English Grammar Summary

Welcome to the English grammar summary! Grammar is what we use to structure language. It is an essential part of any language. Without it, our language would not make sense! This summary will provide you with all of the necessary information about grammar. The summary will be split into two main parts: Basic English Grammar and Advanced English Grammar

English Grammar Summary English Grammar Summary

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Table of contents

    Basic English Grammar

    The elements of basic English grammar are:

    Let's look at these in more detail!

    Word Classes

    • We group words into word classes based on the function they perform in a sentence.
    • The four main word classes are nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs. These are lexical classes that give meaning to a sentence.
    • The other five word classes are prepositions, pronouns, determiners, conjunctions, and interjections. These are function classes that are used to explain grammatical and structural relationships between words.
    • It is important to look at the context of a sentence in order to work out which word class a word belongs to.


    • A noun is a word that names something. This can be a person, place, thing, idea, or concept.
    • The main two types of nouns are proper nouns and common nouns.
    • Proper nouns 'name' a unique person, place, or thing and usually begin with a capital letter. For example, we write 'London' with a capital letter.
    • Common nouns are the rest of the nouns and do not usually begin with a capital letter. Common nouns can be categorised into countable and uncountable nouns, abstract and concrete nouns, compound nouns, and collective nouns.
    Type of common nounExample
    Countable nouns (things that can be counted)Apples(e.g. one apple, two apples, three apples)
    Uncountable nouns (things we can't count with numbers)Water(e.g. I would like some water)
    Abstract nouns (things that we cannot feel with our senses)Love
    Concrete nouns (tangible things that we can feel with our senses)Pencil
    Compound nouns (nouns made up of two existing words)Bedroom(Bed + room)
    Collective nouns (words referring to a group of things/people as a whole)Family
    • Other noun types include possessive nouns, pronouns, attributive nouns, gerunds, and noun phrases.


    • An adjective is a word usually used to provide more information about a noun.
    • Adjectives are often called 'describing words' as they describe a feature or quality of the noun such as colour, size, quantity, etc.
    • Examples of adjectives are warm, blue, short, crunchy, etc.
    • An adjective can be placed either before a noun (pre-modification), after a noun (post-modification), or on its own as a complement.
    • The main adjectives are: descriptive, evaluative, quantitative, interrogative, proper, demonstrative/indefinite, possessive, compound, and degree of comparison (e.g. positive, comparative and superlative).


    • A verb is a word that expresses an action, event, feeling, or state of being. They normally describe what the noun or subject is doing.

    • A main verb is a verb that can stand on its own (e.g. walk, talk, eat, drink) whereas auxiliary verbs 'help' the main verb (e.g. can, could, shall, should).

    • Linking verbs (copula verbs) connect a subject to a noun/adjective (e.g. to be).

    • Inflections on verbs can express tense, person/number, mood, and voice.

    • Phrasal verbs are a combination of a main verb and an adverb particle, which create their own unique meaning (e.g. drop off, track down, let go).

    Copula Verb

    • A copula verb is used to link the subject and the subject complement in a sentence.

    • The subject of a sentence precedes (comes before) the copula verb and can be a noun, noun phrase or a pronoun.

    • The subject complement follows the copula verb and can be a noun, noun phrase or adjective.

    • An example of a copula verb is 'to be.' This is one of the most commonly used copula verbs in English.

    • Copula verbs can be easily mixed up with auxiliary verbs. Remember that copula verbs link subjects and subject complements. Auxiliary verbs add meaning to or complete main verbs.


    • A gerund is a verb ending in -ing that functions as a noun. For example, words such as 'singing', 'drinking', and 'playing.'
    • A gerund phrase includes the gerund and any accompanying modifiers or objects.
    • Gerunds and present participle verbs look the same but function differently. Present participles refer to ongoing actions, while gerunds are the subject/object of their respective sentences.
    • If you are trying to decide whether a word is a gerund or a present participle, try replacing the gerund with a similar noun.
    • There are 6 main types of gerunds where they function as a subject, subject complement, direct object, object complement, object of a preposition, and object of a possessive.


    • An adverb is a word that provides additional information on a verb, adjective, another adverb, or a complete clause.
    • Adverbs can be used in three ways; modifying, intensifying, and connecting adverbs.
    • Modifying adverbs provide extra information, e.g. 'quickly'. Intensifying adverbs strengthen the meaning of another word, e.g. 'very'. Connecting adverbs connect two clauses or sentences, e.g. 'therefore.'
    • Different adverbs include; adverbs of place, time, manner, frequency, degree, purpose, and probability.
    • Common suffixes for adverbs include -ly, -wards, and -wise; however, many adverbs are stand-alone words.


    • A pronoun is a word that can replace a noun or a noun phrase in a sentence. The noun that is replaced by the pronoun is called the antecedent.

    • Personal pronouns show person, number, and gender. They consist of subject and object pronouns. For example, I, you, they, we, she, he, it.

    • Possessive pronouns tell us who owns something. For example, mine, yours, ours, theirs, hers, his.

    • Reflexive pronouns refer back to a person. For example, myself, yourself, ourselves, themselves, herself, himself, itself.

    • Relative pronouns connect a noun or pronoun to a clause or phrase. For example, who, whose, whom, which, that.

    • Demonstrative pronouns point to a specific person or thing. For example, this, that, these, those.

    • Indefinite pronouns refer to people or things that you don't need to or want to specify precisely. For example, anybody, everybody, somebody, nobody, each, every, either, neither, something, nothing.

    • Interrogative pronouns are wh-words that are used to ask questions. For example, who, whom, whose, what, which.


    • A preposition is often a small word showing how two parts of a sentence are connected in relation to time, place, movement/direction, or relationship.

    • Prepositions often come before a noun, a noun phrase, or a pronoun; however, they may be used in a variety of ways.

    • Prepositions can be split into three main groups: prepositions of time, prepositions of place, and prepositions of movement/direction.

    Type of prepositionExample
    Preposition of timeWe will sleep until 8 am.
    Preposition of placeThe book was underneath the bed.
    Preposition of movement/directionShe ran towards him.
    • Prepositions can also be grouped based on how they look; this includes single-word prepositions, two-word prepositions, and three-word prepositions.


    • A conjunction is a word that connects two words, clauses, or phrases. They help to form longer, more complex sentences from simple sentences.

    • The three main types of conjunction are coordinating conjunctions, subordinating conjunctions, and correlative conjunctions.

    • Coordinating conjunctions join two parts of a sentence that have equal meaning/importance. The acronym FANBOYS helps us to remember the 7 coordinating conjunctions: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, and So.

    • Subordinating conjunctions join two parts of a sentence that have unequal importance as one clause/phrase depends on the other. This is mainly an independent clause and a dependent clause.

    • Correlative conjunctions are two conjunctions that work together in a sentence e.g either/or.


    • A determiner is a word that specifies a noun and gives more information about location, quantity, or ownership. Determiners always come before a noun or a noun phrase. If the word replaces the noun then it is most likely to be a pronoun.

    • There are six main types of determiners; articles, demonstratives, possessive determiners, interrogative determiners, quantifiers, and determiners as numbers.

    • Articles are words that determine a noun. They are the/a/an.

    • Demonstrative determiners point to the thing that they mention. They are this/these/that/those.

    • Possessive determiners show ownership. For example, my/his/hers/their.

    • Interrogative determiners are used to formulate questions. They are whose/what/which.

    • Quantifiers give information about the quantity of a noun. They include words such as some, any, none/all as well as cardinal and ordinal numbers (e.g. one, two, three, first, second, third).


    • An article is a type of determiner that comes before a noun to show whether it is specific or non-specific.

    • The English language has two main types of articles: definite and indefinite.

    English Grammar Summary Definite and indefinite articles StudySmarterDefinite and indefinite articles

    • The definite article 'the' is used before specific, unique, or known nouns.

    • The indefinite articles 'a/an' are used before unspecific and general nouns.

    • The article 'a' comes before nouns beginning with a consonant sound and 'an' comes before a noun beginning with a vowel sound. Articles can also come before adjectives in a noun phrase.

    Types of Phrases

    • A noun phrase is a group of words that consists of a noun (or pronoun) and other words that modify the noun. It adds information about the noun.

    • An adjective phrase is a group of words that consists of an adjective and other words that modify or complement it. It is used to add detail to a noun.

    • An adverb phrase is a group of words that consists of an adverb and often its modifiers. It functions as an adverb in a sentence, with the purpose of modifying verbs, adjectives or other adverbs.

    • A verb phrase is a group of words that consists of a main verb and other verbs (such as copulas and auxiliaries). It can also include other modifiers.

    • A prepositional phrase is a group of words that acts as either an adjective or adverb in a sentence. It consists of a preposition and an object, and can also include other modifiers.

    Noun Phrase

    • A noun phrase consists of two or more words that function as a noun; this includes the main noun and its pre and post-modifiers. Noun phrases can act as subjects or objects in a sentence.

    • Premodifiers include determiners, adjectives and nouns.

    • Postmodifiers include complements and general postmodifiers. The key difference between the two is that complements are necessary to complete the meaning of the noun phrase, whereas general postmodifiers are not necessary.

    • Expanded noun phrases consist of the main noun and one or more adjectives or nouns.

    • An example of a noun phrase is 'I smiled at the woman across the street.'

    Adjective Phrase

    • An adjective phrase describes or modifies a noun or a pronoun.

    • Adjective phrases can go before or after a noun acting as a premodifier or a postmodifier.

    • There are different types of adjective phrases such as adjective phrases with multiple adjectives, adjective phrases with comparative and superlative adjectives, adjective phrases with prepositions, and adjective phrases with adverbs.

    • An example of an adjective phrase is, 'This flower is nicer than the others.'

    Adverb Phrase

    • An adverb phrase is a phrase that modifies a verb, adjective or adverb by answering how, where, when, why, or to what degree an action has occurred.

    • Different types of adverbs include adverb phrases of time, adverb phrases of place, adverb phrases of manner, and adverb phrases of reason.

    • We can form adverb phrases using prepositional phrases, infinitive phrases, and adverb + intensifier phrases.

    • What distinguishes adverb clauses from adverb phrases is this subject-verb element. Phrases do not contain both a subject and a verb.

    • An example of an adverb phrase is, 'I go to the gym twice a day.'

    Verb Phrase

    • A verb phrase is a group of words that act as a verb in a sentence. It typically consists of a main verb and its modifiers, such as linking verbs and auxiliary verbs.
    • Auxiliary verbs are often used in verb phrases to express time and aspect, such as the completion of an action.
    • Modal verbs are often used in verb phrases to express modalities, such as likelihood, ability, obligation and suggestion.
    • Verb phrases are different from verbal phrases. Verb phrases act as the verb in a sentence, whereas verbal phrases act as an adjective.
    • An example of a verb phrase is 'Sarah was helping her friend.'

    Prepositional Phrase

    • A prepositional phrase is a group of words consisting of a preposition, an object, and any modifiers.
    • Prepositional phrases are used to show the relationship between other words in a sentence. They are most commonly used to indicate the relationships between time, space, location, and direction.
    • There are three types of prepositional phrases: adjective prepositional phrases, adverb prepositional phrases, and prepositional phrases acting as a noun.
    • Commas should be used with prepositional phrases when they are being used as introductory phrases, when they are nonrestrictive phrases, and when the prepositional phrase contains a gerund.
    • An example of a prepositional phrase is, 'The cat is on the kitchen table.'

    Types of Clauses

    • Clauses are the basic building blocks of a sentence.

    • There are two major clause types: independent clauses and dependent clauses

    • A dependent clause (also called a subordinate clause) can only be used to complete a sentence alongside an independent clause.

    English Grammar Summary Independent vs dependent clauses StudySmarterIndependent vs dependent clause

    • Independent and dependent clauses can be used to create four different types of sentences: simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, and compound-complex sentences.

    Independent Clause

    • Independent clauses are the foundation for all sentences.

    • Independent clauses contain a complete idea and can stand alone as sentences. For example, 'Kevin sat on the chair.'

    • They are formed with a subject and a predicate (they can optionally include a modifier and an object).

    • Independent clauses can be joined together with punctuation and conjunctions.

    • Independent clauses can be combined with other independent clauses and dependent clauses to create different sentence types in the English language.

    Dependent Clause

    • Dependent clauses add extra information to a sentence.

    • Dependent clauses rely on independent clauses; they do not make sense on their own. For example, in the sentence 'I drank water because I was thirsty', the dependent clause is 'because I was thirsty.'

    • Dependent clauses can be used in two types of sentences. They are included in complex sentences and compound-complex sentences.

    • Dependent clauses contain information about time, place, etc., and always relate to the independent clause somehow.

    • There are three main types of dependent clauses: adverbial clauses, adjective clauses and noun clauses.

    Types of Sentences

    • There are four types of sentences: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences.

    • Simple sentences contain one independent clause.

    • Compound sentences contain two (or more) independent clauses, joined together by a comma and a coordinating conjunction or a semicolon.

    • Complex sentences contain at least one dependent clause linked to the main clause with a subordinating conjunction.

    • Compound-complex sentences contain at least one dependent clause and at least two independent clauses.

    Type of sentenceExample
    SimpleSarah stroked the cat.
    CompoundI love chocolate, but Adam loves cake.
    ComplexIf it rains today, I will stay at home.
    Compound-complexBecause I studied hard, I passed my exam and I was so pleased.

    Simple sentence

    • A simple sentence is a type of sentence. The four types of sentences are simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences.

    • Simple sentences are formed using an independent clause. Clauses are the building blocks for sentences, and independent clauses work on their own.

    • Simple sentences are direct, easy to understand, and clear about their information.

    • Simple sentences must contain a subject and a verb. They can optionally also have an object and/or a modifier.

    Compound Sentence

    • A compound sentence is one of four types of sentences. The others are simple sentences, complex sentences, and compound-complex sentences.

    • A compound sentence comprises two or more independent clauses. Each independent clause contains a subject and a verb and can work on its own.

    • Compound sentences are useful when trying to link together multiple ideas.

    • You can identify compound sentences by looking at the number and type of clauses. If they are all independent clauses and there is more than one clause, you know it's a compound sentence.

    • An example of a compound sentence is 'She has a cat, but wants a rabbit too.'

    Complex Sentence

    • Complex sentences are one of the four sentence types used in the English language.
    • The four sentence types are simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex.

    • Complex sentences contain one independent clause and at least one dependent clause.

    • Complex sentences are often used when we need to add information or give a reason for something - this is when we would use a dependent clause.

    • We can identify a complex sentence by looking at the number and type of clauses it contains. If there is one independent and at least one dependent clause, we know the sentence is complex.

    • An example of a complex sentence is 'If you don't come home now, you'll be grounded.'

    Compound-Complex Sentence

    • A compound-complex sentence is a type of sentence containing three or more clauses. This includes at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.
    • A compound-complex sentence is a combination of a compound sentence and a complex sentence.
    • When linking clauses to form compound-complex sentences, we often use conjunctions, such as for, but, and, or, etc.
    • Compound-complex sentences help us to express longer, more complex thoughts and link multiple ideas together.
    • An example of a compound-complex sentence is 'Despite the weather being cold, I still ate the ice cream and enjoyed it.'

    Sentence Functions

    • There are four main sentence functions: Declarative, Interrogative, Imperative, and Exclamative.

    Sentence Function Meaning
    DeclarativeThis type of sentence states a fact.
    InterrogativeThis type of sentence asks a question.
    ImperativeThis type of sentence expresses a command/request.
    ExclamativeThis type of sentence expresses strong emotion/excitement.
    • Sentence functions are sometimes referred to as sentence types.

    • Sentence functions are different from sentence structures as the focus is on the sentence's purpose, not what it consists of.


    • We use declarative sentences to state facts, offer our opinions, provide explanations, or convey information.

    • Declarative sentences always end with a full stop.

    • Declarative sentences are the most common type of sentence.

    • Declarative sentences consist of a verb + a predicate.

    • An example of a declarative sentence is 'The cheetah is the world's fastest land animal.'


    • An interrogative sentence is another term for a direct question and usually requires an answer.

    • There are four main types of interrogative questions: Yes/no interrogatives, alternative interrogatives, WH interrogatives, and tag questions.

    Type of interrogativeExample
    Yes/no interrogative Question: Do you like cheese?Answer: Yes or no
    Alternative interrogative Question: Would you prefer the red dress or the blue dress?Answer: Either the red or blue dress
    WH interrogativeWhere do you live?
    Tag questionI'm doing good thanks, you?
    • An interrogative always ends with a question mark.

    • Interrogatives typically start with a 'wh-' question word or an auxiliary verb.

    • Negative interrogatives can be used to ask literal questions, emphasise or point, or highlight an expected answer.


    • An imperative is one of the four main sentence functions in the English language.
    • The main purpose of an imperative is to give a command.
    • An imperative sentence is formed using a base verb, such as stop or wait and typically has no subject.
    • Imperative sentences end with either a full stop or an exclamation mark.
    • An imperative sentence has six main purposes. They are; to command or request, instruct, advise, invite, wish, and give warning.
    Purpose of the imperativeExample
    Command/requestStop running in the hall.
    InstructMix the flour and egg in a bowl.
    AdvisePerhaps consider choosing an easier task.
    InviteStay for a while.
    WishHave a great time on your trip.
    Give warningBe careful!


    • Exclamative sentences are used to express strong thoughts, feelings, emotions, and personal assessments.
    • Exclamative sentences must contain the words what or how. Remember, all exclamative sentences are exclamations but not all exclamations are exclamative sentences.
    • Exclamative sentences typically end with an exclamation mark. Be careful not to overuse these.
    • Exclamative sentences are often shortened and don't contain a verb. E.g. 'What a nice surprise!'
    • We often put interjections at the beginning of exclamative sentences to add emphasis. E.g. 'Wow! What a lovely car! '

    Advanced English Grammar

    Some elements of advanced English grammar are:

    • Tense is a grammatical term used to show whether a sentence (or verb) refers to an action that happened in the past, is happening in the present, or will happen in the future.

    • Aspects show the time-related characteristics of a sentence such as whether a verb is ongoing, repeated, or completed.

    • We show tense through the use of inflections and verb patterns. For example:

    English Grammar Summary How tense can be shown StudySmarter

    Tense can be shown through inflections and verb patterns
    • There are four tense aspects; simple, progressive (continuous), perfect, and perfect progressive (continuous).

    Past Tense

    • There are four aspects of the past tense: past (simple), past progressive (continuous), past perfect, and past perfect progressive (continuous).

    • The main functions of the past tense are: to express that an action/state of being has happened in the past, to talk about repeated habitual actions/events in the past, to refer to the present tense, or to refer to the future tense.

    • To turn a regular verb into a past tense verb, we add the inflection '-d/-ed'

    • An example of the past tense is 'I danced for three hours last night.' This shows that the event has already taken place.

    Present Tense

    • The present tense is one of the three main verb tenses in English.
    • The present tense is used to discuss actions and events happening in the present, to discuss reoccurring events, to connect past events with the present, and to discuss the future and the past.
    • The present tense contains four aspects: present (simple), present continuous (or progressive), present perfect, and present perfect continuous (progressive).
    • The present tense is one of the most commonly used tenses in spoken English.
    • An example of the present tense is 'I am walking to the shops.' This shows that the event is happening in that present moment.

    Future Tense

    • The main function of the future tense is to express an action (or state of being) that has not yet happened but is expected to happen in the future.

    • We can use the future tense to talk about plans, predictions, make invitations, express willingness, make suggestions, look back at a future event, and much more.

    • The four future verb tenses are: future simple tense, future continuous (progressive) tense, future perfect tense, and future perfect progressive (continuous) tense.

    • We form the future tense using the modal auxiliary verb 'will' + the verb root. For example, 'tomorrow I will visit my grandma.'

    • We can also talk about the future using a combination of other tenses and aspects.

    • Aspect tells us important time-related characteristics of a sentence such as whether the verb is ongoing, repeated, or completed. The four aspects are: simple, continuous, perfective, and perfect continuous.

    • The simple aspect simply states that an action or state has taken/is taking/will take place.

    • The progressive aspect expresses that the action or state of a verb is ongoing and uncompleted.

    • The perfective aspect expresses that an action is complete. The action is normally linked to a specific point in time in the past, present, or future.

    • The perfect progressive aspect expresses an ongoing (progressive) action or state that was/is/will be completed at a later point in time (perfect).

    Progressive Aspect

    • The progressive aspect expresses an action or state of being that is ongoing and not yet completed.

    • Aspect is combined with tense to create verb tenses.

    • The three progressive verb tenses are the past progressive tense, present progressive tense, and future progressive tense.

    Type of progressive aspectExample
    Past progressiveWe were baking a cake.
    Present progressiveHe is playing tennis.
    Future progressiveI will be working tomorrow.
    • The progressive aspect is the opposite of the perfective (completed) aspect which tells us that an action or state has been completed.

    Perfect Aspect

    • The perfect aspect is one of the two aspects used in the English language, along with the progressive aspect.

    • It is used to show that an action or state has already been completed.

    • The perfect aspect is paired with a tense to create verb tenses. These verb tenses are perfect past tense, perfect present tense, and perfect future tense.

    Type of perfect aspectExample
    Past perfectThey had already eaten.
    Present perfectHe has finished his painting.
    Future perfectShe will have left by midnight.
    • The opposite of the perfect aspect is the progressive aspect, which shows that an action is ongoing.

    Grammatical Voices

    • A grammatical voice describes the relationship between a participant (e.g subject and/or object) and an action (e.g verb)

    • The active voice shows that the subject is doing the action.

    • The passive voice shows that the subject is being acted on i.e. the subject is not doing the action themselves but having the action done to them by someone/something else.

    • The active voice is more common, although the passive voice can be useful in certain instances - such as to draw focus on the object.

    Active Voice

    • The active voice is a type of grammatical voice.
    • The active voice occurs in sentences where the subject actively performs the verb.
    • Sentences in the active voice follow the subject-verb-object structure. For example:

    English Grammar Summary Subject object verb structure StudySmarterThe SVO structure

    • Active voice sentences contain active verbs.
    • The active voice is more common than the passive voice, as it is more clear and direct.

    Passive voice

    • The passive voice is a type of grammatical voice.

    • The passive voice is formed when the verb acts upon the subject of the sentence rather than the subject enacting the verb.

    • Other common characteristics of the passive voice include: a form of the verb -to be, a past participle of a verb, a direct or implied 'by.'

    • There are two types of passive voice: short passive voice and long passive voice.

    English Grammar Summary Short and long passive voice StudySmarterShort vs long passive voice

    • There are some situations where the passive voice is appropriate and some when it should be avoided. For example, the passive voice is generally not acceptable if used to avoid blaming someone for something they did.

    Grammatical Mood

    • The term grammatical mood refers to the use of verbs and different verb forms to indicate (show) the purpose of a sentence.
    • The indicative mood is used when the speaker wishes to express something they believe to be true, such as a factual statement, an opinion, or a fact-checking question.
    • The subjunctive mood is to discuss hypothetical situations, express wishes, give a demand or suggestion, and explore conditional situations.
    • The conditional mood is most commonly used when the occurrence or completion of one action is dependent on another.

    Indicative Mood

    • Grammatical mood refers to the use of verb forms which show the purpose of a sentence and how it should be understood.

    • The indicative mood is the use of verb forms to show that a sentence is a statement. It indicates something that is assumed to be true such as facts, opinions, or fact-checking questions.

    • We recognise the indicative mood from the basic form of the verb which can be changed according to tense, person, or number.

    • We use the indicative mood to form declarative sentences.

    • An example of a sentence that uses the indicative mood is 'I sang karaoke at my friend's birthday party.'

    Subjunctive Mood

    • Grammatical mood is a verb category that gives information about how the sentence should be understood.
    • The subjunctive mood expresses a wish, obligation, possibility, or suggestion. It usually refers to a hypothetical situation that has not yet happened and is not guaranteed to happen.
    • We can recognise the subjunctive from the use of the bare form of the verb, the use of 'were', the use of 'be', the use of 'that', 'if', or 'wish'.
    • The subjunctive mood is often used in sentences that consist of two or more clauses, one which is subjunctive and the other which is indicative.
    • An example of a sentence that uses the subjunctive mood is 'If I were you, I wouldn't go out tonight.'

    Infinitive Mood

    • Grammatical mood' refers to the use of verb forms that indicate the purpose of a sentence and how it should be perceived.
    • The infinitive mood is the verb form that expresses an action or state but does not refer to any subject.
    • Verbs in the infinitive mood are mainly used as other parts of speech rather than as the main verb. To form an infinitive verb form, we combine the word 'to' with the base form of the verb.
    • We can split the infinitive into 3 different types: full infinitives, bare infinitives, and split infinitives.
    • An example of a sentence that uses the infinitive mood is 'Maria came over to meet me.'

    Optative Mood

    • Grammatical moods are grammatical features applied to verbs in order to make the meaning of the verbs clear according to how the speaker or writer intended.
    • There are additional grammatical moods: the optative and the potential, but neither is used very often in English.
    • The optative mood is used to express wishes, desires, hopes, prayers, and curses, and is quite similar in many ways to the subjunctive mood.
    • The optative mood can be identified by the use of certain modal verbs, the 'if only' structure, and the use of 'let's' or 'let us'.
    • An example of a sentence that uses the optative mood is 'May you live and long and happy life.'

    Potential Mood

    • The potential mood is a type of grammatical mood. The term grammatical mood refers to the use of verbs and different verb forms to indicate the purpose of a sentence.

    • The potential mood expresses possibility and potential, including obligation, necessity, willingness, liberty, and power.

    • The potential mood is used when the speaker believes that there is potential that the event or situation being discussed will take place.

    • We form the potential mood using modal verbs (a type of auxiliary verb) and the infinitive form of a verb without 'to'.

    • An example of a sentence that uses the potential mood is 'She might be visiting tomorrow.'

    Imperative Mood

    • Grammatical mood refers to the use of verb forms which show the purpose of a sentence and how it should be understood.

    • The imperative mood is a verb form that expresses a command. This includes requests, instructions, orders, warnings, and advice.

    • We form the imperative mood using the base form of the verb. For negative commands, we place the word 'Don't' (i.e. 'do not') in front of the verb.

    • When writing a command, we often use exclamation marks to add emphasis.

    • An example of a sentence that uses the imperative mood is 'Read the book aloud.'

    Interrogative Mood

    • Grammatical mood helps us to understand the purpose of a sentence and how it should be understood e.g. whether it's a question, demand, statement, wish, etc.
    • The interrogative mood is the use of verb forms to indicate the sentence is a question.
    • To form a sentence in the interrogative mood, we use an auxiliary verb (i.e. 'helping' verb) along with the main verb and place it before the subject (the person/thing performing the action) of the sentence.
    • The use of question marks (?) helps us to recognise the interrogative mood.
    • An example of a sentence that uses the interrogative mood is 'Have you been to London before?'

    Conditional Sentences

    • Conditional sentences are sentences that express the degree of probability that something will, might, or could happen/ have happened.
    • Conditional sentences have three components - the conditional clause (a.k.a the if- clause), the consequence cause (a.k.a the main clause), and the conditional conjunction (e.g. if, when).
    • In English, there are five types of conditional sentences - zero, first, second, third, and mixed conditional sentences.
    Conditional sentence typeMeaningExample
    Zero The tense in both parts of the sentence is the simple present.If it snows, the roads get slippery.
    FirstThe structure is usually: if/when + present simple >> will/won't + infinitiveIf the bus is delayed, she'll be late.
    SecondIf + past simple >> would/wouldn't + infinitiveIf I were you, I would stay here.
    ThirdIf + past perfect >> would/wouldn't have + past participleIf you had told me where you were, I would have come to get you.
    MixedThe two parts of a conditional sentence use different tenses.If I had paid attention to the directions, I wouldn't be lost.
    • When the conditional clause comes first in a sentence, separate the two clauses with a comma.


    • Morphemes are the smallest lexical unit of meaning.

    • There are two types of morphemes: free morphemes and bound morphemes.

    • Free morphemes can stand alone, whereas bound morphemes must be attached to another morpheme to get their meaning.

    • Morphemes are made up of two separate classes called bases (or roots) and affixes.

    English Grammar Summary Base/root vs affix StudySmarter

    Difference between base/root words and affixes
    • Most words are free morphemes, and most affixes are bound morphemes.

    • Free morphemes fall into two categories; lexical and functional. Lexical morphemes are words that give us the main meaning of a sentence, and functional morphemes have a grammatical purpose.


    • A prefix is a type of affix attached to the beginning of a base word (or root) to change its meaning.

    • The word prefix itself is the combination of the prefix - pre and the base word - fix.

    • Prefixes can be used to make a word negative, show repetition, or indicate an opinion.

    • A prefix is a bound morpheme, meaning it must be attached to a root word.

    • A hyphen can be used alongside a prefix for several reasons, such as:

    • to prevent ambiguity, when the root word is a proper noun
    • when the last letter of the prefix is the same as the first letter of the root word
    • when the prefix is either ex or self.
    PrefixExample words
    reredo, reapply, rearrange
    un unhappy, unkind, unsure
    imimpossible, improper, imperfect
    ininjustice, invalid, incomplete
    ilillegal, illogical, illiterate
    disdisconnect, disappear, dislike
    coco-exist, co-worker, co-operation
    antiantisocial, antibiotic, anticlockwise


    • A suffix is a type of affix that is placed at the end of a root word to change its meaning or grammatical function.

    • Suffixes are often used to change the word class of a word, show plurality, show tense, and more.

    • A suffix is a bound morpheme, meaning it must be attached to a root word.

    • There are two types of suffixes in the English language: derivational and inflectional.

    Derivational SuffixExamplesInflectional SuffixExamples
    lyslow slowlyedturn turned
    endark darkenersmall smaller
    iveimpress impressivescup cups
    • Derivational suffixes create new words that ‘derive’ from the original root word. Adding a derivational suffix to the root word can change the syntactic category of the word (class-changing suffixes) or maintain the root word’s syntactic category (class-maintaining suffixes).

    • Inflectional suffixes change the grammatical properties of words, meaning they create new forms of the same word.


    • An allomorph is a phonetic variant of a morpheme. Sometimes morphemes change their sound or their spelling but not their meaning. Each of these different forms is classed as an allomorph.

    • Past tense allomorphs include different pronunciations of the suffix '-ed'.

    • Common plural allomorphs include the different pronunciations of the morpheme '-s'.

    • Negative allomorphs include the prefixes we use to make a negative version of a word, such as '-in'. '-im', '-un', and '-a'.

    • A null allomorph (also known as a zero allomorph) has no visual or phonetic form - it is invisible! For example, the plural form of the word sheep is sheep.

    English Grammar Summary English Grammar Summary
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    Frequently Asked Questions about English Grammar Summary

    What is grammar?

    Grammar is what we used to structure language.

    What is basic English grammar?

    Basic English grammar consists of:

    Parts of speech (word classes)




    Sentence functions

    What are the 12 basic rules of grammar?

    12 basic rules of grammar are:

    1. A sentence begins with a capital letter.

    2. A sentence ends with a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark.

    3. A complete sentence should contain a subject and a verb at the very minimum.

    4. Proper nouns should always be capitalised.

    5. Only use a comma if you are also using a coordinating conjunction.

    6. You can use an oxford comma when necessary - not everyone likes them, which is okay!

    7. It is preferable to use the active voice as opposed to the passive voice.

    8. Keep a consistent verb tense.

    9. Only use apostrophes with possessive nouns and contractions.

    10. Make sure you know the difference between homophones (words with the same pronunciation but different meaning or spelling).

    11. Use the article ‘a’ for consonant sounds and ‘an’ for vowel sounds.

    12. Subjects and verbs should be consistent, e.g. a singular subject needs a singular verb and a plural subject needs a plural verb.

    What is advanced English grammar?

    Advanced English grammar consists of elements beyond the basic parts of speech. This includes:

    • Tenses
    • Aspects
    • Grammatical Voices 
    • Grammatical Mood
    • Conditional Sentences
    • Morphemes
    • Prefixes
    • Suffixes
    • Allomorphs

    How can I improve my advanced English grammar?

    You can improve your advanced English grammar by developing your reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. The more you practice reading, writing, and having natural conversations with others, the easier you will be able to pick up on more complex grammar.

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    Team English Grammar Summary Teachers

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