Understanding grammar improves your writing
I can remember when I first started reading grammar books that the language was daunting (some of it still is!).
So here’s a few terms in case you need to refresh your memory.
Parts of speech
Parts of speech are sometimes called word classes.
Adjectives: describing words.
hot, cold, beautiful
Adverbs: tell how, when, where and how much.
slowly, fast, very
Conjunctions: link words or parts of a sentence.
but, so, because
Determiners: come before a noun and tell us which ones, whose and how many.
three, that, my, a
Nouns: persons, places or things.
cat, man, woman
Prepositions: used before a noun or pronoun to relate them to other words.
by, to, at, up
Pronouns: replace a noun previously mentioned or already known, e.g. it, you, who.
Moira was so tired that she fell asleep at the table.
Verbs show action or state of being; they are ‘doing’ words, such as play, write, sit.
They played sports before they sat down to eat.
Active voice: with the active voice, a subject performs the action of the verb.
I kicked the ball.
Passive voice: the subject receives the action of the verb, rather than carrying it out. \
The ball (subject) was kicked.
Clause: group of related words containing a subject and verb that is a complete sentence or part of a sentence.
I work in a bank.
Dependent clause: also known as subordinate clause – a group of related words containing a subject and predicate. Dependent clauses cannot stand alone – they depend on the independent (main) clause to make sense.
Because it was raining…
Independent clause: also known as main clause – a group of related words containing a subject and predicate. An independent clause can be a complete sentence or part of a sentence.
She ate dinner.
Modify: change or add to the meaning of another word or words.
beautiful modifies the word plant (beautiful plant)
Objects: receive the action of the verb. An indirect object either comes before the direct object or is used with a preposition (to or for).
She hit the ball. (direct object)
He gave the boy a bat. (indirect object)
He gave the bat (direct object) to the boy (indirect object).
Phrase: a group of related words that acts as a unit within a sentence, but do not form a complete thought.
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.)
Learn more with my online Grammar, Punctuation and Usage course.
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