ESL "English as a Second Language" in Canada education news about English schools, classes, lessons, study-tips, student visas, homestays, travel tips, student jobs, student prices. English test lessons for TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS, CELPIP, Cambridge CFA CPC CAE FCA, GMAT, GRE, SAT, LSAT, DSAT, CAEL, Cantest, college board, IH, AP, TSE, YLE, BULATS, ILEC, and Michigan exams. ESL English lessons for work, school, jobs, travel, immigration, university admission, graduate studies, career training.

English Grammar 101

 The Eight Parts of English Language Speech

English grammar uses words based on eight parts of speech.

Each part of speech explains not what the word is, but how the word is used.

The same word can be a noun in one sentence and a verb or adjective in the next.

noun is a word used to name a person, animal, place, thing, or abstract concepts.

verb or compound verb depicts actions, events, or states of being about the subject of the sentence.

Pronouns perform most of the functions of a noun.

An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun by describing, identifying, or quantifying words.

An adverb can modify by indicating manner, time, place, cause, or degree.

preposition links nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence.

Conjunctions link words, phrases, and clauses.

An interjection is used to show or express emotion or illustrate an exclamation.

Additional Parts of Speech Forms and Functions


A transitive or sometimes called an action verb passes action on to a direct object.

An intransitive verb does not indicate a transfer of action.

A linking verb joins a subject with a word that describes it.

A main verb indicates the primary or principal activity.

An auxiliary verb helps the main verb describe an action or state of being.

A modal verb indicates ability, obligation, permission, or possibility. Modal examples: can, may, must, should, could, might, ought, would.

A finite verb describes a definite and limited action or condition.

A non-finite verb shows an unfinished action or condition.

A ditransitive verb takes two complements, an indirect object and a direct object.

Monotransitive verbs take one complement, usually a direct object

An intransitive verb does not have any complements. Examples: Fred cried. Sally slept.

A prepositional verb is a multi-word verb consisting of a verb and preposition.

Phrasal-prepositional verbs are multi-word verbs consisting of a verb, adverb and preposition.

Verb Forms called Verbals

Infinitives are the word " to + verb" and they act as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs.

Participles in past or present tenses act as adjectives

Gerunds in the "present tense participle form" act as nouns.


A noun can function in a sentence as a subject, a direct object, an indirect object, a subject complement, an object complement, an appositive, an adjective or an adverb.

Proper nouns are capitalized and include: name of a specific person, place, or thing, days of the week, months of the year, historical documents, institutions, organizations, religions, holy texts and religious followers.

A common noun is a noun referring in general to a person, place, or thing.

A concrete noun is a noun which names everything (or everyone) that you can perceive through the physical senses of touch, sight, taste, hearing, or smell.

An abstract noun is a noun that names anything that you can not perceive through your five physical senses.

A countable noun (or count noun) names anything (or anyone) that you can count and is a noun with both a singular and a plural form.

A non-countable noun (or mass noun) is a noun which does not have a plural form, and which refers to something that you could (or would) not usually count.

A collective noun is a noun naming a group of things, animals or persons.

A possessive noun indicates ownership or possession.


A personal pronoun refers to a specific person or thing and changes its form to indicate person, number, gender, and case.

A subjective personal pronoun indicates that the pronoun is acting as the subject of the sentence. The subjective personal pronouns: I, you, she, he, it, we, you, they".

An objective personal pronoun indicates that the pronoun is acting as an object of a verb, compound verb, preposition, or infinitive phrase. The objective personal pronouns: "me, you, her, him, it, us, you, them".

A possessive pronoun indicates that the pronoun is acting as an indication of possession and defines who owns a particular object. The possessive personal pronouns: "mine, yours, hers, his, its, ours, theirs".

A demonstrative pronoun points to and identifies a noun or a pronoun. The demonstrative pronouns: "this, that, these, and those''.

An interrogative pronoun is used to ask questions. The interrogative pronouns: "who, whom, which, what''.

Relative pronouns link one phrase or clause to another phrase or clause. The relative pronouns: "who, whom, that, which.''

An indefinite pronoun refers to an unspecified person or thing. An indefinite pronoun depicts the idea of all, any, none, or some. The most common indefinite pronouns: all, another, any, anybody, anyone, anything, each, everybody, everyone, everything, few, many, nobody, none, one, several, some, somebody, and someone.

The reflexive pronouns identify the "self" such as: "myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves.''

An intensive pronoun is a pronoun used to emphasize or highlight an attribute.


An adjective usually precedes the noun or the pronoun which it modifies. Gradable adjectives have a base, comparative and superlative form. The adjective happy is intensified in the following examples: "very happy, extremely happy, quite happy, happier, and happiest". Adjectives can have stative or dynamic and inherent or non-inherent properties.

An adjective can be modified by an adverb or by a phrase or clause functioning as an adverb. Some nouns, many pronouns, and many participle phrases can also act as adjectives.

A possessive adjective is similar to a possessive pronoun. The possessive adjective modifies a noun or a noun phrase.

The demonstrative adjectives ``this, these, that, those, what'' are identical to the demonstrative pronouns, but are used as adjectives to modify nouns or noun phrases.

An interrogative adjective such as ``which or what'' is like an interrogative pronoun. The interrogative adjective modifies a noun or noun phrase rather than standing on its own.

An indefinite adjective is similar to an indefinite pronoun. The indefinite adjective modifies a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase.


Adverbs have a complex grammatical relationship within the sentence or clause as a whole. An adverb can be found in various places within the sentence. An adverb can modify a verb, an adjective, another adverb, a phrase, a clause or entire sentence. Adverbs are gradable with intensification and comparison.

A circumstantial adverb indicates manner, time or place.

A degree adverb specifies the degree or cause to which some property applies and answers questions such as: how, when and where.

The conjunctive adverb can join two clauses together. The most common conjunctive adverbs: "also, consequently, finally, furthermore, hence, however, incidentally, indeed, instead, likewise, meanwhile, nevertheless, next, nonetheless, otherwise, still, then, therefore and thus."

A disjunct adverb comments on the sentence as a whole. Example: Honestly, I couldn't believe my eyes.

An interrogative adverb is used to construct interrogative sentences and "wh-questions" example: Why did you do that?


A preposition usually indicates the temporal, spatial or logical relationship of its object to the rest of the sentence.

The most common prepositions: "about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, but, by, despite, down, during, except, for, from, in, inside, into, like, near, of, off, on, onto, out, outside, over, past, since, through, throughout, till, to, toward, under, underneath, until, up, upon, with, within and without."

Complex prepositions consist of more than one word: along with, out of, up to.


Conjunctions are a part of speech and are a closed word class which includes coordinating words such as "and, but, and or", and subordinating words such as "because, if, and when". Some conjunctions can also appear as prepositions or as adverbs.

Coordinating conjunctions ``and, but, or, nor, for, so, or yet'' are used to join individual words, phrases, and independent clauses. The conjunctions ``but'' and ``for'' can also function as prepositions.

A subordinating conjunction introduces a dependent clause and indicates the nature of the relationship between the independent clause(s) and the dependent clause(s). The most common subordinating conjunctions: "after, although, as, because, before, how, if, once, since, then, that, though, till, until, when, where, whether and while".

Correlative conjunctions always appear in pairs -- you use them to link equivalent sentence elements. The most common correlative conjunctions: "both... and, either...or, neither...nor, not only.., but also,, and whether...or." Usually correlative conjunctions consist of a coordinating conjunction linked to an adjective or adverb.


Interjections are used in speech to indicate emotion or transition. Interjections such as "yuk, ouch, eh" are used as exclamations in conversation.

Introduction to English Language Sentence Structure

The two fundamental parts of every English sentence are the subject and the predicate. A simple sentence can also be described as a group of words expressing a complete thought. Subjects can be described as the component that performs the action described by the Predicate.

Subject + predicate = sentence

A simple sentence or independent clause must have a verb. A verb shows action or state of being. The subject tells who or what about the verb.

Subject + verb = sentence

Sentence Structure Vocabulary

The sentence format consists of a subject and a predicate.

The subject names the topic and the predicate tells about the subject.

A sentence with one subject and one predicate is called a simple sentence.

The receiver of actions is called the object.

A group of words used as a single value without subject or predicate is called a phrase.

clause is a group of words with a subject and predicate.

Principal or independent clauses can form sentences.

compound sentence contains two or more principal clauses.

A clause which cannot form a sentence is called a dependent clause.

complex sentence contains a principal clause and one or more dependent or subordinate clauses.

compound-complex sentence contains two principal clauses and one or more subordinate clauses.

Four Kinds of Sentences

Four kinds of sentences: declarative, imperative, interrogative, and exclamatory.

1. A declarative sentence makes a statement.
Example: The hockey finals will be broadcast tomorrow.

2. An imperative sentence gives a command or makes a request.
Example: Pass the puck to the open man.

3. An interrogative sentence asks a question.
Example: Do you know the rules of hockey?

4. An exclamatory sentence shows strong feelings.
Example: Stop that man!

Declarative, imperative, or interrogative sentences can be made into exclamatory sentences by punctuating them with an exclamation point.

The Six Basic Sentence Construction Patterns

1. No Verb Complement
The simplest structure is one without a verb complement. In traditional grammar, all verb complements are either nouns or adjectives.
Examples 1. Canada wins.

2. Direct Object Verb Complement
The defining characteristic is the presence of a direct object.
Example: Boys love hockey.

3. Indirect and Direct Object Verb Complements
Both indirect and direct objects are present. Indirect objects are placed immediately after the verb. Direct objects that are noun phrases follow the indirect object.
Example: Dad gave [(me)(a puck)].

4. Predicate Nominative Verb Complement
The predicate nominative verb complement is a noun or a pronoun that redefines, renames, or classifies the subject of the sentence. The verb in a predicate nominative sentence pattern is always a linking verb, such as be, seem, or become.
Example: He became a coach.

5. Predicate Adjective Verb Complement
The predicate adjective is an adjective that modifies the subject of the sentence. The verb is always a linking verb, such as be, seem, smell, look, taste, or become.
Example: The game became difficult.

6.Direct Object and Objective Complement
The verb complements are a direct object and an objective complement. An objective complement is a noun or an adjective that occurs after the direct object and describes the direct object.
Example: The class made [(me)(bilingual)].

Simple sentences and configurations

Simple subject and predicate
Example: Fred slept.

Understood subject (for commands, directives)
Example: Sit!

Examples: What are you throwing?

Examples: Man, that hurt!

Compound predicate
The bear howled and scratched ferociously.

Compound subject and predicate
Fred and Mary worked hard and then rested.

Three subjects
John, Fred, and Cameron are working.

Direct object
Ted sent the letter.

Compound direct objects
Ted sent cards and letters.

Three direct objects
Ted sent posters, cards, and letters.

Compound predicate with direct objects
Jessica cooked lunch and ate it.

Compound predicate with one direct object
Sam proofreads and edits his essays.

Indirect object
The teacher gave the children homework.

Compound indirect objects
The teacher gave Tess and Sam quizzes.

Predicate noun
John is a coach.

Objective Complement
Johnny painted his front porch white.

Direct address
Harold, tell the class now.

Athletic moves excite the crowd.

Compound adjectives
The little old lady hit the tall and distinguished gentleman.

Predicate adjective
The engine was powerful.

Compound predicate adjectives
The engine was powerful but expensive.

Comparative Adjective
Joe is considerably older than his brother.

Fred works quickly.

Adverbs modifying other adverbs
My dog wags its tail quite often.

Compound adverbs
The cat waited patiently and quietly at the door.

Passive Verbs
The ball was kicked.

Introduction to English Language Punctuation 


We use an apostrophe [ ' ] to create possessive forms, contractions, and some plurals. Generally, if the noun is singular, the apostrophe goes before the "s". If the noun is plural, the apostrophe goes after the "s". If the word is plural without an "s", the apostrophe comes before the "s". The apostrophe shows where a letter or letters have been left out of a contracted verb.


Use a period [ . ] at the end of a sentence that makes a statement. There is no space between the last letter and the period. Use a period at the end of an indirect question. Use a period with abbreviations. The period comes after the parenthetical citation which comes after the quotation mark".


Use a comma to separate the elements in a series. Use a comma + a little conjunction (and, but, for, nor, yet, or, so) to connect two independent clauses. Use a comma to set off introductory elements. Use a comma to set off parenthetical elements. Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives. Use a comma to set off quoted elements. Use commas to set off phrases that express contrast. Use a comma or a set of commas to make the year parenthetical when the date of the month is included. Use a comma to separate a city and a state, a name and a title, and to separate long numbers.


Use a semicolon [ ; ] to help sort out a monster list. Use a semicolon to separate closely related independent clauses. Use a semicolon to separate two independent clauses even when those two independent clauses are connected by a coordinating conjunction.


Use a colon [ : ] before a list or an explanation that is preceded by a clause that can stand by itself. You can use a colon to separate an independent clause from a quotation.

Question marks

Use a question mark [ ? ] at the end of a direct question. When a question constitutes a polite request, it is usually not followed by a question mark. When brief questions are more or less follow-up questions to the main question, each of the little questions can begin with a lowercase letter and end with a question mark.

Exclamation points

Use an exclamation point [ ! ] at the end of an emphatic declaration, interjection, or command.


Hyphens are used to create compound words; modifiers before nouns (the well-known actor, my six-year-old daughter, the out-of-date curriculum, writing numbers twenty-one to ninety-nine and fractions, five-eighths, one-fourth), creating compounds; on-the-fly for fly-by-night organizations. Hyphens are used to add some prefixes to words such as when a prefix comes before a capitalized word or the prefix is capitalized, use a hyphen (non-English, A-frame, I-formation). The prefixes self-, all-, and ex- nearly always require a hyphen (ex-husband, all-inclusive, self-control), and when the prefix ends with the same letter that begins the word, you will often use a hyphen (anti-intellectual, de-emphasize).


Use a dash [ - ] as a super-comma or set of super-commas to set off parenthetical elements. The dash is used to show breaks in thought and shifts in tone when writing dialogue. A dash is sometimes used to set off concluding lists and explanations in a more informal and abrupt manner than the colon. Do not use dashes to set apart material when commas would do the work for you.

Quotation marks

Use quotation marks [ " " ] to set off material that represents quoted or spoken language; titles of things that do not normally stand by themselves: short stories, poems, and articles. Some writers will set such unspoken language in italics or indent it in order to set it off from other "regular" language. In the United States, writers use single quotation marks [ ' ' ] to enclose quoted material (or the titles of poems, stories, articles) within other quoted material.


Use parentheses [ ( ) ] to include material that you want to de-emphasize or does not fit into the flow of your text but you want to include it. Parentheses tend to de-emphasize text whereas dashes tend to make material seem even more important.


Many writers use the slash to indicate "or" and "and" to avoid gender he/she/plurals problems. These formats are not acceptable in formal business or academic writing. Use the forward slash [ / ] for www addresses and the backward slash [ \ ] to indicate file locations on computer drives.

No comments:

Post a Comment