Modify is a word that’s used a lot in grammar and it means to change or add to the meaning of another word or words, e.g. beautiful modifies the word plant (beautiful plant).

Parts of speech (also known as word classes)

Adjectives: describing words, such as hot, cold, beautiful.

Adverbstell how, when, where and how much, e.g. slowly, fast, very.

Conjunctions: link words or parts of a sentence, e.g. but, so, because.

Determiners: come before a noun and tell us which ones, whose and how many, e.g. three, that, my, a.

Nouns: persons, places or things, e.g. cat, man, woman.

  • Collective nouns: refers to a group of people or things, e.g. team, jury, staff.
  • Proper nouns: take initial capitals and name a specific person, place or thing, e.g. Ms Smith, Sydney, Parliament House.

Prepositionsused before a noun or pronoun to relate them to other words, e.g. by, to, at.

Pronouns: replace a noun previously mentioned or already known, e.g. it, you, who.

  • Personal pronouns: words such as I, me, mine, you, yours, his, hers and we are used to refer to a noun previously referred to or known.
  • Relative pronouns: used after a noun to make it clear what person or thing we are referring to, e.g. that, which, who, whom, whose, whoever, whomever.

Verbs: show action or state of being, e.g. play, exist, write, sit.

Sentence terms

Active voice: with the active voice, a subject performs the action of the verb, e.g. I kicked the ball.

Clausegroup of related words containing a subject and verb that is a complete sentence or part of a sentence, e.g. I work in a bank.

Dependent clause(also known as subordinate clause) group of related words that cannot stand alone. They depend on the independent (main) clause to make sense, e.g. because it was raining.

Independent clause: (also known as main clause) group of related words that can stand alone as a whole sentence or part of a sentence, e.g. She ate dinner. We waited because we knew she was coming.

Objects: receive the action of the verb, e.g. I caught the ball. Objects can be direct or indirect, e.g. She threw the ball (direct object) to me (indirect object).

Passive voicethe subject receives the action of the verb rather than carrying it out, e.g. The ball (subject) was kicked. In this example, we don’t know who kicked the ball, but if the ‘doer’ comes after the verb, the sentence is still passive, e.g. The ball was kicked by the boy.

Phrase: group of related words that acts as a unit within a sentence, but do not form a complete thought, e.g. fed up and bored.

Subject: what or who the sentence is about. The subject often, but not always, performs the action of the verb – I invited a guest. (Not so in passive sentences – A guest was invited.)

Traditional grammar talks about simple and complete subjects and modern grammar talks about head nouns and noun phrases.

A beautiful woman entered the room.
woman = simple subject or head noun
A beautiful woman = complete subject or noun phrase

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