Category Archives: Grammar

Phrases

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What is a grammatical phrase? Consider the following utterance: the lady from Powburn village was looking along the main road because she had been expecting the delivery yesterday This utterance cannot helpfully be viewed as just a string of single words, i.e. the + really + old + lady + from + Powburn….. + clock. […]

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Conjunctions

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Conjunctions form a closed class There is a limited number of conjunctions and new ones cannot be added easily. Hence, like auxiliary verbs, numerals, determiners, pronouns and prepositions, conjunctions form a closed word class. The function of conjunctions These words conjoin, or add together, one element (phrases or clauses) with another. There are three types: […]

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Prepositions

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Prepositions form a closed class There is a restricted number of prepositions and it is difficult to add new members. Accordingly, like auxiliary verbs,  numerals, determiners, pronouns and conjunctions, prepositions form a closed class of words. Prepositions are relation words Prepositions function as relation words that connect elements of an utterance together. Predominantly, they relate […]

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Pronouns

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Closed class Whereas lexical verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs constitute open classes of words, pronouns (like auxiliary verbs, numerals, determiners, prepositions, and conjunctions) form a closed class, i.e. the membership of the class is fixed. It is not usually possible, therefore, to add new words to a closed class. Pronouns substitute for nouns Pronouns (pro-noun […]

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Determiners

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Determiners form a closed class Unlike open classes (such as lexical verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs), the membership of a closed class of words is fixed. Consequently, it is not generally possible to add new words to the class. Determiners form such a closed class (as do auxiliary verbs, numerals, pronouns, prepositions, and conjunctions). Determiners […]

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Numerals

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Numerals form a closed class Recall that a word class is said to be closed if no more words can be added to the class. Whilst in theory it is possible to keep counting to infinity, in practice there are a limited number of numerals that are used to enable this counting process. Numerals are, […]

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Adverbs

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Adverbs form an open class Like lexical verbs , nouns and adjectives, adverbs constitute an open class. This means that the membership of the class can increase as new adverbs are coined and added. Some recently added (or re-adopted) adverbs include: Right-angularly: at right angles; so as to form a right angle. [According to the Oxford […]

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Adjectives

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Adjectives form an open class Like lexical verbs, nouns and adverbs, adjectives constitute an open class of words, i.e. the number of adjectives can increase as people either invent new ones or reclaim old ones that have fallen into disuse. Some relatively recently added adjectives in English include: Ripper: excellent, fantastic (originally an Australian colloquialism). […]

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Nouns

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Nouns belong to an open class Nouns compose by far the largest class of words. This is because they are generally used to name things. As there is an almost infinite number of things to be named the class is expansive. In addition, as humankind progresses, discovers and invents new things, so we need new […]

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Future Time

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No future tense in English We have seen elsewhere (see Lexical Verbs) that English verb forms only mark two aspects of time, the present and the past, i.e. there is no future tense form of English verbs. Some languages do mark future tense with a particular verb form, however. French is one such language, e.g. […]

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