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How to identify the basics of English grammar

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Recognising different types of words, sentences and conditionals in context can help you improve your grammar.

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Do you know how to identify different types of words, sentences and conditionals in English?

ABC Education Learn English spoke to Christopher Lynch from Trinity College, Melbourne about grammar tips for English language learners. According to Christopher, recognising and understanding grammar "in context" is one of the best ways to improve your grammar.

Christopher defined and gave examples of different types of words, sentences and conditionals in English. Knowing this information will help you recognise the correct use of grammar when you are reading and listening in English.

Types of words

In English, there are a number of different types of words (also known as 'parts of speech').

Christopher says that the following are the most useful for English language learners to know:

Definition Example
Noun A name for a place, person, thing or idea "Ball"
Verb Doing words that represent an action or state of being "Throw" or "am"
Pronoun Takes the place of, or stands for, a noun "He" or "she"
Adverb Changes the meaning of an adjective, verb or other adverb. Adverbs can refer to place, time, manner, degree, certainty or frequency. "Cheerful" or "always"
Adjective Describes a noun or pronoun "Beautiful" or "cool"
Preposition Comes before a noun and tells us where a noun is in time or space "Near" or "by"
Determiner Comes before a noun and tells us what kind of noun we are referring to "A" or "my" or "these"
Conjunction Joins together clauses or sentences "And" or "but"
Folded newspaper and laptop with black screen
Do you read the news online or do you prefer the hard copy? Either way, can you try to identify sentence types and conditionals in the news?

Pixabay CC: Simon

Types of sentences

Definition Example
Simple One independent clause "I love you."
Compound Two independent clauses joined by a conjunction or coordinator (such as 'for') "I love you...but I don't like..."
Complex One independent clause and one dependent clause "I love...because it is fun..."
Compound complex At least two independent clauses, joined by a coordinator (such as 'but'), and a dependent clause "I love...but I don't like...because..."

Conditionals

Conditionals refer to both "imaginary situations" and "situations that are true," says Christopher.

Definition Example
Zero conditional A situation or thing that is always true — such as scientific rules "If you look, you see."
First conditional A situation or thing that we expect to happen but it is not 100 per cent certain that it will always be true "If you look, you will see."
Second conditional An imaginary situation, or a situation that is less likely to be true "If you looked, you would see."
Third conditional An imaginary situation in the past "If you had looked, you would have seen."

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