Grammar Strategies and Activities

When teaching grammar, always use charts and other visuals so students can see representations of grammar rules. Provide students with lots of examples. Vary your teaching between the two approaches for teaching grammar, the deductive and the inductive.

The deductive approach provides students with the grammar rules first, then examples, and is usually used with lower levels. The inductive approach encourages students to discover the rules on their own from examples provided by the teacher, and is usually  reserved for higher levels.

Whenever possible teach grammar in context. For example, if you want to teach the past tense, provide a reading that uses the past tense. Review the -ed form using verbs that occur in the reading as examples. Review any irregular verbs that might also occur in the reading.

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In general, nouns are used for the names of persons, places and things in English. There are specific categories of nouns. The following are some examples.

Proper Nouns

Proper nouns are the names of people, and titles. The names of the months, days of the week, and places are all examples of proper nouns. Proper nouns always begin with a capital letter.

names of people: John, Anna

months of the year: July, June, April

names of places: the United States, Japan, Germany

titles of people: President Obama, Dr. Oz, Ms. Mary Benet, Mr. Oak

titles of books and newspapers: The History of Spain, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal (Note that these proper nouns are italicized in regular text.)

Count Nouns

A count noun is a common noun that can change in quantity from singular to plural form and can co-occur with determiners such as every, several, and many.

Example: chair

There is a chair in the room.

There are three chairs in the room.

There are several chairs in the room.

Non-count (or Mass) Nouns

A non-count (or mass) noun cannot change quantity from singular to plural form. They can co-occur with pronouns.

Example: furniture

There is furniture in the room.

There is a lot of furniture in the room.

There is some furniture in the room.

Note: Some nouns can be countable and uncountable depending on the context of the sentence: Life (uncountable) is hard for poverty-stricken people. She lived a hard life on the streets.

Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns refer to things that cannot be touched, tasted, smelled, or seen: love, outrage, exertion, wrath, cheerfulness, kindness.


Directions:  Identify the proper  nouns in the following paragraph

*”Five miles out, nearly to the center of the Dead Sea, an international team of scientists has been drilling beneath the seabed to extract a record of climate change and earthquake history stretching back half a million years. Professor Ben-Avraham, a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and chief of the Minerva Dead Sea Research Center at Tel Aviv University, had been pushing for such a drilling operation for 10 years.


Proper Nouns: the Dead Sea, Professor Ben-Avraham, Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, the Minerva Dead Sea Research Center,  Tel Aviv University.

Source NYT


Pronouns are substitutes for nouns. Be sure that when your students use pronouns, you (the reader) will know what it refers to. The referent should be close to the pronoun within the sentence.

There are categories of pronouns.


singular: I, you, he, she, it

plural: we, you, they


singular: me, you, him, her, it

plural: us, you, them


singular: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself

plural: ourselves, yourselves, themselves


singular: my, our, your, their

plural:  ours, yours, theirs


Directions: In the following sentences, identify the pronouns and their referents.

Harry bought a car yesterday and he took it to the country.

The father and his son went fishing together.

The company hired a new CEO. She was a great addition.

Children love to play. Usually they’ll play all day long.


pronoun: he; referent: Harry

pronoun: his; referent: father

pronoun: she; referent: CEO

pronoun: they; referent: children

pronoun: she; referent: CEO

pronoun: they; referent: children

English Verbs

Verbs are the part of speech that describes an action, an event, or a state. While there are many irregular verbs in English, the regular ones are fairly easy to learn.

Verb Tenses

The Simple Forms

The simple present tense expresses events or situations that exist now, have existed in the past, and will exist in the future.

The simple present expresses that an activity is occurring now. The form is

(Form = base + -s/-es)

Example: She always studies after dinner.

The simple past expresses an event that has occurred at one specific time in the past. It began in the past and it ended in the past.

(Form = base + past ending)

Example: He studied yesterday.

The simple future expresses an event or situation that will occur at a specific time in the future.

(Form = be going to / will + base)

Example: He will study after dinner tomorrow. He is going to eat before he studies.

The Progressive Forms

The progressive tense shows continuous or repeated action.

(Form = base + -ing)

The present progressive (present continuous) expresses an event or situation that began in the past, is in progress at the present time, and will continue until some point in the future.

(Form = present tense of be  + verb + -ing)

Example: She is reading right now.

The past progressive expresses a past activity that was in progress while another activity occurred.

(Form = past tense of be + verb + -ing)

Example: He was eating while the radio played.

The future progressive (future continuous) expresses an activity that will be in progress in the future.

(Form = simple future of be + verb + present participle)

Example: She will be studying for the exam tomorrow.

The Perfect Forms

The perfect tenses are used to express an action that occurred at an unspecified time before the present. The exact time is not important. You cannot use specific time expressions such as yesterday, last week, and long ago with this tense, but you can use unspecified time expressions such as once, before, so far, ever, and many times.

The present perfect expresses action that has finished some time before the present.

(Form = auxiliary have/has + verb + past participle )

Example: I have seen that picture several times.

The past perfect expresses one action that was completed in the past, before a second action was completed.

(Form = past form of the auxiliary have + past participle)

Example: After I had eaten my lunch, I went to see a show.

The future perfect expresses an action that will have been completed by a specific time in the future.

(Form = will/ be going to + have + verb + past participle)

Example: They will have eaten dinner by 6:30. They are going to have played almost the whole game by the time we get there.

The Perfect Progressive Forms

The present perfect progressive expresses continuous action that has been completed at some point in the past or that began in the past and continues to occur in the present.

(Form = have / has + been + verb + -ing)

Example: I have been studying for two hours.

The past perfect progressive expresses two actions that occurred in the past, but not simultaneously.

(Formed = had + been + verb + -ing)

Example: He had been waiting for two hours before they finally arrived.

The future perfect progressive expresses a continuous action that will be completed at some point in the future.

(Form= will + have + been + verb + -ing)

Example: I will have been studying for two hours.

Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Transitive verbs are verbs that need a direct object; that is, someone or something receives the action of the verb.

Example: John broke the window.    He took the train.

broke = transitive verb   took = transitive verb.

Intransitive verbs are verbs that do not need a direct object.

Example: It was late when we finally arrived. If you smell pepper, you’ll sneeze.

arrived = intransitive    sneeze = intransitive

Note: Most dictionaries abbreviate transitive verbs as vt. and intransitive verbs as vi.


Directions: Decide whether the following verbs are transitive or intransitive.   Write vi  if the verb is intransitive or vt if it’s transitive.










Transitive verbs (vt): sell, make, eat, feed

Intransitive verbs (vi): occur, live, result, sit

Irregular Verbs

Many English verbs are irregular, especially in the way they form the past participle and the past tense.Wikipedia has an extensive list of irregualr verbs  to help you review. After you’ve looked at the list, complete the exercise for practice.


Directions:   The simple form is given. You are to provide the simple past and past participle of each verb.

1. tell  told   told

2. sell

3. flee

4. bleed

5. feed

6. lead

7. read

8. lay

9. pay

10. say

11. find

12. grind

13. wind

14. have

15. hear


1. tell  told   told

2. sell sold sold

3. flee fled fled

4. bleed bled bled

5. feed fed fed

6. lead led led

7. read read read

8. lay laid laid

9. pay paid paid

10. say said said

11. find found found

12. grind ground ground

13. wind wound wound

14. have had had

15. hear heard heard

Confusing Irregular Verbs: Raise/Rise, Set/Sit, and Lay/Lie

The meanings of some irregular verbs can be confusing.

Transitive verbs (followed by an object)

Raise: to bring to maturity;

Example: He raises vegetables.

Rise: To lift or to elevate something

Example: The clouds are rising with the temperature.

Set: To place something in a special place or in a particular position

Example: I set the glass down.

Sit: to be in a seated position.

Example: Sit down in the chair.

Lay: To place something or someone down in a horizontal position.

Example: Lay the baby  in the crib.

Lie: the past tense of lay.

Example: I had to lie down for awhile after my long flight.

Do vs. Make

To do something is to perform an activity or task; e.g., do the laundry, do the cleaning, do your homework, do exercises.

To make something is to build, create, or construct it: e.g., make a dress, make dinner, make arrangements.

The best way to learn these two verbs is to memorize some expressions connected to them.


make time, make a speech, make a promise, make a point

do your best, do well, do your nails, do business


Directions: Use either do or make in the following sentences. Read the last two carefully.

1. What do you __ for a living?

2. Does she always ___ her bed in the morning?

3. How did he ____ on the exam?

4. I only _____ one error on the quiz.

5. Excuse me while I _____ a phone call.

6. How much money ___ you ______ last year?


1. do

2. make

3. do

4. made

5. make

6. did  make

Say vs. Tell

Say and tell have similar meanings in that they both mean “to communicate information”; however, they are used differently.

Say is used to report another’s speech:   She said that she was going to be president.

Place the preposition ‘to’ in front of the object: e.g., Did he say that to him?

When Say has only one object, that object is usually the direct object

Example: You said it; He said that he had done it.

Tell is used to inform or instruct: (direct object is green)

Example: Tell me a story.

“To” only occurs if the indirect object follows the direct object.

Example: You can tell your story to me.


Directions: Choose either say or tell for the following sentences.

1. Did Jack _____ everyone to go home?

2. What did he ____ to you?

3. What did she ___ you?

4. I ____ that I had a great job.

5. The teacher will ____ the class when to go home.

6. The teacher ____ to John, “Do your homework”.


1. tell

2. say

3. tell

4. said

5. tell

6. said

Active and Passive Voices

One of the most complex constructs in English grammar is the Passive Voice. Teachers  often have a challenge when teaching L2 learners how “not” to write in the passive voice, after they’ve explained how to “construct” the passive.  Writers have a tendency to apply the active voice and avoid passive voice when writing, so there isn’t a great amount of material written in the passive voice.  There are reasons why the active voice is preferred over the passive voice. The active voice is clear and to the point. For example the following active sentence:

“The teacher lost the keys to the classroom.” becomes longer in the passive voice,

”The keys to the classroom were lost by the teacher.”

However,  as we teach students, there are occasions when it is appropriate to use the passive voice. For example  if a situation is awkward or embarrassing when expressed in the active voice, people turn to the passive:

“I acknowledge that mistakes were made.”
–Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales

To aid educators in learning a little more about the passive and active voices  we’ve selected a collection of significant, and  interesting articles from various sources on aspects of  the Passive and Active voices. We’ve also included listings for forums, and discussions describing how the active and passive voices are applied in several other languages. There is also a listing for books on this topic. We hope that you find this information useful and that it aids you in teaching the Passive Voice.

Article: What is the Passive Voice?

“The passive voice is a grammatical construction (a “voice”) in which the subject of a sentence or clause denotes the recipient of the action (the patient) rather than the performer (the agent). In the English language, the English passive voice is formed with an auxiliary verb (usually be or get) plus a participle (usually the past participle) of a transitive verb.

For example, “Caesar was stabbed by Brutus” uses the passive voice. The subject denotes the person (Caesar) affected by the action of the verb. The counterpart to this in active voice is, “Brutus stabbed Caesar”, in which the subject denotes the doer, or agent, Brutus.

A sentence featuring the passive voice is sometimes called a passive sentence, and a verb phrase in passive voice is sometimes called a passive verb English differs from languages in which voice is indicated through a simple inflection, since the English passive is periphrastic, composed of an auxiliary verb plus the past participle of the transitive verb.

Use of the English passive varies with writing style and field. Some style sheets discourage use of passive voice, while others encourage it.[3] Although some purveyors of usage advice, including George Orwell (see Politics and the English Language, 1946) and William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White (see The Elements of Style, 1919) discourage the English passive, its usefulness is recognized in cases where the theme (receiver of the action) is more important than the agent.

Against the Passive Voice

Many language critics and language-usage manuals discourage use of the passive voice.

This advice is not usually found in older guides, emerging only in the first half of the twentieth century.

“ In 1916, the British writer Arthur Quiller-Couch, criticized this grammatical voice:

Generally, use transitive verbs, that strike their object; and use them in the active voice, eschewing the stationary passive, with its little auxiliary its’s and was’s, and its participles getting into the light of your adjectives, which should be few. For, as a rough law, by his use of the straight verb and by his economy of adjectives you can tell a man’s style, if it be masculine or neuter, writing or ‘composition”

Two years later, in 1918, in The Elements of Style Cornell University Professor of English William Strunk, Jr. warned against excessive use of the passive voice:

“The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the passive . . . This rule does not, of course, mean that the writer should entirely discard the passive voice, which is frequently convenient and sometimes necessary . . . The need to make a particular word the subject of the sentence will often . . . determine which voice is to be used. The habitual use of the active voice, however, makes for forcible writing…

In 1926, in the authoritative A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926), Henry W. Fowler recommended against transforming active voice forms into passive voice forms, because doing so “sometimes leads to bad grammar, false idiom, or clumsiness.”

In 1946, in the essay “Politics and the English Language” (1946), George Orwell recommended the active voice as an elementary principle of composition: “Never use the passive where you can use the active.”

The Columbia Guide to Standard American English (1993) stated that:

“Active voice makes subjects do something (to something); passive voice permits subjects to have something done to them (by someone or something). Some argue that active voice is more muscular, direct, and succinct, passive voice flabbier, more indirect, and wordier. If you want your words to seem impersonal, indirect, and noncommittal, passive is the choice, but otherwise, active voice is almost invariably likely to prove more effective.”

Source: Wikipedia  

Article:The Aggrieved Passive Voice, by Mark Liberman

“This afternoon, John Baker posted to the American Dialect Society’s listserv (ADS-L) the following note:

Mark Liberman recently wrote in Language Log that, for everyone except linguists and a few exceptionally old-fashioned intellectuals, what “passive voice” now means is “construction that is vague as to agency”. Disturbingly, a short piece by Nancy Franklin in the March 23, 2009, issue of The New Yorker seems to bear that out.  It is a discussion of Bernard Madoff’s allocution, his formal court statement acknowledging guilt:

<<Two sentences later, Madoff said, “When I began the Ponzi scheme, I believed it would end shortly and I would be able to extricate myself and my clients from the scheme.” As he read this, he betrayed no sense of how absurd it was to use the passive voice in regard to his scheme, as if it were a spell of bad weather that had descended on him. Still, he had faith-he “believed”!-that it would soon be over. Yes, “soon.” In most of the rest of the statement, one not only heard the aggrieved passive voice but felt the hand of a lawyer:  ”To the best of my recollection, my fraud began in the early nineteen-nineties.”>>

If there is an example of the passive voice in Madoff’s quoted statements, it has escaped my attention.  Unlike the blog Liberman cites, The New Yorker reportedly has professionally edited text.

The “passive voice” spotted in the first Madoff quote is apparently the phrase “it would end shortly”, which is technically an active-voice intransitive, but one where (as Franklin observes) Madoff is evading the fact that the scheme could end if and only if he himself took steps to end it — or, on the most charitable interpretation, if his investment strategy miraculously began to work as he falsely claimed it did.

But there’s an interesting twist towards the end of the paragraph. In recording the mutation of the term “passive voice”, I’ve been focusing on the way that the word passive has gradually lost its technical grammatical meaning, and taken on a sense crystallizing around notions of passive as “unassertive”, “lacking in force”, “failing to take responsibility for what happens”, “submissive”. But Franklin’s reference to “the aggrieved passive

voice” made me realize that the word voice has undergone a similar change in popular usage, losing its technical grammatical meaning in favor of the ordinary-language sense “mode or style of expression”.

It would be nice to know what the historical trajectory of these changes has been. Presumably the grammatical meaning of “passive voice” became unstable in popular usage when grammatical analysis stopped being taught. I believe that with respect to English, this started happening early in the 20th century, though perhaps people continued to pick up some grammatical terminology for a while longer in learning foreign languages, until grammatical analysis was no longer taught in that context either. The knowledge probably lingered longest in Latin courses, but increasingly smaller portions of the population were involved. Despite the lack of any basis for understanding its meaning, I conjecture that the term “passive voice” continued in popular use due to the many stylistic injunctions to avoid it, so that a complex of more-or-less incoherent ideas were evoked to characterize what it is that writers are supposed to avoid.

I wonder what Eleanor Gould Packard, the New Yorker’s “Grammarian” for 54 years, would have written in the margins of Franklin’s submission. According to David Remnick’s obituary for her, “she could find a solecism in a Stop sign”, and “once found what she believed were four grammatical errors in a three-word sentence”.  But I haven’t been able to find any information about whether or not she knew what “passive voice” meant.”

The Aggrieved Passive Voice, by Mark Liberman

Related Articles About the Passive / Active Voices

The Passive Voice [ Why It is Evil and How to recognize it ] by Dr. L. Kip Wheeler

Baron, Dennis. “The Passive Voice Can Be Your Friend,” Declining Grammar and Other Essays On the English Vocabulary (Urbana: NCTE, 1989), pages 17-22.

“Passive Voice” — 1397-2009 — R.I.P., Mark Lieberman

Three Letters on the Passive Voice from the Journal Nature

The Passive voice is Redeemed for Web Headings by Jakob Nielson

Additional Information for the Active Passive Voices

Handout and Links for the Passive Voice

The Writer’s Handbook Active vs. Passive Voice

The Use of By + Agent in the Passive Voice

Literacy weblog Active and Passive Verbs

The Passive and Active Voices in Other Languages

Using the Passive and Active Voices in Spanish

The Impersonal and Passive se in Spanish

SpanishDict-(Sentence Practice ) Passive and Active Voices

Forum: Using the Passive  and Active Voices in German

Japanese Passive and Active Voices: On The Meaning of the Japanese Passive, by Frederik Kortlandt

The Passive  and Active Voices  in Portuguese

The Passive and Active  Voices  in Brazilian Portuguese, by Fernanda L. Ferreira, Ph.D.

Forum: The Korean Passive Voice

Forum: The Passive Voice in Chinese

Latin Verbs I for the Passive Voice

Latin Verbs II for the Passive Voice

Books Written About the Passive and Active Voices

The Passive Voice: An Approach to Modern Fiction by Harold Kaplan (Sep 1979)

How to Swat the KILLER BEs Out of Your Writing: A Writing Skills Handbook on How to Write in Active Voice by Nancy Owens Barnes (Jul 1, 2009) – Kindle eBook-

Diachronic Change in the English Passive, by Junichi Toyota (Nov 11, 2008)

Deconstructing the English Passive (Topics in English Linguistics) by Anja Wanner (Jul 15, 2009


Adjectives modify nouns or pronouns by describing or identifying these parts of speech. (Below, adjectives are in italics.)

Example: Antonio is a man. Antonio is an intelligent man. He is intelligent.

noun = man; adjective = intelligent; pronoun = he

Adjectives are neither singular or plural.  When adjectives modify plural nouns they do not take the plural suffix. E.g., The dog is fierce. The dogs are fierce.

Example: I’m very  happy.  The flowers are beautiful.

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

The comparative and superlative forms are used in English to compare and contrast people, and objects. The comparative is used when there are two people or objects.

Example: Jack is tall, but Joe is taller.

The superlative is used when there three or more people or objects.

Example: All of the children in the class are tall, but Jim is the tallest.

One-Syllable Adjectives

To form the comparative with one-syllable adjectives add -er.

Example: tall + er = taller  short + er = shorter

To form the superlative with one-syllable adjectives add -est.

Example: tall + est = tallest short + est = shortest

One-Syllable Adjectives ending with a Consonant and a Vowel before the consonant

Comparative: double the consonant and add -er.

Superlative: double the consonant and add -est.

Example: Comparative: thin + n + -er = thinner Superlative: thin + n + est = thinnest

Two-Syllable Adjectives

Form the comparative of a two-syllable adjective by preceding it with more; form the superlative by preceding it with the most.

Example: more+ careful = more careful

Example:  the + most + careful = the most careful


Two-Syllable Adjective ending with -y

Comparative: change the -y to -i and add –er.

Example: happy + i + er = happier

Superlative: change the -y to -i and add –est.

Example: happy + -i + -est = happiest

Two-Syllable Adjectives ending in -er, -le, and -ow

Comparative: add -er

Example: narrow + er = narrower

Superlative: add -est

Example: narrow + -est = narrowest

Some irregular adjectives

Comparative: good → better; bad → worse

Superlative: good → best; bad → worst

Exercise 1

Directions: Write the comparative and superlative forms for each of the words below.

Example: old   c: older    s: the oldest

1. expensive

2. yellow

3. reasonable

4. hungry

5. good

6. cooperative

7. beautiful

8. shallow

9. far

10. passive


1. more expensive     most expensive

2. more yellow            yellowest

3. more reasonable   most reasonable

4.  hungrier                  hungriest

5. better                        best:

6. more cooperative  most cooperative

7. more beautiful       most beautiful

8. shallower               shallowest

9. further                     furthest

10. more passive         most passive

Exercise 2

Directions: Complete the following sentences using either the comparative or superlative form of the verbs in parentheses.

Example: Who is the tallest student in the class? (tall)

1. Which country is ____________________ to you? (interesting)

2. Who’s ____________________ teacher you know? (strict)

3. Who’s ____________________, Joe or Jack? (handsome)

4. Which language is ____________________ to learn, French or Spanish? (easy)

5. Are Mary and Jim ____________________ than Sue and John? (smart)

6. Which language is ____________________, Arabic or Chinese? (difficult to master)

7. What’s the ____________________ river in the world? (long)

8. Which do you like ____________________, reading or writing English? (good)

9. When is ____________________ time to study for an exam? (good)

10. Which sport is ____________________ in your country, soccer or tennis? (popular)


1. most interesting

2. the strictest

3. more handsome

4. easier

5. smarter

6. more difficult to master

7. longest

8. better

9. the best

10. more popular

Lesson Plan for Adjectives

Level: low-intermediate to high-intermediate

Materials: Handout on adjectives, a copy of  the description essay, and a copy of  the excerpt from Bruce Canton’s Essay, Grant and Lee: A Study in Contrasts.

Objectives: Students will learn how to identify and use adjectives properly, they will review the description style of writing.

Procedure: Review handout on adjectives (see above), and have students complete exercises 1 and 2 (the answers are provided).

Next, review the Description mode of writing with students.

Then place students in groups, and write a list of items on the board they can describe. For example, the classroom, a room in their homes, their family members, a friend. Students should have a list of adjectives at the end of the activity.

After this, give students some background information on the Civil War (see source below) and  information about  the two generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.

Give each group a copy of the excerpt and have them high-light all of the adjectives they find. Review the information as a class.

For homework have students write a descriptive paragraph, of each general, using the adjectives from the excerpt and additional adjectives from their group activity.

Everyone reads their descriptions at the next class meeting.

Bruce Catton, Grant and Lee: A Study in Contrasts


Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. (Below, adverbs are highlighted in green.)

Adverbs can be categorized into the following:

Frequency (How often?)

Example: She rarely takes the train to work.

Time (when?)

Example: I have not played chess recently.

Place (where?)

Example: Have you ever been there?

Manner (How?)

Example: He plays well.

Degree (How much?)

Example: She lost the game badly.


Directions: Write the correct form of the word in brackets (adjective or adverb).

1. (slow) John is _______. He works________.

2. (easy) The students learn English ________. They think English is an ______ language.

3. (angry) The man was _________. He shouted ________.

4. (quick) Mary ate her lunch ________. (important) She knew the meeting was ___________.

5. (fluent) Maria lived in Japan for six years; she speaks Japanese _________.

6. (extreme) The entrance examination is _________ challenging. (prestigious) Very few students make it into the ____________ medical school.

7. (tired) Anna grew _____ from all the work. (obvious) It became ________ to everyone that she needed a vacation.

8. (frequent) One ________ sees many students in the early morning classes.


1. slow          slowly

2. easily        easy

3. angry        angrily

4. quickly      important

5. fluently

6. extremely  prestigious

7. tired           obvious

8. frequently


Prepositions can be challenging to L2 learners because translation is not always possible or logical. Here are some categories for prepositions (prepositions are in italics)



I’m going to the store on Tuesday

Example:  It is very hot in July.

I have to meet my friend at two-thirty in the afternoon.

You can see the moon at night.

The preposition “since” usually implies from a specific point of time (since last year, since yesterday).

It has been two years since I’ve visited my aunt.

Place or location

in (in the library, in the classroom, in the car)

at (at the door, at the table)

on (on the table, on the right, on the floor, on the computer)

across (across the street, across the bridge)

next to ( the car next to the sidewalk, the book next to the lamp)

Here is a link for the Wikipedia list of English prepositions.


Conjunctions are used to show the relationship between the ideas in sentences. Conjunctions (highlighted in bold) are classified as follows:

Coordinating Conjunctions are used to join two parallel constructions:

and   but   or  nor   yet or


nouns: Jim and I went mountain climbing.

adjectives: These stories are strange but true.

verbs: Gerald walked and chewed gum at the same time.

adverbs: He was speaking softly but forcefully.

clauses: He wanted to go, but he had to study.

adjectives: I don’t like rutabagas raw or cooked.

adverbs: I can get that book at Border’s or Barnes & Noble; it makes no difference.

clauses: ; Either we’ll drive or we’ll fly; it doesn’t matter.

verbs: He could neither read nor sing.

clauses: He couldn’t read, nor could he sing.

adjectives: These stories are strange yet true.

adverbs: He was speaking softly yet forcefully.

clauses: It’s daylight, yet the moon is full.

Correlative conjunctions

Used in pairs to show the relationship between the ideas in different parts of a sentence.


nouns: You may order either a hamburger or a hot dog.

adjectives: The clothes in that store are either too big or too small for me.

adverbs: I don’t have to do it either well or poorly; I don’t have to do it at all!

verbs: He either took the train or drove his car; he couldn’t have ridden his bicycle.

clauses: Either he comes or I leave


clauses (only): If she studies then she’ll pass the exam.

both …and

nouns: Both the book and the movie make New York look bad.

adjectives: They are both happy and in love.

verbs: You can both entertain and inform without boring people.

adverbs: He  can ride a bicycle both fast and for a long time.

clauses: He lost a ton of money on his bets because both the Red Sox lost and the Yankees won.

Subordinating Conjunctions (highlighted in bold) are used to introduce a dependent clause (highlighted in magenta) in a sentence.

While he was here, he ate everything in the pantry.

Although it was raining, we ran outside.

We could all pass the exam, if we studied together.

Unless he studies, he won’t pass the test.

Here is a link to Wikipedia’s conjunctions page.


Articles are used to modify (change) nouns.   There are three articles in English: a, an, and the.  There are two categories for these articles, definite and indefinite.   Which one you use will depend on the noun you wish to modify:

Many proper nouns do not need an article.

Most count nouns require an article

Mass, non-count nouns and abstract nouns do not normally take an article.

Definite Article: the


Example: Was the movie good?

After the thing has been mentioned once during the conversation:

Example: His story about his trip was interesting. Did you accompany him on the trip?

To discuss, particular nouns that everyone knows there is only one of:

Example: The United States stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean.

Indefinite Articles: a, an


When something is not specifically known to the listener:

Examples: I heard a bird sing this morning.  She had an apple for lunch.

When speaking of one’s profession:

Examples: He’s an accountant. She’s a teacher.

If the subject is not already known by the listener or reader, use the indefinite article to first introduce the noun in question:

Examples: John bought a new car yesterday. He’s driving the car this week.

Indefinite Articles and Quantities

When speaking about quantities and to express amounts, the indefinite articles are applied: a few books, a little sugar, a lot of coffee.


There is also a rule pertaining to articles that has to do with pronunciation.

The sound, not the spelling, dictates which indefinite article to use:

Examples: an EMT, an apple, a TV commercial, a USC graduate.

Use a when the noun referred to begins with a consonant: a factory, a street, a hotel.

Use an when the noun being referred to begins with a vowel (or vowel sound): an hour, an opera.


They are sounds of exclamations. These exclamations may reflect surprise, anger, or happiness. They are also used when the speaker wishes to take a moment to think before responding. Used mainly in speaking, written interjections are usually followed by an exclamation mark (!).    Here are a few examples of interjections.

Surprise: “Oh my! They chose me!

Sadness: ” Oh no! He died yesterday?”

Happiness: “Wow! Is this party for me?”

Exasperation: “Augh! She said it again!”

Additional Activities and Lesson Plans