UCL WIKI

UCL Logo
Child pages
  • Grammatical Terminology
Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata


Here is the list of grammatical words one has to know when learning a foreign language.

Noun

Nouns are words which refer to objects, concepts, places or people.

They may be definite (refer to specific instances) e.g. 'the man', 'this man', 'that man' or indefinite e.g. 'a man', men or 'some men'.

In many Western European, Slavonic and Northern Indian languages, nouns belong to genders. Nouns referring to men are usually masculine, those referring to women feminine and there may also be a neuter gender for things. Articles (the, a, an) and noun endings may change depending on the gender of a noun.

Some languages e.g. Dutch and some Scandinavian languages may also have a concept of common gender. This is where nouns which used to belong to different genders have been brought together into one gender. For example, in written Bokmål Norwegian the gender distinction is mainly between common and neuter nouns. Common nouns used to be either masculine or feminine and in spoken Bokmål you will still hear dedicated feminine endings.

The word pronoun is used to refer to grammatical words which stand for nouns. In the sentence She cries 'she' is a personal pronoun as it is standing in the place of a noun e.g. the girl.

Verb

Verbs are doing words e.g. go, speak, walk. They may also cover vaguer concepts e.g. be, have, become. They may change depending on person (I, you, he/she, we, you (plural), they) or by tense.

Here are some examples:

I walk to work. She is walk*ing* to work (both is and walking are verbs). We walk*ed* to work.

Walk is a regular verb. It has endings like -s, -ed and -ing and it's vowel never changes. Such verbs are sometimes called weak verbs.

I speak Norwegian. She speak*s* Swedish. We sp*o*ke Danish.
Speak is an irregular verb. It has the -s and -ing endings, but 'speaked' would be wrong. Verbs which involve vowel changes (like spoke and spoken) are sometimes called strong verbs.

The infinitive is the form of the verb one finds in the dictionary, usually ending in -e or a stressed vowel, e.g. å snakke or å tro. If you leave off å it is known as the bare infinitive.

Adjective

Adjectives describe objects, people or states.
The ball is red. There is a green ball.

Adverb

Adverbs describe verbs. In English they often end in -ly. Adverbs often tell you how people do things.
He ran quickly.

Preposition

Prepositions are usually small words indicating the roles of nouns in a sentence. In the sentence The book is on the table the word 'on' is a preposition indicating the location of the noun. Other common prepositions include to, with and at.

  • No labels