yesterday was a day when everything went wrong!

* There is a relative pronoun whom, which can be used as the object of the relative clause. For
example: My science teacher is a person whom I like very much. To many people the word whom
nows sounds old-fashioned, and it is rarely used in spoken English.

Relative pronouns are associated as follows with their preceding noun:

Preceding noun

Relative pronoun

a person

who(m)/that, whose

a thing

which/that, whose

- Do you know the girl who ..
- He was a man that ..
- An orphan is a child whose parents ..
- Do you have a computer which ..
- The oak a tree that ..
- This is a book whose author ..

Note 1: The relative pronoun whose is used in place of the possessive pronoun. It must be
followed by a noun. Example: There's a boy in grade 8 whose father is a professional tennis
player. (There's a boy in grade 8. His father is a professional tennis player.)
Note 2: The relative pronouns where and when are used with place and time nouns. Examples:
FIS is a school where children from more than 50 countries are educated. 2001 was the year
when terrorists attacked the Twin Towers in New York.
Some relative clauses are not used to define or identify the preceding noun but to give extra
information about it. Here are some examples:

My ESL teacher, who came to Germany in 1986, likes to ride his mountain bike.

The heavy rain, which was unusual for the time of year, destroyed most of the plants in
my garden.

Einstein, who was born in Germany, is famous for his theory of relativity.
The boy, whose parents both work as teachers at the school, started a fire in the

My mother's company, which makes mobile phones, is moving soon from Frankfurt to

In the summer I'm going to visit Italy, where my brother lives.

Note 1: Relative clauses which give extra information, as in the example sentences above, must
be separated off by commas.
Note 2: The relative pronoun that cannot be used to introduce an extra-information (nondefining) clause about a person. Wrong: Neil Armstrong, that was born in 1930, was the first
man to stand on the moon. Correct: Neil Armstrong, who was born in 1930, was the first man to
stand on the moon.

There are two common occasions, particularly in spoken English, when the relative pronoun is
1. When the pronoun is the object of the relative clause. In the following sentences the pronoun
that can be left out is enclosed in (brackets):

Do you know the girl (who/m) he's talking to?

Where's the pencil (which) I gave you yesterday?

I haven't read any of the books (that) I got for Christmas.

I didn't like that girl (that) you brought to the party.

Did you find the money (which) you lost?

Note: You cannot omit the relative pronoun a.) if it starts a non-defining relative clause, or, b.) if
it is the subject of a defining relative clause. For example, who is necessary in the following
sentence: What's the name of the girl who won the tennis tournament?
2. When the relative clause contains a present or past participle and the auxiliary verb to be. In
such cases both relative pronoun and auxiliary can be left out:

The family (that is) living in the next house comes from Slovenia.

Who's that man (who is) standing by the gate?

She was wearing a dress (which was) covered in blue flowers.

Most of the parents (who were) invited to the conference did not come.
Anyone (that is) caught writing on the walls will be expelled from school.

Building a Sentence
What makes a complete sentence?
Simple Sentences
Compound Sentences
Complex Sentences
The anatomy of a sentence
More Advanced Terminology

Building a sentence
A sentence is a group of words which starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop (.),
question mark (?) or exclamation mark (!). A sentence contains or implies a predicate and a
Sentences contain clauses.
Simple sentences have one clause.
Compound sentences and complex sentences have two or more clauses.
Sentences can contain subjects and objects.

The subject in a sentence is generally the person or thing carrying out an action. The object in
a sentence is involved in an action but does not carry it out, the object comes after the verb.
For example:
The boy climbed a tree.
If you want to say more about the subject (the boy) or the object (the tree), you can add an
For example:
The young boy climbed a tall tree.
If you want to say more about how he climbed the tree you can use an adverb.
For example:
The young boy quickly climbed a tall tree.
The sentence becomes more interesting as it gives the reader or listener more information.
There are more things you can add to enrich your sentence.

Parts of a sentence



Describes things or people.


Alters the meaning of the verb slightly


a, an - indefinite articles
the - definite articles


Joins words or sentences together


A short word showing emotion or feeling


Names things


Relates one thing to another


used instead of a noun to avoid repetition

Proper noun (subject)

The actual names of people or places etc.


Action or doing word

For example:
What makes a complete sentence?

If it helps you, think about a sentence as if it were a skeleton, the

skeleton contains various bones and these bones are put
together to form different parts of the body. So are sentences
formed by words, the words are the bones and they are put
together in different ways to form sentences.
Simple Sentences

A simple sentence contains a single subject and predicate. It

describes only one thing, idea or question, and has only one verb
- it contains only an independent (main) clause.
Any independent clause can stand alone as a sentence. It has a
subject and a verb and expresses a complete thought.
For example:

Jill reads.

Even the addition of adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional

phrases to a simple sentence does not change it into a complex
For example:

The brown dog with the red collar always barks loudly.

Even if you join several nouns with a conjunction, or several

verbs with a conjunction, it remains a simple sentence.
For example:

The dog barked and growled loudly.

Compound Sentences

Compound sentences are made up of two or more simple

sentences combined using a conjunction such as and, or or but.
They are made up of more than one independent clause joined
together with a co-ordinating conjunction.
For example:
"The sun was setting in the west and the moon was just rising."
Each clause can stand alone as a sentence.
For example:
"The sun was setting in the west. The moon was just rising."
Every clause is like a sentence with a subject and a verb. A
coordinating conjunction goes in the middle of the sentence, it is
the word that joins the two clauses together, the most common
are (and, or, but)
For example:

I walked to the shops, but my husband drove.

I might watch the film, or I might visit my friends.

My friend enjoyed the film, but she didn't like the actor.

Complex Sentences

Complex sentences describe more than one thing or idea and

have more than one verb in them. They are made up of more than
one clause, an independent clause (that can stand by itself) and a
dependent (subordinate) clause (which cannot stand by itself).
For example:
"My mother likes dogs that don't bark."

Dependent clauses can be nominal, adverbial or adjectival.

The anatomy of a sentence

The Verb

The verb is the fundamental part of the sentence. The rest of the
sentence, with the exception of the subject, depends very much
on the verb. It is important to have a good knowledge of the
forms used after each verb (verb patterns), for example: to tell
[someone] TO DO [something]
Here we can see that the verb to tell is followed immediately by a
person (the indirect object, explained later), an infinitive with 'to',
and, possibly, an object for the verb you substitute for DO.
Verbs also show a state of being. Such verbs, called BE VERBS
or LINKING VERBS, include words such as: am, is, are, was,
were, be, been, being, became, seem, appear, and sometimes
verbs of the senses like tastes, feels, looks, hears, and smells.
For example:

"Beer and wine are my favourite drinks." The verb "are" is a linking
(be) verb.

Fortunately, there are only a limited number of different verb

patterns. Verbs can descibe the action (something the subject
actually does) or state (something that is true of the subject) of
the subject.
For example:

ACTION: I play football twice a week.

STATE: I've got a car.

Some verbs can represent both actions and states, depending on

the context.
For example work:

ACTION: David's working in the bank.

STATE: David works in a bank.

Finding the Verb

When you analyze a sentence, first identify the verb. The verb
names and asserts the action or state of the sentence.
For example:

"Working at the computer all day made David's head ache."

The main verb of the sentence is "made", not working.

Verbs identify our activity or state.
For example:

eat, sleep, run, jump, study, think, digest, shout, walk ....

The Subject

The subject is the person or thing the sentence is 'about'. Often

(but not always) it will be the first part of the sentence. The
subject will usually be a noun phrase (a noun and the words,
such as adjectives, that modify it) followed by a verb.

Finding the Subject

Once you determine the verb, ask a wh...? question of the verb.
This will locate the subject(s).
For example:

David works hard.


Who "works hard"?=David does=the subject.

Beer and wine are my favourite drinks.


What "are my favourite drinks"? Beer and wine are=the


The subject(s) of a sentence will answer the questions, "who or


The Predicate

Once you have identified the subject, the remainder of the

sentence tells us what the subject does or did. This part of the
sentence is the predicate of the sentence.
The predicate always includes the verb and the words which
come after the verb. For example:

Michael Schumaker drove the race car.


"Michael Schumaker" is the subject; "drove the race car" is the


More Advanced Terminology

The Object

Some verbs have an object (always a noun or pronoun). The

object is the person or thing affected by the action described in
the verb.
Objects come in two types, direct and indirect.
The direct object refers to a person or thing affected by the
action of the verb.
For example:

"He opened the door. "- here the door is the direct object as it is the
thing being affected by the verb to open.

The indirect object refers to a person or thing who receives the

direct object.
For example:

" I gave him the book." - here him (he)is the indirect object as he is
the beneficiary of the action.

Transitive / Intransitive verbs

Verbs which don't have an object are called intransitive. Some

verbs can only be intransitive (disagree). In addition they cannot
be used in the Passive Voice e.g. smile, fall, come, go.
For example:

David disagreed. - intransitive.

Verbs that have an object are called transitive verbs e.g. eat,
drive, give.
For example:

David gave her a present.

Some verbs can be transitive or intransitive e.g. sing

For example:

Xavier Nadu sings. - intransitive.

Xavier Nadu sings pop songs. - transitive.


An 'adverbial' or 'adverbial phrase' is a word or expression in the

sentence that does the same job as an adverb; that is, it tells you
something about how the action in the verb was done.
For example:

I sometimes have trouble with adverbs.

He spoke very quietly.

I've read that book three times.

She's gone to the bank.

The first tells us the frequency of the action (sometimes), the

second how he carried out the action (quietly), and the third how
many times the action has happened (three).

The fourth is a little different, as in this case the adverbial (gone

to the bank) is more or less demanded by the verb (has).
To remember the form of such verbs use your notebooks to write
down the different forms.
For example:

to go [somewhere]

to put [something][somewhere]

This information is also useful when deciding the order of

adverbials in a sentence. Unlike the previous parts of the
sentence, a sentence can contain an indefinite number of
adverbials, although in practice it's a good idea to keep them few
in number.


A complement is used with verbs like be, seem, look etc.

Complements give more information about the subject or, in
some structures, about the object.
There are various definitions of 'complement', which range from
the very general (anything in the predicate except the verb,
including the direct object and adverbs) to the much more
restrictive one used here.
A complement is the part of the sentence that gives you more
information about the subject (a subject complement) or the
object (an object complement) of the sentence.

The complement to be used, if any, is dependent on the verb

used in the sentence. Subject complements normally follow
certain verbs.
For example:

He is Spanish.

She became an engineer.

That man looks like John.

Object complements follow the direct object of the verbFor example.

They painted the house red.

She called him an idiot!

I saw her standing there.

The complement often consists of an adjective or noun phrase,

but can also be a participle phrase, as in the last example. It is
often not very clear whether a phrase is a complement or an

How to Use the Apostrophe in Your Writing

This is one of the most common problems people have with punctuation - the dreaded apostrophe ...
This poor little pet is the most abused punctuation mark in the language, and it's a dear little thing
when you get to know it - all it wants to do is to please.
It only has TWO functions to perform and they're both straightforward, but still it gets pushed in where it
doesn't belong or left out of where it wants to be.
Let's take a moment to sort this out once and for all ... and don't forget to get your Apostrophe FAQ while
you're here!

Just when do you use an apostrophe?

1. Use the Apostrophe to show OMISSION
What's a nice kid like me doing in a place like this?
We started with two words, what and is, but because this is informal writing, we want to express it
informally, so we omit a letter from the word is. Because we're well brought up little Vegemites
(remember?), we let people know what we've done.
I could've danced all night ... (could have, not could 'of')
It's time for breakfast (It is time ...)
It's been raining all day. (It has been raining ...)
So, in future whenever you see an apostrophe, make a conscious effort to work out what the original
word was before the letter was omitted. Sometimes, as in the case of could've and would've, more than
one letter has been omitted.
This will establish good habits and alert you to the role of the apostrophe.
2. Use the Apostrophe to show POSSESSION
We went to Marmaduke's restaurant for dinner. (Marmaduke owns the restaurant; it is the restaurant of
Notice how the apostrophe comes at the end of the noun (Marmaduke) and is accompanied by the letter
's' - a bit like a chaperone.
We knew whom to blame for the missing pie; there was cream all over the dog's whiskers!
We're only referring to one dog and it owns the whiskers (and the pie and a very satisfied smile, no
Some words sound awkward when an apostrophe 's' is added:
Jesus's disciples.
The accepted form here is to just use the 's' apostrophe:
Jesus' disciples.
N.B. This only applies to names of Biblical or historical significance e.g. Jesus, Moses, Zeus,
Demosthenes, Ramses ... the rest of us whack in the apostrophe and add an 's.'
Moses' followers, Zeus' priests, Demosthenes' teachings, Ramses' pyramid
Others don't have the same clumsy sound:
The princess's chair.

The important thing is to be consistent in your use of the form - nothing is writ in stone!
Using the Apostrophe with Plural Nouns
Confusion arises when the apostrophe is used with a plural noun.
At the zoo, the children were most interested in seeing the lions' den.
More than one lion owns the den, so we add the apostrophe after the 's' (this is the den of the lions).
So, the general rule is:

if there's one owner - add an apostrophe and then 's'

if there are two or more owners - add 's' then an apostrophe.

Exceptions to the Rules about Apostrophes

However, (and of course you're not surprised to hear this, are you?), there are exceptions to this rule.

For words which form their plural by changing internal letters (instead of adding 's'), the apostrophe
comes before the 's'.
It was the children's turn to wash up.
Children is already a plural word, so we don't need to make it doubly plural by adding 's' apostrophe;
however, we do need to indicate the idea of ownership, so we use apostrophe 's'.
Some other words which follow this rule are: men, women, people.
How to Use the Apostrophe with Double Possession
When you have 'double possession' - when two or more people (or subjects) own one item and both (or
all) of their names are mentioned, the apostrophe is applied only to the second (or last) name.
We had coffee at Ermintrude and Marmaduke's mansion.
When you're using names that end in -S, you follow the same rules as with any other name and add
apostrophe S:
Chris's car, Bridget Jones's Diary.

Plural names also follow the same rules:

Bill Thomas's car; the Thomases' new house (add -es to names that end in S to indicate plural form).

Using the Apostrophe with Expressions of Time

The apostrophe is also used with many expressions of time (to show that the time period owns the other
an hour's time; a year's holiday
When NOT to Use the Apostrophe
BUT notice that we do not use the apostrophe with possessive pronouns (remember, these are the little
guys who step in and lend a paw to nouns).
After dinner at Marmaduke's restaurant, we went back to his place for coffee.
The bird's feathers were ruffled. (The bird owns the feathers.)
The bird ruffled its feathers. (The bird owns the feathers, but the pronoun its is being used instead of the
noun, so there is NO apostrophe.
You'll see it's and its used incorrectly nearly every single day and in places where it should never happen.
An easy way to make sure you never confuse the two is to ask yourself (do this quietly, you don't want to
alarm those around you), if the words it is can be substituted in the sentence- if the answer is yes, then
whack in the old apostrophe.
If the answer is no, then sit on your hands so you won't be tempted.
The bird ruffled its (it is?) feathers. (NO)
It's (it is?) a lovely day. (YES)
Tips for Using the Apostrophe Correctly
To summarise, here is a good way to check if you need an apostrophe - for future reference:
If you can substitute the use of "of" then you use the apostrophe.

e.g. This is Marmaduke's house ... it is the house of Marmaduke.

The children's mother phoned ... the mother of the children phoned.
Three months' work ... the work of three months.

How to Use Apostrophes

In this photo, what belongs to the quesadilla?

The rules for apostrophes vary with the type of word. Learn where to put apostrophes so that your writing
is clear and correct. In short, apostrophes are frequently used to indicate possession and in contractions,
but generally not to pluralize.

English Punctuation
850,000 Subscribers can't be
wrong! Register now & get 50%

English Exercises
Guaranteed Language Lessons 5
Secrets to Your Success.


Learn Serbian
For Free

Web-based terminology
management Database for
corporate terminology

Download your free

Serbian Byki software
and learn Serbian fast!

Hide these ads




Avoid using an apostrophe to indicate a plural. The incorrect use of an apostrophe to form the
plural is called the greengrocer's apostrophe, since grocers are often the worst (or at least the most
visible) offenders. If you have more than one apple, then write apples, not apple's. If you cannot
replace the word with "his," "her," "their" or "its" and if it isn't a contraction, then an apostrophe should
not be used.

People often forget the rules when a word ends in a vowel, such as the word "mango."
Many people write "mango's" instead of "mangos" or "mangoes".

An exception to this use is in the case of making a single letter plural. Therefore, Why are
there so many I's in the word "indivisibility"? is correct. This is simply for clarity reasons, so the
reader does not mistake it for the word "is." However, in modern usage, the preference is to avoid
inserting an apostrophe and instead surround the single letter in quotation marks before pluralizing
it: Why are there so many "I"s in the word "indivisibility"?

Similarly, apostrophes can be used when talking about a word (e.g., this list contains a lot
of do's and don't's) but quotation marks can make it clearer ("do"s and "don't"s).


An exception can also be made for numbers and abbreviations, although some consider
this old fashioned, illogical and unnecessary.

"I bought many CD's in the 1990's." Incorrect.

"I bought many CDs in the 1990s." Correct.

Use apostrophes to indicate possession. There are two basic methods that make use of an
apostrophe in constructing the possessive. Most words use an apostrophe followed by an "s" at the
end of the word, although many situations require simply an apostrophe.

Place an apostrophe before the "s" when you are indicating a singular possessive,
unless the name or word ends in "s," in which case either is correct. (James's dog or James'
dog, Dickens' novel or Dickens's novel)
"Jacob's shoes are very cool." The shoes belong to Jacob (singular: one


"I found the dog's old bone buried in the backyard." The bone belongs to the dog
(singular: a single dog).

Place an apostrophe after the "s" when you are dealing with a possessive plural case
that has an "s" at the end (e.g., book to books, tree to trees). But if the word is plural without an "s"
at the end, this rule does not apply; add an apostrophe and an "s" as if the word were singular.

"Look at all of the sailors' boats!" The boats belong to the sailors (plural: there is
more than one sailor).

"The children's dresses were pink and frilly." The dresses belong to the children,
but since the word children is already plural without having to add an "s" at the end, this is an


Use apostrophes in contractions. Sometimes, especially in informal writing, apostrophes are

used to indicate one or more missing letters. For example, the word "don't" is short for "do not"; other
examples include "isn't," "wouldn't," and "can't." Contractions can also be made with the verbs "is,"
"has," and "have." For example, we can write "She's going to school" instead of "She is going to
school"; or "He's lost the game" instead of "He has lost the game." A similar usage can be found in the
notation of calendar years, as in '07. In this case, the apostrophe appears in the spot where the
missing numbers would have been (before the number, not after as in 07').


Be aware of the its/it's trap. Use an apostrophe with the word "it" only when you want to
indicate a contraction for "it is" or "it has." Its is a pronoun, and pronouns have their own possessive
form that does not use an apostrophe. For example, "That noise? It's just the dog eating its bone."
This may seem confusing, but it follows the same pattern as other possessive pronouns: his, hers, its,
yours, ours, theirs.



For singular names ending in "s," the Chicago Manual of Style adds an "s" after the apostrophe,
as in "Charles's bike." If your work or assignment requires you to adhere to one convention or another,
then do so. Otherwise, either form is acceptable so long as it is consistent throughout a single piece of
written work.

"Apple's 89 a pound," literally means that "apple" owns "89 a pound" (the possessive) or "Apple
is 89 a pound" (a contraction).

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White is a very short and handy guide to writing and
punctuation. Keep a copy of this book nearby when you're writing and refer to it if you're unsure about

If you want to write about a party given by Luke and Ashley Smart and all their children, write "the
Smarts' party" (Smarts is a plural, then add the possessive apostrophe).

If you have trouble applying the rules for a possessive, rephrase the sentence to use "of" and
place the apostrophe after the word in question. For instance: "Look at all of the sailors' boats!"
becomes "Look at all of the boats of the sailors" and you can place the apostrophe after "sailors" to
make "sailors'". Or, "The children's dresses were pink and frilly." becomes "The dresses of the
children..." and so the apostrophe goes after "children" to make "children's".

If ever in doubt, always remember that apostrophes are almost always used in nouns to show
possession. Avoid using apostrophes for anything else.



Throwing in apostrophes willy-nilly quickly shows that the writer does not understand the rules
about possessives, contractions, and plurals. If in doubt, err on the side of leaving out the apostrophe.

Don't put an apostrophe within your name on your return address label. If your surname is
"Greenwood," then "The Greenwoods" is correct, while "the Greenwood's" is incorrect. "The
Greenwoods" indicates the residence of more than one person with the surname Greenwood, not
some sort of possession.

Never write "her's." Her's is not a word, just as you would not write "him's". Recall that possessive
pronouns do not need an apostrophe: his, hers, its, yours, ours, theirs.

When a word ends in "y," as in "try," take extra care when changing the verb form. For example,
"try" does not become "try's". "Tries" is correct.

Do not use apostrophes or quotation marks for emphasis. For example, take a billboard that says:
Joe Schmo, the "best" realtor in town! It makes the word "best" appear sarcastic, and untrue, rather
than emphasized.

How to use Apostrophes

1. The apostrophe (') has two functions. It indicates both the possessive case and
contractions. This might seem simple, but it causes a lot of problems.

2. The Possessive Case

We can say either The whiskers of the cat , or the cat's whiskers. This is the possessive case,
when something belongs to somebody or something else.
3. When the possessor is single we indicate possession by using an apostrophe followed by the
letter 's':
The man's coat

my sister's hat.

4. When the possessors are plural, the apostrophe is placed after the final 's':
The girls' bicycles

my cousins' parents.

5. When names end with

the letter 's', either use is acceptable:

James' wife or James's wife.

(It is often said that the choice between the two should be made on how the word is pronounced.)

6. The apostrophe is never used with possessive pronouns:

his, hers, its ours, yours, theirs

But it is used with 'one': One must do one's best.

7. Many shops and business concerns these days omit the apostrophe from their titles:
Barclays Bank

Coopers Wines.

8. Note that the apostrophe is not required where a word has been formed by omitting its first



9. No apostrophe is required in the plural form of numbers and dates:

in the 1920s

the roaring twenties

10. The possessive of classical names ending in es is often formed by the apostrophe alone:
Demosthenes' speeches
Sophocles' plays
Xerxes' campaigns

11. French names ending in an unpronounced s or x follow the normal rule, taking an apostrophe
and an s:
Rabelais's comedy

Malraux's novels

In formal prose we would write She has told him, but when speaking we would say She's told
him. The apostrophe is used to indicate the missing letters.
1. I am (I'm) - He is (he's) - You are (You're).
2. Note the difference between it's (it is) and its (belonging to it).
3. Notice too that the term its' does not exist.
4. It's may also be a contraction of 'it has' - 'It's been a pleasure meeting you'.
1. When items are described by an acronym or an abbreviation, there is no need to add an
apostrophe to denote the plural:
MP (military police)

sixteen MPs

PC (personal computer)
MB (megabyte)

a network of PCs

100 MB

2. But the apostrophe should be used in any expression which includes an element of possession:
MPs' salaries

a PC's capacity

3. The apostrophe is not normally used after a noun which has an adjectival rather than a
possessive sense

ladies toilet

Rates Office

students union

4. You should avoid the use of contractions in essays and formal writing.

How to Use Leave and Let Correctly

By eHow Arts & Entertainment Editor

(1 Ratings)

One of the beautiful things about the English language is its incredibly rich and varied
vocabulary. However, the downside is that similar words can be confused and therefore
misused. Two such terms are "let" and "leave." Follow the steps below to understand
their differences in meaning so that you will always use let and leave correctly.
Difficulty: Easy


Step 1

Understand the meanings of each word. While both terms have more than one
meaning, it is when their definitions overlap about getting or giving permission where
confusion occurs. The formal construction "by your leave" means "with your
permission" and is correct usage. However, when you talk about allowing or not
something, the rule of thumb is to always use "let." For example, "Ann's mother lets
her stay out until midnight" is correct, not "Ann's mother leaves her stay out until
midnight." "Leave" implies movement. That is, someone going away or something
staying behind. Examples include "He must leave right after dinner" or "Leave that
book on the desk for me."

Step 2

See if there is an infinitive like "to" in the sentence, since this can make it tricky.
However, the same rules apply. Determine whether the main point of the sentence is
about allowing something. If so, use "let." If the main point of the sentence is about
someone departing a place or something/someone staying in a place, use "leave."
For example, "Leave the others to follow us" versus "Please let me go to the dance"
can be tricky. However, "Leave the others" is a clue that someone is going and

someone else is staying. Likewise, "let me go" indicates that the speaker is asking
or demanding to be allowed to do something.

Step 3

Know when "let" and "leave" are interchangeable. The imperative statements "Leave
the cat alone" and "Let the cat alone" have the same meaning and they are both
grammatically sound.

1) I will not let my children treated in that way - this is incorrect.

2) I cannot think of a way to express this in the passive voice.
let + object + infinitive
Like make, see and hear, let is followed by object + bare infinitive. It cannot be followed
by verb-ing:

Let me carry that box of papers for you. It's very heavy.
Why don't you let him walk home by himself from school now? He's eleven years
old after all

Let is also frequently used in the expression let's (let us) to introduce a suggestion. Note
that negative sentences with let's can be formed in two possible ways:

Let's finish the video tomorrow, shall we? I'm tired and I want to go to bed.
Let's not be late home tonight. It's Monday tomorrow after all.
Don't let's get too stressed about this. I know the car is damaged, but it's only a
piece of metal.

We do not normally use let in the passive voice.

somebody - anybody - something - anything

I forgot my pen. Can I please have

I asked for help, but I couldnt find

to write?

who spoke German or English.

She is a very picky (heikel) person, she never likes

Is there

I cook for her.

I can do to get better marks in Maths ? - Yes, study, study,


I need

to help me carry these bags, they are way too heavy for me.

Suddenly he is so helpful and friendly.I think

told him about my


This exercise is so easy, I dont need

This box is too small for all my photos, I need

Can you help Trish? She would like to know

to help me.

much bigger.

about the house you live


Before I started learning English I didnt know

about London.

The party was really boring for me because I didnt know


please tell me the way to the railway station?

He was looking for

who had known his father.

Nobody can read

I write, I have to do

to improve

(verbessern) my writing.

He never goes to see

, he is a very lonely person. Maybe

should invite him for Christmas.

Did you hear

new about the family that moved in next door? - Yes,

said they were from Baltimore.

Ted thinks he is going to get

really big for his 18th birthday - and he is

right! Dad is going to give him a motorbike!


know where the key to the garage is? - No, Im sorry;

must have left it in the car.

Some, any + -body / -one, + -thing, + -where

The compounds of some and any behave in the same way as some and any, that is to say, some-,
in affirmative sentences and, any-, in negatives and questions, although we use some- in the
interrogative to offer something, to ask for something or when we expect a positive response, as we
saw in the previous unit. Examples:
I saw somebody there.
I did not see anybody there.
Did you see anybody there?
Would you like something better?

Instead of I did not see anybody there, we can say I saw nobody there, but we cannot use two
negative words: *I did not see nobody there.

Anybody, nobody and somebody mean the same as anyone, no-one and nobody respectively.
No-one can also be written no one.

Any can also mean "every" or "it does not matter which / who":
You can take any pencil.
Anybody can do it. It's very easy.

Let's see the following examples to end with:

Somebody told me you were abroad.
Nobody came to the meeting.
Was there anybody in the house?
I want something to eat.
I don't need anything.
I need nothing.
Would you like something to drink?
Is there anything in that drawer?
I want to go somewhere else.
I didn't go anywhere.
I went nowhere.
Have you seen my car keys anywhere?

Fill in the gaps with somebody, anybody, nobody, something, anything, nothing, somewhere,
anywhere or nowhere.
1. I know __________ about this issue that you may find interesting, but if I tell you, you must
promise to keep it (a) secret.
2. __________ lives here. There is no water.
3. I spent the night __________ near the beach.
4. __________ could have jumped over this wall, and stole your rake. It's very low.
5. __________ scares him. He's very brave.

6. There is __________ to park here. Let's go __________ else to park.

7. Would you like __________ to wash your hands?.
8. May I have __________ for dessert, please?
9. They took him __________ in London, and he never returned.
10. Please don't leave __________ behind at home. We'll be away for a fortnight.
11. She needs __________ to love. She's very lonely.
12. They will not sing __________ in this city. They said that they would never come back.
13. There isn't __________ you can do to help them. __________ can help them.
14. We do not need __________ else to run this department. We can do it ourselves.
15. __________ is ringing the bell. Go and see who it is.
16. __________ phoned while we were out, but they did not leave a message.
17. __________ tells me that there is __________ fishy going on .
18. They are looking for __________ to settle down and have children. They want to find a quiet
place to lead a quiet life.
19. "Where would you like to stay?"
"__________ will do provided it is a clean place."
20. "Is there __________ at home?"
"I don't think there is __________. Mum and dad must have gone out."

Written by Miquel Molina i Diez (

Click here for the key.

Key: (Please remember that instead of anybody, nobody and somebody, you may use anyone,
no-one and someone respectively.)
1. something
2. Nobody (Nothing is also possible if we wish to make it more drastic.)
3. somewhere
4. Anybody
5. Nothing / Nobody (The first alternative may be better, but it depends on the context.)
6. nowhere, somewhere
7. something
8. something
9. somewhere
10. anything
11. somebody
12. anywhere
13. anything, Nobody
14. anybody
15. Somebody

16. Somebody
17. Something, something
18. somewhere
19. Anywhere
20. anybody, anybody

Indefinite pronouns refer to things or people without mentioning

what or who they are.
another, anybody, anyone, anything, each, either, everybody, everyone, everything,

little, much, neither, nobody, no one, nothing, one, other, somebody, someone,

or Plural

both, few, many, others, several

all, any, more, most, none, some

For example:

Somebody stole my car.

Does anybody know who she is?

Does anyone have something that could help me with anything?


For people we use: anybody or anyone | somebody or someone |

nobody or no one
For things we use: anything, something, nothing, none

See if you can make sense of these:Somebody, Everybody, Anybody, and Nobody

Once there were four managers. Their names were: Somebody,

Everybody, Anybody, and Nobody. They were very busy people,
but whenever there was an important job to be done, Everybody
was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done
it, but Nobody did. When Nobody did it, Everybody got angry
because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that
Somebody would do it, but Nobody realized that Nobody would
do it. So consequently Everybody blamed Somebody when
Nobody did what Anybody could have done in the first place.
The competition

Now they all worked in the same company, and their company
held a competition: Who could produce the best logo?
Everybody had a good idea. Nobody thought nobody would
follow it through. Somebody thought anybody could work on it.
Anybody thought everybody should do it. Eveybody thought
someone would do it. So nobody did anything. Everybody
thought anybody could win something. Anybody thought
somebody should win. Somebody thought everybody would
win. Nobody thought nobody would win. What did they win?
The Adjective Clause

Recognize an adjective clause when you see one.

An adjective clausealso called an adjectival or relative clausewill meet three requirements:

First, it will contain a subject and verb.

Next, it will begin with a relative pronoun [who, whom, whose, that,
or which] or a relative adverb [when, where, or why].
Finally, it will function as an adjective, answering the questions What
kind? How many? or Which one?

The adjective clause will follow one of these two patterns:






Here are some examples:

Whose big, brown eyes pleaded for another cookie
Whose = relative pronoun; eyes = subject; pleaded = verb.
Why Fred cannot stand sitting across from his sister Melanie
Why = relative adverb; Fred = subject; can stand = verb [not, an adverb, is not officially part of
the verb].
That bounced across the kitchen floor
That = relative pronoun functioning as subject; bounced = verb.
Who hiccupped for seven hours afterward
Who = relative pronoun functioning as subject; hiccupped = verb.
Avoid writing a sentence fragment.

An adjective clause does not express a complete thought, so it cannot stand alone as a sentence.
To avoid writing a fragment, you must connect each adjective clause to a main clause. Read
the examples below. Notice that the adjective clause follows the word that it describes.
Diane felt manipulated by her beagle Santana, whose big, brown
eyes pleaded for another cookie .
Chewing with her mouth open is one reason why Fred cannot
stand sitting across from his sister Melanie .
Growling ferociously, Oreo and Skeeter, Madison's two dogs,
competed for the hardboiled egg that bounced across the kitchen

Laughter erupted from Annamarie, who hiccupped for seven

hours afterward.
Punctuate an adjective clause correctly.

Punctuating adjective clauses can be tricky. For each sentence, you will have to decide if the
adjective clause is essential or nonessential and then use commas accordingly.
Essential clauses do not require commas. An adjective clause is essential when you need the
information it provides. Look at this example:
The vegetables that people leave uneaten are often the most
Vegetables is nonspecific. To know which ones we are talking about, we must have the
information in the adjective clause. Thus, the adjective clause is essential and requires no
If, however, we eliminate vegetables and choose a more specific noun instead, the adjective
clause becomes nonessential and does require commas to separate it from the rest of the
sentence. Read this revision:
Broccoli, which people often leave uneaten, is very nutritious.
Adjective Clauses

At a certain point in your writing in English, you should be able to identify every
sentence you write as simple, compound, or complex. Two additional structures,
adjective clauses and appositives, will give you a much greater sentence variety
within which to accomplish your writing objectives. This page contains a small
amount of information about adjective clauses along with just ten very difficult
exercises. First, we will define what adjective clauses are and how they work.
An adjective clause is a dependent clause that modifies a noun. It is possible to
combine the following two sentences to form one sentence containing an adjective
The children are going to visit the museum.
They are on the bus.
The children who are on the bus are going to visit the museum.

| adjective clause |
In the sentence above, there are two other ways to write the sentence correctly
using the second sentence as the adjective clause.
The children that are on the bus are going to visit the museum.
The children
on the bus
are going to visit the museum.
Some other sentences can be combined into a sentence using adjective clauses in a
variety of ways, and they are all correct. Note the variety of ways in which the
following two sentences can be combined.
The church is old.
My grandparents were married there.
The church
The church
The church
The church
The church

where my grandparents were married is old.

in which my grandparents were married is old.
which my grandparents were married in is old.
that my grandparents were married in is old.
my grandparents were married in is old.

In the sentences above, the adjective clauses are underlined. All answers are
correct. Note the use of the word "in" and how and where it is used.
Managing simple, compound, and complex sentences, and then adding adjective
clauses into the mix can result in some confusing situations regarding punctuation.
There are some specific rules when punctuation is permissible or required around
adjective clauses (when the information in the adjective clause is non-essential
information); however, in my composition classes, I insist that students NOT use
commas around adjective clauses for several reasons.
First, non-essential information should generally be avoided in academic writing,
at least in the short essays required for these composition classes. Thus, not
including the commas will more often be right than wrong.
Second, my Spanish speaking students have a natural tendency to write long
sentences using many commas inappropriately. By not using commas around
adjective clauses, students can perhaps more readily recognize when a period is
Third, I believe it is easier to learn to apply commas later when they are required

than the other way around. Indiscriminate use of commas is a hard habit to undo
in my experience. Therefore do not use commas around adjective clauses, at least
for one semester.
Are you ready to take the quiz?
This quiz is very difficult. These sentences are actually the hardest I could find (in
the sense that you need to know ALL the rules in order to get them all correct), so
please follow the directions carefully.
1. Do not use commas in any of the completed sentences.
2. Make adjective clauses of the second sentence in every case. (Obviously, any of
these sentences could be written using the first sentence as the adjective clause;
however, making adjective clauses of the second sentence is harder because it
requires knowledge of all the "rules" of writing adjective clauses.)
3. Spell correctly! This quiz is "graded" by computer, so any spelling mistake or
punctuation error, like forgetting a period at the end of a sentence, will be
counted wrong.

Adjective Clauses

Here is a brief review of adjective clauses and relative pronouns.

adjective clause is used to describe a


The car, which was red, belonged to

relative pronoun is usually used to introduce
an adjective clause:

Young-Hee, who is a Korean student,

lives in Victoria.
The main relative pronouns are:

Who: used for humans in subject

Hans, who is an architect, lives in
Whom: used for humans in object
Marike, whom Hans knows well, is an
interior decorator.
Which: used for things and animals in
subject or object position::
Marike has a dog which follows her
That: used for humans, animals and
things, in subject or object position
(but see below)::
Marike is decorating a house that Hans

There are two main kinds of adjective clause:

Non-defining clauses: give extra

information about the noun, but they
are not essential:
The desk in the corner, which is
covered in books, is mine.
(We don't need this information in order to understand the sentence. "The
desk in the corner is mine" is a good sentence on its own -- we still know
which desk is referred to. Note that non-defining clauses are usually
separated by commas, and that is not usually used in this kind of context.)

Defining clauses: give essential

information about the noun:
The package that arrived this morning
is on the desk.
(We need this information in order to understand the sentence. Without the
relative clause, we don't know which package is being referred to. Note
that that is often used in defining relative clauses, and they are not
separated by commas.)

When you are sure that you understand the topic, you can go on to the exercises.

Adjective Clauses

See The Sentence for definitions of sentence, clause, and dependent clause.

A sentence which contains just one clause is called a simple sentence.

A sentence which contains one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses is called
a complex sentence. (Dependent clauses are also called subordinate clauses.)

There are three basic types of dependent clauses: adjective clauses, adverb clauses, and noun
clauses. (Adjective clauses are also called relative clauses.)
This page contains information about adjective clauses. Also see Adverb Clauses and Noun

A. Adjective clauses perform the same function in sentences that adjectives do: they modify
The teacher has a car. (Car is a noun.)
Its a new car. (New is an adjective which modifies car.)
The car that she is driving is not hers.
(That she is driving is an adjective clause which modifies car. Its a clause because it has a
subject (she) and a predicate (is driving); its an adjective clause because it modifies a noun.)
Note that adjectives usually precede the nouns they modify; adjective clauses always follow
the nouns they modify.

B. A sentence which contains one adjective clause and one independent clause is the result
of combining two clauses which contain a repeated noun. You can combine two independent
clauses to make one sentence containing an adjective clause by following these steps:
1. You must have two clauses which contain a repeated noun (or pronoun, or noun and pronoun
which refer to the same thing). Here are two examples:
The book is on the table. + I like the book.
The man is here. + The man wants the book.

2. Delete the repeated noun and replace it with a relative pronoun in the clause you want to
make dependent. See C. below for information on relative pronouns.
The book is on the table. + I like which
The man is here. + who wants the book

3. Move the relative pronoun to the beginning of its clause (if it is not already there). The clause
is now an adjective clause.
The book is on the table. + which I like

The man is here. + who wants the book

4. Put the adjective clause immediately after the noun phrase it modifies (the repeated noun):
The book which I like is on the table.
The man who wants the book is here.

C. The subordinators in adjective clauses are called relative pronouns.

1. These are the most important relative pronouns: who, whom, that, which.
These relative pronouns can be omitted when they are objects of verbs. When they are objects of
prepositions, they can be omitted when they do not follow the preposition.
WHO replaces nouns and pronouns that refer to people. It cannot replace nouns and pronouns
that refer to animals or things. It can be the subject of a verb. In informal writing (but not in
academic writing), it can be used as the object of a verb.
WHOM replaces nouns and pronouns that refer to people. It cannot replace nouns and pronouns
that refer to animals or things. It can be the object of a verb or preposition. It cannot be the
subject of a verb.
WHICH replaces nouns and pronouns that refer to animals or things. It cannot replace nouns
and pronouns that refer to people. It can be the subject of a verb. It can also be the object of a
verb or preposition.
THAT replaces nouns and pronouns that refer to people, animals or things. It can be the
subject of a verb. It can also be the object of a verb or preposition (but that cannot follow a
preposition; whom, which, and whose are the only relative pronouns that can follow a
2. The following words can also be used as relative pronouns: whose, when, where.
WHOSE replaces possessive forms of nouns and pronouns (see WF11 and pro in Correction
Symbols Two). It can refer to people, animals or things. It can be part of a subject or part of
an object of a verb or preposition, but it cannot be a complete subject or object. Whose cannot be
omitted. Here are examples with whose:
The man is happy. + I found the mans wallet. =
The man whose wallet I found is happy.

The girl is excited. + Her mother won the lottery. =

The girl whose mother won the lottery is excited.

WHEN replaces a time (in + year, in + month, on + day,...). It cannot be a subject. It can be
omitted. Here is an example with when:
I will never forget the day. + I graduated on that day.=
I will never forget the day when I graduated.

The same meaning can be expressed in other ways:

I will never forget the day on which I graduated.
I will never forget the day that I graduated.
I will never forget the day I graduated.

WHERE replaces a place (in + country, in + city, at + school,...). It cannot be a subject. It can be
omitted but a preposition (at, in, to) usually must be added. Here is an example with where:
The building is new. + He works in the building. =
The building where he works is new.

The same meaning can be expressed in other ways:

The building in which he works is new.
The building which he works in is new.
The building that he works in is new.
The building he works in is new.

D. Adjective clauses can be restrictive or nonrestrictive.

1. A restrictive adjective clause contains information that is necessary to identify the noun it
modifies. If a restrictive adjective clause is removed from a sentence, the meaning of the
main clause changes. A restrictive adjective clause is not separated from the main clause by a
comma or commas. Most adjective clauses are restrictive; all of the examples of adjective
clauses above are restrictive. Here is another example:
People who cant swim should not jump into the ocean.

2. A nonrestrictive adjective clause gives additional information about the noun it modifies but
is not necessary to identify that noun. If a nonrestrictive adjective clause is removed from a
sentence, the meaning of the main clause does not change. A nonrestrictive adjective clause is
separated from the main clause by a comma or commas. The relative pronoun that cannot be
used in nonrestrictive adjective clauses. The relative pronoun cannot be omitted from a
nonrestrictive clause. Here is an example:
Billy, who couldnt swim, should not have jumped into the ocean.

E. Adjective clauses can often be reduced to phrases. The relative pronoun (RP) must be the
subject of the verb in the adjective clause. Adjective clauses can be reduced to phrases in two
different ways depending on the verb in the adjective clause.
1. RP + BE = 0
People who are living in glass houses should not throw stones. (clause)
People living in glass houses should not throw stones. (phrase)
Mary applied for a job that was advertised in the paper. (clause)
Mary applied for a job advertised in the paper. (phrase)

2. RP + OTHER VERB (not BE) = OTHER VERB + ing

People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.(clause)
People living in glass houses should not throw stones. (phrase)
Students who sit in the front row usually participate more. (clause)
Students sitting in the front row usually participate more. (phrase)
Noun Clauses

See The Sentence for definitions of sentence, clause, and dependent clause.

A sentence which contains just one clause is called a simple sentence.

A sentence which contains one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses is called
a complex sentence. (Dependent clauses are also called subordinate clauses.)
There are three basic types of dependent clauses: adjective clauses, adverb clauses, and noun
clauses. (Adjective clauses are also called relative clauses.)

This page contains information about noun clauses. Also see Adjective Clauses and Adverb

A. Noun clauses perform the same functions in sentences that nouns do:
A noun clause can be a subject of a verb:
What Billy did shocked his friends.

A noun clause can be an object of a verb:

Billys friends didnt know that he couldnt swim.

A noun clause can be a subject complement:

Billys mistake was that he refused to take lessons.

A noun clause can be an object of a preposition:

Mary is not responsible for what Billy did.

A noun clause (but not a noun) can be an adjective complement:

Everybody is sad that Billy drowned.

B. You can combine two independent clauses by changing one to a noun clause and using it
in one of the ways listed above. The choice of the noun clause marker (see below) depends on
the type of clause you are changing to a noun clause:
To change a statement to a noun clause use that:
I know + Billy made a mistake =
I know that Billy made a mistake.

To change a yes/no question to a noun clause, use if or whether:

George wonders + Does Fred know how to cook? =
George wonders if Fred knows how to cook.

To change a wh-question to a noun clause, use the wh-word:

I dont know + Where is George? =

I dont know where George is.

C. The subordinators in noun clauses are called noun clause markers. Here is a list of the
noun clause markers:
if, whether
Wh-words: how, what, when, where, which, who, whom, whose, why
Wh-ever words: however, whatever, whenever, wherever, whichever, whoever, whomever

D. Except for that, noun clause markers cannot be omitted. Only that can be omitted, but it
can be omitted only if it is not the first word in a sentence:
Billys friends didnt know that he couldnt swim.

Billys friends didnt know he couldnt swim.

Billys mistake was that he refused to take lessons.

Billys mistake was he refused to take lessons.

That Billy jumped off the pier surprised everyone.

not correct:
* Billy jumped off the pier surprised everyone.

E. Statement word order is always used in a noun clause, even if the main clause is a

not correct:
* Do you know what time is it? (Question word order: is it)

Do you know what time it is? (Statement word order: it is)

not correct:
* Everybody wondered where did Billy go. (Question word order: did Billy go)

Everybody wondered where Billy went. (Statement word order: Billy went)

F. Sequence of tenses in sentences containing noun clauses:

When the main verb (the verb in the independent clause) is present, the verb in the noun clause
future if its action/state is later
He thinks that the exam next week will be hard.
He thinks that the exam next week is going to be hard.
present if its action/state is at the same time
He thinks that Mary is taking the exam right now.
past if its action/state is earlier
He thinks that George took the exam yesterday.

When the main verb (the verb in the independent clause) is past, the verb in the noun clause is:
was/were going to or would + BASE if its action/state is later
He thought that the exam the following week was going to be hard.
He thought that the exam the following week would be hard.
past if its action/state is at the same time
He thought that Mary was taking the exam then.

past perfect if its action/state is earlier

He thought that George had taken the exam the day before.

If the action/state of the noun clause is still in the future (that is, after the writer has written the
sentence), then a future verb can be used even if the main verb is past.
The astronaut said that people will live on other planets someday.

If the action/state of the noun clause continues in the present (that is, at the time the writer is
writing the sentence) or if the noun clause expresses a general truth or fact, the simple present
tense can be used even if the main verb is past.
We learned that English is not easy.
The boys knew that the sun rises in the east.

G. Here are some examples of sentences which contain one noun clause (underlined) and
one independent clause:
Noun clauses as subjects of verbs:
That George learned how to swim is a miracle.
Whether Fred can get a better job is not certain.
What Mary said confused her parents.
However you learn to spell is OK with me.

Noun clauses as objects of verbs:

We didnt know that Billy would jump.
We didnt know Billy would jump.
Can you tell me if Fred is here?
I dont know where he is.
George eats whatever is on his plate.

Noun clauses as subject complements:

The truth is that Billy was not very smart.
The truth is Billy was not very smart.

The question is whether other boys will try the same thing.
The winner will be whoever runs fastest.

Noun clauses as objects of prepositions:

Billy didnt listen to what Mary said.
He wants to learn about whatever is interesting.

Noun clauses as adjective complements:

He is happy that he is learning English.
We are all afraid that the final exam will be difficult.
Adverb Clauses

See The Sentence for definitions of sentence, clause, and dependent clause.

A sentence which contains just one clause is called a simple sentence.

A sentence which contains one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses is called
a complex sentence. (Dependent clauses are also called subordinate clauses.)
There are three basic types of dependent clauses: adjective clauses, adverb clauses, and noun
clauses. (Adjective clauses are also called relative clauses.)
This page contains information about adverb clauses. Also see Adjective Clauses and Noun

A. Adverb clauses show relationships such as time, cause and effect, contrast, and
condition. (See Conditional Sentences for more information on this type of adverb clause.)

B. A sentence which contains one adverb clause and one independent clause is the result of
combining two clauses which have one of the relationships above. You can combine two
independent clauses to make one sentence which contains an adverb clause by following these
1. You must have two clauses which have one of the relationships in A above:
Billy couldnt swim.

He jumped off the pier. (contrast)

2. Add a subordinating conjunction to the beginning of the clause you want to make
Although Billy couldnt swim
He jumped off the pier.

3. Place the two clauses next to each other. Usually, the order of the clauses is not important.
When the adverb clause precedes the independent clause, the two clauses are usually separated
by a comma:
Although Billy couldnt swim, he jumped off the pier.

When the independent clause precedes the adverb clause, there is usually no comma:
Billy jumped off the pier although he couldnt swim.

C. The subordinators in adverb clauses are called subordinating conjunctions. They cannot
be omitted. They cannot be subjects. Here are some of the subordinating conjunctions:
Time: after, before, when, while, as, by the time, whenever, since, until, as soon as, once, as
long as
Cause and effect: because, since, now that, as, as long as, inasmuch as, so (that), in order
Contrast: although, even though, though, whereas, while
Condition: if, unless, only if, whether or not, even if, providing (that), provided (that), in case, in
the event (that). See Conditional Sentences.

D. Here are some examples of sentences which contain one adverb clause (underlined) and
one independent clause. The two sentences in each pair have the same meaning:
After he took lessons, George could swim well.
George could swim well after he took lessons.

Because he couldnt swim, Billy drowned.

Billy drowned because he couldnt swim.

Although he isnt interested in food, Fred works as a cook.

Fred works as a cook although he isnt interested in food.

If you want to write well, you must practice.

You must practice if you want to write well.

An Introduction to

Words are fundamental units in every sentence, so we will begin by looking

at these. Consider the words in the following sentence:
my brother drives a big car

We can tell almost instinctively that brother and car are the same type of
word, and also that brother and drives are different types of words. By this
we mean that brother and car belong to the same word class. Similarly,
when we recognise that brother and drives are different types, we mean
that they belong to different word classes. We recognise seven MAJOR
word classes:


be, drive, grow, sing, think


brother, car, David, house, London


a, an, my, some, the


big, foolish, happy, talented, tidy


happily, recently, soon, then, there


at, in, of, over, with


and, because, but, if, or

You may find that other grammars recognise different word classes
from the ones listed here. They may also define the boundaries
between the classes in different ways. In some grammars, for
instance, pronouns are treated as a separate word class, whereas
we treat them as a subclass of nouns. A difference like this should
not cause confusion. Instead, it highlights an important principle in
grammar, known as GRADIENCE. This refers to the fact that the
boundaries between the word classes are not absolutely fixed. Many
word classes share characteristics with others, and there is
considerable overlap between some of the classes. In other words,
the boundaries are "fuzzy", so different grammars draw them in
different places.
We will discuss each of the major word classes in turn. Then we will
look briefly at some MINOR word classes. But first, let us consider
how we distinguish between word classes in general.

Criteria for Word Classes

We began by grouping words more or less on the basis of our instincts

about English. We somehow "feel" that brother and car belong to the same
class, and that brother and drives belong to different classes. However, in
order to conduct an informed study of grammar, we need a much more
reliable and more systematic method than this for distinguishing between
word classes.

We use a combination of three criteria for determining the word class

of a word:

1. The meaning of the word

2. The form or `shape' of the word
3. The position or `environment' of the word in a sentence

1. Meaning
Using this criterion, we generalize about the kind of meanings that words
convey. For example, we could group together the words brother and car,
as well as David, house, and London, on the basis that they all refer to
people, places, or things. In fact, this has traditionally been a popular
approach to determining members of the class of nouns. It has also been
applied to verbs, by saying that they denote some kind of "action", like
cook, drive, eat, run, shout, walk.

This approach has certain merits, since it allows us to determine

word classes by replacing words in a sentence with words of
"similar" meaning. For instance, in the sentence My son cooks
dinner every Sunday, we can replace the verb cooks with other
"action" words:

My son cooks dinner every Sunday

My son prepares dinner every Sunday
My son eats dinner every Sunday
My son misses dinner every Sunday

On the basis of this replacement test, we can conclude that all of these
words belong to the same class, that of "action" words, or verbs.

However, this approach also has some serious limitations. The

definition of a noun as a word denoting a person, place, or thing, is
wholly inadequate, since it excludes abstract nouns such as time,
imagination, repetition, wisdom, and chance. Similarly, to say that
verbs are "action" words excludes a verb like be, as in I want to be
happy. What "action" does be refer to here? So although this
criterion has a certain validity when applied to some words, we need
other, more stringent criteria as well.

2. The form or `shape' of a word

Some words can be assigned to a word class on the basis of their form or
`shape'. For example, many nouns have a characteristic -tion ending:

action, condition, contemplation, demonstration, organization,


Similarly, many adjectives end in -able or -ible:

acceptable, credible, miserable, responsible, suitable, terrible

Many words also take what are called INFLECTIONS, that is, regular
changes in their form under certain conditions. For example, nouns can
take a plural inflection, usually by adding an -s at the end:

car -- cars
dinner -- dinners
book -- books

Verbs also take inflections:

walk -- walks -- walked -- walking

3. The position or `environment' of a word in a sentence

This criterion refers to where words typically occur in a sentence, and the
kinds of words which typically occur near to them. We can illustrate the use
of this criterion using a simple example. Compare the following:

[1] I cook dinner every Sunday

[2] The cook is on holiday

In [1], cook is a verb, but in [2], it is a noun. We can see that it is a

verb in [1] because it takes the inflections which are typical of

I cook dinner every Sunday

I cooked dinner last Sunday
I am cooking dinner today
My son cooks dinner every Sunday

And we can see that cook is a noun in [2] because it takes the plural -s

The cooks are on holiday

If we really need to, we can also apply a replacement test, based on our
first criterion, replacing cook in each sentence with "similar" words:

Click here to see how words in

sentences can be replaced by similar

Notice that we can replace verbs with verbs, and nouns with nouns,
but we cannot replace verbs with nouns or nouns with verbs:

*I chef dinner every Sunday

*The eat is on holiday

It should be clear from this discussion that there is no one-to-one relation

between words and their classes. Cook can be a verb or a noun -- it all
depends on how the word is used. In fact, many words can belong to more
than one word class. Here are some more examples:

She looks very pale (verb)

She's very proud of her looks (noun)
He drives a fast car (adjective)
He drives very fast on the motorway (adverb)
Turn on the light (noun)
I'm trying to light the fire (verb)
I usually have a light lunch (adjective)

You will see here that each italicised word can belong to more than one
word class. However, they only belong to one word class at a time,
depending on how they are used. So it is quite wrong to say, for example,
"cook is a verb". Instead, we have to say something like "cook is a verb in
the sentence I cook dinner every Sunday, but it is a noun in The cook is on

Of the three criteria for word classes that we have discussed here,

the Internet Grammar will emphasise the second and third - the form
of words, and how they are positioned or how they function in

Open and Closed Word Classes

Some word classes are OPEN, that is, new words can be added to
the class as the need arises. The class of nouns, for instance, is
potentially infinite, since it is continually being expanded as new
scientific discoveries are made, new products are developed, and
new ideas are explored. In the late twentieth century, for example,
developments in computer technology have given rise to many new
Internet, website, URL, CD-ROM, email, newsgroup, bitmap, modem, multimedia

New verbs have also been introduced:

download, upload, reboot, right-click, double-click

The adjective and adverb classes can also be expanded by the

addition of new words, though less prolifically.
On the other hand, we never invent new prepositions, determiners,
or conjunctions. These classes include words like of, the, and but.
They are called CLOSED word classes because they are made up
of finite sets of words which are never expanded (though their
members may change their spelling, for example, over long periods
of time). The subclass of pronouns, within the open noun class, is
also closed.
Words in an open class are known as open-class items. Words in a
closed class are known as closed-class items.
In the pages which follow, we will look in detail at each of the seven
major word classes.

Looking for prefix suffix help?

Want to learn prefix suffix meanings? Or maybe

you're looking for roots of words and their meanings?
Either way, the table below and the following pages will help you in your quest for
information about prefixes and suffixes. Many pages on the net that deal with prefixes and
suffixes are limited to either Greek or Latin. In other words they focus on just one type.
I've decided to include both Latin and Greek here. Moreover, I've provided the prefix suffix
as they appear along with a short definition and description of the usages of each.
At the bottom of this page there are links to more pages with prefixes and suffixes plus a
link to a suffixes page.





from, away

abduct lead away, kidnap, abjure


ad, ac, af, ag,

an, ap, ar, as,

to, forward

accord agreement, harmony,

affliction cause by distress,
aggregation collection, annexation
addition, appease bring toward
peace, arraignment indictment,
assumption arrogance, taking for
granted, attendance presence, the
persons present



ambiguous of double meaning,

ambivalent having two conflicting

an, a


anarchy lack of government, amoral

without morals



antecedent preceding event or word,

antediluvian ancient



antipathy hatred, antithetical exactly




chief, first

archetype original, archbishop chief




bedaub smear over, befuddle

confuse thoroughly



bicameral composed of two houses,

biennial every two years



catastrophe disaster, cataract

waterfall, catapult hurl



circumnavigate sail around,

circumspect cautious, circumscribe

com, co, col,

con, cor

with, together

combine merge with, coeditor joint

editor, collateral subordinate,
connected, conference meeting,
corroborate confirm

contra, contro


contravene conflict with, controversy



down, away

debase lower in value, decadence



partly, half

demigod partly divine being



dichotomy into two parts, dilemma

choice between two bad alternatives



diagonal across a figure, diameter

distance across a circle

dis, dif

not, apart

discord lack of harmony, differ



faulty, bad

dysfunctional not functioning


ex, e


exit, exodus, emit give off



extracurricular beyond the

curriculum, extraterritorial beyond a
nations bounds, extrovert person
interested in external objects and

extra, extro

Suffix List

What can a suffix list offer as far vocabulary building goes?

A whole lot, actually.
First off, by studying the following suffix list you can learn how suffixes can and do change
the meaning of words.
In fact, included are the meaning and a common useage or two of English language suffixes
I recommend you print out the suffix list and spend some time learning them.
There aren't that many, however, they are important and you will certainly help your test
scores by knowing them.




able, ible

capable of (adjective suffix)

portable able to be
carried, legible able to be

ac, ic

like, pertaining to

cardiac pertaining to the

heart, aquatic pertaining

to the water

acious, icious

full of

audacious full of daring,

avaricious full of greed


pertaining to

maniacal insane, portal

doorway, logical
pertaining to logic

full of

eloquent pertaining to
fluid, effective speech,
suppliant pleader,
verdant green

like, connected with

dictionary book
connected with words,


to make (verb suffix)

consecrate to make holy

mitigate to make less


that which is (noun suffix)

exasperation irritation
irritation annoyance

ant, ent



state of being (noun suffix)

democracy government
ruled by people
obstinacy stubbornness

mutineer person who

eer, er, or

person who (noun suffix)

teacher person who

teaches censor person
who deletes improper


becoming (adjective suffix)

evanescent tending to

vanish pubescent
arriving at puberty
terrific arousing great


making, doing (adjective suffix)


to make (verb suffix)


producing, bearing (adjective


pestiferous carrying
disease vociferous
having a loud voice

il, ile

pertaining to, capable of(adjective


civil polite


doctrine, belief (noun suffix)

monotheism belief in one



dealer, doer (noun suffix)

realist one who is



state of being (noun suffix)

sagacity wisdom


like (adjective suffix)

quantitative concerned
with number or volume

to make (verb suffix)

harmonize make
harmonious enfranchise
make free


resembling, like (adjective suffix)

ovoid like an egg

anthropoid resembling a
human being


full of (adjective suffix)

verbose full of words

magnify enlarge

ize, ise

petrify turn to stone


condition (noun suffix)

psychosis diseased
mental condition
hypnosis condition of
induced sleep


full of (adjective suffix)

nauseous full of nausea

ludicrous foolish


state of (noun suffix)

fortitude state of
strength certitude state
of sureness

Prefixes, Suffixes, Roots

Root, Prefix or



a, ac, ad, af, ag, to, toward, near, in

al, an, ap, as, at addition to ,by

aside ,accompany ,adjust ,aggression ,allocate, annihilate

,affix ,associate, attend, adverb

a, an

not, without

apolitical, atheist, anarchy, anonymous, apathy, aphasia,


ab, abs

away from, off

absolve, abrupt, absent

act, ag:

do, act, drive

active, react, agent, active, agitate

am, ami

love, like

amorous, amiable, amicable


to walk

ambulatory, amble, ambulance, somnambulist


mind, life, spirit,


animal, animate, animosity

ann, annu, enni yearly

annual, annual, annuity, anniversary, perrenial



anterior, anteroom, antebellum, antedate, antecedent


anti, ant

against, opposite

antisocial, antiseptic, antithesis, antibody, antichrist,

antinomies, antifreeze, antipathy

auc, aug, aut

to originate, to

augment , author, augment, auction

aud, audi, aur

to hear

audience, auditory, audible, auditorium, audiovisual,

audition, auricular



automobile, automatic, automotive, autograph,

autonomous, autoimmune
-acy, -cy

Noun: state or quality privacy, nfancy, adequacy, intimacy, supremacy


Noun: activity, or
result of action

courage, suffrage, shrinkage, tonnage


Noun: action, result

of action

referral, disavowal, disposal, festival


Noun: person

artisan, guardian, historian, magician

-ance, -ence

Noun: action, state,

quality or process

resistance, independence, extravagance, fraudulence

-ancy, -ency

Noun: state, quality or

vacancy, agency, truancy, latency

-ant, -ent

Noun: an agent,
something that
performs the action

disinfectant, dependent, fragrant


Noun: state, office,


candidate, electorate, delegate


Noun: action,
resulting state

specialization, aggravation, alternation


Verb: cause to be

graduate, ameliorate, amputate, colligate

-able, -ible

Adjective: worth,

solvable, incredible

-al, -ial, -ical

Adjective: quality,

structural, territorial, categorical

-ant, -ent, -ient

Adjective: kind of
agent, indication

important, dependent, convenient

-ar, -ary

spectacular, unitary
resembling, related to


Adjective: kind of



good, well, gentle

benefactor, beneficial, benevolent, benediction,

beneficiary, benefit

bi, bine


biped, bifurcate, biweekly, bivalve, biannual

bio, bi


biography, biology

bibli, biblio


bibliophile, bibliography



abbreviate, brevity, brief

cad, cap, cas,

to take, to seize, to
ceiv, cept, capt,
cid, cip

receive, deceive, capable, capacious, captive, accident,

capture, occasion, concept

cat, cata, cath

catalogue, category, catheter

down, with

ceas, cede,
ceed, cess

to go, to yield

succeed, proceed, precede, recede, secession, exceed,




centennial, century, centipede



eccentricity, centrifugal, concentric



chronology, chronic, chronicle chronometer,


cide, cis

to kill, to cut

fratricide, suicide, incision, excision, circumcision



circumnavigate, circumflex, circumstance, circumcision,

circumference, circumorbital, circumlocution,
circumvent, circumscribe, circulatory

clam, claim


acclaim, clamor, proclaim, exclaim


lean, bend

decline, aclinic, inclination

clud, clus claus to close, shut

include, exclude, clause, claustrophobia, enclose,

exclusive, reclusive, conclude

co, cog, col,

con, com, cor

with, together

cohesiveness, cognate, collaborate, convene,

commitment, compress, contemporary, converge,
compact, confluence, convenient, concatenate, conjoin,
combine, correct

com, con


complete, compel, conscious, condense, confess,


cogn, gnos

know to know

recognize cognizant diagnose agnostic

contra, counter against, opposite

contradict, counteract, contravene, contrary, counterspy,



corporate, corpse, corpulent, incorporate


cour, cur, curr,

run, course

occur, excursion, discourse, courier, course


escort, cortage


cre, cresc, cret,


create, crescent, accretion, increase


to believe

credo, credible, credence, credit, credential, incredible,

credulity, incredulous


circle, wheel

bicycle, cyclical, cycle, encliclical


from, down, away, to

detach, deploy, derange, decrease, deodorize, devoid,
do the opposite,
deflate, degenerate, deice



decimal, decade, decalogue, decimate

dec, dign


decent decorate dignity

dei, div


divinity, divine, deity, divination, deify



democracy, demagogue, epidemic



divide, diverge, diglycerides


through, across,

diameter, diagonal, dialogue dialect, dialectic, diagnosis,


dic, dict, dit

say, speak

predict, verdict, malediction, dictionary, dictate, dictum,

diction, indict



dis, dys, dif

dismiss, differ, disallow, disperse, dissuade, divide,

away, not, negative,
disconnect, dysfunction, disproportion, disrespect,
opposite of, separate
distemper, distrust, distaste, disarray, dyslexia

doc, doct

teach, prove

docile, doctor, doctrine, document

dog, dox

thought, idea

dogma, orthodox, paradox

duc, duct

to lead, pull

produce, abduct, product, transducer, viaduct, aqueduct,

induct, deduct, reduce, induce


Noun: place, state of



outside, external

ectomorph, ectoderm, ectoplasm


inside, withing

endotoxin, endoscope, endogenous



equidistant, equilateral, equilibrium, equinox, equitable,

equation, equator

e, ex, ef, es, ec out, away, from, fully

emit, expulsion, exhale, exit, express, exclusive,

enervate, expel ,exceed, explosion

en, em

put into, make

enamor, empower


upon, beside, over


ev, et

time, age

medieval, eternal

exter, extra

outside of, beyond

external, extrinsic, exterior extraordinary, extrabiblical

extracurricular, extrapolate, extraneous

-er, -or

Noun: person or thing

porter, collector
that does something


Verb: past tense



Verb: to cause to


-er, -or

Verb: action

ponder, clamor


Adjective: having the

quality of


Adjective: material






Adjective: superlative strongest

fa, fess


fable, fabulous, fame, famous, confess, profess

fac, fact, fec,

fic, fas, fea

make do, do

difficult, fashion, feasible, feature, factory, fact, effect





bear, carry

fertile, infer, refer

fic, feign, fain,

shape, make, fashion fiction, faint, feign
fit, feat

belief, faith

confide, diffident, fidelity


shape, form

figurem, effigy, figure, figment

flect, flex

to bend

flexible, reflection, deflect, circumflex



affliction, conflict, inflict

flu, fluct, flux


effluence, influence, effluvium, fluctuate, confluence,

reflux, influx, fluid

for, fore


forecast, fortune, foresee



format, formulate



effort, forte, fortifiable

fract, frag, frai break

frail, fracture, fragment



subterfuge, refuge, centrifuge




Noun: an amount or
quanity that fills



Adjective: having,
giving, marked by



Adverb: in a manner
of, marked by



gen, gin

to give birth, kind

generate, generally, gingerly, indigenous






gigabyte, gigaflop


to gather, to bring

category, categorize

grad, gress,

to gather, to bring

grade, degree, progress

graph, gram,

to write, draw

polygraph, grammar, biography, graphite, telegram,

autograph, lithograph, historiography, graphic



her, hes

to stick

adhere, hesitate



heterodox, heterogeneous, heterosexual, heterodyne

hex, ses, sex


hexagon, hexameter, sestet, sextuplets



homogenized, homosexual, homonym, homophone


over, above

hyperactive, hypertensive, hyperbolic, hypersensitive,

hyperventilate, hyperkinetic

in, im, il, ir


illegible, irresolute, inaction, inviolate, innocuous,

intractable, innocent, impregnable, impossible, imposter

in, im, (il)

in, into, on, near,


instead, import



infrared, infrastructure


between, among

international, intercept, interject, intermission, internal,



into, within

interoffice, introvert, introspection, introduce



-ian, an

Noun: related to, one

pedestrian, human
that is


Noun: names,



Noun: art of healing


-ic, ics

Noun: related to the

arts and sciences

arithmetic, economics


Noun: act



Noun: material made

for, activity, result of flooring, swimming, building
an activity


Noun: condition or



Noun: doctrine,
belief, action or



Noun: person or



Noun: state or quality graphite

-ity, ty

Noun: state or quality lucidity, novelty


Noun: condition



Verb: cause



Verb: present



Verb: cause



Adjective: quality,



Adjective: having the

qualities of


Adjective: activity


Adjective: having the

character of

-ive, -ative,

Adjective: having the

festive, cooperative, sensitive
quality of

jac, ject

to throw



jug, junct, just to join


reject, eject, project, trajectory, interject, dejected, inject,

junction, adjust, conjugal



lex, leag, leg


lect, leg, lig

choose, gather, select,

collect, legible, eligible




place, area

location, locally


say, speech, word,

reason, study


luc, lum, lust:


translucent, illuminate, illustrate




Adjective: without,



Adverb: in the
manner of



bad, badly

malformation, maladjusted, dismal, malady,

malcontent,malfunction, malfeasance, maleficent

man, manu

hand, make, do

manage, management






great, million

megaphone, megaton, megaflop, megalomaniac,

megabyte, megalopolis


recall, remember

memory, commemorate

legal, college, league



mental, mention


little, small

minute, minor, minuscule



mesomorph, mesoamerica, mesosphere


beyond, change

metaphor, metamorphosis, metabolism, metahistorical,




microgram, microvolt

mill, kilo


millennium, kilobyte, kiloton



millisecond, milligram, millivolt


wrong, bad, badly

misconduct, misinform, misinterpret, mispronounce,

misnomer, mistake, misogynist

mit, miss

to send

transmit, permit, missile, missionary, remit, admit,

missive, mission

mob, mov, mot move

motion, remove, mobile



monopoly, monotype, monologue, mononucleosis,

monorail, monotheist,



polymorphic, morpheme, amorphous



multitude, multipartite, multiply, multipurpose


Noun: condition or




nanosecond, nanobucks

nasc, nat,
gnant, nai

to be born

nascent, native, pregnant, naive

nom, nym


nominate, synonym






nonferrous, nonsense, nonabrasive, nondescript



novice, novelty


Noun: state,
condition, quality




octopus, octagon, octogenarian, octave

ob, oc, of, op

toward, against, in the

oppose, occur, offer, obtain



omnipotent, omnivorous, omniscient



operate, opus


excessive, above

overwork, overall, overwork


Noun: condition or



Noun: place for,


serves for
-ous, -eous,
-ose, -ious

Adjective: having the

adventurous, courageous, verbose, fractious
quality of, relating to

pair, pare


pat, pass, path feel, suffer

patient, passion, sympathy, pathology



paradox, paraprofessional, paramedic, paraphrase,


ped, pod


impede, pedestal, podium, pedestrian

pel, puls

drive, push

repel, pulse

pend, pond,

to hang, weigh

suspend, append


through, intensive

persecute, permit, perspire, perforate, persuade



periscope, perimeter, perigee, periodontal

phan, phas,
phen, fan,
phant, fant

show, make visible

phantom, fantasy








telephone, phonics, phonograph, phonetic, homophone,




photograph, photosynthesis, photon



picofarad, picocurie


paint, show, draw

picture, depict

pli, ply


reply, implicate, ply





polytheist, polygon, polygamy, polymorphous

pon, pos

put, place

postpone, position, posture


to carry

porter, portable, report, transportation, deport, import,



after, behind

postpone, postdate

pre, pur



prim, prin



for, foward







quat, quad


quadrangle, quadruplets

quint, penta




quir, quis,
quest, quer

seek, ask

query, inquire, exquisite, quest


back, again

report, realign, retract, revise, regain



retrorocket, retrospect, retrogression, retroactive



rupture, corrupt, interrupt



sanctify, sanctuary, sanction, sanctimonious, sacrosanct

sci, scio

to know

conscious, science

scrib, script

to write

inscription, prescribe, proscribe, manuscript, conscript,

scribble, scribe


apart, move away



sect, sec


intersect, transect, dissect, secant, section

sent, sens

feel, think

sentiment, sensation



semifinal, semiconscious, semiannual, semimonthly,




septet, septennial



sequ, secut, sue follow

quintet, quintuplets, pentagon, pentane, pentameter

sequence, consecutive, ensue


to withstand, make up insist


to join, companions

sociable, society



solitary, isolate

solv, solu, solut loosen, explain

solve, absolute, soluble

spect, spec, spi,

to look, see

inspect, spectator, circumspect, retrospect, prospect,





breath, soul

respiration, inspire

stand, stant,
stab, stat, stan, stand
sti, sta, st, stead

stature, establish, stance

strain, strict,
string, stige

bind, pull

constrict, restrain, stringent, prestige

stru, struct,
stroy, stry


destroy, misconstrue, obstruct

sub, suc, suf,

sup, sur, sus

under, below, from,

secretly, instead of

sustain, survive, support, suffice, succeed, submerge,

submarine, substandard, subnormal, subvert

superior, suprarenal, superscript, supernatural,

superimpose, supercede

super, supra

over, above

syn, sym

together, at the same

sympathy, synthesis, synchronous, syndicate


Noun: status,



tact, tang, tig,



tactile, tactilely, tangible, contiguous, contingent

tain, ten, tent,


hold, keep, have

retain, continue, content, tenacious

tect, teg


detect, protect, tegular, tegument


distance, from afar

television, telephone, telegraph, telemetry


tend, tens, tend stretch

contend, extensive



terabyte, teraflop


end, boundary, limit

exterminate, terminal



territory, terrain


see, witness

attest, testify


draw, pull

theo, the


theology, theist, polytheist



thermometer, thermal

tor, tors, tort


torsion, torment, contort

tract, trai, treat to drag, draw , pull

attract, tractor, traction, extract, retract, protract, detract,

subtract, contract, intractable


across, beyond,

transform, transoceanic, transmit, transport, transducer



tripod, triangle, trinity, trilateral




not, against, opposite unceasing






Noun: act, condition,

exposure, conjecture
process, function





veh, vect

to carry

uniform, unilateral, universal, unity, unanimousone,

unite, unison

vacant, vacuum
vector, vehicle, convection, vehement

ven, vent


convene, invent, prevent




verb, verv


verify, veracity, verbalize, verve

vert, vers

to turn, change

convert, revert, advertise, versatile, vertigo, invert,

reversion, extravert, introvert



vid, vie, vis


visible, video, review, indivisible

vit, viv


vital, vitality, vitamins, revitalize, revive

voc, voke


vocal, revoke

volv, volt, vol

roll, turn

revolve, revolt, evolution




Adverb: in a direction
or manner


Adverb: in the
manner of, with
regard to


Noun: state,
condition, result of an society, victory


Adjective: marked by,



Vocabulary: Suffixes and Prefixes

The University of Alabama
Center for Teaching and Learning
124 Osband
What can you do when you run into a word that you dont know? One thing that may help is
to analyze the word, looking for groups of letters that have special meanings. A group of
letters with a special meaning appearing at the end of a word is called a suffix. Here is a list
of 16 important suffixes.




able to be




relating to









state of



quality of









one who







full of



When a group of letters having a special meaning appears at the beginning of a word, we
call that group of letters a prefix. Following is a list of 10 prefixes all dealing with counting.
Additional prefixes can be found on the handout Vocabulary Builder.