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    Grammatical Functions of English Nouns and Noun Phrases

    Noun phrases including nouns and pronouns perform eleven main grammatical functions within sentences in the English language. The eleven functions of nouns and noun phrases are: Nouns are traditionally defined as “persons, places, things, and ideas.” Noun phrases are defined as phrases that consist of a noun or pronoun and any number of constituents including […] More

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    Language Is Arbitrary

    Language is arbitrary. I recently stated that language is arbitrary on Twitter in response to the erroneous claim that language is a code. Language is not a code because language is arbitrary. When I state that language is arbitrary, I often receive bewildered and sometimes disdainful replies such as (1) English is 80% predictable, (2) […] More

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    Grammatical Form of English Adverb Clauses

    Similar to the adverb and adverb phrases in grammatical function, an adverb clause is a dependent or subordinate clause that consists of a subordinating conjunction followed by a clause and that performs an adverbial function. Conjunctions are “words that link words, phrases, and clauses.” A subordinating conjunction is a conjunction that introduces a subordinate or […] More

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    English Auxiliary Verbs

    Auxiliary verbs are a subcategory of English verbs that provide additional semantic or syntactic information about the main verb in the verb phrase such as tense, aspect, modality, and voice. The eighteen auxiliary verbs in English grammar are have, be, do, get, nine modal verbs, and five quasi-modal verbs. Perfect Have The first auxiliary verb […] More

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    Possessive Pronouns in English Grammar

    Pronouns are small words that can take the place of other grammatical forms such as nouns and noun phrases. Possessive pronouns express possession of or some other relationship to another word or phrase and can perform five grammatical functions: subject, subject complement, direct object, indirect object, and prepositional complement. Pronouns from three categories of pronouns […] More

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    Phrasal Verbs: The Elephant Is a Whole, Not Its Parts

    Although grammatical relationships among forms of lexemes are expressed through either inflection or periphrasis, English is a highly periphrastic language. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (2008), periphrasis is defined as “a phrase of two or more words used to express a grammatical relationship which would otherwise be expressed by the inflection of a single […] More

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    Discussing Indirect Objects with ChatGPT

    As my readers know, I have written and tweeted extensively about indirect objects in English grammar. Some of the biggest lies that many grammar books tell are about indirect objects. For example, many grammars call the prepositional phrase to me in a sentence like She gave the book to me an indirect object. While prepositional […] More

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    The Adpositional Complement in English Grammar

    Adpositional complements are defined as the word, phrase, or clause that directly follows the adposition and completes the meaning of the adpositional phrase. Adpositional complements are also called objects of adpositions and complements of adpositions. Both prepositional complements and postpositional complements are subcategories of adpositional complements. Prepositional complements follow the preposition. Postpositional complements precede the […] More

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    A History of the Term ‘Ebonics’

    I encountered something the other day in which someone referred to the English spoken by many Black Americans as Ebonics. The controversial term stuck in my mind, so I decided to remind myself of the history of the term. The term Ebonics, which originated in the late 1970s as a portmanteau or blend of the […] More

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    Lies Your Grammar Teacher Told You: Possessive Pronouns and Possessive Determiners

    As I have written repeatedly, the line between grammatical forms is blurry at best, especially among lexical categories like noun, verb, and adjective. Grammatical form and grammatical function distinguish one word class from other. The lines between functional categories are typically much clearer than the lines between lexical categories. As closed classes that do not […] More

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    The Adjunct Adverbial in English Grammar

    Adjunct adverbials are words, phrases, and clauses that modify an entire clause by providing additional information about time, place, manner, condition, purpose, reason, result, and concession. Six grammatical forms can perform the grammatical function of adjunct adverbial in the English language. The six grammatical forms that can function as the adjunct adverbial are: The following […] More

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    Word Matrix: Verge

    <verge>“turn, bend”, from Latin vergere “to bend, turn, tend toward” Words Sums Verge -> vergeVerge + es -> vergesVerge + ed -> vergedVerge + ing -> vergingcon + Verge -> convergecon + Verge + es -> convergescon + Verge + ed -> convergedcon + Verge + ing -> convergingcon + Verge + ent -> convergentcon […] More

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    That Using ‘that’ Makes You Sound “Not Smart” Is Wrong

    Whenever I come across a post about “words to avoid,” I audibly groan. Such posts are prescriptivist attempts to impose more arbitrary rules on language use. I recently saw a post in my Facebook feed about “words to avoid to sound smarter.” One suggestion was to avoid the word that. The post claimed that that […] More

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    Christmas, Spelling, and Structured Word Inquiry

    Learn more about Structured Word Inquiry (SWI) by studying the spellings of some vocabulary words related to the Christmas holiday: Christmas, Yuletide, decoration, angel, mistletoe, ornament, poinsettia, fruitcake, eggnog, and gingerbread. Structured Word Inquiry English spelling is rule-based. There are no exceptions, just more rules to uncover. I have yet to find a word whose […] More

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    Thanksgiving, Spelling, and Structured Word Inquiry

    Learn more about Structured Word Inquiry (SWI) by studying the spellings of some vocabulary words related to the Thanksgiving holiday: Thanksgiving, gratitude, turkey, cranberry, Thursday, squash, cornucopia, delicious, acorn, and potato. Structured Word Inquiry English spelling is rule-based. There are no exceptions, just more rules to uncover. I have yet to find a word whose […] More

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