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English Basics



























Uses Of Noun:

Nouns are words you use to talk about people, places, and things.

This is a
This is a singular noun. That means that it stands for one of something.

And these are
This is a plural noun. That means that it stands for more than one of something.

English usually forms the plural by adding an "s" to the singular noun. Sometimes, though, the plural looks like a completely different word:

This is a child. (singular)
And these are children. (plural)
There is a man. (singular)
There are some men. (plural)

There aren’t that many words in English that form the plural this way. It’s much more common to form the plural by adding "s."

Here are some more examples of English nouns:

the car the house a girl
the cars the houses girls


Count And Noncount Nouns
Count nouns are nouns that can be counted (e.g., a book, two friends, three cars, etc.). A count noun may be preceded by a or an in the singular; it takes a final -s or -es in the plural.
Noncount (or mass) nouns refer to things that cannot be counted (e.g., money, rain, snow, butter, wind, air, clothing, etc.). Noncount nouns are not preceded by a or an and have no plural form

advice weather equipment
news water jewelry
information music postage
work money luggage

Some nouns can be both count and noncount nouns:
--We drank some wine. (Noncount)
--We ordered three wines. (Count)
(It is implicit that three different wines were ordered.)


Indefinite and Definite Articles
There is no need to worry about whether a noun is masculine, feminine, or neuter in English. Normally, a noun is preceded by a definite article (THE) or an indefinite article (A, AN) as follows:


the tourist
the area
the card
the hotel
the restaurant
the people
the signs


a tourist
an area
a card
a hotel
a restaurant
some people
some signs

Note that definite articles refer to something specific, while indefinite articles refer to something non-specific. Use an in front of words beginning with vowels and some with plural nouns.


Possessive Adjectives

Here are the possessive adjectives in English:

1st person, singular -- my

3rd person, singular -- his, her, its

1st person, plural -- our

2nd person, sing./pl. -- your

3rd person, plural -- their

In English, the gender and number of the possessor determines the form of the possessive adjective:

--I have a credit card. It's my credit card.

--She has some money. It's her money.

NOTE: Often the subject of the verb is not the person who owns the noun. Be careful about this. You must know the gender and number of the owner to be able to use possessive adjectives correctly:

--Are you buying his ticket or her ticket?

--I'm buying his ticket.

Possessive Pronouns
Here are the possessive pronouns in English:
1st person, singular -- mine
3rd person, singular -- his, hers, its
1st person, plural -- ours
2nd person, sing./pl. -- yours
3rd person, plural -- theirs

In English, the gender and number of the possessor determines the form of the possessive pronoun:
--I have a bicycle. It's mine.
--They have some bread. It's theirs.

NOTE: Often the subject of the verb is not the person who owns the noun. Be careful about this. You must know the gender and number of the owner to be able to use possessive pronouns correctly:
--Are you driving his car or hers?
--We're driving hers.


Object Pronouns
Remember, a pronoun is used in place of a noun. Subject pronouns come in front of verbs, and object pronouns follow them:

me us
you you
him, her, it them


--We see our friends.
-->We see them. (them takes the place of our friends)

--Call the waiter.
-->Call him. (i.e., the waiter)

--They like coffee.
-->They like it. (i.e., coffee)


Reflexive Pronouns

The following are reflexive pronouns:

myself ourselves
yourself yourselves
himself, herself, itself themselves

A reflexive pronoun usually refers to the subject of a sentence:

--We looked at ourselves in the mirror.
(We and ourselves are the same persons.)

Sometimes reflexive pronouns are used for emphasis:
--I washed my clothes myself.


The Relative Pronouns Whom/Which/That

Follow the same rules for using who(m), which, and that, as you do with other relative pronouns. The only difference is that now these pronouns are functioning as objects:

--The movie that we saw last night was terrible.
--The movie, which we saw last night, was terrible.

For people, you will use either who or whom. Who is usually used instead of whom in colloquial speech, even though it is technically incorrect:

--The person who they saw was sick. (informal)
--The person whom they saw was sick. (formal)
--There's the driver who the police arrested. (informal)
--There's the driver whom the police arrested. (formal)


Prepositions are used in phrases and as parts of verbs. Here are some common English prepositions:

about into
above like
across near
after  of
along  off
among  on
around  out
before  over
behind  since
below  through
beneath  throughout
beside  till
between  to
beyond  toward
by  under
despite  until
down  up
during  upon
for  with
from  within
in  without

Two-Word Verbs
The term two-word verb refers to a verb and a preposition which together have a special meaning. Two-word verbs are common in informal English. Here is a list of some of these verbs.

bring up To rear children;  to mention a topic.
call up To call on the telephone.
clean up To make clean and orderly.
do over To do again.
drop off To leave something/ someone at a place.
fill out To complete an official form.
get on To enter an airplane, car, etc.
give back To return an item to someone.
go over To review or check carefully.
hand in To submit an assignment or report.
hang up To conclude a telephone conversation; to put clothes on a hanger or hook.
look over To review or check carefully.
look up To look for information in a reference book.
pick up To get someone in a car (e.g., in a car); to take in one's hand.
put away To remove to a proper place.
put on To put clothes on one's body.
put out To extinguish a cigarette, fire, etc.
show up To appear, come.
take off To remove clothing; to leave on a trip.
take out To take someone on a date; to remove.
think over To consider carefully.
try on To put on clothing to see if it fits.
turn in To submit an assignment, report; to go to bed.
turn off To stop a machine, light, faucet.
turn on To activate a machine, light, faucet.
turn out To extinguish a light.
turn up To increase volume or intensity.

There are two categories of two-word verbs:
1.) Separable:
--I handed my paper in.
In separable two-word verbs, a noun or pronoun may come between the verb and preposition
2.) Non separable:
--She gets off the train

Troublesome Verbs
Here are some verbs that you, like many native speakers, may find troublesome:

(followed by an object)
(not followed by an object)
raise, raising, raised:
The farmer is raising chickens.
rise, rising, rose:
The moon is rising.
set, setting, set:
I will set the glass down.
sit, sitting, sat:
They sit in front.
lay, laying, laid:
I am laying the dress on the bed.
lie, lying, lain:
I am lying on the


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