English Grammar 101

Grammar is the skeleton of language, it structures and organizes what we are expressing in a comprehensive way. Having a firm understanding of grammar is crucial for communication, credibility and professionalism. The following is the “bare bones” of English grammar.



Sentences are made up of two parts, the subject and the predicate

The subject is the person/thing acting in the sentence:  he,she,it,name,or a noun and the predicate is the action or description in association with subject.

An independent clause is a phrase that can stand alone as a sentence.

Ex. Linda is very tall = independent clause

A subordinate clause dependent on the independent and cannot stand alone.

Ex. just like her mother = subordinate clause 

Parts of Speech:

Nouns are often the subject of sentences, a noun is a person, place or thing

  • Pronouns- Replace the noun with I, you, he, she, it, they, we 
  • Adjectives- A descriptive word for nouns [Ex. extroverted, genuine, illegitimate, beige, talented]
  • Verb- Verbs are the ACTION in the sentence [ Ex. Jump, sleep, devour, sprint]
  • Adverb- Describes adjectives, nouns, or other adverbs.

The temperature was unbearably cold. Unbearably describes the degree of cold (adjective).

  • Preposition- Indicates location, time [In, at, on, under, above, below, next to, behind, across from]
  • Conjunction- Serve to link parts of a sentence together [and, yet, so, or, but, for]
  • Interjection- Used to convey emotion, often with exclamation [hey!, woah!, dang!]


  • A noun is a person, place or thing
    Proper noun– Person’s name (Jeff), specific place(London, London Bridge), or specific person with title (Senator Jeffords)  always capitalized.
  • Common– nonspecific nouns (restaurant, TV show, street, city)
  • Concrete– Nouns that can be physically perceived by touching, tasting, hearing, seeing, or smelling
  • Abstract-Opposite of concrete nouns
  • Countable– Nouns that are countable (eggs, dollars, flutes)
  • Non-countable-Nouns that can not be counted (coffee, rice, oil)
  • Collective– Refers to a group of nouns (Army, parliament, herd)


  • Qualitative adjectives describe the quality of a noun (massive, timid, round)
  • Possessive adjectives indicate possession of a noun: my,your,its, his,hers,theirs,ours
  • Relative and interrogative: which, what
  • Numeral describes number of adjectives and ordinals. Ex. First, second, a pair
  • Indefinite: Ex. some, many, any

Articles: A, an, the are used to refer to nouns 

  • Definite = The refers to specific nouns (The crosswalk on High Street)
  • Indefinite = A, an refers to general nouns (a mistake, an egg)

Transitive verbs carry over to the direct object the verb is affecting. We ate french fries. French fries are receiving the action (eating)

Intransitive verbs have no direct object. We ate. Here it is unclear as to what the object that received the action was

Incomplete Verbs

  • Auxillary verbs are also referred to as helping verbs be,have,shall,may,do [Ex. Do you have an extra pen?]
  • Semi- Auxillary: must,ought,dare,need 

Verbs voice 

Verbs have two voices: active and passive 

  • Active voice verbs: the subject in the sentence is acting
  • Passive voice verbs: the subject is receiving the action

Verbs Mood

Verb mood is exactly what it sounds like, the intended mood of the sentence.

  • Indictive mood: states a fact, question, or denial
  • Imperative mood: command, beg, advise
  • Subjunctive: doubt, desire, wishful
  • Infinitive: action without subject

Verb Tenses

Past, present, and future all indicate point in time

Perfect tenses:

  • Present perfect indicates a time in the past Ex. I have been waiting for hours 
  • Past perfect indicates action ended in the past before the end of another action Ex. She had slept through her alarm and missed the meeting.
  • Future perfect indicates when an action will be finished in the future Ex. We will have lived here for three years in March.

Referring to this page can help you make sure your grammar usage is in tip-top shape! Check out the “fun zone” to take quick, fun quizzes to help you test your grammar knowledge and skills.