English grammar: basics, tips and examples

Basic English for Beginners

All basic English grammar: rules, tenses, articles, degrees of comparison, etc

English grammar is a system of rules that determine how to correctly construct sentences and expressions in the English language. Its purpose is to help people express their thoughts and ideas clearly and logically in writing and speaking. Grammar is important because it facilitates effective communication and comprehension of texts. Grammar skills are useful for all English learners, from beginners to advanced learners. In this article, we will look at the main aspects of English grammar, starting with the basic parts of speech and ending with complex grammatical constructions. We will help you understand the ins and outs of grammar and teach you how to use them to express your thoughts and ideas with ease. So, these basics of English grammar will help you understand the grammatical structure of the English language.

Basic Parts of the English Language

The English language consists of various grammatical parts of speech used to express ideas and thoughts. Here are some of them:

  1. Noun: Nouns refer to objects, ideas, places, or people. Examples include “book,” “dog,” and “friend.”
  2. Adjective: Adjectives are used to describe nouns. Examples include “beautiful,” “happy,” and “green.”
  3. Verb: Verbs indicate actions, states, or events. Examples include “run,” “eat,” and “think.”
  4. Adverb: Adverbs expand the meaning of verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. Examples include “quickly,” “often,” and “very.”
  5. Preposition: Prepositions show the relationship between other words and indicate place, direction, or time. Examples include “in,” “on,” and “at.”
  6. Conjunction: Conjunctions are used to connect words, phrases, or sentences. Examples include “and,” “but,” and “or.”
  7. Pronoun: Pronouns are used to replace nouns and avoid repetition. Examples include “he,” “she,” and “it.”
  8. Numeral: Numerals indicate quantity or order. Examples include “one,” “first,” and “three.”
  9. Interjection: Interjections express emotions or exclamations. Examples include “Wow!” “Ouch!” and “Bravo!”

These fundamental parts of speech form the foundation of any language, including English, and help us construct sentences and expressions for communication. In the following sections, we will delve into each of these parts in more detail.

Tenses in the English Language

Tenses are among the most crucial grammatical aspects of the English language. They indicate the moment in time when an action or event occurs within a sentence. In the English language, there are 12 primary tenses, and let’s briefly explore them:

  1. Present Simple (Present Indefinite):
    • Meaning: Used to express regular actions, general facts, and ongoing situations in the present.
    • Formation: Verb in its base (uninflected) form or with the addition of “-s” or “-es” for the third person singular (he/she/it).
    • Example: “I play tennis every Sunday.”
  2. Present Continuous (Present Progressive):
    • Meaning: Indicates actions happening at the moment of speaking or in the near future.
    • Formation: Verb “to be” in the present + verb with “-ing” ending.
    • Example: “She is reading a book right now.”
  3. Present Perfect Simple:
    • Meaning: Used to express actions that happened at an unspecified time in the past and have relevance to the present.
    • Formation: Verb “to have” in the present + third form of the verb.
    • Example: “I have visited Paris several times.”
  4. Present Perfect Continuous:
    • Meaning: Indicates the duration and activity of actions that began in the past and continue into the present.
    • Formation: Verb “to have” in the present + been + verb with “-ing” ending.
    • Example: “He has been working here for five years.”
  5. Past Simple (Simple Past):
    • Meaning: Used to describe actions that occurred in the past and are completed.
    • Formation: Verb in the simple past tense.
    • Example: “She visited London last summer.”
  6. Past Continuous (Past Progressive):
    • Meaning: Indicates actions that were ongoing at a specific point in the past.
    • Formation: Verb “to be” in the past + verb with “-ing” ending.
    • Example: “They were watching TV when I called.”
  7. Past Perfect Simple:
    • Meaning: Used to express actions completed before a specific point in the past.
    • Formation: Verb “to have” in the past + third form of the verb.
    • Example: “He had already eaten when I arrived.”
  8. Past Perfect Continuous:
    • Meaning: Indicates the duration and activity of actions that occurred before a specific point in the past.
    • Formation: Verb “to have” in the past + been + verb with “-ing” ending.
    • Example: “I had been waiting for an hour when the bus finally arrived.”
  9. Future Simple (Simple Future):
    • Meaning: Used to express future actions or events.
    • Formation: “Will” + base form of the verb.
    • Example: “I will call you tomorrow.”
  10. Future Continuous (Future Progressive):
  • Meaning: Indicates the duration of future actions at a specific time.
  • Formation: “Will” + “be” (am/is/are) + verb with “-ing” ending.
  • Example: “They will be studying all day tomorrow.”
  1. Future Perfect Simple:
  • Meaning: Used to express actions that will be completed before a specific point in the future.
  • Formation: “Will have” + third form of the verb.
  • Example: “By the time you arrive, I will have finished my work.”
  1. Future Perfect Continuous:
  • Meaning: Indicates the duration and activity of actions continuing until a specific point in the future.
  • Formation: “Will have” + “been” + verb with “-ing” ending.
  • Example: “By the end of the year, he will have been working here for a decade.”

These 12 primary tenses cover various aspects of time and allow for precise expression of when actions or events occur in the English language.

Types of Verbs

In the English language, there are two main types of verbs used to express different aspects of actions, states, and events:

  1. Action Verbs:
    • Description: Action verbs indicate specific actions that can be performed physically or mentally. They describe what the subject does.
    • Examples: “run,” “eat,” “write,” “read.”
  2. State Verbs:
    • Description: State verbs indicate states, conditions, or facts that may not always be portrayed as specific actions. They describe a constant state or identify something.
    • Examples: “be,” “seem,” “like,” “have.”

Understanding the difference between these two types of verbs is crucial for correct usage in sentences and expressions. Action verbs describe specific actions, while state verbs signify states, conditions, or facts.

Forms of Verbs

Verbs in the English language have various forms used to express tense, person, and number. Understanding these forms will help you construct sentences correctly. Here’s a detailed explanation of verb forms:


  • Present:
    • Simple Present: Used to express actions that occur regularly or general facts in the present.
      • Example: “I work.”
    • Present Continuous: Used to express actions happening at the moment.
      • Example: “I am reading.”
  • Past:
    • Simple Past: Used to describe actions that occurred in the past and are completed.
      • Example: “She traveled.”
    • Past Continuous: Used to express actions that were ongoing at a specific point in the past.
      • Example: “I was studying.”
  • Future:
    • Future Simple: Used to express future actions.
      • Example: “I will call you.”
    • Future Continuous: Used to indicate the duration of future actions.
      • Example: “I will be working.”

Forms by Person and Number:

Verbs have different forms for different persons and numbers (personal endings). For example, in the simple present tense, for the third person singular, the verb “go” takes the form “goes” (he/she goes), while for other persons, it remains “go” (I/we/you/they go).

Forms in Infinitive and Gerund:

  • Infinitive (Base Form): The base form of a verb is always used with “to” (e.g., “to be,” “to eat”). The infinitive is used to form other tenses and forms.
  • Gerund: The gerund is a verb form ending in “-ing” (e.g., “going,” “eating”). It functions as a noun and is used to create complex tenses.

Understanding these forms will help you accurately and grammatically express tense, person, and number in your English sentences.

Irregular Verbs in English

In the English language, there is a specific set of verbs that do not follow the standard rules for forming the past simple and past participle tenses. These are called irregular verbs and require memorization of their forms as they do not have the regular “-ed” ending for the past tense. Here are some examples of irregular verbs:

  1. Go (Infinitive) – Went (Past Simple) – Gone (Past Participle)
    • Examples: “She went to the store yesterday,” “I have gone to the doctor.”
  2. Eat (Infinitive) – Ate (Past Simple) – Eaten (Past Participle)
    • Examples: “He ate lunch an hour ago,” “I have never eaten sushi.”
  3. Take (Infinitive) – Took (Past Simple) – Taken (Past Participle)
    • Examples: “She took my book by mistake,” “I have already taken my medicine.”
  4. See (Infinitive) – Saw (Past Simple) – Seen (Past Participle)
    • Examples: “I saw a beautiful sunset yesterday,” “I have never seen such a sight.”
  5. Drive (Infinitive) – Drove (Past Simple) – Driven (Past Participle)
    • Examples: “She drove us to the airport,” “I have driven this car before.”

Irregular verbs require the memorization of their forms as they do not follow the common rules for forming past tense and past participle. They are an essential part of the English language and are used frequently in both spoken and written communication.

Modal Verbs in English

Modal verbs are a special class of verbs in the English language used to express possibility, desire, obligation, permission, uncertainty, and other aspects of an action. They always accompany other verbs and modify their meanings. Here’s a closer look at some of the most common modal verbs:

  1. Can (modal verb “can”):
    • Expresses possibility: “I can swim.”
    • Allows for questions: “Can I go to the party?”
  2. Could (modal verb “could”):
    • Expresses past possibility or polite requests: “She could speak French when she was young.”
  3. May (modal verb “may”):
    • Expresses permission or possibility, often in formal contexts: “You may leave the room.”
  4. Might (modal verb “might”):
    • Expresses a lesser possibility or past possibility: “It might rain later.”
  5. Must (modal verb “must”):
    • Expresses obligation or certainty: “You must finish your homework.”
  6. Should (modal verb “should”):
    • Expresses recommendations or advice: “You should eat more vegetables.”
  7. Will (modal verb “will”):
    • Expresses future actions or promises: “I will help you with your project.”
  8. Would (modal verb “would”):
    • Expresses desires, polite requests, or conditional actions: “I would like a cup of tea.”

Modal verbs add depth and nuance to your communication in English and play a crucial role in formulating expressions of obligation, desire, uncertainty, and other concepts.

Phrasal Verbs in English

Phrasal verbs are constructions consisting of a verb and one or more particles that modify or extend the meaning of the verb. They are an integral part of the English language, adding variety and nuances to your speech. Phrasal verbs can be divided into two main categories: transparent and non-transparent.

Transparent phrasal verbs: In these constructions, the meaning of the particles can be easily understood based on context. For example:

  • Turn on (to activate): “Turn on the lights.”
  • Take off (to remove): “Take off your shoes.”

Non-transparent phrasal verbs: In these constructions, the meaning of the particles may not be obvious or may differ from the meaning of the individual words. For example:

  • Break up (to end a relationship): “They decided to break up.”
  • Call off (to cancel): “They had to call off the event.”

Some phrasal verbs have multiple meanings and require practice for correct usage. Learning phrasal verbs will help improve your language proficiency and your understanding of spoken English.

Verbs “to be,” “to do,” “to have”

The verbs “to be” (бути), “to do” (робити), and “to have” (мати) are fundamental verbs in the English language, each serving various functions and meanings. Here’s a detailed look at each of them:

The verb “to be” (бути): “To be” is used to express existence, state, and identification. This verb has various forms for different persons and tenses, such as “am,” “is,” “are,” “was,” “were,” “been,” and “being.” Examples:

  • “I am a student.”
  • “She is happy.”
  • “They were at the party.”

The verb “to do” (робити): “To do” is used to form questions and negatives in the Present Simple and Past Simple tenses, as well as to intensify questions. This auxiliary verb has the forms “do,” “does,” and “did.” Examples:

  • “I don’t like coffee.”
  • “Does she speak English?”
  • “What did you do yesterday?”

The verb “to have” (мати): “To have” is used to express possession, presence, and to form the perfect tenses (Present Perfect and Past Perfect). It has the forms “have,” “has,” and “had.” Examples:

  • “I have a cat.”
  • “She has two brothers.”
  • “They had already eaten when I arrived.”

These verbs are the foundation for constructing sentences in different tenses and forms, and mastering them is an essential step in developing English language skills.

Degrees of Comparison for Adjectives and Adverbs

Comparative and superlative degrees of adjectives and adverbs play a crucial role in the English language, helping to express relative or absolute characteristics of objects and actions. Here are some basic rules and forms for comparative and superlative degrees:

Positive Degree: The positive degree is used to describe objects, people, or actions without making a comparison. It serves as the base form and does not have specific endings. Examples:

  • “She is a good singer.”
  • “The book is interesting.”

Comparative Degree: The comparative degree is used to compare two objects, people, or actions. The form of the comparative degree is “base adjective/adverb + -er” or “more + base adjective/adverb.” Examples:

  • “She is taller than her brother.”
  • “This movie is more interesting than the previous one.”

Superlative Degree: The superlative degree is used to denote the highest level of quality among three or more objects, people, or actions. The form of the superlative degree is “the + superlative adjective/adverb” or “the most + base adjective/adverb.” Examples:

  • “She is the tallest girl in the class.”
  • “It’s the most delicious cake I’ve ever tasted.”

Exceptions and Irregular Forms: Some adjectives and adverbs have irregular forms for degrees of comparison. For example:

  • “Good” → “Better” → “The best.”
  • “Bad” → “Worse” → “The worst.”
  • “Well” → “Better” → “The best.”

Learning the degrees of comparison for adjectives and adverbs will help you express comparisons clearly and accurately in English and understand their usage in various contexts.


Articles are words that indicate the ownership and specificity of nouns in a sentence. In English, there are two primary articles: “a” (indefinite article) and “the” (definite article). Let’s explore the usage of these articles, along with exceptional situations and exceptions.

“A” (Indefinite Article):

  • Used before nouns that begin with consonant sounds: “a book,” “a car.”
  • Used before nouns that start with consonant sounds pronounced as [j], unless it’s “u” or “eu”: “a university,” “a European country.”
  • Used to generalize a noun: “A dog is a loyal animal.”

“An” (Indefinite Article):

  • Used before nouns that begin with vowel sounds [ə, i, a, o, u]: “an apple,” “an hour.”
  • Used before nouns that start with the letter “h” but are pronounced with [j]: “an honest person,” “an hourglass.”

“The” (Definite Article):

  • Used before nouns when referring to a specific or known thing: “The book on the table.”
  • Used before nouns that have already been mentioned in the sentence: “I saw a dog. The dog was friendly.”
  • Used before nouns that refer to something unique in their context: “The sun rises in the east.”

Exceptional Situations and Exceptions:

  • The article is not used before nouns that represent general concepts or something abstract: “Happiness is important.”
  • The article is omitted before nouns in prepositional phrases like “by car,” “by train,” “on foot.”
  • The article may be absent before nouns in well-known phrases and names: “at school,” “Mount Everest.”

Understanding the usage of articles is essential for structuring sentences correctly and conveying the specificity or generality of nouns in your speech.

Passive Voice

The passive voice is a grammatical construction in English used to emphasize the action or event rather than the doer of the action. In the passive voice, the object of the action becomes the subject of the sentence, while the doer of the action may be mentioned or left unspecified. Here’s a detailed overview of the passive voice:

Formation of the Passive Voice:

  • General template: “be” (the verb “to be” in the appropriate tense and person) + past participle of the verb + other sentence components.
  • Examples:
    • Present Simple: “The letter is written by John.”
    • Past Continuous: “The book was being read when I arrived.”
    • Future Perfect: “The project will have been completed by then.”

The Passive Voice Can Be Used to:

  • Conceal the doer of the action or to express a desire not to mention them.
  • Emphasize the action or event itself rather than the doer.
  • Draw conclusions from an action without specifying the doer.

Active Voice vs. Passive Voice:

  • Active Voice: “John wrote the letter” – emphasizes the doer of the action.
  • Passive Voice: “The letter was written” – emphasizes the action/event rather than the doer.

Uses of the Passive Voice:

  • In scientific or formal texts to maintain objectivity.
  • When the doer of the action is unimportant or known from the context.
  • To emphasize the object of the action in a sentence.

The Passive Voice with Different Tenses:

  • The passive voice can be formed with any tense: Present Simple, Past Continuous, Future Perfect, and so on, by using the appropriate form of the verb “to be.”

The passive voice is an important grammatical construction, especially in written communication and when the focus is on the object of the action rather than the doer. Understanding and using it effectively will enhance your command of the English language.

Sentences in English

Sentences are the fundamental grammatical units used to express ideas, messages, and thoughts in the English language. Each sentence has a specific structure and components. Here are the key aspects of creating sentences in English:

Components of a Sentence:

  • Subject: This is the part of the sentence that indicates the person, thing, or idea the sentence is about. The subject can be a noun, pronoun, or other parts of speech.
  • Predicate: This part of the sentence contains the verb and indicates the action performed by the subject. The predicate may also include other grammatical elements such as objects, adverbs, and so on.

Types of Sentences:

  • Declarative: Used to convey facts, events, or ideas. Example: “She is reading a book.”
  • Interrogative: Used to form questions. Example: “Is she reading a book?”
  • Imperative: Used to express requests, commands, or orders. Example: “Please pass the salt.”
  • Exclamatory: Used to express strong emotions or excitement. Example: “What a beautiful sunset!”

Sentence Structure:

  • Simple Sentence: Contains one subject and one predicate. Example: “She sings.”
  • Complex Sentence: Contains one main clause and one or more subordinate clauses. Example: “I will go to the store if I have time.”
  • Compound-Complex Sentence: Contains multiple main and subordinate clauses. Example: “She studied hard, but she didn’t pass the exam because she was tired.”

Punctuation of Sentences:

  • Sentences always begin with a capital letter and end with a period, exclamation mark, or question mark, depending on the sentence type.
  • Commas are used to separate different parts of complex and compound-complex sentences.

Sentences in Spoken and Written Styles:

  • Spoken sentences can be less formal and complex, often including questions and conversational expressions.
  • Written sentences typically have a more formal style and are used for writing texts, letters, essays, and so on.

Understanding the structure and types of sentences will help you properly articulate and express your thoughts and ideas in English.

Tips for Self-Study

Self-studying English grammar can be an essential step in mastering the language. Here are several recommendations to help you effectively learn grammar:

  1. Start with the Basics: Begin with fundamental concepts such as parts of speech (verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc.), sentences, punctuation, tenses, and basic grammatical structures. Understanding these foundational aspects of grammar is crucial before delving deeper.
  2. Use Textbooks and Online Resources: Refer to grammar textbooks, instructional guides, and online resources that provide structured and sequential information on grammar topics. Choose resources that match your English proficiency level.
  3. Practice with Exercises: Engage in grammar exercises of varying difficulty levels. Focus on correctly applying grammar rules in practical situations. Work through exercises that cover different aspects of grammar.
  4. Speak English: Strive to communicate regularly in English. This can involve conversations with native speakers, participating in conversation clubs, or using the language in everyday scenarios. Practical application is crucial for reinforcing grammar concepts.
  5. Listen and Read: Listen to English audio materials, watch movies, and read books. This helps you internalize natural rhythms and the usage of grammar within context.
  6. Take Notes: While studying, make notes about important grammar rules, examples, and exceptional cases. These notes will serve as a handy reference for you to revisit.
  7. Continuously Improve: Grammar learning is an ongoing process. Don’t be afraid to learn and refine your skills, especially as you progress to higher levels of English proficiency.
  8. Ask Questions and Seek Answers: If you have questions or uncertainties about specific grammar aspects, search for answers in resources or reach out to a teacher or language community for support.
  9. Use artificial intelligence: If you have any difficulties in learning English, using artificial intelligence, such as ChatGPT, can help you.

Remember that learning grammar is a gradual process that requires dedication and patience. By following these recommendations and practicing regularly, you will enhance your grammatical skills and confidence in using the English language.

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