Guide to Grammar

May 14, 2023, Comment off

A Quick Guide to English Grammar

English grammar serves as the foundation of effective communication, enabling us to convey our thoughts, ideas, and emotions with clarity and precision. Whether you are a student striving to improve your writing skills, a professional aiming for polished business correspondence, or simply an individual seeking to enhance your language proficiency, a solid grasp of English grammar is indispensable.

In this article, we link to a series of comprehensive guides to help you navigate the intricacies of English grammar, focusing on the rules and principles governing the language’s structure and usage. This page is applicable to both British English and American English, but some of the pages we link to, in particular the usage of commas, is tailored specifically for readers in the United States.

In English grammar, the rules of spoken English, ie parts of speech, can be broadly categorized into eight groups. If you don’t have time to read all of this guide, take the time, at least, to read and learn the key takeaway below.

Key Takeaway:

  • Nouns are words that represent people, places, things, or ideas. Common nouns are general, while proper nouns refer to specific people, places, or things.
  • Pronouns replace nouns to avoid repetition in writing. Examples include personal pronouns like “he” or “she,” possessive pronouns like “her” or “our,” and demonstrative pronouns like “this” or “these.”
  • Adjectives modify or describe nouns and pronouns. They can denote size, color, shape, or personality, among other characteristics. Examples include “big,” “blue,” “round,” and “friendly.”
  • Verbs are action words that describe what someone or something is doing. Action verbs refer to activities like “run” or “jump,” while nonaction verbs describe a state of being, such as “be” or “seem.”
  • Adverbs modify or describe verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. They indicate time, manner, place, or degree, among other characteristics. Examples include “quickly,” “nevertheless,” or “there.”
  • Prepositions show the relationship between other words in a sentence. Examples include “at,” “in,” or “on.”
  • Conjunctions connect words, phrases, or sentences together. Examples include “and,” “but,” or “or.”
  • Articles are words that indicate whether a noun is specific or general. The definite article is “the” and refers to a specific noun, while the indefinite articles “a” and “an” are used for general nouns.

Other issues, like capitalization, spelling, punctuation, and so on, are not part of speech but are part of grammar in English’s written form, and this is where the UK and US differ more significantly in the rules that govern grammar.

What are the Parts of Speech in the English Language?

This article serves as a vital guide to understanding the fundamental elements of language. By exploring the various parts of speech, you will acquire a comprehensive understanding of how words function and how they can be utilized in your writing and speech.

As you delve deeper into this topic, you will discover the unique characteristics of each part of speech, including their role in forming sentences and the functions they serve. By understanding these essential building blocks of language, you will be better equipped to convey your message with clarity and precision.

Guide to Grammar - Nouns


As a language enthusiast, I always find it fascinating to explore the different parts of speech. In this segment, we will be focusing solely on the noun, which is considered the backbone of any sentence. A sentence without a noun is incomplete and incoherent.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of nouns, we’ll delve into the two main categories: common nouns and proper nouns. First, we will explore common nouns, which are primarily used to describe everyday objects, people, and places. Then, we will move on to proper nouns which are used to point out specific people, places, and organizations.

Let’s explore this further.

Common Nouns

A type of noun that is common or generic and refers to a class of people, places, things, or ideas is commonly referred to as a ‘common noun.’ These are usually not capitalized unless they appear at the beginning of a sentence. Examples include names of fruits like banana, apple, and places such as park, or restaurant, all fall under common nouns.

Common nouns often come in contrast with proper nouns, which are unique and refer to specific people, places, or things such as John, London, and Coca-Cola. While common nouns can refer to any member within a group, Proper Nouns tend to be specific.

In addition to identifying whether a word identifies a general person, place, or thing (or even concept), it’s important for writing purposes since sometimes knowing when not to capitalize certain words in an article could change the meaning.

Proper Nouns

Proper nouns are specific names of people, places, things, and ideas. These differ from common nouns in that they refer to unique entities rather than general ones. For example, “New York City” is a proper noun because it refers to a particular place, while “city” is a common noun as it refers to a general category of places.

Proper nouns start with a capital letter and have unique spellings and meanings. They can include names of individuals such as “John,” organizations like “Apple Inc.,” geographic locations including countries like “Japan,” and many more. Proper nouns are often used to distinguish between entities with the same name or when referring to entities that others might know by different names.

Although proper nouns are specific, they may become common nouns over time if their meaning evolves through usage. For instance, brand names such as “Kleenex” or “Band-Aid” have come to represent their categories of tissues or bandages, respectively.

When using proper nouns in writing, it is essential to be accurate about the spelling and capitalization of each term. One way to remember whether or not a noun is proper is to check if it would still make sense if you replaced it with another word. If you cannot substitute any other word for your term without altering its meaning significantly, then chances are it is a proper noun.

More on Nouns

Guide to Grammar -Pronouns


Pronouns play a crucial role in language by replacing nouns to avoid repetition and impart clarity to the sentence structure. Essential types of pronouns include personal, possessive, reflexive, demonstrative, interrogative, and indefinite pronouns.

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns are further classified into subjective, objective, and possessive pronouns. These pronouns typically replace the names of people or things in sentences to avoid repetition. We give examples of each type of personal pronoun and it’s usage, below.

Possessive Pronouns

A possessive pronoun is a type of pronoun that expresses possession or ownership. For example, “my” is a possessive pronoun that indicates the person speaking owns something. Other possessive pronouns include “mine,” “ours,” “yours,” and “his.” Possessive pronouns do not require a noun to be in the sentence for them to make sense.

Subjective Pronouns

Subjective pronouns are used as the subject of a sentence, Examples of subjective pronouns include “I,” “you,” “he/she/it,” and “we/they.” As a working example, “John went to the shops. He brought some milk.” The “he” is a subjective pronoun, that prevents us having to repeat John’s name again, as the listener or reader knows we are still referring to John.

Objective Pronouns

In contrast to subjective pronouns, objective pronouns are used as the object of a sentence. Examples include “me,” “you,” and “them.” For instance, in the sentence “John gave me some money,” the pronoun “me” is an objective pronoun.

Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and object of a sentence refer to the same noun or pronoun. For example, “I gave myself a present.” In this sentence, “myself” is a reflexive pronoun that refers back to the subject “I”. Common reflexive pronouns include “himself,” “herself,” and “ourselves.”

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are used to identify a noun in a sentence. Examples of demonstrative pronouns include “this,” “these,” “that,” and “those.” These pronouns can be used to refer to singular or plural nouns, depending on the context.

Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative pronouns are used when asking a question and can be used to refer to people or things. Examples of interrogative pronouns include “who,” “which,” and “what.”

Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns do not refer to a specific noun and can be used in place of singular or plural nouns. Common indefinite pronouns include “everyone,” “somebody,” and “anything.”

When using pronouns in writing, it is important to make sure that you are using the correct form for the right context. It is also essential to ensure that your pronoun usage is consistent throughout your writing. Doing so will help you maintain clear and concise sentences.

Guide to Grammar - Adjectives


Adjectives are a vital part of the English language. They are descriptive words that modify or provide more details about a noun or pronoun. Adjectives give color, size, shape, and texture to the objects they describe. They can also convey emotions, opinions, and physical characteristics. By using adjectives, writers can create vivid and compelling images that help the reader understand and relate to the subject.

In addition to describing physical characteristics, adjectives can also express degrees of comparison. Comparatives show a higher degree of a particular quality, such as “bigger,” “faster,” or “smarter.” Superlatives, on the other hand, show the highest degree of a quality and usually end in “-est,” such as “biggest,” “fastest,” or “smartest.” Adjectives play a crucial role in differentiating between two or more objects or subjects.

Furthermore, adjectives can be predicative or attributive. When an adjective follows a linking verb to describe the subject, it is called predicative. For example, in the sentence “he is tall,” “tall” is the predicative adjective. When an adjective serves as a modifier, it is called attributive. For example, in the sentence “the yellow house,” “yellow” is the attributive adjective.

More on Adjectives

Guide to Grammar - Verbs


As a writer, I’m always looking for ways to improve my craft. That’s why understanding the parts of speech is so important. In this section, we’ll be focusing specifically on verbs – the action words that are the heart of any sentence. By looking at two types of verbs, action verbs and nonaction verbs, we can gain a better understanding of how to use them effectively in our writing. So let’s dive in!

Action verbs are the ones that express an observable action, while nonaction verbs are typically used to describe a state of being or sensation.

Action Verbs

Action verbs refer to the type of verb that indicates an action performed by the subject of the sentence. They are crucial in describing an event or action that is happening, has happened, or will happen. Here are six key points about action verbs:

  • They usually convey physical or mental actions.
  • They can also show a state of being such as “to feel” or “to appear.”
  • Action verbs can be transitive, meaning they pass their action onto an object, or intransitive, indicating the absence of an object.
  • Past tense and present participle endings frequently add “-ed” to the infinitive.
  • Some common examples include “run,” “cook,” “sing,” and “write.”
  • Action Verbs are important in writing effective sentences by conveying strong actions and bringing imagery to life through language.

It’s worth noting that certain action verbs may also belong in other parts of speech categories depending on context. For instance, some may function as linking verbs, while others can be used as helping verbs.

Pro Tip: When constructing stronger sentences with non-action verbs like “be,” consider using passive voice sparingly and using active voice wherever possible.

Nonaction Verbs

Some verbs do not express any action and are known as ‘Nonaction Verbs,’ indicating a state or condition. Some examples of nonaction verbs are: “to be,” “to appear, ” “to seem,” and “to belong.” These verbs function to link the subject of the sentence with its attribute or complement, decoding its tense, voice, and mood.

Nonaction Verbs convey a state of being rather than an action. They are often used in continuous tenses and can also act as helping verbs. For instance, you would expect to see Nonaction Verbs in narratives since they offer more time for description because they shift emphasis from actions to descriptions.

It is essential to distinguish nonaction verbs from action verbs since the former indicates a state whilst the latter conveys actions. There are hacks that can help identify whether a verb is an action or nonaction verb; for instance, certain words usually followed by non-action verbs include: “feel,” “seem,” or “appear.”

Using Nonaction Verbs contribute significantly to academic writing since they help you describe certain states that may not be achieved through active voices; passive voices would be ideal in such cases.

Therefore, academic writers should consider incorporating non-action verbs into their work when trying to highlight a specific aspect of reality without distracting from context subtly.

More on Verbs

Guide to Grammar - Adverbs


Adverbs, a vital part of speech, modify adjectives, verbs, and other adverbs. They help in describing the frequency, degree, manner, or time of an action or event. Adverbs add more precision and depth to the sentences, providing a clearer and more detailed picture of the situation. They come in different forms and types, including adverbs of manner, time, frequency, degree, place and others. Utilizing adverbs correctly enhances the overall message of the sentence, making communication more efficient and effective.

Adverbs are placed in different locations within the sentence, depending on the type of adverb and the emphasis required. Of particular note is the placement of adverbs of frequency, which are usually placed before the main verb. Adverbs of manner, on the other hand, are placed after the verb they are modifying. Adverbs can also modify entire clauses or sentences, as well as other parts of speech through phrases. Using adverbs correctly can profoundly affect the meaning and clarity of a sentence.

It is notable that some adverbs can modify without becoming part of specific phrases or words. Such adverbs have the ability to express different meanings depending on their placement and context within the sentence. For instance, the adverb “once” can have different meanings based on its placement. When used at the start of the sentence, it means “previously,” while in the middle of the sentence, it means “one time only.” Proper use and placement of adverbs add a higher degree of detail to the overall sentence, increasing its effectiveness in conveying its intended message.

Throughout history, adverbs have played a significant role in improving communication in various languages. From Shakespearean literature to modern academic writing, many authors add authenticity, depth and precision to their written works through the use of adverbs. In everyday communication, adverbs help in communicating more efficiently and enhancing clarity in dialogue. By understanding the different types of adverbs and their proper use, one can utilize them to improve the overall quality of their communication.

More about Adverbs

Guide to Grammar - Prepositions


Prepositions play a crucial role in any language and act as a linking word that connects a noun or pronoun to the other parts of a sentence. These words denote the relationship between different parts of a sentence, such as time, location, direction, or manner.

For instance, in the sentence, “She sat beside me,” the word “beside” is a preposition that connects “she” and “me.” Prepositions are essential in constructing meaningful and grammatically correct sentences and cannot be overlooked while writing.

Want to know more about prepositions?

Guide to Grammar - Conjunctions


Connecting words that are used to join two or more words, phrases, or clauses together are called coordinating conjunctions. They help in forming a compound sentence by connecting two or more sentences or clauses. There are seven coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. These conjunctions can also be used to combine words together. Understanding these conjunctions is important as they are an essential tool for creating clear and concise sentences.

Coordinating conjunctions play a crucial role in creating structure and coherence in writing. Without them, it would be difficult to convey information effectively. They can link ideas and express complex relationships between them. It is important to understand their proper usage as well as the rules surrounding them. Incorrect use of coordinating conjunctions can lead to misunderstandings and confusion.

It is worth noting that while coordinating conjunctions are essential, they should not be overused. It is important to balance their usage with other tools, such as transitions and clauses, to create variety and sophistication in writing.

A study conducted by the University of Kansas found that the most frequently used coordinating conjunction is “and,” while “nor” is the least used. This research highlights the importance of understanding how to use coordinating conjunctions effectively in writing.

Want more information on conjunctions? Check out these guides:

What are Coordinating conjunctions?
What are Subordinating conjunctions?

Guide to Grammar - Articles


As I dive into the fascinating world of parts of speech, I am struck by the importance of mastering the use of articles – those tiny words that can have a big impact on the meaning and clarity of a sentence. In this section, we will examine the two types of articles: definite and indefinite. Definite articles refer to specific nouns, while indefinite articles speak generally about a noun. By exploring the differences between these two types of articles, we can gain a deeper understanding of their nuanced use in the English language.

Let’s dive in!

Definite Articles

Definite articles are a crucial part of speech. They differentiate a particular noun’s identity and define it uniquely. In the English language, “the” is considered the only definite article. When a speaker mentions any object with “the,” it becomes specific or defined.

Moreover, when “the” is deployed before an adjective to describe a noun phrase, it precisely refers to that particular thing or group in every context. This makes identifying things easier for listeners/readers. Definite articles exhibit specific details and enable people to understand context-specific material more accurately.

In addition, the use of definite articles remains prevalent across languages and cultures worldwide. It continues to be used by numerous individuals in formal writing, daily conversations, media outlets and so on.

Indefinite Articles

Referring to the vague noun expressions, ‘Indefinite Articles’ in a sentence denotes specificity or unspecificity of the subject. Specifically, an ‘Indefinite Article’ is used before a singular countable noun that is non-specific or unknown to the listener/reader. Examples include ‘a’ and ‘an’.

These articles take on different forms depending on the first letter of the succeeding word or its phonetic sound. For words that begin with vowels sounds like “apple,” “ear,” and other vowel-sounding letters such as U, I, O, the indefinite article “an” is used, while all other words beginning with consonants require an indefinite article “a,” e.g., “a bird,” “a dog.”

Understanding when to use these articles could be challenging due to some constraints limiting them and their placement in a sentence; however, understanding current context clues may help identify most confusion surrounding their use.

Unique details regarding how indefinite articles can determine specificity overlap on how it functions with countability and will always need associated nouns (count or non-countable) for proper deployment.

More on Articles

Guide to Grammar - Figuring out the eight parts of speech - nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, conjuncitons and articles.

Figuring Out the Eight Parts of Speech

As a writer, it is easy to get lost and end up struggling with grammar and syntax. But, one thing that has helped writers, time and time again, is breaking down and learning the different parts of speech. In this part of the article, we’ll figure out how to identify different parts of speech. By understanding nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and articles, we can take your writing to the next level. So, let’s dive in and explore different approaches for identifying parts of speech.

Hacks for Identifying Parts of Speech

With the help of linguistic tools, identifying the parts of speech in a sentence can be simplified. The unique hacks for detecting the various categories of parts of speech include recognizing specific word endings, counting syllables, and comparing sentence structures. For instance, suffixes such as “able” or “ful” might designate adjectives while prefixes like “pre” may indicate prepositions. By looking at the number of syllables in a word, we may grasp whether it belongs to nouns or verbs. Finally, examining the sentence construction is significant since nouns often come after articles, and adverbs come before verbs.

Moreover, there are numerous other creative hacks for identifying parts of speech that may be employed to further ease detection efforts for beginners. Rehearsing grammar exercises frequently and evaluating language examples can also aid understanding.

Words are like shape-shifters, capable of transforming into different parts of speech, leaving grammar nerds both fascinated and slightly unnerved.

When a Word can be Multiple Parts of Speech

When a word’s function varies across different sentences, it is identified as different parts of speech. The way a word is used distinguishes its grammatical category. One word can be a noun, verb, or adjective due to its placement and use in the sentence. Understanding when a word can be different parts of speech is crucial for accurate communication and effective writing. By mastering parts of speech, writers can manipulate language to their advantage, creating powerful and persuasive sentences. However, misuse can lead to ambiguity and confusion. Therefore, it is essential to comprehend the rules governing each part of speech and how they relate to each other to communicate with precision.

To identify when a word can be different parts of speech, one must look beyond the word’s form and consider the surrounding context. For instance, “run” can be a verb in “I like to run” and a noun in “I went for a run.” Likewise, the word “well” can function as an adverb in “I feel well,” an adjective in “The water is well,” and a noun in “The well is dry.” These variations in parts of speech are necessary for understanding the meaning and purpose of a sentence.

It is crucial to note that some words can serve as multiple parts of speech in a single sentence. For instance, in the sentence “The dog barks loudly,” “barks” is a verb, and “loudly” is an adverb. However, in the sentence “The loud barks startled me,” “barks” is a noun, and “loud” is an adjective. These variations showcase the complexity of the English language’s syntax, emphasizing the importance of careful consideration of context.

To ensure proper usage of parts of speech, writers should practice reading and writing regularly, hone their skills, and seek guidance as necessary. They should review examples and identify how each word affects a sentence’s meaning and purpose. By effectively utilizing the rules of each part of speech, writers can communicate ideas clearly and concisely, leading to successful communication in any setting.


Strong knowledge of parts of speech, including nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and articles, is crucial for effective formal writing. Each part plays a unique role in creating a clear and concise message that accurately conveys the intended meaning to the reader. Using the right part of speech in the appropriate context enhances the flow and clarity of the written content and elevates its overall impact.

Accordingly, a writer must have a good understanding of the different parts of speech and their functions. Beginning with nouns and pronouns, which are the building blocks of any sentence, to adjectives and adverbs, which add meaning and description, the use of each part requires meticulous attention. Equally important is the role of prepositions, conjunctions, and articles in expressing relationships between words and phrases to achieve coherence and cohesion in the written piece.

Furthermore, the use of appropriate parts of speech also aids in establishing tone and voice in formal writing. For instance, the use of active verbs creates a strong and assertive tone, while the use of passive voice may express a more relaxed or formal mood. In contrast, the overuse of adverbs and adjectives can create fluff and reduce the precision of the message.

Happy writing!


What are the eight parts of speech?

The eight parts of speech are Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives, Verbs, Adverbs, Prepositions, Conjunctions, and Articles.

What is a noun?

A noun is a word that names a person, place, concept, or object. It can be a common noun, a general name for a thing, or a proper noun, a name or title for a specific thing.

What is a pronoun?

A pronoun is a word that substitutes for a specific noun when the reader or listener already knows which noun is being referred to. It helps avoid repetition in language.

What is an adjective?

An adjective is a word that describes a noun. It is used to provide more information about the characteristics of the noun in a sentence.

What is a verb?

A verb is a word that describes an action or a state of being. It can refer to both literal and nonliteral actions and is essential for constructing sentences.

What is a preposition?

A preposition is a word that tells the relationship between two words in a sentence. It is used to indicate the location, time, or direction of an action or object in a sentence.