David Appleyard's English Language User Guides and References
Page Contents
Parts of Speech The Tenses
Syntax Pronunciation
The Moods Style

 

Parts of Speech

Article Adjective
Noun Preposition
Pronoun Conjunction
Verb Interjection
Adverb Number (Numeral)
 

Article

 
Indefinite article There's a pen on the table.
Definite article The pen is mine.
Zero article Planning is important.
 

Noun

 
Singular noun boy, box, baby, child, antenna, phenomenon
Plural noun boys, babies, children, antennae, phenomena
Countable noun one apple, two apples
Uncountable noun some rice, some mayonnaise
Collective noun furniture, cutlery, equipment
Concrete noun apple, computer
Abstract noun  honesty, love, fear, happiness
Compound noun bookshelf, word-processor, post office
Common noun apple, computer
Proper noun Linda has a house in London.
Eponym Parkinson's (named after James Parkinson)
sandwich (named after the 4th Earl of Sandwich)
Partitives, units and quantity


Instant Unit Conversion
Partitives express a part of a whole. They also enable us to quantify uncountable nouns: two rices two bags of rice.

None of the adults, some of the boys, all of the girls, both of the brothers, neither of the sisters, etc. (See also quantifiers)

A box of chocolates, a carton of milk, a can of soda, a bottle of Scotch, a jar of peanut butter, a tub of ice cream, a cup of coffee, a piece of cheesecake, a bag of peanuts, a packet of chewing gum, a tube of toothpaste, a roll of film, a tin of paint, a pack of cards, a bunch of grapes, a whole bunch of paparazzi, a company of girl guides, a gang of thieves, a flock of sheep, a herd of cows, a pack of hounds, a school or shoal of fish, a set of rules, a bouquet of flowers, a swarm of mosquitoes, etc. 

Pronoun

 
Demonstrative pronoun This was fun. That was boring.
Indefinite pronoun Some were good. Nobody is there. Is there any
Interrogative pronoun  What? Which? Who? Whom?
Personal pronoun (subjective) I, you, he, she, it, we, you (pl.), they
Personal pronoun (objective) me, you, him, her, it, us, you (pl.), them
Possessive pronoun  The car is mine / yours / his / hers / ours / theirs
Reflexive pronoun Bill burned himself on the hot iron.
Emphasizing pronoun The Queen herself visited the disaster victims.
Relative pronoun The man who / that won is here.
The prize which / that he won is also here..
 

Verb

 
Finite verb A verb form the use of which which is limited by subject and tense, e.g. I go, he goes, she went, they have gone.
Infinite verb A verb form the use of which is unrestricted by subject or tense. In English this means the infinitive, the gerund and the participles.
Infinitive The infinitive is the basic form of a verb you'll find listed in a dictionary.
Bare infinitive: She can drink coffee.
to-infinitive: She stopped to drink coffee.
Gerund    She stopped drinking coffee.   
Present participle     Charlie is playing golf now.
Past participle    Emmy has played already.
3rd person singular   He likes cooking. She watches TV.
Regular verb   She walks, she walked, she has walked   
Irregular verb I swim, I swam, I have swum
Auxiliary verb   I have won! He is eating. Do you smoke?
Modal auxiliary verb  (+ bare infinitive) You must (had to) go. We can (could) drive. He may (might) come. They will (would) win. I shall (should) write to the manager. You ought to complain.
Verb of perception  (+ adjective) She seems reliable, appears confident and sounds interesting. The food looks good, smells superb and tastes delicious.  
Action verb Action verbs are used in both the simple and continuous tenses: Jane plays chess. She is playing chess now.
State (or stative) verb   State verbs are generally not used in the continuous tenses: Jane belongs to the chess club. Membership costs just $20 a year. Some people dislike playing chess, while others love it.  
Performative verb Performative verbs are utterances that constitute an action: He admits he made a mistake and promises not to do it again.
Transitive verb The company raised its prices.
Intransitive verb    Prices rose.
Passive voice Prices were raised.
Phrasal verb His marriage broke up when his car broke down.

Adverb

 
Positive adverb Jenny works hard and carefully.
Comparative adverb Kate works even harder and more carefully than Jenny.
Superlative adverb Pam works (the) hardest and most carefully.
Adverb of degree Jack is quite short but rather chubby.
Adverb of frequency I never smoke but I sometimes drink alcohol.
Adverb of manner Anne drives slowly but safely.
Adverb of place He ran away.
She lives abroad.
Adverb of time Today he is still unwell. 
Interrogative adverb Why / when / where / how did he go?
Relative adverb The town where I was born.
Sentence adverb   Hopefully she'll come. She definitely ought to.  

Adjective

 
Correct order of adjectives Opinion size shape age shade color
pattern origin material

I have a lovely large round new bright red and white
striped Spanish cotton tablecloth.
Attributive adjective The late train (= scheduled later than others)
A heavy drinker (= he drank a lot of alcohol)
Predicative adjective The train was late (= delayed).
The drinker was heavy (= he weighed a lot).
Positive adjective Dick is kind and generous.
Comparative adjective Dan is even kinder and more generous than Dick.
Superlative adjective Dave is (the) kindest and most generous.
Interrogative adjective Whose party?
Which restaurant?
What time?
Demonstrative adjective This / that book.
These / those pens.
Distributive adjective Each / every / either / neither girl.
All
/ both boys.
Possessive adjective My / your / his / her / its / our / their eyes.
Determiner Word used to narrow the scope of a noun, such as a numeral, an article, or the demonstrative, distributive and possessive adjectives above.  
Quantifier A quantifier is either a distributive adjective or some other single word or phrase used to define quantity, e.g. "The old man had some CDs, a few DVDs, a lot of video cassettes, one hundred audio cassettes and half a ton of LP records!" (See also partitives.)
Simile As strong as a lion, as blind as a bat, as dead as a doornail, as good as gold, as cool as a cucumber, as light as a feather, as heavy as lead, as daft as a brush, etc.

Although his wife has eyes like a hawk, he ate like a horse, drank like a fish, and then slept like a log.  
Synonym big and large
Antonym big vs. small

Preposition

 
Definition A preposition governs (and usually precedes) a noun or pronoun in order to define its relationship to other words. Here below some categories and examples:
Preposition of time For two years, since 1999, I've worked from nine to five. I've always arrived in time for work and finished by 5 o'clock. I used to work until / till midnight, but now I can relax before going to bed, at weekends after 12 noon on Saturdays, and during my long summer holiday in July.  
Preposition of location I work in an office on the 5th floor of the port authority building near the River Thames. I sit at the back by the window with a panoramic view over this important shipping lane. My boss, the oldest among us, sits in front of me. His secretary works opposite him, there's a junior clerk behind her and my colleague Dan sits next to / beside me. There's a filing cabinet between the photocopier and the coffee machine, a clock above the door and a wastepaper bin under each desk. The lunchroom is on the floor below ours.  
Preposition of movement I got into my car and drove from Wall Street through Midtown Manhattan and then along the expressway to Long Island. I got out of my car at Montvale Race Track, where I got on / onto a horse. I didn't have to get off the horse because I was thrown from the saddle!
Preposition of means You can go to the Chinese restaurant by bus or on foot, but you'll have to eat with chopsticks!
 

Conjunction

 
Coordinating conjunction Links two main clauses or ideas of equal value:

He's big and strong but not so intelligent. She's both clever and reliable. The weather is either too wet or too windy. Frank is neither very rich nor very poor.
Subordinating conjunction Introduces a subordinate clause, i.e. one that cannot stand alone without the support of a main clause.
of time: when, whenever, while, as soon as, until, before, after, since
of reason: because, as, since, so
of result: so...that, such...that
of purpose: so that
of condition: if, in case, unless, as long as
of contrast or concession: although, even though
 

Interjection

 
Examples Oh dear! She's late again. Ah, here she is.
Ouch, that hurt!
 

Number (Numeral) 

 
Cardinal number or numeral one, two, three, four, five, six...
Ordinal number or numeral first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth...

Syntax

Letter  
Small (lower case) abc...xyz
Large (upper case) ABC...XYZ
 
Morpheme The smallest element of language that can convey meaning. For example, the word bricklayer is made up of three morphemes: brick, lay and -er.
 
Affix An element added to the beginning of a word (prefix) or end of a word (suffix) to modify its meaning.
Prefix An unusual day. A disobedient child
Suffix The violinist played with the trumpeter.
 
Word The smallest meaningful element of language. When written it stands alone with a space on either side of it.

(19 words)
 
Phrase A group of words forming a concept but not a sentence:
in a hurry; by himself; day by day.
Binomial phrase There are restaurants here and there where ladies and gentlemen can wine and dine their friends and pick and choose from this and that on the menu.
 
Clause Part of a sentence including a subject and a predicate.  
Main clause A clause that could stand independently and still make sense on its own:

He apologized
because he was late.
Subordinate clause A clause that wouldn't make much sense without an accompanying main clause:

He apologized because he was late.
Relative clause  
Defining relative clause: The hotel (that / which) I stayed in was rather old.
Non-defining relative clause: The hotel, which is quite famous, is going to close.
Antecedent: The hotel (that / which) you stayed in was more modern.
 
Sentence A sentence consists of at least one clause, i.e. a subject (which is sometimes only implied) and a predicate:

I walk.
Go!
(=You go!)
 
Paragraph   A paragraph is a section in a piece of writing, usually highlighting a particular point or topic. It always begins on a new line and often with indentation, and it consists of at least one sentence.

(This piece of text constitutes a single paragraph.)
 
Subject He likes her.
Going on vacation is fun.
Pamela paints landscapes.
John lives in a house by the river.
 
Predicate He likes her.
Going on vacation is fun.
Pamela paints landscapes.
John lives in a house by the river.
 
Object She likes him although she thinks that he's crazy.
Direct object They gave Tommy a present on his birthday.
Indirect object They gave Tommy a present on his birthday.
 
Complement He is a scientist.
She seems amused.
We became tired.
 
Speech  
Direct speech "My job is tough," she said.
Reported speech She said (that) her job was tough.
 
Question  
Direct question What's your name?
Indirect question Ask him what his name is!
Tag question "You keep fit, don't you?"
"You don't smoke, do you?"
Rhetorical question This kind of question is used to make a statement rather than get an answer:

"Who cares?" 
(= Nobody cares.)
"Why bother?"
(= It's a waste of time.)

The Moods

Indicative mood The earth is round (a simple statement of fact).
 
Imperative mood Save $200 a year on haircuts. Shave your head!
 
Subjunctive mood  
Old phrases and clichés still in common use   Come what may...
Be that as it may...
God forbid!
Woe betide...
Till death do us part.
Jussive subjunctive In British English, the optional inclusion of should helps to clarify the jussive subjunctive:

 AmE  
I suggested that she go early.
She insisted that something be done about his snoring. 

 BrE  
I suggested that she (should) go early.
She insisted that something (should) be done about his snoring.
Hypothetical subjunctive

If I were you, I would see a doctor.

(See type 2 conditional below!)
as if / as though + past subjunctive He acts as if he owned the company.
She speaks as though she knew everything.
it is time + past subjunctive (unreal past) It is time we were leaving.
 
Conditional mood  
Type 1: probable (real) conditional If I'm late I'll call you.
Type 2: improbable (unreal) conditional If I had the time, I'd write a novel.
Type 3: hypothetical conditional If I hadn't gone to Vegas, I wouldn't have lost a fortune.
Type 4: zero conditional If she has a cold she goes to bed.

 

 

The Tenses

Future simple She will sleep soon.
Future continuous She will be sleeping at 11 PM.  
Future perfect At 7 AM she will have slept for 8 hours.
Future perfect continuous By 5 AM she will have been sleeping for 6 hours.
Present simple She sleeps well.
Present continuous She is sleeping right now.
Present perfect She has slept well since she was a child.
Present perfect continuous Tonight she has been sleeping soundly for two hours.
Past simple She slept for ten hours last night.
Past continuous She was sleeping when her husband came home.
Past perfect This morning he said she had slept all night long.
Past perfect continuous She had been sleeping when the alarm clock rang.  

 

Pronunciation

Standards  
Received pronunciation (RP) The clearly articulated standard of British English that is prevalent among educated speakers in southern England.
General American (GA) The standard, non-regional form of U.S. English
 
Phonetics The written classification of spoken sounds.
Phonetic symbol A symbol representing one particular sound.
Phoneme The smallest phonetic element of language that can convey a distinction in meaning, e.g. the 'l' in late, the 'd' in date and the 'g' in gate.
Vowel a e i o u
Consonant b c d f g h j k l m n p q r s t v w x y z
Syllable Canada has three syllables.
Monophthong For example, the single vowel sound /æ/ in "hat".
Diphthong For example, the double vowel sound /eɪ/ in "hate". 
Homonym A word with the same sound (a homophone) or spelling (a homograph) as another but with a different meaning.
Homophone: I'll check if the Czech paid by cheque.
Homograph: Everyone at the fair had fair hair. It's not fair!  
Intonation The rising and falling of your voice as you speak,
especially when this conveys added meaning.
Stress The accentuation of one particular word or syllable.
Word stress: She's an English English teacher.
Syllable stress: He's a photographer.

 

Style

Formal style Your children must be collected from school.
Informal style  You have to pick your kids up from school.
Idiom The taxi driver took me for a ride (= tricked me). 
Slang The cops are coming! (= police officers)
Dialect The language variant spoken in a particular area, e.g. Cockney in London's East End or Geordie on Tyneside.
Vernacular A widely-spoken, non-formal regional language variant, such as the Estuary English of South-East England.
Jargon I had to reboot my computer after it crashed.
Terminology  He held her software on his hard disk.
Simile He was as emotionless as a robot.
She worked like a robot.
Metaphor He is a puppet of the regime.
Her writing was rubbish.