Blog Category: Sentence Structure

Grammarians

In a general sense, a grammarian is a linguist‏‎. One who studies language, in other words. However often grammarian is used in a slightly more restricted sense for a person who writes grammar‎ books and looks only at the way language is put together. In the past,...

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Relative Clauses‏‎ in English Grammar

A Relative Clause (or Adjectival Clause as it's sometimes known) gives information about a noun and at the same time, works like an adjective. Take a look a this sentence: For the party we bought several bottles of very cheap spirits. The noun spirits has been...

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Utterances in English

An Utterance is the spoken equivalent to a sentence‏‎. As a sentence is bounded by a capital letter‎ and a period or full stop (or other punctuation‏‎) so an utterance is often (though not always) bounded by silence or a breath or pause. Having said this, there is no...

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Complements in English Grammar

In grammar‏‎ a complement - not to be confused with a compliment! – is a way to provide more information about the subject or the object of a sentence‏‎. He is gorgeous! Did you like the present she gave you? A complement completes an idea, whether this is expressed...

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Short Answers in English

Look at these simple questions: Can you handle the truth? Are you busy? To answer them your students will often give just a Short Answer: Are you rich? No, I'm not! Does he smoke? Yes, he does. Who killed the king? He did. Short Answers & TEFL Sometimes your...

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Passive Two Objects‏‎ in English Grammar

The most common sentence‏‎ structure in English‏‎ is SVO‏‎ or {subject} + {verb} + {object} Lucy + baked + a cake. As you can see, it has just one object. However, sometimes a sentence will have two objects which are known as the direct object and the indirect object:...

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Capital Letters in English

In English‏‎ every sentence starts with a Capital Letter (or Uppercase) and usually ends with a period or full stop. For example these are all wrong: * the film has finished. * where is she? * in 1492 Columbus sailed off into the sunset. * an asterisk at the beginning...

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Cleft Clauses‏‎ in English Grammar

A Cleft Sentence (cleft, past participle of cleave = split) is a sentence that has been split into two clauses - a main clause and a subordinate clause - in order to emphasize one part of it. This part is often referred to as the "focus". It is her kindness that I...

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Semicolons in English Punctuation

A semicolon sits half way between a period/full stop and a comma. It has little or nothing to do with a colon, however. It is used instead of a period/full stop when we want to avoid too strong a break between phrases and instead of a comma when we need a stronger...

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Syntax in English

Simply put, Syntax is the collection of rules which go together to form sentences and phrases in a language. For example, the rules of syntax say that an English sentence can be formed thus: {subject} + {verb} + {object} Michael + rowed + the boat The rules of syntax...

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Object Complement‏‎s in English Grammar

A typical English statement has this form: {subject} + {verb} + {object} Churchill + enjoyed + breakfast. We + considered + his answer. The object comes last. If we add a word or phrase to the object to add some more information or describe it further, then this is...

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Direct Speech‏‎ in English

Saying or repeating exactly what someone has said is called Direct Speech (which is sometimes also called Quoted Speech). What a person says appears within quotation marks and is exactly what that person says: "Live long and prosper," said Spock. In this example...

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Third Conditionals in English Grammar

The past is past and (sometimes unfortunately) it cannot be changed. All we can do is imagine how it might be different now if things had gone differently. To do this, to describe unreal situations in the past, we use the Third Conditional. If I had known the party...

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Question Tags in English Grammar

Question tags are used at the end of sentences when we want to check something, when we want someone to do something or when we want to show surprise. They are separated from the main question by a comma: You're English, aren't you? You've got five minutes to spare,...

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Subject Questions‏‎ in English Grammar

Here's a simple statement: Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper in 1903. It follows the usual pattern of English statements of SVO‏‎: subject + verb + object Mary Anderson + invented + the windshield wiper. Often we ask questions‏‎ about the object of the...

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Apostrophes in English

The Apostrophe is a diacritic mark in punctuation‏‎. It is used in 2 different ways in English‏‎: to show possessive nouns to show omitted letters Possession Generally we add an apostrophe s to the end of a noun to make it possessive: the girl's bike Maggie's farm If...

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Subordinate Clauses‏‎ in English Grammar

A Subordinate Clause (aka Dependent Clause) is a clause that doesn’t make sense fully on its own and always needs an independent clause‏‎ to express a complete thought and make a complete sentence‏‎. These, for example, are subordinate clauses: * whenever I see her *...

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Passive Verbs‏‎ in English

To make a verb passive, we use the verb be conjugated in the same tense used in the active voice‏‎ and change the main verb into the past participle. These are the main patterns used: Simple Tenses {be} + {Past Participle} active Eric kisses Amanda. passive Amanda is...

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Conditional Clauses‏‎ in English Grammar

A conditional usually consists of 2 clauses known as the main clause and the conditional clause. The conditional clause usually begins with words like if or unless: {conditional clause}, + {main clause} if you leave me now, + you will take away the biggest part of me...

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Declarative Sentences‏‎ in English

Declarative Sentences are sentences which convey information; in other words, they make a statement. They do not ask a question or give a command. Declarative sentences are perhaps the most common forms of sentences. Other forms are interrogative, imperative and...

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Introducing Possession in English Grammar

There are several ways to show ownership or possession in English grammar. The way we use mainly depends on whether the owner is animate (i.e. a person or an animal) or a thing. But as always, there are exceptions to this general rule. Animate Owners Apostrophe To...

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Connectors‏‎ in English Grammar

Sentence Connectors are words used to link sentences together. There are several types of connectors. Each one of them is used to express a different relationship between ideas, like: Addition I was in a hurry and I forgot to take my umbrella. John is our chauffeur,...

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Statements in English Grammar

A statement is a simple sentence‎ which tells us some information (as oppose to asking a question, for example). It is a record of a situation or state, in other words. The most basic statement is made up of a subject (what the sentence is about) and a predicate (what...

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Objects in English Grammar

In an English sentence usually the subject of a sentence‏‎ does something to an object. The object is the thing or person which is affected by the subject and the verb‏‎. Patricia ate the cake. The subject of this sentence is Patricia. She is the 'star actor'. The...

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Do I Need To Know Grammar to teach English?

This question is often asked by new or potential TEFL teachers, especially since many schools in the UK and USA‏‎ do not teach grammar‏‎ as a matter of course and many high school graduates will not know a verb‏‎ from a noun. Can you describe language? It's an...

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SVO‏‎ – Subject Verb Object

Sentences English important words is order of in the. or better: The order of words in English sentences is important. We need to get word order right in English. The arrangement makes all the difference. Get it wrong and it just ends up a mess which no one...

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Possessive Pronouns‏‎ in English Grammar

Possessive pronouns are pronouns used to show ownership. They tell us who owns what when we don't want to or don't need to repeat the name of what is owned. As with all pronouns, possessive pronouns replace a noun (the word pronoun comes from Latin and means in place...

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Inversion‏‎ in English Grammar

In English Grammar‏‎ we talk about inversion when we change the normal order of the elements in a sentence. In most cases this means swapping the position of the subject and verb of the sentence. For example, this is a common sentence structure in English which...

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Verb Voice in English Grammar

Verbs‏‎ have a property known as Voice which allows you to show the relationship between the verb and the subject and object‏‎ in the sentence‏‎. If a verb is in the Active Voice then it shows the subject performing an action: the subject does something If, however, a...

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Questions‏‎ in English Grammar

Questions are used to get information we do not already have. There are a number of different ways of forming questions in English depending on the kind of information we want. Questions are basically the other side of the coin to statements‏‎ in that statements give...

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