Category Archives: Word Classes

Order of Adjectives

As what you already know, adjectives are words that describe (or modify) a noun. It tells you something extra about that noun. In addition to that, more than one adjective could be used before a noun. However, the additional adjectives need to be arranged in order.

Do you know why we say:

“The clear blue sea.” (√), and not “The blue clear sea.” (X)?

That’s because when you want to use more than one adjective preceding a noun, you need to follow the Opshacom rule. Here’s what the opshacom rule means:

Opinion: clear, good, useful
Shape: big, fat, long, round
Age: old, new, young
Colour: blue, black, yellowish
Origin: Italian, ancient, western
Material: wooden, metal, paper, cotton

By looking at the opshacom rule, do you know why “The clear blue sea.” is correct?

The clear (opinion) blue (colour) sea.

In the opshacom rule, opinion comes before colour, so the order of adjectives is correct. This makes the sentence correct, too.

Article

Articles are words used before a noun and functions as an adjective. There are two types of articles – definite and indefinite. “The” is a definite article, while “a” and “an” are indefinite articles. Look at these examples:

  1. A picture is worth a thousand words.
  2. The man who came just now was my uncle.
  3. An unusual picture is worth a thousand dollars.

In Example #1, the article “a” is used because we refer to any picture. Thus it is indefinite which picture we are referring to. However, in Example #2, we know which man we’re referring to – my uncle (the man who came to my house). Articles are used with singular nouns only; plural nouns do not have articles.

Zero article:

What? Another one? Yes. This is what I call an invisible article. When you write or say something factual, or when the noun is plural, an article is not used. Here are some examples:

  1. Dogs can’t fly.
  2. Schools are closed on Sundays.
  3. Computers need humans to provide input.

The rules for its correct usage is indefinite. Quite often, you’ll end up using what you feel sounds right. 😀

Interjection

Interjections are words that express strong emotions. They are not grammatically connected to the rest of the sentence. Interjections that express anger, excitement, surprised or urgency is followed by an exclamation mark. Other kinds of emotions and expressions are followed by a comma.

Examples (using the exclamation mark):

Sentences below indicate anger, urgency, surprise and excitement. Take note of the exclamation mark.

  1. Wait! You forgot something.
  2. Help! There’s a fire next door.
  3. Hey! What are you doing in my house?
  4. Yes! I’ve finally won the game.
  5. No! I’ve already told you that you can’t go.

As mentioned earlier, milder interjections are followed by a comma, not an exclamation mark. Look at the following sentences:

Examples (using the comma):

  1. Yes, I suppose you could go with her.
  2. No, I’m afraid it’s too late to do anything about it.
  3. Wait, I’ll get it for you now.

Conjunction

Conjunctions are words that join words or groups of words. Here is a simple example that shows how three separate sentences are joined with the conjunction “and”:

  • I like eating durians.
  • I like eating bananas.
  • I like eating all types of local fruits.

Combine them, and it becomes:

  • I like eating durians, bananas and all types of local fruits.

There are 6 coordinating conjunctions:

F = for (because) – do not be confused with the preposition “for”
A = and
N = nor
B = but
O = or
Y = yet
S = so

Like prepositions, these coordinating conjunctions do not have any specific meanings on their own. They are used to show a relationship between words or to connect sentences.

Examples:

  1. The players were tired, so they had a long break.
  2. He was ashamed for he had lied through his teeth to get what he wanted.

In addition to the single-word conjunctions, other conjunctions come in pairs/threes.

  • both… and
  • neither… nor
  • either… or
  • not only… but… also

Examples:

  1. Both Yassir and Manap are learning to cook.
  2. Neither Yassir nor Manap is learning to cook. = Both are not learning to cook.
  3. Either Yassir or Manap is learning to cook. = Only one of them is learning to cook.
  4. Not only Yassir but Manap is also learning to cook. = Both are learning to cook.

Preposition

Preposition shows the position of nouns and pronouns in relation to other words. That means, they can be used to show locations of objects. For example:

  • My girlfriend was standing at the door when I came home.
  • I live beside a construction worker who has a tattoo on his arm, so we’re afraid to go near him.

The words in red (prepositions) show location and position of the object (noun). Prepositions do not have any meaning on their own. They are normally followed by a noun or a pronoun. Words that come after prepositions are called “objects”. The objects together with the prepositions are called prepositional phrases. The list of commonly used prepositions is available at the bottom of this page.

Examples:

  1. The ship leaves in the morning.
  2. The toddler spilt some milk on the table.

However, prepositions sometimes appear at the end of a sentence. Take note that some grammarians insist that prepositions should never end a sentence 🙂 Look at the following sentences:

Examples:

  1. I don’t know what you’re thinking of.
  2. What is he looking at?

Prepositional phrases may function as adjectives and adverbs.

Examples:

  1. The pen in your pocket belongs to me.  (Which pen? The one in your pocket) – adjective
  2. He lives near my house. (Where does he live? Near my house) – adverb
  3. The little pup under the tree has a red ribbon around its neck. (Which pup? The one under the tree.) – adjective

List of common prepositions

about
above
across
after
against
along
amidst
among
around
as
as far as
as well as
at
before
behind
below
beneath
beside
between

by
despite
down
due to
during
except
for
from
in
inside
instead of
into
like
near
next to
of
off
on
onto

opposite
outside
over
past
regarding
around
since
through
throughout
till
to
toward
under
until
up
upon
with
within
without

Adverb

Adverbs modify adjectives, verbs and other adverbs. Here are instances where the modifications are made:

(a) Modify adjectives:

He is happy now.
(adj.) (adv.)

(b) Modify verbs:

He smiles happily.
(verb)  (adv.)

(c) Modify other adverbs:

He smiles happily now.
(adv.)  (adv.)

An adverb answers the questions:

  • Where?
  • When?
  • How?
  • How often?
  • To what extent?

Examples:

  1. Wait here (Where? Here). I’ll look for him. He could be anywhere (Where? Anywhere).
  2. The principal wants to see you now. (When? Now.)
  3. The speaker spoke softly, so that we couldn’t hear him. (How did he speak? Softly.)
  4. Siva always goes jogging (How often? Always.); he never plays any games. (How often? Never.)
  5. The buildings were completely damaged after the earthquake. (To what extent? Completely)

Take note:

Many adverbs end in -ly. However, the word hard cannot be changed to hardly. The reason is, the word hardly has a completely different meaning although both are adverbs.  Observe these sentences:

  • Samantha studies hard. = [Samantha studies many hours each day.]
  • Samantha hardly studies. = [Samantha doesn’t study at all, or maybe very little.]
  • Samantha studies hardly. (X) – no meaning

Adjective

Adjectives modify nouns. They give more information about the words they modify. An adjective answers the questions:

  • How many?
  • What kind?
  • Which one?

Examples:

  1. Some students are absent today. (How many? Some.)
  2. Students have to bring their identification card. (What kind of card? Identification.)
  3. These cookies are delicious! (Which cookies? These.)
  4. Razak is a happy man; he smiles all the time. (What kind of feeling? Happy.)

The examples above show that adjectives give more information about the nouns. In addition, possessive pronouns could also be adjectives. Look at the examples below:

Examples (using possessive pronouns):

  1. He is coming to my party tomorrow. (Whose party? My party.)
  2. They forgot to bring their textbooks to class. (Whose textbooks? Their textbooks.)
  3. We have to return our books to the library today. (Whose books? Our books.)

It is possible to use more than one adjective before a noun. However you need to follow the opshacom rule. Click here to take you to the opshacom rule.

Verb

The verb is the most critical part of a sentence. Without a verb, a sentence is not complete; a complete sentence must have a verb.

The verb expresses actions, events, or states of being.

  • (action): bite, steal, run, collect, take
  • (state of being): is, are, has, did, will 

A verb that tells what a noun does is called an action verb. Another type of verb does not show action; it shows the state of being. Verbs like these are called auxiliary verbs.

Examples

  1. Timothy and his friends take a bus home daily. (take = action verb)
  2. Timothy and his friends are coming. (are = auxiliary verb)
 

Pronoun

Pronouns are words we use to replace a noun. It prevents us from using the same noun over and over again. Observe this short paragraph:

  • Abdullah and I are brothers. Abdullah and I enjoy reading and computing. Every week, Mr. Tan gives Abdullah and I computing classes for free.

Notice that “Abdullah and I” is repeated twice. To avoid repetition of nouns, you have to use pronouns. So, the paragraph above should look like this:

  • Abdullah and I are brothers. We enjoy reading and computing. Every week, Mr. Tan gives us computing classes for free.

Notice also that different forms of pronouns are used in different positions in the sentence. In the example above, the pronouns “we” and “us” are used. Here are all the possible pronouns that can be used in sentences:

1st person

2nd person

3rd person

Subject Singular

I

You

He/She

Plural

We

You

They

Object Singular

Me

You

Him/Her

Plural

Us

You

Them

Possessive Adjectives Singular

My

Your

His/Her

Plural

Our

Your

Their

Possessive Pronouns Singular

Mine

Yours

His/Hers

Plural

Ours

Yours

Theirs

Using the same example:

  • Abdullah and I are brothers. We enjoy reading and computing. Every week, Mr. Tan gives us computing classes for free.

The pronoun “we” is the subject of the sentence: “We enjoy…”
The pronoun “us” is the object of the word “gives”: “Mr. Tan gives us ...”

Reflexive Pronoun:

Another type of pronoun. It is use to point to oneself, which is why reflexive pronouns always end in either the “-self” for singular, or “-selves” for plural pronouns. Here are some examples:

  1. I made this origami (by) myself. – [No one helped me make it.]
  2. You have to answer these questions (by) yourself. – [No one is allowed to help you; you’re on your own.]
  3. John made the cookies (by) himself. – [No one helped him make the cookies.]
  4. The children went home (by) themselves. – [No one took them home; they went home on their own.]
  5. Both of us went there ourselves. – [No one else went there with us.]

Using “by” with reflexive pronouns:

In all the above examples, the preposition “by” could be used before the reflexive pronoun but it’s often optional. However, in some instances, it is mandatory to include the word “by”. Compare these two and see if you can tell the difference in meaning.

  1. I cooked myself.
  2. I cooked [something] by myself.

In the first sentence, it doesn’t make sense to put yourself in a pot and cook your own self!! That’s what the sentence actually means.

Yourself or yourselves?

Actually, both are correct. Use “yourself” if you’re referring to only one person – you. Use “yourselves” if you’re referring to a group of people – students, for instance. Look at the following examples:

  1. Did you come here by yourself?
  2. Did both of you come here by yourselves?

Using “for” with reflexive pronouns:

The same examples are used but take note of the differences in meaning.

  1. I made this origami for myself.
  2. John made the cookies for himself.

In Example #1 above, the sentence appears to indicate that I’m keeping that origami, so no one shall have it. In Example #2, John made the cookies because he wanted to eat it, and he probably wouldn’t share it with anyone. As you can see, “by” and “for” cannot be interchanged. They both give different meaning to sentences.

There is another type of pronoun called relative pronoun. Click here for further details.

Noun

A noun is a word used to name a person, animal, place, thing, and abstract idea. Examples of nouns:

  • (person): Peter, Ali, teacher, doctor, minister
  • (animal): fish, dog, pig, goat, spider, insect
  • (place): hotel, restaurant, workshop, garden, city
  • (object): book, hose, pencil, computer, television
  • (abstract): happiness, employment, entertainment, sadness, opportunity

Here are some sentences that make use of nouns:

  1. Peter has a dog that loves to run in the garden.
  2. Many people work in the city because of better opportunities.
  3. Due to a recession, many have to look for employment.

Nouns are further divided into two – common and proper. Common nouns are words that names animate and inanimate objects (e.g.: book, fireman, street). Proper nouns are more “formal” because they need capital letters to name the objects (e.g.: Harry Potter, James, Park Avenue).