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Parts Of Speech

Parts of Speech (abbreviated to PoS and sometimes called Word Classes) are the different categories of English words which all work in the same grammatical way: nouns, verbs, prepositions and so on.

This section has articles on all the different parts of speech.

Act an Adverb‏‎ – adverb activity

Act an Adverb is a simple game which you can play with different levels‏‎ and ages of class. It is based around the meaning and use of different adverbs‏‎.
Prepare a set of flashcards‏‎, each of which has an adverb on it, e.g.


(You can also do this without flashcards by asking students to call…

Adjectival Phrases‏‎ in English

Adjectival phrases are phrases that function as adjectives. They consist of the adjective(s) that modifies a noun and any adverb(s) or other elements that modify that adjective.

Adjectival phrases always occur inside noun phrases.
They always have a house full of friends during the summer.
She prepared a wonderfully light meal.
Adjectival phrases can also complete the verb, acting as complement.
She is really boring.
Today the weather was…

Adjective Order‏‎ in English Grammar

Adjective order concerns the order in which adjectives‏‎ are used in a phrase. They usually follow this order:   age color origin material purpose   a new red Swiss plastic army knife We can have other types of adjectives which we put before the age. These are general adjectives about the size, the shape and our opinion of the noun. Often we can change the order of these adjectives but we…

Adjective Position‏‎ in English Grammar

This article looks at the Position of Adjectives in a phrase‏‎. In English‏‎, unlike many other languages, adjectives‏‎ generally come before the noun they describe: {adjective} + {noun} These are called attributive adjectives. brown wall young girl And so on. We can also put adjectives after a verb‏‎. These are called predicative adjectives: {verb} + {predicative adjective} The wall is brown. The girl is young. Most adjectives can be used…

Adjectives as Nouns‎ & Vice Versa

Adjectives‏‎ normally tell us more about nouns e.g.
{adjective} + {noun}
rich + people
poor + men

Adjectives as Nouns
However, we can also use an adjective as a noun by using this pattern:
the + {adjective}
We use this to talk about a group of people:
The rich get richer while the poor get poorer.
We can also use it to talk about an abstract idea…

Adjectives in English Grammar

Adjectives are words we use to describe a noun. They usually come before it:
{1 or more adjectives} + {noun}
big, red, boring book
The noun in this phrase‏‎ is book and the adjectives tell us what size it is (big), what color it is (red) and what we think of it (boring). Note that adjectives don’t always give a value or physical description of a noun (as above). Sometimes they…

Adverb Phrases in English Grammar

An Adverb Phrase (sometimes known as an Adverbial Phrase) is – as you might guess – simply a group of words which act in exactly the same way (grammatically speaking) as a single adverb.

For example, here’s a sentence with a single adverb:
The police arrived quickly.
We can expand on that adverb and turn it into an adverb phrase
The police arrived very quickly indeed.

Adverb Position in English Grammar

Generally speaking – and there are exceptions – adverbs‏‎ can come in 1 of 3 positions in a sentence‏‎:

1) At the beginning:
Hurriedly I got dressed.
Never go there again!
Always look on the bright side of life.
2) Between the subject and the verb:
I hurriedly got dressed.
They never visit us.
We usually eat dinner very late.
3) At the very end.
I got dressed hurriedly…

Adverbials‏‎ in English

Adverbials are adverbs, adverbial phrases or adverbial clauses which give us additional information about the time, place, or manner of the action described in the rest of the sentence. I had been reading my book quite happily on the sofa for half an hour, when my little brother burst into the lounge with his skates on. The most common position for adverbials is at the end of the sentence. If…

Adverbs in English Grammar

Adverbs are known as a kind of ‘catch-all’ class of words‏‎ in English‏‎ and there is a lot more to them than meets the eye. To begin with, however, we can say that adverbs give us more information about other words and clarify usage.

Adverbs can give us more information about an adjective:
The only red bike.
Or a verb:
She swam beautifully.
Or a sentence as a whole:

Adverbs of Degree‏‎ in English Grammar

Adverbs of degree (sometimes also referred to as adverbs of quantity) describe to what degree, level or extent something is done. In other words, how much. almost nearly quite just too enough hardly scarcely completely very extremely Like all adverbs‏‎, we can use them to modify a verb, an adjective or another adverb. In the majority of cases they come before the word/phrase they modify: I am almost done! She had…

Adverbs of Time in English Grammar

Adverbs of Time are those adverbs which tell us when something happened. For example: now, then, later, yesterday, today, tonight, tomorrow, etc.

The position of a typical adverb of time within a sentence varies according to the relevance the speaker wants to give to the time element.


start of sentence
Yesterday her closest work colleague handed in his resignations…

All About Shall (vs Will)

When we talk about the future, most often we’ll use words like will or be going to:
They will arrive tomorrow afternoon.
I’m going to see the match.
However, there is an alternative: shall.

These days, people often talk about shall as though it’s on its way out and that before long it’ll be consigned to the garbage heap along with other archaic words like foresooth and verily but…

Apposition‏‎ in English Grammar

Apposition is when you have 2 nouns (or noun phrases) next to each other and they both refer to the same thing. Each of them provides a bit of information about each other. For example, take these basic sentences: Clark Kent leaped into a phone booth.Clark Kent is an ace reporter.Clark Kent is Superman. We can put two noun phrases in apposition thus: Ace reporter Clark Kent + leaped into…

Articles‏‎ in English Grammar

There are three types of Articles in English‏‎. Put simply, we use articles to let people know what kind of noun we’re talking about.

Take the word, fly, for example. If I just use the word on its own I’m speaking very generally.
These flies are annoying me.
If I put an Indefinite Article before it, I’m talking about a single fly but I’m not bothered about…

Aspect‏‎ in English Grammar

Aspect describes how a speaker feels about the action they are describing. In English there are generally accepted to be 3 aspects and they change how the verb‏‎ is formed: simple (aka indefinite) continuous (aka progressive) perfect A Simple Example To take an example. Suppose someone says: I drive to central London every day. She worked there for 20 years. This is in the simple aspect; this means the speaker…

Auxiliary Verbs in English Grammar

Auxiliary Verbs (from the Latin auxilio = to help; they are also known as helping verbs) are verbs‏‎ used to change the tense, form‏‎ mood and voice of other verbs.

In other words, we add an auxiliary to a verb to turn it into a question, to put it into the past, to make it negative and so on.
The 3 English Auxiliaries Verbs
There are three auxiliary verbs: be…

Collective Nouns‏‎ in English Grammar

A Collective Noun is a noun used to describe a group of objects (things, people, etc). For example, when we talk about collections of people we can use words like: a group of mena gang of teenagersa mob of riotersa squad of soldiers Each of the highlighted words is a collective noun. There are hundreds of collective nouns in English. Some common ones include: a fleet of shipsa bunch of…

Common Phrasal Verbs‏‎ in English

This is simply a list of common phrasal verbs‏‎ which your students should know. There is no easy way to learn phrasal verbs as their meaning cannot be guessed by their make-up. Likewise many phrasal verbs have several completely unrelated meanings. This means that phrasal verbs must simply be learned in context. This list can be used in conjunction with different phrasal verb activities. See the main article, Phrasal verbs‏‎. Common…

Compound Words in English

A compound word is a word made up from two or more other words joined together. They are often created to describe a new concept or idea and are thus neologisms‏‎.

As a simple example, take the words foot and ball. These were brought together to describe the game: football. Likewise the following are just a few of the many, many compound words in English:
eyesight, airport, overtake, earthworm…

Concrete & Abstract Nouns‏‎ in English Grammar

Nouns are words used to name objects, concepts, ideas, things and so on. We can classify nouns in different ways including dividing them into Concrete Nouns and Abstract Nouns. Concrete Nouns include: house banana football school Abstract Nouns include: love humor fear bravery belief Taking a look at the picture on this page there are several nouns referenced, some of which are concrete and some of which are abstract: concrete…

Conjugation‏‎ in English

Conjugation refers to the different form of a verb‏‎ depending on how it is used and who uses it.

Unlike many other languages, English conjugation is fairly straightforward and presents few problems.
Regular Verbs
This is the conjugation of a regular English verb, walk.


present: I, you, we, they

present: he she it


Conjunctions‏‎ In English Grammar

A conjunction (also known as connector or joiner) is a word used to join words‏‎, phrases‏‎, or clauses‏‎ together to show their relationship in a sentence. There are 3 main types of conjunctions in English. Coordinating Conjunctions Coordinating conjunctions always join similar parts of speech‏‎, e.g.: subject + subject verb phrase + verb phrase sentence + sentence and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet… You and I are both lucky…

Continuous Verbs in English Grammar

We use the Continuous Verb Forms to talk about things which are happening over a period of time. With continuous forms we highlight the duration of an event.
Note that sometimes we use the word Progressive instead of Continuous.
Continuous forms usually talk about things which are happening for a while only – they will stop sometime.
I am living in London right now but I don’t know where I…

Coordinating Conjunctions‏‎ in English Grammar

Coordinating conjunctions are FANBOYS! Yes, FANBOYS is a mnemonic you can use to remember the seven coordinating conjunctions: for and nor but or yet so Coordinating conjunctions can connect words, phrases, and clauses. A coordinating conjunction joins two main (independent) clauses which are equally important and relevant. When you connect two main (independent) clauses with a coordinating conjunction, you should use a comma. N.B. Do not use a comma after…

Correlative Conjunctions‏‎ in English Grammar

Of all the types of conjunctions, Correlative Conjunctions are perhaps the easiest to identify as they always come in pairs, they always come together and they link two separate but related items of equal value. Pretty much like socks do. Common Correlative Conjunctions These are the most common; as you can see the different options they joined ideas are equal in validity and importance. either…or I can either pick you…

Count and Non-Count Nouns in English Grammar

There are different ways of classifying nouns and one of the most important, grammatically speaking, is to classify a noun as Count or Non-Count. (Also known as Countable and Non-Countable; count nouns are sometimes also known as Mass Nouns.)

Most nouns are countable; this means we can literally count the objects (or concepts) they refer to. We can, for example, stand in a field and count:

Dangling Participles‏‎ in English Grammar

A present participle is a verb ending in -ing. Running down the street, I fell over and bruised myself. This sentence is made up of two clauses: The main clause: I fell over and bruised myself. The subordinate clause: Running down the street. In this case, the sentence makes sense and can be understood easily. However, in the following example the subject of the main clause – me – does not…

Definite Article‏‎s in English Grammar

What is the Definite Article? We use the definite article – the – when we talk about a noun which refers to a particular member of a a group. In other words, we use the definite article to talk about a specific noun from a group. In this example the group is all men; we want to reference a particular man so we say: The man in the hat…

Demonstrative Adjectives‏‎ in English Grammar

We use Demonstrative Adjectives to talk about specific examples of a noun. These are a kind of determiner. The demonstrative adjectives are: this that these those Although these look exactly like the demonstrative pronouns, when placed in front of a noun they function as demonstrative adjectives. Usage We use them to talk about whether a noun is singular or plural, near or far.   singular plural near this these far…

Demonstrative Pronouns‏‎ in English Grammar

A demonstrative pronoun is a pronoun used in place of a noun to demonstrate (= show; indicate; point) where something or somebody is in reference to the speaker. There are four demonstrative pronouns in the English language: thisthesethatthose For example: Did you see this? My mum likes these better. What is that over there? She never reads those. A good way to think about demonstrative pronouns is to imagine pointing at the…

Determiners‏‎ in English Grammar

Determiners are words we put in front of a noun or noun phrase‏‎. They tell us about the number and type of items we are talking about and often restrict the use of the noun. They are also one of the main PoS categories, that is, one of the main categories in which English words‎ are grouped grammatically. For example: determiner noun …   cats sleep a lot a cat sleeps…

Future Continuous‏‎ in English Grammar

The Future Continuous verb form indicates an action or an event that will be in progress at sometime in the future. As you can see from the timeline here, the action begins in the future and continues past a specific time the speaker is talking about. For example, suppose we are talking about watching a film tonight. It will begin at 8 o’clock and finish at 10 o’clock. I can…

Future Perfect Continuous‏‎ in English Grammar

While it is not one of the most commonly used verb forms‏‎, the future perfect continuous does occur quite often in conversations between advanced English speakers, and in classes and exams it shows knowledge of the language that is above average for most students. Usage The verb form is used to describe events that will start at one point in time and continue until a second point in time in…

Future Perfect Simple‏‎ in English Grammar

Let’s suppose you are talking about 2 events in the future: My computer will make 1 million calculations per minute. You will return from your coffee break in 20 minutes. We can put these together and say: By the time you return from your coffee break, my computer will have made 20 million calculations. The Future Perfect Simple verb form then is often used to talk about an action in…

Future Simple‏‎ in English Grammar

The future simple is used to express future time. I will be happy to help you anytime! I am going to go Spain tomorrow morning! Our staff will answer your calls between 8am and 5pm. The future simple is in itself a fairly straightforward tense to explain and form. Its usage however often creates problems to English language learners, who find it hard to know when to use will and…

Future‏‎ Tense in English Grammar

The future tense is used to talk about events in the future. There are a number of different verb forms‏‎ we can use to talk about the future. Present Continuous This is very common. We use the present continuous to talk about plans for the future, often with an adverb of time. I am going tomorrow. She is coming next week. See the main article, Present Continuous‏‎. Future Simple The future…

Gender Neutral Pronouns in English Grammar

Life would sound a bit repetitive without pronouns:
Brian got up. Brian washed Brian. Later Brian went out. Brian got in Brian’s car and drove off.
Change a person’s name into a personal pronoun and it all gets a little easier on the ear:
Brian got up. He washed himself. Later he went out. He got in his car and drove off.
This is fairly straightforward when we…

Gender‏‎ in English Grammar

This is a very general guide to Gender in English. Unlike many other languages it is fairly straightforward in English which makes it relatively easy for language learners and explaining it in your TEFL classroom. To begin with and in practical terms, English grammatical gender applies only to nouns and pronouns‏‎ which are masculine, feminine or neuter. These groups are very simple to make and as a general guide…

Gerunds‏‎ in English Grammar

A Gerund is a special form of a verb. It’s also known as a Verbal Noun and more informally, the -ing form. We use it when we want to use an action verb as the subject or object of a sentence. So essentially, it’s a verb which acts like a noun (hence the name verbal noun). And simply put, we make it by adding -ing to the verb itself (hence…

How Many Tenses Are There in English?

How many Tenses are there in English? It sounds like a simple question, but, unfortunately, it isn’t.

This is because different people – including both students and TEFL teachers – have different definitions of what a tense actually is and there is no single, accepted one.

However, in English there are 3 general definitions of what a tense is all about:
Tenses & Time
Some people…

Imperatives‏‎ in English Grammar

The Imperative (sometimes called the Imperative Mood)is a form of verb‏‎ in English. It’s used mainly to tell people what to do so we can have different types of imperative sentences: Giving Orders: Stop! Shut the door! Giving instructions: Add a pinch of salt and boil for fifteen minutes. Go out the door and turn left. Making informal offers or invitations: Have a drink? Want a ride? Giving warnings: Don’t…

Indefinite Adjectives‏‎ in English Grammar

As the word suggests (indefinite = unspecified, unknown, indeterminate, undefined) Indefinite Adjectives give general information about the noun they refer to. Some common indefinite adjectives are: All Any Each Every Few Many Some Though indefinite pronouns and indefinite adjectives look the same they are used differently in a sentence. Whilst an indefinite pronoun replaces a noun, an indefinite adjective is placed in front of a noun or pronoun to modify…

Indefinite Pronouns in English Grammar

Indefinite Pronouns replace nouns or people or things that are not clearly specified.
Some like it hot.
Some who? Some what? Some people? Some animals? Some planets?
Someone knocked at the door.
We don’t know who it is. We just heard a knock and assume it is a person.
Something must have happened.
We know there is a problem but we haven’t found out yet what it is…

Infinitives in English Grammar

The Infinitive is the base form of the verb‏‎:
be, have, walk…
Often the infinitive is introduced by the particle, to:
to be, to have, to walk…
Note that when the infinitive is on its own it’s sometimes known as the Bare Infinitive; when it’s with to then it’s sometimes known as the Full Infinitive.
Full Infinitive Usage/Infinitive Clauses

We use the full infinitive (the infinitive with…

Inflection in English Grammar

Inflection refers to the way we change the form of a word to show different parts of grammar such as voice, person‏‎, number, gender‏‎, mood, tense or case.

A simple example is when we change I to me depending on where it is used in a sentence. The person remains the same, the word changes.
I love you.
You love me.
Although some languages are highly inflected with complex…

Intensifiers‏‎ in English Grammar

An intensifier is a word, usually an adverb‏‎, that has little meaning in itself but provides force, intensity or emphasis to another word, again usually an adverb. The basic and most common intensifier in English is very. He’s good; he’s very good. They’re late; they’re very late. Other intensifiers include: really extremely remarkably fantastically Direction An intensifier can be used not only to increase (↑) but also to decrease (↓)…

Interjections in English Grammar

An Interjection is a word class‏‎ which generally has no grammatical connection with the rest of the utterances around it and is used to express emotion on the part of the speaker. When written, they often have an exclamation mark to close them.

The following are considered as interjections:




Interrogative Adjectives in English Grammar

Simply put, Interrogative Adjectives are adjectives which modify a noun (like all adjectives do) and also ask a question.

These are the interrogative adjectives:
Any sentence which begins with an interrogative adjective is a question:
Which coat is yours?
What time is it?
Whose car is blocking the drive?
Like all adjectives, interrogative adjectives modify a noun:
{adjective} + {noun phrase} + {…}
whose + dog…

Interrogative Pronouns‏‎ in English Grammar

A pronoun, as you all know, is a word which stands in place of another. John kicked the can.He kicked it. However, let’s suppose we wanted to find out the name of the person who kicked the can. We don’t know so we need to use a pronoun which could stand for anyone (or anything, etc). In other words, we need an Interrogative Pronoun. Who kicked the can?What did he…

Irregular Adverbs in English Grammar

An adverb modifies a word, phrase, or sentence. It tells us more about them and changes the meaning slightly. Often we say it tells us how something happens:
He paints.
He paints wildly.
In this example wildly is an adverb which tells us how he paints.
Regular Adverbs
In most cases, adverbs‏‎ are formed by adding -ly to an adjective‎:
{adjective} + ly = {adverb}
nice > nicely
expensive > expensively
They are known as…

Irregular Verbs in English

Irregular Verbs are those verbs‏‎ which do not follow the normal rules of conjugation‏‎ in English‏‎.

In English, most verbs follow this pattern and are regular:

past form
past participle‏‎


As you can see, they add an -ed to the end of the infinitive. Note that a verb like marry is also classed as regular even though…

Lexical Verbs in English Grammar

Lexical Verbs are basically the main verb‏‎ in a sentence. They carry some kind of real-world meaning and are sometimes actually known as the main verb:
You laughed.
I ran.
They are basically an open-class of verbs; in other words, we can add new verbs to this class‏‎. In recent years new additions to this class include:
She twerked in public.
I googled my answer.
So lexical verbs carry a…

Linking Verbs or Copulas

A linking verb links the subject of the sentence to more information about that subject (the predicate). A linking verb is also known as a copula (plural copulas or copulae.)

In English most verbs‏‎ describe an action. For example:
Sofia directs her new film
The verb here tells us what the subject does. However, a linking verb doesn’t describe an action, it describes the subject and gives us more information about…

Modal Verbs in English

Modal verbs are used to express ideas such as ability, necessity, permission, and possibility.

There are not many modal verbs: can, could, dare*, need*, may, might, must, shall, should, will, would. There are also modal constructions: be able to, ought to, be allowed to.

Modals always come first in a verb‎ formation, before other auxiliaries and the main verb:
{modal} + [auxiliary] + {main verb}

Modals – Ability‏‎

To show degrees of ability, we can use modal verbs. These show: 1. ability or opportunity in the present She can play the piano. She is able to play the piano. 2. ability or opportunity in the past She could play the piano. She was able to play the piano. 3. ability in the future: He could easily do your job given the opportunity. I will never be able to…

Modals – Necessity‏‎

To express degrees of necessity we can use various modal verbs. 100% Necessity You must leave straight away. You have [got] to leave straight away. must is used when the necessity is dictated by the speaker’s authority. have [got] to is used when the necessity is dictated by an external force or event, which the speaker cannot control. (doctor to patient) You’ve got to stop smoking. (patient to themself) I…

Modals – Offers‏‎

To offer something, we can use various modal verbs. I will give you a hand with that case. Shall I give you a hand with that case? Can I give you a hand with that case. Will is very positive; a statement of intent more than an offer. When we use shall as let’s the person has a chance to refuse. Shall we go to the cinema? No, not tonight…

Modals – Permission

To show degrees of permission, we can use various modal verbs. 1. Permission You cannot leave yet. You are not allowed to leave yet. You may not leave yet. You mustn’t leave yet. You needn’t leave yet. can is more friendly than may which is quite formal. needn’t shows an action is optional – I can do it if I want to. mustn’t states an action is forbidden – I…

Modals – Possibility

If you want to talk about how possible something is you can use Modal Verbs of Possibility. Let’s say, for example, that you are 100% certain that you are going to win: I will win a million dollars if I put everything on red! Chances are though you will lose. Being more cautious you could say: I may win a million dollars if I put everything on red… So you…

Modals – Requests‏‎

To show degrees of requests, we can use various modal verbs. 1. Polite Requests Can I see you in your office, please? Could I see you in your office, please? May I see you in your office, please? could is more polite than can and may is quite formal. 2. Direct Requests We can use will to make requests, but it is more direct than can or could. Will you…

Modifiers‏‎ in English Grammar

Modifiers are pretty straightforward when you come to think of it. Essentially a modifier does just that: it modifies or changes or qualifies another word or phrase or clause. Suppose you have a noun: motorcycle You can then modify it: black motorcycle Harley Davidson motorcyle fast motorcycle So when we use the word modify we mean change in some way which includes qualifying it. Types of Modifiers In English, there…

Nouns in English Grammar

A Noun is one of the major parts of speech‏‎. A good, general, definition of a noun is that it is something which is used to name an object or thing.
car, door, elephant…
There are literally thousands upon thousands of nouns in English‏‎ and we regularly add new nouns to the list. In the past few years these new nouns have come into English:
internet, social networking, muggle…

Numbers‏‎ in English Grammar

Numbers are classified in grammar into two main groups: Cardinal and Ordinal. Numbers serve as adjectives‏‎ in that they modify the noun which follows, e.g. There are young people here. There are many people here. There are six people here. Note that in a sentence such as: There are thirty here. the number is still an adjective but the noun is assumed: There are thirty [people/biscuits/houses] here. Note that some…

Participles as Adjectives‏‎ in English Grammar

A participle is a form of English verb. In English there are 2 participles: the present participle made by adding -ing to the verb, e.g. walk > walking the past participle made by adding -ed to the verb, e.g. walk > walked These two participles can be used as adjectives‏‎. Often these can cause problems for learners of English so it is worth examining them carefully and making sure you understand what…

Participles‏‎ in English Grammar

A Participle is a form of a verb‎. In English‏‎ there are two participles: Present Participle‏‎ Past Participle‏‎ Usage We use the participles to help form different verb tenses‏‎. For example in this first example we use just the basic verb form known as the infinitive: I walk In these two examples we have used the two participles (highlighted) to form new verb tenses: I was walking. I have walked. The…

Parts of Speech in English Grammar

Parts of Speech (often abbreviated to PoS and sometimes known as Word Classes) are the different categories of words‎ in English. They refer to the way in which those words are used grammatically.
For example, if you look at the following sentences‏‎ you can see that although the words in bold are all different, they all work the same way in the sentence.
Have you seen…

Past Continuous in English Grammar

The Past Continuous (also called the Past Progressive) is used in several different ways:

interrupted actions in the past
parallel actions in the past

It is used to reference a continuous (long-term) action in the past:

They were kissing when we walked in.
He was working when we met him.

Interrupted Actions/Background
We use the past continuous to talk about an action…

Past Participles in English Grammar

A Past Participle is a verb form which indicates a past or completed action or time.

If you see some, you’ll recognize them:
Quite often you’ll hear people talking about the past participle as the -ed Form. This is because with regular verbs that’s how it’s formed; however be careful with this as irregular verbs don’t make it by adding -ed to the…

Past Perfect Continuous‏‎ in English Grammar

The Past Perfect Continuous (PPC) is used to talk about a continuous event in the past which happened before another event to which it was closely related. In this diagram, the wiggly line is the PPC and the cross is a closely related second event which “stops” the continuous event. So to describe an ongoing action that started in the past and carried on until a certain point in time…

Past Perfect Simple‏‎ in English Grammar

The past perfect simple is used to talk about events which happened in the past before another event also in the past. It is mainly used thus: I had walked for about twenty minutes before I realized I’d left my wallet behind. It’s usually followed by the past simple‏‎. In this way we use the past perfect simple to provide background the main event in the past. For example: The…

Past Tense in English Grammar

The Past Tense is used – as you can probably guess – to talk about the past.

There are several different verb forms we can use to talk about the past. This article briefly explains them and links to fuller articles on each.
Past Simple
The Past Simple is used most often to tell a simple story or relate and incident. In regular verbs it’s made by…

Pay > Paid vs Payed

What is the past form of pay?

This often causes problems for students. The verb‏‎ pay means to give money to someone and it is usually an irregular verb.
I pay $15 each month for my internet connection.
Last month I paid $15 for my internet connection.
I have paid $15 every month for the past year.
However, some people will assume that pay is a regular…

Perfect Tenses in English Grammar

We use Perfect Tenses to talk about a finished action, often in relation to another action.

This action can occur at any time in the past, present or future.
3 Perfect Tenses
There are three perfect tenses in English:
Past Perfect
This is used to talk about a completed action in the past. It’s usually used alongside another past tense:
After we had finished the meeting we…

Personal Pronouns‏‎ in English Grammar

Personal Pronouns are a subset of pronouns‏‎ which stand in for people, places, things and ideas. To begin with, here is a full table of all personal pronouns in English:   Subject Object Reflexive Possessive singular I me myself mine singular you you yourself yours singular masculine he him himself his singular feminine she her herself hers singular neutral it it itself its singular ngs* they them themself their singular…

Phrasal Verbs‏‎ in English

A phrasal verb is a verb‏‎ and preposition which together mean something different from the individual parts. For example: The little boy was racing along the corridor when he ran into his teacher. In this example the boy was running and he literally ran into his teacher and knocked him over. Here the phrase ran into is not a phrasal verb. However, look at this example: I was walking…

Prepositional Phrases‏‎ in English Grammar

Generally speaking, a Preposition tells you where something is or when something happened: at, in, on, by… As you might guess, a Prepositional Phrase simply means a preposition and what it is talking about known as the object: {preposition} + {object} by + the light of the silvery moon in + the nick of time different objects The object is most often a noun, pronoun or gerund: at (prep.) school…

Prepositions of Place‏‎ in English Grammar

Prepositions of Place are used to describe where something or someone is…

Words like:
in, on, at, by, behind, over…
and so on.
Most Common Prepositions of Place
The 3 most commonly used prepositions of place are at, in and on.

For ESL students prepositions of place (in fact, all prepositions) can be awkward to learn because there are no definite patterns or rules telling…

Prepositions of Time‏‎ in English Grammar

Prepositions of Time – we use these prepositions‏‎ to talk about time, either with a specific start and finish or general periods of time. We use them to explain when something happened. There is no real logic to which prepositions we use when talking about time so they just have to be learned by students of English. Specific Times on We use on to talk about days of the week…

Prepositions‏‎ in English Grammar

Prepositions are a closed word class‏‎. This means there are only a few of them and no new ones are ever added to the group. This article introduces the main groups of prepositions in English. A preposition joins nouns, pronouns‏‎ and phrases‏‎ with other words in a sentence‏‎. Generally speaking, a preposition tells us: where something is or when something happened Different Types of Prepositions The word or phrase that…

Present Continuous in English Grammar

We use the Present Continuous (also called Present Progressive) in three ways in English‏‎:

1. to talk about a situation that is happening right now as we speak.
What are you doing?
I am reading 50 Shades of Gray!
Why is he in bed?
He is not feeling well today.
Can you be quiet, please. I am trying to watch television.
2. to talk about things happening around now…

Present Participle‏‎ in English Grammar

The Present Participle is a participle‏‎ that ends in -ing. We use it with the auxiliary verb‏ to be to form the continuous tenses‏‎: {be} + (verb -ing} I was walking home. She is running for the bus. Form The present participle is formed by adding -ing to the bare infinitive (that is, the most basic verb form). walk > walking eat > eating One issue which sometimes causes problems…

Present Perfect Continuous‏‎ in English Grammar

We use the present perfect continuous in two ways: 1. to talk about an event which started in the past and is continuing now. We often use the words for and since with this tense. I have been learning English for six years. They have been living in Paris since July. 2. to talk about an event which lasted for some time and recently finished; the effects of this event…

Present Perfect Simple in English Grammar

The Present Perfect Simple verb form‎ is used to talk about a past event which has very strong meaning and connection with the present.

As you might imagine, it is sometimes difficult to define well as there are many exceptions to its use; different people will use it in different ways.

As you can see in these examples, the event happened a very short time ago in…

Present Perfect Simple or Continuous?

In general, the Present Perfect Simple‏‎ (PPS) is used to talk about an event which happened in the past but which has a very strong connection to the present: I have just finished laying the table so we can eat soon. The Present Perfect Continuous‏‎ (PPC) on the other hand is used to talk about an event which started in the past and it still going on now: I have been cooking…

Present Perfect Simple or Past Simple?‏‎

It is sometimes the case that students will have problems understanding when to use the Present Perfect Simple‏‎ and when to use the Past Simple‏‎. In general, the Past Simple is used for an action completed in the past. (Note that we would use the Past Continuous‏‎ if that action was of long duration, for example.) It’s often, but not always, used with a time adverbial. Last year an earthquake struck Athens…

Present Simple‏‎ in English Grammar

The Present Simple is usually one of the very first verb forms‏‎ to be taught in English‏‎. We use it mainly to talk about situations which are always the same or at least consistent for a long time. This includes habits, facts and so on. My name is Joe and I am from Ohio. The Earth goes round the Sun. I believe in Father Christmas. And so on. Form {youtube}mCDHh3lnbk0{/youtube}To…

Pronouns in English Grammar

Pronouns are a closed group of words which can be used in place of nouns in a sentence‏‎. We replace nouns that are repeated with pronouns so instead of saying:
William took the ball and then William kicked the ball.
We say:
William took the ball and then he kicked it.
This makes the sentence less clumsy and more fluid.
Types of Pronouns
The type of pronoun we use depends…

Proper Nouns‏‎ in English Grammar

A Proper Noun is a special type of noun which refers to a person or place (and sometimes a title). Tom Cruise, Spain, Alexander the Great, Pluto… Proper nouns help identify a particular person, place, object or animal because they tell us their name. Compare these statements: I met a girl yesterday (very general information, which girl do we mean, it could be one of many) I met the girl…

Quantifiers‏‎ in English Grammar

When we want to talk about HOW MUCH of something there is, we use a Quantifier.  Common quantifiers include: manymuch(a) few(a) littlelessfewermoresomeany Grammatically speaking, quantifiers are a sub-group of determiners‏‎ and we use them with nouns to describe the amount, extent or intensity of something. Have you any rice?There are some cookies in the jar.Have you got many Facebook friends? Quantifier or Adverbs of Degree? Do not confuse quantifiers with…

Reflexive Pronouns‏‎ in English Grammar

A reflexive pronoun is a special kind of pronoun used to talk about the same person or thing that was mentioned in the subject: Alice looked at herself in the mirror. They enjoyed themselves at the beach. We use reflexive pronouns when the person who does something, and the person who has something done, are the same. Note the difference between: They looked at each other. They looked at themselves…

Regular Adverbs in English Grammar

An adverb modifies a word, phrase, or sentence. It tells us more about them and changes the meaning slightly. Often we say it tells us how something happens:
They are waiting for the metro.
They are waiting patiently for the metro.
In this example above, the adverb tell us how the people are waiting for the metro.
Regular & Irregular Adverbs in English
The difference between regular adverbs and irregular…

Regular and Irregular in English Grammar

Words in English are either Regular and Irregular.

Regular means that when they change their form (for example, when they become plural) they follow the usual pattern. Irregular means, as you might expect, that they do not follow the usual pattern of most words.

Fortunately most words in English are regular, but a significant number of everyday words are not. In the TEFL classroom students just need to…

Roots and English Words

A root is the very simplest form of a word without any affix‏‎es or changes. It cannot be made any smaller and is sometimes known as the base word.

For example, take the word important. This consists of 3 parts:
im (a prefix) + port (the root) + ant (a suffix])
So the root of the word is simply: port.

Often you will find that the…

Sentence Completion – sentence activity

Sentence Completion is a TEFL activity which can be used to practice different forms of sentences‏‎. It works well with different verb forms‏‎, conditionals‏‎ and so on.
Write out a series of sentences which are examples of the kind of sentence/verb structure you want to practice, and put them onto flashcards‏‎ (so you can use them later with other classes).

For example these are for…

Simple or Continuous Verb Form?‏‎

If you teach or learn English you’ll know that many students often have a problem deciding whether to use a Continuous Verb Form or a Simple Verb Form. For example, both of these are grammatically correct: I work here.I am working here. But learners can often choose the wrong one and you’ll hear things like: What are you doing?I read. Grammatically correct, but wrong in usage. As a good, general…

Speak an Adverb‏‎

Speak an Adverb is a way to have your students practice different kinds of intonation‏‎ and language register‏‎ in English and also to help them become aware of the importance they play in speaking‏‎. A short amount of preparation is enough for different versions of the game and with right materials it can be used to practice intonation with many different ages and levels‏‎ of students. Preparation Make up a list of…

Split Infinitives in English Grammar

Split Infinitives are a construction in English‏‎ when the infinitive of a verb‏‎ is cut in half by another word. For example:
Infinitive: to see
Split Infinitive: to barely see
The infinitive is most often split by an adverb‏‎ or adverbial phrase‏‎.
I attempted to carefully remove the plug.
She began to frantically and almost hysterically rip at the packaging.

The first written record of a split infinitive…

Stative & Dynamic Verbs‏‎ in English

We can group verbs in different ways. One method is to divide them into Stative Verbs and Dynamic Verbs. Briefly, verbs which refer to a static or unchanging state or condition are called stative and verbs which talk about a moving or changeable condition are known as dynamic (or sometimes Action Verbs). A couple of examples help explain this difference: I’m eating just a single piece of toast for…

Sticky Fingers – is a noun countable or non-countable?

Sticky Fingers is a simple way to demonstrate to your class whether a noun is countable or non-countable.

The idea here is that you begin by telling your class whether a noun is countable or non-countable. Then you have a visual sign for this along with telling them. Then you just use the sign.

There are several advantages to this:

you speak less; less…

Subjects in English Grammar

Look at these sentences‏‎:
James Bond drives an Aston Martin.
Bond is chasing the killer!
007 kissed the beautiful Russian agent.
In each one the subject has been highlighted. The subject is the main theme of the sentence; it is what the sentence is all about. It is, if you like, the star actor of the sentence.

In English‏‎ sentences it normally comes first with the rest of…

Subjunctive‏‎s in English Grammar

The Subjunctive is a verb mood‏‎ used in dependent clauses to express wishes, commands, emotion, possibility, judgement, necessity, or statements that are contrary to facts at present. Basically we use the subjunctive to talk about events that we want to happen, we hope will happen, or we imagine happening. If I Were vs If I Was One of the most common usages of the subjunctive is like this (taken from…

The Present Tense in English Grammar

The Present Tense is one of the three main verb tenses‏‎ used in grammar‏‎. It is used to talk about the current situation, i.e. now.

Here we introduce to the four main forms of the present tense and look at when we use them. The links at the bottom of the page go to more detailed looks at the individual forms.
When do we Use the Present Tense?…

Third Conditionals in English Grammar

The past is past and (sometimes unfortunately) it cannot be changed. All we can do is imagine how it might be different now if things had gone differently.

To do this, to describe unreal situations in the past, we use the Third Conditional.
If I had known the party was for your birthday, I would have got you a present.
But nobody told me this was a…

Timelines, Verbs and TEFL

Timelines are a teaching aid we use to help explain how different verb tenses‏‎ are used. They are a visual representation of the passage of time.

This is an empty timeline:

Here, the timeline shows an event in the past (last night) and can be used to explain the past simple‏‎:
Last night we ate curry.

For explaining continuous tenses‏‎, we tend to use…

Transitive & Intransitive Verbs in English

Here are two sentences, the first with a Transitive Verb, the second with an Intransitive Verb:
She held her breath.
She laughed.
This illustrates at a glance the basic difference between the two types of verbs‏‎.
Transitive Verbs
Quite simply transitive verbs must take an object‏‎. We can say:
She held the puppy.
She held his hand.
She held the door open.
But we cannot say:
* She…

Verb Forms in English Grammar

This article introduces at the 3 main verb forms a verb can take: the infinitive, the present participle and the past form.
The Infinitive
The Infinitive is the base form of a verb. These are infinitives:
love, eat, walk, be
In English, the infinitive is nearly always the same as the present tense. The only exception is the verb be:
I love, I eat, I walk, I am…

Verb Moods‏‎ in English Grammar

Verb Moods (sometimes known as Grammatical Mood) are ways of looking at verbs‏‎ and classifying them which show the attitude of the speaker. Traditionally verbs have three moods: the indicative, the imperative, and the subjunctive. However, some grammarians will also include other moods such as the infinitive, the interrogative and the conditional. The Indicative Mood The indicative mood is used in most statements‏‎ and questions‏‎ to assert or show (i.e…

Verb Patterns‏‎ in English Grammar

Often in English‏‎ we need to join two verbs‏‎ together in the same sentence.

When we do this, we can use different verb patterns depending on which verb comes first and here you’ll find some of the more common verb patterns.

In a TEFL class you probably wouldn’t spend a lesson teaching these patterns as such but you will come across them in class in which case it’s often…

Verb Phrases in English Grammar

A Verb Phrase is a group of words which work together in the same way as a single verb does.

For example, the verbs in the sentences below are highlighted bold.
She slept soundly.
The dog barked all night.
In the following examples instead of a single word acting as a verb, we are using verb phrases.
She was sleeping soundly.
The dog was barking all night…

Verb plus Preposition‏‎ in English Grammar

When we use a preposition, we can follow it with the gerund: {verb phrase} + {preposition} + {gerund} He coughed before beginning to speak. They succeeded in breaking the door down. With most prepositions this is no problem. However, when we use the preposition to, students often confuse it with the to + infinitive structure. I object to work. I object to work at night. In the first example, work…

Verb Tenses‏‎ & Forms in English Grammar

Note: descriptions of verb forms and tenses vary. Here we present a simple overview of the tenses and forms of English which is useful for the classroom.

In grammar a tense (from the Latin tempus) is a form of a verb‎ used to indicate roughly the time when the action described by the verb takes place.

In English there are 3 basic tenses: Past, Present and Future. (However, often…

Verbs in English Grammar

When we want to talk about what the subject of a sentence‏‎ does, we use a verb.

Verbs tell us about an action; they are sometimes called doing words or action words. Verbs describe what is happening.

Here then are some simple verbs:
drink, eat, rest, dunk
As with many languages, verbs in English are an incredibly important part of speech‏‎ and your TEFL students need to become familiar…

Verbs of Perception in English Grammar

Verbs of Perception refer to those verbs‏‎ which are used to talk about sensing:

hear/listen to
sense in general

These verbs can be used in different ways and have certain grammatical conditions attached to them.
Continuous (Progressive) Forms

Used in continuous forms (aka progressive forms), these verbs indicate the subject is focusing on a particular…

What is a Common Noun?

A simple definition of a noun is that it’s an object or concept; a thing. We can group nouns in various ways. One major group are Common Nouns. Simply put, a Common Noun is a noun which is used to talk about an object or concept. Here are a few examples: objects table, hill, water, atom, elephant events lesson, revolution feelings fear, hate, love time year, minute, millennium concepts…

What is a Subordinating Conjunction?

Let me start by saying that I think the name Subordinating Conjunction is wrong. It doesn’t really describe what they do. When we use one of these so-called subordinating conjunctions we’re not saying they make a phrase subordinate to another; we’re saying they make a phrase need another. A bit like a child; it’s not subordinate to the parent, it just needs the parent. I wonder if we should call…

Who vs Whom in English Grammar

Who vs Whom often comes up and sometimes causes confusion. This article explains the difference between these two.

Who and whom are both pronouns‏‎ and while they mean the same thing (a person or group of people) they are grammatically different.
Subjects vs Objects
The subject of a sentence‏‎ is the “main actor” in the sentence and normally it comes at the beginning of the sentence:
Louisa sang a…

Zero Article in English Grammar

The Zero Article does not exist. But it is very useful nonetheless.

Talking about the zero article is useful when we’re describing how to use articles‏‎. But essentially when we talk about the zero article we mean that we do not use any article in front of a noun. In other words, we do not use a/an or the.

This article (excuse the pun) talks about…