Absolute Adjective

An absolute adjective is an adjective that is used as a noun. For example, the adjective dead is an absolute adjective. A dead person cannot be ‘deader’ or ‘more dead’ than another dead person. An absolute adjective cannot therefore be used in a comparative sentence as it cannot take a comparative or superlative form.


Absolute adjectives have a meaning that is about the same as superlative, and they therefore cannot be modified by adverbs such as very, extremely or rather. For example, a dead person cannot be very dead or extremely dead.


Absolute adjectives, however, can be intensified with words such as almost, nearly, quite, truly, and utterly.
A truly unique characteristic is the small, stunted trees in the island.
The houses in the remote village retain much of the medieval architecture which makes it quite unique.


Absolute adjectives can be both attributive and predicative:
Attributive: A unique characteristic is the small, stunted trees in the island.
Predicative: The houses retain much of the medieval architecture which makes the remote village unique(See List of Absolute Adjectives.)






Absolute Phrase

See Absolute Phrase 




Abstract Noun

See 1. Types of Nouns




Adjective Complement

An adjective complement is a phrase, usually a prepositiional phrase, or a clause, usually a noun clause, that modifies an adjective or provides information to complete the meaning of an adjective phrase. If the complement consists of only one word, it is very likely to be an adjective.



Prepositional phrase as adjective complement:

  • She was worried about her sick dog.
  • His girlfriend was quite annoyed by his remarks.

Noun clause as adjective complement:

  • Her parents are very happy she is finally married.
  • Both sides are hopeful that a peaceful solution will be found.

Infinitive phrase as adjective complement:

  • She was only too glad to escape from the conversation.
  • The residents are getting ready to protest.
Adjective Object Complement
An object complement can be an adjective. It follows and modifies the direct object which is a noun or pronoun. Some of the common transitive verbs used for an object complement include callconsidermakepaint. An adjective object complement can be a single word or a phrase.



  • The boxer knocked his opponent unconscious
  • Her ex-boyfriend makes her angry every time she sees him with his new girlfriend.
    (The adjectives unconscious and angry are complements that follow and modify the noun object opponent and pronoun object her.) 
  • She considers the price of the pair of high-heel shoes too high
  • The puppy licked the dish spotlessly clean.
    (The adjective phrases too high and spotlessly clean are complements to the objects price and bowl, which they modify.)  
Adjective Phrase
An adjective phrase (or adjectival phrase) is a group of words, whose head word is an adjective. It modifies or describes a noun or pronoun. The adjective phrase can be an attributive adjective coming before a noun or a predicative adjective coming after the noun that it modifies in a sentence. As a predicate adjective, it follows a verb or linking verb after the noun.



  • The hotel restaurant serves really delicious meals. (Attributive adjective phrase)
  • The air was filled with the fresh scent of flowers. (Predicative adjective phrase)
  • Everyone knows she is angry with you. (Predicative adjective phrase modifies pronoun.)

An adjective phrase may be preceded by a determiner or a modifier.

  • Everyone knows she is very angry with you. (Adjective phrase modified by very.)




Adjective Prepositional Phrase
Adjective prepositional phrases are prepositional phrases. They function as adjectives that modify nouns and pronouns. Adjective prepositional phrases always follow immediately those nouns and pronouns that they modify.


  • Those small birds in the cage are owlets.  
    (The adjective prepositional phrase in the cage modifies the noun birds.) 
  • That is my uncle, the town’s police chief with a worried look on his face.
    (The adjective prepositional phrase is in bold, modifying the noun police chief.)  
  • There were many questions that the reporters want him to answer.
    (The adjective prepositional phrase is in bold, modifying the pronoun him.)    
Adverb Prepositional Phrase
Adverb prepositional phrases are prepositional phrases. They function as adverbs that modify verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Adverb prepositional phrases typically come the verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that they modify.


Modifying verb:

  • The burglar hid under the bed when the police arrived.
    (The prepositional phrase under the bed modifies the verb hid.)
  • She often walked her dog along the beach.      
  • Some of the coins roll underneath his car 

Modifying adjective:

  • You look pale after that big argument.
    (The prepositional phrase after that big argument modifies the adjective pale.)
  • (Tom was all excited about his prize, a new car.)
    (The prepositional phrase about his prize modifies the adjective excitedA new car is an appositive phrase.)
  • His mum was absolutely mad with him for dropping and breaking her antique clock.  

Modifying adverb:

  • We will gather here in the evening for stargazing.
    (The prepositional phrase in the evening modifies the adverb here.)
  • He drove slowly on those narrow muddy country roads   
  • It seemed over there a shadowy figure appeared and disappeared often out of the darkness.  
An adverbial is a part of a sentence. it can be a word that acts as an adverb, or more than one word that functions as an adverb prepositional phrase or adverb clause. An adverbial adds information to the verb or to complete it. 



  • We ran all the way home. (Adverb)
  • The tourists walked everywhere they went. (Adverbial clause)
  • He locked his victim in the basement (Adverbial prepositional phrase)




Adverbial is essential to complete the meaning of a verb.

  • He quarreled.
    (Incomplete sentence: the verb needs to complete its meaning.)  
  • He quarreled with his boss
    (Adding an adverbial [in bold] completes the meaning of the verb as well as the sentence.)  




Adverbials can be expressed to tell us when (time), where (place), why (reason), or how (manner) something happens.

Adverbial of time tells when something happens.

  • The father won millions of pounds in the national lottery in May.
  • He wants to get married as soon as he is old enough 

Adverbial of place tells where something happens.

  • I found your missing glasses here.
  • The old dog was knocked down by a car in the middle of the street 

Adverbial of reason tells why something happens.

  • The twin brothers fought over the priest’s daughter.
  • She screamed because she thought she saw her late grandmother 

Adverbial of manner tells how something happens or how something is done.

  • The car skidded off the icy road.
  • The fox moved silently through the bushes in search of a prey.  




Although adverbials modify verbs, they can take the form of noun phrases (in bold).

  • We took the last train 
  • Every weekend, we visit our grandparents   




Adverbial functions as an adverb but it can also act as an adjective.

  • It rained heavily yesterday evening.
  • The practice session begins tomorrow afternoon.
    (Both words yesterday and tomorrow are adverbs, but in the sentences, they take the role of adjective.)    




Adverbial Phrase
An adverbial phrase usually consists of two or more words: an adverb being the head word in an adverbial phrase plus other words, although it can consist of only one adverb. The adverbial phrase functions as an adverb in a sentence and is often a prepositional phrase that modifies a verb, adjective, or adverb.  


  • He made his phone call in a disused phone booth.

    (The adverbial phrase in a disused phone booth modifies the verb made.)

  • She seems happy with her puppies.

    (The adverbial phrase with her puppies modifies the adjective happy.)

  • Bob hates to wake up early on Monday morning.

    (The adverbial phrase on Monday morning modifies the adverb early.) 




A pronoun is used to refer to or replace a noun that comes earlier in a sentence. The noun that is referred to or replaced is called an antecedent. An antecedent can also be a phrase, clause, or sentence. A pronoun must agree with the antecedent that it replaces in number (singular or plural), person (first, second, or third), and gender (masculine, feminine, or neuter).
Number (singular or plural),
If the antecedent is a singular noun, the pronoun replacing it must be a singular pronoun.
If the antecedent is a plural noun, the pronoun replacing it must be plural pronoun. 


  • The man stood still on the beach facing the sea with his two hands clasped together. We thought he was praying. 
    (Singular-noun antecedent: man; singular pronoun: he) 
  • More people arrived and they joined the queue. 
    (Plural-noun antecedent: people; plural pronoun: they) 



Person (first, second, or third),
If the antecedent is a personal pronoun in the first person, the pronoun replacing it must also be in the first person.
If the antecedent is a personal pronoun in the second person, the pronoun replacing it must also be the second person.
If the antecedent is a personal pronoun in the third person, the pronoun replacing it must also be the third person.



  • met my ex-wife on my way here.  
    (First-person antecedent: I; first-person pronoun: my) 
  • If you want to ask a question, please raise your hand.
    (Second-person antecedent: you; second-person pronoun: your) 
  • The dog wagged its tail when I arrived.    
    (Third-person antecedent: dog; third-person pronoun: its) 



Gender (masculine, feminine, or neuter).
If the antecedent is a feminine noun, it must be replaced by a feminine pronoun.
If the antecedent is a masculine noun, it must be replaced by a masculine pronoun.
If the antecedent is a neuter noun, it must be replaced by a neuter pronoun.



  • I bought my grandmother a fruit cake and she shared it with me.      
    (Feminine antecedent: grandmother; feminine pronoun: she) 
  • The king is tired. He is advised to rest.  
    (Masculine antecedent: king; masculine pronoun: he) 
  • The farmhouse was on fire and soon it was burnt to the ground.    
    (Neuter antecedent: farmhouse; neuter pronoun: its) 




An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that is placed next, usually after, another noun to rename or identify it.  
Complete sentence without appositive: Their history professor is quite absent-minded.
Complete sentence with appositive: Their history professor, Frances, is quite absent-minded.
(By adding the appositive Frances, it renames the professor which can be of help as there may be more than one history professor at the particular place.)
Complete sentence without appositive: Edward Ward is being sought by the police to assist in the investigation.
Complete sentence with appositive: Edward Ward, a completely bald man in early middle age, is being sought by the police to assist in the investigation.
(The appositive in the last example – in bold – identifies the noun Edward Ward by providing more information about him.)
More examples with appositives in bold.


  • His pet fish, a goldfish, is a gift from his girlfriend.
  • Alice, Tom’s only sister, has graduated with a degree in taxidermy.
  • A big fat woman with double chins, Ava is trying hard to cut out the foods that are making her fat.
  • We have been going to the nightclub to listen to Anthony, a folk singer confined to a wheelchair.
Appositive Phrase

An appositive phrase is a noun or pronoun with a modifier. It is placed immediately before or immediately after a noun or pronoun that it renames or identifies.


  • Bobby, his twin brother, got married on the same day as he.
    (The appositive phrase his twin brother follows the noun Bobby that it identifies.)
  • A head chef in a London hotel, George specializes in whale meat dishes.
    (The appositive phrase a head chef in a London hotel precedes the noun George that it modifies.)



In identifying a noun in a sentence, an appositive phrase is providing more information about the noun. The information may or may not be essential to the meaning of the sentence. When the information is essential, no commas are used to set off the appositive phrase. If the information is nonessential, commas are used before and after the appositive phrase, as the sentence is complete and clear without it.



  • The famous singer Carole King is an American composer and singer-songwriter.
    (No commas are used to enclose the appositive Carole King as the information is essential. Without the appositive Carole King, there would be no idea which famous singer is being referred to: The famous singer is an American composer and singer-songwriter.)
  • Carole King, the famous singer, is an American composer and singer-songwriter. 
    (Commas are used to enclose the appositive phrase the famous singer. This piece of information is not essential. Without this appositive phrase, the sentence is still clear as to who the subject Carole King is: a famous American singer.)





Aspects of Verb  
All verbs have both tenses and aspects. Each tense is subdivided into aspects. The different combinations of tenses and aspects make possible aspects such as simple, continuous (progressive), perfect, and perfect continuous. These aspects indicate whether the actions are continuous, completed, or both continuous and completed
Since verbs have three tenses (presentpastfuture) and four aspects, their combinations make possible twelve different forms as follow:
Simple aspect: simple present, simple past, simple future  
Continuous (progressive) aspect: present continuous, past continuous, future continuous
Perfect aspect: present perfect, past perfect, future perfect
Perfect continuous (progressive) aspect: present perfect continuous, past perfect continuous, future perfect continuous 
More on aspects



Attributive Adjective

See Attributive adjectives 



Auxiliary Verb

An auxiliary verb is a verb that is used with a main verb to form a verb phrase. The auxiliary verb be is used in continuous forms and to form passive verb phrases. The auxiliary verb have is used in perfect tenses. The auxiliary verb do is used mostly in questions and negative clauses. Do is also used to show emphasis.

More on auxiliary verbs
Base Form of Verb
Verbs have five basic forms: the base form (hide), the -s form (hides), the -ing form (hiding), the past -ed form (hid), and the past participle form (hidden). The base form of a verb is the form found in the dictionary with none of the endings known as inflections added.
Infinitive used the same word as the base form of the verb except that it comes after the word to: to buy, to read, to walk. The following show the use of the base form (in bold).


The following show the use of the base form (in bold).

When the future tense (underlined) is used.When the future tense (underlined) is used.

  • We will meet at the end of the tunnel.
  • There shall be no snoring during the lecture.

When an imperative sentence is used.

  • All rise I say!
  • Put every one of them there, not  here!

When an anxiliary verb (underlined) is used to ask a question?

  • Don’t you remember me?
  • How did you get that ugly scar on your forehead?

When a negative statement is used.

  • The family does not drink goat milk..
  • They didn’t win the first ten matches.

When the verb follows a direct object (underlined).

  • They made her walk like a penguin for losing the bet.
  • We heard John whisper the two girls’ names in his sleep.  

When a subjunctive sentence is used.

  • His pet dog has given birth, and he suggests that each of use adopt a puppy.
  • It is essential that she be told the truth about how you dented her car.






Be is an auxiliary verb as well as a main verb. It comes in different forms (shown in bold here):

Present tense: am, is, are
Past tense: was, were
Present participle: being
Past participle: been


Be is used as an auxiliary verb in:
Continuous tense: The rain is falling.
Passive form: The car was stolen.
Be is used as a linking verb:
That animal is a baboon.
My dad was arrested. 
Be is used as an infinitive verb/infinitive:
He is to show us how to make a birdhouse.
All doors are to be locked.
As a main verb, be may be followed by:
a complement (adjective): The witch was ugly.
a complement (noun phrase): You are a muscular man.