English grammar

The West Germanic languages

Set of structural rules of the English language.

- English grammar

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English language

West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, originally spoken by the inhabitants of early medieval England.

The West Germanic languages
The opening to the Old English epic poem Beowulf, handwritten in half-uncial script: Hƿæt ƿē Gārde/na ingēar dagum þēod cyninga / þrym ge frunon... "Listen! We of the Spear-Danes from days of yore have heard of the glory of the folk-kings..."
Graphic representation of the Great Vowel Shift, showing how the pronunciation of the long vowels gradually shifted, with the high vowels i: and u: breaking into diphthongs and the lower vowels each shifting their pronunciation up one level
Braj Kachru's Three Circles of English
Countries in which English Language is a Mandatory or an Optional Subject
In the English sentence The cat sat on the mat, the subject is the cat (a noun phrase), the verb is sat, and on the mat is a prepositional phrase (composed of a noun phrase the mat headed by the preposition on). The tree describes the structure of the sentence.
Map showing the main dialect regions in the UK and Ireland
Rhoticity dominates in North American English. The Atlas of North American English found over 50% non-rhoticity, though, in at least one local white speaker in each U.S. metropolitan area designated here by a red dot. Non-rhotic African American Vernacular English pronunciations may be found among African Americans regardless of location.

Modern English grammar is the result of a gradual change from a typical Indo-European dependent-marking pattern, with a rich inflectional morphology and relatively free word order, to a mostly analytic pattern with little inflection, and a fairly fixed subject–verb–object word order.

Preposition and postposition

Prepositions and postpositions, together called adpositions (or broadly, in English, simply prepositions), are a class of words used to express spatial or temporal relations (in, under, towards, before) or mark various semantic roles (of, for).

A diagram showing some of the posited English syntactic categories

This refers to the situation in Latin and Greek (and in English), where such words are placed before their complement (except sometimes in Ancient Greek), and are hence "pre-positioned".

Part of speech

Category of words (or, more generally, of lexical items) that have similar grammatical properties.

A diagram showing some of the posited English syntactic categories

Works of English grammar generally follow the pattern of the European tradition as described above, except that participles are now usually regarded as forms of verbs rather than as a separate part of speech, and numerals are often conflated with other parts of speech: nouns (cardinal numerals, e.g., "one", and collective numerals, e.g., "dozen"), adjectives (ordinal numerals, e.g., "first", and multiplier numerals, e.g., "single") and adverbs (multiplicative numerals, e.g., "once", and distributive numerals, e.g., "singly").

Standard English

The West Germanic languages

In an English-speaking country, Standard English (SE) is the variety of English that has undergone substantial regularisation and is associated with formal schooling, language assessment, and official print publications, such as public service announcements and newspapers of record, etc. SE is local to nowhere: its grammatical and lexical components are no longer regionally marked, although many of them originated in different, non-adjacent dialects, and it has very little of the variation found in spoken or earlier written varieties of English.

Clause

Constituent that comprises a semantic predicand and a semantic predicate.

A conversation in American Sign Language

However, the subject is sometimes unvoiced if it is retrievable from context, especially in null-subject language but also in other languages, including English instances of the imperative mood.

Infinitive

Linguistics term for certain verb forms existing in many languages, most often used as non-finite verbs.

A single-word verb in Spanish contains information about time (past, present, future), person and number. The process of grammatically modifying a verb to express this information is called conjugation.

(Infinitives are negated by simply preceding them with not.

Imperative mood

Grammatical mood that forms a command or request.

A single-word verb in Spanish contains information about time (past, present, future), person and number. The process of grammatically modifying a verb to express this information is called conjugation.

An example of a verb used in the imperative mood is the English phrase "Go."

Perfect (grammar)

Verb form that indicates that an action or circumstance occurred earlier than the time under consideration, often focusing attention on the resulting state rather than on the occurrence itself.

A single-word verb in Spanish contains information about time (past, present, future), person and number. The process of grammatically modifying a verb to express this information is called conjugation.

In the grammar of some modern languages, particularly of English, the perfect may be analyzed as an aspect that is independent of tense – the form that is traditionally just called the perfect ("I have done") is then called the present perfect, while the form traditionally called the pluperfect ("I had done") is called the past perfect.

Future tense

Verb form that generally marks the event described by the verb as not having happened yet, but expected to happen in the future.

A generative parse tree: the sentence is divided into a noun phrase (subject), and a verb phrase which includes the object. This is in contrast to structural and functional grammar which consider the subject and object as equal constituents.

Questions and negatives are formed from all of the above constructions in the regular manner: see Questions and Negation in the English grammar article.

Comparison (grammar)

Feature in the morphology or syntax of some languages whereby adjectives and adverbs are inflected to indicate the relative degree of the property they define exhibited by the word or phrase they modify or describe.

Amarna letter EA 19, Para 2, (last line): "...the Gods and (our Kingly relations), forever"..."may it be, (one verb, (5 signs, e-le-né-ep-pi)), I-n-t-e-r-R-e-l-a-t-e-d-!." (The first sign "e" is rubbed off; only a space-(depression) locates it.)-(high resolution expandible photo)

The usual degrees of comparison are the positive, which simply denotes a property (as with the English words big and fully); the comparative, which indicates greater degree (as bigger and more fully); and the superlative, which indicates greatest degree (as biggest and most fully).