English Language, Grammar, Punctuation and Vocabulary Corner, with Quizzes to Test your English Online


Kodaikanal Lake
Kodaikanal Lake















A Quick Introduction

This page is intended for the benefit of those who are trying to improve their English grammar, language and vocabulary.  To some extent, it has been designed, keeping in mind the needs of those who are learning English as a second language (ESL). Indian students appearing for their ICSE or CBSE examinations at the end of Class 10 or 12 might also find this a useful place to brush up some of their skills. A number of auto graded quizzes have also been included, for you to practice, and they will email your scores, once you attempt those.


Building Blocks of Grammar: The Parts of Speech


 Common Noun

 A person, place, idea, concept or thing. It could be a single word, a pair of words, or a hyphenated word. Capitalize this, only when it is used at the start of a sentence.
Example: pen, paper, bear, leaves
 Examples:
The train has left the station.
The
flight is about to take off.
This is a fairly complex
principle to understand.
The
computer needs to be shut down.
This deodorant is quite expensive.
The blue
lake glittered in the bright sunshine.

 Proper Noun

 The name of a person, place, animal, idea or thing. This could be a single word, a group of words, or a pair of hyphenated words. This always needs to be capitalized.
Examples: New York, Delhi, Mumbai, George, India, Ankit, Elizabeth
 Examples:
Venkat lives in Hyderabad.
The
Emirates flight to Dubai, leaves in an hour from now.
Alex graduated last year from Stanford University.
Kodaikanal is a beautiful hill station in Tamil Nadu.
I took a tour of
Google's headquarters in Mountain View.
Balloo, the bear, was an interesting character in The Jungle Book.

 Pronoun

 A pronoun is used instead of a noun, and typically refers to a person, place, animal or thing which has already been mentioned earlier in the sentence or paragraph.
Examples: He, his. she, her
 Examples:
Nikhil climbed up the ladder. After that, he rested for a while.
("He" refers to Nikhil over here.)
Mumbai is a crowded city. Some people seem to enjoy it.
("It" refers to Mumbai.)
This is
my wallet.
After coming to Delhi, the first place
she visited was the India Gate.



 Verb

 A verb shows some kind of action.  Examples: 
He ran a marathon.
She
walked a mile.
I
am running a race this weekend.
He
is thinking about the challenging problem which was discussed in class.

 Adjective

 An adjective describes a common noun, proper noun or pronoun, by describing the color, smell, nature, size etc. of the subject. Examples:
She is an honest person.
He is a
dishonest employee.
The
green ball is much softer than the blue one.
Mumbai and Kolkata are
crowded cities.
The lake is
blue and beautiful.

 Adverb

 An adverb generally describes a verb or an action. Examples:
He ran quickly to shut the gate.
He studied
hard for the examination.
She sang
softly to herself.
The train chugged in
slowly because it had arrived early.

 Interjection

 An interjection is a word or a phrase which represent surprise or emotion. Examples:
Hey! I haven't seen you for a while.
Ouch! That hurts.
Really! That is rather surprising. 

 Article

 "A", "an" or "the". This determines the number or identification of a noun, and it always occurs before a noun.
"The" indicates a particular place or person or thing.
"An" is used before a word which begins with a vowel.
 Example:
A circus clown is entertaining the children.
The Jumbo Jet is an amazing aircraft.
This is
a fast train.
An elephant could behave dangerously if disturbed.

 Preposition             A preposition is a word that has a relationship with a common noun, proper noun or a pronoun. Example:
He leaned against the wall.
He is running
along the track.
She is walking
towards the station
The Earth revolves
around the Sun.

 Conjunction A conjunction joins words, phrases or clauses together.
Examples: although, and, but, either-or
 Example:
He reached reached rather late, but still managed to board the flight.
Although she is often late, Radha is a sincere worker.
Either you must attend the ceremony,
or I will.


Other Important Topics in English Grammar


 Subjects, Verbs and Objects

 These are the basic blocks for all English sentences. It is important to identify and use them appropriately. The dog ran.
Subject = The dog, Verb = ran.
The dog ran towards the stranger.
Subject= The dog, Verb= ran, Object= stranger
She gave the bag to me.
Subject= She, Verb = gave, Object = me

 Determiners

 They modify the noun and give us some additional information about it. The can be articles, numbers, possessives, demonstratives, distributives.

 Articles:
The car is new. 
A flight has just landed.

Numbers:
I would like to purchase two dinner plates.

Possessives:
She left her bag on the floor. 
This tells us that the bag was her possession.
Rajesh lost his wallet.
This lets us know that the wallet being discussed belonged to Rajesh.

Demonstratives:
This
student is brilliant.
That is the car I always wanted to buy.
Those people make a lot of noise.

Distributive:
All
the students are in the football ground.
Half an ounce of rice is all I need to buy.
Both the shirts are being washed in the washing machine.


 Quantifiers

 These answer questions about the quantity associated with a noun. How much? How many?Examples:
He has few enemies.
I have enough work to do.
I'd like to sprinkle a pinch of salt to the food.

 Subjunctive

 It is a verb form which is quite rare, but simple to understand. It is a kind of present tense. For all verbs, except the past tense of 'be' (were) the subjunctive is the same as the infinitive without 'to'. Examples:
If I were king, there would be a lot of prosperity.
I require that he supply us the requested items without any further delay.

 Direct and Indirect Speech

Direct speech: We repeat exactly what someone said, in quotes.
Indirect speech: We report what someone said, without using the exact quotes. 
Examples:
Direct Speech:
She said, "I'm not feeling well.'
Indirect Speech: She said that she was not feeling well.

Direct Speech: She said, "I went to the market yesterday.".
Indirect Speech:
She said that she had gone to the market the previous day.

Direct Speech: He said, "I have been on medication for the last six months."
Indirect Speech: He said that he had been on medication for the previous six months.


 Dependent and Independent Clauses

 A clause is a group of words containing a subject and a verb.
These are the building blocks of sentences and can be either dependent or independent. Independent clauses express a complete thought. 
 Examples:
Jack left for Mumbai.
This is an independent clause, and expresses a complete thought.

When Ram left to buy supplies, Sheila headed to the grocery store to purchase a few essentials.
There are three dependent clauses over here, linked by "when" and "to" respectively : 
Ram left to buy supplies and Sheila headed to the grocery store  and purchase a few essentials



Tenses

  Present Past Future
 Simple Tense I play football. I played football.  I will play football.
 Perfect Tense I have played football.  I had played football.  I will have played football.
 Continuous Tense I am playing football. I was playing football. I will be playing football.
 Continuous Perfect Tense I have been playing football. I had been playing football.  I will have been playing football.



Punctuation

This quick tutorial on punctuation has been very kindly contributed by Jenny Hunter.

A Quick Punctuation Checklist


Punctuation shouldn’t strike fear into the hearts of English language students as much as it does. The number of punctuation marks used is small and the guidelines for using them are fairly simple. Studying quality newspapers or decent novels is a good way to get used to punctuation and if you can master a few simple rules about the most common marks you are well on your way to mastering punctuation.


What is punctuation?


Punctuation is a method of marking out sets of words into manageable groups for the reader and showing how these groups are related to each other. Good punctuation clarifies the meaning of individual words and the construction of a sentence so that even the most complex sentences can be understood at the first reading.

Apostrophe


Probably the most misused of the punctuation marks, the apostrophe is used primarily to indicate the possessive case, as in John’s book. It can also be used to indicate a contraction such as he’s or wouldn’t. The most common error with apostrophes is when they are used in straightforward plurals, for example apple’s or pears’.


Colon


The colon is often confused with the full-stop, the comma or the semi-colon. Its main role is to separate main clauses and keep an introduction away from the main part of a sentence.

It was difficult: first of all I had to find the right road

A colon can also be used to introduce a list of items when the sense is to have a pause before the list.

The following were present: John, William, Emma, Helen


Comma


The comma’s role is to give detail to the structure of a sentence, especially the longer ones, and make their meaning clear by marking off words that either do or do not belong together. It is important to get the use of the comma right. Too many or too few can make it difficult for a reader to understand a sentence. The comma is used in pairs to separate elements in a sentence that are not part of the main statement, for example: I should like you all, ladies and gentlemen, to raise your glasses. Usage here allows that reader to leapfrog off the separated area and still make sense of what is said. Commas are used extensively in the English language and there a a range of grammatical rules that surround them. While other punctuation marks can be understood by following a few simple rules, one of the best ways to understand comma usage is simply to read a range of books and magazines and see the comma being used in practice.

Full stop


The full stop is used to mark the end of a sentence when it is a statement rather than a question or exclamation. It can also be used to mark abbreviations and contractions although this usage is in decline as many abbreviations have become so familiar that they no longer require identification. Full stops are also used in other disciplines for example between units of money, before decimals in numbers and between hours and minutes when writing down the time. Readers will see full stops separating dollars and cents ($4.99) in mathematical problems (10.5 + 8.7) and denoting hours and minutes in some styles (10.30 a.m.) The semicolon is more commonly used in American English (11:40 a.m.) More recently, a more conservative interpretation of grammar suggests that the full stop should be dropped from chemical symbols and measures of weigh and length (cm, lb, kg) Three full stops used together to denote that material is missing are known as an ellipsis.

Semicolon:


The semicolon is another punctuation mark that few people use with confidence, yet when used correctly and in moderation it can be an important tool in aiding clear written communication. The basic role of the semicolon is to mark a grammatical separation in a manner that has a stronger effect than a comma but less so than a full stop. The semicolon joins the main clauses of similar importance that have a closely related subject matter. It is particularly useful when two clauses complement or parallel each other:

To err is human; to forgive, divine

Hyphen


The hyphen is used to connect words and elements of words that have a closer relationship to each other than to the surrounding syntax. The modern trend is for the hyphen to be dropped from compound words to allow a one-word form such as in playgroup or birdsong. The difficulty for English language students is that there are no clear rules as to whether a combination of words are joined together or separated by a hyphen and the best way to learn is again to read widely and learn hyphenated words as and when they appear.


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