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Grammar Glossary

abbreviated adjective clauses

Abbreviated adjective clauses are the most important type of non-finite adjective clause. There are two types: those made from FINITE ADJECTIVE CLAUSES in the active voice and those made from FINITE ADJECTIVE CLAUSES in the ac.
An example of the first type is, "Jill thought the coat left in the car was Jack's." Here the CLAUSE, "left in the car" should be seen as an abbreviation of the full adjective clause "that was left in the car." An example of the second type is, "Jill suddenly realized that the man waving at her was Jack." Here the clause "waving at her" should be seen as an abbreviation of the clause "who was waving at her."
• Notice that adjective clauses cannot be abbreviated if the RELATIVE PRONOUN is the OBJECT of the VERB, as in "Jill suddently realized that the man (who) she was waving at was Jack." Here the clause cannot be abbreviated; the subject and the auxiliary verb must remain.


• An abbreviation is short form of a word. For example, 'Dr.' is an abbreviation of 'doctor.' An abbreviation is usually followed by a PERIOD.


'Act' is a verb that means 'do something.' "We must act." has the same meaning as: "We must do something."
• The NOUN form, 'action' means 'something that is done.'"Jack's actions later that evening were very strange," means the same thing as "The things Jack did later that evening were very strange."

active voice/passive voice
Sentence/clauses can be either "active" or "passive." (Often grammarians speak of sentence/clauses as being in the active or passive "voice.")
• If a sentence/clause has a transitive verb phrase, then it often also has an object. For example, in the sentence, "Jack kissed Jill," "Jill" is the object.
• Usually, if a sentence/clause has an
object, then a passive version can be made by making the object into a subject and making some chages to the verb phrase. For example, the active sentence, "Harry interviewed Jill" can be made into the passive sentence, "Jill was interviewed."
• In the passive version, the auxiliary verb "be" is used in combination with the past participle of the main verb. The simple past of "be" is used because the active version was in the simple past. In the simple present, the passive version would be, "Jill is interviewed." In the compound tenses, two auxiliaries are required. The present and past progressive forms would be "Jill is being interviewed," and Jill "was being interviewed." The present and past perfect forms would be,"Jill has been interviewed" and "Jill had been interviewed."
• Usually, in an active sentence with an object, the "agent" — the person or thing doing the action — is named by the subject. When the active sentence is put into the passive, this information about the agent may disappear. (It may also be kept by the use of an adverbial phrase as in "jill was interviewed by Harry.")
• There are several reasons for using the passive rather than the active: the agent may be unimportant as in "Harry's office has been painted"; the agent may be unknown as in, "Harry's old friend Bill has been murdered"; or it may be necessary to emphasize the "recipient" of the action by naming it at the beginning of the sentence/clause, as in "The repairs to Harry's roof were paid for by the insurance company."

adjectival form of verb
• The adjectival form of a verb is an adjective which has been made from a verb. Many verbs can be made into adjectives by adding the suffix "able."
• For example the adjectives, "disposable," "debatable," "detectable," "manageable," "readable," "playable" are the adjectival forms of "dispose," "debate," "detect," "manage," "read," and "play."
• When an adjective formed in this way is used to describe a particular thing the meaning is, more or less, that the action described by the original verb can be done to or with that thing. For example, "a disposable razor" is a razor that can be (or "is meant to be") disposed of (or "thrown away), and "a readable book" is a book that can be read (easily and with pleasure).
• This does not happen with all adjectives, however. For example, "lovable" is a common word, which means, approximately, "can be (and is) loved (easily and naturally and by many people," but no such adjective as "hateable" will be found in an English dictionary.
• However, although the word is not in dictionaries, it would be possible to "make up" the adjective "hateable" for a special occasion and use it to communicate successfully and grammatically. Someone could say for example, "Harry is a really terrible person. He's done all kinds of awful things to me and all sorts of other people. I know I should really hate him, and have nothing to do with him, but I just can't. I always end up forgiving him. I guess he's just not hateable."
• The suffix "able" can, in fact be added to almost any English verb to create an understandable and grammatical adjective; suffixes and prefixes that can be used in this way are called "productive." )
• Some verbs have special adjectival forms which have a similar meaning to the "able" form in which the suffix "ible" is added to a special "root." For example, something that is "visible" is something that can be seen, something that is "edible" is something that can be eaten, and something that is "portable" is something that can be carried.

• Adjectives make up one of the seven word classes in English.
• They are words such as "red" and "loud." They are used, for example,in the sentence "Harry told Jane that if she pushed the red button she would hear a loud noise." Here the adjecvtives "red" and "loud" are used ATTRIBUTIVELY to MODIFY the nouns they precede, "button," and "noise."
• In the sentences, "Jane told Harry that his voice was too loud" and "Harry's tace turned red" the adjectives "red" and "loud" are used PREDICATIVELY. In other words, there is a verb between them and the nouns they modify.

adjective clause

• Adjective clauses are CLAUSES that MODIFY NOUNS. They are called 'adjective clauses' because they do the same sort of job that single-word ADJECTIVES do. For example, in the sentence, "The man who was screaming was was Jack's friend, Harry," the adjective clause, "who was screaming'' does the same job as the adjective, "screaming" does in the sentence, "The screaming man was Jack's friend Harry."
• see also: RESTRICTIVE AND NON-RESTRICTIVE ADJECTIVE CLAUSES and, for a full discussion of this subject, Chapter Two of "Complex Sentences."
• adjective clauses are often called 'relative clauses.'


Adjuncts are one of the three types of ADVERBIAL. They are words or PHRASES or CLAUSES that are used to add meaning to VERB (PHRASES). For example, the phrase 'on the shelf' is an adjunct in the sentence, "Dinah put the jar on the shelf".
• For a fuller discussion of adjuncts and other adverbials, see Chapter Two of "Complex Sentences."

• An adverb is a word that can be used, by itself, as an ADVERBIAL. There are three kinds of adverb, ADJUNCTS, CONJUNCTS, and DISJUNCTS.
• For example, ''quickly" is an ADJUNCT in the sentence: "When the sun came up, Jane quickly got dressed and went out,"
• "however" is a CONJUNCT in the sentence "However, she forgot to take the documents with her,"
• and "unfortunately" is a DISJUNCT in the sentence, "By the time she realized her mistake, it was unfortunately too late to go back to get them."
• Some adverbs can also used to MODIFY ADJECTIVES. For example, in the sentence, "When Jane arrived at Harry's office she was extremely frightened," the adverb "extremely" modifies the adjective, "frightened."
• Some adverbs can also be used to modify other adverbs. For example, in the sentence, "When she saw the smile on Harry's face she calmed down very quickly," the adverb, 'very,' modifies the adverb, 'quickly.'
• Adverbs are one of the seven WORD CLASSES (or 'parts of speech' ) in English. (There is a full discussion of word classes in Chapter Two of "Complex Sentences.")

The adverbial is one of the five sentence parts. An adverbial can be a one-word adverb as in the sentence, "Dick and Jane left quickly after the wedding," where "quickly" is the adverbial. It can be a PHRASE as in, "Dick carried Jane into the house," where "in the house," is the adverbial. And it can be a CLAUSE as in, "As soon as they got into the car, Dick kissed Jane," where the adverbial is "as soon as they got into to the car."
• For a full discussion of sentence parts, see Chapter Two of "Complex Sentences."

adverbial clause
Adverbial clauses are clauses that modify verbs. For example,in the sentence, "Sarah cleaned up the mess while Harry had another drink," the adverbial clause, "while Harry had another drink" modifies the verb "cleaned up." And in the sentence, "Harry was angry because Sarah had refused his offer," the adverbial clause, "because Sarah had refused his offer" is an adverbial clause modifying the verb "was."
•The two examples just given are finite adverbial clauses, but adverbial clauses are often non-finite. For example, in the sentence, "After refusing Harry's offer, Sarah left immediately," the non-finite adverbial clause "after refusing Harry's offer" modifies the verb "left."

adverbial phrase

An adverbial phrase is a PHRASE, typically a PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE, that is used as an ADVERBIAL. For example in the sentence, "In the bedroom, Jane found a wonderful surprise," the prepositional phrase, "in the bedroom," is an adverbial.


A word is ambiguous if it has more than one meaning. For example, the word, "bank" is ambiguous because it can REFER to either the edge of a river or to a business where money is lent and deposited.
• A sentence is ambiguous if it can be understood in more than one way. For example, the sentence, "Flying planes can be dangerous," is ambiguous because it can be understood as meaning, "The acivity of flying playings (being a pilot) can be dangerous," or as meaning "Planes that are flying (in the air, not on the ground) can be dangerous."
• Usually — but not always — the CONTEXT makes it clear which of two or more possible meanings of a word or sentence is the right one.

The antonym of a particular word is the word that has the opposite meaning of that word. For example, the antonym of "fat" is "thin," and the antonym of "short" is "tall."


• An apostrophe is a PUNCTUATION MARK. It is used to show that letters have been omitted in a CONTRACTION, for example in "I'm," an apostrophe is used to show that the letter 'a' has been removed from the word 'am.'
• Apostrophes are also used in POSSESSIVES. For example in, "Harry's house is not far from his office" the 's' is added to "Harry" to indicate that the house belongs to Harry. This 'possessive 's' " must be separated from he main word by an apostrophe.
• Notice that apostrophes have the same shape as SINGLE QUOTATION MARKS.

"Articles" make up a subgroup of the determiner word class.

• There are two articles "a" and "the"; "an" is a spelling and pronunciation variant of "a". The articles are among the most common English words. ("The" seems be in first place on all the lists; "a" is variously listed as number four, five, or six.)

• Articles can be thought of as "default" determiners: where no other determiner is used before a noun, an article is used —except in those cases where no determiner of any kind is necessary.

• "The" is called a "definite article" because, roughly speaking, it is used when the following noun refers to a definite, specific thing (or to definite, specific things). "A"
is used, roughly speaking, when the following noun has a more general or abstract reference.

• Articles are of great importance for ESL students and their teachers because the rules governing their use are complex and difficult to state precisely —and also because, for students from some linguistic backgrounds at any rate, using articles seems "go against the grain." The most important rule — because it is the one whose violation causes the most mistakes — is: an article (or some other determiner) is ALWAYS required before a singular count noun.

auxiliary verb
An "auxiliary verb" is a verb that appears in a verb phrase, but is not the main verb.
• For example, in the verb phrase "has been working," "has" and "been" are auxiliary verbs and "working" is the main verb.

base form of verb
The base form of a VERB is just the "verb word" by itself without any "ending" and without "to." In all verbs except the verb "be," the base form is IDENTICAL with the FIRST PERSON SINGULAR (the verb form used with "I.")
• The base form is used, for example, with VERBS OF PERCEPTION, as in the sentence, "Jack watched Jill run down the hill."
• It is also used after MODAL AUXILIARIES, as in the sentence, "Dick should be more polite to Jane."

built-in object
CLAUSAL VERBS often have 'built-in objects.' In other words, these verbs have the structure of a CLAUSE that contains a VERB, and an OBJECT. For example, in the clausal verb "make a complaint," the word "complaint" must be seen as the object of the verb "make."

causative verbs
Four verbs — "make," "let," "have," and "get" — can be used "causatively," to indicate that someone "caused" someone else to do something.

•There are real and important differences between the four causative verbs but these differences are not very precise, so in explaining the verbs, it is probably better to speak of what they "suggest" rather than what they "mean."

Here are some examples and explanations:

"Dinah made Sam wash the dishes."

This suggests that Sam didn't want to wash the dishes and Dinah forced him to do it perhaps by saying she would hurt him or punish him if he didn't

"Dinah let Sam wash the dishes."

This suggests that Sam did want to wash the dishes and Dinah allowed him to do so.

"Dinah had Sam wash the dishes."

This suggests that Dinah somehow arranged (or "brought it about") that Sam washed the dishes, perhaps by paying him or perhaps just by asking him. It does not suggest that Sam was forced to wash the dishes — or that he wanted, or didn't want, to do the job.

"Dinah got Sam to wash the dishes."

This is similar to "Dinah had Sam..." but there is a slight suggestion that Sam didn't really want to wash the dishes or that this wasn't the sort of thing he was normally expected to do.

• Notice that all the causative verbs except for "get" are COMPLEMENTED by the BASE FORM. "Get" is complemented by a "to"-infinitive.

clausal verb
Clausal verbs have the structure of a clause: In other words, like clauses, they have, a VERB ''inside" them — and that verb will have an OBJECT, or perhaps AN ADVERBIAL, which is also "inside" the clausal verb.
For example the clausal verb, "make a complaint," contains the verb, "make" and the object "complaint."
• To take another example, the clausal verb, "make sure," contains the verb, "make" and the adverbial, "sure."
• However, despite having the COMPLEX STRUCTURE of a clause, clausal verbs have a SIMPLE meaning. In other words they have meaning in the same way ordinary words do.
For example, in the sentence, "Sarah made a complaint about the way Harry was talking to her," the three words, "made," "a," and "complaint" have, taken together, just one meaning, in the same way as the word "complain" has one meaning in the sentence, "Sarah complained about the way Harry was talking to her."

• A "clause" is a grammatical group of words that is "centered" on a "verb phrase". The verb phrase always has a subject — although in some cases this subject will only be "implicit." (It is important to remember that "subject" and "verb phrase" refer to sentence/clause parts, not to word classes. )
• The idea of a clause should be understood in contrast to the idea of a "phrase." Phrases do not have verb phrases at their center as clauses do.
• Clauses are either "finite" or "non-finite." A finite clause is one that has a "finite verb" in its verb phrase. (A finite-verb is a verb that has one of the three following forms: "base-form," "s-form," "past-form.")
• Clauses can also be classified as "main clauses," "subordinate clauses," and "independent clauses."
• Clauses can further be classified in terms of their function — as "adjective clauses," "noun clauses," and "adverbial clauses."
NOTE: an understanding of the idea of a clause — and in particular to the idea of a finite clause — is essential to an understanding of the idea of a sentence.


• When two words are commonly used together, they are "collocated" — or "in collocation" with one another. For example, it is common to speak of a person's reputation being "damaged," but not common to speak of it being "injured." This is not because there is a rule against speaking of an injured reputation, but just because, in general, English speakers do not speak that way. This is because "reputation" and "damage" are collocated. It is a matter of habit, not of GRAMMAR or SEMANTICS.
• To take another example, it is natural for an English speaker to speak of high hills and tall people. It would not be incorrect to speak of a high person or a tall hill; it's just that English speakers don't speak that way. If someone learning English speaks of a high person English speakers will understand what they say, but it will sound unnatural to them and, perhaps, funny. Knowledge of collocations is useful to anyone who is trying to learn to speak natural English — and even more useful to someone who is trying to learn to
write natural English.

colloquial language

Colloquial language is INFORMAL language. The difference between colloquial and formal language is mainly a matter of vocabulary. The word 'kid,' for example, is commonly used colloquially to refer to children. It is appropriate in friendly conversation, and in certain kinds of writing —  a letter to a friend, for example, or, perhaps in a piece of FICTION. It would generally not be appropriate to refer to a child as a "kid" in a text book or a political speech.
• Sometimes the difference between colloquial language and formal language is a matter of grammar. It is colloquially acceptable, in North America at least, to use the verb, "go" as a SYNONYM for "say," as in "And then Jill goes, 'I really hate you.' "
Sometimes the difference is one of PRONUNCIATION. For example, it is acceptable in colloquial, but not in formal language to pronounce "going to" as if it were spelled "gonna."


•The main use of the comma is to separate words and parts of sentences from one another. The purpose of commas is to make the sentences easier to understand.
• For example, in the following sentence commas are used to separate the items in a list: "Sarah came home carrying a basket full of bananas, apples, pears, peaches, grapes, oranges, lemons, and mangoes."
• In this sentence a comma is used to separate an introductory PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE from the rest of the sentence, "In the garage Harry found a piece of wood that was just the right size."
• In this sentence a comma is used to separate a CLAUSE from the rest of the sentence: "When Harry had fixed the chair, he made a cup of coffee and sat down."

comparative adjective

Comparative adjectives are adjectives with an "er" or "ier" SUFFIX — for example, "longer" is the comparative form of "long" and "prettier" is the comparative form of "pretty."
• Examples: "Harry tried to convince Jack that the Volga River is longer than the Amazon River." "Jane thinks she is prettier than Jill."
• An adjective like "pretty" that ends in a "y" forms its comparative by "dropping" the "y" and adding "ier."
• Only one-SYLLABLE adjectives and two-syllable adjectives ending in "y" have special comparative forms.
• Adjectives with more than one syllable that do not end in "y" generally form their comparatives by putting the word "more" in front of the adjective, as, for example, in the sentence: "Harry tried to convince Jack that mathematics was more interesting than football."

Complements are one of the five SENTENCE PARTS.
• There are two types of complement, SUBJECT COMPLEMENTS and OBJECT COMPLEMENTS.
• Like OBJECTS subject complements follow VERBS, but unlike objects, they REFER to the same thing as the subject refers to. For example, in the sentence. "On January 16, Jack became an accountant," "Jack" and "an accountant" refer to the same person.
• In this example, the subject complement is a noun phrase, but ADJECTIVES are also commonly used as subject complements. for example in the sentence, "On January 16, Jack was drunk all day." Here "drunk" and "Jack" refer to the same person.
• Subject complements can be used only after some VERBS, for example, "be," "become," "appear," and "get" when it is used as a SYNONYM for "become."
• A few verbs — "elect" and "call" are examples — can also take object complements.
• Object complements always occur with objects. They follow the object and refer to the same thing as the object refers to. Here is an example: "At the meeting, they elected Jack President of the gardening club." Here "Jack" is the object and "President of the gardening club," which refers to the same person, is the object complement.
• It is important not to confuse the idea of complements as sentence parts with the different subject of VERB COMPLEMENTATION.
• For more on complements and other sentence parts, see Chapter 1 of
Complex Sentences.

complex sentence
Complex sentences are sentences in which at least one CLAUSE is 'enclosed' inside another clause. For example, in the sentence, "When Jack arrived, Jill told him that he looked wonderful," the clause "that he looked wonderful," is enclosed in the clause "Jill told him that he looked wonderful."
• The clauses of a complex sentence are usually joined together with SUBORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS such as "when" and "if."
• When one clause is enclosed in another clause, we say the enclosed clause is SUBORDINATE to the clause that encloses it. A clause that is not inside another clause is called an INDEPENDENT CLAUSE. The whole sentence, "When Jack arrived, Jill told him that he looked wonderful" is an independent clause.
For more on complex sentences, see Chapter Three of "Complex Sentences."

compound sentence
A compound sentence contains two or more INDEPENDENT CLAUSES — clauses that are not enclosed in another clause.
• For example, the sentence "Jack arrived with Jane, but three minutes later, Jane left with Dick" is a compound sentence; it contains two clauses, "Jack arrived with Jane" and "three minutes later, Jane left with Dick," and neither of these clauses is enclosed in another clause.
• The independent clauses that make up a compound sentence are normally joined together with a COORDINATING CONJUNCTION, such as "and," "or," and "but."

compound noun
• A compound noun is a NOUN, like "classroom" that is made up of two words. Compound words have "their own" meaning. In other words, the noun, "classroom" has a meaning in just the way the words, "class" and "room" have their own meaning.
• A lot of compound nouns are made by combining two nouns, but other WORD CLASSES are also used. For example, "running shoe" is made from a VERB and a noun, and "software," is made from an ADJECTIVE and a noun. Compound nouns are also, very commonly, made by combining the two parts of a PHRASAL VERB — for example, the METHAPHORICAL phrasal verb, "let down," means "disappoint," and the compound noun, "letdown," means "a disappointment."
• Usually, as with "classroom" there is a close connection between the meaning of a compound noun and the meaing of the words that make it up. But sometimes, as with "butterfly," there is no clear connection and it is impossible to PREDICT the meaning of the compound noun on the basis of knowledge of the words
that it contains.
• Sometimes compound nouns are spelled as one word, "doghouse," for example. Sometimes they are spelled as two words, as with , "boy friend," and sometimes they are spelled with a HYPHEN, for example, "dry-cleaning." Sometimes, particularly with new compounds, more than one spelling is ACCEPTABLE. For example, the compound noun made from "whistle" and "blower" can acceptably be spelled as one word, as two words, or with a hyphen.
• Whether a compound noun is spelled as one word or two, the STRESS is always on the first word. This makes it possible to IDENTIFY a compound in speech, even without the help of CONTEXT. For example, in the NOUN PHRASE, "the hot •dog•," the fact that the stress is on "dog" INDICATES that the phrase REFERS to a dog that is hot, and in the phrase, "the •hot•dog," the fact that the stress is on "hot" indicates that this is a reference to a kind of food.

• Conditionals are sentences in which a subordinate clause — usually an "if-clause" — states a "condition" for an event described in the main clause. For example, the sentence, "If Jack drinks a lot of beer, he gets sick," states that Jack's drinking a lot of beer is a "condition" of his getting sick.
• There are three main types of conditional sentence:
(1) real conditionals such as: "If Jack tells a joke, Jill laughs."
(2) unreal conditionals such as: "If Jack told a joke, Jill would laugh."
(3) unreal past conditionals such as: "If Jack had told a joke, Jill would have laughed."
• It is also possible to form conditionals with "unless-clauses" and "whenever-clauses" (For example, "Jack won't tell the joke unless Jill asks him to" or "Whenever Jack tells a joke, Jill laughs very loudly.")
• It is also possible to make unreal past conditionals by inverting the normal order of the subject and the auxiliary verb and omitting the conjunction. (For example, "Had Jack told a joke, Jill would have laughed" has the same meaning as "If Jack had told a joke, Jill would have laughed.")

Conjuncts are a type of ADVERBIAL. They are used to CLARIFY or EMPHASIZE connections between CLAUSES and sentences. (Conjuncts are often called "sentence connectors.")
• "Then," "however," and "otherwise" are examples of conjuncts.
• Conjuncts are used to clarify and emphasize connections of meaning. For example, the two following sentences with or without using the word "however":

"When Jane and Harry left the office at 2:00 a.m., they thought the job was finished and they'd be able to rest the next day. When Harry answered his phone at 7:00 the next morning, [ however,] Dick, who was already in the office, started sh•outing at him angrily."

if they are written without "however," it would be natural to think that a CONTRAST was being made between what Jane and Harry expected and what actually happened the next morning, but it is not absolutely certain that there is such a connection. When the word "however" is added, it becomes completely clear that a contrast is being made.
• In many types of writing, the most important thing is to be clear — to make it easy for readers to understand, in other words. Using conjuncts intelligently is a good way to to increase clarity, but more is required: well-made sentences, good word choice, and properly-ordered, logically-connected ideas. If these things are absent, conjuncts will not help.
• It is important to understand the difference between conjuncts and CONJUNCTIONS. Conjunctions such as "if" and "when" are like conjuncts in that they emphasize and clarify connections, but unlike conjuncts in that they also connect CLAUSES GRAMMATICALLY, in order to create COMPLEX and COMPOUND SENTENCES.
• Learners who do not understand the difference between conjuncts and conjunctions often make serious mistakes as a result. It is correct, for example, to write, using the conjunction, "after," to write

"After Dick phoned, Harry and Jane quickly went back to the office."

but, because "then" is not a conjunction, it is not correct to write:

¿ "Dick phoned then Harry and Jane quickly went back to the office." ¿

This must be written as two sentences:

"Dick phoned. Then Harry and Jane quickly went back to the office."

Conjunctions are a special type of FUNCTION WORD They are used to combine clauses into COMPOUND SENTENCES and COMPLEX SENTENCES.
• There are two main types of conjunction: COORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS such as “and” and “or” are used to combine INDEPENDENT CLAUSES and make COMPOUND SENTENCES. SUBORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS such as “when” and “if” are used to enclose DEPENDENT CLAUSES inside other clauses and in that way to make COMPLEX SENTENCES.
•It is important not to confuse conjunctions with CONJUNCTS.

Many words "carry" feeling with them: when something is described with these words, anyone listening or reading will have POSITIVE or NEGATIVE feelings about the thing being described. For example, the same, not-fat person could be described correctly as being "skinny," or "slim," or "thin." The first of these words will create negative feelings in a listener or reader, and the second one positive feelings. The word "thin" is NEUTRAL; in other words, by itself, it will not lead to any feelings at all.

content word
Content words are words like "table" or "green" or "run" that have meaning "on their own" as "names" of things. They are also called LEXICAL WORDS. The idea of a content word has to be understood in contrast to the idea of a FUNCTION WORD (or GRAMMAR WORD). Function words like "in," "the," or "should" — words that are used to combine other words into grammatical sentences and have little or no meaning "on their own."
One way of defining "content word" would be to say that a content word is a word that is not a function word.

• The context of something is what "surrounds" it.
• The real context of an event is the situation in which it takes place. For example: "Harry doesn't understand that it's wrong to laugh so loudly in the context of a business meeting."
•The linguistic context of a word, or phrase is the other language that surrounds it. For example: "It is incorrect to use the present perfect in the context of a sentence that mentions a point in time, such as: 'Harry has seen Sarah yesterday.'"

• In speech, very common words are often joined together and pronounced as one word. When this happens some of the sounds are omitted. The result is a 'contraction.' When a contraction is written, an APOSTROPHE is used to indicate the place where the sound, and the letters, have been left out.
• Examples: "I'm" is a contraction of "I am." "Don't" is a contraction of "do not." "They've" is a contraction of "they have."
• Contractions are not usually used in FORMAL writing but they are often used in INFORMAL writing.

coordinating conjunctions
The coordinating conjunctions are, "and," "but," and "or."
• They are used to join INDEPENDENT CLAUSES together to make COMPOUND SENTENCES.
• Examples:
- "Dick will go to the meeting, and Jane will come with him." "Dick will go to the meeting, but Jane will not come with him."
- "Dick will go to the meeting or Jane will go in his place."
• The word "so" can also be used to join independent clauses and make compound sentences, as, for example in "Dick wants to continue working on his report, so Jane will go to the meeting," but it is different in some ways from the basic coordinating conjunctions.

count nouns and non-count nouns

• a count noun is a noun that has a plural form
• the most typical count nouns are
(1) ones like "table" and "chair" which refer to physical objects" with definite boundaries and
(2) ones like "war" and "game" which refer to events with a definite beginning and end

• non-count nouns — unlike count nouns — do not have plural forms;
• the most typical non-count nouns are:
(1) ones like "air" and "butter" which refer to physical material that is not divided into objects with definite boundaries and
(2) "abstract" nouns like "pain," and "heat" which refer to feelings or conditions without referring to a particular ("concrete") instance of that feeling or condition

• nouns in the second category of count nouns can sometimes also be used "abstractly" (or "generally") as non-count. For example, "war" is a count-noun in a sentence like "The Vietnam War ended in 1975" and but it is a non-count noun in a sentence like "War must be avoided if possible."

• nouns in the second category of non-count nouns can sometimes be used as count nouns to refer to a particular "episode" of a feeling or condition. For example, in the sentence "Jill suffered from terrible pain after the accident," "pain" is a non-count noun, but it is a count noun in a sentence like: "As Jill was walking down the stairs, she suddenly felt a terrible pain in her ankle.

• Although it is generally true that nouns referring to physical objects with definite boundaries are count nouns, there are several important, "generic" words that refer to types of such objects that are non-count, for example: "furniture," "luggage," "equipment."

• The distinction between count and non-count nouns is of great importance to ESL teachers — and their students — mainly because of its relevance to the complicated matter of article use. The most important points are these:

(1) singular count nouns must always be preceded by an article or some other "determiner"
(2) non-count nouns can never be preceded by an "indefinite article" ("a(n)")

"Determiners" make up one of the seven "word classes" in English.

• Determiners are words that modify nouns. (In this way they are similar to adjectives which also modify nouns; but in other ways they are different from adjectives).

• There are several types of determiners:

- articles ("a," "an," "the")
- demonstratives (such as "this," and "those")
- possessives (such as "my" and "their")
- quantifiers (such as "all" and "many")
- cardinal numbers (such as "one" and "thirty-five")
- ordinal numbers (such as "first" and "eighth")

• All the demonstratives, one possessive ("his"), and many of the quantifiers ("many" and "some," for example) can be used without nouns —and when used in this way, they are similar to pronouns.

• When possessives are used without nouns, they are still not identical to adjectives. For example, several adjectives may be used to modify a single noun, but no more than one article, demonstrative, or possessive can precede a single noun. (In other words, phrases like "A big, fat, ugly man" are grammatically correct, but phrases like ¿"A my house"¿ or ¿"the your mother"¿ are never grammatically correct.)

• Similarly, when demonstratives or other determiners are used without following nouns, they are still not identical with pronouns. For one thing, they cannot be used in "tag questions" as pronouns can. (For example, although "It's delicious, isn't it?" is correct, ¿"This is delicious, isn't this?"¿ is not correct.) Another difference between pronouns and determiners used without nouns is that the former must be placed between the verb and the particle of a separable phrasal verb. However, demonstratives, like nouns, can be placed either between the verb and the particle or after the particle. (For example, the sentence, "Jill picked up this today" is correct, but the sentence "Jill picked up it today" is not.)

• note
: in the grammar text, "Complex Sentences," "determiner" is defined as a referring to a sub-group of the "word class," "noun introducer," and articles and demonstratives are regarded as types of "determiner." (This now seems to me to be an unnecessary way of doing things.)

direct object
Direct objects are a type of OBJECT. The other main type of object is INDIRECT OBJECTS.
• Examples:
– "Jack sold his car." Here the direct object is "his car."
– "Harry broke the window." Here the direct object is "the window."
• Some verbs can have indirect objects as well as direct objects.
• For example, in "Harry sold Tom his car," "Tom" is the indirect object and "his car" is the direct object.
• VERBS that can take direct objects only are called TRANSITIVE VERBS. Verbs that can take both direct and indirect objects are called DITRANSITIVE VERBS.
•There is another important kind of object, the PREPOSITIONAL OBJECT. Prepositional objects are similar to direct objects but, unlike direct objects, they must be preceded by a PREPOSITION, as is. for example the prepositional object "some strange music" in the sentence, "Tom, Dick, and Harry listened to some strange music."

direct quotation

Disjuncts are one of the three types of ADVERBIAL. Disjuncts are used to INDICATE the speaker or writer (or someone else) feels (or thinks) about what is being said. Disjuncts can be either single words or PHRASES.
• For example:
- "
Unfortunately, Harry didn't tell Jane about Sarah's illness."
- "
Of course, it would have been better if Jane had never agreed to Harry's plan."
- "
Unbelievably, Harry's mother and Jane's father died on the same day."
- "Sam does not have long to live,
in his doctor's opinion."
• Unlike the other two sorts of adverbial, disjuncts APPLY to the whole sentence in which they appear. For example, it is the "whole" fact Harry didn't tell Jane about Sarah's illness that is important. (By contrast, ADJUNCTS apply only to the VERB PHRASE of a CLAUSE or sentence, and CONJUNCTS apply to both the two sentences they connect.)

ditransitive prepositional verb
A ditransitive prepositional verb is a verb that takes both a direct object and a prepositional object. The verb is followed by a direct object, then a preposition, and finally, a prepositional object.
• For example: "Tom persuaded Jill to come to Harry's party." Here "Jill" is the direct object and "to come to Harry's party" is the prepositional object. As in this case, the prepositional objects of ditransitive prepositional verbs are often non-finite clauses, but this is not always the case. For example, in the sentence, "Jill doesn't earn much money from her teaching job," the noun phrase, "her teaching job" is a prepositional object.

• In 1066, England was conquered by French-speaking people, the Normans. For the next three hundred years, French was the language of the English "ruling class" — the rich and powerful people who controlled the society. Ordinary English people continued to speak English.
Slowly, the use of French declined, and by 1425, English was the spoken language at all levels of English society. For a while, French continued to be commonly used for writing — as did Latin. However, after printing was invented in 1476, more and more people who knew no French or Latin learned to read and wanted books written in English. As a result, English soon became the language of writing in England, as well as the language of speech.
• (By 1649 around 20,000 books and "pamphlets" had been printed in English; it is thought that at that time between one-third and one-half of the people in the biggest city, London, could read.
• Although the English stopped speaking using French words, they did not stop using the French words that had become part of English over the 300 years that the French had been in control. In 1485 there were approximately 10,000 French "loan words" in English, and about 7,000 of these have survived.

• The headword is the main word in a phrase. For example, in the noun phrase, "the beautiful golden ring that was stolen from the museum," the headword is "ring."

Two words are homonyms of each other if they have different meanings but are:
(a) spelled in the same way although pronounced differently (For example, "wind" as in "Harry's hat blew off in the wind," and "wind" as in "Jill watched Jack slowly wind the string around his finger.")
(b) pronounced in the same way although spelled differently: (For example, "pear" as in "Harry said it was the best pear he had ever eaten,"and "pair" as in "Jack bought Jill an expensive pair of earrings.")
(c) both pronounced and spelled in the same way (For example, "Sarah screamed when she saw the bear standing in the doorway " and in "Jane couldn't bear to look at Dick's drunken face any longer.)
•[The word "homonym" is defined in different ways by different writers. The flesl.net definition follows the one given in the Wikipedia article on homonyms. That article contains a discussion of other ways that "homonym" can be defined.]

intransitive verbs
Intransitive verbs are verbs like "die," "sleep," and "happen" which can never take an object. (See also the entry, "transitive and instransitive verbs.")

Latin and English
Latin was the language of the city of Rome and of the large empire the Romans built.between about 500 BCE and 100 CE. In many areas that were part of the Roman Empire, ordinary people eventually came to use Latin as their native language. When the Roman Empire collapsed, these people continued to speak Latin. Slowly, however, because there was no longer any central control, the Latin spoken by these former Roman citizens evolved into a number of separate, languages: this is how the "Romance languages" — Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Romanian — came into existence.
Much of the island of Britain was part of the Roman Empire from about 50 BCE until about 300 CE, but the people who lived there — the "Celts" — did not become Latin speakers in the way that people in some other parts of the Empire did. •Soon after the Romans left, Britain was invaded by people from northern Europe, the "Jutes," the "Angles," and the "Saxons." The invaders killed many of the Celts. Those who were not killed were pushed back into small areas in the far west of Britain, or across the English channel to "Brittany." The part of Britain that the invaders occupied came to named after one of the invading groups — "Angle-land" or "England." And the invaders' language came to be the language of England. It is called "Anglo-Saxon" or (another name for the same thing) "Old English."
•The Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes had not been citizens of the Roman Empire, but they had been in contact with it for a long time. As a result, when they invaded England, there were already about a hundred Latin words in their vocabulary. So even at the very beginning, there was a Latin influence on English. "Kitchen," "street," "wine," and "chalk" are originally Latin words which were already in the vocabulary of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes before they invaded England.
•The influence of Latin increased when, around 600 CE, the Anglo-Saxons became Christians. Latin-speaking Christian missionaries began coming to England from Rome, where the headquarters of the Christian church were located and they brought Latin words with them. The present-day English words "circle," "city," "martyr," and "master" came into English at this time.
•Because the French language evolved from Latin, Latin also exerted an indirect but important influence on English during the period when French speakers controlled England, between 1066 and about 1400. During that time, as many as 10,000 French words became part of English — and as many as 7,000 of them are still used in present-day English.
Between 1500 and 1650 there was a large increase in intellectual and artistic activity in England — and a great deal of interest Roman and Greek history. Many books were written and the "scholars" who wrote them often brought in Latin or Greek words. "Image," and "juvenile" came into English from Latin during that time.
•In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries many more Latin and Greek words were adopted as the result of increased scientific activity. "Data," "ratio" and "molecule" all came into English from Latin during that time

• the "lexis" of a language is everything in it that has meaning: all the individual words that are not "function words," all the "morphemes" that are parts of words, and all the "multi-word lexical items" such as "phrasal verbs."
• a "lexicon" is a dictionary or a list of words used in a particular area; the adjective, "lexical" means "having to do with meaning."
• ETYMOLOGY: the English word "lexis" comes from the Greek "lexis" meaning "word" or "speech"

main verb
The "main verb" is the final verb in a verb phrase and the one that gives the phrase its meaning.
• The main verb is the only verb in the verb phrase if the verb phrase is "simple" as, for example, in "Jack and Jill
work hard. If the verb phrase is "compound," then the main verb is the final verb and any other verbs will be auxiliaries. For example, in "Jack and Jill have been working hard," "working" is the main verb and "have" and "been" are auxiliaries.

modal auxiliary
The "modal auxiliaries" are:

- "can," "could,"
- "will," 'would,"
- "shall," "should,"
- "might," "may," "must"

• These verbs can never be the "main verb" of a "verb phrase." They work with other verbs in verb phrases such as "must eat" or "will be sleeping." Unlike the "standard" auxiliary verbs, "do," "have," and "be" they can never be used by themselves as "main verbs."

• The modal auxiliaries also differ from the standard auxiliaries in that, although they cannot be used alone, they do have their own meaning. (When they are used as auxiliaries, "do," "have" and "be" have no meaning at all; they have an entirely grammatical function.)

• Generally speaking the modal auxiliaries "express" degrees of probability, possibility, advisability, and obligation. For example, "Jane should go to a doctor," means that it is advisable for her to go and "Jane must tell Harry the truth" means that she is obliged to tell him the truth, that it would be wrong for her not to do so.

• Modal auxiliaries are important to ESL teachers and their students. In the first place, each of them has several meanings and, in the second place there are various grammatical complications in their use — for example, concerning how they are to be put into the past, and how their positive and negative meanings are related.) Moreover, one of the most common chronic (or "fossilized") errors is using a to infinitve after a modal, as in ¿"Jack told Jill, 'I must to go now.'"¿

Adjectives "modify" nouns. Adverbs "modify" verbs. In other words, they change their meanings slightly by making them more exact. (As well as being a techincal term in grammar, the word "modify" is an ordinary English word with a meaning similar to "change." For example, "Jack and Jill modified their plans," has approximately the same meaning as "Jack and Jill changed their plans.")
• As well as one-word adjectives, adjective clauses can modify nouns. For example, in the sentence, "Jack showed Jill an old book that his grandmother had given him," both the one-word adjective "old" and the adjective clause "that his grandmother had given him," modify the noun, "book."
Similarly, as well as one-word adverbs, adverbial clauses can modify verbs. For example, in the sentence, "Jill smiled happily when Jack showed her a photo of him sitting on his grandmother's knee," both the one-word adverb "happily" and the adverbial clause, "when Jack showed her a photo of him sitting on his grandmother's knee," modify the verb "smiled."

• A morpheme is a "unit of meaning" which cannot be broken down (or "analyzed") into other units of meaning. For example, the word "dog" is just one morpheme because its meaning cannot be broken down into parts, but the word "dogs" contains two morphemes because its meaning can be broken down into two parts, the "dog-morpheme" and the "plural-morpheme," "s," which is added to "dog" in order to create a plural noun. Similarly, the word "happy" is one morpheme, but the word "unhappy" has two because the prefix "un" has its own meaning and is therefore a separate morpheme. (The SUPERLATIVE form of "unhappy," "unhappiest," made by adding the superlative SUFFIX, "est," has three morphemes.)

Nouns make up one of the eight English word classes.
• From a SEMANTIC point of view, nouns are names of "things" — PHYSICAL things like cups and pens, MENTAL things like thoughts and feelings, and ABSTRACT things like love and beauty.
• Defined from a GRAMMATICAL point of view, nouns are words that act as headwords in a certain type of grammatical structure called a "noun phrase." As the headwords of noun phrases, nouns have several distinctive grammatical qualities: they can be modified by adjectives; they have PLURAL and SINGULAR forms; often, they must be preceded by a NOUN INTRODUCER such as an ARTICLE, a QUANTIFIER, or a NUMERAL.
• Sometimes the grammatical definition of "noun" takes priority over the semantic definition resulting in nouns which are not really the names of "things." The noun "hurry" as it is used in the phrase, "in a hurry" is a good example: there is no "thing" called "a hurry"; the noun has just been "invented" to create an alternative way of saying something that would normally be said with the VERB "hurry."
• There are two basic types of noun: COUNT NOUNS such as "sugar"and "happiness" and NON-COUNT NOUNS such as "pencil" and "event." And there is a third important category: PROPER NAMES such as "Tom," "Dick," and "Harry."
• In addition to being the headwords as noun phrases, nouns do another important job as NOUN MODIFIERS of other nouns as, for example, in the noun phrase, " a white cotton t-shirt." Here the headword "t-shirt" is MODIFIED by the ADJECTIVE "white" and the noun modifier "cotton."

noun modifier
A noun modifier is a noun that is used to modify another noun. For example, in the sentence, "Jack and Jill spent their holidays in a mountain village," the word, "mountain" is a noun modifier, modifying the noun "village."
• Noun modifiers do the same job as adjectives do, but they are not adjectives. One sign of this is the fact that they cannot be modified by adverbs in the way adjectives can. For example, we cannot say, XX"Jack and Jill spent their holidays in a very mountain village"XX but if we add the adjective, "pretty" we can say "Jack and Jill spent their vacation in a very pretty mountain village."

• Another characteristic of noun modifiers is that,if they are used with an adjective they must always be put between the adjective and the modified noun.
Often, two or more noun modifiers can be used to modify one noun as in the phrase "dog training course" as used in the sentence, "Jack and Jill met each other in a dog training course."
• Like adjectives, noun modifiers are never plural. For example, the plural of the phrase "city center" is "city centers."

noun phrase:
A noun phrase is a grammatical group of words which centers on a "main noun." This main noun is called the "headword." In the noun phrase "a horse," the headword is "horse." "Horse" is also the headword in the noun phrase, "a tired old horse ridden by a fat,ugly man."
• Normally, we think of a "phrase" as a group of two or more words, but speaking strictly, in a grammatical context, a phrase can contain only one word. For example, the object of the sentence, "Harry just bought another race horse," is the noun phrase, "another race horse"; and the object of the sentence, "Harry loves horses," is the noun phrase "horse."

The object is one of the five sentence/clause parts which make up all English sentences.
• Semantically, an object can be defined as the sentence/clause part which names the "thing" that "receives" the "action" . Or, to put the same thing in a different way, we can say that the object of a sentence or clause is the thing that "is acted upon."
• Grammatically, an object can be defined in terms of its location in a sentence or clause. In a normal, active sentence or clause, the object comes immediately after the verb phrase

. (Passive sentence/clauses cannot have objects because, there, the "recipient" is named in the subject.

• Objects can be nouns as in "Dick believed
Jane, " noun phrases as in "Dick believed the story Jane told him" or noun clauses as in "Dick believed that Jane had gone to visit her sister."

participial adjectives
•• "Participial adjectives" are adjectives which have the same endings as the past participle or the present participle of verb forms.
•There are two main types: "active participial adjectives," which have the "-ing" ending of present participles, and "passive participial adjectives," which have the same ending as the past participle form of the associated verb.
• (Passive participial adjectives end in "ed" if the verb they are "associated with" is a regular verb; if the associated verb is an irregular verb, they have the same ending as the past participle as that verb. For example, the passive participial adjective associated with the verb "excite" is "excited" and the passive participial associated with the verb "see" is "seen." )
••Participial adjectives are important to ESL students and their teachers because they are the source of many mistakes. These mistakes are particularly common with the many participial adjectives associated with verbs used to describe feelings. (For example, the verbs "excite," "frighten," and "interest.") The key to reducing the number of mistakes made with these participial adjective is to explain:
(a) that the active forms refer to the cause of the feeling and the passive forms refer to the person who is having the feeling — for example, an "exciting teacher" is a teacher whose teaching creates a feeling of excitement in her students; an "excited teacher" is one who feels excitement herself
(b) to provide large amounts of practice aimed at creating a habit of using participial adjectives correctly. (This practice should include at least some verbal drilling and some error detection.)
• There are some participial adjectives which are not associated with a verb; "talented" and "self-centered" are examples. (There is no such verb as "to talent" or "to self-center.") Participial adjectives of this kind only have passive forms. (There is no such word as "talenting," for example.)

passive voice
Verb phrases are either in the active voice or the "passive voice."
If a transitive verb phrase is in the active voice, it is followed by an object.
for more information see active voice/passive voice

past participle
• The past participle is one of the five verb forms. In regular verbs the past participle is the same as the "past form" and is formed by adding "ed" to the "base form." In irregular verbs, the past participle is formed in some other way.
(For example, the past participle of "see" is "seen" and the past participle of "swim" is "swum.")
• The past participle is used in forming the four "perfect" verb tenses, and in forming the passive voice. (For example: "I have seen that movie six times" and "That movie has been seen by millions of people all over the world.")
• The past participle is also used in forming "passive participial adjectives," for example, "a broken nose," "a stolen

•"plural" means "more than one."
• in English grammar "plural" is used in referring to "plural nouns."
• most English "count nouns" form their plural by adding "s." ("Dogs" and "cats," for example.) There are a few "irregular" plurals such as "men" (the plural of "man") and "mice" (the plural of "mouse").
non-count nouns such as "love" and "water" do not have a plural form.

phrasal verb
Phrasal verbs are a type of multi-word verb. They are made up of a verb plus an adverb. Although phrasal verbs are made up of two words, they have one meaning in the same way that ordinary one-word verbs have one meaning. For example, in the sentence,"Sarah put on her new sweater" the phrasal verb, "put on" has meaning in just the same way as the one-word verb, "put" has meaning in the sentence, "Sarah put her sweater in a drawer."
• Some phrasal verbs are strictly intransitive, for example "sleep in" in a sentence like: "On Sunday, Dick and Jane always sleep in till noon." Most phrasal verbs, however, are transitive. These verbs are divided into two categories separable and inseparable.
• An example of a separable phrasal verb is "clean up," as used in the sentence, "Dick told Jane that he would cook supper if she would clean up the mess in the kitchen." They are "separable" because, if their direct object is a pronoun, it must be placed between the verb and the adverb that make up the phrasal verb as in, "Jane said, "Why don't you clean it up and then I'll cook supper."
•This does not happen with inseparable phrasal verbs. For example, when using the the phrasal verb "go over," whether it is a noun or a pronoun, the object must follow the adverb. (For example, "Sarah asked Harry to go over the report with her," and "Harry said that he didn't have time to go over it until the next day.")
• The adverbs in phrasal verbs are often, incorrectly, called prepositions. This confusion is caused by the fact that many words — "in," "on," and "through," for example — can be used both as prepositions and as adverbs. (In the sentence, "Harry decided to carry on working even though his doctor told him he shouldn't," "on" is an adverb in a phrasal verb, but in the sentence "Harry knew he could rely on Sarah to do the work while he was in the hospital," "on" is a preposition in a prepositional verb."
•One thing that shows that "on" is an adverb in the first sentence, but a preposition in the second: In the second sentence it is possible to insert an adverb between the verb and the following preposition: "Harry knew that he could rely completely on Sarah to do the work while he was in the hospital," but this cannot be done in the first sentence. For example: ¿¿"Harry decided to carry quietly on working even though his doctor told him he shouldn't"?? is not correct English. The reason the adverb can be inserted in the second sentence is that, being an preposition, "on" in the second sentence is more closely connected to the noun phrase that follows it than it is to the verb that precedes it, whereas in the first sentence, being an adverb, "on" is more closely connected to the verb and cannot therefore correctly be separated from it.

A phrase is a group of words which work together as a "grammatical unit" but which do not have a subject/verb structure and which therefore are not clauses.
• There are several kinds of phrase: noun phrases, verb phrases, adjective phrases, adverbial phrases, and prepositional phrases.

Physical things are things like tables and chairs that can be seen and touched. Mental things are things like ideas or emotions that exist in people's, and animals' minds.

A prefix is a "word part" (or morpheme) that is added to the beginning of a word to change that word's meaning. In general, the same prefix can be used to make the same kind of change to the meaning of many words, for example, "unhappy" means "not happy," "unpleasant" means "not pleasant," and "unreadable" means "not readable." Other very common English prefixes are "re," meaning as in "rewrite" meaning "to write again" and in "rebuild" meaning to build again and "ex," meaning "former" or "past" as in "ex-wife" or "ex-president."

Prepositions make up one of the seven word classes of English. "In, "at," "on," and "between" are examples of prepositions.
• The most basic use of prepositions is to introduce noun phrases. Typically, when they are used in this way prepositions indicate the "location" of something — where it is, in other words. Sometimes the location is in space as in "Sarah ate lunch
on the train"; sometimes it is in time, as in "Sarah's train arrived at 5:30"
• There are other prepositions, however, that do not indicate location. For example, in the sentence,"Despite the rain, Dick and Jane went ahead with their plans for a picnic," the preposition "despite" indicates the "logical contrast" between the idea of a picnic and the idea of rain.
• Although prepositions make up a word class, there are several important multi-word prepositions such as "according to" in the sentence, "According to Harry Jill is in love with Dick" or "instead of" in the sentence "Harry drank beer instead of his usual whiskey."
• There are several important words that are used as conjunctions as well as prepositions. For example, in the sentence "Tom came home after the war had ended," "after" is a conjunction, but in the sentence, "Tom came home after the war," "after" is a preposition.
• There are also several important words — such as "over" and "on" — that are used as adverbs as well as prepositions. As adverbs, these words are often used to make phrasal verbs such as "look over" and "carry on," as, for example in: "Jill carefully looked over the document Jack had given her" or "Jack went home to bed, but Jill carried on." When these adverbs are used in this way they are often called "prepositions" but that is incorrect — and can be confusing.
• Prepositions have an important secondary use as parts of prepositional verbs such as "listen to" or "arrive at." In a sentence such as "Jack and Jill spent the evening listening to their favorite old songs," the preposition "to" is "working" both as part of the prepositional verb "listen to," and also as an "introduction" the prepositional oject, the noun phrase "their old favorite songs."

prepositional object
• A prepositional object is the object of a prepositional verb.
• For example, in the sentence, "Jack listened to the news," "the news" is the prepositional object of the verb "listen (to)," and in the sentence, "Jill listened to everything Jack had to say," the prepositional object is "everything Jack had to say."
• In the case of a ditransitive prepositional verb such as "charge with," the prepositional object follows the direct object.
• For example, in the sentence,"The police charged Harry with drunken driving," Harry is the direct object and "drunken driving" is the prepositional object.

prepositional phrase
A prepositional phrase is a phrase made up of a preposition followed by a noun phrase. For example, in the sentence, "In the morning, Jack took Jill to the top of the hill," "in the morning" and "of the hill" are prepositional phrases.

prepositional verb
A prepositional verb is a type of MULTI-WORD ITEM. It is a VERB + PREPOSITION combination that is best understood, and best learned as a UNIT.
• Prepositional verbs are called prepositional because their OBJECTS must be preceded by a preposition. A prepositional verb that is STRICTLY TRANSITIVE such as "rely on" will always be used with its preposition.
• Ordinary transitive verbs such as "listen (to)" will be used with their preposition when they have an object; otherwise, they will be used without a preposition. For example:
(1) "Sam told Sarah he loved listening to jazz." (The object "jazz" is preceded by "to.")
(2) "Sam told Sarah he loved jazz but she wasn't listening." ("Listen" has no object, so there is no preposition._
• Prepositional verbs are SYNTACTIC MULTI-WORD ITEMS, not SEMANTIC MULTI-WORD ITEMS. In other words, they are best understood as a unit , not because they have their own meaning but because they require a preposition when they take an object.
• The object of a prepositional verb is called a PREPOSITIONAL OBJECT.
• P
repositional verbs are often DITRANSITVE as well as PREPOSITIONAL. For example, in the sentence, "The police charged Harry with drunken driving," "Harry" is the DIRECT OBJECT and "drunken driving" is the prepositional object.

"Process" is a general word — it is used to refer to anything that happens, in other words, to a series of events of some kind. For example, "Tom carefully explained to Sarah the whole process of recording information about the sick monkeys." It is a quite formal word that is particularly useful in talking about scientific subjects or about language.

• Pronouns make up one of the eight word classes

of English. They are FUNCTION WORDS which are used to replace noun phrases and noun clauses.
• For example:
"Harry told his wife that Tom's son had been killed in an accident. She began to cry and asked him who had told him that."
In the second sentence, the pronoun "she" replaces "his wife," "him" replaces "Harry," and "that" replaces "that Tom's son had been killed in an accident."

• The most important types of pronoun are: PERSONAL PRONOUNS ("I," "us"); REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS ("myself," "themselves"); INTERROGATIVE PRONOUNS ("who," "which"); DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS ("this," those"); and INDEFINITE PRONOUNS ("each," "some").

"Punctuation" is the use of "symbols," called "punctuation marks," to show how a written text is organized — and, so, to make its meaning clear.

•The most important punctuation marks used in English are:

- "period" (also called a "full stop")
- "comma"

NOTE: Commas and periods are of special importance to ESL students and their teachers because failure to use them correctly leads to two common and serious errors in the writing of ESL students: "run-on sentences" and "sentence fragments."

The following punctuation marks are also very important:

- "question mark"
- "exclamation mark"
- "apostrophe"
- "quotation mark"

These punctuation marks are useful but of less importance.
- "colon"
- "semi-colon"
- "hyphen"
- "dash"
- "parentheses"
- "brackets"

Words refer to the things they name; or, to say it in other words, they refer to the things they "point to." For example, in the sentence, "Harry told Sarah he wanted her to come to his home and meet his mother," the noun "home" refers to Harry's home, and the noun "mother" refers to Harry's mother.
• Verbs and adjectives also refer. For example, in the sentence, "Harry ate a big breakfast just after 6:00," the verb "ate" refers to the "process" of Harry's putting food into his mouth and swallowing it, and the adjective "big" refers to the size of Harry's breakfast.
• The noun form of "refer" is "reference."

run-on sentence
• A "run-on sentence" is actually two grammatical sentences which have been incorrectly punctuated as one sentence. For example,

¿"Jack told Jill he loved her, she said she loved him too."¿

is a run-on sentence. It should be written as two sentences with the comma replaced by a period or a semi-colon.

• Run-on sentences are one of the most common "chronic errors" in the writing of advanced ESL students. The best way to reduce the number of mistakes of this kind is through practice in error detection and, perhaps, through theoretical explanations of sentence structure.

senses of a word

The "same word" can have two or more completely different meanings; for example, the word "bore" can be used as a verb meaing, "to drill a hole," or as a verb meaning "to be uninteresting" — and it is also the past tense of the verb "bear." Since there is no obvious connection between these three ways of using the word, we can say that it has three completely different meanings.
• There are many other cases, however, in which, although a word is used in two or more different ways, it would not be correct to say that it has two completely different meanings. The word "love," for example, is used in a different way in the sentence "Tom loves Jill," than it is used in the sentence "Tom loves playing golf," but, despite the difference there is an "obvious connection" between the way "love" is used in these two sentences. Because of that connection, rather than speaking of two different meanings, it is better to speak of two different senses of "love."

• a sentence is a grammatical group of words that contains at least one "finite-clause."
• sentences begin with a "capital letter" and end with a "period," an "exclamation mark," a "question mark," or a "semi-colon."
• sentences can be classified as
- "simple sentences" (which contain just one finite clause and no other clauses)
- "compound sentences" (which contain at least two independent clauses)
- "complex sentences" (which contain at least one subordinate clause but only one independent clause)
- "complex/compound sentences" (which contain at least one subordinate clause and at least two independent clauses)

sentence/clause parts
• The "sentence/clause parts" are the five categories into which all English sentences and clauses can be analyzed. They are: subject, object, complement, verb phrase, and adverbial.
• The distinction between the sentence parts and the word classes is extremely important. Sentence parts may be made up of single words, but are more likely to be made up of phrases or clauses.
• For much more on sentence parts and word classes, see the first two chapters of "Complex Sentences."

separable phrasal verb
When a separable phrasal verb has a pronoun as its object, the pronoun-object must be placed between the verb and the ADVERBIAL PARTICLE that follows it. For example, For example:

"The radio wasn't working properly, so Sarah turned it off."

The following sentence is grammatically incorrect because the adverbial particle is placed after the adverbial particle:

¿ "The radio wasn't working properly, so Sarah turned off it."¿

When a separable phrasal verb has a noun or a short noun phrase as its object, the object can be placed either between the main verb word and the particle,or it can be placed after the particle. For example, both the two following sentences are correct:

"The phone rang, so Sarah turned the radio off."
"The phone rang, so Sarah turned off the radio."

• When a separable phrasal verb has a long noun phrase as its object, the object should not be placed between the main verbword and the particle. For example:

"Sarah turned off the radio Sam had given her for her birthday," but not:
¿¿"Sarah turned the radio Sam had given her for her birthday off."??

• For more about phrasal verbs, see the entry, "phrasal verb."

strictly transitive verbs:
Strictly transitive verbs are verbs like "get" or "kill" which must take an object. (See also the entry: "transitive and intransitive verbs.")

The "subject" is one of the five basic sentence/clause parts.
•Semantically, "subject" can be defined as the name of the part of the sentence that names the "agent" — the person or thing that does the action named by the verb. For example, in the sentence "Tom cooked supper," the word "Tom" which names the person who did the cooking is the subject.(However, in a passive sentence or clause, the subject names the recipient, not the agent.)
Grammatically, "subject" can be defined as the noun, noun phrase or noun clause that precedes the verb phrase — sometimes separated from it by an adverbial.

• Words are pronounced in "syllables." For example, "eat" has one syllable, "eating" two syllables, and "edible" has three.
• A syllable is a sound, or collection of sounds, that is "carried" by one "burst" of air coming from the speaker's lungs. ("Eating" has two syllables because, when it spoken, two separate bursts of air come from the speaker's lungs.)
• All syllables contain at least one vowel. This vowel may be either a pure vowel or a diphthong.
• Syllables also usually contain one or more consonants.
• In a word with more than one syllable, one of the syllables will always carry the main stress. (The other syllable or syllables will either have a "secondary stress" or will be completely unstressed.)

technical term
A technical term is a word or phrase that has a special meaning in a particular context — for example in grammar or in "computer studies." Usually, technical terms are ordinary English words that are given a special meaning, for example the grammatical technical term "modify" is also an ordinary English word with a meaning similar to "change."

third-person s-morpheme
• The "third-person s-morpheme" is the morpheme, represented in speech by [s] and [z] and in writing by "s" or "es," which is added to the base form of a verb to make the "third-person" form. (For example, the third-person form of "eat" is "eats.")
• This morpheme is of particular importance in ESL instruction because it is so often omitted in student writing.

transitive and intransitive verbs:
• A transitive verb is a verb which can be used with an object. For example, the verb "eat" is transitive because it can be used in sentences like: "Jack and Jill ate a big meal." In other words, it can be used in clauses with a subject-verb-object (SVO) structure. An Intransitve verb is a verb that can never be have an object: it cannot be used in SVO clauses. For example, the verbs "sleep," and "die" are both intransitive.
• A verb is transitive, if it can be used with an object. Most transitive verbs can be used either with an object or without one. For example, as well as being used in SVO clauses, the verb eat can be used in subject-verb-adverial (SVA) clauses, as in "Jack and Jill have already eaten."
• Some transitive verbs are "strictly transitive." These verbs can never be used without an object. "Kill" is a strictly transitive verb; "get" is another. For example, it would is incorrect to say, ¿¿"Jane got a ticket to the show but, Jill didn't get,"?? even though it is clear from the context what Jill didn't get. Instead the verb has to be omitted as in, "Jane got a ticket to the show, but Jill didn't," or to use a pronoun as in "Jane got a ticket to the show, but Jill didn't."

• Verbs are a type of word. They make up one of the eight "word classes."
• Grammatically, "verb" can be defined as: "a word that can be used in an English "verb phrase."
• SEMANTICALLY, "verb" can be defined as the name of an "action," something that someone does, but although this definition is useful, it must be seen as subordinate to the grammatical definition — less important than it in other words. This is because there are many verbs, "be" and "believe" for example, that do not describe actions.
• Verbs can be classified, grammatically, as "LEXICAL" or "AUXILIARY" verbs: lexical verbs such as "eat" and "read" can appear as the headwords of a "verb phrase" but auxiliary verbs such as "must" and "should" cannot. (The most common auxiliary verbs "have," "do," and "be" can also be used as lexical verbs, but "MODAL AUXILIARIES" such as "must" and "should" can only be used as auxiliaries.)
• Lexical verbs can be "INLFECTED." In other words, their form can be changed by adding suffixes or in some other way in order to indicate their grammatical function. (The inflections of the regular verb "start," for example are as follows: "starts, "starting," "started.")

verb complementation
• The "complementation" of a particular verb is the grammatical form of the sorts of phrasal object and clausal object that the verb can be followed by. For example, the verb "believe" can be "complemented" by a noun phrase as in "Jack believed Jill's story" or by a "what"-clause as in "Jack believed what Jill told him" or by a "that"-clause as in "Jack believed that Jill was telling the truth."
• The subject of verb complementation is of great importance to teachers of ESL "composition" and their teachers because errors of complementation are common even in the writing of advanced non-native writers. It is a difficult subject to teach however because there are no general rules and, as a result, the complementation "patterns" of a very large number of verbs have to be taken up one at a time.
• NOTE: the term "verb complementation" is standard usage, I believe, but it is, perhaps, somewhat unfortunate because it can easily be confused with the term "complement" which refers to the "complement" sentence part — i.e. to "subject complements" and "object complements." Matters are further complicated by the fact that sentence-part complements must be distinguished from sentence-part "objects" — whereas, according to the terminological usage of flesl.net and of Complex Sentences, the clauses and phrases that "complement" verbs (that provide "verb complementation") are objects.

verb form
Words in the verb word class, have several forms. The BASE FORM, for example, ‘eat’,
the TO-FORM, ‘to eat’, the S-FORM, ‘eats’, the ING-FORM, ‘eating’, the PAST FORM,
‘ate’, and the past participle form ‘eaten’. In the case of REGULAR VERBS, and
many IRREGULAR VERBS, the past-participle form and the past form are identical.

verb phrase• The "verb phrase" is one of the five SENTENCE/CLAUSE PARTS.
• We speak of verb phrases as being the verb phrases "of"

a sentence or a clause, and we speak of a sentence or a clause as "having" a verb phrase.

A verb phrase may contain only one word as in the sentence, "Dick smokes cigars," and it may contain as many as four words as in the sentence, "Dick has been smoking cigars."
• All the words in a verb phrase must belong to the "verb word class." (Verb phrases are unlike the four other sentence parts in this way; all of those can contain words from all the word classes.)

verb tense
• There is some disagreement among ESL educators and professional grammarians as to just how the phrase "verb tense" should be used. On flesl.net, it refers to the following eight following types of verb phrase formations:

- simple present ("Jill eats a lot.")
- simple past ("Jack ate a lot yesterday.")

- present continuous ("Jack is eating in the cafeteria these days.")
- past continuous ("Jill was eating breakfast when Jill arrived.")

- present perfect ("Jack has eaten octopus several times.")
- past perfect ("Jill had already eaten her dessert when Jack arrived.")

- present perfect continuous ("Jack and Jill have been eating lunch together recently.")
- past perfect continuous("Jack and Jill had been talking about Harry just before he phoned.")

• In naming the verb tenses, the term "progressive" is often used instead of the term "continuous." In this context, the two words are synonymous.

• Strict grammarians would generally say that there are only two tenses in English "past" and "present." They would say that the terms "perfect" and "continuous" refer, not to tenses, but to "aspects."

• Writers of ESL materials often use the phrase "verb tense" quite loosely and describe as "tenses" the various ways of referring to the future, by using modal auxiliaries or the present continuous form of "go." They also sometimes refer to the passive voice as a tense.

• The way the phrase "verb tense" is used on flesl.net is, I hope, a compromise between these two "extremes."

• For a list of the English vowels and the symbols used to represent them in the International Phonetic Alphabet go to the IPA page.
• Vowels are one of the two main types of "speech sounds." Consonants are the other main type.
• The difference between vowels and consonants is that vowels are at the "core" (or "center") of syllables. Consonants, on the other hand, come at the beginning or the end of a syllable.
• In general, vowels are made by pushing air through an open vocal tract — in other words a vocal track that is not "obstructed" (or "blocked") in some way. Consonants, on the other hand are generally made by obstructing the air as it passes through the vocal tract.
• There are exceptions, though: there are some consonants which are made with an open vocal tract; these "open" sounds are called consonants, because, although they are made with an open vocal tract, they come at beginning of a syllable. (For example the [w] sound and the beginning of the word "west.")
• There are also some vowels made with a blocked vocal tract; they are called vowels because, although they are made with an obstructed vocal tract, they are at the core of syllables. (For example the [r] sound in the middle of the word "bird," as it is pronounced in standard North American English.)
• For a list of the English vowels and the symbols used to represent them in the International Phonetic Alphabet go to the IPA page
• Vowels can be stressed or unstressed. For example, in the word "baby," the first vowel is stressed and the second unstressed.
• Vowels can be "pure." In other words, they can contain only one "speech sound." (For example, the [i] sound in the word "beat."
• Vowels can also be "diphthongs.") In other words, they can be a combination of two speech sounds. (For example the [aj] sound in the word "hide.")

word class
According to the approach to grammar taken on "flesl.net" and in the accompanying text, "Complex Sentences," all English words belong to one or another of eight "word classes."
The eight classes are; noun, determiner, pronoun, adjective, verb, adverb, preposition, and conjunction.
•These classes are defined in terms of the "jobs" they do in putting together the five "sentence/clause parts" For example, any explanation of the sentence/clause part, "subject" will mention that the subject of a clause will be either a noun phrase or a NOUN CLAUSE. And,of course, any full explanation of "noun phrase" or "noun clause" will have to include an explanation of "noun."
• For more on word classes and sentence/clause parts, see Chapters One and Two of "Complex Sentences."