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GACE High School English Prep (Grammar Focus)

English Grammar
English Grammar is the way in which meanings are encoded into wordings in the English language. This includes the structures of words, phrases, clauses, and sentences, right up to the structure of whole texts.
Parts of Speech/”Word Classes”
A part of speech/”word class” is a category of words (or, more generally, of lexical items) which have similar grammatical properties. Commonly listed English parts of speech are–noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, conjunction, interjection, and sometimes [numeral, article, or determiner].
What Are English Parts of Speech?
English Parts of Speech are–Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb, Pronoun, Preposition, Conjunction, Interjection, and sometimes [numeral, article or determiner].
from Latin, nomen, the word literally meaning “name”. Think nomenclature. A noun is a word that functions as the name of some specific thing or set of things such as living creatures, objects, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.
A Noun can occur as/be a part of what main parts?
A Noun can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause/sentence, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition.
*Fun Facts about Nouns*
In Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin, for example, nouns are categorized by gender and inflected for case and number. In Modern English, nouns are not categorized by gender, but are still inflected for case (but in a very limited sense) and (most definitely for) number.
*Fun Facts about Nouns*

A noun can co-occur with an article or an attributive adjective. Verbs and adjectives cannot. This means nouns can occur in a sentence, clause, thought, whatever, with an article (a, an, the) [definite: the or indefinite: a, an] or an attributive adjective (blue, constant, fast, long, terrible) [attributive meaning quality/attribute/character/descriptor] 



an asterisk (*) will denote an ungrammatical/ improper/ grammatically incorrect expression

  1.  the name (name is a noun–a noun can co-occur with a definite article the.)
  2. *the open (open [in this context] is a verb–a verb cannot co-occur with a definite article the.)
  3. *the baptise/the baptize (baptise/baptize is a verb–a verb cannot co-occur with a definite article the.)
  4. constant circulation (circulation is a noun–a noun can co-occur with an attributive adjective constant.)
  5. constant circulate (circulate is a verb–a verb cannot co-occur with an attributive adjective constant.)
  6. a fright (fright is a noun– a noun can co-occur with an indefinite article a.)
  7. an afraid (afraid is an adjective– an adjective cannot co-occur with an indefinite article an.)
  8. terrible fright (fright is a noun– a noun can co-occur with an adjective terrible.)
  9. terrible afraid (afraid is an adjective– an adjective cannot co-occur with an adjective terrible.)

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Noun Types/Groups/Classifications/Categories
Nouns come in a variety of types/classifications/categories/groups: proper, common, countable, uncountable, collective, concrete, abstract.
Proper Noun and Common Noun

A proper noun is a noun that in its primary application refers to a unique entity, Randolph, Georgia (state), Croatia, Saturn, as distinguished from a common noun, which usually refers to a class of entities (city, planet, person, corporation, state, country). 



Proper nouns are denoted by (*)

*Randolph, bench, school, *Sol. C. Johnson High School, *Georgia, *Yellowstone National Park, park, state 

Countable and Uncountable (Mass) Nouns

Count nouns or countable nouns are common nouns that can take a plural, can combine with numerals or counting quantifiers (e.g., one, two, several, every, most), and can take an indefinite article such as a or an.


Examples of Count nouns: chair, nose, occasion. 

  • one chair, two noses, three occasions 
  • several chairs in this room, every nose on Mount Rushmore, most occasions where Cecil bakes cookies 

Mass Nouns or uncountable (or non-count) nouns differ because they cannot take plurals or combine with number words or counting quantifiers. 


Examples of Non-count nouns: 

furniture, mail, milk, advice, sand, hair, transportation, sunshine, snow


*The distinction between mass and count nouns should not be made in terms of what sort of things the nouns refer to, but rather in terms of how the nouns present these entities [the context the nouns occur in].*

*Many nouns have both countable and uncountable uses*


beer is countable in “Give me three beers.” It is uncountable in “He likes beer.” 

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns are nouns that–even when they are inflected for the singular–refer to groups consisting of more than one individual or entity. 



committee, government, police, platoon


In English these nouns may be followed by a singular or a plural verb and referred to by a singular or plural pronoun, the singular being generally preferred when referring to the body as a unit 

Concrete and Abstract Nouns

Concrete Nouns refer to physical entites that can, in principle at least be observed by at least one of the senses (for instance, chair, apple, Janet or atom).

Abstract nouns refer to abstract objects; that is, ideas or concepts (such as justice or hatred).


*(While this distinction is sometimes exclusive, some nouns have multiple senses, including both concrete and abstract ones.



the noun art, which usually refers to a concept (e.g., Art is an important element of human culture.) but which can refer to a specific artwork in certain contexts (e.g., I put my daughter’s art up on the fridge.

Some abstract nouns developed etymologically by figurative extension from literal roots. These include drawback, fraction, holdout and uptake.


Similarly, some nouns have both abstract and concrete senses, with the latter having developed by figurative extension from the former. These include view, filter, structure and key.


In English, many abstract nouns are formed by adding a suffix (-ness, -ity, -ion) to adjectives or verbs. Examples are happiness (from the adjective happy), circulation (from the verb circulate) and serenity (from the adjective serene).)*

Noun Phrase

Noun Phrase is a phrase based on a noun, pronoun, or other noun-like word (nominal) optionally accompanied by modifiers such as determiners and adjectives. A noun phrase functions within a clause or sentence in a role such as that of subject, object, or complement of a verb or preposition.



In the sentence “The black cat sat on a dear friend of mine”, the noun phrase the black cat serves as the subject, and the noun phrase a dear friend of mine serves as the complement of the preposition on.


A typical noun phrase consists of a noun (the head of the phrase) together with zero or more dependents of various types. (These dependents, since they modify a noun, are called adnominal.) The chief types of these dependents are:

  • determiners such as the, this, my, some, Jane’s
  • attributive adjectives, such as large, beautiful, sweeter
  • adjective phrases and participle phrases, such as extremely large, hard as nails, made of wood, sitting on the step
  • noun adjuncts, such as college in the noun phrase a college student
  • prepositional phrases, such as in the drawing room, of his aunt
  • adnominal adverbs and adverbials, such as (over) there in the noun phrase the man (over) there
  • relative clauses such as which we noticed
  • other clauses serving as complements to the noun, such as that God exists in the noun phrase the belief that God exists
  • infinitive phrases, such as to sing well and to beat in the noun phrases a desire to sing well and the man to beat


Nominalization (as releated to the term “nominal”)

Nominalization is a process whereby a word that belongs to another part of speech comes to be used as a noun.

The term can also refer specifically to the process of producing a noun from anotherpart of speech via the addition of derivational affixes (e.g., legalize versus legalization).


Some verbs and adjectives in English can be used directly as nouns without the addition of a derivational suffix. Some examples include:




  • I need a change. (change = noun)
  • I will change. (change = verb)




  • The murder of the man was tragic. (murder = noun)
  • He will murder the man. (murder = verb)



In addition to true zero-derivation, English also has a number of words which, depending on subtle changes in pronunciation, are either nouns or verbs. One such type, which is rather pervasive, is the change in stress placement from the final syllable of the word to the first syllable (inital-stress-derived noun).



  • Profits have shown a large increase.
  • Profits will continue to increase.


  • The use of forks is dangerous.
  • Use your fork!

In some circumstances, adjectives can have nominal use, as in the poor to mean poor people in general. See nominalized adjective.


Pronoun refers is a word that substitutes for a noun or noun phrase.


Subtypes include personal pronouns, reflexive and reciprocal pronouns, possessive pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, relative pronouns, interrogative pronouns, and indefinite pronouns.

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns may be classified by person, number, gender, and case. English has three persons (first, second and third) and two numbers (singular and plural); in the third person singular there are also distinct pronoun forms for male, female and neuter gender.


Languages typically have personal pronouns for each of the three grammatical persons:

  • first-person pronouns normally refer to the speaker, in the case of the singular (as the English I), or to the speaker and others, in the case of the plural (as the English we).
  • second-person pronouns normally refer to the person or persons being addressed (as the English you); in the plural they may also refer to the person or persons being addressed together with third parties.
  • third-person pronouns normally refer to third parties other than the speaker or the person being addressed (as the English hesheitthey).


***English personal pronouns have two cases, subject and object.***

English personal pronouns

Person Number Case
Subject Object
First Singular I me
Plural we us
Second Singular you
Third Singular he him
she her
Plural they them

English personal pronouns have two cases, subject and object. Subject pronouns are used in subject position (I like to eat chips, but she does not). Object pronouns are used for the object of a verb or preposition (John likes me but not her).


  • Second person informal and formal pronouns (the T-V distinction), like tu and vous in French. There is no such distinction in standard modern English, though Elizabethan English marked the distinction with thou (singular informal) and you (plural or singular formal), and this is preserved in some dialects.
  • Inclusive and exclusive first person plural pronouns, which indicate whether or not the audience is included, that is, whether “we” means “you and I” or “they and I”. There is no such distinction in English.
  • Intensive (emphatic) pronouns, which re-emphasize a noun or pronoun that has already been mentioned. English uses the same forms as the reflexive pronouns; for example: I did it myself (contrast reflexive use, I did it to myself).
  • Direct and indirect object pronouns, such as le and lui in French. English uses the same form for both; for example: Mary loves him (direct object); Mary sent him a letter (indirect object).
  • Prepositional pronouns, used after a preposition. English uses ordinary object pronouns here: Mary looked at him.
  • Disjunctive pronouns, used in isolation or in certain other special grammatical contexts, like moi in French. No distinct forms exist in English; for example: Who does this belong to? Me.
  • Strong and weak forms of certain pronouns, found in some languages such as Polish.

Some special uses of personal pronouns include:

  • Generic you, where second person pronouns are used in an indefinite sense: You can’t buy good old-fashioned bulbs these days.
  • Generic they: In China they drive on the right.
  • Gender non-specific uses, where a pronoun needs to be found to refer to a person whose sex is not specified. Solutions sometimes used in English include generic he and singular they.
  • Dummy pronouns (expletive pronouns), used to satisfy a grammatical requirement for a noun or pronoun, but contributing nothing to meaning: It is raining..
  • Resumptive pronouns, “intrusive” personal pronouns found (for example) in some relative clauses where a gap (trace) might be expected: This is the girl that I don’t know what she said.


Reflexive Pronouns 

Reflexive Pronouns arepronouns that precede or are followed by the noun, adjective, adverb or pronoun to which it refers (its antecedent) within the same clause.

In the English language specifically, a reflexive pronoun will end in ?self or ?selves, and refer to a previously named noun or pronoun (myselfyourselfourselves, etc.).

A reflexive pronoun is normally used when the object of a sentence is the same as the subject. Each personal pronoun (such as Iyou, and she) has its own reflexive form:

  • I — myself
  • you — yourself/yourselves
  • he — himself
  • she — herself
  • one — oneself
  • it — itself
  • we — ourselves
  • they — themselves

***These pronouns can also be used intensively, to emphasize the identity of whoever or whatever is being talked about:
  • Jim bought himself a book (reflexive)
  • Jim himself bought a book (intensive)
  • Asjad brought himself a book(reflexive)
  • Asjad himself brought a book (intensive)

Intensive pronouns usually appear near the subject of the sentence.***

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