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ENGL 102 Oral and Written Expression


Week 2 Basic Grammar for Effective Writing Part 1

v PARTS OF SPEECH according to the work they do in a sentence into eight


classes:
1. NOUNS
A noun is any word that names a person, place, or thing.
Woman, house, hat, Mary, London, sweetness, speech, crowd, etc.
2. PRONOUNS
Pronouns are words that can be used instead of nouns, so that we can refer to people
or things without really naming them and being compelled to repeat the names too
frequently.
I, you, them, my, mine, her, ours, who, what, this, that, himself, someone.
3. VERBS
Verbs are words that express or describe an action, experience, or a state of being.
They affirm that a person or thing is, does or suffers something.
The boys played football.
He is hungry.
The enemy was defeated.
Jerry has been a chef for over two years.
4. ADJECTIVES
Adjectives are words that qualify a noun or pronoun by making its meaning clearer,
fuller, or more exact. They describe by answering which one, what kind, or how
many. An adjective is usually found before the noun that it modifies; however, it
may be located after this noun if a from of the verb be is used.
A blue dress, a bad egg, a beautiful day, etc.
The old woman made scrumptious Mexican food.
The old womans Mexican food was scrumptious.
5. ADVERBS
Words that modify or qualify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb by making its
meaning clearer, fuller, or more exact. They answer when, where, how, or
how much.

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Quickly, sweetly, far, sometimes, usually, never, etc.


He can run quickly. (Modifies verb)
The extremely tasteful music brought back old memories. (Modifies adjective)
Older people often drive very slowly. (Modifies another adverb)
6. PREPOSITIONS
A preposition is a word used with a noun or pronoun to form a phrase that shows
location, time, ownership/identification, or exclusion.
At, to, for, from, behind, above, etc.
I sent the parcel to him; it went by air mail.
The desk was near the window.
7. CONJUNCTIONS
Conjunctions are words that are used to join words, phrases, or sentences.
But, or, yet, so, for, and, nor, etc. coordinating conjunction; connect two ideas of
equal importance.
Although, because, even though, unless, until, when, etc. subordinating conjunction;
connect two ideas when one idea is subordinate (inferior) to the other idea.
He worked hard because he wanted to succeed.
The game is over, so we will celebrate.
Jack, a boy with a dirty face but a pleasant smile.
8. INTERJECTIONS
Interjections are words that express a sudden feeling or emotion.
Hello! Oh! Wow! Ouch!
Fantastic! Now lets close the deal.
v It is very important to remember that there are in fact a great many words that can be
two, three or even more parts of speech according to the work they do in the sentence.
He came by a very fast train. (Adjective)
William ran very fast. (Adverb)
They are going to fast for three days. (Verb)
At the end of his three day fast he will have a very light meal. (Noun)

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v IDENTIFYING SUBJECTS AND VERBS


v SUBJECTS
A sentence contains one or more subjects and verbs, and it expresses a complete
thought. The subject tells you who or what the sentence is about. To determine the subject of
a sentence, ask yourself who or what the sentence is about. It may be about a person,
place, or thing.
Some sentences have a simple subject, and other sentences have a compound subject.
A simple subject is a word that functions as a noun or pronoun and is what the sentence is
about.
SIMPLE SUBJECTS
Ron gave me a great idea. (Noun/ Who gave me a great idea?)
He gave me a great idea. (Pronoun/ Who gave me a great idea?)
A compound subject is two or more words that identify who or what the sentence is
about. It contains two or more subjects joined by and, or, or nor.
COMPOUND SUBJECTS
Reporters and photographers were outside the prison gates. (Who was outside the
prison gates?)
Sometimes a gerund (-ing form of the verb) is the subject of a sentence.
GERUND AS A SUBJECT
Listening is an important skill. (What is an important skill?)
Remember that here and there are not real subjects. In sentences that begin with
here or there, the real subject follows the verb and the verb agrees with the real subject.
HERE AND THERE ARE NOT REAL SUBJECTS
Here is the menu.
There was a frost last night, wasnt there?
There are many people still with too low a standard of living.
Sometimes the nouns or pronouns in prepositional phrases are mistaken for the
subject of a sentence. Because the object of a preposition is a noun, one of the most common
problems students face in finding the subject of a sentence is to mistake the object of a
preposition for the subject of the sentence. Remember that a prepositional phrase (made up

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of a preposition and its object, which is a noun or pronoun) is never the subject of the
sentence.
PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES ARE NOT THE SUBJECT OF THE SENTENCE:
Women, children, and men (of all ages) enjoy holidays.
(In spite of the storm), they drove to the hospital.
(In the late 1990s), (during a period of cost cutting), high-tech cameras were placed in
the room.
To help you identify the subject, put parentheses around the prepositional phrases. A
sentence can contain more than one prepositional phrase.
v VERBS
The verb expresses what the subject does, or it links the subject to other descriptive
words. The verb may show action run or hit; it may be a form of be is or are; or it may
be a state of being appears or sounds. It is normally present in all sentences, including
imperative ones (where the subject is typically absent).
An action verb describes an action that a subject performs.
ACTION VERBS:
Ralph ran through the woods.
Maya attended a seminar. She met some interesting people.
A linking verb connects a subject with words that describe it, and it does not show an
action. The most common linking verb is be, but other common linking verbs are appear,
become, look, and seem.
LINKING VERBS be, appear, become, look, seem, etc.:
Ralph is in the woods.
Ralph appears cool and strong.
Sara sounds confident and impressive.
The ice tea tastes good.
The helping verb is combined with the main verb to indicate tense, negative
structure, or question structure. The most common helping verbs are forms of be, have, and
do.
HELPING VERBS be, have, do.

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Modal auxiliaries are another type of helping verbs, and they indicate ability (can),
obligation (must), and so on.
MODAL AUXILIARIES - be, can, could, did, do, does, had, has, have, may, might,
shall, should, will, would.
Compound verbs are two or more verbs that tell what the subject does.
COMPOUND VERBS:
The man looked down and found a diamond ring.
In 2010, Rose wrote and published her first book.
CHECKLIST: Subjects and Verbs

To identify subjects, look for words that tell you who or what the sentence is about;

To identify verbs, look for words that do the following:


action verbs describe the actions that the subject performs;
linking verbs describe a state of being or link the subject with descriptive words;
helping verbs combine with the main verb to indicate tense, negative structure, or
question structure.

To identify prepositional phrases, look for words that consist of a preposition and its
object (a noun or pronoun). The object of a prepositional phrase cannot be the subject.

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v SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT
The subject and the verb in a sentence must agree in number. In other words, they
must both be singular or must both be plural.
A singular subject requires a singular verb:
My daughter watches television after supper.
A plural subject requires a plural verb.
My daughters watch television after supper.
The most important type of concord in English is concord of 3rd person number
between the subject and verb for Present Tense. When the subject is he, she, it, or the
equivalent (Mark, Carol, Miami), add an s or es ending to the verb.
3rd PERSON CONCORD FOR PRESENT TENSE:
Maria works as a marketing researcher.
Remember that verbs be, have, and do have irregular third-person singular forms.
Be: I am

He is

We are

Have: I have

She has

They have

Do: I do

It does

You do

In the past tense, almost all verbs have one past form. The only past tense verb
requiring subject-verb agreement is the verb be, which has two past forms: was and were.
Was AND Were:
I was tired. Edward was also tired. That day, we were very lazy.
In the present perfect tense, which is formed with have or has and the past
participle, use has when the subject is third-person singular and have for all other forms.
THE PRESENT PERFECT TENSE:
The travel service has raised its booking fees. Other agencies have not raised their
fees.
In the future tense and with modal forms (can, could, would, may, might, etc.), use
the same form of the verb with every subject.

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THE FUTURE TENSE/ MODAL FORMS:


I will work. She will work with me. They will work with me. She can work with me.
When there is more than one subject in a sentence remember we mentioned a
compound subject, which contains two or more subjects joined by and, or, or nor the verb
will be plural when two subjects are joined by and.
COMPOUND SUBJECTS:
The book and the briefcase appear expensive.
Both Joe and Chris are resigning.
Colleges, universities, and trade schools prepare students for the job market.
When two subjects are joined by either...or or neither...nor, the verb is singular if
both subjects are singular, and plural if both subjects are plural. If one subject is plural
and one is singular, the verb agrees with the subject closer to the verb.
EITHEROR/ NEITHERNOR
Neither John nor Bill works regularly.
Either apples or oranges are good vitamin sources.
Either Felix or his friends are crazy.
Neither the boys nor their father likes the home team.
Remember that the phrases as well as and along with are not the same as and. They
do not form a compound subject. The real subject is before the interrupting expression.
INTERRUPTING PHRASES:
Japan, China, and South Korea develop high-tech computer products.
Japan, as well as China and South Korea, develops high-tech computer products.
When interrupting phrases contain of the, the subject appears before the phrase.
One (of the most common work-related ailments) is carpal tunnel syndrome.
Another problem with subject-verb agreement occurs when we use indefinite
pronouns, which refer to a general person, place, or thing. There are singular and plural
indefinite pronouns.
Singular: another, anybody, anyone, anything, each, everybody, everyone,
everything, nobody, no one, nothing, one, other, somebody, someone, something.
Plural: both, few, many, others, several.

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INDEFINITE PRONOUNS:
Each man and woman knows about it.
Each of the crew members was injured. (faulty were)
Everyone in the group has practiced long hours. (faulty have)
Every client likes the new rule.
Agreement problems can be caused by collective nouns such as army, class,
committer, company, crowd, family, group, government, jury, organisation, society, team,
etc. Generally, each group acts as a unit, so the singular form of the verb is used.
COLLECTIVE NOUNS:
The committee meets weekly to discuss new business.
The company is ready to make a decision.
The editorial board of this magazine has high standards.
However, to denote individual members of the group use a plural verb.
Not all members of the editorial board are published authors.
Remember that if a sentence contains a clause beginning with who, which, or that,
then the verb agrees with the subject preceding who, which, or that.
A CLAUSE BEGINNING WITH Who, Which, or That:
There is a woman in my neighbourhood who works as an executive.
The problem, which we discussed, needs to be solved.
Finally, in questions in which the main verb is not be, the subject agrees with the
helping verb.
QUESTIONS:
When does the caf close? Do students work there?

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CHECKLIST: Subject-Verb Agreement


When you do your editing, ask yourself these questions.

Do my subjects and verbs agree? Check for errors with the following:
Concord of 3rd person number in Present Tense
Irregular third-person singular forms for be, have
Was and were
Compound subjects and, or, or nor
Interrupting phrases
Sentences containing here and there
Question forms
are
is
The clients, whom I never met, is unhappy with the new ad. It be too dull.
are
There is many funny ads on television.
Does
Do she watches commercials?

Do I use the correct verb form with indefinite pronouns? Check for errors with
singular indefinite pronouns such everybody, nobody, or somebody.
has
Somebody have to modify the photograph.

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v VERB TENSES:
Another important skill you have to master once you can identify subjects and verbs,
and check for their agreement, is keeping verbs consistent in your writing. That means
keeping them in the same time or tense most of the time in either the present tense or the
past tense. Verb tense indicates when an action occurred. For example:
Present: I work in a large company. My sister works with me.
Past: We worked in Sarajevo last summer.
Future: My sister will work in the Middle East next year.
Present perfect: We have worked together since 2001.
Past perfect: When Claire lost her job, she had worked there for six years.
Future perfect: By 2020, I will have worked here for twenty years.
KEEPING VERBS CONSISTENT:
The old man fished in the lake every day. Even on rainy days, he walks to the
lake and throws out his line at the same spot. He seldom caught a fish, but he never
stopped going until he broke his fishing pole.
Compare with:
The old man fishes in the lake every day. Even on rainy days, he walks to the
lake and throws out his line at the same spot. He seldom catches a fish, but he never
stops going until he breaks his fishing pole.
Remember to use the base form of verbs that follow did in question and negative
forms, and of verbs that follow the word to (infinitive form).
THE BASE FORM WITH Did and To:
invent
promote
Did he invented a good product? Thomas wanted to promoted his soft drink.
When using a past participle in the sentence, remember you cannot use a past
participle as the only verb in a sentence. You must use it with a helping verb such as have,
has, had, is, was, or were.
PAST PARTICIPLES:
The company was founded in 2001.
The products have become very popular.

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Choosing the simple past or the present perfect can be difficult for non-native
speakers. Use the past tense when referring to someone who is no longer living or to
something that no longer exists. Only use the present perfect (has/have + the past participle)
when the action has a relationship to someone or something that still exists; for example, to
show that an action began in the past and continues to the present time. You will often use
since and for with this tense.
THE SIMPLE PAST/ THE PRESENT PERFECT/THE PAST PERFECT :
designed
Leonardo da Vinci has designed many products.
The Present Perfect: to show that an action began in the past and continues to the
present time.
Past

Now

(5 years ago, the factory opened)

The factory has flourished for five years.


Or to show that one or more completed actions occurred at unspecified past times.
Past ???

Now

(the time of the four visit is not specified)

Alice and Mark have visited Japan four times.


Simple past: Last night, Craig worked at Burger Town.
(The action occurred at a known past time.)
Present perfect: He has owned the restaurant for three years.
(The action began in the past and continues to the present.)
Past perfect: Craig had had two business failures before he bought Burger Town.
(All of the actions happened in the past, but the two business failures
occurred before he bought the hamburger restaurant.)
Remember to avoid overusing the passive voice. The active voice is more direct and
friendly than the passive voice. In sentences with the passive voice, the subject receives the
action and does not perform the action. To form the passive voice, use the appropriate tense
of the verb be plus the past participle.
AVOID OVERUSING THE PASSIVE VOICE:
Passive voice: No more than two pills per day should be ingested. This medication
should be taken with meals. It should not be continued if headaches or nausea are
experienced. Any side effects should be reported immediately.
Active voice: Do not ingest more than two pills per day. Take this medication with
meals. Do not continue taking it if you experience headache or nausea. Immediately
report any side effects to your doctor.

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Most verbs have progressive tenses. The progressive tense, formed with the
appropriate tense of the verb be and the ing form of the verb, indicates that an action is, was,
or will be in progress.
PROGRESSIVE TENSES:
Present progressive: Right now, I am working.
Past progressive: We were sleeping when you phoned us.
Future progressive: Tomorrow, at noon, I will be driving.
Present perfect progressive: The receptionist has been working since 8:00 A.M.
Past perfect progressive: She had been speeding when the officer stopped her.
COMMON ERRORS IN THE PROGRESSIVE FORMS:

Do not use the progressive form when an action happens regularly.


complains
Every day he is complaining about his job.

Use the correct form of the verb be.


is
Right now, Ron be talking with his manager.

Always include the complete helping verb.


is
have
Right now, the manager discussing the problem. They been talking for hours.

Remember to avoid using double negatives. A double negative occurs when a


negative word such as no (nothing, nobody, nowhere) is combined with a negative adverb
(not, never, rarely, seldom, and so on). Such sentences can be confusing because the negative
words cancel each other.
AVOID USING DOUBLE NEGATIVES:
She doesnt want no problems. (Incorrect)
She doesnt want problems. (Correct)
She wants no problems. (Correct)
She doesnt want any problems. (Correct)
When editing what you wrote, you should also check conditional forms. In
conditional sentences, there is a condition and a result. There are three types of conditional
sentences, and each type has two parts, or clauses. The main clause depends on the condition
set in the if clause.

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CONDITIONAL FORMS:
First form possible present or future the condition is true or very possible. Use
the present tense in the if clause.
If you ask her, she will hire you.
Second form unlikely present the condition is not likely, and probably will not
happen. Use the past tense in the if clause.
If I had more money, I would start my own business.
Note: in formal writing, when the condition contains the verb be, always use were
in the if clause.
If Cathy were younger, she would change careers.
Third form impossible past the condition cannot happen because the event is
over. Use the past perfect tense in the if clause.
If the business had closed in 2002, many people would have lost their jobs.
Additionally, you should be aware that sometimes a main verb is followed by another
verb. The second verb can be a gerund or an infinitive. A gerund is a verb with an ing
ending. An infinitive consists of to and the base form of the verb.
THE MAIN VERB + GERUND/ INFINITIVE:
Edward finished installing the carpet. (Verb + gerund)
He wants to take weekends off. (Verb + infinitive)
verb preposition
I dream about

gerund
travelling to Greece.

Some common verbs followed by gerunds:


acknowledge, adore, appreciate, avoid, cant help, complete, consider, delay, deny,
detest, discuss, dislike, enjoy, finish, involve, justify, keep, mention, mind, miss,
postpone, practice, quit, recall, recollect, recommend, regret, resent, resist, risk,
tolerate.
Some common verb followed by infinitive:
afford, agree, appear, arrange, ask, claim, compete, consent, decide, demand, deserve,
expect, fail, hesitate, hope, learn, manage, mean, need, offer, plan, prepare, pretend,
promise, refuse, seem, swear, threaten, want, wish, would like.
Some common verbs followed by prepositions plus gerund:
accuse of, apologise for, dream of, be excited about, be enthusiastic about, feel like,
fond of, forgive (me) for, be good at, insist on, be interested in, look forward to

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prevent (him) from, prohibit from, succeed in, think about, (be) tired of, warn (him)
about.
Remember to use standard verb forms. Nonstandard English is used in everyday
conversation, while Standard English is the common language generally used and expected in
schools, businesses, and government institutions.
USE STANDARD VERB FORMS:
Write going to (standard) instead of gonna (nonstandard).
Write have to (standard) instead of gotta or got to (nonstandard).
Write want to (standard) instead of wanna (nonstandard).
CHECKLIST: Verb Tenses/Other Verb Forms
Are my verb tenses consistent? Check for errors with the following:

Find the first verb in a paragraph, and determine whether it is in the present tense or
the past tense.
Check whether all other verbs in the paragraph are in the same tense as the first verb.
If not, change the verbs so that they are all in the same tense.

Check question and negative forms avoid using double negatives

Check for errors with the use of simple present and present perfect

Active & passive voice avoid overusing the passive voice

Check for the overuse or misuse of progressive forms, and ensure that progressive
forms are complete.
Do I use the correct conditional forms? Check for errors in the following:

Possible future forms (If I meet..., I will go...)


Unlikely present forms (If I met..., I would go...)
Impossible past forms (If I had met..., I would have gone...)

Do I use standard verbs? Do not write gonna, wanna, gotta, shoulda, etc.