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A very short English grammar
- by Knut Holt - Pantera Consulting
If you understand English fairly well, but you are uncertain about many basic grammatical rules, you can use this grammer to learn those rules in a short time.
1. Nouns articles and pronouns
1.1 Singular of nouns
The singular of nouns has no ending, ex: boy, car, girl.
1.2 Plural of nouns
The plural of English nouns is formed by adding an -s to the singular, ex boy - boys, car - cars.
If the singular ends in s, sh or ch, you add -es (pronounced is)
If the singular ends in a o, you add - es , ex potatoes
If the singular ends in a y, you add - es , and change the y to i, ex cherry - cherries, lady - ladies
Some nouns have irregular plural forms:
- sheep - sheep (Unaltered)
- ox - oxen
- Man - men
- Woman - women
- goose - geese
- mouse - mice
- tooth - teeth
- lose - lice
- foot - feet
1.3 Genitive of nouns
The genitive is made by adding -'s (with an apostrophe first), ex: girl's, men's.
If the singular ends in s, sh or ch, you just add the -' (apostrophe). This happens with the genitive of most plural forms that allready have an s, ex: girls'.
You often express the genitive by using the preposition "of", ex: the car of the man.
1.4 Irregular nouns
Some nouns are irregular: child - children, goose -geese, man - men, woman - women, ox - oxen
1.5 Indefinite articles
The indefinite article is used when one only wants to tell what a thing is, without saying anything about the identity of the object, or to indicate that some object is spoken of for the first time.
The indefinite article is "a" before consonants and "an" before vowels, and it is placed before its noun. it is used only in the singular and mostly about countable objects, ex: a man, an ox, a car.
In plural, the word "some" may be used as an indefinite article in an affirmative clause, but often one does not use indefinite articles in the plural, ex: I see some boys down in the street.
In plural and singular, the word "any" may be used as an indefinite article if one asks about something or denies something, ex: Do you see any girl down there? No, I do not see any girl there. Are there any students in the classroom? I do not see any students yet.
The words "some" or "any" may also be used as indefinite articles about uncountable substances, ex: Give me some water. Is there any water here?
1.6 The definite article
The definite article indicates that the thing spoken of has been talked about allready, or is particularly known by the listener allready.
The definite article is "the", and it is placed before its noun, ex: the man, the ox. The definite article is sometimes omitted about things often talked about, ex: I have to go to work right now.
The definite article is sometimes omitted about things often talked about in a context or environment, ex: I have to go to work right now.
1.7 Personal pronouns
Personal pronouns have different forms when used as subject and object, and also has genitive forms. The object forms are also used after prepositions. When the subject and the object is the same, the reflexive object forms are used.
|Subject||Object||Genitive form before nouns||Genitive form when used alone||Reflexive object|
Examples: He has seen me. I see you. Here is my house. The house is mine. He is washing himself.
The reflexive object forms are often omitted. He is shaving. (means he is shaving himself)
1.8 Deictic and indefinite pronouns
Deictic pronouns is used to point out something and to mark identity.
Deictic pronouns - about near objects: This (singular) - these (plural), ex: This car is mine. Whose cars are these?
Deictic pronouns - about far objects: That (singular) - those (plural), ex: What is that ting over there? Those buildings over there are really big.
The most used indefinite pronoun in an affirmative clause is "some". It is most often used in plural, but may be used in singular and about uncountable substances, ex. There are some cars in the yard. Some boy is going around between the cars, and some girls are standing in front of the entrance door.
When one ask a question or denies something, the pronoun "any" is used, ex: Do you see a dog also? No, I do not see any dog.
As a negative indefinite pronouns, "no" can be used. The meaning is the same as "not any", ex: I see no dog in the garden.
1.9 Interrogative pronouns
Interrogative pronouns are used to make questions about identity or sort.
Interrogative pronouns - about things: what, ex: What is this? What car is yours?
Interrogative pronouns - about persons: who (subject) - whom (object) whose (genitive), ex: Who is your wife? Whose house is this?
1.10 Relative pronouns
Relative pronouns is used in one sentence to show that something is the same thing talked about in another sentence.
Relative pronoun - about objects: which, ex: We shall go to the building which you see over there.
Relative pronoun - about persons: who (subject) - whom (object) whose (genitive), ex: The boy who came in now, is my son. The boy whom you see here, is my son. I do not know whose house this is.
Relative pronoun - about both things and persons: that, ex: The boy that came in now, is my son. The boy that you see here, is my son.
2. Adjectives and numerals
2.1 Positive degree
This basic form of the adjectives has no ending, ex: light, big, fine
2.2 Comparative degree
The comparative is used in comparison of two objects about the object with the stronger degree of some property.
It is also used in comparison of several objects to show that an object has more of some property than others, but still is not the object that has the most of the property.
The comparative form of the adjectives has the ending -er, ex: light-lighter
For one-syllbic adjectives with short vowel, the last consonant of the stem is dobbled, ex: big-bigger
If the adjective ends in e, just add -r, ex: fine-finer.
For long adjective you usually make the comparative by placing "more" in front of it, ex: more handsome.
Examples: Father is taller than mother. Father is the taller one.
You can also express that some thing has a smaller degree of something by placing"less" in front of it, ex:This way is less troublesome.
2.3 Superlative degree
The superaltive is used in comparison of more than two objects, about the object with the strongest degree of a property.
The superlative form of the adjectives has the ending -est (pronounced ist), ex: light-lightest.
For one-syllabic adjectives with short vowel, the last consonant of the stem is dobbled, ex: big-biggest.
If the adjective ends in -e, just add -st, Ex: fine-finest.
For long adjective you usually make the superlative by placing "most" in front of it, ex: most handsome.
Examples: Father is the tallest person in our family.
You can also express that some thing has the smallest degree of some property by placing"least" in front of it, ex:This procedure is the least troublesome.
2.4 Irregular adjectives
Some adjectives have irregular comparative and superlative forms:
bad /ill - worse - worst , good - better - best
2.5 Adjectives used as nouns
Adjectives can be used as nouns if you place the word "one" after it in the singular, and "ones" in the plural.
Examples: A small one. Good ones. The small one. The good ones. This shirt is too big, do you have a smaller one? He is the worst one. I have too brothers, Jack is the younger one. These sockets are to small, do you have two bigger ones?
2.6 Cardinal numbers
Cardinal numbers are used in counting and measuring items.
The first twenty cardinals are: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, eighteen, niteteen, twenty
The tennumbers are: 10 -ten, 20 - twenty, 30 - thirty, 40 - fourty, 50 - fifty, 60 - sixty, 70 - seventy, 80 -eighty, 90 - ninety
The big numbers are: 100 - one hundred, 1000 - one thousand, 1,000,000 - one million, 1,000,000,000 - one billion.
When composing more complex numbers, use the following pattern, but omit what you do not need in the formula:
Number of thousands - "thousand(s)" - Number of hundreds - "hundred(s)" - "and" - tennumber - onenumber
Examples: 356 - three hundreds and fifty-six, 205 - two hundreds and five, 7789 - seven thousand seven hundreds and eighty-nine, 9002 - nine thousand and two.
2.7 Ordinal numbers
Odinals tell about where an item is placed in some order, the first five ordinals are: first, second, third, fourth, fifth.
Other ordinals are made by the ending "-th", ex: sixth, eighty-seventh, one hundred and twentieth. This is my third car. You will be called in as the fifth one.
3.1 Strong and weak verbs
English verbs are divided in two classes - weak and strong. For weak verbs you make the forms by adding regular endings. In strong verbs one changes the wovel of the verb stem. Strong verbs are irregular, and must be learned separately.
3.1 Infinitive (inf) and the imperative - simple form
The infinitive has no ending. The word "to" is often used before the infinitive. "to" is not used when the infinitive follows the verbs "can-could, will-would, must, shall-should"
The imperative is equal to the infinitive, ex. Go home!
3.2 Present (prs) - simple form
If the subject is 3. person singular, you add -s, ex: The boy throws the ball out.
If the infinitive ends in s, sh or ch, you add -es (pronounced -is), ex latches, rises.
Elsewhere the regular present has no ending and is equal to the infinitive.
3.3 Preterite (prt) or simple past - simple form
You make the preterite of weak verbs by adding -ed (pronounced d after voiced consonants and vowel, id after t or d, and t elsewhere), ex: robed, jumped, looked, carryed
When the verb stem ends in e or d, you add -d, Ex: piled.
The preterite of strong verbs changes the vowel of the verb, ex: rise - rose, throw - threw
You use the preterite when you just tell about some action in the past that do not have a direct impact upon the present situation, ex: Last year I bought a new car.
3.4 Perfect participle (pfp)
The perfect participle of weak verbs are equal to the preterite.
You make the perfect participle of weak verbs by adding -ed (pronounced d after voiced consonants and vowel, id after t or d, and t elsewhere), ex: robed, jumped, looked, carryed
When the verb stem ends in e or d, you add -d, Ex: piled.
The perfect participle of strong verbs changes the vowel of the verb, and is not allways equal to the preterite, ex: inf rise - prt rose - pfp risen, inf throw - prt threw - pfp thrown.
The perfect participle may be used as an adjective. It then denotes that an object has been subjected to an action or a change, ex: I want a roasted beef. He has a blue painted house.
It is further used in grammatical constructions, like the perfect and passive.
3.5 The Present participle (prp) and verbal noun
The present participle has the ending -ing, ex: going, painting, meeting.
When the verb stem has one syllable and has a short vowel, the last consonant is dobbled, ex: beg - begging.
If the verb ends in e, the e is dropped, ex: make - making.
The present participle is used as an adjective, ex: running water. It is also used in the construction of continous forms.
The same form in -ing is also used as a verbal noun, ex: Skiing is funny.
3.6 to be, to have and other important irregular /strong verbs
These verbs are used in many important grammatical constructions:
|Infinitive||Present||Preterite||Perfect participle||Present participle|
he,she it: was
|No inf||must||must||No prp||No pfp|
|No inf||can||could||No prp||No pfp|
|No inf||will||would||No prp||No pfp|
|No inf||shall||should||No prp||No pfp|
3.7 perfect (prf) - simple form
The perfect denotes an action in the past that still has an actual effect in the present, or is still going on.
The perfect is made by combining the present form of to have with the perfect participle of the main verb. ex: I have done my school work. He has worked as a teacher in two years.
3.8 Pluperfect (ppf) - simple form
The pluperfect is used to tell about something that was done before some other action.
The pluperfect is made by combining the preterite form of to have with the perfect participle of the main verb. ex: I had done my school work, when he came inn.
3.9 First. Future (ff) - simple form
When the subject is first person (I, we) the future is formed by combining the auxiliary verb form "shall" with the infinitive of the main verb, ex. I shall buy a new car tomorrow.
When the subject is 2. or 3. person (you,he,she,it,they) the future is formed by combining the auxiliary verb form "will" with the infinitive of the main verb. He will buy a new car tomorrow.
It is also possible to make future tense by combing the words "am/is/are going to" with the infinitive of the main verb, ex: I am going to wash the car soon.
3.10 Second Future (sf) - simple form
The second future is used when something happens before some other thing in the future.
When the subject is first person (I, we) the 2. future is formed by combining the auxiliry verb forms "shall have" with the perfect participle of the main verb, ex: I shall have learnt to drive before buying a new car.
When the subject is 2. or 3. person (you,he,she,it,they) the 2. future is formed by combining the auxiliry verb form "will have" with the perfect participle of the main verb, you will have learnt to drive before buying a new car.
3.11 First conditional (fc) - simple form
The frist conditional is used when something is expected to happen in the present or future, but you do not know yet if it really will happen or you doubt if it will happen.
It is formed by combining the auxiliry verb form "should" with the infinitive of the main verb, ex: I should wash my apartment today.
3.12 Second conditional (sc) - simple form
The second conditional is used when some thing is expected to have happend in the past, but it did not happen or you do not know yet if it have happened.
It is formed by combining the auxiliry verb forms "should have" with the perfect participle of the main verb. ex: My son should have done his lessons by now.
3.13 Continous forms (cf)
Continous forms are made by combining the right tense of "to be" with the present participle of the main verb, ex: My wife is painting our house this week.
3.14 When to use simple and continous forms
Right use of simple and continous forms are tricky, and only learnt by experience. Here are some rules that work im most instances:
Use simple form when:
Something happens one time and is done completely, ex: I washed the car yesterday.
Something is repeted or done habitually, ex: I go to town to shop each wednesday.
Use continous form when:
Someting happens one time, and you are talking only about a part of the act, not the whole, completed act ex: He is washing the car now.
You tell about something happening, but do not want to mark that this act completes and gives a result.
The continuos form is often used to tell that something is/was going on, when some other thing happen/happened, ex: When I was washing my car, a bird shit on the car front.
If you are in doubt, use the simple form.
3.15 The passive forms (pf)
The passive is made by combining the right tense of "to be" with the perfect participle of the main verb, ex: The car was washed yesterday. The house is being painted now.
In the continous forms the passive is made by using the right tense of "to be", then the word "being" and then the perfect participle of the main verb, ex: The car is being washed now. The house was being painted, when he came home.
4. Adverbs (adv)
4.1 Adverbial forms
One often make adverbs from adjectives by adding the ending -ly, ex: quickly
Some short adverbs is equal to the adjective, ex: little, fast, nice
4.2 Comparison of adverbs
Adverbs are compared by using more and most, ex. An aeroplane moves more quickly than a car.
4.3 Irregular adverbs
Here are some irregular adverbs: much - more - most, little - less - lest, good - better - best
4.4 numeric adverbs
Numeric adverbs tell how many times something happen.
The first three of them are: once, twice, (trice). Elsewhere numeric adverbs are made by combining a cardinal with the world "times".
Examples: He asked him twice. I saw that boy eight times.
5. Word order
The basic word order in an affirmative clause is: subject - (auxiliary verb) - main verb - object - complements, ex: The boy throws the ball over the fence.
Compliments can be placed first in the sentence, ex: To morrow I shall wash the car.
Adjectives normally precede the noun, ex. The small boy, a red car.
Adverbs normally precede adjectives or other adverbs they characterize, ex: Brightly white, extremely fast.
Averbs usually follow verbs, but may precede, ex: This car accelerates quickly.
Negations are formed with the auxiliary verb "to do" in the right tense, then the word "not", and then the infinitive of the main verb. The order of elemenst is this:
subject - to do in the right tense - not -main verb inf - object - compliments, ex: I did not see him yesterday.
When there is an auxiliary verb in the sentence, a negation is formed only by the word "not":
Subject - auxiliary - not - main verb - object - compliments, ex: I have not seen him yesterday?
When "to be" is the main verbs, negations is formed only by "not".
Auxiliary- subject - main verb - not - object - compliments, ex: I am not stupid.
The words "do, does, did, have, has, had, can, could, will, would, must, is, are, was" are often contracted with the word "not".
do not - don't
does not - doesn't
did not - didn't,
have not - havn't
has not - hasn't
had not - hadn't
cannot - can't
could not couldn't
would not - wouldn't
will not - wan't
would not - wouldn't
must not - mustn't
is not - isn't
are not - ain't (very unformal)
was not - wasn't
In formal written style these contractions is usually not use, in dayly speech nearly allways. Examples: He did not come - he didn't come. He has not washed the car. He hasn't washed the car.
Questions are formed with the auxiliary verb "to do" in the right tense, then the subject, and then the infinitive of the main verb. The order of elemenst is this:
To do in the right tense - subject - main verb inf - object - compliments, ex: Did you see him yesterday?
When there is an auxiliary verb in the sentence, a question is formed only by changing the word order:
Auxiliary- subject - main verb - object - compliments, ex: Have you seen him yesterday?
When "to be" is the main verbs, the question is formed only by changing the word order:
To be in the right tense - subject - compliments, ex: Were you there yesterday?
You can stress that something really is true by using "to do" in the right tense, and then the infinitive of the main verb. The order of elements is this:
Subject - To do in the right tense - main verb inf - object - compliments.
When you say the sentence, you stress the werb "to do". Example: I did see him yesterday.