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Just Enough English Grammar Illustrated

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Just Enough

ENGLISH
GRAMMAR
Illustrated

Gabriele Stobbe

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Copyright © 2008 by Gabriele Stobbe. All rights reserved. Manufactured in the United States
of America. Except as permitted under the United States Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this
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DOI: 10.1036/0071492321

For more information about this title, click here

CONTENTS
Introduction
v

Nouns
1

Adjectives
27

Pronouns
37

Verbs
61

Adverbs
97

Prepositions
107

Conjunctions
117

Interjections
123
Answer Key
129

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INTRODUCTION
What This Book Contains
■ Just Enough English Grammar Illustrated requires no formal
exposure to English grammar. The book is designed to give
learners of English a basic grammar foundation. It may serve
other students as a reference or review tool.
■ This book takes a practical approach. It does not focus on rules
and definitions. Instead, it studies how words work and what
they do in sentences.
■ The material is presented in an easy, step-by-step format.
As the learner moves through the book, he or she will gain
an understanding of the basic principles of the English
language. These principles are laid out simply but thoroughly,
and each new principle builds on what the student learned
earlier in the book.
■ Real-life scenarios use interesting characters and engaging,
simple vocabulary. Basic English structures presented in
visually engaging graphics bring grammar alive and therefore
increase the student’s desire to learn grammar.
■ Carefully designed graphic illustrations translate grammatical
concepts into visual images. Each topic or grammar concept is
clearly explained with relevant graphic illustrations. They make
comprehension possible without wordy explanations.
■ Graphic organizers and Venn diagrams clarify concepts
and help the reader review. They stimulate creative and logical
thought processes, and also help the student to evaluate and
categorize language structures.
■ Review Exercises and the Answer Key provide the learner
with the opportunity to test his or her skills.
■ This book offers choices. It takes into account the different
ways in which students learn and, accordingly, provides a
variety of learning tools. From real-life scenarios to illustrations
and graphic organizers, there is something for everyone.

v
Copyright © 2008 by Gabriele Stobbe. Click here for terms of use.

Organization of Chapters
Your Framework
Who
or What?

Nouns

Who
or What?

Adjectives

Pronouns

How the
Noun or
Pronoun Looks

How the
Verb Acts

Verbs

Adverbs

What the
Noun or
Pronoun Does

Prepositions Conjunctions Interjections

How Prepositions
and Conjunctions
Connect the Words

The eight chapters of this book are organized around the
eight parts of speech. It is important to become familiar with
the name of each part of speech and to expand your knowledge
about each one. The parts of speech will become the overall
framework of your English language knowledge. It is to this
framework that you will add important information necessary
to build your basic grammar foundation.
The following strategies were designed to show you how these
eight parts of speech can help you to build your foundation.
Your Strategies: Words are Tools for Communication
Strategy #1: How to Use Your Tools
Becoming familiar with your tools is the first strategy.
Words are tools for communication. The vocabulary words
used in this book were chosen because of their applicability
to real-life scenarios. Your tools — a set of illustrated vocabulary
words—are at the end of this Introduction. The players
represented throughout the book are everyday people. They
add spark and a new, refreshing approach to what is usually
dry material. The illustrations of all key players are followed by
brief biographies with interesting details about the lives of the
main personalities.

vi

Strategy #2: Basic Language Concept Number One:
Form of the Eight Parts of Speech
Communication generally means putting words together
to express your thoughts in context. Before you can put words
together effectively, you must comprehend basic language
concepts. This book emphasizes an understanding of key
grammatical concepts over the memorization of individual
words.
Most of the chapters in this book are divided into two parts.
Typically, the part of speech that is the focus of the chapter
is first discussed in terms of its form — the qualities that it has
in common with other parts of speech. Then the use of each part
of speech is considered.
What Information Do All of These Parts of Speech Give?
Nouns

Adjectives

Pronouns

Verbs

Adverbs

Prepositions Conjunctions Interjections

In this book, you will learn about three important concepts:
number, gender, and grammar person. Part One of several of
the chapters will show how these three concepts are expressed
in the different parts of speech.
Strategy #3: Basic Language Concept Number Two:
Use of the Eight Parts of Speech
What Jobs Can All of These Parts of Speech Do?
Nouns

Adjectives

Pronouns

Verbs

Adverbs

Prepositions Conjunctions Interjections

Part Two will build on what you learn in Part One. In many
chapters, Part Two explains the jobs that different parts
of speech perform in a sentence, as well as the relationships
between different words within a sentence. A thorough
understanding of the concepts covered in Part One will make
Part Two seem much easier!

vii

Your Tools: English Vocabulary Words

bikini

locker room

towel

life preserver

beach ball

suntan lotion

sunglasses

pool

flippers

umbrella

bathing suit

lifeguard chair

Mexican hat

air mattress

diving board

whistle

pool ladder

hamburger

hot dog

goggles

viii

Your Players: Family and Friends

The Miller Family

Mrs. Miller
mother

Mr. Miller
father

Anna Miller
daughter

Andy Miller
son

the parents

Anna
sister

Andy
brother

Lakeside Pool Friends

Ben
the boy

Jake
the boy

Susan
the girl

the boys

Kelly
the young girl

Maria
the girl

Anna
the girl

the girls

Andy
the young boy

Charles Smith
the man

Mrs. Miller
the woman

the pool manager the teacher

the children

ix

MEET THE
PLAYERS
Susan
Susan lives in Miami, Florida. She is 16 years old.
Susan is the lifeguard at Lakewood Pool. She is
also on the swim team. Susan always wears her
lucky red swim cap to swim meets. She dates Ben.
Susan has a little brother named Tim. Tim likes
to cheer for Susan at swim meets. She also has
a cat named Snowball. Susan and her best friend,
Anna, enjoy shopping, and they often babysit for
their neighbor Kelly.

Ben
Ben moved to Miami three years ago. He is 17 years
old. Ben has an older sister named Claire. He also
has a puppy named Shadow. He is good friends with
Charles Smith, the pool manager. He joined the swim
team two years ago. Ben joined because he liked
Susan, but now he is a very serious swimmer. He is
always competing with Jake. Ben has trouble with
grammar at school. He wants to study grammar this
summer. Ben likes to surf and go bowling when he
is not at the pool.
x

Maria
Maria is an exchange student. She is from Mexico.
She misses her family. Maria is 17 years old.
Spanish is her native language. She hopes that her
English will improve. Maria lives with Anna and
her family. She is a very good swimmer, but she is
not on the swim team. She enjoys going to the pool
with Anna. This summer, she wants to learn more
about American holidays and customs.

Anna
Anna moved to Miami six months ago. She is from
Seattle. She is 16 years old. Anna works at the
Lakewood Pool concession stand. Anna is best
friends with Susan and is dating Jake. She has
a brother named Andy. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs.
Miller, volunteer at the pool often. Anna worries
that Jake and Ben are too competitive. She hopes
that the swim meet will not hurt her friendship
with Susan. Anna enjoys going to the beach and
baking brownies.

Jake
Jake is Ben’s rival. He is 18 years old. All of the
girls think he is cute. He dates Anna. Jake likes
to show off and do cannonballs into the pool. Jake
has two younger brothers, Frank and Ryan. He
wants to swim in the Olympics. Jake spends most
of his time at Lakewood Pool. He really wants to
beat Ben in the next swim meet. Jake hopes that
he will get to spend time with Anna this summer.
xi

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CHAPTER 1

NOUNS
1.1 Part One and Part Two Overview 2

PART ONE: FORM OF ENGLISH NOUNS
1.2 Types of Nouns 2
1.3 One or Many: Singular and Plural Nouns 4
1.4 A Closer Look at Noun Endings: Common Noun Suffixes 5
1.5 The Biological Nature:
Masculine, Feminine, and Neuter Nouns 6
1.6 In the Company of a Noun: Articles 7

PART TWO: USES OF ENGLISH NOUNS
1.7 From Form to Use of Nouns 8
1.8 When Nouns Become Subjects 9
1.9 Simple and Compound Subjects 11
1.10 When One Noun Is Not Enough: Subject Complements 12
1.11 Possessive Nouns: Showing Relationship or Ownership 13
1.12 What Is a Sentence? Building Blocks and Units 16
1.13 When Verbs Expand to Include Objects: Direct Objects 18
1.14 Another Type of Object: Objects of Prepositions 22
1.15 Overview of Uses of Nouns 24
1.16 Review Exercises 25

Nouns

Adjectives

Pronouns

Verbs

Adverbs

Prepositions Conjunctions Interjections

1
Copyright © 2008 by Gabriele Stobbe. Click here for terms of use.

1.1 Part One and Part Two Overview
In this first chapter, an important basic concept, the noun,
is introduced. Nouns are a powerful part of speech. Here is
a summary of the material about the form and uses of nouns
covered in this chapter.
Part One: Form of English Nouns
What Information Do Nouns Give?
Types of Nouns
Number of Nouns
Noun Suffixes
Gender of Nouns
Articles
Part Two: Uses of English Nouns
What Jobs Can Nouns Do?
Nouns as Subjects
Nouns as Subject Complements
Possessive Nouns
Nouns as Direct Objects
Nouns as Objects of Prepositions

PART ONE: FORM OF ENGLISH NOUNS
What Information Do Nouns Give?
Form refers to the qualities and characteristics
that nouns have in common.
Let’s start with the different types of nouns.

1.2 Types of Nouns
A noun is a word used to name a person,
place, thing, or idea.
A noun is one of the most important words you use when
speaking and writing. A noun names a person, place, or thing;
a quality, idea, or action.
We can classify or group nouns into the following categories:
proper, common, concrete, abstract, collective, and compound
nouns. The following chart explains these classifications.
2

Types of Nouns

Proper

Proper nouns label
specific people,
places, or things.
The first letter must
be capitalized.

Common

Common nouns
label general groups,
places, people,
or things.

Concrete

Concrete nouns label
things experienced
through the senses of
sight, hearing, taste,
smell, and touch.

Abstract

Abstract nouns label
things not knowable
through the senses.

Collective

Collective nouns label
groups as a unit.

Compound

Compound nouns
label a single
concept composed of
two or more words.

Susan

school

hamburger

love

family

suntan lotion

Note: A noun can belong to more than one group. For example,
suntan lotion is both a common and a concrete noun, as well as
a compound noun.
3

1.3 One or Many: Singular and Plural Nouns
Nouns carry information about number. When a word refers
to one person or thing, it is singular in number. When it refers
to more than one of the same type of thing, it is plural in
number.

One

More Than One

Singular

Plural

The number of a noun is indicated by its ending.
The final letters of a noun determine
how its plural is formed.
The following examples illustrate how to change from the
singular form of a noun to the plural form of a noun.
The plural of most nouns is formed by adding -s.

ball

balls

For nouns ending in s, x, z, sh, and ch, add -es.

watch

watches

Nouns ending in f or fe form their plurals by changing the
f or fe to v and adding -es.

wife

wives
4

Nouns ending in y form their plurals by changing the y to i
and adding -es.

family

families

Take a look at other noun endings to discover other irregular
noun plurals.

1.4 A Closer Look at Noun Endings:
Common Noun Suffixes
The main part of a word is called the root. Suffixes are added
to the end of the root. A suffix consists of one or more letters
or syllables added to the end of a root to change its meaning.
Adding -er indicates the person who is carrying out an action.
Example: A person who swims
is a swimmer.
Note: Because of spelling rules, the -m- is doubled.
Adding -ance indicates the fact or state of carrying out an
action.
Example: Someone who
performs gives a performance.
Adding -ness indicates a quality or state of being.
Example: The state of being
happy is happiness.
Note: Because of spelling rules, the -y changes to -i-.
5

Adding -ity indicates an action or state of affairs that is abstract.
Susan
+
Ben

Example: Something that is possible
is a possibility.

Note: Because of spelling rules, the -e- is dropped.
Recognizing these suffixes can help you to identify nouns.
The ability to distinguish nouns from other words is very useful.

1.5 The Biological Nature: Masculine, Feminine,
and Neuter Nouns
English nouns do not have gender. That is, they are not
inherently masculine or feminine. However, they may refer
to male or female people or animals. When things have no clear
gender, they are often said to be inanimate objects or things,
and they are thought of as being neuter.
Masculine Nouns
Nouns that refer to male people or animals
are masculine nouns.
Examples:
Mr. Miller, man, father, actor, bull
Feminine Nouns
Nouns that refer to female people or animals
are feminine nouns.
Examples:
Mrs. Miller, woman, mother, actress, cow

Neuter Nouns
Nouns that denote things of neither gender
are neuter nouns.
Examples:
locker, ball, towel, lotion
6

Nouns often come in the company of other words. It is important
to learn about these little words, since they signal that a noun
follows, and this could assist you in identifying nouns more
easily.

1.6 In the Company of a Noun: Articles
Nouns are often accompanied by articles, also commonly called
noun namers. These are placed before a noun.

Articles

a boy

The indefinite article a (or an used
before a noun starting with a vowel)
signals that the noun is indefinite.
It can refer to any member of a
group as opposed to one particular
member.
Example: a boy

General
There is no indefinite article used with
plural, general nouns.
boys

Example: boys

The definite article the is used before
a singular noun when the noun is
particular or specific.
the boy

Example: the boy

Specific
The definite article the is also used
before a plural noun when the noun
is particular or specific.
the boys

!

Example: the boys

Hint: A is used before words beginning with a consonant;
an is used before words beginning with a vowel.
7

Noun Starting with a Consonant

Noun Starting with a Vowel

Example: a beach towel

Example: an air mattress

Part One looked at the form of nouns. Many concepts introduced
in this section will appear again later in this book. Next, let’s take
a closer look at what nouns can do.

PART TWO: USES OF ENGLISH NOUNS
What Jobs Can Nouns Do?
1.7 From Form to Use of Nouns
Nouns have jobs to do.
When you express a thought or idea in a sentence, you place
words into what is called context. Nouns are assigned different
roles or jobs to do when they are used in sentences. Here is an
example to illustrate use and context.

The context for all these things is their use in water.
What is wrong with this picture?
If Maria wants to wear her bathing suit,
she needs a pool, a lake, or the sea to put
it to use. Here in the desert, she is in
the wrong environment to wear a bathing
suit: It is not the right context.
Similarly, words have jobs to do for which they are suited.
When you put a sentence together that is grammatically correct,
you give each part the right job to do.
8

1.8 When Nouns Become Subjects
Nouns have specific jobs to do when placed within a sentence.
These jobs are labeled as subjects, subject complements,
possessive nouns, or objects. Let’s look at each.
The first, and most important, job that nouns can do in
a sentence is to act as a subject.
The chart below shows how nouns become subjects. They are
still nouns, but they are now called subjects in the form of a
noun. They are the focus of the sentence, and their job is to carry
out the action described by the verb.
A noun that names the person(s) or thing(s)
about which a statement is to be made
is labeled the subject.

Nouns as Subjects
Noun

Subject

Verb

swims.
Maria

Maria

opens.
pool

The pool
becomes
begins.
The party

party

celebrate.
The friends

friends
9

Any type of noun can become a subject.
Nouns referring to people often act as subjects and are easily
recognized:
Proper Nouns

Ben

Maria

Common Nouns

Mr. and Mrs. Miller

man

swimmer

girl

Nouns referring to inanimate objects can also be used as
subjects:

chair

swimsuit

suntan lotion

school

To find the subject of a sentence, use a question word. When the
subject is a person, use the question word Who: For example, for
the sentence Ben swims, ask Who swims? The answer is Ben.
Example: Ben swims.
Who swims? Ben swims.

In the example above, the statement is about Ben. The noun
Ben is the subject of the sentence Ben swims. Ben performs
the action of swimming. The verb swims tells what Ben does.
When the subject is not a person, use the question word What:
For example, for the sentence The pool opens, ask What
opens? The answer is The pool.

Pool Hours
9:00 a.m. —
10:00 p.m.

Example: The pool opens.
What opens? The pool opens.

10

In this example, the noun pool is the thing about which
something is said. The verb opens tells what is happening
to the subject.
Ben swims and The pool opens are two examples illustrating
the smallest type of sentence: a subject and a verb. Both
sentences make a statement with the subject followed by the
verb.
Finding and recognizing the subject in a sentence is an essential
skill to develop. More details about sentence structure follow as
we explain more about the different uses of nouns.
Here is another important rule to remember:
A sentence must have both a subject and a verb,
and it must express a complete thought.

1.9 Simple and Compound Subjects
A sentence may have two or more nouns used as subjects and
two or more verbs.
Complete Sentence

Example: Ben swims.
Simple Subject

Verb

In the sentence Ben swims, Ben performs the action. Ben is a
singular noun. When just one noun is used as the subject, we
call the subject a simple subject. The noun can be either singular
or plural.
When a sentence has two or more nouns
used as subjects that are joined by “and,”
it has a compound subject.

Example: Hamburgers and hot dogs are popular.
Compound Subject

11

The words hamburgers and hot dogs are the compound
subject in this sentence. A compound subject is composed of
two or more nouns used as subjects. These nouns can be either
singular or plural. They represent the things about which
something is being said.
In the next section, you will learn how nouns can express a
different concept when they are in the company of another noun.

1.10 When One Noun Is Not Enough:
Subject Complements

Example:
The hamburger is the winner.
The results:
The hamburger
is the winner!

Subject

Subject
Complement

Fred found out what customers like best!

In this example, the noun hamburger is the subject.
The winner, another noun, is the complement that describes
or renames the hamburger. It is called a subject complement
because it gives more details about the subject hamburger.
A subject complement
describes or renames the subject.
Example:
The hamburger

is

Noun used as
Subject

Linking
Verb

the winner.
Noun used as
Subject Complement

The verb is links hamburger to winner. For that reason,
it is called a linking verb. Linking verbs help to make a
statement not by expressing an action, but by serving as
a link between the subject and the subject complement.

12

Am, are, is, was, and were are all forms of the most commonly
used linking verb to be.
Subject complements are placed after a linking verb.

Example: Maria was an exchange student.
Subject

Linking
Verb

Subject
Complement

In this example, the name Maria is the subject. The linking
verb was is followed by the phrase an exchange student,
which renames or describes the subject Maria. That makes
the noun exchange student the subject complement.
In your mind, replace the linking verb with an equals sign to
remember that both nouns are of equal value. In the first
example, hamburger = winner, and in the second, Maria =
exchange student. Any form of to be, when it acts as a linking
verb, can be represented by an equals sign.
You will learn more about linking verbs in Chapter 4.

1.11 Possessive Nouns: Showing Relationship
or Ownership
Now you will learn how to change the form of a noun to indicate
a close relationship (often ownership) to another noun.
To show relationship or ownership of a noun,
add an apostrophe, either with or without the letter s.
If the singular form of the noun doesn’t end in s, add an
apostrophe followed by the letter s (’s).
Example with Relationship:

the pool’s diving board

the pool

diving board

Singular Noun

what is
being related to

13

Possessive Noun

Example with Ownership:
the child

Singular Noun

the child’s ball

ball

what is
being owned

Possessive Noun

If the singular form of the noun does end in s, add only the
apostrophe ( ’ ).
Example:

Charles’ stopwatch

Charles

stopwatch

Singular Noun

what is
being owned

Possessive Noun

You can apply the same rule to plural possessive nouns.
If the plural form of the noun doesn’t end in s, add an apostrophe
followed by the letter s (’s).
children’s swimsuits
Example:
children

swimsuits

Plural Noun

what is
being owned

Possessive Noun

If the plural form of the noun does end in s, add only the
apostrophe ( ’ ), for example, the kids’ swimsuits.
Possessive nouns indicate the relationship between an owner
and something that is being owned.
A possessive noun always uses an apostrophe.
14

When showing possession, you can choose between two options
to indicate that relationship. We just explained the use of an
apostrophe for possessive nouns. We’ll now explain how to use
the “of ” phrase.

Example:
the diving board of the pool

Here is a simple way to convert the possessive noun to an “of ”
phrase: Use of instead of the apostrophe, and switch the order
of the nouns.
Example:
the pool’s diving board = the diving board of the pool

!

Hint: Be sure you understand the use of an apostrophe to show
ownership. Apostrophes are also used for contractions, which
are shortened forms of certain words. For example, it’s = it is,
you’ve = you have. More details about contractions follow
in Chapter 4, Verbs.

An important rule to remember:
A possessive noun formed with an apostrophe
always relates to another noun that indicates
what is being owned.

Nouns as Subjects
Nouns as Subject Complements
Possessive Nouns
Now: What is a sentence?

So far, we’ve learned about nouns as subjects, nouns as subject
complements, and possessive nouns. Let’s pause here and take
a look at how to form sentences.
15

1.12 What Is a Sentence? Building Blocks and Units
Building blocks used together form a unit.
You have learned that a noun becomes the subject of a sentence
when it is connected to a verb as the performer of that action.
In a sentence, the subject and the verb need each other in order
to make sense. Let’s replace the word “sentence” with the term
“unit.” Units are composed of different parts that we will call
building blocks. They must be placed in such a way that the unit
is complete and makes sense.
Example:
Jake
Proper Noun

Jake swims.
Subject Noun

Verb

Subject and Verb form a Unit.

Jake, the subject, is a building block. The noun Jake will not
be a subject if you separate it from the verb. In order to label
Jake as the subject, he needs to perform an action, in this case,
swimming. When you put these two parts —Jake (subject) and
swims (verb)— together, you form the simplest possible unit.
Use a period to indicate that your sentence or unit is complete:
Jake swims.
You have also learned that a noun can be used as a subject
complement when it is connected to the subject through a linking
verb. Here we have the building blocks of a subject (hamburger)
and a subject complement (winner) that must be connected by
a linking verb (is) to be complete and make sense. Thus, together
they form a unit.

Example:
The hamburger
Common
Noun

The hamburger is the winner.
Subject
Noun

Linking
Subject
Verb Complement

Subject, Verb, and Subject Complement form a Unit.

16

Use a period to indicate that your sentence or unit is complete:
The hamburger is the winner.
Possessive nouns also show a connection between two nouns.
Let’s take a look at the noun Anna and the noun hula hoop.
Example:

Anna’s hula hoop __

Can you add
a period here?

Possessive Noun

If you add a period, you would indicate that the sentence is
complete —that someone or something is doing an action. That
someone or something would be the subject that is performing
the action of a verb. Is Anna performing an action? No, Anna
is not connected to a verb. The verb is missing. The possessive
noun Anna’s only indicates a relationship between the two
nouns. As shown by the apostrophe, the hula hoop belongs
to Anna.
Example:

Building Block

Anna’s hula hoop
Possessive Noun

Anna’s hula hoop represents a building block. It is not a unit,
because a unit must contain a subject and a verb, and this has
no verb. However, you can use this possessive noun to create
a unit.
Example:

Building Block Building Block

Anna’s hula hoop is fun.
Possessive Noun

Linking
Subject
Verb Complement

Subject, Verb, and Subject Complement form a Unit.

Expanding units to include other ideas is the next step to take.
And remember that it’s easier to enlarge units when you know
where to find the subject.
We will now take a big step by learning what objects can do.
17

1.13 When Verbs Expand to Include Objects:
Direct Objects
Look at the following example to see how adding another noun
to a sentence expresses a new concept.
Example:

Ben loves the pool.
Subject
Noun

Verb
receiving

performing

Object
Noun

This sentence includes two nouns. Ben, a proper noun,
performs the action of loving. The basic unit of subject and verb
is Ben loves. The verb is then extended by adding another
noun, the pool. It is placed after the verb and directly receives
the action expressed by the verb loves.
The direct object is a word or group of words
that directly receives the action expressed
by the verb.
Verbs that can take direct objects are called action verbs.
Here are four action verbs.

write

eat

love

swim

Direct objects need action verbs.
Action verbs are verbs that express something that we do.
Here are four sentences with direct objects. Each sentence
is divided into two parts to illustrate the verb-object connection
first, and then the subject-verb connection.

18

Verb-Object
Subject
(Noun)

1.

Who or
what
2.
performs
3.
the
4. action?

Action Verb

Receiving Object
(Noun)

writes

a book.

eats

a hamburger.

loves

Susan.

swims

a lap.
Building Block

In each of the four examples, action verbs and their direct
objects are shown. What is missing? Yes, you need a person
or thing performing the action.
Subject-Verb
Subject
(Noun)

Action Verb

1. Charles

writes

2. Jake

eats

3. Ben

loves

4. Maria

swims

Receiving Object
(Noun)

Who or
what
receives
the
action?

Subject and Verb form a Unit,
extended to include Object.

Charles writes, Jake eats, Ben loves, and Maria swims are
four sentences that are complete with a subject and a verb. The
sentences could end there, and you could add a period after each
one. However, they were extended to include writes a book,
eats a hamburger, loves Susan, and swims a lap. These
groups of words are building blocks. They cannot stand alone.
Let’s join the two parts together. If you start with the verb
in the center, you can think of the verb as reaching out to both
sides. One side of the verb reaches for the subject, the other side
reaches for the object.
Nouns Used as Subjects Action Verbs Nouns Used as Direct Objects
(perform the action)
(receive the action)

1. Charles

writes

a book.

2. Jake

eats

a hamburger.

3. Ben

loves

Susan.

4. Maria

swims

a lap.

Subject

Verb
19

Direct Object

It is important to recognize how the different parts relate
to each other. Take the example of the Miller family. A mother
and father— Mr. and Mrs. Miller—are the core of a family.
Children and other members are additions to that family.
When they are together, they form a unit: the Miller family.
If Anna
marries
Jake, he will
be part of
her family.

Mother and Father

Children

Spouse

Core of the Unit

Building Block

Building Block

Together, they form the Miller family.

Jake, still part of his own family,
could become an additional
member of the Miller family.

Similarly, a sentence has a subject and verb that form a core
unit. The direct object you add represents a building block that
depends on the core unit to make complete sense.
The following chart illustrates the different roles nouns assume
in sentences. The nouns book, hamburger, Susan, and lap
are used first as objects, and then as subjects.

Nouns

Nouns

Direct Objects

Subjects

Charles writes a book.

A book has many pages.

Jake eats a hamburger.

A hamburger can be hot.

Ben loves Susan.

Susan loves Ben.

Maria swims a lap.

A lap is long.

Sometimes it is hard to recognize the subjects or objects of
a sentence. Use question words to assist you with this process.
Question words can refer to persons or things. They can help you
identify the subject or the object. The following explanations will
give you a short overview. More details follow later in this book.
20

Question Words to Identify a Subject

Identify subjects that are people using the question
word Who:
Who

To identify who is performing the action, the question
word is placed before the verb.
Examples: Ben loves Susan.
Who loves Susan?
Question Word Verb

What

Maria swims a lap.
Who swims a lap?
Question Word Verb

Identify subjects that are inanimate things with the
question word What:
The question word that identifies the subject is placed
before the verb.
Examples: The pool opens.
What opens?

The towel is big.
What is big?

Question Word Verb

Question Word Verb

Question Words to Identify a Direct Object
Direct objects, just like subjects, can be either people or things.
Notice the question words used to identify the direct objects.
Direct Objects
Inanimate Things
What

Charles writes

a book.

Jake eats

a hamburger.

Ben loves
Maria swims

Persons
Whom

Susan.
a lap.
21

Identify people as direct objects using the question word Whom:
To identify who is receiving the action, place the question word
after the verb.
Example: Ben loves Susan.
Ben loves whom?
Verb Question Word

Identify inanimate things as direct objects with the question
word What:
To identify what is receiving the action, place the question word
after the verb.
Example: Charles writes a book.
Charles writes what?
Verb Question Word

This section explained nouns used as direct objects. The next
section introduces nouns as the object of a preposition.

1.14 Another Type of Object:
Objects of Prepositions
There are two different types of objects. The object described
above receives the action of the verb directly. It is called the
direct object. The other object works together with a preposition.
Prepositions and prepositional phrases are introduced in
Chapter 6. At this point, we will just help you understand how
nouns used as objects of a preposition are employed in a sentence.

Example: around the pool
Preposition Object of Preposition

In the example above, around the pool is a prepositional
phrase that includes the preposition around and the noun pool
as the object of the preposition.
22

Example: under the lifeguard chair
Preposition

Object of Preposition

In this example, under the lifeguard chair, the preposition
under takes the noun lifeguard chair as the object of the
preposition.
The combination of a preposition and an object is called a
prepositional phrase. Phrases by themselves are only fragments,
or building blocks. They must be combined with other parts to
form a complete sentence or unit.
Let’s connect the phrase around the pool with the noun
Susan and the verb walks to form a complete sentence. When
we add Susan as the subject, we must also include the verb,
since Susan, as the subject, performs the action of the verb.
Example:

Building Block

Susan walks around the pool.
Subject Verb

Preposition

Object of Preposition

Subject and Verb form a Unit,
extended to include a phrase.

A noun used after a preposition
is called the object of the preposition.
Example:

Building Block

Ben stands under the lifeguard chair.
Subject

Verb

Preposition

Object of Preposition

Subject and Verb form a Unit,
extended to include a phrase.

23

1.15 Overview of Uses of Nouns
Congratulations! You now have learned about the many jobs
nouns can do. Nouns play an important part when building
your understanding of the English language. We conclude this
chapter with a Venn diagram that summarizes how the noun
trophy can be used when forming sentences.
This diagram shows you that no matter what job nouns are
doing, they remain nouns.
Venn Diagram

Noun used as
Subject
The trophy
belongs to Ben.

Noun used as
Subject
Complement
The prize is
the trophy.
Noun used as
Possessive Noun

Nouns

The trophy’s cup
is big.

Noun used as
Object of
Preposition
Ben builds a shelf
for the trophy.

Noun used as
Direct Object
Ben loves
the trophy.

The next summary illustrates the jobs nouns
can do by using the noun Maria.
Maria as Subject:
Maria as Subject Complement:
Maria as Possessive Noun:
Maria as Direct Object:
Maria as Object of the Preposition for:
24

Maria swims.
The student is Maria.
Maria’s bathing suit
Anna loves Maria.
The gift is for Maria.

1.16 Review Exercises
A Determine whether or not the word in red type is a noun.
If it is a noun, write Y for yes; if it is not a noun, write N for no.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

Susan eats lunch.
The rabbit jumps.
Jake wants to run.
They live in Florida.
He reads a book.
She walks the dog.
Is the tree tall?
He writes a letter.
The glass is not full.
Ben cuts an apple.

____
____
____
____
____
____
____
____
____
____

B Write the plural form of each singular noun.
Example: child Y children
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

ring
leaf
beach
cloud
berry
life
bird
patch
nail
sky

________________
________________
________________
________________
________________
________________
________________
________________
________________
________________

C Complete each sentence with either a or an.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

He rides ____ blue bike.
Maria sees ____ airplane.
The dog has ____ bone.
Ben throws ____ ball.
She uses ____ umbrella.

D Underline the subject of each sentence. Circle the verb.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

He runs.
Anna swims.
The father drives.
They sit.
The cat jumps.
25

E Write the possessive form of each noun.
Example: boy Y boy’s
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

trees
bike
Chris
building
cars

________________
________________
________________
________________
________________

F Underline the subject of each sentence. Circle its complement.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Her house is big.
The dog is brown.
He is short.
His name is Andy.
Is the sky blue?

G Determine whether each statement is true or false. Write T
for true or F for false.
1. The direct object receives the action of the verb.
2. English nouns have a specific gender.
3. A compound subject is composed of two or more
nouns used as subjects.
4. A sentence must have a subject and a verb.
5. “A” and “an” are indefinite articles.

26

____
____
____
____
____

CHAPTER 2

ADJECTIVES
2.1 What Is an Adjective? 28
2.2 Descriptive Adjectives 28
2.3 Determiners or Limiting Adjectives 29
2.4 Suffixes and Origin of Adjectives 33
2.5 Overview of Adjectives 33
2.6 Review Exercises 35

Nouns

Adjectives

Pronouns

Verbs

Adverbs

Prepositions Conjunctions Interjections

27
Copyright © 2008 by Gabriele Stobbe. Click here for terms of use.

2.1 What Is an Adjective?
Certain little words make a big difference
for nouns and pronouns.
red
the,
an,
a

two
my

this

whose

any

These words are called adjectives.
They modify nouns and pronouns.

This chapter introduces two groups of adjectives: descriptive
adjectives and determiners or limiting adjectives. In grammar, we
say that an adjective modifies the meaning of a noun or pronoun.
Modifiers make clearer or limit the meaning
of other words.

2.2 Descriptive Adjectives

1

Descriptive adjectives specify the shape,
size, or color of the noun they modify.
Descriptive adjectives are often called common adjectives.
Like a common noun, they are ordinary, everyday adjectives.
They describe a noun in a general way. Examples of common
adjectives include soft, blue, sunny, small, and wet.
In general, common adjectives are placed before the noun they
are describing, as the following examples illustrate.
Examples:
wet flippers

blue ball
Descriptive Adjective Noun

Descriptive Adjective Noun

28

An adjective can also come after the linking verb to be when
the adjective describes the subject of a sentence. In this case,
it is called a predicate adjective.
Example:

The hamburger is large.
Subject

Linking Predicate
Verb Adjective

In this example, the adjective large describes the subject
hamburger. Calling it a large hamburger is the same as
stating The hamburger is large.
Example:

The flippers are green.
Subject

Linking
Verb

Predicate
Adjective

In this example, the adjective green describes the subject
flippers. Calling them green flippers is the same as stating
The flippers are green.
Predicate adjectives are placed after the linking verb.
They always expand on the subject.
Descriptive adjectives can also be formed from a proper noun.
An adjective formed from a proper noun is called
a proper adjective. It is always capitalized.
Proper Noun

Proper Adjective

Example

Mexico
America

Mexican
American

Mexican student
American flag

Proper adjectives can be formed from the name of a particular
person, place, thing, or idea.

2.3 Determiners or Limiting Adjectives
The second group of adjectives is called determiners. Since
determiners limit your choices, they are also called limiting
adjectives. A determiner is placed before the noun it modifies.
A determiner helps to identify a specific noun
rather than describe it.
29

2

Articles
Articles specify whether a noun is referred to
in a general or specific way.

The most frequently used adjectives are a, an, and the. These
words are usually called articles.
There are two different types of articles: indefinite articles and
definite articles.
Indefinite Articles
a boy

an exchange student

A and an refer to one of a general group. Use an before a noun
starting with a vowel. In the example a boy, we don’t know
which boy is being referred to.
Definite Articles
the friends

The indicates that the noun (either singular or plural) refers to
someone or something in particular. In the example the friends,
we are indicating this specific group of people.

Possessive Adjectives

3

Possessive adjectives are based on subject pronouns
and show ownership or relationship.
I, you, he, she, it, we, you, and they are called personal
pronouns. In this term, the word personal relates to “persons.”
Possessive adjectives, as the following chart shows, are derived
from these personal pronouns and express the idea of possession.
With the exception of it, all of them relate to people.
Possessive
Adjectives

Singular

1

my

2

your

3

his

Plural

1

our

2

your

3

their

30

her

its

Examples:
Anna is

Lakewood is
our pool.

my sister.

The possessive adjective can express ownership or relationship.
In English, the possessive adjectives his and her relate to the
person who is the possessor. Look at the following examples:
his sister Anna

her brother Andy

Masculine Feminine
Possessive
Noun
Adjective

Feminine Masculine
Possessive
Noun
Adjective

Masculine Possessive Adjective
+ Feminine Noun

Feminine Possessive Adjective
+ Masculine Noun

In the first example, his modifies the noun sister. In the second
example, her modifies the noun brother.

Demonstrative Adjectives

4

Demonstrative adjectives point out persons or things.
They can point to either singular or plural forms.

this suntan lotion
Singular Form
Demonstrative
Adjective

those flip-flops

Singular Noun

Plural Form
Demonstrative
Adjective

Plural Noun

This and that are singular; these and those are plural. They
are all demonstrative adjectives that point out specific nouns.

Interrogative Adjectives

5

Interrogative adjectives are used to form questions.
They single out the nouns they modify.
31

The interrogative adjectives which, what, and whose, together
with the nouns they modify, are commonly used to form questions.
Which
life vest?

Whose

air mattress?

In the first example above, which modifies the noun life vest.
In the second example, whose modifies the noun air mattress
and is used to indicate ownership.

Indefinite Adjectives

6

Indefinite adjectives indicate
nonspecific persons or things.
Some, each, any, many, and several are examples of indefinite
adjectives.

some girls

several lockers

Indefinite Adjective

Indefinite Adjective

In both of the examples above, we are not certain about the exact
number of persons or things. As adjectives, some and several
modify the nouns girls and lockers.

Numerical Adjectives

7

Numerical adjectives indicate quantity by stating
a fixed number of people or things.

one hot dog
Numerical
Adjective

two whistles

Singular
Noun

Numerical
Adjective

32

Plural
Noun

In the example one hot dog, one is the numerical adjective
that indicates one in number. It is used with a singular noun.
In the second example, the adjective two indicates two in
number, and it must be used with a plural noun.
This concludes the section on determiners or limiting adjectives.
Keep in mind the following rule:
the,
an,
a

my

this

whose

any

two

Determiners indicate that a noun follows.

2.4 Suffixes and Origin of Adjectives
Many adjectives can be identified by their suffixes. Suffixes are
attached to a root word to form the adjective. These adjectives
originate from other types of words, such as nouns or verbs.
Some commonly used suffixes and their meanings follow.

Jake is a fearless swimmer.

It was a wonderful party.

less means without
fear is the root word

ful means full of
wonder is the root word

The goggles are breakable.
able means capable of
break is the root word

Review the comparative and superlative forms of adjectives in
Chapter 5, Adverbs.

2.5 Overview of Adjectives
The following summary highlights the most important details
about adjectives. Always begin by identifying the nouns first.

33

Summary of Adjectives
Nouns Modified

DESCRIPTIVE ADJECTIVES
Add to your knowledge

1

Before Noun

After Noun

Common
Adjectives

blue

Predicate
Adjective
is blue

What kind?

Proper
Adjective

ball

Mexican

exchange

is Mexican

student

DETERMINERS OR LIMITING ADJECTIVES
Direct you to the correct one by limiting choices
a boy

2

the boy

Articles
General Noun
my bathing suit

3

Specific Noun
our school

Possessive
Adjectives
Ownership or Relationship
this hot dog

4

these friends

Demonstrative
Adjectives
Pointing Out Persons or Things
which swimmer?

5

whose flippers?

Interrogative
Adjectives
Forming Questions
some boys

6

any hot dog

Indefinite
Adjectives
Unknown Person or Thing
one winner

7

two whistles

Numerical
Adjectives
Indicating Quantity

34

2.6 Review Exercises
A Underline the descriptive adjective or adjectives in each
sentence.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.

The music is loud.
She waves the American flag.
The brown horse jumps.
The small cup is full.
He has an orange balloon.
The tired girl sleeps.
The water is cold.
She plays a sad song.
The colorful painting is beautiful.

B Underline the article in each sentence. Decide whether
it is definite or indefinite, and then write D for definite or
I for indefinite.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

She reads a book.
Does the cat purr?
He lives on an island.
A boy is yelling!
They go to the lake.

____
____
____
____
____

C Underline the limiting adjective or adjectives in each
sentence.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

His coat is black.
I have three brothers.
This is my house.
She swims every day!
We play at my house.
I want that one.
Susan is her friend.

35

This page intentionally left blank

CHAPTER 3

PRONOUNS
3.1 Part One and Part Two Overview 38

PART ONE
3.2 Pronoun Chart 38
3.3 Pronouns Avoid Repetition 40
3.4 Personal Pronouns 40
3.5 Grammar Person 41
3.6 Number of Pronouns 43
3.7 Gender of Pronouns 44
3.8 Another Personal Pronoun: Possessive Pronouns 45
3.9 Pronouns Used to Form Questions 47
3.10 Pronouns Pointing Out People or Things 47
3.11 Pronouns Naming Nonspecific People or Things 48

PART TWO
3.12 Overview: Subject Pronouns, Object Pronouns, and
Possessive Pronouns 48
3.13 A Great Start: Subject Pronouns 50
3.14 Subject and Object Pronouns Together 51
3.15 A Different Job: Object Pronouns with Prepositions 53
3.16 Possessive Pronouns 54
3.17 Question Words Revisited 55
3.18 Overview of Pronouns 57
3.19 Review Exercises 58

Nouns
Nouns

Adjectives
Adjectives

Pronouns
Pronouns

Verbs
Verbs

Adverbs
Adverbs

Prepositions Conjunctions
Conjunctions Interjections
Interjections
Prepositions

37
Copyright © 2008 by Gabriele Stobbe. Click here for terms of use.

3.1 Part One and Part Two Overview
Pronouns are substitutes for nouns. The prefix “pro-” in the
word pronoun means “for.” The word pronoun simply means
“for a noun” or “in place of a noun.” Part One will take a closer
look at the various forms pronouns can take.
Part Two will show you how to use these pronouns in sentences.
Pronouns can do the same jobs that nouns do, but their forms
are different. Since pronouns are substitutes for nouns, many
concepts already covered in Chapter 1 are repeated here. This
review will enable you to strengthen your comprehension of
some of the fundamental concepts of the English language.
Here is a summary of the material about the forms and uses
of pronouns covered in this chapter.
Part One
What Information Do Pronouns Give?
Uses of Pronouns
Personal Pronouns
Grammar Person of Pronouns
Number of Pronouns
Gender of Pronouns
Part Two
What Jobs Can Pronouns Do?
Pronouns as Subjects
Pronouns as Direct Objects
Pronouns as Objects of Prepositions
Possessive Pronouns
Pronouns as Question Words

PART ONE
What Information Do Pronouns Give?
3.2 Pronoun Chart
The following chart gives an overview of the most common uses
of pronouns.

38

Common Uses of Pronouns

Ben

he
A pronoun is used
to replace the
words for people,
places, or things.

it

ball

Who
He swims.

Pool
Opens

A pronoun is used
to introduce a
question.

What

this (one)
or

or

that (one)

several

39

A pronoun is used
to point to a
specific person,
place, or thing.

A pronoun is used
to refer to
unnamed,
nonspecific
people or things.

3.3 Pronouns Avoid Repetition
Pronouns can be used in place of
nouns to avoid monotonous repetition.
You will often want to refer to the same noun a number of times
within connected sentences. The following example illustrates
how the noun Susan is used several times.
Nouns

Susan goes to the pool.
Susan works at Lakewood Pool.
Ben asks Susan if Susan wants a party.
Nouns

The use of another part of speech — pronouns — can avoid
repetition:
Noun
Pronoun

Susan goes to the pool.
She works at Lakewood Pool.
Ben asks her if she wants a party.
Pronouns

The most common task for pronouns is replacing nouns. Like the
nouns they replace, pronouns refer to people, places, or things.

3.4 Personal Pronouns
Of the various types of pronouns, the most common are the
personal pronouns: I, you, he, she, it, we, they. These pronouns
are called personal because they refer most often to people,
although they can also refer to things.
A personal pronoun is a pronoun used to replace
words for people, places, or things.
The characteristics found in most personal pronouns refer to
number, gender, and grammar person. A pronoun’s form provides
information about these characteristics.
You are familiar with the concepts of number and gender of
English nouns (see Chapter 1). Now you will learn to apply the
40

concepts of number and gender to pronouns, as well as to learn
a new concept —grammar person.
Form refers to the qualities and characteristics
that pronouns have in common.

3.5 Grammar Person
Grammar Person
1

Person speaking

2

Person spoken to

3

Person or thing
spoken about

Number
Singular Pronoun

I, you, he, she, it

Plural Pronoun

we, you, they
Gender

he Masculine Pronoun
she Feminine Pronoun
it Neuter Pronoun
The concept of grammar person is one of the most important
concepts of this chapter. In Chapter 4, Verbs, you will also see
how this concept is used when conjugating verbs.
A personal pronoun shows by its form whether it refers to the
person speaking, the person spoken to, or the person or thing
spoken about.
Every personal pronoun is classified by whether
it is first, second, or third person.

41

Grammar
Person

1
FirstPerson
Pronoun

Singular

Plural

Used in place of a speaker or speakers
We love
America!

I love
America!

I replaces Maria.

2
SecondPerson
Pronoun

We replaces
Susan and Maria.

Used in place of a person or persons spoken to

You
swim well.

You
swim today.

You replaces Maria.

3
ThirdPerson
Pronoun

You replaces Ben and Jake.

Used in place of person(s) or thing(s) spoken about
He replaces Jake, a person.
He loves
hamburgers.

They replaces parents and
refers to people.
They visit
the pool.

Anna talking about Jake
She replaces Kelly, a person.
She is here.

Anna talking about
her parents
They replaces balls and
refers to things.

Andy talking about Kelly

They
are big.

It replaces the ball, a thing.
Ben talking about two balls
It is big.

Ben talking about the ball

Personal pronouns refer to persons. The exceptions
are the pronoun “it,” which refers to inanimate things,
and the pronoun “they,” which sometimes refers
to inanimate things.
42

3.6 Number of Pronouns
Personal pronouns show
either singular or plural number.
When you look at the chart on the opposite page, you see
that the pronouns listed on the left refer to one person or thing,
whereas those on the right indicate more than one person
or thing.
If you classify pronouns based on number, you can divide them
as illustrated below:

Singular refers to one person or thing.

Plural refers to more than one person or thing.

Number
Singular

Plural

we, you, they

I, you, he, she, it

Each pronoun in the singular group stands for only one person
or one thing. In Chapter 4, Verbs, these details about pronouns
become important when you have to decide whether to use a
singular verb form or a plural verb form.
The pronoun you has a double role. The context in the sentence
will indicate whether you is used as a singular or as a plural
pronoun. The pronoun they also has a double role. It can refer
to people or to things, provided there is more than one.
The third-person singular includes three pronouns. Remember
the shortcut “three in three”: 3 pronouns (he, she, it) in 3rd
person. In Chapter 4, you will connect pronouns to verb forms,
so it is important that you understand pronouns well before
you move on.
43

Now that we’ve covered person and number, let’s take a closer
look at the gender of pronouns. Remember masculine, feminine,
and neuter nouns from Chapter 1? Since pronouns take the place
of nouns, you will also find masculine, feminine, and neuter
pronouns, but you need to learn how to identify them.

3.7 Gender of Pronouns
Three genders differentiate the third-person
singular pronouns “he,” “she,” and “it.”

Gender
he Masculine Pronoun

she Feminine Pronoun
(Generally refers
to female people)

(Generally refers
to male people)

it Neuter Pronoun
(Generally refers to things)

We say “generally” here because pronouns do not always follow
these simple rules: Animals are classified as male or female,
and sometimes inanimate objects (such as ships and boats) are
referred to as she. Here are examples for each of the three
genders:
Masculine
Nouns
Mr. Miller
man
father
actor
bull

Feminine
Nouns

Replace
each noun
with pronoun

Mrs. Miller
woman
mother
actress
cow

he

Neuter
Nouns

Replace
each noun
with pronoun

locker
ball
towel
lotion

it

44

Replace
each noun
with pronoun

she

Note: Because most nouns can be replaced by third-person
pronouns, we sometimes speak of nouns as being in the third
person also.
Gender does not differentiate
the pronouns “I,” “you,” “we,” and “they.”
The pronouns I, you, he, she, and it replace singular nouns,
but only the third-person forms differentiate gender. The
pronouns we, you, and they replace plural nouns, and none
of the plural pronouns differentiate gender.
The chart below shows singular and plural personal pronouns
for all three persons, and highlights the double role that the
pronoun they can have, replacing nouns for both people and
things. Even when they refers to people, it does not differentiate
gender. They can refer to both males and females.

Personal Pronouns
Number
Person
First Person
Second Person
Third Person

Singular
1
2
3

Plural

I
you
he, she, it

2
3

Replace Singular Nouns

Replace Plural Nouns

People

they

we
you
they

1

they
or Things

the boys the girls the flippers

3.8 Another Personal Pronoun: Possessive Pronouns
A pronoun used to show possession
is called a possessive pronoun.
You have learned that a possessive noun establishes a
relationship between the owner and what is being owned.
The form of the pronouns mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours,
yours, and theirs also indicates a relationship to a person or
thing.
45

As the following examples indicate, these possessive pronouns
show that same relationship in only one word.
Possessive Pronouns
It is mine.

The speaker, Anna, talking
about her hula hoop

Yes,
it is yours.

Jake speaking to Anna,
talking about her hula hoop

Yes,
it is hers.

Ben talking about
Anna’s hula hoop

First-person
pronoun mine
referring to the
speaker (I)
Second-person
pronoun yours
referring to the
person spoken
to (you)
Third-person
pronoun hers
referring to the
person spoken
about (she,
or Anna)

Part Two of this chapter will offer more details about the
use of pronouns. As we conclude this section about personal
pronouns, look at the noun-pronoun examples given with each
image.
Noun
Combination

his father

Noun
Combination

Pronouns
he
his
him

her mother

Pronouns
she
hers
her

Many possessive forms can play a double role: They can be used
as adjectives in combination with nouns, but as pronouns, they
stand alone. Possessive adjectives, including his and her, are
explained in detail in Chapter 2, Adjectives.
46

3.9 Pronouns Used to Form Questions
A pronoun is often used to introduce a question.

Pool Opens
Today!
Susan swims. Who swims?
Noun

The pool opens. What opens?

Pronoun

Noun

Pronoun

Who and What are question words. You will learn more about
the jobs they have to do in Part Two.

3.10 Pronouns Pointing Out People or Things
A pronoun can be used to
point to specific persons, places, or things.
This, that, these, and those are pronouns commonly used
to point out people, places, or things without naming them.
As pronouns, they stand alone. However, in context, they must
refer to someone or something that has already been mentioned.
They often indicate the location of people or things as being
near or far from the speaker. In form, they can show number,
as illustrated in the next example.
Singular Pronouns refer to one person or thing

this (one) or that (one)

Plural Pronouns refer to more than one person or thing

these (ones) or those (ones)

47

3.11 Pronouns Naming Nonspecific People or Things
A pronoun is often used to refer to
unnamed, nonspecific persons or things.
These pronouns refer to people, places, or things in general.
By looking at their form, you can see whether these pronouns
refer to one or many.
Singular pronouns refer to a person or thing: each, somebody,
something, or anything.
Plural pronouns refer to more than one person or thing: both,
several, few, or many.
Somebody always takes the flippers.
or
The pronoun somebody refers to an unnamed
person. We don’t know if it is a boy or a girl.

Something happened at the pool.
The pronoun something can refer to an accident
or a celebration. We don’t know which.

Several came to the swim meet.
The pronoun several indicates unspecified
people attending the swim meet.

There are many different pronouns in this category. Only a few
are listed here. Look at the examples to understand what they
all have in common: They refer to people or things without
naming them.

PART TWO
What Jobs Can Pronouns Do?
3.12 Overview: Subject Pronouns, Object Pronouns,
and Possessive Pronouns
The roles pronouns can play divide them into three distinct
groups: subject pronouns, object pronouns, and possessive
pronouns.
48

Subject Pronoun

Object Pronoun

Possessive Pronoun

Replaces noun—
person(s) or thing(s)

Replaces noun—
person(s) or thing(s)

Replaces noun—
person(s) or thing(s)

Subject
Noun

Subject
Pronoun

Object
Noun

Object
Pronoun

Ben

he

Ben

him

Ben’s

his

Maria

she

Maria

her

Maria’s

hers

Possessive Possessive
Noun
Pronoun

You have already learned in Part One that the form of a
pronoun gives information about grammar person, number,
and gender:
Person: First person (speaking), second person (spoken to),
or third person (spoken about)
Number: singular (one in number) or plural (more than one)
Gender: masculine, feminine, or neuter
The role played by a pronoun in the sentence
determines whether a subject pronoun, an object
pronoun, or a possessive pronoun is used.
The following charts show person, number, and gender for the
three groups of pronouns.

Masculine Feminine Neuter

Subject
Pronouns

Singular

1

I

2

you

3

he

Plural

1

we

2

you

3

they

she

it

A subject pronoun performs the action of the verb.

49

Masculine Feminine Neuter

Object
Pronouns

Singular

1

me

2

you

3

him

Plural

1

us

2

you

3

them

her

it

An object pronoun receives the action of the verb
or is used in a prepositional phrase.

Masculine Feminine Neuter

Singular
Possessive Plural
Pronouns

1

mine

2

yours

3

his

1

ours

2

yours

3

theirs

hers

its

A possessive pronoun stands alone and shows
relationship or ownership. It has no apostrophe.

The next section will illustrate subject and object pronouns.
Charts show you where to find the matching pronouns.

3.13 A Great Start: Subject Pronouns
A subject pronoun identifies
what the sentence is all about.
Example with a person as
the subject of the sentence:

Maria swims.
Performer/Actor

Maria
(Singular Feminine Noun)

Subject
Pronouns

Singular

1

I

2

you

she
(Third-Person Singular
Feminine Pronoun)

3

he

she

it

Masculine Feminine Neuter

New sentence: She swims.
50

In the sentence Maria swims, the subject Maria is replaced
with the pronoun she. The new sentence is She swims. This
example illustrates how the selection of an appropriate pronoun
to replace a noun depends on knowing the noun’s person (third
person, because Maria is being spoken about), number (singular,
because there is only one Maria), and gender (feminine, because
Maria is a girl). She is the feminine third-person singular
pronoun that stands for Maria.
Apply the same analysis in the next example, where the subject
is a thing.
Example with a thing as the subject of the sentence:
The pool opens.
Performer/Actor
pool
(Singular Neuter Noun)

Subject
Pronouns

Singular

1

I

2

you

it
(Third-Person Singular
Neuter Pronoun)

3

he

she

it

Masculine Feminine Neuter

New sentence: It opens.
In the next section, the sentences become longer and include
an object.

3.14 Subject and Object Pronouns Together
Verbs play a central role in a sentence. The subject connects to
the verb. When extending the sentence to include an object, it is
the verb that makes it possible. The following section, therefore,
discusses subject pronouns and object pronouns together.
A direct object pronoun receives the action
of the verb. The verb in this type of sentence
is called an action verb.

51

Charles wrote a book.

Example:

Performer/Actor

Receiving the Action of Verb

Object Noun
Object Pronoun
Subject Pronoun
Subject Noun
he (Third-Person a book (Singular it (Third-Person
Charles (Singular
Neuter Noun)
Singular Neuter
Masculine Noun) Singular Masculine
Pronoun)
Pronoun)

Subject
Pronouns

Singular

1

I

you

2

3

he

she

it

Masculine Feminine Neuter

Object
Pronouns

Singular

1

me

you

2

3

him

her

it

New sentence: He wrote it.
Charles is the subject in this sentence. The subject pronoun
he refers to Charles. The action verb wrote takes book as
an object, because the noun book receives the action of the verb
wrote. The object pronoun refers to book.
It can have a double role. In the earlier example The pool
opens, the pronoun it replaces the subject (The pool). In the
example above, He wrote it, the pronoun it refers to the direct
object (a book). Because pronouns can have the same form
whether used as subjects or objects, it is important to identify
the subject first and then determine the object of the sentence.
The next example shows a plural subject.
Example:

The friends love Maria.
Performer/Actor
Subject Noun
The friends
(Plural Noun)

Subject Pronoun

they (Third-Person
Plural Pronoun)

Receiving the Action of Verb
Object Noun
Maria (Singular
Feminine Noun)

Object Pronoun

her (Third-Person
Singular Feminine
Pronoun)

The following chart of subject and object pronouns highlights
the pronouns used as replacements for nouns in this example.
52

Object Pronouns

Subject Pronouns
Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

1

I

1

we

1

me

1

us

2

you

2

you

2

you

2

you

3

he,
she,
it

3

they

3

him,

3

them

her ,
it

New sentence: They love her.
The replacement for this plural subject noun, the friends, is the
plural pronoun they.
In this example, the noun Maria is the object of the verb
love. Maria, as a singular noun, must be replaced with
a third-person singular pronoun. Here, the feminine form
of the third-person object pronoun (her) replaces the feminine
noun Maria.
Example:

Maria loves them.
Maria is the subject of the sentence. The pronoun them
receives the action of the verb love. Them is a third-person
plural object pronoun that replaces the noun friends.
Remember: Direct objects need action verbs. More details about
action verbs are given in Chapter 4.

3.15 A Different Job: Object Pronouns
with Prepositions
Object pronouns are also used with prepositions.
You have learned that action verbs and direct object pronouns
go together. The direct object receives the action of the verb.
The object pronouns me, you, him, her, it, us, you, and them
are also used with prepositions. Each one of them can be used
to complete a prepositional phrase.
53

Example: Ben stands under the lifeguard chair.
Object of Preposition

Preposition

Singular Noun it
(Third-Person Singular Neuter Pronoun)

New sentence: Ben stands under it.
The preposition under requires the noun lifeguard chair
to complete the meaning of the prepositional phrase. The
lifeguard chair is the object of the preposition. You must
replace this singular noun with the pronoun it.
Example: The bathing suit is for Maria.
Object of Preposition

Preposition

Singular Noun her
(Third-Person Singular Feminine Pronoun)

New sentence: The bathing suit is for her.

3.16 Possessive Pronouns
A possessive pronoun shows relationship or ownership.
Look again at the example that appeared on page 46 in
Part One.
Possessive Pronoun
Third-person
pronoun hers
referring to the
person spoken
about (she, or
Anna)

Yes,
it is hers.

Ben talking about
Anna’s hula hoop

Let’s take another look at subject pronouns, and then we’ll move
on to possessive pronouns.
Masculine Feminine Neuter

Subject
Pronouns

Singular

1

I

2

you

3

he

Plural

1

we

2

you

3

they

54

she

it

Masculine Feminine Neuter

Possessive
Pronouns

Singular

1

mine

2

yours

3

his

Plural

1

ours

2

yours

3

theirs

hers

its

Possessive pronouns are based on the subject pronouns and
indicate the person or persons to whom they refer. Possessive
pronouns stand alone, like all the other pronouns covered so far.
In the example it is hers, hers refers to Anna’s hula hoop.
An apostrophe is used with a possessive noun, but never with
a possessive pronoun.

3.17 Question Words Revisited
The question words Who and What were introduced in Part
One. Pronouns used as question words have several jobs to do.
They are used to identify both subjects and objects. Let’s take
a closer look at question words asking about subjects.

Question Words Asking About the Subject
The question word “Who” is used to identify
a person acting as a subject.
The question word “What” is used to identify an
inanimate object (thing) or animal acting as a subject.
You can use the question word Who to identify a person referred
to by a subject noun or pronoun. What takes the place of a
subject noun or pronoun when it refers to an inanimate thing.
Examples:

Pool Opens
Today!

Susan swims. Who swims?
Noun

The pool opens. What opens?

Pronoun

Noun

55

Pronoun

Question Words Asking About the Object
The question word “Who” changes to “Whom”
when asking about an object.
Examples:

Question Word Subject
Who loves Susan?
Question Word Object
He loves whom?

He loves her.
Who?

Whom?

Question Word Subject
Who wrote it?
Question Word Object
He wrote what?

He wrote it.
Who?

What?

What plays a double role. Use What to identify either an
inanimate subject or an inanimate object.

Question Word Asking About a Possessive Noun
The question word “Whose” is used
to identify possession or ownership.
Example:
It is mine.

Question Word Possession
Whose is it?

56

3.18 Overview of Pronouns
Congratulations! You have now learned how to replace nouns
with pronouns to make more interesting sentences. At the
conclusion of Chapter 1, Nouns, we introduced the Venn
diagram with the noun trophy. This overview uses the same
sentences, but replaces the noun trophy with the appropriate
pronoun.
Venn
Diagram

Subject Pronoun

Possessive
Pronoun

It belongs
to Ben.

Its cup is big.

Pronouns
Object Pronoun
with Preposition

Direct Object
Pronoun

Ben builds a
shelf for it.

Ben loves it.

Remember, the noun chapter concluded with the following
review phrases and sentences: Maria swims, Maria’s bathing
suit, Anna loves Maria, and The gift is for Maria. We’ll now
conclude the pronoun chapter using the same examples except
with pronouns replacing the nouns. Keep in mind that pronouns
are always substitutes for nouns!

Subject Pronoun:
Possessive Pronoun:
Direct Object Pronoun:
Object Pronoun with Preposition for:
57

She swims.
The bathing suit is hers.
Anna loves her.
The gift is for her.

3.19 Review Exercises
A Determine whether the pronoun in red type is in first,
second, or third person. Write 1st if it is a first-person
pronoun, 2nd if it is a second-person pronoun, or 3rd if
it is a third-person pronoun.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

____
____
____
____
____

They watch television.
We want ice cream.
You sing well.
I am tired.
She is my friend.

B Determine whether the pronoun in red type is singular
or plural. Write S for singular or P for plural.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

____
____
____
____
____
____
____

Somebody lives there.
These are good!
Do they like the movie?
He is in college.
I have a pet dog.
We like the teacher.
Both are at the pool.

C Determine whether or not the pronoun in red type is
possessive. Write P if it is possessive or X if it is not possessive.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

____
____
____
____
____
____

The cat is not hers.
She does not play soccer.
Who wrote the letter?
The book is mine.
His bathing suit is blue.
Nobody is at the pool.

D Determine whether the pronoun in red type is a subject
pronoun or an object pronoun. Write SP if it is a subject pronoun
or OP if it is an object pronoun.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

He throws the ball.
To whom is he speaking?
They talk to me.
You are pretty.
He gives candy to us.
She sends postcards to them.
We do not want to run.
58

____
____
____
____
____
____
____

E Complete each sentence with the appropriate pronoun from
the choices given.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

______ is yellow. (What | Her | It)
To ______ does he talk? (yours | whom | these)
The cookies are ______. (ours | she | them)
______ am tall. (What | Its | I)
______ belong to me. (Those | He | It)
Give the money to ______. (yours | her | we)

59

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CHAPTER 4

VERBS
4.1 Part One and Part Two Overview 62

PART ONE: FORM OF ENGLISH VERBS
4.2 Verb Families 63
4.3 Types of Verbs 63
4.4 Regular and Irregular Verbs 65
4.5 The Four Principal Parts of a Verb 66
4.6 The First Principal Part: Base Form 67
4.7 The Second Principal Part: Past Form 71
4.8 The Third Principal Part: Present Participle 72
4.9 The Fourth Principal Part: Past Participle 74

PART TWO: USES OF ENGLISH VERBS
4.10 The Four Principal Parts and Verb Tenses 75
4.11 Special Helping Verbs: Modals 80
4.12 Linking Verb To Be as Main Verb 80
4.13 Non-Action Verb To Have as Main Verb 82
4.14 Main and Helping Verbs in Questions and Statements 83
4.15 Verbs with Direct Objects 87
4.16 Transitive and Intransitive Verbs 88
4.17 Verbs Expressing Commands 90
4.18 Overview of Verbs 90
4.19 Review Exercises 94

Nouns

Adjectives

Pronouns

Verbs

Adverbs

Prepositions Conjunctions Interjections

61
Copyright © 2008 by Gabriele Stobbe. Click here for terms of use.

4.1 Part One and Part Two Overview
The verb is the most fundamental part of speech. Only verbs can
make a statement about the subject.
Every sentence must have a verb.

Verbs
express time.
Verbs
show person
and number.

Verbs lend a
helping hand.

Verbs
perform
many jobs.
Verbs can
make a
command.

Verbs take
objects.
Verbs can
make a
question or
statement.

This chapter takes a close look at all the jobs verbs can
perform. You will also learn the names given to each type of
verb. This will help you to identify and use each verb correctly
and effectively. Here is a summary of the material about the
forms and uses of verbs covered in this chapter.
Part One: Form of English Verbs
Verb Basics
Verb Families
Types of Verbs
Regular and Irregular Verbs
The Four Principal Parts
Part Two: Uses of English Verbs
The Four Principal Parts and Verb Tenses
Modals: Special Helping Verbs
Linking and Non-Action Verbs as Main Verbs
Verbs in Questions and Statements
Verbs Taking Objects
Verbs Expressing Commands
62

PART ONE: FORM OF ENGLISH VERBS
Verb Basics
4.2 Verb Families
The Miller Family

A family’s name is important to any family. It includes all the
members of that family. Verbs also have families. Each verb
family has many different parts that belong within the family.
In grammar, we call the family name of a verb its infinitive
form.
The infinitive form consists of the word “to”
plus the base form of a verb.
Here are three examples of the infinitive form:

to eat

to swim

to write

Because verbs can take many different forms, knowing the
verb’s family name makes it much easier to use verbs correctly.
As a next step, we will cover the different types of verbs you need
to be able to recognize.

4.3 Types of Verbs
A verb is a word showing or expressing action,
being, or state of being.
What kind of action does a verb show? Some verbs show physical
action.

Action Verbs

Examples:

to eat

to swim
63

to write

Action verbs express the action, often physical action,
that the subject does.

Non-Action Verbs
I think...

Here are three examples of non-action verbs: to think, to look,
and to understand.
Non-action verbs tell about states of mind or senses.
They do not express physical action.

Linking Verbs
You learned about linking verbs in Chapter 1, Nouns.
Linking verbs convey a state of being.
They link the subject of a sentence with a word
that renames or describes the subject.

A State of Being
I am
the winner.

Susan is
the winner.

The pool is warm.

Mr. Smith is the
manager of the pool.

While the most common linking verb is to be, there are other
linking verbs you will need to know, such as to appear, to
become, to feel, to grow, to look, and to taste.
To be is the most important linking verb. In this chapter, the
following forms of the verb to be appear in examples: am, are,
is, was, and were.
64

Helping Verbs
Verbs often use other verbs in sentences. Although a main verb
represents the important idea of the sentence, it may need a
helper to express its full meaning. Here are the forms of three
helping verbs that appear in this chapter:
to be
to do
to have

am, are, is, was, were
do, does, did
have, has, had

Could, would, and must are examples of a special kind
of helping verb that will be explained later in this chapter.
The following explanation of these helping verbs will make it
easier to sort out how they do their jobs.
Helping verbs help the main verb to make
a statement, ask a question, or give a command.
Verbs are complex; we include here the essential information
for understanding verbs and how to use them. You will find the
following short definition of verbs helpful.
A verb is a word that tells what the subject
of a sentence does, experiences, or owns.
The next section will cover the two main verb groups that you
need to understand before we explain the principal parts of verbs.

4.4 Regular and Irregular Verbs
Verbs change in form. Based on how they change, verbs are
divided into two groups.
One group of verbs uses a predictable pattern in changing form.

65

You will see this pattern in the four examples of the verb watch:
Regular Verb Examples:

Swim Meet
at Lakewood
Pool

Today I watch the race.
I am watching the race.
Yesterday I watched the race.
I have watched the race every day.

This first group of verbs is called regular verbs. All regular verbs
display the same pattern of predictable changes.
The second group does not follow a regular pattern. Verb forms
in this group change for no apparent reason. There is no obvious
pattern you can apply when learning them.
Irregular Verb Examples:
We eat hamburgers.
We are eating hamburgers.
Yesterday we ate hamburgers.
We have eaten hamburgers
every day.
This second group includes verbs that are not regular. They are
called irregular verbs.
All verbs in the English language
can be divided into two groups:
regular verbs and irregular verbs.
Most English verbs are regular. Irregular verbs have verb forms
that require memorization before you can use them correctly.
There is no easy way to explain their changes and no way to
avoid memorizing their verb forms.
Let’s use what we have learned so far to build sentences.

4.5 The Four Principal Parts of a Verb
When you want to express an idea, you usually start with a
noun or pronoun that will become the subject of your sentence.
Once you know your subject, you need to state what the
subject does.
66

Every sentence must have a subject and a verb.
Verbs can take many different forms. In English grammar,
there is a system for all the different verb forms you might want
to use when building sentences: The Four Principal Parts of
a Verb. It is a framework that will help you to correctly make or
identify the different forms of verbs you might need to express
your ideas.
All English verbs have four principal parts.
The following example shows the four principal parts of the verb
to go.
Examples:
Maria goes to the pool.
Maria went to the pool.
Maria is going to the pool.
Maria has gone to the pool.
The word principal in the term principal parts tells you that
these verb forms represent main forms common to all verbs.
We will first explain the form of each principal part. Once
you know their names and understand the form of each of the
principal parts here, it will be much easier to understand how
to use them with verb tenses in Part Two.

4.6 The First Principal Part: Base Form
Before we start, keep in mind what verbs can do. How do you
identify a verb? The following will help you remember the job
verbs perform in a sentence.
A verb is one or more words answering the question
“What is happening?” or “What did happen?”
Now, these are base forms of the verbs to write, to eat,
to swim, and to love.

write

eat
67

swim

love

The base form of a verb is a verb without
any endings added.
The base form of a verb allows the beginning language learner
to form basic sentences with a subject and a verb. As Part Two
will explain in detail, it is used to express an action that
happens in the present moment.
Principal Part 1 , the base form of a verb, connects to a subject.
The following chart illustrates how verb forms change when
they are combined with matching subject pronouns.
Connecting
Verb

Sentence

I

swim

I swim.

you

swim

You swim.

he
she
it

swims

He swims.
She swims.
It swims.

we

swim

We swim.

you

swim

You swim.

they

swim

They swim.

Subject as Pronoun
1

I

2

You

3

1

We

2

You

3

68

As was explained in Chapter 3, pronouns are grouped into first,
second, and third persons. Let’s take a closer look at singular
pronouns.
The singular pronouns are I, you, he, she, and it. These
pronouns stand for one person only. As the chart indicates,
no changes occur in the first person (I), nor in the second person
(you). However, the third person of singular pronouns is divided
into the pronouns he, she, and it.
The connecting verb differs from the base form
of the verb in the third-person singular only.
Third-Person
Singular
Verb Form

Base Form
of Verb

Infinitive
Form
of Verb

He

writes a book.

write

to write

She

sits in the
lifeguard chair.

sit

to sit

He

fixes the locker.

fix

to fix

It

opens at 9:00.

open

to open

She

studies English.

study

to study

Third-Person
Singular
Subject Pronoun

The majority of verbs follow the regular pattern of
using the base form of a verb to connect to a subject.
The third-person singular is an exception to this rule.
In the chart above, the verb forms change when they are
connected to the singular subject pronouns he, she, and it.
Recognizing and using these verb changes are important for
learning the basics of the English language.
Learn to look at the final letters of the base form of the verb
to identify what changes are necessary for the third-person
singular. Here is a basic guide:
Most verbs
Verbs ending in -ch,
-s, -x, or -z
Verbs ending in -y

Base form + -s
Base form + -es

He eats.
He fixes.

Base form − -y + -ies

Maria studies.

69

Subjects: Pronouns and Nouns
Remember: When forming a sentence, you always have the
choice of connecting the verb to either a pronoun or a noun.
If the subject noun or pronoun is singular,
use a singular verb. If the subject noun or pronoun
is plural, use a plural verb.
He, she, or it can be replaced by a singular noun, and they
by a plural noun. Likewise, a singular noun can be replaced
by he, she, or it, and a plural noun by they.
Singular
Subject Pronoun
1

I

2

you

3

he, she, it

Plural
Verb

(or Singular Noun)

Subject Pronoun

walk

1

walks

Base
Form

1

we

2

you

3

they

Verb

walk

(or Plural Noun)

Third-person singular forms
show a change from the
base form of the verb.

Third-person plural forms
are the same as the base
form of the verb.

Singular Noun

Plural Noun

Masculine
my boyfriend
Jake
his father

Feminine
Mrs. Miller
Maria
the girlfriend

Replace
a masculine
singular noun
with the
pronoun

he
Replace
a feminine
singular noun
with the
pronoun

she
Neuter
the pool
the ball
the locker

People
my friends
the students
the teens
the swimmers

Things

Replace
a neuter
singular noun
with the
pronoun

it
70

the balls
the flippers
the goggles
the flip-flops

Replace a
plural noun
naming
people with
the pronoun

they

Replace a
plural noun
naming
things with
the pronoun

they

The vast number of nouns you could choose as subjects is too
big for this book. However, verbs can also connect to pronouns.
Since you know how to replace nouns with pronouns, we will
simplify the presentation of the principal parts of verbs by using
pronouns for most of the examples.
In Part Two you will learn that verbs show time. We have covered
the verb form used to make general statements. It is identical
to the base form of the verb except that we had to make a small
change for the third-person singular. The principal part that we
will look at next is a verb form that expresses action that took
place in the past.

4.7 The Second Principal Part: Past Form
It is a good practice to always start with the base form of a verb.
Both regular and irregular verbs can show changes in their
forms. The changes for regular verbs build on the base form,
and these changes are easily recognized. When irregular verbs
change their form, however, the base form can be very hard to
detect. Therefore, it is essential for beginners to learn the base
form of verbs.
Principal Part
is the past form of verbs. The following
examples illustrate changing from the base form to the past
form of both regular and irregular verbs.
I walked
to the school.

I wrote
a book.

Base form: walk
The past form of a regular verb follows
a pattern: Add -ed to the base form
of the verb.
Base form: write
The past form of an irregular verb
follows no apparent pattern: The past
form must be memorized.

Regular verbs follow a set pattern of adding “-ed”
to the base form when forming the past form of a verb.
Here are examples of the base form and past form of three
regular verbs: fix ~ fixed, match ~ matched, learn ~ learned.
Note these spelling changes when adding the suffix -ed:
study ~ studied, trim ~ trimmed.
71

Past forms of irregular verbs change their
forms without following a pattern.
Irregular verbs in the past form can be tricky. Memorizing all
the forms of irregular verbs is essential.
I won!

Here are examples of the base form and past
form of three irregular verbs: go ~ went,
say ~ said, win ~ won.
The past form of a verb does not change
according to the subject it is connected to.
The chart for Past Form on the next page shows that one past
form connects to all subject pronouns. The examples walked,
wrote, went, and said include both regular and irregular
verbs. Each of these verbs is a main verb.
For the next two principal parts, the same main verbs are used
again, but they need the company of helping verbs.

4.8 The Third Principal Part: Present Participle 3
Look at the flippers. They are a swimming device.
Are they doing the swimming for you? No, they
are just helpers when swimming. Helping verbs
work the same way. The helping verb is there to
help the main verb. It is the main verb that tells
you what the important message is.
Helping verbs help the main verb
tell about an action or make a statement.
Principal Part
is called the present participle. The present
participle of the main verb is used with a form of the helping
verb to be.
The following examples illustrate how am, are, and is — all
forms of the helping verb to be— combine with the present
participle in a sentence.
Susan is walking around the pool.
Helping Verb

Present Participle
(Main Verb)

72

I am
swimming.

I am

.

We are celebrating.

Helping Verb Present Participle
(Main Verb)

Helping Verb

Present Participle
(Main Verb)

To form the present participle, you start with the base form of a
regular or irregular verb. However, there are several spelling
changes to keep in mind:
Add -ing to the base form of the verb: walk ~ walking.
If a verb ends in a silent -e, drop the final -e and add -ing:
write ~ writing.
In one-syllable verbs, the final consonant is often doubled:
swim ~ swimming.
Do not double the consonants w, x, or y: play ~ playing.
Swimming and celebrating are examples of present
participles. Present participles don’t change when they connect
to am, are, and is. They are not able to stand alone, but they
are connected to a form of the helping verb to be.
A verb may consist of more than one word. A main
verb and a helping verb together form a verb phrase.
The following two charts contrast past forms (Principal Part
)
with present participles (Principal Part
). Past forms of verbs
stand alone as one word, while present participles (the -ing
form) need a helping verb. It is the helping verb that connects
to the subject and changes according to the subject. The present
participle is the main verb, and it doesn’t change.

3 Present Participle

2 Past Form
Subject Pronoun

Subject
Pronoun

Past Form

Helping Present
Verb Participle

1

I

1

I

am

2

you

2

you

are

3

he, she, it

3

he, she, it

is

(or Singular Noun)

(or Singular Noun)
un)

walked

walking

1

we

are

you

2

you

are

they

3

they

are

1

we

2
3

(or Plural Noun)

(or Plural Noun)

73

The term present participle refers to an action in the present.
As we move to the next principal part, you will find that the
word past in the term past participle indicates an action that
already took place. Keep this distinction in mind when we cover
verb tenses.

4.9 The Fourth Principal Part: Past Participle 4
Base form: walk

I have walked
around the pool.

The past participle of a regular verb
follows a pattern: Add -ed to the base
form of the verb.

I have walked around the pool.
Helping Verb Past Participle

Base form: write

He has written
a book.

The past participle of an irregular verb
follows no apparent pattern: The past
participle must be memorized.

He has written a book.
Helping Verb Past Participle

Walked and written are two examples of past participles.
As past participles, they need a helping verb to be complete.
For past participles, the helping verb is to have. The forms
used with the examples above are have and has. As the second
example shows, the third-person singular verb form changes
from have to has when it connects to he, she, or it.
Have walked and have written are two examples of verb
phrases. They each have a helping verb and a main verb.
Here is a short overview of the four principal parts based on
the two verbs used throughout Part One.

Regular
Verb
Irregular
Verb

Base Form

Past Form

Present
Participle

Past
Participle

walk

walked

walking

walked

write

wrote

writing

written

(needs helping (needs helping
verb to be)
verb to have)

74

The four principal parts of verbs all represent
main verbs (not helping verbs).
At the end of this chapter, you will find a complete overview of
the four principal parts of a verb.

PART TWO: USES OF ENGLISH VERBS
4.10 The Four Principal Parts and Verb Tenses
Verbs express time. Tenses reflect the time
expressed by a verb.
The four principal parts are all about tenses, that is, the time
when the action takes place. In Part One, you learned about
the form of these four principal parts. Now, in Part Two, you
will learn how the four principal parts are used to express time.
The four principal parts correspond to the following five tenses.

Present Tense
Future Tense

Past
Tense

Present
Continuous

Present
Perfect

There are three periods in time:
present (now), past (yesterday), and future (tomorrow).
Now is used with the present tense, yesterday with the past
tense (the simple past), and tomorrow with the future tense
(the simple future). These are basic tenses for any beginning
language learner.
These tenses build on what you have learned about the four
principal parts of a verb. Like the present tense, the future
tense uses Principal Part
, the base form of a verb. You might
be surprised to find two present tenses and two past tenses.
We will contrast each pair with examples that illustrate how
verbs express time in many different ways.
The chart on the following page shows three people.
Each one expresses different ideas. As you read
them, try to find out how the verb forms indicate
when or at what time these actions take place.
Ask the following questions: Is it happening now,
did it happen yesterday, or has it yet to take place?
75

Verbs Express Time
I
studyw ill
in coll math
ege.
I
have lived in
Miami many
years.
I am
taking
a break.
ver y
I was y last
r
g
n
hu
night.
ma
I a eat .
r
g mer
m
sw i

I wro
a letter te
last
week.
e a
I w ill bra der
g
h
t
six
ar.
next ye
t
a
e
I
fast
breakrly.
ea
te d
tar .
e sessons
v
a
I hiano l
p
ing
eatast
m
f
I a reak w.
b no

I ha
eaten vfe
ish
many tim
es.
I a
repairm
the lo ing
cker.
I work
every day.
go on
I w illcation
a
v
a
eek.
next w
I ate
fish ay.
rd
yeste

Now: Present Tense
Mr. Smith: I work
every day.

Jake: I am a
great swimmer.

Andy: I eat
breakfast early.

Now: Present Continuous
Andy: I am eating
breakfast now.

Jake: I am
taking a break.

Mr. Smith: I am
repairing
the locker.

Yesterday: Past Tense
Andy: I wrote
a letter last
week.

Jake: I was
very hungry last
night.

Mr. Smith: I ate
fish yesterday.

Yesterday: Present Perfect
Andy: I have
started piano
lessons.

Jake: I have
lived in Miami
many years.

Mr. Smith: I have
eaten fish
many times.

Tomorrow: Future Tense
Andy: I will be
a sixth grader
next year.

Jake: I will study
math in college.
76

Mr. Smith: I will go
on a vacation
next week.

NOW
Present Tense and Present Continuous
Principal Parts
and
are both used to express something
that happens at the present time. The explanations below point
out when each is used.
The simple present tense form of any verb is identical to
Principal Part
, the base form of the verb, except that -s
or -es is added to the base form of third-person singular forms.
Action in the present can be expressed in two ways — as the
simple present with one verb (see below, left side) and as the
present continuous with two verbs (see below, right side).
Present Continuous

Present Tense
I eat breakfast
every day.

I am eating
breakfast now.

am eating

eat

Helping Verb

Base Form

Present Participle

Today:
Actions in Progress
and Continuous Actions

Today:
Habits and
Repetitive Actions

Andy states: I eat breakfast
every day. It is a habit, a
repetition that happens
daily. Use the base form of
the verb, in this case, eat.

Andy says: I am eating breakfast
now, so we assume he is in the
process of eating. It is a continuous
action. Use am, are, or is before
the present participle of the verb,
in this, case, eating.

The present continuous states an action or condition
that is taking place at the present moment.

YESTERDAY
Past Tense and Present Perfect
Principal Parts
and
are both used to relate events to the
past, but they express time in different ways.
The past tense of a verb expresses an action
or condition that took place in the past.
77

Past Tense

Present Perfect

I ate fish
yesterday.

I have eaten
fish many times.

ate

have eaten

Past Tense

Helping Verb

Past Participle

Specific time
in the past

Nonspecific
completed actions

In the sentence I ate fish
yesterday, the action did
not take place today, but
happened yesterday. The verb
form ate indicates the past
tense of the irregular verb
to eat. It is a completed action
that is now over. In addition, the
word yesterday gives a specific
time for when it happened.

In the sentence I have eaten
fish many times, the present
perfect refers to an action
begun in the past but
connected to the present;
it may have been completed
or it may still be going on.
It is formed by using have
together with the past
participle, in this case, eaten.

Present perfect verb forms show action or condition
begun in the past; these can be either finished actions
or actions that continue into the present.
In the sentence I have started piano lessons, the verb form
started is the past participle. It is assumed that Andy’s lessons
began in the past and continue into the present.

TOMORROW
Future Tense
The future tense uses “will” or “shall”
and the base form of a verb.
Subject
Pronoun

Future
Tense

Helping
Verb

Base
Form

Subject
Pronoun

Helping
Verb

1

I

will

1

I

will

2

you

will

2

you

will

3

he, she, it

will

3

he, she, it

will

(or Singular Noun)

(or Singular Noun)

walk

write

1

we

will

1

we

will

2

you

will

2

you

will

3

they

will

3

they

will

(or Plural Noun)

(or Plural Noun)

78

Base
Form

The simple future (using “will”) and the immediate
future (using “going to …”) both indicate that
an action or condition will happen in the future.
Immediate Future

Simple Future
I will study
math in college.

I am going to
study
math in college.

will study
Helping
Verb

am going to study

Base
Form

Helping Verb

Base Form

Future Indicator

Tomorrow: Actions that
will happen in the future

Tomorrow: Actions that are
planned to happen in the future

The future tense of any
verb is formed by using
will with the base form
of a verb. Will is used to
connect to all subjects
and shows no change.

Another way to express future time
is by using forms of the verb to be
(such as am, are, or is) with going to
plus the base form of a verb. Always
use the form going to as a Future
Indicator; it does not change.

Simple Future
I will participate in the swim meet tomorrow.
Helping Verb

Base Form

Immediate Future
I am going to participate in the swim meet tomorrow.
Helping Verb

Base Form

Future Indicator

Look at the example I am going to participate in the swim
meet tomorrow. The verb form am connects to the subject I.
Going to indicates future action and never changes in form.
Participate is the base form of the verb and is added after
going to.
This concludes the section on tenses. Next, we continue to build
on your knowledge of helping verbs, but add new details on how
they are used.
79

4.11 Special Helping Verbs: Modals
The pattern of using a helping verb with the base form of a verb
also applies to another kind of helping verb: modals. Modals are
used to predict an action or condition, or to make a statement
that is not a simple fact. Some common modals are can, could,
may, might, must, should, and would.
Anna mu st
pass the test..
She m
ay
to the come
race.
Would
y
ou
please
help m
e?

Modals as helping verbs express
• possibility or necessity
• ability or permission
• polite requests

Anna must pass tthe test.

She may come to the race.

Modal Base Form of Verb

Modal Base Form of Verb

Would you please help me?
Modal

Base Form of Verb

As helping verbs, modals connect to the base form of a verb.
Pass, come, and help are the base forms used in the examples.
They are main verbs; the modals help them to express meaning.
You will learn many other modals. Apply the same concept when
using them.
Modals never change in form.
They connect to the base form of a verb.

4.12 Linking Verb To Be as Main Verb
When looking at the definitions of verb tenses, the terms action
and condition appear often. Action verbs like eat, swim, and go
refer to an action that takes place. Linking verbs, on the other
hand, show no action or physical event occurring. They indicate
conditions showing what the subject is, or is like.
The most common linking verb is to be. It shows being and
existing. When learning about tenses, you used the helping verb
to be together with a main verb. To be also performs another
job: It can be used as a main verb, just like other verbs. But
80

first, you must learn about all the different forms that the verb
to be can take when it is used as a main verb.
Following are commonly used verb forms of the linking verb
to be. Note that the verb is irregular in most forms.
Today: Present Tense

Today: Present Progressive
Helping Verb to be
I am
eating a
hamburger. I’m

Main Verb to be
I am a
great
swimmer.

I am
you are
he is, she is, it is
we are
you are
they are

you’re
he’s, she’s, it’s
we’re
you’re
they’re

eating

The contractions
’m = am, ’re = are, ’s = is
are used as indicated
above.

In the sentence I am a great
swimmer, am is the main verb
expressing a present
condition. As a linking verb,
it links the subject Jake with
the noun swimmer.

This example uses am
as a helping verb, not as
a main verb: I am eating a
hamburger. Am is the helping
verb needed to express the
action of eating.

In the present tense, “am,” “are,” and “is” are the verb
forms of the linking verb “to be” used as a main verb.
Use the base form of be as the main verb when expressing
the future.
Tomorrow: Future Tense
Linking Verb to be
I’ll be
you’ll be
he’ll be, she’ll be, it’ll be
we’ll be
you’ll be
they’ll be

I will be a
sixth grader
next year.

I won’t be a
sixth grader
next year.

Use the negative form
won’t with all subjects.

The common contraction
’ll is a short form of will
and is used with all subjects.

Be is the main verb in the sentence I will be a sixth grader
next year. Together with the helping verb will, it expresses
a condition that will happen in the future.
81

Yesterday: Past Tense
In the past tense, “was” and “were” represent the verb
forms of the linking verb “to be” used as a main verb.
Main Verb to be
I was
you were
he was, she was, it was
we were
you were
they were

We were very
hungry last night.
I was
very hungry
last night.

In the first example, hungry describes the subject Jake. The
second example uses hungry again to describe the subject we.
Last night, a time indicator, refers to a past action as expressed
by the verbs was and were.

4.13 Non-Action Verb To Have as Main Verb
The helping verb to have can also act as a main verb. When
used alone, it names what the subject owns or holds.
Today: Present Tense

Yesterday: Present Perfect
I‘ve
studied Helping Verb to have
hard.
I’ve
you’ve
studied
he has, she has, it has
we’ve
you’ve
they’ve

I have a
brother.
Main Verb to have
I have
you have
he has, she has, it has
we have
you have
they have

The verb form have
uses the common
contraction of ’ve.

Have and has are forms
of the main verb to have.
Contractions for have as
a main verb are not usually
used in the present tense.

Have and has are forms of the
helping verb to have, which is
combined with the main verb,
in this case, studied.

In the present tense, “have” and “has” are
the main verb forms of “to have.”

82

Yesterday: Past Tense
The past tense form of “to have” as a main verb is “had.”
Main Verb to have
I had
you had
he had, she had, it had
we had
you had
they had

Ben had a pet.

The verb form had is used with all subjects. The name Ben
is the subject of the example sentence above. The form had
indicates that he no longer owns a pet. It indicates a past event:
The action of owning a dog has ended.

4.14 Main and Helping Verbs in Questions
and Statements
Questions
There are two main kinds of questions in English:
Questions beginning with a main or helping verb
Questions beginning with a question marker
For both kinds of questions, you will need to learn about word
order in statements and questions.
Questions Beginning with a Main or Helping Verb
The following illustration shows the subject-position change that
often occurs in questions.
Regular Word Order

Inverted Word Order

Subject Verb

Helping Verb Subject Main Verb

OR

Subject

OR

Helping Main
Verb
Verb

Main Verb Subject

The Subje