English Grammar Lecture Notes Assignment


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Assignment Task:-


1.0 Introduction

Dear learners, in the previous topic (topic 1) we defined communication as the process by which we exchange meanings, facts, ideas, opinions or emotions with other people. Communication is essentially the interchange of thoughts, ideas, feelings or information to bring about mutual understanding between the speaker and the receiver. Normally, the interchange of thoughts, ideas, feelings or information is done through the use of words (spoken or written) of a particular language; it is also done without the use of words (involve wordless messages).


In this topic (topic 2), we focus our attention to looking at the English Grammar. Grammar refers to the study of how words combine to form sentences. The combination of words is guided by the grammar rules – though we may not be aware of such rules. The building blocks of grammar are sentences, clauses, phrases, and words – they are hierarchically arranged as shown below.

Sentences are at the top of the grammatical hierarchy, so they are often the largest units to be considered in our context. Words are at the bottom of the hierarchy, and for that reason we shall treat them as the smallest units in a language. However, the smallest units in a language are called phonemes. A sentence consists of one or more clauses; a clause consists of one or more phrases; and a phrase consists of one or more words. A word is made up of phonemes that are combined in an acceptable fashion.


  • Learning Objectives

This topic is specifically designed to introduce you to aspects of the English grammar. Therefore, at the end of this topic you should be able to do the following:

  1. Identify different parts of speech.
  2. Explain types of phrases and
  3. Explain types of
  4. Discuss the English tense
  5. Differentiate types of English


  • The English Parts of Speech

Words in all languages of the world can be classified into various categories called word classes or parts of speech. The classification of these words can be done based on two approaches: the traditional approach (looking at the inherent or properties of each word in isolation) and the functional approach (looking at the function a word does in a sentence). In most cases, the classification of words is based on the function that a particular word does in a sentence. For example, English is a very flexible language. A word’s meaning is derived not only from how it is spelled and pronounced but also from how it is used in a sentence. Always remember that the way a word is used in a sentence determines which part of speech it is (Rozakis, 2003). For example, consider the italicized words in the following sentences:

  1. Noun: Laura ate a fish for
  2. Verb: We fish in the lake on every
  3. Pronoun: She ate a fish for dinner
  4. Adverb: We read the book quickly.
  5. Adjective: We read the black book
  6. Conjunction: John and Mary agreed to
  7. Preposition: We fish in the lake on every
  8. Interjection: Wow! This food is so

From the above sentences, we can learn that words in the English language may be divided into eight (8) major word classes namely: Nouns, Verbs, Pronouns, Adverbs, Adjectives, Conjunctions, Prepositions, and Interjections.


1. Nouns: A noun is a word that names a person, idea, place, or thing. Nouns denote both concrete objects and abstract entities: concrete objects (e.g. book, chair, dog, grass, lake, house, tree etc) and abstract entities (e.g. anger, difficulty, eagerness, history, information, progress, terror, etc.). Nouns can be singular or plural; can be regular or irregular. Regular singular nouns are made plural by adding -s, -es, -ies, while irregular nouns do not. For example:

Regular nouns Irregular nouns
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Boy Boys Man Men
Chair Chairs Woman Women
Box Boxes Child Children
Student Students Foot Feet
Class Classes Mouse Mice
Variety Varieties Tooth Teeth

Nouns also can be common or proper. Proper nouns are the names of individual people, days of the week, the months, institutions, newspapers, buildings, and places, including geographical features such as roads, rivers, mountains and oceans. Proper nouns are written with an initial capital (upper-case) letter (e.g. Patrick, Hong Kong, Nelson, Euston, China, Atlantic, Paris, Everest, Harvard University, Monday, Christmas, Tuesday, January etc). All other nouns are common nouns (e.g. city, family, audience, crowd, girl, uncle, mother, herd etc). Since proper nouns usually refer to unique individuals, places, or events in the calendar, they do not normally have a plural form.


2. Pronouns: A pronoun is a word used in place of a noun or another pronoun. Pronouns help you avoid unnecessary repetition in your writing and speech. A pronoun gets its meaning from the noun it stands The noun is called the antecedent. Many pronouns can be used as substitutes for nouns, for example: David loves football. He supports Chelsea. Here, the pronoun he substitutes for the noun David, to which it refers back. Using the pronoun means that we can avoid repeating the noun.


The major subclasses of pronouns are: personal pronouns (I, you, he, she, it, we, they, us, me, etc.), reflexive pronouns (himself, herself, themselves, ourselves, yourself, etc.), and possessive pronouns (my, mine, your, yours, our, ours, his, her, theirs, etc.). Others include demonstrative pronouns (this, that, those, these, etc.) and relative pronouns – used to introduce a relative clause (who, whom, which, whose, that, etc.).


The personal pronouns show contrasts for person (first person, second person, or third person), number (singular or plural), and case (subjective or objective). In addition, the third-person singular pronouns he/she/it exhibits a contrast for gender (masculine, feminine or non-personal). The subjective forms of the personal pronouns are used when the pronoun is the subject of the sentence: (a) I gave David a present. (b) You need a holiday, Sam. (c) He/she/it needs medical help. (d) We travelled by plane. (e) You should all complete an application form. (f) They enjoyed the film. The objective forms are used in all other positions. These positions are: (1) after a verb: (a) David gave me a present. (b) I will see you soon. (c) The minister supports him/her/it. (d) Marie met us at the airport. (e) I will bring you a nice surprise. (f) Susan telephoned them. (2) After a preposition: (a) David gave it to me. (b) I will probably get there before you. (c) She arrived after him/her/it. (d) He is not coming with us. (e) I am tired talking to you people. (f) I am writing a song for them.


The possessive pronouns show contrasts for person (first person, second person, or third person) and for number (singular or plural). Like the personal pronouns, possessive pronouns have gender-based contrasts (masculine, feminine or non- personal) in the third-person singular. Each possessive pronoun has two distinct forms, the dependent form and the independent form. Dependent possessives are used before a noun: This is my car; I have borrowed your computer; she took his/her/its photograph; we have lost our way; they sold their house. Independent possessives are used without a following noun. They most commonly occur after of, in independent genitives: A friend of mine; this partner of yours; a colleague of his/hers; an uncle of ours; that dog of yours; a relative of theirs.


The reflexive pronouns end in -self (singular) or -selves (plural). They exhibit distinctions of person (first person, second person or third person), and number (singular or plural). The third-person singular reflexives (himself/herself/itself) show distinctions of gender (masculine, feminine or non-personal). The reflexive pronouns are used to refer back to the subject of the same sentence, for example: Michael was very badly injured and is now unable to feed himself. Here, himself refers back to Michael, the subject of the sentence.


3. Adjectives: Adjectives are words that describe nouns and pronouns. Adjectives answer the questions: What kind? (red, black, gold, short, white, green, etc.) How much? (more, little, several, many, few, some, etc.) Which one? (second, first, those, last, ) How many? (several, six, one, all, etc.). Adjectives express a quality or attribute of a noun. For example: a happy child, a surly person, toxic waste, an old man, defective brakes, a greedy child, a red flag, a dangerous road, a large hotel, etc. Most adjectives can occur before a noun, or after a linking verb, for example: a violent storm, the storm was violent, a delicious meal, the meal is delicious. Typical adjective endings include:

-ble = accessible, comfortable, possible, responsible, terrible

-ive = constructive, deceptive, defective, furtive, interactive

-ous = continuous, delicious, enormous, rigorous, serious

-y     = funny, greedy, happy, rainy, tasty, weary


4. Adverbs: Adverbs are words that describe verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Adverbs answer the questions: When? (yesterday, last week, now) Where? (below, up, down) How? (happily, badly, poorly, slowly) or To what extent? (partly, completely, nearly). Many adverbs (not all) are formed by adding -ly to an adjective. For example:

Adjective      Adverb

certain           certainly

extreme         extremely

exact              exactly

mad                madly

quick             quickly

slow               slowly

soft                  softly

However, by no means all adverbs end in -ly. Specifically, many adverbs referring to time and place have no distinctive ending. These include: afterwards, now, away, soon, back, there, here, today, inside, tomorrow, never, yesterday, etc. Note also that some adjectives end in -ly, including costly, deadly, friendly, kindly, lively, timely. Adverbs are most commonly used to modify:

  1. A verb:

Amy speaks softly. David works quickly. Paul will arrive soon.

  1. An adjective:

fairly slow terribly warm extremely rude

  1. Another adverb:

fairly slowly very closely extremely badly

Adverbs express three major types of meaning: manner, time and place. Manner adverbs indicate how something happens. They include carefully, clearly, dangerously, heavily, heroically, patiently, quietly, quickly, rapidly, scientifically, slowly, softly, spontaneously, etc. For example: (a) Uche was playing happily in the garden. (b) Paul writes beautifully. (c) The thief crept silently along the roof. (d) The passengers waited calmly for the lifeboats.


Time adverbs indicate when something happened, as well as frequency of occurrence. They include: afterwards, again, always, never, now, often, presently, previously, rarely, then, today, yesterday. For example: (a) We visited Ruvuma recently. (b) Brenda has an interview tomorrow. (c) I’m hoping to retire soon. (d) Sometimes we go to Juma’s in the Street.


Place adverbs indicate a place or a direction. They include backwards, downwards, everywhere, inside, outside, somewhere. For example: (a) Leave your coat there. (b) Why are you still here? (c) She just turned and walked away. (d) The car shot forward when I released the clutch.


5. Verbs: Verbs name an action or describe a state of being. Every sentence must have a There are three basic types of verbs: action verbs, linking verbs, and helping verbs. Action verbs tell what the subject does. The action can be visible (jump, kiss, laugh) or mental (think, learn, study). An action verb can be transitive or intransitive. Transitive verbs need a direct object (e.g. The boss dropped the ball; The workers picked it up). Intransitive verbs do not need a direct object (e.g. Who called? The temperature fell over night). Linking verbs join the subject and the predicate. They do not show action. Instead, they help the words at the end of the sentence name or describe the subject. The most common linking verbs include: be, feel, grow, seem, smell, remain, appear, sound, stay, look, turn, become. Look for forms of to be, such as am, are, is, was, were, am being, can be, have been, etc. Many linking verbs can also be used as action verbs (e.g. Linking: The kids looked sad; Action: I looked for the dog in the pouring rain). Helping verbs are added to another verb to make the meaning clearer. Helping verbs include any form of to be, do, does, did, have, has, had, shall, should, will, would, can, could, may, might, must. Verb phrases are made up of one main verb and one or more helping verbs (e.g. They will run before dawn; They still have not yet found a smooth track).


6. Prepositions: Prepositions link a noun or a pronoun following it to another word in the The class of prepositions includes the following words: about, below, in, to, across, between, into, toward(s), after, by, of, under, against, down, off, until, at, during, on, up, before, for, over, with, behind, from, through, without, etc. Prepositions are mainly used to introduce a noun phrase. For example:

after dark                          for the children

across the road               from London

after the war                     under suspicion

around the world            with mayonnaise

before my lunch             without fear

Multi-word prepositions are two- and three-word combinations which act as a unit: according to                                                 in accordance with

ahead of                                    in front of

apart from                                   in relation to

because of                                 in spite of

by means of                              in terms of

due to                                         on behalf of


7. Conjunctions: Conjunctions connect words or groups of words and show how the words are related. Conjunctions are used to link phrases and clauses together. There are two kinds of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions. Subordinating conjunctions (or simply ‘subordinators’) are used to introduce a subordinate clause, for example, Paul has to leave because he has a dental appointment. Here, the main clause is Paul has to leave. The subordinate clause is because he has a dental appointment, and it is introduced by the subordinator because. Other subordinators include: although, that, after, unless, as, until, before, when(ever), if, whereas, since, while Multi-word subordinators include the following: as long as in order that, as soon as provided that, as though so long as, except that such that, etc. Coordinating conjunctions (or simply ‘coordinators’) are used to link elements of equal grammatical status. The main coordinators are and, but, and or:

The weather was [cold] and [wet].

[Paul plays football] and [Amy enjoys tennis]. [Simon is coming] but [he cannot stay for long]. [I read your book] but [I did not enjoy it].

Would you prefer [coffee] or [tea]?

[You can leave now] or [you can wait here].


8. Interjections: Interjections show strong emotion. Since interjections are not linked grammatically to other words in the sentence, they are set off from the rest of the sentence with a comma or an exclamation For example:

Oh! What a shock you gave me with that gorilla suit.

Wow! That’s not a gorilla suit!

Oh no, that’s terrible news.



Basic Sentence Structure

Sentences are normally constructed from individual words. Words may be grouped to form a larger unit called phrase. Phrases can also be organised to form clauses. Finally a single clause or a combination of clauses can be put together to form a sentence. A group or words is a sentence if it meets the three requirements of a sentence: the subject, the predicate, and expresses a complete thought or idea.



A phrase is defined as a word or a group of words that does not contain a verb and its subject and is used as a single part of speech. This definition entails three characteristics: (1) it specifies that a single word or a group of words can constitute a phrase;(2)it distinguishes phrases from clauses; and (3) it requires that the groups of words believed to be a phrase constitute a single grammatical unit.For example:

The boy who lives beside us loves football. He supports Chelsea.


In this case, he replaces the entire sequence the boy who lives beside us. This is not a noun – it is a noun phrase. We call it a noun phrase because its central word – boy – is a noun. More correctly, then, a pronoun can be used to replace a noun phrase.


A phrase is a syntactic unit headed by a lexical category such as noun, adjective, adverb, verb, or preposition. In a noun phrase, the main word is a noun, in a verb phrase; the main word is a verb and so on. In grammar, a ‘phrase’ can consist of just one word, the main word alone. For instance, we say that both greedy and very greedy are adjective phrases. Phrases are named for their heads:

Phrase Type Examples
Noun phrase The young boy

Main word: noun BOY

Verb phrase Has been stolen

Main word: verb STOLEN

Adjective phrase Very greedy

Main word: adjective GREEDY

Adverb phrase Too quickly

Main word: adverb QUICKLY

Prepositional phrase After the storm

Main word: preposition AFTER


Noun Phrase (NP)

A noun phrase is a word or a group of words whose main word is a noun, and functions in a sentence as a single part of speech. Noun phrases are made up of determiners, premodifiers, the noun and postmodifiers. Determiners introduce noun phrases. Premodifiers (occur before the noun, and after any determiners which may be present.) and postmodifiers (occur after the noun, and are most commonly prepositional phrases introduced by of or any other preposition) depend on the main word – the noun – and may be omitted. Determiners are unique to noun phrases. They do not occur in any of the other phrase types.

Determiner Premodifier Noun Postmodifier
The Every The


young beautiful black


boy girl book


who lives beside us with a bachelor degree that was lost





beautiful yellow




in the garden


Adverb Phrase (AdvP)

An adverb phrase is a word or a group of words whose main word is an adverb, and functions in a sentence as a single part of speech. Adverb phrases have the following basic structure: Premodifier – Adverb – Postmodifier. For example: very quickly indeed.

Premodifier Adverb Postmodifier
very too


quickly slowly





The premodifier in an adverb phrase is always an intensifier.


Adverb very

gradually too

slowly extremely

badly quite


Postmodifiers in adverb phrases are quite rare. Apart from indeed, only enough is commonly used: funnily enough, oddly enough, naturally enough, strangely enough, etc.


Prepositional Phrase (PP)

A prepositional phrase is a word or a group of words whose main word is a preposition, and functions in a sentence as a single part of speech. Prepositional phrases have the following basic structure: premodifier-preposition-complement. For example: just after the game.

Premodifier Preposition Complement




around on

the game

the world the table

The complement in a prepositional phrase is most commonly a noun phrase: in London

around the world

across our street

through the open window

Prepositional phrases usually consist of a preposition followed by its complement. Premodifiers in a prepositional phrase are quite rare, but here are some examples: just after the game, straight across the road, right around the building, etc.


Adjective Phrase (AP)

An adjective phrase is a word or a group of words whose main word is an adjective, and functions in a sentence as a single part of speech. Adjective phrases have the following basic structure: premodifier – adjective – postmodifier.

Premodifier Adjective Postmodifier
very very


reluctant old


to leave



The premodifier in an adjective phrase is most commonly an intensifier: very, extremely, wonderfully, etc. For example: very useful, extremely cold, wonderfully creative, etc. In expressions of measurement and age, a noun phrase may function as a premodifier in an adjective phrase: three months old, a metre long, 5 m wide, etc. Postmodifiers occur after the adjective: glad you could come, guilty of murder, reluctant to leave, happy to oblige, delighted to meet you, etc.


Verb Phrase (VP)

A verb phrase is a word or a group of words whose main word is a verb, and functions in a sentence as a single part of speech. A verb phrase consists of a main verb, which may be preceded by one or more auxiliary verbs. Consider the examples in the following Table.

Auxiliary 1 Auxiliary 2 Auxiliary 3 Main verb
may can


….. should


have be

is has have



…… being been been


stolen lowered recorded reduced cancelled


When two or more auxiliary verbs occur in a verb phrase, they observe the following relative order: modal – perfective – progressive – passive. However, it is very unusual to find all four of the auxiliary verb types in the same verb phrase. Usually, a maximum of two or three auxiliaries will co-occur, as in the following examples:

Modal – Passive: The seat can be lowered. Progressive – Passive: This lecture is being recorded.

Perfective – Progressive: She has been collecting books for years.

Perfective – Passive: The deficit has been reduced.

Modal – Perfective – Passive: The concert should have been cancelled.


Verb phrases are either finite or non-finite. A verb phrase is finite if the first (or only) verb exhibits tense (past or present). The following examples illustrate finite verb phrases. The finite (‘tensed’) verbs are in italics.

  1. Simon leaves work at
  2. Peter left early
  3. James has
  4. Mary had left when I
  5. Sabrina has been leaving early every

Note that when two or more verbs occur in a finite verb phrase (e.g. has left, has been leaving), only the first verb indicates the tense. All the other verbs have non-finite forms. The non-finite verb forms are: (1) the base form, often introduced by to (to leave), (2) The -ed form (left), and (3) the -ing form (leaving).


In a non-finite verb phrase, all the verbs have a non-finite form. The distinction between finite and non-finite verb phrases is important in the classification of clauses. If the first (or only) verb in a verb phrase has one of these forms, then the verb phrase is non-finite:

  1. To leave now would be such a pity.
  2. Leaving home can be very traumatic.
  3. Left to himself, Paul copes quite
  4. Having left school at 15, David spent years without a job.



A clause is a group of related words (within a sentence or itself as an independent sentence) which has both subject and predicate. Like phrases, clauses enrich your written and oral expression by adding details and making your meaning more exact. Clauses also allow you to combine ideas to show their relationship. This adds logic and cohesion to your speech and writing. For example: I will meet him in the office.


The part of that sentence “I will meet him” is a clause because it has a subject [ I ] and a predicate [will meet him]. On the other hand, the rest part of that sentence “in the office” lacks both subject and predicate (verb), such group of words is only a phrase. A clause may stand as a simple sentence or may join another clause to make a sentence. Therefore, a sentence consists of one or more clauses. For example:

  1. He is sleeping. (one clause)
  2. The kids were laughing at the (one clause)
  3. The teacher asked a question, but no one (two clauses)
  4. I am happy, because I won a prize. (two clauses)
  5. I like Kiswahili, but she likes Biology, because she wants to become a (three clauses)


Types of Clauses: There are two types of clauses: independent clauses (main clauses) and dependent clauses (subordinate clauses and relative clauses). For example: He is buying a shirt which looks very nice. This sentence has two clauses “He is buying a shirt” and “which looks very nice”. The clause “He is buying a shirt” expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a sentence. Such a clause is called Main or Independent clause. On the other hand, the clause “which looks very nice” does not express a complete thought and cannot stand alone as a sentence. It depends on another clause (main clause) to express a complete idea. Such a clause is called Subordinate or Dependent clause.

  1. An independent clause is a complete sentence because it has a subject, verb and expresses a complete Main clauses are normally referred as simple sentences. For example:
    1. I go to the movies every Saturday
    2. Richard’s favourite drink was a dry
    3. I met the boy who has helped
    4. She is wearing a shirt which looks very
    5. The teacher asked a question, but no one
  1. A dependent (subordinate) clause is part of a sentence, so it cannot stand alone. A subordinate clause does not express a complete idea and cannot stand as a sentence. Dependent clauses do not express a complete thought, even though they have a subject and a verb; they depend on another clause (main clause) to express complete Dependent clauses add additional information to the main clauses, but they are not necessary to complete the thought. Note that a subordinate clause may function as a noun, an adjective, or an adverb in a sentence. A dependent clause often starts with a word that makes the clause unable to stand alone. Examples:
    1. Since I enjoy the movies.
    2. He likes Chinese rice which tastes good.
    3. I met the boy who has helped me.
    4. She is wearing a shirt which looks very nice.
    5. The teacher asked a question, but no one answered.
    6. I bought a table that costs 10000 Tsh.



A group of words is a sentence if it meets the three requirements for a sentence. To be a sentence, a group of words must: (1) have a subject (noun or pronoun), (2) have a predicate (verb or verb phrase) and (3) express a complete thought. A sentence is a group of words that has a subject and a predicate, and it expresses a complete thought. The subject tells who or what did something, and the predicate tells what happened.


Typically, a simple sentence consists of two parts: a subject and a predicate. The subject includes the noun or pronoun that tells what the subject is about. The predicate includes the verb that describes what the subject is doing. The subject is usually the first element in the sentence, while the rest of the sentence, including the verb, is the predicate. Therefore, a sentence is a group of words with two main parts: a subject area and a predicate area. Together, the subject and predicate express a complete thought. Being able to recognize the subject and the verb in a sentence will help you make sure that your own sentences are complete and clear.


The subject of a sentence is who or what the sentence is about. It can include adjectives that describe the subject. The predicate is the rest of the sentence, which explains what the subject does or did. Here are some examples of subjects and predicates:

Subject                    Predicate

Amiri                       laughed.

Paul                         plays football.

The house               is very old.

The detectives       interviewed the suspects

They                        travelled yesterday


Therefore, the basic sentence structure is made up of a subject (noun or pronoun) and a predicate (verb). The additional elements after the verb are optional. The obligatory elements in the structure of a sentence are: subject and verb (SV). The subject of a sentence is who or what the sentence is about. It can include adjectives that describe the subject. The predicate is the rest of the sentence, which explains what the subject did. Look at the following example:

The beautiful young girl looked at herself in the mirror.

The phrase, The beautiful young girl, is the subject. The simple subject is girl. The phrase, looked at herself in the mirror, is the predicate. The simple predicate is just the verb, looked. The subject of a sentence tells who or what the sentence is about. Example: The woman with the green hat ate lunch. The predicate of a sentence tells what the subject does or is. Example: The woman with the green hat ate lunch.


Every sentence has two main parts: a simple subject and a simple predicate. The simple subject of a sentence is the main word in the complete subject. It is always a noun or a pronoun. Sometimes, the simple subject is also the complete subject. The simple subject is the main noun or pronoun that tells whom or what the sentence is about. The complete subject is the simple subject and all of the words that go with it. Sometimes the complete subject and the simple subject are the same.

Example: Most birds can fly.

Example: They can fly because they have wings.


The simple predicate is the complete verb within the complete predicate. The simple predicate may be one or more words. The simple predicate is the verb that tells what the subject does or is. The complete predicate is the verb and all the words that tell what the subject does or is.

Example: Most birds can fly.

Example: They can fly because they have wings.


Types of Sentences: English sentences can be classified based on their: (1) function and (2) structure. On the basis of function, there are four sentence types: declarative, exclamatory, interrogative and imperative.

  1. Declarative sentences: A declarative sentence is typically used to convey information or to make a statement or state an idea, and ends with a period. In a declarative sentence, the subject usually comes first, and it is followed by the verb. Declarative sentences are by far the most common type. All the following sentences are declarative sentences:
    • This is Redstone
    • David is listening to
    • Simon bought a new house.
    • James retired in
    • Grasshoppers contain more than 60 percent
    • Insects are rich in necessary vitamins and
    • Crickets are packed with calcium, a mineral crucial for bone
  1. Exclamatory sentences: An exclamation sentence is used to show strong emotions. They end with an exclamation Exclamative sentences are exclamations, and they are introduced by what or how. In exclamative sentences, what is used to introduce noun phrases, while how introduces all other types.
    • What a fool I have been!
    • What a lovely garden you have!
    • How true that is!
    • How big you have grown!
    • I cannot believe you left the car at the station overnight!
    • What a mess you made in the kitchen!
    • Our evening is ruined!
    • The china is smashed!
  2. Interrogative sentences: An interrogative sentence is used in asking a question, and in seeking information. They end with a question mark. They appear in different forms such that some are called yes–no interrogatives, because they expect either yes or no as the response (1-4); some are called alternative interrogatives as they offer two or more alternative responses (5-6); and others are called wh-interrogatives as they are introduced by a word beginning with wh, and they expect an open-ended response (7-9). Moreover, the word how may also introduce an interrogative (10-11):
    • Is this Gladstone Park?
    • Have you found a job yet?
    • Did you receive my e-mail?
    • Do you take sugar?
    • Do you want tea or coffee?
    • Is that a bus or a lorry?
    • What happened?
    • Where do you work?
    • Who won the FA Cup in 1999? (10) How do you forward an e-mail? (11) How can I get to Soweto?
  1. Imperative sentences: An imperative sentence is used to issue orders or instructions (as in 1-4), and so end with a period (as in 1-6) or an exclamation mark (as in 7-8). Imperative sentences usually have no subject (omit the subject), as in a command (consider the given examples). However, the subject you may sometimes be included for emphasis (as in 5-6):
    • Wait a minute.
    • Release the
    • Cut the meat into
    • Don’t you believe
    • You fix it (if you are so clever).
    • Take this route to save 5
    • Clean up your room!
    • Sit down and listen!


On the basis of structure: The focus here is the number of clauses each sentence contains. We can categorize sentences into four basic types: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex.

  1. Simple sentences: A simple sentence has one independent clause. That means it has one subject and one verb – although either or both can be compound. In addition, a simple sentence can have adjectives and adverbs. What a simple sentence cannot have is another independent clause or any subordinate For instance:
    • The snow melted quickly in the bright sunshine.
    • The president flew to Mwanza
    • My friend invited me to the I do not want to go.
    • Tanzania is a beautiful
  1. Compound sentences: A compound sentence has two or more independent clauses. The independent clauses can be joined in one of two ways: (1) with a coordinating conjunction: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so and (2) with a semicolon (;). As with a simple sentence, a compound sentence cannot have any subordinate For instance:
    • Mary is writing and Michael is singing.
    • The new art show opened, and the crowd was
    • The new art show opened; the crowd was immense
    • My friend invited me to the party, but I do not want to
  2. Complex sentences: A complex sentence contains one independent clause and at least one dependent clause. The independent clause is called the main clause. These sentences use subordinating conjunctions to link ideas. The subordinating conjunctions include such words as: because, as, as if, unless, provided that, if, even A complex sentence is very different from a simple sentence or a compound sentence because it makes clear which ideas are most important. For instance:
    • When the new art show opened at the museum, the crowd was immense.
    • The crowd was immense when the new art show opened at the
    • Although my friend invited me to the party, I do not want to
    • Although Tom reads novels, Jack reads
    • When he was younger, Mike had many
    • Many people enjoyed the movie; however, William did
  3. Compound-complex sentences: A compound-complex sentence has at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause. The dependent clause can be part of the independent clause. A compound-complex sentence has two independent clauses joined to one or more dependent For instance:
  • When the play ended, the curtain closed, and the audience
  • While Tom reads novels, Jack reads comics, but Sam only reads
  • When the drought comes, the reservoirs dry up, and residents lack sufficient
  • Chris wanted to drive to work, but she could not until her car was repaired.


The English Tense System

The term tense is used to indicate the time of the action or event, that is, the time when an event or action is or was performed. In the English language, tense is divided into three classes namely: Present tense, Past tense and Future tense.

Present Tense: This is when the verb is used to show that an action takes place at present. Examples:

  1. He speaks English
  2. She writes very
  3. I like
  4. They are afraid of
  5. We play

Past Tense: This is when the verb is used to show that an action was completed. Examples:

  1. He slept in his
  2. John died of
  3. They played
  4. It was hot
  5. She wrote very

Future Tense: This is when the verb is used to show that an action will take place in future. Examples:

  1. He will go to school
  2. They will play
  3. We shall marry this
  4. I shall teach you
  5. It will rain next month.


Tense divisions

Present Tense Past Tense Future Tense
Simple Present Tense Simple Past Tense Simple Future Tense
Present Continuous Tense Past Continuous Tense Future Continuous Tense
Present Perfect Tense Past Perfect Tense Future Perfect Tense
Present Perfect Continuous


Past Perfect Continuous


Future Perfect Continuous


Individual Assignment: Carefully read on the different tense divisions as show in the table above. Practice using them in your daily conversations and in writing to enrich your English language ability.



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