- Aug 3, 2008
The English LanguageA tutorial about how to use proper, understandable grammar when writing in English
IntroductionAs a proud British person and native English speaker, I often get annoyed with people on internet forums writing in horribly broken English. dis is not how englis is rit wit bad gramer n wrds wid lods ov ltrs misng its rly hrd 4 u 2 rid n it rly pis me of. This is how English is written, with good grammar and words written out fully. It’s easy to read and it makes everyone happy. Even things like using apostrophes in the wrong place’s or not using them when you should or forming the past tense wrong, and plenty of other common mistakes, make writing difficult and frustrating to read.
This tutorial will cover the aspects of the English language, and after you have read this tutorial, you will have no excuse to spk lik dis.
Even if you are a native English speaker (especially if you’re American. Grrr.), you could still read this tutorial and get something out of it. I’ve seen plenty of English people using apostrophes for plurals.
Note: This is not a tutorial to teach English to people who know little or no English already.
ApostrophesApostrophes (‘) are an important part of the English language. They indicate possession and they can shorten words to make your writing less formal. They are not used, along with an “s”, to make nouns plural, or to form the “you” form of most verbs.
PossessionThe most important use of Apostrophes is to indicate possession. This is easily done. If want to say “The bag which belongs to the woman” or “The bag of the woman”, the way to write this using an apostrophe is, simply, “The woman’s bag”. The person or object it belongs to goes directly after the “The” or “A”, with an apostrophe and an “s” on the end, followed by the “owned” noun.
Shortening WordsThis does not mean the kind of shortening that makes the writing unreadable. It’s just as much a part of English as in, for example, French, when “Je ai” becomes “J’ai”, etcetera.
There are only a few word combinations which can be shortened in English, and these are generally subject pronouns (like “I”, “you”, “he”) followed by certain common irregular verbs such as “to be” or “to have”, or when verbs are made negative. Here is a list of every word combination which it is possible to shorten...
Subject Pronoun + verb
- I am -> I’m
- you are -> you’re
- he is -> he’s
- she is -> she’s
- it is -> it’s
- thing is -> thing’s (same for most nouns)
- we are -> we’re
- they are -> they’re (this is often written as “there”, which is a completely different word, and is definitely wrong)
- I have -> I’ve (this one’s tricky – you can’t shorten “I have a cow”, but you can shorten “I’ve got a cow” or “I’ve eaten a cow” – it’s only possible to shorten it if used with “got” or for the past tense)
- you have -> you’ve (like with “I have”, you can only shorten this if used with “got” or past tense)
- he has -> he’s (“got” past tense only)
- she has -> she’s (“got” or past tense)
- it has -> it’s (“got” or past tense)
- we have -> we’ve (“got” or PT)
- they have -> they’ve (“got” or PT)
- I will -> I’ll
- you will -> you’ll
- he will -> he’ll
- she will -> she’ll
- it will -> it’ll
- we will -> we’ll
- they will -> they’ll
- I would -> I’d
- you would -> you’d
- he would -> he’d
- she would -> she’d
- it would -> it’d
- we would -> we’d
- they would -> they’d
- am not -> (this doesn’t really work, just say “I’m not”. If you must shorten “am not”, some dialects use “ain’t”)
- are not -> aren’t
- is not -> isn’t
- was not -> wasn’t
- do not -> don’t
- does not -> doesn’t
- did not -> didn’t
- will not -> won’t
- have not -> haven’t
- has not -> hasn’t
- had not -> hadn’t
- can not -> can’t
- could not -> couldn’t
- would not -> wouldn’t
- should not -> shouldn’t
That concludes Apostrophes. And remember, don’t just use them whenever you put an “s” on the end of a word!
PluralsPlurals are not formed with apostrophe-“s”! None of them!
Regular PluralsIn order to make the majority of nouns plural, all you need to do is add an “s”. No apostrophes! “Cat” becomes “cats”, “dog” becomes “dogs”, “elephant” becomes “elephants”, “bottle” becomes “bottles”, “Giant man-eating squirrel from Wales” becomes “Giant man-eating squirrels from Wales”. Simplez.
“X”, “S”, “O” and “I”sThese are almost the same, only it’s hard to pronounce just a “s” following straight after another “s”. You need a letter in between. That letter is an “e”. “Pass” becomes “passes”, “fox” becomes “foxes”.
“Y”sDon’t ask me why, but “Y”s are special. You replace the “y” with “ies” to make words ending with “y” plural. “Fly” becomes “flies”, “sky” becomes “skies”.
IrregularsWe all hate irregular words. They make languages hard. The only thing you can do is learn them all individually, as there are few patterns. Here is a short list of some of the more common ones:
- child -> children
- sheep/fish/deer -> sheep/fish/deer
VerbsVerb conjugations in English, compared to most other languages, are relatively easy, but despite this, many people still get them wrong! Sure, there are a lot of irregular verbs, but no more than most other languages...
Regular Present TenseThis is the verb “to like” fully conjugated...
he/she/one/it likes (notice the extra “s”. The same rules as with forming plurals apply to adding the s)
As you can see, only the he/she/one/it form deviates at all from the infinitive. How easy can it get?
Past TenseThe past tense is formed by either:
- Subject pronoun + present tense conjugation of to have + past participle of verb
- Subject pronoun + past tense conjugation of verb
For all regular verbs, the past participles and past tense conjugations are the same. They are formed by adding “ed” to the end of the infinitive, so “kill” becomes “killed”. If the verb already ends with an “e”, just add “d”, so “love” becomes “loved”.
If the verb ends with a short vowel sound such as “ah” (as opposed to a long vowel sound such as “ay”) followed by a single consonant, usually the same consonant is repeated before the “ed” is added, so “stop” becomes “stopped”, but “reap” simply becomes “reaped”, because “ea” is a long vowel sound.
If the verb ends with a “y” which isn’t preceded by a vowel, the “y” is replaced with an “i” before the “ed” is added, so “cry” becomes “cried”, but “destroy” simply becomes “destroyed”.
Future TenseThe future tense is easy. It is formed with either...
- Subject pronoun + present tense of “to be” + “going” + infinitive
- Subject pronoun + will + infinitive (without the “to”)
Irregular VerbsJust what everyone loves! I’ll list a few, not including verbs already listed above in the apostrophe section.
- made (past participle)
- made (past tense conjugation)
- eaten (past participle)
- ate (past tense conjugation)
- drunk (past participle)
- drank (past tense conjugation)
- gone (past participle)
- went (past tense conjugation)
- been (past tense conjugation)
ConclusionThat concludes my "tutorial" on the English language. Please note that this tutorial in no way covers every aspect of English grammar, as that would need a huge manual to cover, but it does cover the mistakes most people usually make.