This is a quick, basic grammar review for nouns, verbs, and the sometimes confusing usage of lay versus lie, and rise versus raise. This reference can be used for term papers, grammar class reviews, or simply for anyone confused or curious about the basics of English grammar.
1. Noun identification
2. Count, Mass, and Collective Nouns
3. Plural and Possessive Nouns
What is a noun? A noun is a person, place, thing, quality, animal, idea or activity.
Person — Maria
Place — Detroit
Thing — Desk
Quality — Width
Animal — Dog
Idea — Independence
Activity — Navigation
Spot the nouns in a sentence: Maria went into the city to purchase detergent.
Nouns: Person — Maria
Place — City
Thing — Detergent
The functions of nouns
Nouns sometimes function differently in sentences. For example:
Subject: Maria likes ice cream
Object of Preposition: He gave the ice cream to Maria
Subject complement: The best customer is Maria
Grammar vocabulary: Nominal means any word, or group of words, used as a noun. The nominal word used in the original noun example is Maria.
Types of Nouns
The names of specific things, places, and people, like Maria or Detroit, are Proper nouns.
General, colloquial names, like table or house are Common nouns. Common nouns can either be concrete or abstract.
When an object is concrete i.e. you can see it and touch it, like a phone or a chair, it is a Concrete noun.
When it is a quality or idea, like freedom or justice, it is an Abstract noun.
Count nouns are anything that can be counted. They are singular or plural. Plurals usually end with “s.”
Singular — Car
Plural — Cars
Singular — Chair
Plural — Chairs
Singular — Dog
Plural — Dogs
Singular — Mouse
Plural — Mice
Singular — Child
Plural — Children
Most nouns ending in s, sh, o, or ch need an -es suffix to be plural
Singular — Bus
Plural — Buses
Singular — Dish
Plural — Dishes
Singular — Potato
Plural — Potatoes
Singular — Church
Plural — Churches
Nouns ending in a consonant followed by y become plural by changing the y to i and adding -es
Singular — Mystery
Plural — Mysteries
Mass Nouns are nouns that cannot be counted and they usually do not have a plural form
Examples: Freedom, sand, money
Collective nouns refer to groups of people and/or things. Unlike mass nouns, they can usually be counted, so they usually have plural forms.
Singular — Staff
Plural — Staffs
Singular — Herd
Plural — Herds
Plural nouns are the nouns that have been changed into their plural states by adding -s or -es. Remember your irregular nouns, such as mice and children! They too are plural nouns.
Nouns can be possessive and express ownership, usually following the use of “of.”
Example: The life of Maria
Most singular possessives are formed by adding an apostrophe and “s.” If the noun is plural, the possessive form becomes “s” and apostrophe.
Singular Common: Dog
Singular Possessive: Dog’s
Plural Common: Dogs
Plural Possessive: Dogs’
Exception: if the plural noun does not end with an “s,” the possessive is formed by adding an apostrophe and “s.”
Singular Common: Woman
Singular Possessive: Woman’s
Plural Common: Women
Plural Possessive: Women’s
A pronoun takes the place of an unknown noun. The unknown noun is called the “antecedent.”
Example: Maria wondered if she was late for work.
Maria is the antecedent of “she.” Instead of saying: Maria wondered if Maria was late for work, “she” appears to take the place of “Maria.”
The Nine forms of Pronouns:
Personal, possessive, indefinite, reflexive, reciprocal, intensive, interrogative, relative, and demonstrative.
The pronoun must always agree with the antecedent, so if the antecedent is male, the pronoun must be male, if the antecedent is plural, the pronoun must be plural, etc.
Correct: When Maria bought the detergent, she used her credit card.
Incorrect: When Maria bought the detergent, they used his credit card.
Nominative Cases: I, you, he, she, it, we, they, who
The nominative, or subjective, case pronoun is the subject of the sentence.
Examples: She went to the store.
Who has the book?
I am he.
This is she.
Objective Cases: Me, you, him, her, it, us, them, whom
These function as direct or indirect objects.
We gave HER the bus money.
We gave IT to HER.
I don’t know to WHOM I speak.
The bag is with HER.
Possessive Cases: My, mine, his, her, hers, its, our, ours, their, theirs, your, yours, whose
The possessive case pronoun shows possession
That is MY bag.
That bag is MINE.
HER bus was late.
The bags are all HERS.
Personal Pronouns can refer to the person/people speaking (First person,) spoken to (second person,) or spoken ABOUT (third person.)
First person subject singular: I
First person subject plural: We
First person object singular: me
First person object plural: us
Second person subject singular: you
Second person subject plural: you
Second person object singular: you
Second person object plural: you
Third person subject singular: he, she, it
Third person subject plural: they
Third person object singular: him, her, it
Third person object plural: them
Example: I wanted to give them to her, but he wouldn’t let me.
I — first person singular
Them — third person plural
Her — third person singular
He — third person singular
Me — first person singular
Like regular nouns, personal pronouns can also be possessive. Possessive Determiners are possessive forms of personal pronouns. Possessive Determiners must have a following noun.
First person determiner singular: My (book)
First person determiner plural: Our (book)
First person pronoun singular: Mine
First person pronoun plural Ours
Second person determiner singular: Your (book)
Second person determiner plural Your (book)
Second person pronoun singular: Yours
Second person pronoun plural: Yours
Third person determiner singular: His, Her, Its (book)
Third person determiner plural: Their (book)
Third person pronoun singular: His, hers, its
Third person pronoun plural: Theirs
Example: They have MY bags but they know they’re MINE.
My — Determiner, dependent on “Bags”
Mine– stands in place of “My bags.”
These have no specific antecedents. These are usually identified with general words like: all, any, some, or none.
Singular: another, both, nobody, everything, nothing, somebody, everyone, no one, something, etc.
Plural: all, many, most, much, some
Examples: Somebody has her bags.
Plural: Everyone knows about Maria’s bags.
Indefinite pronouns are only pronouns if they are used ALONE. If they are used with a noun, they become indefinite adjectives.
Pronoun: Both knew they were Maria’s bags.
Adjective: Both baggers knew they were Maria’s bags.
If the subject performs actions TO or FOR itself, the action in the sentence passes BACK to the subject and becomes a reflexive pronoun.
First person singular: Myself
First person plural: Ourselves
Second person singular: Yourself
Second person plural: Yourselves
Third person singular: Himself/Herself/Itself
Third person plural: Themselves
Example: We asked OURSELVES where her bags were.
“We” is the doer and receiver of the action “ask.”
Intensive Pronouns are used to point back to the noun or pronoun for emphasis.
Example: I myself knew they were Maria’s bags.
The intensive pronoun does not always need to directly follow the noun.
Example: I prefer walking myself.
Reciprocal pronouns express mutual action.
Examples: each other/ each other’s
One another/one another’s
Maria and Heather greeted each other.
These are used to ask questions and can be personal or non-personal
Personal subject: Who/Whoever
Personal object: Whom/Whomever
Personal possessive: Whose
Non-personal subject: Which
Non-personal subject: What
Who has the bags?
Which bagger has them?
Whose bags are these?
These substitute specific nouns, usually when someone is gesturing toward something.
Example: These are for her.
A verb is an action part of speech. It can also express a state of being, or the relationship between two things. It is most powerful when following a noun. Example: He HIT her. Verbs are the most complicated part of speech because they can sometimes become nouns, depending on their use.
The three kinds of verbs: transitive verbs, intransitive verbs, and linking verbs.
These take objects. Transitive verbs carry the action of subject and apply it to the object.
Example: She TOOK the bags.
These do not take an object, but express actions that do not require the agent doing something to something else.
Example: She LEFT.
These link the agent with the rest of the sentence and explain the link between the subject and the rest of the sentence.
Examples: appear, grow, seem, smell, taste
Example: Maria seems tired from shopping.
The Lay/Lie and Raise/Rise Confusion
These two pairs of verbs are constantly misused. In each, there is a transitive verb (TRV) and an intransitive verb (INV).
Lie — Intransitive, means recline or be situated
Lay — Transitive, means to place or put something
Rise — Intransitive, means to get up.
Raise — Transitive, means to lift something up.
Infinitive — INV: Lie
Past Tense — Lie (Lay)