English Grammar

English Grammar :

Grammar is the set of prearranged conventional rules which regulate, control and manage any particular language, so in order to grasp any language accurately. It is of utmost importance to have a strong hold over grammar. Grammar can be defined as the edifice of expressions or terminologies in the English Language, including the structure of words, construction of phrases, clauses and sentences.

William Bullokar wrote the first published English Grammar, which was just a pamphlet for grammar in 1586.Bullokar wrote just to establish the fact that English was based on rules like Latin. In 19th century, Lindley Murray, the author of one of the most commonly used grammars of the day, mentioned
grammatical authorities to strengthen the statement that grammatical statements in English differ from those in Ancient Greek or Latin.

Variations of English occur due to many reasons. Mostly English varies because of social, historical, cultural, regional grounds. There are few specific variances between the standard forms of British English, American English, and Australian English, but it is essential to mention these variances are unremarkable when compared with the vocabulary and pronunciation variances.

Let us have a look at English grammar……….

In English, eight types of word classes or parts of speech are recognized…they are

  • Nouns
  • Determiners
  • Pronouns
  • Verbs
  • Adjectives
  • Adverbs
  • Prepositions
  • Conjunctions

    Amongst all parts of speech mentioned above, nouns ,verbs, adjectives, and adverbs develop
    open classes ….open classes indicate word classes which promptly admit new members ….e.g. the noun “celebutante"( a celebrity who frequents the fashion circles).The other parts of speech are considered as closed classes because they do not readily admit a new member. For example, seldom we find a new pronoun to be readily accepted in the language.

    Now lets discuss each parts of speech in detail :


    Nouns construct the largest word class in English language. There are several ordinary or common suffixes used to create nouns from other nouns or from other types of words, like age to create shrinkage, hood to form sisterhood etc. There are countless nouns which do not have any suffix… for example : Cat, grass, France. Nouns are frequently created by conversion of verbs or adjectives, like a boring talk (boring is an adjective, talk is a noun), etc.

    A notable fact about English nouns is that…English nouns do not have any grammatical gender, with a few exceptions …there are certain nouns which refer specifically to male or female persons, animals, mother, father, bull, tigress etc. Nouns are many a time classified as proper nouns and common nouns. For Example : Cyrus, China... are proper nouns….frog, milk … are common nouns. Nouns can be concrete nouns and abstract nouns like…..book, laptop are concrete nouns…. Heat and prejudice are abstract nouns. A prominent difference is very frequently made between countable nouns or count nouns like city, clock etc. and uncountable or non countable nouns such as milk and décor. Countable nouns generally contain singular and plural forms.

    Noun phrases

    Phrases that function grammatically as nouns within sentences are called noun phrases. In most of the cases, noun phrases have noun as their head.

    An English noun phrase characteristically takes the following formula (all elements need not be present)

    Determiner + Pre-modifiers + NOUN + Post modifiers/ Complement

    As per the above mentioned structure:

    The determiner could be an article, e.g. the, a or other equivalent word. In many situations, noun phrase requires to include some determiner.

    Pre-modifiers comprise of adjectives, and some adjective phrases eg. Red,really lovely and noun adjuncts,e.g college in the phrase of college student. Normally, adjectival modifiers come before noun adjuncts.

    A complement or postmodifier may be a prepositional phrase e.g. of London, a relative clause e.g. which we saw yesterday, few adjective or phrases e.g. sitting on the beach, or a clause which is dependant or an infinitive phrase suitable for the noun e.g. that the world is round after a noun such as fact or statement, or to travel widely after a noun such as desire.

    “That rather attractive young college student to whom you were talking"…..is an example of a noun phrase which contains all the elements mentioned in the formula.

    That – determiner

    Rather attractive , young - adjectival pre-modifiers

    College - noun adjunct

    Student – noun (head of the phrase)

    to whom you were talking - post-modifier

    Here, the order of the pre-modifiers should be noticed; the determiner that should/ must come first and the noun adjunct college must/should come after the adjectival modifiers.


    English determiners contain comparatively a smaller category of words. Determiners include a,some,few demonstrative and interrogative words like this,that,which, possessives like my, whose, various quantifying words like all,many, various, numerals. There are several phrases, which play the role of determiners. Determiners are used to form noun phrases. There are several words which function as determiners can also serve the purpose of a pronouns like this, that, many etc. Determiners can be used in several combinations. In many circumstances, it is essential for a noun phrase to be completed with an article, or some other determiner. The most usual situations in which a whole noun phrase can be constructed without a determiner are when it signifies commonly to a complete class or concept and when its a name .


    Pronouns are comparatively small, limited category of words that operate in place of nouns or noun phrases. Pronouns include personal pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, relative pronouns, interrogative pronouns, and few others, mainly indefinite pronouns.

    Personal pronouns

    First person singular/plural pronoun – I, me, myself, my, mine, we, us ,ourselves ,our ,ours

    Second person singular/plural pronoun – you, yourself/yourselves, your,yours

    Third person singular/plural pronouns -she, he, it ,her, him, herself, himself, itself, they,themselves,their

    You, which belong to the second person category,is used both for singular and plural reference. In order to refer to a person in general, you can be used an indefinite pronoun, in comparison to the more formal substitute one.

    Demonstrative and interrogative pronouns

    Demonstrative pronouns in English language are this(singular form)and that(plural form).

    Interrogative Pronouns are who, what, and which. All interrogative pronouns can be used as relative pronouns.

    Relative pronouns

    The key relative pronouns in English language are who, whom, whose, which, that.


    Verbs create the second largest word category after nouns. The elementary form of an English verb is not normally indicated by any ending. Though there are few suffixes that are commonly used to create verbs , like ate is used to create formulate, fy is used to create electrify, ise/ize to create realise/realize. There are several verbs which have prefixes , like un to create unmask, out to create outlast, over to create overtake and under to create undervalue.

    Maximum number of verbs have three or four modulated forms like:

    A third person singular present tense form – (e)s Eg: writes,botches

    A present participle and gerund form in –(ing) Eg : writing

    A past tense –Eg : wrote

    A past participle - Eg : written

    A standard or normal verb have indistinguishable past tense and past participle forms in (ed).The verbs have , do, and say also have irregular third person present tense forms like has, does says etc. the verb be has the greatest number of irregular forms like am, is, are(present tense), was, were, (past tense), been (past participle). Another type of verb is auxillary verb like shall, should, will, would. The infinitive is the basic form of verb like, be, write, play etc. There is also a to infinitive form like to be, to write, to play which are used in several grammatical constructions.

    Verb phrases

    A verb along with its dependents, without its subject ,could be recognised as a verb phrase . Specific verb-modifier groupings predominantly when they have independent meaning like take on, get up are known as phrasal verbs.


    The function of an adjective is to describe a noun. For Example : “pretty Bicycle"….pretty is an adjective,bicycle is a noun. Here pretty(adjective) describes bicycle(noun).

    Adjectives could be used attributively, as part of a noun phrase just as in case of a “big house"or predicatively as in case of a “house is big". Particular adjectives are limited to one or other use , for example - a drunken sailor …in this case drunken is attributive . Again,the word drunken can be used in another way where drunken is predicative ..for eg. the sailor was drunk.

    Several adjectives have comparative and superlative forms in (er) and (est) forms…e.g. faster and fastest (from the positive form fast). There are several adjectives,specially those that are longer and less common do not have inflected comparative and superlative forms. As an alternative, they can be qualified with more and most…e.g: more beautiful, most beautiful. There are few adjectives which are not gradable. These adjectives signify properties that cannot be compared on a scale ..like pregnant,dead,unique etc. Another category of adjectives which are considered ungradable is those which signifies an extreme degree of some property, like delicious and terrified.

    Adjective phrases

    Adjective phrase can be defined as a collection of words which does the job of an adjective in a sentence. Generally, an adjective phrase has a single adjective as its head, to which modifiers and complements may be added. E.g: proud of him, angry at the screen.


    Adverbs function extensively. Adverbs modify verbs or verb phrases, adjectives or adjectival phrase, or other adverbs or adverbial phrase. Nevertheless, at times adverbs also qualify noun phrases, pronouns, determiners, prepositional phrase, or at times whole sentences to present a contextual comment or denote an attitude. They can also signify a relationship between clauses or sentences.

    Numerous English adverbs are formed from adjectives by adding (ly) at the end, as in hopefully,widely etc.There are few words which can be used both as an adjective and an adverb as well like fast, straight,hard.

    There are certain adverbs which are not developed from adjectives,including adverbs of time, of frequency,of place, of degree etc. Certain suffixes are used to form adverbs from nouns are ….ward(s)as in homeward(s), wise(lengthwise). Maximum number of adverbs form comparative and superlatives by alteration with more and most : often, more often,most often. Nevertheless, a few adverbs preserve asymmetrical modulation for comparative and superlative forms : much, more, most, a little,less,well, better, best, badly, worse, worst, far, further, farther, furthest, farthest, or follow the systematic adjectival modulation : fast, faster, fastest; soon, sooner, soonest; etc.

    Adverb phrases

    A phrase which acts as an adverb within a sentence is known as an adverb phrase. An adverb phrase may have an adverb as its head, together with any modifiers like other adverbs or adverb phrases, and complements, analogously the adjective phrases. Example : very sleepily. Another category of very common type of adverb phrase is the prepositional phrase.This type of phrase include a preposition and its object. Example: In the pool , for the sake of harmony etc.


    Prepositions form a restricted word group. Certain phrases also serve the purpose of prepositions like in front of. Prepositions which are commonly used in English language are of, in, on, over, under, to, from, with, in front of, behind, opposite, by, before, after, during, through, in spite of or despite, between, among, etc.

    A preposition is normally used with a noun phrase as its complement. A preposition along with its complement is known as prepositional phrase. E.g : In England, under the table, between the land and the sea.


    Conjunctions state a wide range of logical relations between items, phrases, clauses and sentences. The key conjunctions are and, or, but as well as nor, so, yet and for.

    Another type of conjunctions is correlative conjunctions. Example : Either,neither, both, etc.

    Subordinating conjunctions help in making relations between clauses. Example : After,before, since,until (conjunctions of time), because,since,now ,that, as (Conjunction of cause and effect ), although, though, even though (conjunctions of opposition or concession), if, unless, only if, whether or not, even if (conjunctions of condition).

    However, it is very important to mention that written grammar changes gradually but spoken grammar is pretty flexible or changeable. Sentences which we find normal today might have seemed weird 100 yrs ago.

    When people speak, the grammar they use varies from person to person. For instance, people who are using General American English or BBC English might say, I didn’t do anything, for a person who speaks African American Vernacular English or AAVE might say, I didn’t do nothing. London working class version for it would be, I ain’t done nuffink. These are known as double negatives, they are found completely in spoken language and not in written language. These variances or differences are known as dialects. Dialect varies from region to region, thus a dialect that a person uses depends on the place where he or she is living. Although, dialects of English language use various words or word order, they still follow certain rules of grammar. Nevertheless, when we write in American English, grammar follows the rules of General American English. When people discuss about using 'proper English', they usually refer to Grammar of General British English, as defined in standard reference works. The standards for spoken English in Britain are called Received Pronunciation or BBC English.

  • Adjectives
  • Types of Adjectives
  • Attributive adjectives
  • Predicative adjectives
  • Nominal adjectives
  • Determiners and adjectives
  • Adjective phrases
  • Comparative and superlative adjectives
  • Positive Adjectives
  • Comparative Adjectives
  • Superlative adjectives
  • Forming comparatives and superlatives
  • Irregular comparative and superlative adjectives
  • Participial adjectives
  • Proper adjectives
  • Coordinate Adjectives
  • Noncoordinate Adjectives

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