Grammar Studies

1 - Introduction

Though all Dark Jedi learn to fight, writing also plays an important part in understanding the Force and relating events. This is especially true for Krath who have a penchant to write, scribe, and craft words and phrases into histories, tomes of lore, and books of magic rites. In order to do this effectively, however, it is of primary importance that we understand how our language works, and how best to use it to achieve our desired effect. This course will teach you how to sculpt your words and to paint your pictures in a correct fashion.

The course is structured so that chunks of information will be followed with small sections of exercises - so that you can practice what you have learned. There will be an official exam at the end of the course, so don't worry if you choose not to do the exercises during the course - they're just to make sure that you have understood what you have read, and are entirely optional.

As a side note, this course uses American English spellings of certain words (such as "lightsaber" instead of "lightsabre"); however, this does not mean that the British English spellings are wrong. The one exception to this is the word "lightsaber" itself. Because George Lucas, and subsequent Star Wars sources, use the American spelling, the word is essentially canon, and therefore should always be spelled using the American form.

2 - Terminology

Before we start, you should be aware of some basic grammatical terms. These will be referred to in the Sentence Structure part of the course, and you should be conversant with them before you begin.

  • Subject - this is the entity or character that carries out an action in a sentence (e.g. Cats eat fish)
  • Object - this is the entity or character to which an action is carried out (e.g. Cats eat fish)
  • Verb - this is the word which denotes the main action of a sentence (e.g. Cats eat fish)
  • Adverb - this denotes how the verb is done (e.g. Cats eat fish slowly)
  • Noun - this is a word that is used to denote a particular class of persons, places or things (e.g. Cats eat fish)
  • Adjective - this is used to describe a noun. (e.g. Black cats eat slimy fish)
  • Pronoun - this is a word that can be used in place of a noun in a sentence. (e.g. They eat fish)
  • Relative Pronoun - this is a word that introduces a subordinate clause, and also replaces a noun in that subordinate clause. The pronoun in English always refers back to the noun that directly precedes it in the sentence. (e.g. Cats eat fish, which live in the sea)
  • Subordinate Clause - a subordinate clause provides additional information about a sentence. As it is introduced by a Relative Pronoun, it almost always refers to the noun that directly precedes it in a sentence. (e.g. Cats eat fish, which live in the sea).
  • Preposition - in, with, from, by, upon, to - these are all examples of preposition. The preposition is sometimes known as the "locative". (e.g. Cats eat fish, which live in the sea)
  • Participle - this is a variation of a verb, and exists in only two tenses: present and imperfect. A participle can be thought of as a combination between a verb and adjective. (e.g. Injured cats eat leaping fish)

3 - Sentence Structure

This section will teach you how to structure a sentence, from the simplest to the most complex.

A basic definition of sentence is "a self-contained unit, divulging information in a set structure". A sentence must always have a subject and a verb before it can be considered a sentence (e.g. I run). However, be aware that certain verbs require an object, and cannot be used without one. These are called transitive verbs (e.g. He lifted a pillow). A verb that does not require an object is called an intransitive verb, and is capable of making up a sentence on its own (e.g. The dog barked).

Other types of grammatical structure can be added to embellish your sentence. Thus, you are able to describe a noun using an adjective, and a verb using an adverb. Remember, an adverb describes a verb, and an adjective describes a noun. By adding in extra little words, it is possible to make your sentence more complex, and more enjoyable to read (e.g. The big, black dog barked loudly and scarily).

Let's move on to subordinate clauses. These are an advanced type of structure, and will help your sentences hang together with much more finesse than a simple sentence on its own (e.g. I have lived in this town, in which I was born, for less than half my life instead of I was born in this town. I have lived in this town for less than half my life). A subordinate clause is a way of joining two sentences together, with the use of a relative pronoun, to form one complex sentence instead of two simple sentences. One thing you must be careful of with subordinate clauses, however, is that your relative pronoun must be governed by the preposition present in the original sentence.

There are four types of sentences when you talk about structure: simple, complex, compound, and complex-compound. A simple sentence contains only one independent clause and no subordinate clauses. A complex sentence contains only one independent clause and at least one subordinate clause. A compound clause contains at least two independent clauses without any subordinate clauses. A complex-compound sentence is just what it sounds: a combination of a complex and compound sentence, meaning that it has at least two independent clauses and at least one subordinate clause.

To form a compound clause, you join the two independent clauses with a conjunction and/or with a punctuation mark, such as a semicolon. A conjunction is a connecting word like “and,” “but,” “however,” and “or.”

Consider the following example:
"I was born in this town. I have lived in this town less than half my life."

  1. Decide which sentence is the dominant one - in other words, which conveys the primary information?
  2. Find the preposition in the sentence, should there be one. (In this case, in)
  3. Write your sentence.

Your finished product will either be:
"I have lived in this town, in which I was born, for less than half my life."
Or:
"I was born in this town, in which I have lived less than half my life."

Now consider this example: "Cats eat fish. Fish live in the sea."

Can you work out how to make the second sentence a clause subordinate to the first?

In English, there are two most frequently used relative pronouns. These are that and which. Of the two, "that" is a far more colloquial (more often used in spoken language) pronoun than "which." It is important that you know the difference between the two so that you can elevate the style of your language. Note also that that never takes a preposition, and is more often used to denote inanimate objects (e.g. This is the book that Mary wrote).

Participles are a derived verb form, and are mostly used as adverbial phrases (e.g. She responded to his question, smiling secretively). Note that a participle, as a derived verb form, can also be modified by adverbs themselves.

Exercises:

  1. Write a sentence that contains a subject and an intransitive verb
  2. Write a sentence that contains a subject, a transitive verb, and an object
  3. Add an adverb to the sentence in 2
  4. Add an adjective to the subject in question 2
  5. Add a subordinate clause describing the object of sentence 2
  6. Add a participle to the sentence, replacing the adverb in question 3.
  7. Make this into one sentence: The dog jumped the fence. The fence was made of rusty barbed wire.
  8. Make this into one sentence: The dog leaped over the pond. A large gaggle of geese were swimming on the pond.

4 - Verb Form

In this section we will cover Tense, Aspect/Voice, and Mood; we will also cover how to form adjectives and adverbs from a simple verb.

Tense tells your reader, and indeed yourself, in what time period the events you describe take place. It is important that the tense of your work be appropriate, and consistent. Below you will find a table describing the tenses, and what they mean; below that, you will find a few examples of each tense, given in a sentence so that you may know in what context you may use each tense.

It is possible to construct a timeline of tenses, as shown here:

Pic1

It is important to note, however, that some tenses may change position on the timeline depending on how you use them. For example, the sentence “I was walking before I smacked my head into a tree branch” uses the imperfect tense to designate a time before the perfect. It can be confusing, but once you really understand tenses, you will begin seeing how time is relative in writing.

Examples of Tenses:

  • Present - He answers / he is answering
  • Imperfect - Was ing / used to - He was answering / he used to answer
  • Perfect - He answered
  • Pluperfect - Had - He had answered
  • Future Perfect - Will have - He will have answered
  • Future Will - He will answer

4.1 - Present Tense

She turned around and looked up. "I am waiting for someone," she told him.

"I am afraid that I cannot help you."

As you can see, the present tense is mostly used in reported (indirect speech), or in direct speech. It denotes that an action is currently taking place, and is not yet complete.

4.2 - Imperfect Tense

He was walking along the road when the tree fell on him.

When she opened the door, she noticed that he was sleeping .

He used to sleep in the afternoons.

The imperfect tense is usually used in conjunction with the perfect tense, and denotes an incomplete, continual, or habitual action in the past.

4.3 - Perfect Tense

He fell from the bench.

When she saw him, she *lost her temper.*

The perfect tense is the most commonly used tense in writing, and is used to denote a past, completed action, that was done only once.

4.4 - Pluperfect Tense

He had completed his task when the door swung open.

He had just ignited his new lightsaber when he became aware of a presence in the room.

Whilst she was sleeping, he had broken a vase.

The pluperfect tense is usually used in conjunction with the perfect or imperfect tense, and is used to denote an action completed before the perfect tense, that is, an action that is in the past when the next verb occurs.

4.5 - Future Perfect Tense

It is claimed that by the time the new law is implemented, tens of thousands of criminals will have escaped justice.

It is thought that the hunt will be delayed until late summer, by which time protest groups will have fully organized themselves.

The future perfect is rarely used. It is mostly used in news reports, but occasionally will be used in literature as well. The sentence of which it is a part should be in the present tense, with the future action that this verb tense denotes implying a perfect meaning (that is, a one-off, completed action).

4.6 - Future Tense

He will not find a warm welcome here.

We will soon be consumed with wrath.

The future tense denotes an action that has not yet been attempted.

4.7 - Active/Passive Voice

The aspect of a verb is a difficult concept to grasp, although it is most likely that you have been using them without realizing it. Essentially, each verb has two aspects. These are active and passive. An active verb is usually transitive, and a passive verb is often intransitive. Look at the two examples below.

Active: Cats eat fish (subject, verb, object)
Passive: Fish are eaten by cats (subject, verb, agent)

As you can see, the use of the passive aspect (or voice) changes the sentence structure around. The object of the actively voiced sentence becomes the subject of the sentence in the passive voice. The subject of the sentence in the active voice has become the agent of the sentence in the passive voice. The agent is the object or person by which the action is done to the subject of a sentence in the passive voice, and is always preceded by the preposition "by". The meaning of a passive sentence should not be any different to the meaning of the active sentence, as you can see from the example above.

4.8 - Moods

A verb not only has two aspects/voices, but also two moods. The technical terms for these moods are indicative and subjunctive. The indicative is the mood that is used most often - the majority of this course is written in the indicative mood. Unlike French, or Latin for example, English does not use the subjunctive mood to a large extent. In fact, it is a nearly obsolete form in the English language. However, there are certain cases where a subjunctive is used, and it is well to know which these cases are. Note the following:

I wouldn't do that if I were you.
What would you do if you were rich?
I would like to look at that picture.
I shouldn't think that that was wise.

4.9 - Adjectives/Adverbs

Forming adjectives and adverbs from a verb is fairly simple. There are several simple steps to do this.

  1. Take the infinitive of the verb (e.g. "to strike")
  2. Remove the final "e" of the verb if there is one (e.g. strik-)
  3. Add -ing to form an adjective (e.g. striking)
  4. Add -ly to form an adverb (e.g. strikingly)

5 - Nouns

In this section we will deal with Plurals and the Genitive.

Plural nouns denote a group of two or more items. The formation of a plural in English is extremely easy. Below are some simple rules for the formation of a plural.

  1. Add an "s" to the end of the word. (e.g. spider - spiders)
  2. If the word ends with a "-y", remove the "y" and add "-ies" to the end of the word. (e.g. fly - flies)
  3. Some words have divergent plurals - e.g. mouse has the plural mice. Most of these words are to do with animals (e.g. goose, sheep, fish)

A genitive noun is one that denotes possession (e.g. The Grand Master's book). It is one of the only two cases in English in which you may use an apostrophe ('). The rules for putting a noun into the genitive case vary dependent on whether the noun is singular, plural, or has a collective plural. The rules are given below.

Singular Nouns are the easiest to make into genitives.

  1. Add 's to the end of the word which you wish to make genitive. e.g.: sword - sword's; hence: The sword's blade shone bright in the darkness.
  2. If the noun ends in -s (e.g. brass, grass, etc), then you have one of two alternatives. Either add ' to the end of your noun, or add 's. There is no grammatical difference.

Plural Nouns should be made genitive by adding an apostrophe to the end of the plural noun. It is grammatically incorrect to add 's (e.g. The horses' saddles were heavy).

Collective Plurals are nouns that are grammatically singular, yet have a plural meaning (e.g. Women, People, Men). These nouns must be made genitive by using the rule for singular nouns (point 1 above). For example: The women's handbags were used as weapons with deadly efficiency.

Exercises:

  1. Write a sentence containing a perfect tense and an imperfect tense verb
  2. Write a sentence in the passive voice
  3. Write a sentence in the subjunctive mood Write a sentence that includes a future perfect tense verb.
  4. Write a sentence in the passive voice, with the verb in the imperfect tense.
  5. Form an adjective from the verb "to bite"
  6. Form an adverb from the verb "to disgust"
  7. Write a sentence in which the word "anger" is genitive.
  8. Write a sentence in which the word "cats" is genitive.
  9. Write a sentence in which the word "people" is genitive.

6 - Punctuation

In this section you will learn how to use commas, full stops, exclamation points, question marks, quotation marks, and apostrophes correctly.

Full stops are used for two functions. The first of these is to denote the end of one sentence and the start of another. The second is to denote an abbreviation (e.g. ltd.).

Exclamation Points should only be used in speech, and are used to denote interjections or statements with a lot of feeling.

Question Marks denote a question. (e.g. Where are you going? What shall we do now?)

Quotation Marks are used to denote speech, or to emphasize a word in a sentence.

Apostrophes are used for the genitive case, as mentioned in the previous section, or to form contractions (e.g. "do not" becomes "don't").

Commas are a little more complicated than other punctuation marks. First and foremost, they are used to denote a change between a main sentence and a subordinate clause (e.g. I was born in this town, in which I have lived less than half my life).

Secondly, a comma is used to separate the elements of a list (e.g. Apples, bananas, grapes and oranges are all types of fruit). A comma is also used to separate names in speech from the actual speech itself (e.g. "Arthur, dear, there's a dragon over there," said Guinevere.).

Note also that a comma should always be used either before a set of quotation marks denoting speech, or within the final quotation mark (e.g. Guinevere said, "Arthur, dear, there's a dragon over there." OR "Arthur, dear, there's a dragon over there," said Guinevere.). The use of a comma before the final quotation mark (as in the second example above) is mandatory, unless you replace the comma with a question mark or exclamation point. The use of a comma before speech begins is mandatory and cannot be replaced with anything.

Another use of the comma is to separate a conjunctional phrase from a sentence (e.g. Not only this, but he repeatedly and maliciously ripped up the wallpaper.).

7 - Capital Letters

In this section you will learn when and where to use a capital letter.

Capital letters are used for several functions in English. Firstly, they are used to denote the start of a new sentence. Secondly, they denote a Proper Noun (name/city/country/language). These are the only cases in which a capital letter should be used.

8 - Commonly Confused Words

In this section, you will learn the difference between some commonly confused words.

Too, to, and two. These three words are the most often confused in the English language. "Two" stands to denote the plural (e.g. Two dogs walked down the road). "Too" denotes an excess (e.g. There was too much sugar on his strawberries). "To" is generally a preposition (e.g. He followed the Yellow Brick Road to Emerald City).

Here and hear. "Hear" is a verb, denoting something one does with one's ears. The best way to remember it is that you "hear with your ears" (e.g. I hear that food is scarce in these parts). Here denotes location (e.g. Here lies Theoden, son of Thengel, King of the Mark).

There, their, and they're. "They're" is a contraction of the form "They are." "Their" is the possessive adjective, meaning "Belonging to them" (e.g. Their house is very nice). "There" is the opposite of "here", and is a locative word (e.g. He lives over there).

An and a. This is a small, but important point of grammar, and one that will elevate your grammatical style. You should remember that a word that begins with a vowel should be preceded by "an" (e.g. an apple). A word that starts with a consonant should always be preceded by "a" (e.g. a lightsaber). Note that with the word "history" and its derivatives, using either "an" or "a" is correct (i.e. "a historian" or "an historian").

Exercises:

  1. Write a question with correct grammar.
  2. Write this sentence correctly: "Arthur dear there's a dragon in the living room" said Guinevere.
  3. Write a sentence containing two Proper Nouns, correctly capitalized.
  4. Which is correct: a apple or an apple?
  5. Which is correct: a historian or an historian?
  6. "I'm just to tired too continue," she said. Is this sentence correct? If not, correct it.
  7. The animals went in to by to - correct this sentence.
  8. That's their car over there. Is this sentence correct?

9 - Negatives

A negative is a word that makes an entire sentence negative. For example, "I will not mow the lawn." A negative sentence is a sentence where someone or something does not do something. Particular words that make a sentence negative are: no, not, and nothing. In proper spoken and written English, no more than one of these words is used in a sentence. However, in modern spoken English, many people use these terms unconscientiously. This is particularly true in certain dialects.

Double Negatives
When two words that make a sentence negative are used in the same sentence, the sentence is positive, meaning that someone or something does do something. For example, "No, I will not mow the lawn." Negatives in English are much like negatives in basic arithmetic multiplication. When one negative is multiplied by a positive, the answer will be negative. But, when two negatives are multiplied together, the result will be a positive. Furthermore, three negatives together will be a negative. Please note that double negatives are hardly ever used in proper academic English, but are used in many English dialects.

Exercises:

  1. Tell whether the following sentence is positive or negative: "No," said Johnny. "I will not do nothing!"
  2. If four negatives are used in a sentence, would the sentence be positive or negative?
  3. True or False: Double negatives are used in proper English.
  4. Explain what the person is saying in the following sentence: "I ain't gonna do nothing! Not at all!"
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