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August 3, 2009 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Words an shit


Let’s talk grammar. Present perfect, simple past, pluperfect, present, present continuous, future, future perfect. Indicative, subjunctive, imperative. Singular, plural, nominative, accusative, genitive, first person, second person, third person. Actually, let’s have a yarn about nouns, pronouns, articles, verbs, prepositions, adjectives and adverbs.

Now, I remember the topic of nouns, verbs, etc. being covered very briefly in English class at high school, but I thought that subject was pointless and didn’t pay much attention.

The only information I retained was that verbs (or was it nouns?) were ‘doing’ words. It was only when I came to university that I learned this stuff.

Nouns. Nouns are generally described as words that identify a specific object or concept, but they are usually identified by their grammatical function. A noun will fit into the sentence (grammatically) The ___ is good. Nouns are often defined using the definite article ‘the’ or indefinite article ‘a’ or ‘an’. Take note though that nouns aren’t always things you can point at—a tendency or the abstraction.

Once you can identify nouns, pronouns should be easy. Pronouns are words that go in place of nouns or people, making the language simpler and to avoid repeating the noun. You can use pronouns such as ‘I’, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘you’, ‘they’, ‘we’, ‘him’, ‘her’, ‘mine’, ‘yours’, etc. instead of saying people’s names and to indicate possession, or ‘it’ instead of other nouns. Even complex noun phrases can be replaced with a pronoun, for example:

Michael Oliver popped the big red balloon with the orange spots and ran away laughing, leaving the little children to cry.

Since the big red balloon with the orange spots essentially refers to one object (hence a noun phrase), it can be replaced with a pronoun if it has already been defined:

Remember the big red balloon with the orange spots? Michael Oliver popped it and ran away laughing, leaving the little children to cry. Then wrote a news story about it.

Verbs can be a little tricky at times. Basically they are the words that describe anything that nouns (or pronouns) do. Actions, ‘doing’ words. I jump, he makes, she eats, it defenestrates, we can, they like. Verbs generally conjugate with the noun that is doing the action—that is, the form of the verb used needs to fit the subject of the sentence.

Verb ‘to be’, present tense Singular
First person
I am We are
Second person
You are Y’all are
Third person
He/she/it is They are

Verb forms can also change according to tense (future, past, subjunctive, imperative, etc.), making things even more complicated. However, English verb conjugation is relatively easy compared to languages like Spanish, which pretty much has a different verb form for each possible conjugation of tense and person.

Adjectives are words that describe things and generally come before nouns, although they can come after. You can fit in an adjective in the sentence The ___ boat is mine, using any word that can describe the boat (or any other noun)—things like colour, size, awesomeness or classification.

Some adjectives also have different forms, called the comparative and superlative forms. Comparative forms compare objects’ values using a –er suffix on the adjective. My submarine is wetter than your submarine. The superlative form indicates values in the extreme—the ‘most’ something can become. But Rarah’s submarine is the wettest. If a comparative –er form or superlative –est form cannot be made with the adjective, they are instead formed using more or most with the adjective, respectively.

Adverbs are words that describe verbs, just like adjectives describe nouns. They answer the how, when, where or why of a sentence. You will find that adverbs generally end with the suffix –ly, although some do not (e.g., often). You will eventually be tested on this. Hint hint.

And a preposition? It’s what you end sentences with.


About the Author ()

Mikey learned everything he knows about English Grammar in an MSN chat room when he was 13. Believing that people don't say "LOL" enough in everyday conversation, he has made it his mission to teach the world about grammerz one person at a time.

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