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English Grammar in English by John Dow
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:16 PM | Message # 1
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1 An Introduction to Word classes

Words are fundamental units in every sentence, so we will begin by looking at these. Consider the words in the following sentence:

my brother drives a big car
We can tell almost instinctively that brother and car are the same type of word, and also that brother and drives are different types of words. By this we mean that brother and car belong to the same word class. Similarly, when we recognise that brother and drives are different types, we mean that they belong to different word classes. We recognise seven MAJOR word classes:
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:16 PM | Message # 2
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1 An Introduction to Word classes

Words are fundamental units in every sentence, so we will begin by looking at these. Consider the words in the following sentence:

my brother drives a big car
We can tell almost instinctively that brother and car are the same type of word, and also that brother and drives are different types of words. By this we mean that brother and car belong to the same word class. Similarly, when we recognise that brother and drives are different types, we mean that they belong to different word classes. We recognise seven MAJOR word classes:


Verb be, drive, grow, sing, think
Noun brother, car, David, house, London
Determiner a, an, my, some, the
Adjective big, foolish, happy, talented, tidy
Adverb happily, recently, soon, then, there
Preposition at, in, of, over, with
Conjunction and, because, but, if, or

You may find that other grammars recognise different word classes from the ones listed here. They may also define the boundaries between the classes in different ways. In some grammars, for instance, pronouns are treated as a separate word class, whereas we treat them as a subclass of nouns. A difference like this should not cause confusion. Instead, it highlights an important principle in grammar, known as GRADIENCE. This refers to the fact that the boundaries between the word classes are not absolutely fixed. Many word classes share characteristics with others, and there is considerable overlap between some of the classes. In other words, the boundaries are "fuzzy", so different grammars draw them in different places.
We will discuss each of the major word classes in turn. Then we will look briefly at some MINOR word classes. But first, let us consider how we distinguish between word classes in general.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:18 PM | Message # 3
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1.1 Criteria for Word Classes
We began by grouping words more or less on the basis of our instincts about English. We somehow "feel" that brother and car belong to the same class, and that brother and drives belong to different classes. However, in order to conduct an informed study of grammar, we need a much more reliable and more systematic method than this for distinguishing between word classes.
We use a combination of three criteria for determining the word class of a word:

1. The meaning of the word
2. The form or `shape' of the word
3. The position or `environment' of the word in a sentence

1.1.1 Meaning
Using this criterion, we generalize about the kind of meanings that words convey. For example, we could group together the words brother and car, as well as David, house, and London, on the basis that they all refer to people, places, or things. In fact, this has traditionally been a popular approach to determining members of the class of nouns. It has also been applied to verbs, by saying that they denote some kind of "action", like cook, drive, eat, run, shout, walk.
This approach has certain merits, since it allows us to determine word classes by replacing words in a sentence with words of "similar" meaning. For instance, in the sentence My son cooks dinner every Sunday, we can replace the verb cooks with other "action" words:

My son cooks dinner every Sunday
My son prepares dinner every Sunday
My son eats dinner every Sunday
My son misses dinner every Sunday
On the basis of this replacement test, we can conclude that all of these words belong to the same class, that of "action" words, or verbs.
However, this approach also has some serious limitations. The definition of a noun as a word denoting a person, place, or thing, is wholly inadequate, since it excludes abstract nouns such as time, imagination, repetition, wisdom, and chance. Similarly, to say that verbs are "action" words excludes a verb like be, as in I want to be happy. What "action" does be refer to here? So although this criterion has a certain validity when applied to some words, we need other, more stringent criteria as well.

1.1.2 The form or `shape' of a word
Some words can be assigned to a word class on the basis of their form or `shape'. For example, many nouns have a characteristic -tion ending:

action, condition, contemplation, demonstration, organization, repetition
Similarly, many adjectives end in -able or -ible:

acceptable, credible, miserable, responsible, suitable, terrible
Many words also take what are called INFLECTIONS, that is, regular changes in their form under certain conditions. For example, nouns can take a plural inflection, usually by adding an -s at the end:

car -- cars
dinner -- dinners
book -- books
Verbs also take inflections:

walk -- walks -- walked -- walking

1.1.3 The position or `environment' of a word in a sentence
This criterion refers to where words typically occur in a sentence, and the kinds of words which typically occur near to them. We can illustrate the use of this criterion using a simple example. Compare the following:

[1] I cook dinner every Sunday
[2] The cook is on holiday

In [1], cook is a verb, but in [2], it is a noun. We can see that it is a verb in [1] because it takes the inflections which are typical of verbs:

I cook dinner every Sunday
I cooked dinner last Sunday
I am cooking dinner today
My son cooks dinner every Sunday
And we can see that cook is a noun in [2] because it takes the plural -s inflection
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:18 PM | Message # 4
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The cooks are on holiday
If we really need to, we can also apply a replacement test, based on our first criterion, replacing cook in each sentence with "similar" words:

Notice that we can replace verbs with verbs, and nouns with nouns, but we cannot replace verbs with nouns or nouns with verbs:

*I chef dinner every Sunday
*The eat is on holiday

It should be clear from this discussion that there is no one-to-one relation between words and their classes. Cook can be a verb or a noun -- it all depends on how the word is used. In fact, many words can belong to more than one word class. Here are some more examples:

She looks very pale (verb)
She's very proud of her looks (noun)
He drives a fast car (adjective)
He drives very fast on the motorway (adverb)
Turn on the light (noun)
I'm trying to light the fire (verb)
I usually have a light lunch (adjective)
You will see here that each italicised word can belong to more than one word class. However, they only belong to one word class at a time, depending on how they are used. So it is quite wrong to say, for example, "cook is a verb". Instead, we have to say something like "cook is a verb in the sentence I cook dinner every Sunday, but it is a noun in The cook is on holiday".
Of the three criteria for word classes that we have discussed here, the Internet Grammar will emphasise the second and third - the form of words, and how they are positioned or how they function in sentences.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:18 PM | Message # 5
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1.2 Open and Closed Word Classes
Some word classes are OPEN, that is, new words can be added to the class as the need arises. The class of nouns, for instance, is potentially infinite, since it is continually being expanded as new scientific discoveries are made, new products are developed, and new ideas are explored. In the late twentieth century, for example, developments in computer technology have given rise to many new nouns:
Internet, website, URL, CD-ROM, email, newsgroup, bitmap, modem, multimedia
New verbs have also been introduced:
download, upload, reboot, right-click, double-click
The adjective and adverb classes can also be expanded by the addition of new words, though less prolifically.
On the other hand, we never invent new prepositions, determiners, or conjunctions. These classes include words like of, the, and but. They are called CLOSED word classes because they are made up of finite sets of words which are never expanded (though their members may change their spelling, for example, over long periods of time). The subclass of pronouns, within the open noun class, is also closed.
Words in an open class are known as open-class items. Words in a closed class are known as closed-class items.
In the pages which follow, we will look in detail at each of the seven major word classes.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:19 PM | Message # 6
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2 Nouns

Nouns are commonly thought of as "naming" words, and specifically as the names of "people, places, or things". Nouns such as John, London, and computer certainly fit this description, but the class of nouns is much broader than this. Nouns also denote abstract and intangible concepts such as birth, happiness, evolution, technology, management, imagination, revenge, politics, hope, cookery, sport, literacy....
Because of this enormous diversity of reference, it is not very useful to study nouns solely in terms of their meaning. It is much more fruitful to consider them from the point of view of their formal characteristics.
2.1 Characteristics of Nouns
Many nouns can be recognised by their endings. Typical noun endings include:

-er/-or actor, painter, plumber, writer
-ism criticism, egotism, magnetism, vandalism
-ist artist, capitalist, journalist, scientist
-ment arrangement, development, establishment, government
-tion foundation, organisation, recognition, supposition

Most nouns have distinctive SINGULAR and PLURAL forms. The plural of regular nouns is formed by adding -s to the singular:

Singular Plural
car cars
dog dogs
house houses

However, there are many irregular nouns which do not form the plural in this way:

Singular Plural
man men
child children
sheep sheep

The distinction between singular and plural is known as NUMBER CONTRAST.
We can recognise many nouns because they often have the, a, or an in front of them:

the car
an artist
a surprise
the egg
a review
These words are called determiners, which is the next word class we will look at.
Nouns may take an -'s ("apostrophe s") or GENITIVE MARKER to indicate possession:

the boy's pen
a spider's web
my girlfriend's brother
John's house
If the noun already has an -s ending to mark the plural, then the genitive marker appears only as an apostrophe after the plural form:

the boys' pens
the spiders' webs
the Browns' house
The genitive marker should not be confused with the 's form of contracted verbs, as in John's a good boy (= John is a good boy).
Nouns often co-occur without a genitive marker between them:

rally car
table top
cheese grater
University entrance examination
We will look at these in more detail later, when we discuss noun phrases.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:19 PM | Message # 7
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2.2 Common and Proper Nouns
Nouns which name specific people or places are known as PROPER NOUNS.

John
Mary
London
France
Many names consist of more than one word:

John Wesley
Queen Mary
South Africa
Atlantic Ocean
Buckingham Palace
Proper nouns may also refer to times or to dates in the calendar:

January, February, Monday, Tuesday, Christmas, Thanksgiving
All other nouns are COMMON NOUNS.
Since proper nouns usually refer to something or someone unique, they do not normally take plurals. However, they may do so, especially when number is being specifically referred to:

there are three Davids in my class
we met two Christmases ago
For the same reason, names of people and places are not normally preceded by determiners the or a/an, though they can be in certain circumstances:

it's nothing like the America I remember
my brother is an Einstein at maths
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:20 PM | Message # 8
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2.3 Count and Non-count Nouns
Common nouns are either count or non-count. COUNT nouns can be "counted", as follows:

one pen, two pens, three pens, four pens...
NON-COUNT nouns, on the other hand, cannot be counted in this way:

one software, *two softwares, *three softwares, *four softwares...
From the point of view of grammar, this means that count nouns have singular as well as plural forms, whereas non-count nouns have only a singular form.
It also means that non-count nouns do not take a/an before them:

Count Non-count
a pen *a software

In general, non-count nouns are considered to refer to indivisible wholes. For this reason, they are sometimes called MASS nouns.
Some common nouns may be either count or non-count, depending on the kind of reference they have. For example, in I made a cake, cake is a count noun, and the a before it indicates singular number. However, in I like cake, the reference is less specific. It refers to "cake in general", and so cake is non-count in this sentence.
2.4 Pronouns
Pronouns are a major subclass of nouns. We call them a subclass of nouns because they can sometimes replace a noun in a sentence:

Noun Pronoun
John got a new job ~He got a new job
Children should watch less television ~They should watch less television

In these examples the pronouns have the same reference as the nouns which they replace. In each case, they refer to people, and so we call them PERSONAL PRONOUNS. However, we also include in this group the pronoun it, although this pronoun does not usually refer to a person. There are three personal pronouns, and each has a singular and a plural form:

Person Singular Plural
1st I we
2nd you you
3rd he/she/it they

These pronouns also have another set of forms, which we show here:

Person Singular Plural
1st me us
2nd you you
3rd him/her/it them

The first set of forms (I, you, he...) exemplifies the SUBJECTIVE CASE, and the second set (me, you, him...) exemplifies the OBJECTIVE CASE. The distinction between the two cases relates to how they can be used in sentences. For instance, in our first example above, we say that he can replace John

John got a new job ~He got a new job

But he cannot replace John in I gave John a new job. Here, we have to use the objective form him: I gave him a new job.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:20 PM | Message # 9
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2.5 Other Types of Pronoun
As well as personal pronouns, there are many other types, which we summarise here.

Pronoun Type Members of the Subclass Example
Possessive mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs The white car is mine
Reflexive myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, oneself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves He injured himself playing football
Reciprocal each other, one another They really hate each other
Relative that, which, who, whose, whom, where, when The book that you gave me was really boring
Demonstrative this, that, these, those This is a new car
Interrogative who, what, why, where, when, whatever What did he say to you?
Indefinite anything, anybody, anyone, something, somebody, someone, nothing, nobody, none, no one There's something in my shoe

Case and number distinctions do not apply to all pronoun types. In fact, they apply only to personal pronouns, possessive pronouns, and reflexive pronouns. It is only in these types, too, that gender differences are shown (personal he/she, possessive his/hers, reflexive himself/herself). All other types are unvarying in their form.
Many of the pronouns listed above also belong to another word class - the class of determiners. They are pronouns when they occur independently, that is, without a noun following them, as in This is a new car. But when a noun follows them - This car is new - they are determiners. We will look at determiners in the next section.
A major difference between pronouns and nouns generally is that pronouns do not take the or a/an before them. Further, pronouns do not take adjectives before them, except in very restricted constructions involving some indefinite pronouns (a little something, a certain someone).
While the class of nouns as a whole is an open class, the subclass of pronouns is closed.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:21 PM | Message # 10
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2.6 Numerals
Numerals include all numbers, whether as words or as digits. They may be divided into two major types. CARDINAL numerals include words like:

nought, zero, one, two, 3, fifty-six, 100, a thousand
ORDINAL numerals include

first, 2nd, third, fourth, 500th
We classify numerals as a subclass of nouns because in certain circumstances they can take plurals:

five twos are ten
he's in his eighties
They may also take the:

the fourth of July
a product of the 1960s
And some plural numerals can take an adjective before them, just like other nouns:

the house was built in the late 1960s
he's in his early twenties
the temperature is in the high nineties
In each of our examples, the numerals occur independently, that is, without a noun following them. In these positions, we can classify them as a type of noun because they behave in much the same way as nouns do. Notice, for example, that we can replace the numerals in our examples with common nouns:

he is in his eighties ~he is in his bedroom
the fourth of July ~the beginning of July
a product of the 1960s ~a product of the revolution

Numerals do not always occur independently. They often occur before a noun, as in

one day
three pages
the fourth day of July
In this position, we classify them as determiners, which we will examine in the next section.
Finally, see if you can answer this question:
Is the subclass of numerals open or closed?
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:22 PM | Message # 11
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2.7 The Gender of Nouns
The gender of nouns plays an important role in the grammar of some languages. In French, for instance, a masculine noun can only take the masculine form of an adjective. If the noun is feminine, then it will take a different form of the same adjective - its feminine form.
In English, however, nouns are not in themselves masculine or feminine. They do not have grammatical gender, though they may refer to male or female people or animals:

the waiter is very prompt ~the waitress is very prompt
the lion roars at night ~the lioness roars at night

These distinctions in spelling reflect differences in sex, but they have no grammatical implications. For instance, we use the same form of an adjective whether we are referring to a waiter or to a waitress:

an efficient waiter ~an efficient waitress

Similarly, the natural distinctions reflected in such pairs as brother/sister, nephew/niece, and king/queen have no consequence for grammar. While they refer to specific sexes, these words are not masculine or feminine in themselves.
However, gender is significant in the choice of a personal pronoun to replace a noun:

John is late ~He is late
Mary is late ~She is late

Here the choice of pronoun is determined by the sex of the person being referred to. However, this distinction is lost in the plural:

John and Mary are late ~They are late
John and David are late ~They are late
Mary and Jane are late ~They are late

Gender differences are also manifested in possessive pronouns (his/hers) and in reflexive pronouns (himself/herself).
When the notion of sex does not apply -- when we refer to inanimate objects, for instance -- we use the pronoun it:

the letter arrived late ~it arrived late
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:23 PM | Message # 12
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3 Determiners

Nouns are often preceded by the words the, a, or an. These words are called DETERMINERS. They indicate the kind of reference which the noun has. The determiner the is known as the DEFINITE ARTICLE. It is used before both singular and plural nouns:


Singular Plural
the taxi the taxis
the paper the papers
the apple the apples

The determiner a (or an, when the following noun begins with a vowel) is the INDEFINITE ARTICLE. It is used when the noun is singular:

a taxi
a paper
an apple
The articles the and a/an are the most common determiners, but there are many others:

any taxi
that question
those apples
this paper
some apple
whatever taxi
whichever taxi
Many determiners express quantity:

all examples
both parents
many people
each person
every night
several computers
few excuses
enough water
no escape
Perhaps the most common way to express quantity is to use a numeral. We look at numerals as determiners in the next section.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:23 PM | Message # 13
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3.1 Numerals and Determiners
Numerals are determiners when they appear before a noun. In this position, cardinal numerals express quantity:

one book
two books
twenty books
In the same position, ordinal numerals express sequence:

first impressions
second chance
third prize
The subclass of ordinals includes a set of words which are not directly related to numbers (as first is related to one, second is related to two, etc). These are called general ordinals, and they include last, latter, next, previous, and subsequent. These words also function as determiners:

next week
last orders
previous engagement
subsequent developments
When they do not come before a noun, as we've already seen, numerals are a subclass of nouns. And like nouns, they can take determiners:

the two of us
the first of many
They can even have numerals as determiners before them:

five twos are ten
In this example, twos is a plural noun and it has the determiner five before it.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:23 PM | Message # 14
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3.2 Pronouns and Determiners
There is considerable overlap between the determiner class and the subclass of pronouns. Many words can be both:


Pronoun Determiner
This is a very boring book This book is very boring
That's an excellent film That film is excellent

As this table shows, determiners always come before a noun, but pronouns are more independent than this. They function in much the same way as nouns, and they can be replaced by nouns in the sentences above:


This is a very boring book ~Ivanhoe is a very boring book
That's an excellent film ~Witness is an excellent film

On the other hand, when these words are determiners, they cannot be replaced by nouns:


This book is very boring ~*Ivanhoe book is very boring
That film is excellent ~*Witness film is excellent

The personal pronouns (I, you, he, etc) cannot be determiners. This is also true of the possessive pronouns (mine, yours, his/hers, ours, and theirs). However, these pronouns do have corresponding forms which are determiners:


Possessive Pronoun Determiner
The white car is mine My car is white
Yours is the blue coat Your coat is blue
The car in the garage is his/hers His/her car is in the garage
David's house is big, but ours is bigger Our house is bigger than David's
Theirs is the house on the left Their house is on the left

The definite and the indefinite articles can never be pronouns. They are always determiners.
 
BakhtiyorDate: Sunday, 2012-05-27, 1:24 PM | Message # 15
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3.3 The Ordering of Determiners
Determiners occur before nouns, and they indicate the kind of reference which the nouns have. Depending on their relative position before a noun, we distinguish three classes of determiners.


Predeterminer Central Determiner Postdeterminer Noun
I met all my many friends

A sentence like this is somewhat unusual, because it is rare for all three determiner slots to be filled in the same sentence. Generally, only one or two slots are filled.
3.4 Predeterminers
Predeterminers specify quantity in the noun which follows them, and they are of three major types:
1. "Multiplying" expressions, including expressions ending in times:

twice my salary
double my salary
ten times my salary
2. Fractions

half my salary
one-third my salary
3. The words all and both:

all my salary
both my salaries
Predeterminers do not normally co-occur:

*all half my salary
 
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