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ENGLISH GRAMMAR GUIDE-2015

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Do you have a question about the correct usage of the semicolon or how to place adverbs in a sentence? If so, you've come
to the right place. Edufind.com is a complete English grammar guide filled with the rules of English usage. Each grammatical
rule is explained in plain English with several examples, and when needed, counter-examples. The grammatical rules covered
by this guide are categorized below. English grammar is not always easy to understand, but by using this guide you should
be able to remind yourself of the rules of English usage and speak or write English with confidence.

NOUNS
Nouns are people, places, or things, They tell us what we are talking about. The wordscat, Jack, rock, Africa, & it are nouns.

ADJECTIVES
Adjectives modify, or describe, nouns. The words tall, beautiful, irresponsible, & boringare adjectives.

ADVERBS
Adverbs modify adjectives, verbs, or other adverbs. They tell us how, when, and where things happen. They express
quantity, intensity, frequency, and opinions.

DETERMINERS
Articles, quantifiers, and other determiners modify nouns. They resemble adjectives in that way. Determiners help us say
what we are talking about.

VERBS & VERB TENSES


Verbs are action words. They tell us what is happening and when (past, present, future). Verbs can also express possibilities
and conditions.

SPEECH
When we report what someone says, we can cite the person directly or indirectly. Indirect speech rules are an important
area of grammar.

PUNCTUATION
Punctuation is not part of oral grammar, but it is essential to master in written English.

RELATIVE CLAUSES
We use relative clauses in English to create more complex and more precise sentences.

GRAMMAR TEST
Test your English grammar skills in context, both listening and reading skills included.

NOUNS
Using nouns correctly in English is relatively simple, with standard rules and only a few exceptions. Use these pages to learn
about the English grammar rules for gender, plurals, countable and uncountable nouns, compound nouns, capitalization,
nationalities, and forming the possessive.

NOUNS IN ENGLISH
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.

Gendered nouns
Singular and plural nouns including irregular plural nouns
Countable and uncountable nouns
Definite pronouns
Indefinite pronouns
Compound nouns
Capitalization rules for nouns
Nationalities in English
Forming the possessive

1. NOUN GENDER
-Nouns answer the questions "What is it?" and "Who is it?" They give names to things, people, and places.

EXAMPLES
Dog, bicycle, Mary, girl, beauty, France, world
-In general there is no distinction between masculine, feminine in English nouns. However, gender is sometimes shown by
different forms or different words when referring to people or animals.

EXAMPLES
Masculine

Feminine

Gender neutral

man

woman

person

father

mother

parent

boy

girl

child

uncle

aunt

husband

wife

actor

actress

prince

princess

waiter

waitress

server

rooster

hen

chicken

stallion

mare

horse

spouse

-Many nouns that refer to people's roles and jobs can be used for either a masculine or a feminine subject, like for
example cousin, teenager, teacher, doctor, student, friend, and colleague

EXAMPLES
Mary is my friend. She is a doctor.
Peter is my cousin. He is a doctor.
Arthur is my friend. He is a student.
Jane is my cousin. She is a student.
-It is possible to make the distinction for these neutral words by adding the words male or female.

EXAMPLES
Sam is a female doctor.
No, he is not my boyfriend, he is just a male friend.
I have three female cousins and two male cousins.
-Infrequently, nouns describing things without a gender are referred to with a gendered pronoun to show familiarity. It is
also correct to use the gender-neutral pronoun (it).

EXAMPLES
I love my car. She (the car) is my greatest passion.
France is popular with her (France's) neighbors at the moment.
I travelled from England to New York on the Queen Elizabeth; she (the Queen Elizabeth) is a great ship.

2. SINGULAR AND PLURAL NOUNS

REGULAR NOUNS
-Most singular nouns form the plural by adding -s.

EXAMPLES
Singular

Plural

boat

boats

house

houses

cat

cats

river

rivers

-A singular noun ending in s, x, z, ch, sh makes the plural by adding-es.

EXAMPLES
Singular

Plural

bus

buses

wish

wishes

pitch

pitches

box

boxes

-A singular noun ending in a consonant and then y makes the plural by dropping the y and adding-ies.

EXAMPLES
Singular

Plural

penny

pennies

spy

spies

baby

babies

city

cities

daisy

daisies

IRREGULAR NOUNS
-There are some irregular noun plurals. The most common ones are listed below.

EXAMPLES
Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

woman

women

goose

geese

tomato

tomatoes

oasis

oases

man

men

half

halves

cactus

cacti

thesis

theses

child

children

knife

knives

focus

foci

crisis

crises

tooth

teeth

wife

wives

fungus

fungi

phenomenon

phenomena

foot

feet

life

lives

nucleus

nuclei

criterion

criteria

person

people

elf

elves

syllabus

syllabi/syllabuses

datum

data

leaf

leaves

loaf

loaves

analysis

analyses

mouse

mice

potato

potatoes

diagnosis

diagnoses

-Some nouns have the same form in the singular and the plural.

EXAMPLES
Singular

Plural

sheep

sheep

fish

fish

deer

deer

species

species

aircraft

aircraft

IRREGULAR VERB/NOUN AGREEMENT


-Some nouns have a plural form but take a singular verb.

Plural nouns used with a singular verb

Sentence

news

The news is at 6.30 p.m.

athletics

Athletics is good for young people.

linguistics

Linguistics is the study of language.

darts

Darts is a popular game in England.

billiards

Billiards is played all over the world.

-Some nouns have a fixed plural form and take a plural verb. They are not used in the singular, or they have a different
meaning in the singular. Nouns like this include: trousers, jeans, glasses, savings, thanks, steps, stairs, customs, congratulations,
tropics, wages, spectacles, outskirts, goods, wits

Plural noun with plural verb

Sentence

trousers

My trousers are too tight.

jeans

Her jeans are black.

glasses

Those glasses are his.


3. COUNTABLE AND UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS

It's important to distinguish between countable and uncountable nouns in English because their usage is different in regards
to both determiners and verbs.

COUNTABLE NOUNS
-Countable nouns are for things we can count using numbers. They have a singular and a plural form. The singular form can
use the determiner "a" or "an". If you want to ask about the quantity of a countable noun, you ask "How many?"
combined with the plural countable noun.

Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

one dog

two dogs

one idea

two ideas

one horse

two horses

one shop

two shops

one man

two men

EXAMPLES
She has three dogs.
I own a house.
I would like two books please.
How many friends do you have?

UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS
-Uncountable nouns are for the things that we cannot count with numbers. They may be the names for abstract ideas or
qualities or for physical objects that are too small or too amorphous to be counted (liquids, powders, gases, etc.).
Uncountable nouns are used with a singular verb. They usually do not have a plural form.

EXAMPLES
Tea, sugar, water, air, rice, knowledge, beauty, anger, fear, love, money, research, safety, evidence
-We cannot use a/an with these nouns. To express a quantity of an uncountable noun, use a word or expression like some, a
lot of, much, a bit of, a great deal of , or else use an exact measurement like a cup of, a bag of, 1kg of, 1L of, a handful of, a pinch
of, an hour of, a day of. If you want to ask about the quantity of an uncountable noun, you ask "How much?"

EXAMPLES
There has been a lot of research into the causes of this disease.
He gave me a great deal of advice before my interview.
Can you give me some information about uncountable nouns?
He did not have much sugar left.
Measure 1 cup of water, 300g of flour, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
How much rice do you want?

TRICKY SPOTS
-Some nouns are countable in other languages but uncountable in English. They must follow the rules for uncountable nouns.
The most common ones are:
accommodation, advice, baggage, behavior, bread, furniture, information, luggage, news, progress, traffic, travel, trouble, weather,
work

EXAMPLES
I would like to give you some advice.
How much bread should I bring?
I didn't make much progress today.
This looks like a lot of trouble to me.
We did an hour of work yesterday.
-Be careful with the noun hair which is normally uncountable in English, so it is not used in the plural. It can be countable
only when referring to individual hairs.

EXAMPLES
She has long blond hair.
The child's hair was curly.
I washed my hair yesterday.
My father is getting a few grey hairs now. (refers to individual hairs)
I found a hair in my soup! (refers to a single strand of hair)

4.

Definite pronouns

Pronouns replace nouns. A different pronoun is required depending on two elements: the noun being replaced and the
function that noun has in the sentence. In English, pronouns only take the gender of the noun they replace in the 3rd
person singular form. The 2nd person plural pronouns are identical to the 2nd person singular pronouns except for the
reflexive pronoun.

Subject
Pronoun

Object
Pronoun

Possessive
Adjective
(Determiner)

Possessive
Pronoun

Reflexive or
Intensive
Pronoun

1st person singular

me

my

mine

myself

2nd person singular

you

you

your

yours

yourself

3rd person singular, male

he

him

his

his

himself

3rd person singular, female

she

her

her

hers

herself

3rd person singular, neutral

it

it

its

1st person plural

we

us

our

ours

ourselves

2nd person plural

you

you

your

yours

yourselves

3rd person plural

they

them

their

theirs

themselves

itself

SUBJECT PRONOUNS
Subject pronouns replace nouns that are the subject of their clause. In the 3rd person, subject pronouns are often used to
avoid repetition of the subject's name.

EXAMPLES
I am 16.
You seem lost.
Jim is angry, and he wants Sally to apologize.
This table is old. It needs to be repainted.
We aren't coming.
They don't like pancakes.

OBJECT PRONOUNS
Object pronouns are used to replace nouns that are the direct or indirect object of a clause.

EXAMPLES
Give the book to me.
The teacher wants to talk to you.
Jake is hurt because Bill hit him.
Rachid recieved a letter from her last week.
Mark can't find it.
Don't be angry with us.
Tell them to hurry up!

POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVES (DETERMINERS)


Possessive adjectives are not pronouns, but rather determiners. It is useful to learn them at the same time as pronouns,
however, because they are similar in form to the possessive pronouns. Possessive adjectives function as adjectives, so they
appear before the noun they modify. They do not replace a noun as pronouns do.

EXAMPLES
Did mother find my shoes?
Mrs. Baker wants to see your homework.
Can Jake bring over his baseball cards?
Samantha will fix her bike tomorrow.
The cat broke its leg.
This is our house.
Where is their school?

POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS
Possessive pronouns replace possessive nouns as either the subject or the object of a clause. Because the noun being replaced
doesn't appear in the sentence, it must be clear from the context.

EXAMPLES
This bag is mine.
Yours is not blue.
That bag looks like his.
These shoes are not hers.
That car is ours.
Theirs is parked in the garage.

REFLEXIVE & INTENSIVE PRONOUNS


Reflexive and intensive pronouns are the same set of words but they have different functions in a sentence.
Reflexive pronouns refer back to the subject of the clause because the subject of the action is also the direct or indirect
object. Only certain types of verbs can be reflexive. You cannot remove a reflexive pronoun from a sentence because the
remaining sentence would be grammatically incorrect.

EXAMPLES
I told myself to calm down.
You cut yourself on this nail?
He hurt himself on the stairs.
She found herself in a dangerous part of town.
The cat threw itself under my car!
We blame ourselves for the fire.
The children can take care of themselves.
Intensive pronouns emphasize the subject of a clause. They are not the object of the action. The intensive pronoun can
always be removed from a sentence without changing the meaning significantly, although the emphasis on the subject will be
removed. Intensive pronouns can be placed immediately after the subject of the clause, or at the end of the clause.

EXAMPLES
I made these cookies myself.
You yourself asked Jake to come.
The Pope himself pardoned Mr. Brown.
My teacher didn't know the answer herself.
The test itself wasn't scary, but my teacher certainly is.
We would like to finish the renovation before Christmas ourselves.
They themselves told me the lost shoe wasn't a problem.

5. INDEFINITE PRONOUNS
-Indefinite pronouns do not refer to a specific person, place, or thing. In English, there is a particular group of indefinite
pronouns formed with a quantifier or distributive preceeded by any, some, every and no.
Person

Place

Thing

All

everyone
everybody

everywhere

everything

Part (positive)

someone
somebody

somewhere

something

Part (negative)

anyone
anybody

anywhere

anything

None

no one
nobody

nowhere

nothing

-Indefinite pronouns with some and any are used to describe indefinite and incomplete quantities in the same way
that some and any are used alone.
Indefinite pronouns are placed in the same location as a noun would go in the sentence.
Noun

Indefinite pronoun

I would like to go to Paris this summer.

I would like to go somewhere this summer.

Jim gave me this book.

Someone gave me this book.

I won't tell your secret to Sam.

I won't tell your secret to anyone.

I bought my school supplies at the mall.

I bought everything at the mall.

AFFIRMATIVE
-In affirmative sentences, indefinite pronouns using some are used to describe an indefinite quantity, the indefinite pronouns
with every are used to describe a complete quantity, and the pronouns with no are used to describe an absence. Indefinite
pronouns with no are often used in affirmative sentences with a negative meaning, but these are nevertheless not negative
sentences because they are lacking the word not.

EXAMPLES
Everyone is sleeping in my bed.
Someone is sleeping in my bed.
No one is sleeping in my bed.
I gave everything to Sally.
He saw something in the garden.
There is nothing to eat.
I looked everywhere for my keys.
Keith is looking for somewhere to live.
There is nowhere as beautiful as Paris.
Any and the indefinite pronouns formed with it can also be used in affirmative sentences with a meaning that is close
to every: whichever person, whichever place, whichever thing, etc.

EXAMPLES
They can choose anything from the menu.
You may invite anybody you want to your birthday party.
We can go anywhere you'd like this summer.
He would give anything to get into Oxford.
Fido would follow you anywhere.

NEGATIVE SENTENCES

Negative sentences can only be formed with the indefinite pronouns that include any.

EXAMPLES
I don't have anything to eat.
She didn't go anywhere last week.
I can't find anyone to come with me.
Many negative sentences that include an indefinite pronoun with any can be turned into affirmative sentences with a
negative meaning by using an indefinite pronoun with no. However, there is a change in meaning with this transformation:
the sentence that includes an indefinite pronoun withno is stronger, and can imply emotional content such as definsiveness,
hopelessness, anger, etc.

EXAMPLES
I don't know anything about it. = neutral
I know nothing about it. = defensive
I don't have anybody to talk to. = neutral
I have nobody to talk to. = hopeless
There wasn't anything we could do. = neutral
There was nothing we could do. = defensive/angry

NEGATIVE QUESTIONS
Indefinite pronouns with every, some, and any can be used to form negative questions. These questions can usually be
answered with a "yes" or a "no"
Pronouns formed with anyand every are used to form true questions, while those with some generally imply a question to
which we already know or suspect the answer.

EXAMPLES
Is there anything to eat?
Did you go anywhere last night?
Is everyone here?
Have you looked everywhere?
These questions can be turned in to false or rhetorical questions by making them negative. The speaker, when posing a
question of this type, is expecting an answer of "no".

EXAMPLES
Isn't there anything to eat?
Didn't you go anywhere last night?
Isn't everyone here?
Haven't you looked everywhere?
Some and pronouns formed with it is only used in questions to which we think we already know the answer, or questions
which are not true questions (invitations, requests, etc.) The person asking these questions is expecting an answer of "Yes".

EXAMPLES
Are you looking for someone?
Have you lost something?
Are you going somewhere?
Could somebody help me, please? = request
Would you like to go somewhere this weekend? = invitation
These questions can be made even more definite if they are made negative. In this case, the speaker is absolutely certain he
will receive the answer "Yes".

EXAMPLES
Aren't you looking for someone?
Haven't you lost something?
Aren't you going somewhere?
Couldn't somebody help me, please?
Wouldn't you like to go somewhere this weekend?

6. COMPOUND NOUNS
Words can be combined to form compound nouns. These are very common, and new combinations are invented almost daily.
They normally have two parts. The first part tells us what kind of object or person it is, or what its purpose is. The
second part identifies the object or person in question. Compound nouns often have a meaning that is different, or more
specific, than the two separate words.

First part: type or purpose

Second part: what or who

Compound noun

police

man

policeman

boy

friend

boyfriend

fish

tank

water tank

dining

table

dining-table

You have noticed that the compound noun can be written either as a single word, as a word with a hyphen, or as two
words. There are no clear rules about this. A good rule of thumb is to write the most common compound nouns as one
word, and the others as two words.
The elements in a compound noun are very diverse parts of speech.

Compound elements

Examples

Compound elements

Examples

noun + noun

bedroom
water tank
motorcycle
printer cartridge

adverb + noun

onlooker
bystander

adjective + verb

dry-cleaning
public speaking

rainfall
haircut
train-spotting

adjective + noun

greenhouse
software
redhead

hanger-on
passer-by

adverb + verb

output
overthrow
upturn
input

noun + verb

noun + adverb
verb + noun

washing machine
driving licence
swimming pool

verb + adverb

lookout
take-off
drawback

PRONUNCIATION
Stress is important in pronunciation, as it distinguishes between a compound noun and an adjective with a noun. In
compound nouns, the stress usually falls on the first syllable.

EXAMPLES
a 'greenhouse = place where we grow plants (compound noun)
a green 'house = house painted green (adjective and noun)
a 'bluebird = type of bird (compound noun)
a blue 'bird = any bird with blue feathers (adjective and noun)

7. CAPITALISATION RULES
-Capital letters are used with particular types of nouns, in certain positions in sentences, and with some adjectives. You
must always use capital letters for:
-The beginning of a sentence
Saturday

the Atlantic

-Seasons

the Pacific

Children are noisy too.

EXAMPLES

Lake Victoria

-The first person personal pronoun, I

Spring

EXAMPLES

Summer

EXAMPLES
Dogs are noisy.

Yesterday, I went to the park.


He isn't like I am.
-Names and titles of people

EXAMPLES
Winston Churchill
Marilyn Monroe

Autumn

the Rhine
the Thames
-Names of geographical formations

Winter

EXAMPLES

-Holidays

the Himalayas

EXAMPLES

the Alps

Christmas
Easter

the Sahara
-Adjectives relating to nationality

New Year's Day

EXAMPLES

Thanksgiving Day

French music

-Names of countries and continents

Australian animals

Doctor Mathews

EXAMPLES

German literature

Professor Samuels

America

-Titles of works, books, movies

England

EXAMPLES

Scotland

EXAMPLES

China

the French

-Names of regions, states, districts

the Germans

Crime and Punishment

EXAMPLES

the Americans

Spider Man II

Sussex

-Months of the year

California

EXAMPLES

Provence

EXAMPLES

Tuscany

I speak Chinese.

-Names of cities, towns, villages

He understands English.

February

EXAMPLES

-Names of streets, buildings, parks

August

London

EXAMPLES

-Days of the week

Cape Town

Park Lane

EXAMPLES

Florence

Sydney Opera House

Vancouver

Central Park

-Names of rivers, oceans, seas, lakes

the Empire State Building

EXAMPLES

Wall Street

the Queen of England


the President of the United States
the Headmaster of Eton

War and Peace


The Merchant of Venice

January
July

Monday
Friday
Tuesday

Arabic writing
-Collective nouns for nationalities

the Chinese
-Language names

8. NATIONALITIES
Forming nationality adjectives and nouns from country names is not always simple in English. Use the nationality adjective
ending in -ese or -ish with a plural verb, to refer to all people of that nationality. The adjective listed also often refers to
the language spoken in the country, although this is not always the case.

EXAMPLES
Country: I live in Japan.
Adjective: He likes Japanese food.
Origins: She is a Japanese person. = She is from Japan. = She is Japanese.
Language: She speaks Japanese.
Describing a group: Spaniards often drink wine. = Spanish people often drink wine.
Describing a group: The Chinese enjoy fireworks. = Chinese people enjoy fireworks.
In some cases, a nationality or regional noun may be negatively corrolated for some people, for historic or political reasons.
When this is the case, many people will not use it, but will instead use a more neutral adjective + "people" formulation or
"people from" + country name. This is the case for the examples with an asterix below. Alternative formulations, less likely
to give offense, are given in parentheses.
Geographic
Region/Continent

Adjective

Noun

Africa

African

an African* (an African person, someone from Africa)

Asia

Asian

an Asian* (an Asian person, someone from Asia)

Europe

European

a European

Central America

Central American

a Central American

Middle East

Middle Eastern

a Middle Easterner

North Africa

North African

a North African

South America

South American

a South American

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asian

a Southeast Asian person

Country or region

Adjective

Noun

Afghanistan

Afghan

an Afghan

Algeria

Algerian

an Algerian

Angola

Angolan

an Angolan

Argentina

Argentine

an Argentine

Austria

Austrian

an Austrian

Australia

Australian

an Australian

-Cities also can be transformed into adjectives and nouns, although they are highly irregular and the nominal form is not
always agreed upon (there may be several). Some examples of transformed city names are below.
City

Adjective

Noun

City

Adjective

Noun

Paris

Parisian

a Parisian

So Paulo

So Paulo

a Paulistano

New York

New York

a New Yorker

New Delhi

New Delhi

a Delhiite

Sydney

Sydney

a Sydney-sider

Cape Town

Cape Town

a Capetonian

London

London

a Londoner

9. FORMING THE POSSESSIVE


The possessive form is used with nouns referring to people, groups of people, countries, and animals. It shows a relationship
of belonging between one thing and another. To form the possessive, add apostrophe + s to the noun. If the noun is plural,
or already ends in s, just add an apostrophe after the s.
Examples

the car of John = John's car


the room of the girls = the girls' room
clothes for men = men's clothes
the boat of the sailors = the sailors' boat
For names ending in s, you can either add an apostrophe + s, or just an apostrophe. The first option is more common.
When pronouncing a possessive name, we add the sound /z/ to the end of the name.
Examples

Thomas's book (or Thomas' book)


James's shop (or James' shop)
the Smiths's house (or the Smiths' house)

FUNCTIONS OF THE POSSESSIVE


'Belonging to' or 'ownership' is the most common relationship the possessive expresses.
Examples

John owns a car. = It is John's car.


America has some gold reserves. = They are America's gold reserves.
The possessive can also express where someone works, studies or spends time
Examples

John goes to this school. = This is John's school.


John sleeps in this room. = This is John's room.
The possessive can express a relationship between people.
Examples

John's mother is running late.


Mrs Brown's colleague will not be coming to the meeting.
The possessive can express intangible things as well.
Examples

John's patience is running out.


The politician's hypocrisy was deeply shocking.

FIXED EXPRESSIONS
There are also some fixed expressions where the possessive form is used.
Examples With Time

a day's work
a month's pay
today's newspaper
in a year's time
Other Examples

For God's sake! (= exclamation of exasperation)


a stone's throw away (= very near)
at death's door (= very ill)
in my mind's eye (= in my imagination)
The possessive is also used to refer to shops, restaurants, churches and colleges, using the name or job title of the owner.
Examples

Shall we go to Luigi's for lunch?


I've got an appointment at the dentist's at eleven o'clock.
Is Saint Mary's an all-girls school?