Some English Grammars

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Postpositive Adjective

A postpositive adjective is an adjective that is placed after the noun or pronoun that it modifies, as in noun phrases such as attorney general, queen regnant, or all matters financial.

  • Short days, long nights, freezing temperatures, Christmas a swiftly fading memory and the prospect of spring remote.

Restrictive and Nonrestrictive Clauses

Restrictive Clauses Narrow Things Down

Restrictive clauses are usually introduced by the relative pronouns that, who, whom, or whose. A restrictive clause can have an identifying function.

A restrictive clause can also have a limiting function.

  • The children who eat vegetables are likely to be healthy.

If the restrictive clause who eat vegetables were removed from this sentence, the intended limits on the noun children would be no more.

  • The children are likely to be healthy.

Obviously, there is nothing grammatically wrong with this Spartan sentence. However, it does not have the same intent as the former example, our intention with the first sentence was to point out which children, from among the world’s multitudes, perform a behavior likely to sustain their health. Thus, who eat vegetables is an essential element of that sentence.

Restrictive clause is also known as essential clause and begins with words such as that, when, where, who, whom, whose, which and why.

  • The bike shop where Natalie works is having a sale today.

Nonrestrictive Clauses Give Bonus Info

Nonrestrictive clauses provide additional but optional descriptions that can be excised from a sentence without altering its meaning or structure.

  • Kaylee, who just graduated from high school, is an accomplished figure skater.

While the nonrestrictive clause who just graduated from high school offers a good description of the subject of this sentence, Kaylee, the sentence retains its meaning without it.

  • Kaylee is an accomplished figure skater.

In What Is

  • In what is by far the biggest-ever takeover in the gaming industry, ...

be equivalent to

  • In the takeover, which is by far the biggest-ever one in the gaming industry, ...

That of

That of is mostly used to compare two things (that is used as a pronoun).


  • The population of New York is greater than the population of San Diego.

Can be transformed to:

  • The population of New York is greater than that of San Diego.


Say means approximately or for example. An example of say used as an adverb is to make a statement using the world "say" before the actual estimate such as, "That ice cream cone has, say, 700 calories," which means the ice cream cone has about 700 calories.

Which and , Which

A comma should always precede which when it introduces a nonrestrictive clause. Otherwise, don’t place a comma prior to which

Simple Past, Pase Perfect, Present Perfect

  1. He was happy before the incident.
  2. He has been happy before the incident.

"He has been happy" is present perfect, which covers a time period starting in the past and goes until now. It includes now. It means he is still happy now.

It can use past perfect tense (had been, not has been) to say something happened before something else:

  • She has been happy, before her parents died.

It can use simple past tense (was) for someting that only happened in the past:

  • She was happy, when she was young.

It can only use present perfect tense (has been) for a thing that is still true in the present (still true now):

  • She has been happy, in recent years.

"Has she ever been happy?"

"Yes, she has been happy. Long ago, when her parents were still alive."

Sentence 1: "Has she ever been happy?" (at any past time up until now)

Sentence 2: "Yes, she has been happy." (at one or more time up until now)

Sentence 3:"Long ago, when her parents were still alive." (a partial sentence, with no main verb in it)

It can't combine Sentence 2 and 3 into one sentence, without changing the verb:
"Yes, she has been happy long ago, when her parents were still allive." is wrong.
"Yes, she was happy long ago, when her parents were still alive." is right.

"She used to be happy." [= but she isn't happy now].

Exclamatory Sentence

Exclamatory sentence often begin with exclamation marks. Exclamatory sentences typically start with the exclamatory pronouns "what" or "how" to emphasize an antecedent noun. For example, "What a beautiful baby!"


  1. "How beautiful the mountains are!" In this example, the exclamatory pronoun "how" is used to express strong emotions about a natural landscape.
  2. "Yikes, what a terrible movie!" This example uses an interjection followed by a comma as well as the exclamatory pronoun "what" to convey disappointment about a film.
  3. "You did such a wonderful job!" Although this example resembles a declarative sentence, it uses the world "such" as a determiner to emphasize the adjective "wonderful" in relation to the noun "job," and it communicates a strong feeling of approval and support.
  4. "Happy birthday, my friend!" In this example, the phrase "happy birthday" is infused with excitement, which is reinforced by the use of an exclamation mark.
  5. "Wow! I can't believe we won!" This example begins with a standalone interjection to emphasize a strong feeling of surprise.

And, OR

  1. He can speak and walk.
    • He can speak, he can walk, and he can speak and walk.
  2. He can speak or walk.
    • He can speak, he can walk, but he can't speak and walk.
  3. He can either speak or walk.
    • He can only speak, or he can only walk.
  4. He can't read and write.
    • He can read, he can write, but he can't read and write.
  5. He can't read and write.
    • He can't read, he can't write.

Inverted Sentences

Inverted Sentence = Question Form

The question form takes the place of the standard positive sentence structure in inverted sentences.

In many cases, inverted order is used within an adverbial clause when it is introduced by words than, so, neither, nor, etc.

  • A wage-price spiral often makes inflation higher than is ideal.
  • Not only do I enjoy classic music, but I also have a season ticket to the symphony.
  • Seldom has the boss been so upset!
  • So difficult has science become that only specialists can fathom its complexities.

In this case, the question form is substituted for standard sentence structure in a statement.

Generally, an inversion is used to stress the uniqueness of an event and begins with a negative.


  • Even so, they have had to raise prices, often less judiciously than is ideal.
  • Even so (= Nevertheless), they have had to raise prices (main clause), often less judiciously than is ideal (adverbial of manner).

Causative Verbs

The causatives are the verbs that are used to indicate that one person causes anther person to do something for the first person. One can cause somebody to do something for him/her by asking, paying, requesting, or forcing the person.

LET = permit something to happen

Grammatical structure:

  • LET + PERSON/THING + VERB (base form)


  • I don’t let my kids watch violent movies.
  • Mary’s father won’t let her adopt a puppy because he’s allergic to dogs.
  • Our boss doesn’t let us eat lunch at our desks; we have to eat in the cafeteria.
  • Oops! I wasn’t paying attention while cooking, and I let the food burn.
  • Don’t let the advertising expenses surpass $1000.

Remember: The past tense of let is also let; there is no change!

Note: The verbs allow and permit are more formal ways to say “let.” However, with allow and permit, we use to + verb:

  • I don’t allow my kids to watch violent movies.
  • Our boss doesn’t permit us to eat lunch at our desks.

MAKE = force or require someone to take an action

Grammatical structure:

  • MAKE + PERSON + VERB (base form)


  • After Billy broke the neighbor’s window, his parents made him pay for it.
  • My ex-boyfriend loved sci-fi and made me watch every episode of his favorite show.
  • The teacher made all the students rewrite their papers, because the first drafts were not acceptable.

Note: When using the verbs force and require, we must use to + verb.

  • The school requires the students to wear uniforms.
    “Require” often implies that there is a rule.
  • The hijacker forced the pilots to take the plane in a different direction.
    “Force” often implies violence, threats, or extremely strong pressure

HAVE = give someone else the responsibility to do something

Grammatical structure:

  • HAVE + PERSON + VERB (base form)

Examples of grammatical structure #1:

  • I’ll have my assistant call you to reschedule the appointment.
  • The businessman had his secretary make copies of the report.

Examples of grammatical structure #2:

  • John had his car washed.
  • He always has his work done.
  • Mary will have her homework prepared.
  • I’m going to have my hair cut tomorrow.
  • We’re having our house painted this weekend.
  • Bob had his teeth whitened; his smile looks great!
  • My washing machine is broken; I need to have it repaired.

Note: In informal speech, we often use get in these cases:

  • I’m going to get my hair cut tomorrow.
  • We’re getting our house painted this weekend.
  • Bob got his teeth whitened; his smile looks great!
  • My washing machine is broken; I need to get it repaired.

GET = convince/encourage someone to do something

Grammatical structure:



  • How can we get all the employees to arrive on time?
  • My husband hates housework; I can never get him to wash the dishes!
  • I was nervous about eating sushi, but my brother got me to try it at a Japanese restaurant.
  • The non-profit got a professional photographer to take photos at the event for free.

HELP = assist someone in doing something

Grammatical structure:

  • HELP + PERSON + VERB (base form)

After “help,” you can use “to” or not – both ways are correct. In general, the form without “to” is more common:

  • He helped me carry the boxes.
  • He helped me to carry the boxes.
  • Reading before bed helps me relax.
  • Reading before bed helps me to relax.

Subjunctive Mood

In subjunctive sentences, were is usually all we need.

Subjunctives also pop up from time to time with helping verb had. For past sentences, the had belongs in the part of the sentence that is contrary to fact. The contrary-to-fact part of the sentence may begin with if, or the if may be undertood.

Subjunctive with the word if: If Lola had known about the atomic secret, she would not have eaten that burrito.
Subjunctive without the word if: Had Lola known about the atomic secret, she would not have eaten that burrito.


  • Mum would have been upset if we hadn't tidied the house after party.
  • I could have been a doctor, but I hate the sight of blood.