Basic English grammar

Small children seem to have an intuitive grasp of language structure – which is why they sometimes make mistakes, assuming principles that are not always true. If you hear a child talk about ‘two mouses’ he is not repeating something he has heard; he has understood the concept that we add the sound ‘-es’ to a word ending in a ‘s’ sound, to create a plural. Continue reading “Basic English grammar”

Past tense review 2

We can use the past simple to talk about actions and states which we see as completed in the past.

    • I left school when I was sixteen.
    • I was very happy then.
    • He told me all about his childhood.

We can use the past continuous to talk about past events which went on for a period of time.

    • While I was driving home, Peter was trying desperately to contact me.
    • I was thinking about him last night.
    • I was walking in the street when I suddenly fell over.

We can use the present perfect when we want to look back from the present to the past.

    • I’ve broken my watch so I don’t know what time it is.
    • She hasn’t arrived yet.
    • We’ve been to Singapore a lot over the last few years.
    • Have you ever been to Argentina?

The Present Perfect Continuous can be used to talk about an action or actions that started in the past and continued until recently or that continue into the future.

    • You look tired. Have you been sleeping properly?
    • I’ve been waiting for him for 30 minutes and he still hasn’t arrived.
    • He’s been phoning me all week for an answer.

We can use the past perfect simple to talk about what happened before a point in the past. It looks back from a point in the past to further in the past.

    • I hadn’t known the bad news when I spoke to him.
    • I thought we had already decided on a name for this product.

We can use the past perfect continuous to look back at a situation in progress.

    • We had been thinking about buying a new house but then we decided to stay here.
    • It had been snowing for a while before we left.
    • She said she had been trying to call me all day.

Past tense review 1

We can use the past simple to talk about actions and states which we see as completed in the past.

    • I left school when I was sixteen.
    • I was very happy then.
    • He told me all about his childhood.

We can use the past continuous to talk about past events which went on for a period of time.

    • While I was driving home, Peter was trying desperately to contact me.
    • I was thinking about him last night.
    • I was walking in the street when I suddenly fell over.

We can use the present perfect when we want to look back from the present to the past.

    • I’ve broken my watch so I don’t know what time it is.
    • She hasn’t arrived yet.
    • We’ve been to Singapore a lot over the last few years.
    • Have you ever been to Argentina?

The Present Perfect Continuous can be used to talk about an action or actions that started in the past and continued until recently or that continue into the future.

    • You look tired. Have you been sleeping properly?
    • I’ve been waiting for him for 30 minutes and he still hasn’t arrived.
    • He’s been phoning me all week for an answer.

We can use the past perfect simple to talk about what happened before a point in the past. It looks back from a point in the past to further in the past.

    • I hadn’t known the bad news when I spoke to him.
    • I thought we had already decided on a name for this product.

We can use the past perfect continuous to look back at a situation in progress.

    • We had been thinking about buying a new house but then we decided to stay here.
    • It had been snowing for a while before we left.
    • She said she had been trying to call me all day.

Basic English grammar components

When you’re learning the English language, you may feel overwhelmed when it comes to all the different grammar components.  There are so many variables that affect the choice of words, even in everyday conversations.  In order to get the most from your English lessons, you’ll need to understand all the different grammatical elements that are used.  The following is a listing of some of the most commonly used English grammar components and what each one means.

Pronouns:  Personal pronouns will often take the place of a person’s name.  There are four different cases of personal pronouns: subjective, objective, genitive, and possessive.  Pronouns may also have number, person, or gender attributes.  Here are some examples:

Subjective: These are pronouns that are used in the subject of the sentence and include “I,” “you,” “he,” “she,” “it,” “we,” “you,” and “they.”  An example of a subjective pronoun used in a sentence is, “I have a book.”  In this case, “I” is the subject of the sentence and has taken the place of the speaker’s name.

Objective:  These are words that are used as the object of the sentence and include “me,” “you,” “him,” “her,” “us,” “you,” and “them.”  An example of an objective pronoun used in a sentence is, “Give her the book.”  In this case, “her” is the object of the sentence.

Genitive:  These are words that generally used to modify noun phrases.  This type of pronoun is also called an “attributive possessive pronoun.”  These pronouns include “my,” “your,” “his,” “her,” “our,” and “their.”  An example of a possessive adjective is, “This is your book.”  In this case, “your” demonstrates ownership of the book without actually giving the name of the owner.

Possessive:  These pronouns occur in the object of the sentence and include “mine,” “yours,” “his,” and “hers.”  An example of a possessive pronoun is, “This book is ours.”  In this case, “ours” shows a more detailed point of ownership of the book.

Participles:  Participles are verbs that are used as adjectives and commonly end in “–ed” or “–ing.”  A participle expresses a deed or state of action.  Since participles are used as verbs, they usually end up modifying nouns and pronouns.  The following are two examples of participles in action:

“The crying baby woke up.”
“The burning wood smells good.”

Past participles usually end in “–en,” “-ed,” “-d,” “-t,” and “-n.”

Prepositions: These are words that are used to link one part of a sentence to another.  Here’s an example:  “The dog slept on the floor.”  The preposition in the sentence is the word “on,” which connects the dog to the floor.

Verbs: Verbs are action words.  In the sentence, “I caught the ball,” the verb is the word “caught.”  Many of these verbs will be spoken, written, and read differently, depending on the choice of nouns or pronouns.  If you’re ever stumped, try speaking with someone who is fluent in English.  While they may not be able to tell you “why” something is wrong, they can tell you the correct way to conjugate different verb tenses.

It’s not as difficult as you may think to learn English grammar; however, it will take dedication and patience.  It’s best to set aside a specific time each day to study – if not, it’s easy to become frustrated and quit.