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Glossary of grammatical terms
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Glossary of grammatical terms

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  • 1. UCI Extension Paper-Based TOEFL Workshop Glossary of Grammatical Terms Structure and Written Expression Section Longman Preparation Course for the TOEFL Test Tutorial prepared by Marla Yoshida 1
  • 2. active voice: The form of a verb that is used when the subject is doing the action. I am reading a book. We bought some sandwiches, went to the park, and had a picnic. adjective: A word that describes or gives more information about a noun. Delicious chocolate. An interesting story. Three big, ugly, scary dogs. adjective clause: A clause that acts as an adjective. It describes or gives more information about a noun. Adjective clauses are also called relative clauses. The whales that live at Sea World are trained to do tricks. Whales, which are mammals, breathe air into their lungs. adjective clause connector: A word that introduces a relative clause/adjective clause: who, which, that, whom, whose. An adjective clause connector is also called a relative pronoun. The students who go to this school have to wear uniforms. The book which he wrote is boring. adverb: A word that describes or gives more information about a verb, an adjective or another adverb. You’ll learn easily. We study often. It’s rather hot. He ran very quickly. 2
  • 3. adverb clause: A clause that often answers the questions: When? Why? How? Where? An adverb clause begins with a subordinating conjunction. After we finish our homework, we’ll watch TV. Will you help me if I don’t understand this? appositive: A noun or noun phrase that comes before or after a noun to rename it or give more information about it. Irvine, a very safe city, is a good place to live. My brother Bob wants to be a doctor. article: The words a, an, and the. Articles are a special type of adjective. They show whether someone is talking about a particular thing (the definite article: the) or just anything (the indefinite article: a or an). auxiliary verb: A verb, such as forms of be, have, or do, that is used with another verb to change its tense or form. Auxiliary verbs are also called helping verbs. They are studying now. This car was made in Japan. We have done our homework. Do you like soccer? When did the class start? clause: A group of words that has a subject and a verb. This sentence has two clauses: [I took a nap] [because I was sleepy.] 3
  • 4. Conditional sentence: A conditional sentence has two clauses. One usually starts with if and tells a condition or possibility. The other clause can start with then (or without then), and it tells a result. There are three kinds of conditional sentences: Real or possible conditionals in the present/future (also called the first conditional) tell about something that might actually happen. If I have time, then I’ll go to the mall. If you hurry, you will be in time for class. Unreal or impossible conditionals in the present/future (also called second conditional) tell about things that are not true. If I were you, I would study harder. (I’m not you.) If we lived in Alaska, then we could go skiing all year. (We don’t live in Alaska.) Unreal or impossible conditionals in the past (also called third conditional) tell about things that were not true in the past. If I had known the bank was closed, I wouldn’t have bothered to go there. (I didn’t know.) If you had lived 1,000 years ago, then you couldn’t have had a computer or cell phone. (You didn’t live then.) 4
  • 5. conjunction: A word that joins two nouns, two verbs, two clauses, etc. The two things that are joined must be of the same type. Bob and Tom are studying. Do you want coffee or tea? [I’m sleepy] and [I want to take a nap]. [He was late] because [he missed the bus]. conjunctive adverb (transition word): One kind of word that joins two clauses, like therefore, however, or otherwise. It was my brother’s birthday; therefore, I bought him a present. coordinate connector (coordinating conjunction): One kind of word that joins two clauses, like and, but, or so. In these sentences, both clauses seem equally important. It was my brother’s birthday, so I bought him a present. dependent clause: A clause that can’t stand on its own as a complete sentence, usually because it begins with a subordinating conjunction. Dependent clauses are also called subordinate clauses. I’ll take a nap because I’m sleepy. Will you help me if I don’t understand this? direct object: A noun or pronoun that comes after a verb to show who or what receives the action. The children played soccer. I don’t know him. 5
  • 6. gerund: The -ing form of a verb when it is used as a noun. Playing soccer is fun. I like reading books. helping verb: A verb, such as forms of be, have, or do, that is used with another verb to change its tense or form. Helping verbs are also called auxiliary verbs. They are studying now. This car was made in Japan. We have done our homework. Do you like soccer? When did the class start? independent clause: A clause that can stand on its own as a complete sentence. An independent clause is also called a main clause. I’m sleepy. I’ll take a nap because I’m sleepy. infinitive: To + the plain form of a verb. Do you want to go to the movies? To err is human; to forgive is divine. inverted subject and verb: In some kinds of sentences, we change the positions of the subject and the verb, so that the subject comes after the verb or the helping verb. Can you help me? Never have I seen such a mess. There are many beautiful places in California. Had I known you needed help, I would have come earlier. 6
  • 7. linking verb: A verb that links, or joins two ideas. We can think of it as being like an equal sign ( = ). The most common linking verb is be, but some other verbs can be linking verbs too: seem, appear, become, feel, get, grow, look, smell, sound, stay, turn. The weather was warm, but then it turned cold. We got tired. Try to stay healthy. main clause: A clause that can stand on its own as a complete sentence. A main clause is also called an independent clause. I’m sleepy. I’ll take a nap because I’m sleepy. modals: A group of special verbs that usually have another verb after them: Can, could, will, would, may, might, shall, should, must. Ducks can swim. Would you help me? 7
  • 8. nonrestrictive adjective clause: An adjective clause that doesn’t restrict the number of things a noun refers to; it just gives more information about the noun. We don’t need the information in it to understand what the whole sentence is about. When we say “Irvine, which is a safe city, is a good place to live,” we’re just giving more information about Irvine. There’s only one Irvine, and that’s the one we’re talking about. Nonrestrictive adjective clauses have commas around them. (See also restrictive adjective clause.) noun: A word that names a person, place, thing, or idea. Student, city, table, honesty. noun clause: A clause that can be used in the same way as a noun, for example, as a subject or object of a sentence. [That the world is round] is a well-known fact. I don’t know [who you are]. noun phrase: A noun plus its modifiers. The diligent student. A big city. That expensive table. 8
  • 9. object of a preposition: A noun or pronoun that comes after a preposition to complete its meaning. He went (to the mall) (in the morning) (without his wallet). paired conjunctions: Two conjunctions that commonly occur together, like both…and…, either… or…, neither… nor…, not only… but also…. Both cats and dogs make good pets. I’ll order either a salad or a sandwich. parallel structure: In some situations, two things that are linked or used together must be the same grammatically. Dogs and cats make good pets. (Both are nouns.) It’s easier to read a book than to write one. (Both are infinitives.) passive voice: The form of a verb that is used when the subject is receiving the action. The person or thing that is doing the action can be in a prepositional phrase beginning with by. This portrait was painted (by Vincent Van Gogh). Oranges are produced in central California. 9
  • 10. past participle: A form of a verb that can be used to make perfect tenses or the passive voice. When you memorize verbs, it’s the third part that you say: give, gave, given. The past participle of a regular verb ends in ed: walked, studied, robbed. The past participle of an irregular verb is hard to predict. You just have to memorize it: gone, eaten, hit, been. A past participle is sometimes used as an adjective: a broken window, a bowl made in California. plural form: A form of a word that shows there are two or more. Chairs, elephants, dishes, children, they, we. predicate adjective: An adjective that comes after a linking verb to complete its meaning. Elizabeth is intelligent. That cake looks delicious. predicate noun: A noun that comes after a linking verb to complete its meaning. (Predicate nouns are not considered objects.) Elizabeth is a teacher. Bob will become the president of the company. preposition: A word that shows a relationship between a noun and other things in the sentence. The chair in the corner is comfortable. Let’s go to the beach. 10
  • 11. prepositional phrase: A preposition and the noun that comes after it (its object) together are called a prepositional phrase. The chair in the corner is comfortable. Let’s go to the beach. present participle: A form of a verb that ends with -ing. It can be used to make progressive tenses. The children are sleeping. I was waiting for you. A present participle can be used as an adjective. Don’t wake the sleeping child. The students taking a test are tired. It can also be used as a noun (a gerund). Swimming is fun. pronoun: A word that can replace a noun, like he, they, we, us, me, or it. Words like something, nobody, and each other are also pronouns. relative clause: A clause that acts as an adjective. It describes or gives more information about a noun. Relative clauses are also called adjective clauses. The whales that live at Sea World are trained to do tricks. Whales, which are mammals, breathe air into their lungs. 11
  • 12. relative pronoun: A word that introduces a relative clause/adjective clause: who, which, that, whom, whose. A relative pronoun is also called an adjective clause connector. The students who go to this school have to wear uniforms. The book which he wrote is dull. restrictive adjective clause: An adjective clause that restricts, or limits, the number of things the sentence is talking about. We need the information in it to understand what the whole sentence is about. When we say “Cities that are safe are good places to live,” we’re not saying that all cities are good places to live, only cities that are safe. Restrictive adjective clauses do not have commas around them. (See also nonrestrictive adjective clause.) singular form: A form of a word that shows there is just one. Chair, elephant, dish, child, he, she, I. subject: A noun or pronoun that tells what a sentence is about. In an active sentence, it usually tells who or what did something. [People should be careful] when [they’re crossing the street]. 12
  • 13. subordinate clause: A clause that can’t stand on its own as a complete sentence, usually because it begins with a subordinating conjunction. Subordinate clauses are also called dependent clauses. I’ll take a nap because I’m sleepy. Will you help me if I don’t understand this? subordinating conjunction: A word that joins two clauses, like before, after, because, if, or when. In these sentences, the clause that starts with a subordinating conjunction seems less important; the other clause is the main focus. I bought my brother a present because it was his birthday. verb: A word that describes an action or a state of being: eat, play, think, be, exist. The main verb of a clause tells what the subject does or is. The gardener planted some roses. The roses are beautiful. I wish I had some beautiful roses. verb agreement: A verb needs to match its subject. A singular subject needs a singular verb. The library is full of books. A plural subject needs a plural verb. The libraries are full of books. A third-person singular subject in the present tense needs an –s ending. Ice cream tastes delicious. 13
  • 14. verb tenses: Verbs can have different forms to show when something happened, whether it lasted a long time or a short time, etc. These forms are called verb tenses. Verb Tense Simple present Present progressive (present continuous) Present perfect Example I often walk to school. He often walks to school. I am walking now. He is walking now. I have already walked five miles. He has already walked five miles. Present perfect I have been walking for progressive (past perfect an hour. He has been continuous) walking for an hour. Meaning* A habitual or repeating action. A current action. An action that began in the past but continues to be true. A past action (indefinite time) that could happen again.) An action that began in the past but is continuing now (with emphasis on the fact that it is still happening. * Explanations of meanings are from Keys to Teaching Grammar to English Language Learners by Keith S. Folse. University of Michigan Press, 2009. 14 14
  • 15. Verb Tense Simple past Past progressive (past continuous) Past perfect Example I walked to school yesterday. He walked to school yesterday. While I was walking to school, I stopped at Starbucks. I had walked to school many times before I bought a car. I had been walking for Past perfect progressive two hours by the time I (past perfect continuous) stopped. Meaning* A single past event. A past action that was happening (when it was interrupted by another). A past action that was completed before a second past action. An action that began in the past before a second past action (with emphasis on the duration of the action). * Explanations of meanings are from Keys to Teaching Grammar to English Language Learners by Keith S. Folse. University of Michigan Press, 2009. 15
  • 16. Verb Tense Future with be going to Future with will Future progressive (future continuous) Future perfect Future perfect progressive (future perfect continuous) Example Meaning* An event in the future, I am going to walk soon. especially one already He is going to walk soon. planned. An event in the future, I will walk tomorrow. especially one that is I’ll walk with you if you scheduled or expresses want me to. strong desire to do something. I will be walking at 10:00 An action that will be tonight. taking place at some He will be walking too. point in the future. By the time I graduate, I An action that will be will have read 100 finished by a specified textbooks. time in the future. How long an action has By the time I get to been happening at a school, I will have been future point; focus is on walking for an hour. the duration. * Explanations of meanings are from Keys to Teaching Grammar to English Language Learners by Keith S. Folse. University of Michigan Press, 2009. 16 16