Category Archives: Grammar

Participial Phrases


A group of related words that does not have a subject and a verb functioning as a single part of speech is called a phrase. A participial phrase is composed of a group of words with a participle together with all its modifiers and complements. In the following examples, a noun is modified by each of the phrases.


Children studying until late at night inspire me.


Customer requests unattended for a long time go to the archive folder.

Damaged from cover to cover, the book was unreadable.


The participial phrase is studying until late at night.


The participial phrase is unattended for a long time.


The participial phrase is damaged from cover to cover.


It modifies the noun children.


It modifies the noun customer requests.


It modifies the noun book.



How to Diagram Participial Phrases


The first step is to determine the participle and the noun it intends to modify.

Then put the participle on a bent, slanted line right under the noun it intends to modify.

Determine the rest of the phrases and diagram it correspondingly.


Image result for participial phrase diagramming



Here are the step by step procedure using this example sentence:


Smelling flowers at the garden, Jane sneezed.

Step 1: Find the participle. (smelling)

Step 2: Determine the noun it modifies. ( Jane)

Step 3: Determine the rest of the phrase. ( flowers at the garden)

Step 4: Find out what the rest of the phrase is doing.


At this stage, your grammar knowledge will be put into test.
In the process of diagramming this sentence, you need to know that flowers is a direct object and at the garden is a prepositional phrase. This prepositional phrase is modifying smelling. As a result, we diagram the prepositional phrase underneath smelling.



When there isn’t a noun or pronoun to modify, the participial phrase dangles. It is called a dangling participle.

Adverbs of Frequency

What are they?

• They are adverbs that tell us how often or how frequently an action is done.

What are the two types of adverbs of frequency?

Definite adverbs of frequency

Used to describe definite frequency


  • hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly
  • every second, once a minute, twice a year
  • once, twice, once or twice, three times

We usually put it in end position of the sentence.


  • My sister checks up on me Every hour.
  • We go abroad yearly.
  • We hang out weekly.

Sometimes we put it at the front.


  • Every day, millions of people suffer from pollution.

Indefinite adverbs of frequency

Used to describe indefinite frequency

We usually put it in the middle position of the sentence.

They go before the main verb (except the main verb “to be”)

  • We usually hang out on Saturday.
  • I have often done that.
  • They are always late.


Prefixes and Suffixes


-A group of letters added before the root of a word. It usually changes the meaning of the

For example:

WORD                  PREFIX  and Meaning                                               New word

Happy                   Un – not                                                                         Unhappy

Work                     Over -Excessively,extreme                                         Overwork

Understand         Mis-Bad,wrong                                                             Misunderstand

Social                    Anti -Against                                                                 Antisocial

Cursor                  Pre- Before,prior                                                          Precursor



– A group of words added at the end of a root word.

For example:

WORD                  SUFFIX and Meaning                                             New Word

Like                       Able-able to be                                                         Likeable

Happy                  Er-comparative                                                         Happier

Sad                       Ness-denotes state or condition                           Sadness

Taste                     Less- Not including                                                 Tasteless

Mixed Conditionals in Past, Present and Future


Mixed conditional sentences are comprised of two clauses pertaining to different times.

The following patterns can be used:


mixed first conditional sentences

A variety of modal verbs can be used in first conditional sentences.
If + present simple, can / may / might / will / should + verb (infinitive)

If you help me finish my task on time, I will take you out for dinner.
If you want to see the concert badly, I can lend you some money.
If I close this deal, may I go on vacation?
If I let you go out with your friends tonight, you should be home by 11.


Going to and will can also be used in first conditional sentences.
If + present simple, going to + verb (infinitive)
If you don’t take things seriously, you’re going to miss this opportunity.


The present continuous and going to can also be used in the If clause
If you’re going home, can you pick up Lucas along the way?
If you’re going to your hometown, make sure to pay him a visit.


The present perfect may also be used in the If clause.
If you’ve read the first novel, you can start working on the second one.



mixed third / second conditional

This pattern describes a present result of an envisioned past action.

If + past perfect, would + verb (infinitive)

If they had taken the train instead of the bus, they wouldn’t still be stuck in traffic.
They wouldn’t still be stuck in traffic if they had taken the train instead of the bus.



mixed second / third conditional

This pattern describes a probable result in the past of an unreal action or situation.
If + past simple, would have + verb (infinitive)

If I was a good singer, I would have been more popular.
I would have been more popular if I was a good singer.



Causative Verbs In English: Let, Make, Have, Get, Help


Causative verbs are action words that cause another thing to happen. The verbs let, help, have, make and get are causative verbs.

The following examples show the usage and purpose of causative verbs in English sentences.


How To Use Causative Verbs in English

LET = Allow something to happen



LET + PERSON/THING + base form of the VERB



I don’t let my toddler play at the dining table.

She doesn’t let us go on a trip alone.

They won’t let her see John again.

I let all these unfortunate events happen.

Don’t let them get to you.


Good to know: Let is also the past tense of let.


If the aim is to express a more formal sentence, the verbs allow and permit can be used. With the use of allow and permit, we have to use to + verb:

I don’t allow my toddler to play at the dining table.

She doesn’t permit us to go on a trip alone.



MAKE = Require or Force Someone To Do Something

Grammatical structure:

MAKE + PERSON + base form of the VERB



They made him clean the entire house by himself. Afterall, he was the one who made all the mess.

My teacher made me read seven novels in one month.



Just the same with the use of allow and permit, we must also use to + verb when using the verbs force and require.

The company requires the employees to wear their company ID.
“Require” is usually used when there is a rule that has to be followed.

She was forced to surrender all her valuables at knife point.
“Force” is usually used when there is coercion and a threat of violence.


HAVE = Hand over The task to Someone else



  • HAVE + PERSON + base form of the VERB
  • HAVE + THING + PAST PARTICIPLE of the verb


Examples of structure #1:

  • The leader had his assistant arrange the meetings for his colleagues.
  • I’ll have my business partner send you an email regarding the proposal.


Examples of structure #2:

  • I’m going to have my nails done later.
  • I need to have my clogged sink fixed soon.


Good to know:  We often use “get” in informal speech.

  • I’m going to get my nails done later.
  • I need to get my clogged sink fixed soon.


GET = Persuade/Motivate Someone To Do Something





  • My friends got me to wear a summer dress that is not my style.
  • The couple got a wedding coordinator to take care of all their wedding needs.



HELP = Be of Assistance to Someone/Aid Someone in Doing Something


  • HELP + PERSON + base form of the VERB

It is unnecessary but “to” can be used after the verb “help”. It is more common not to use “to” after “help”.

  • They helped her clean her house.
  • They helped her to clean her house.
  • Sally helps me do my homework every night.
  • Sally helps me to do my homework every night.





It,This and That


It is a pronoun used to refer to a specific thing, fact, place, and situation.


I visited John’s farm. It was big and clean.

My dog ate my biscuit. It was probably hungry.

We also use it to refer to time, distance, and weather.


What time is it now?

How far is it from here to your hometown?

It was rainy yesterday.

That, This

That is used to refer to an object that is far from the speaker.


That red box is used to keep my children’s toys. (Pointing to a box)

This is used to refer to an object which is close to the speaker.


This is my latest invention. (The speaker is either holding the object or has the object near him/her)

These, Those

These – used to refer to objects that are near the speaker.


These samples are well-made.

Those – used to refer to objects that are far from the speaker.


Those apples in that stall look delicious!

Sometimes, we use this, that, these, and those, as pronouns.


Who owns this (book)?

What are these (fruits)?

Please hand me those (boxes)

When or IF

When or If

Look at the following sentences:

a. We will go home when it stops raining.
b. If it stops raining, we will go home.

What is the difference between the two sentences?

When is used for things which we are sure to happen.


I will go jogging this afternoon. (Plan) When I go jogging, I will drop by Susan’s place.


If is used for things that will possibly happen.


Don’t call me if I am late this evening. My meeting might get extended.

If the company doesn’t call me, I will send them an email.

I might attend the conference tomorrow. If I attend the conference, I will try to find a chance to show our new proposal.


Going back to the two sentences presented at the beginning, sentence A implies that the rain is sure to stop, thus they will go home (after it stops). Sentence B, on the other hand, implies that the speaker is not sure whether the rain will stop later or not.

Will / Won’t


• We use will + verb when we make an impulse decision or decide something at the
moment of speaking

Example: I will call Suzanne about this afternoon’s product launch. Thank you for
reminding me.

• We also often use will + verb with the phrase, I think.

Example: I think I will hand in my report after the meeting. I don’t want to be late in
submitting it.

• We often use will in the following situations:

➢ Offering to do something
Example: I will help you plan tomorrow’s meeting.

➢ Agreeing to do something
Example: Yes, I will call him as soon as I complete my report.

➢ Asking someone to do something
Example: Will you call me when you get home?


• Won’t or will not is the negative of will. This is often used in spoken English.
Example: I won’t go home early today.

• We also use won’t to say that somebody refuses to do something.
Example: My manager won’t listen to my explanation. What should I do?

Past Perfect Continuous

When telling a story or an action about the past, we use the past perfect continuous. In most cases, it is used with other narrative tenses like the past simple.


The past perfect continuous shows an ongoing action in the past up until another past action. It is used to tell the events not in its correct sequence.



A sentence with the correct sequence of events:

Alice was having a lot of fun at the party, so she decided to stay up late.                                                 



A sentence with the events not in order:

Alice decided to stay up late because she had been having a lot of fun at the party.

The ongoing event that took place prior to the other verb is in the past perfect tense.



Put any adverbs between had and been.

She had only been studying in the university for a semester before she got into trouble.

Sam had already been sleeping for an hour.





he / she / it


had / ‘d



been + verb-ing


Relative Clauses


A defining relative clause is used to give information about a noun in a sentence. This information is needed by the listener or reader to understand the whole thought in the sentence.


A lawyer is a person who represents ordinary people in a legal proceeding.

The man who helped carry my stuff has just left.


We use who to provide more details about a person.

A policeman is a person who helps keep the street safe.


 We use which or that to provide more details about a thing.

A ring is a thing which you wear around your finger as an accessory.

The dress that I wore last summer is beautiful.


We use where to provide more details about a place.

That’s the restaurant where we had our first date.

The city where I was born is a popular tourist destination.


Non-defining relative clauses provide key information therefore commas (,) are not needed.

If the object of the sentence is the noun which the relative clause describes (commonly found at the beginning of the sentence), the words that, which or who can be omitted.


1. The girl who is staring at me is my former girlfriend.

The girl is the subject of the sentence. You cannot omit who.


2. The woman (who) Andy has been dating for years is my cousin.

Andy is the subject of the sentence.

The woman is the object of the sentence.

When rewritten: Andy has been dating a woman for years. The woman is my cousin.

Here, Who can be omitted.


3. The house you showed me is in a quiet neighborhood.

You is the subject of the sentence.

The house is the object of the sentence.

When rewritten: You showed me a house. The house is in a quiet neighborhood.

Which / that is unnecessary.


4. The car which is on the left side is a luxury car.

The car is the subject of the sentence.

When rewritten: The car is on the left side. It’s a luxury car.

Which / that is necessary.