Basic grammar

The truth is many people make mistakes without realising it. It’s just something they’ve picked up, that’s never been pointed out to them.

This chapter is intended as a short refresher course in good grammar and a way of raising your professional writing skills to a standard that will help make you a better journalist – and a more attractive proposition to a potential employer.

Let’s start with the basics.

Parts of speech

The parts of speech show what job a word performs in a sentence. It’s useful to be able to identify them, so here’s a simple guide …Noun

A noun is the name of a person, place, object or abstract concept. There are common nouns and proper nouns. Most nouns are common nouns, such as book, house, television, or car. Common nouns include abstract nouns, such as feat, distance, speed or decision. Proper nouns are names with capital letters, such as Coca Cola, Monday, Preston, or Madonna.

Nouns which refer to a collection of people, or things, such as team, or flock, are called collective nouns. These are discussed in a separate chapter.

A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. The most common pronouns are I, you, he, she, it, we and they. For example, They are going to the cinema.

An adjective is a word that describes a noun, or pronoun, and tells us something about it, such as interesting, colourful or exciting. For example, It is an exciting movie. Words like my, your and her are called possessive adjectives.

A verb is a doing word. It’s used to show an action, or a condition. Examples are finds, speaks, drives, or suffers. Verbs change their form to indicate time, such as spoke (past), is speaking (present), or will speak (future). They also change to reflect who is doing the action. For example he finds, but they find.

An adverb is a word that describes a verb, such as slowly, clearly, quickly, or suddenly. For example, He arrived suddenly.

A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between things, such as of, on, to, with, between, during, or under. It’s usually found in front of a noun, or pronoun. For example: We are going to Preston, or The book is under the table.

A conjunction is a word that joins parts of a sentence together. The most common conjunction is and. Others include but, as, if, and because. For example, He sat down and started to read.