Grammar Basics

The Eight Parts of Speech
  1. Noun (person, place, thing, idea—can be singular or plural): concrete nouns = doctor, home, table; abstract nouns = beauty, courage, peace. 
  2. Pronoun (are used in place of nouns to avoid repetition): personal pronouns = I/me/my, his/he/him, it, they/their, etc.; reflexive pronouns = myself, herself, themselves, etc.; interrogative pronouns = which, who, whom, whose; demonstrative pronouns = this, that, these, those; indefinite pronoun = anyone, someone, something, everyone, anything, etc. 
  3. Verb (action word or state of being—can be in any tense): run/ran is/was/were. 
  4. Adjective (describes noun): large, hairy, sharp, fast, beautiful, wealthy, insane, big, fuzzy, long-winded, crazy, serene, intelligent, skilled, obstreperous, funny, long, dying. 
  5. Adverb (describes verb, often in form of adjective + -ly): darkly, quickly, morosely, long-windedly, sometimes, soon, later, again, seldom, always, etc. 
  6.  Preposition  Click here for a list of common prepositions.
  7. Conjunction (connects words, phrases or clauses together). There are two kinds - coordinating and subordinating. There are only 7 coordinating conjunctions; remember them by saying "FANBOYS" (For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So); subordinating conjunctions (because, that, if, since, etc.) always come at the beginning of a subordinate clause. Click here for a list of subordinating conjunctions. 
  8. Interjection (expresses emotion; does not relate grammatically to the rest of the sentence): wow, hey, cheers, oh, oops 

Other Important Grammatical Terms 
  • Subject (who or what does the verb)
  • Predicate (the part of a sentence or clause containing a verb and stating something about the subject)
  • Article (a kind of adjective). Definite article = the; indefinite article = a/an. 
  • Participle (looks like a verb, but functions like an adjective. It needs a linking verb or an action verb to complete a sentence. To form, add a suffix to an action verb like –en or –ing or sometimes –ed): (is) beaten, (is) walking, jilted boyfriend, working woman. 
  • Gerund (looks like a verb, but functions like a noun. To form, add –ing): “I like skiing”; “shopping is my hobby” 
  • Linking Verb (a verb that links the subject to the predicate by functioning like an equal sign. Examples: is, are, will be, was, becomes, seems, appears): “She is a doctor.” “He seems afraid.” Exception: In the sentence “Who is singing?” is is a helping verb that is part of the present progressive form of the verb sing. 
  • Infinitive (“to” + verb): to sleep, to dream, to write, etc. 

Types of Phrases 
  • Noun Phrase (typically article + adjective + noun “the blue dog”) 
  • Prepositional Phrase (preposition and any noun phrase—for example, preposition + article + adjective + noun “through the dark woods”) 
  • Verb Phrase (also called predicate, typically adverb + verb “ran fast”; verb + noun phrase “gave some money"; “jump off the bridge”)
  • Participial Phrase (participle and any noun phrase or prepositional phrase—“Seeing her mother again, she felt unbridled joy.” “Working around the clock, the firefighters managed to put out the fire.” “Frozen since December, the pond is now safe for skating.”) 
  • Gerund Phrase (gerund and any noun phrase or prepositional phrase—“Watching television is not my thing.” “Cramming for tests is not a good idea.”) 

Three Types of Sentences 

1.   A simple sentence has the basic elements that make up a sentence: a subject and a verb phrase or predicate.   Examples: 
    • Jose waited for the train. "Jose" = subject, "waited for the train" = predicate (verb + prepositional phrase) 
    • The train was late. "The train" = subject, "was late" = predicate (linking verb + adjective) 
    • Jose and Rebecca took the bus. "Jose and Rebecca" = compound subject, "took the bus" = predicate (verb + noun phrase) 
    • I looked for Jose at the bus station. "I" = subject, "looked for Jose at the bus station" = predicate (verb + prepositional phrase + prepositional phrase)
2.   A compound sentence refers to a sentence made up of two main clauses (or complete sentences) connected to one another with a coordinating conjunction (FANBOYS) or a semicolon. Examples: 
    • Jose waited for the train, but the train was late. 
    • I looked for my friends at the bus station, but they arrived at the station before noon and left on the bus before I arrived. 
    • My friends arrived at the bus station before noon; they left on the bus before I arrived. 
    • My friends left on the bus before I arrived, so I did not see them at the bus station. 
3.   A complex sentence is made up of a main clause (a clause that can also stand alone as a simple sentence) and one or more subordinate clauses connected to it. Some examples of subordinate clauses are “because we arrived at the bus station before noon”; “while he waited at the train station”; “after they left on the bus." Subordinate clauses cannot stand alone as a sentence, but they can be added to a main clause to form a complex sentence. Subordinate clauses often begin with subordinating conjunctions, such as after, although, as, because, before, even though, if, since, though, unless, until, when, whenever, whereas, wherever, that, why, and while, but may also begin with infinitive phrases or participial phrases. Examples of complex sentences:
    • Because Jose and Rebecca arrived at the bus station before noon, I did not see them at the station. 
    • While he waited at the train station, Jose realized that the train was late. 
    • After they left on the bus, Jose and Rebecca realized that I was waiting at the train station. 
    • I did not see Jose and Rebecca at the station because they arrived at the bus station before noon. 
    • Jose realized that the train was late while he waited at the train station. 
    • Jose wondered why the train was late. 
    • To get to the train station on time, Jose left home an hour early. 
    • Seeing Rebecca after a long time, Jose realized she had changed a lot.