Monday, 5 December 2011

Cleaning up that grammar #3

Parts of speech, articles and determiners.
Nouns, pronouns, verbs ect will be described in more detail in seperate posts.

Parts of speech:

Every word in the English language can be put into categories according to it’s ‘grammatical functions’. A sentence is made up of these grammatical parts, hence the title parts of speech. In general there are eight parts of speech: interjection, conjunction, preposition, noun, pronoun, verb. adverb and adjective. There is a little poem that teaches about the parts of speech, you may have heard it before:


Every name is called a NOUN,
As field and fountain, street and town;

In place of noun the PRONOUN stands
As he and she can clap their hands;

The ADJECTIVE describes a thing,
As magic wand and bridal ring;

The VERB means action, something done-
To read, to write, to jump, to run;

How things are done, the ADVERBS tell,
As quickly, badly, slowly, well;

The PREPOSITION shows relation,
As in the street, or at the station;

CONJUNCTIONS join, in many ways,
Sentences, words, or phrase and phrase;

The INTERJECTION cries out, “Hark!
I need and explanation mark!”

Through poetry, we learn how each
of these make up THE PARTS OF SPEECH.

I say in general because there are a few words- such as a, an and the- that can be categorized under articles or determiners.

Each of these parts of speech add a certain meaning to the sentence they are in. They modify or qualify each other. Here is a sentence:

A black cat on a tall, brick wall slept lazily, and boy was it tired!

The words in the sentence paint a clear picture by limiting and clarifying the meaning. Let me explain: in the above sentence I am not talking about cats in general, I am talking about one cat in particular.

Article - (I am not talking about cats in general; I’m talking about one cat.)
Adjective - (The cat isn’t any colour, it’s black.)
Verb - (It’s not just lying there, it’s sleeping)
Adverb - (It was sleeping lazily.)
Preposition - (The cat is sleeping on a wall)
Conjunction - (and joins another piece of information or though onto the sentence.)
Interjection - (Boy in this sentence is an interjection that allows us to use the exclamation mark at the end.)
Pronoun - (It refers back to the noun, meaning the cat.)

Wasn’t that better than ‘A cat slept,’?

Articles and determiners:

As I mentioned earlier the words a, an and the are articles.
If we want to talk about a noun in general we use a or an don’t we? (E.G. a dog, an animal.) Well, those articles are called indefinite articles for this reason. If we want to be more specific- or definite- then we use the word the; for example, the dog.

But guess what: this rule also has an exception.

If we want to be general then we don’t use a we use the:

The polar bear is an endangered species.  -  all polar bears, not one

So what is the rule for using the articles a and an, you ask?
If the noun/adjective begins in a vowel we use an, however, if the noun/adjective begins with a consonant we use a. Simples?

Well, sort of. (Sorry!)
If the pronunciation is unusual then the rule doesn’t apply. For example; in the word unique we pronounce the u as a yoo sound not an uh sound. Therefore, we don’t say an unique person we say a unique person. Other examples are FA cup (eff-a cup) and the disappearing h in honourable!

There is a such thing as a zero article. This is a term used when there isn’t an article used and it’s even more general than using the instead of a. Zero articles are used when plurals or mass nouns are involved. For example: women, dogs, maps, elephants, bananas and so on and so forth. (I like to use non-related words…)

If there is a pronoun or proper noun in use then you also don’t need articles. (E.G I am, She is, JK Rowling is.)

Before you go, I’ll sum up the three different determiner types! Promise it really will be a summary!

Possessive nouns- Tell us what belongs/is related to who. These are my, his, her, its, our, your, their. Careful with their use as it can get confusing without specificity! (E.G. Both of the girls liked her new handbag. Who’s handbag? Did they both have one or did they both like one girls?)

Demonstratives- These let us know the distance/time the speaker/writer is talking about. The words are: this, that, these, those. If something is father away/past tense then it is referred to as that or those (if being non-specific) but if it is closer/present tense it is called this or these. (E.G. These chocolates [that I have in front of me now] or those chocolates [ that I ate already/are in the past/are over there].)
P.S these can also be used as demonstrative pronouns.

Quantifiers- Words such as no, none of, neither, either, both, few, little, half ect. These go before the noun to tell us the quantity of something. (E.G. A few sugars, None of the above, Half the team.)


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