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Английский FAQ 
Welcome to the Английский FAQ In this area of our site, you will find the answers to the frequently asked questions, as well as answers to How do I and Did you know questions. Please feel free to post a comment on any Q&A.
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 The Parts of Speech
Traditional grammar classifies words based on eight parts of speech: the verb, the noun, the pronoun, the adjective, the adverb, the preposition, the conjunction, and the interjection.

Each part of speech explains not what the word is, but how the word is used. In fact, the same word can be a noun in one sentence and a verb or adjective in the next.
8 What is an Interjection?
 The Parts of The Sentence
The parts of the sentence are a set of terms for describing how people construct sentences from smaller pieces. There is not a direct correspondence between the parts of the sentence and the parts of speech -- the subject of a sentence, for example, could be a noun, a pronoun, or even an entire phrase or clause. Like the parts of speech, however, the parts of the sentence form part of the basic vocabulary of grammar, and it is important that you take some time to learn and understand them.
2 What Are Objects and Complements?
 Punctuation
The following sections will help you understand and use different types of punctuation more effectively in your writing. This chapter begins with the comma, the punctuation mark which usually causes writers the most trouble, before turning to other types of punctuation.
7 What is The Dash?
 Using Pronouns
Pronouns connect people and things into sentences. Rather than saying a person's name, you can say 'they' or 'I'. This does remove information about the person or thing referenced and can make the sentence more general.
2 Tricky Points of Pronoun Usage
 Using Verbs
The verb is perhaps the most important part of the sentence. A verb or compound verb asserts something about the subject of the sentence and expresses actions, events, or states of being
16 ASK is one of the most common verbs in English
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Consider these examples:

clause
cows eat grass

This example is a clause, because it contains the subject "cows" and the predicate "eat grass."

phrase
cows eating grass

What about "cows eating grass"? This noun phrase could be a subject, but it has no predicate attached to it: the adjective phrase "eating grass" show which cows the writer is referring to, but there is nothing here to show why the writer is mentioning cows in the first place.

clause
cows eating grass are visible from the highway

This is a complete clause again. The subject "cows eating grass" and the predicate "are visible from the highway" make up a complete thought.

clause
Run!

This single-word command is also a clause, even though it does seem to have a subject. With a direct command, it is not necessary to include the subject, since it is obviously the person or people you are talking to: in other words, the clause really reads "[You] run!". You should not usually use direct commands in your essays, except in quotations.


A phrase may function as a verb, noun, an adverb, or an adjective.

Verb Phrases

A verb phrase consists of a verb, its direct and/or indirect objects, and any adverb, adverb phrases, or adverb clauses which happen to modify it. The predicate of a clause or sentence is always a verb phrase:

Corinne is trying to decide whether she wants to go to medical school or to go to law school.
He did not have all the ingredients the recipe called for; therefore, he decided to make something else.
After she had learned to drive, Alice felt more independent.
We will meet at the library at 3:30 p.m.

Noun Phrases

A noun phrase consists of a pronoun or noun with any associated modifiers, including adjectives, adjective phrases, adjective clauses, and other nouns in the possessive case.

Like a noun, a noun phrase can act as a subject, as the object of a verb or verbal, as a subject or object complement, or as the object of a preposition, as in the following examples:

subject
Small children often insist that they can do it by themselves.
object of a verb
To read quickly and accurately is Eugene's goal.
object of a preposition
The arctic explorers were caught unawares by the spring breakup.
subject complement
Frankenstein is the name of the scientist not the monster.
object complement
I consider Loki my favorite cat.

Noun Phrases using Verbals

Since some verbals -- in particular, the gerund and the infinitive -- can act as nouns, these also can form the nucleus of a noun phrase:

Ice fishing is a popular winter pass-time.

However, since verbals are formed from verbs, they can also take direct objects and can be modified by adverbs. A gerund phrase or infinitive phrase, then, is a noun phrase consisting of a verbal, its modifiers (both adjectives and adverbs), and its objects:

Running a marathon in the Summer is thirsty work.
I am planning to buy a house next month.

Adjective Phrases

An adjective phrase is any phrase which modifies a noun or pronoun. You often construct adjective phrases using participles or prepositions together with their objects:

I was driven mad by the sound of my neighbour's constant piano practising.

In this sentence, the prepositional phrase "of my neighbour's constant piano practising" acts as an adjective modifying the noun "sound."

My father-in-law locked his keys in the trunk of a borrowed car.

Similarly in this sentence, the prepositional phrase "of a borrowed car" acts as an adjective modifying the noun "trunk."

We saw Peter dashing across the quadrangle.

Here the participle phrase "dashing across the quadrangle" acts as an adjective describing the proper noun "Peter."

We picked up the records broken in the scuffle.

In this sentence, the participle phrase "broken in the scuffle" modifies the noun phrase "the records."

Adverb Phrases

A prepositional phrase can also be an adverb phrase, functioning as an adverb, as in the following sentences.

She bought some spinach when she went to the corner store.

In this sentence, the prepositional phrase "to the corner store" acts as an adverb modifying the verb "went."

Lightning flashed brightly in the night sky.

In this sentence, the prepositional phrase "in the night sky" functions as a adverb modifying the verb "flashed."

In early October, Giselle planted twenty tulip bulbs; unfortunately, squirrels ate the bulbs and none bloomed.

In this sentence, the prepositional phrase "in early October" acts as an adverb modifying the entire sentence.

We will meet at the library at 3:30 P.M.

In this sentence, the prepositional phrase "at 3:30 P.M." acts as an adverb modifying the verb phrase "will meet."

The dogs were capering about the clown's feet.

In this sentence, the prepositional phrase "about the clown's feet" acts as an adverb modifying the verb phrase "were capering."


A phrase is a group of two or more grammatically linked words without a subject and predicate -- a group of grammatically-linked words with a subject and predicate is called a clause.

The group "teacher both students and" is not a phrase because the words have no grammatical relationship to one another. Similarly, the group "bay the across" is not a phrase.

In both cases, the words need to be rearranged in order to create phrases. The group "both teachers and students" and the group "across the bay" are both phrases.

You use a phrase to add information to a sentence and it can perform the functions of a subject, an object, a subject complement or object complement, a verb, an adjective, or an adverb.

The highlighted words in each of the following sentences make up a phrase:

She bought some spinach when she went to the corner store.
Lightning flashed brightly in the night sky.
They heard high pitched cries in the middle of the night.
In early October, Giselle planted twenty tulip bulbs; unfortunately, squirrels ate the bulbs and none bloomed.
Small children often insist that they can do it by themselves.


Modifiers ]


You have a certain amount of freedom in deciding where to place your modifiers in a sentence:

We rowed the boat vigorously.
We vigorously rowed the boat.
Vigorously we rowed the boat.

However, you must be careful to avoid misplaced modifiers -- modifiers that are positioned so that they appear to modify the wrong thing.

In fact, you can improve your writing quite a bit by paying attention to basic problems like misplaced modifiers and dangling modifiers.

Misplaced Words

In general, you should place single-word modifiers near the word or words they modify, especially when a reader might think that they modify something different in the sentence. Consider the following sentence:

[WRONG] After our conversation lessons, we could understand the Spanish spoken by our visitors from Madrid easily.

Do we understand the Spanish easily, or do the visitors speak it easily? This revision eliminates the confusion:

[RIGHT] We could easily understand the Spanish spoken by our visitors from Madrid.

It is particularly important to be careful about where you put limiting modifiers. These are words like "almost," "hardly," "nearly," "just," "only," "merely," and so on. Many writers regularly misplace these modifiers. You can accidentally change the entire meaning of a sentence if you place these modifiers next to the wrong word:

[WRONG] Randy has nearly annoyed every professor he has had. (he hasn't "nearly annoyed" them)
[WRONG] We almost ate all of the Thanksgiving turkey. (we didn't "almost eat" it)
[RIGHT] Randy has annoyed nearly every professor he has had.
[RIGHT] We ate almost all of the Thanksgiving turkey.

Misplaced Phrases and Clauses

It is important that you place the modifying phrase or clause as close as possible to the word or words it modifies:

[WRONG] By accident, he poked the little girl with his finger in the eye.
[WRONG] I heard that my roommate intended to throw a surprise party for me while I was outside her bedroom window.
[WRONG] After the wedding, Ian told us at his stag party that he would start behaving like a responsible adult.
[RIGHT] By accident, he poked the little girl in the eye with his finger.
[RIGHT] While I was outside her bedroom window, I heard that my roommate intended to throw a surprise party for me.
[RIGHT] Ian told us at his stag party that he would start behaving like a responsible adult after the wedding.

Squinting Modifiers

A squinting modifier is an ambiguously placed modifier that can modify either the word before it or the word after it. In other words, it is "squinting" in both directions at the same time:

[WRONG] Defining your terms clearly strengthens your argument. (does defining "clearly strengthen" or does "defining clearly" strengthen?)
[RIGHT] Defining your terms will clearly strengthen your argument. OR A clear definition of your terms strengthens your argument.

Split Infinitives

The infinitive form of the verb consists of the word "to" followed by the base form of the verb: "to be," "to serve," "to chop," etc. Inserting a word or words between the "to" and the verb of an infinitive creates what is known as a split infinitive. Prescriptive grammarians, who knew Latin grammar better than English, once decreed that a split infinitive was an error, but now it is growing increasingly acceptable even in formal writing. Nevertheless, some careful writers still prefer to avoid splitting infinitives altogether.

In general, you should avoid placing long, disruptive modifiers between the "to" and the verb of an infinitive. However, you must use your judgement when it comes to single-word modifiers. Sometimes a sentence becomes awkward if a single-word modifier is placed anywhere but between the elements of the infinitive:

[WRONG] The marketing team voted to, before they launched the new software, run an anticipatory ad campaign. (disruptive -- the infinitive should not be split)
[RIGHT] The marketing team voted to run an anticipatory ad campaign before they launched the new software.

Dangling Modifiers

The dangling modifier, a persistent and frequent grammatical problem in writing, is often (though not always) located at the beginning of a sentence. A dangling modifier is usually a phrase or an elliptical clause -- a dependent clause whose subject and verb are implied rather than expressed -- that functions as an adjective but does not modify any specific word in the sentence, or (worse) modifies the wrong word. Consider the following example:

Raised in Nova Scotia, it is natural to miss the smell of the sea.

The introductory phrase in the above sentence looks as if it is meant to modify a person or persons, but no one is mentioned in the sentence. Such introductory adjective phrases, because of their position, automatically modify the first noun or pronoun that follows the phrase -- in this case, "it." The connection in this case is illogical because "it" was not raised in Nova Scotia. You could revise the sentence in a number of ways:

For a person raised in Nova Scotia, it is natural to miss the smell of the sea. (the phrase no longer functions as an adjective)
Raised in Nova Scotia, I often miss the smell of the sea. (the phrase functions as an adjective but now automatically modifies "I," a logical connection)

A dangling modifier can also appear when you place an elliptical clause improperly:

Although nearly finished, we left the play early because we were worried about our sick cat.

The way this sentence is structured, the clause "Although nearly finished" illogically modifies "we," the pronoun directly following the clause. An easy way to rectify the problem is to re-insert the subject and verb that are understood in the elliptical clause:

Although the play was nearly finished, we left early because we were worried about our sick cat.


Modifiers ]


You should use the comparative form of an adjective or adverb to compare exactly two things. You can form the comparative by adding the suffix "-er" to the modifier (for some short words) or by using the word "more" with the modifier:

Of the two designs, the architect is convinced that the city will select the more experimental one. (comparing two designs)
Now that it is March, the days are getting longer. (longer now than before)

You should use the superlative form to compare three or more things. You can form the superlative by adding the suffix "-est" to the modifier (for some short words) or by using the word "most" with the modifier:

This is definitely the smartest, wittiest, most imaginative comic strip I have ever seen. (implying that I have seen more than two)

Note: if you are not certain, you should check a dictionary to see which words take use "more" and "most" and which words take the suffixes "-er" and "-est."

Common Problems with the Comparative and Superlative

There are certain modifiers which you cannot logically use in the comparative and superlative forms. Adjectives like "perfect" and "unique," for instance, express absolute conditions and do not allow for degrees of comparison. Something cannot be more perfect than another thing: it is either perfect or not perfect.

You should also avoid using a double comparison -- that is, using both a suffix and an adverb to indicate the comparative or superlative:

[WRONG] I am convinced that my poodle is more smarter than your dachshund.
[WRONG] Laurel and Hardy are the most funniest slapstick comedians in film history.
[RIGHT] I am convinced that my poodle is smarter than your dachshund.
[RIGHT] Laurel and Hardy are the funniest slapstick comedians in film history.

Similarly, although the double negative -- the use of two negative words together for a single negative idea -- is common in speech and has a long history in the English language, you should avoid using it in formal writing:

[WRONG] We decided there wasn't no point in pursuing our research further.
[WRONG] I can't get no satisfaction.
[RIGHT] We decided there wasn't any point in pursuing our research further. OR We decided there was no point in pursuing our research further.
[RIGHT] I can't get any satisfaction. OR I can get no satisfaction.

Double negatives involving "not" and "no" are fairly easy to spot and fix. However, some other adverbs -- for example, "hardly," "scarcely," "barely" -- imply the negative, and you should not use them with another negative:

[WRONG] Even though he has lived in Toronto for four years, he does not have hardly any friends there.
[RIGHT] Even though he has lived in Toronto for four years, he has hardly any friends there. OR Even though he has lived in Toronto for four years, he does not have many friends there.


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