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Language Description




A) Nouns

Generally, learners need to be able to


Definition: it describes a person, place or thing.


We use nouns to express a range of additional meanings such as concepts, qualities, organizations, communities, sensations and events.


What do they look like?

1. Endings

A small proportion of nouns have identifiable ‘noun endings’.

E.g.: tradition, ability, instrument, excellence, significance


2. Proper nouns and capital letters

Words which begin with capital letters and are not at the beginning of sentences are often the names of people, places, or institutions. These are also called ‘proper’ nouns


Where do nouns come in sentence?

Nouns can:


They often end in a phrase which begins with an article such as a(n) or a quantifier such as either, any, of many. They also often follow adjectives.


Count and non- count nouns

Non- count nouns: describe liquids, materials, substances and abstract qualities.

(accommodation, hair, information, money, news, spaghetti, travel, weather)


some uncountable nouns have a countable equivalent which is a different word.

Work (U): job (c) travel (U): journey(c)


Nouns can be countable as well as uncountable

We got lost in a wood (C)      wood burns more easily than coal (U)


Sometimes countable and uncountable forms represent two closely connected uses of one word.

I told her a few truths about herself   we’ll never learn the truth



Some nouns that were originally plural are coming to be uncountable

The data are = the data is        the media are= the media is


We can use a lot of generally uncountable nouns as countable nouns. For example, to describe:

a new French cheese

a beer         two sugars


Countable nouns are also called mass nouns, and uncountable nouns are also called unit nouns.


Some nouns have the same singular and plural forms (nouns that end in s often fall into this category)


A sheep= two sheep                            a crossroads= two crossroads

A series = two series


Nouns which have been absorbed into English from other languages sometimes keep their original plural form

Plateau= plateaux                    cherub = cherubim      Mafioso= Mafiosi


The standard plural form of some words is changing from a ‘foreign’ form to an anglicized one.

Foci= focuses              syllabi= syllabuses


The original plural form of some words is coming to be used as singular.

A criteria         a phenomena


Collective nouns

Words represent groups of ppl.

Eg the team, the Conservative Party


Ppl choose either singular or plural according to whether they are thinking in terms of a unified ‘body’ or of the various ppl who make it up.


The army provides an excellent career.

The army are investigating the incident.


The names or initials of many organizations also function as collective nouns.









Describing words that provide information about the qualities of sth described in a noun, a noun phrase or clause


Adjectives have one of the following endings or ‘suffixes’

- able   impeccable                  -ent      intelligent                    -ory      obligatory

-al        paternal                       -ful      truthful                                    -ous     courageous

-ate      immaculate                  -ist       Communist                  -some   winsome

-an       Anglican                      -ive      impressive                   -wise    streetwise

-ant      fragrant                       -less     useless                         -y         misty


multiword adjectives

many adjectives are made up of two parts (usually connected by a hyphen). These two- part adjectives are multiword adjectives.


The second part of multiword adjectives is often a past participle form.


Adverb and past participle:     well-liked, well- intentioned, beautifully- written.


Noun and past participle:        feathered- brained, self- centred, people-oriented


We also derive adjectives from multiword verbs (eg wear someone out) usually in this case, the first part is usually a past participle form (worn- out, tied- up)


Where do adjectives come in sentences?

There are two usual sentence positions for single adjectives


We also use adjective after nouns. In this case the adjective is linked to the noun (or pronoun) it qualifies by a complement verb


Eg: he is cold.


A few adjectives (alive, asleep, awake) are used only after nouns.


Order: size, shape, colour, origin, material, use noun


Adjectives followed by prepositions, infinitives and that

When we use adjectives predicatively we can sometimes follow them with a preposition, infinitive or that cause


Gradable and ungradeable adjectives

Gradable adjectives describe qualities that we can measure or grade in some way. We can say sth is quite wet, very wet or terribly wet.

We can use intensifiers and downtoners (fairly, rather) with gradable adjectives.


Ungradeable adjectives

Some adjectives express:


with these extreme and absolute (‘ungradable’) adjectives we use only intensifiers wichi stress the extreme or absolute nature of these adjectives, and we don’t downtoners.


He is utterly terrified not he’s very terrified

She’s completely dead not she’s fairly dead.



Adverbs are words that modify a verb, an adjective or another adverb. (not very accurate)





Carefully, slowly


Always, often

Time and place

Now, here

Relative time

Already, recently, soon


Extremely, rather, very


A lot, a little


Even, also, only, particularly

Attitude markers

Apparently, fortunately





The articles are:


articles are part of noun phrases and come at the beginning of them, either immediately before a noun or an adjective, or before a combination of adverb, adjective and noun.


We can leave out articles before plural nouns and uncomfortable nouns


We can only leave an article out before a singular noun if we replace it with another determiner.






Like articles, quantifiers belong to the wider class of determiner. Words or phrases that come at the beginning of a noun phrase and signal whether the info is new of familiar, or (in the case of quantifiers) which tell us sth about quantity.


We use quantifiers at the beginning of noun phrases.

Before nouns:  some thoughts

Before adjective and noun:     many enterprising ppl

Before adverb and adj and noun:       any very good ideas