Chapter One Preview: 

1)      To identify, classify, and distinguish among distinct and discrete word categories;

2)      To identify how these components influence meaning in a sentence;

3)      To become familiar with how these components work together structurally to make meaning and to create what you as an English speaker recognize as sentences;

4)      To develop awareness of form versus function (i.e., one word can be used as more than one part of speech).





*      Single words or phrases (noun phrases: a single noun or pronoun or a group of words containing a noun or a pronoun that function together as a noun or pronoun, as the subject or object of a verb.)


EG: The group that I saw coming in the building at nine o’clock has just left.

(“The group ... nine o’clock” is a lengthy noun phrase, but it functions as the subject of the main verb “has just left.”)


*      There are a total of seven ways in which nouns or nominals can function in a sentence.

1.      Subject:                         The angry aliens roared incessantly.

2.      Direct object:                We ended the sad charade.

3.      Indirect object:              The study group bought Cindy a beautiful scarf.

4.      Object of the prep.:       The students with high marks won’t take the final.

5.      Appositive:                    My dog Tuffy eats everything in sight.

6.      Subject complement:     The lilac remains my favorite flower.

7.      Object complement:      John considers Tuffy his best friend.


*      Identifying six function words that can accompany nouns:

1.      Articles:                       A watched pot never boils.

2.      Demonstratives:          This window is broken. That one is not.

3.      Numbers and Quantifiers:       Kris ate one apple.

The first person in the room gets the apple.

I want a lot of bologna.

One piece of furniture is in the living room.

4.      Possessive Nouns & Pronouns:           Her head is really bothering her.

John’s house in on 8th Avenue.

5.      Adjectives:                              The children are playing in our shady yard.

My lovely, brown, fuzzy dog is named King.

6.      Interrogative Pronouns:           Which puppy do you want to bring home?




Be verbs State of Being (existence) Verbs→ Linking

Transitive  Action Verbs → Intransitive


Intransitives – verbs that can ordinarily stand alone within a predicate.

She ran.


Exception: sometimes, certain iv’s require an adverb (either as a single word or word group) to complete them. For example:

1.                          Yesterday, the baby lay. (considered ungrammatical according to the conventions of standard English )

2.                          Yesterday, the baby lay there.

3.                          Yesterday, the baby lay in its cradle. (adverb phrase – answers “where”)


Note: iv’s often contain elective words to add information and to expand meaning to the predicate.

She ran up the hill.

She ran up the hill at a brisk pace.


            Transitives – verbs that depict an action that has an effect on a person or thing.

Rule: they must take a direct object in order for the predicate to be complete. A direct object is always a noun (a person, place, or thing) or a word functioning in the place of a noun (pronoun).

            The dog bit the letter carrier. [Who was bitten?]

The letter carrier dropped her mail bag on the floor. [What was dropped?]

The dog grabbed the mail bag between its teeth. [What was grabbed?]

The dog ate the two letters and an L.L. Bean Catalogue. [What was eaten?]


            Transitive verbs can also take:

a)      Both a d.o. and i.o.

Bill gave the book to Mark.

              direct object      indirect


Bill gave Mark the book.

                   indirect      direct


Note: i.o.’s must be a noun or noun phrase or elements acting like a noun.


b)      Both d.o. and object complement

Daphne considered her coworker incompetent

                                             direct object       object complement


c)      Both d.o. and adverb(ial)

The registrar put my name on the waiting list.

                                  direct object         adverbial


                        Jim set the vase of flowers here.

                                                         direct object          adverbial


                        Note: Put and set are the two most common verbs of this type.



                  Linking Verbs – convey a condition or state of being and connect or “link” a word or words in the predicate to the subject of the sentence. The word or word group connected to the subject is necessary to complete the predicate and is called the subject complement.

Maria Lopez will remain class president. [Maria Lopez (subject) = president subject complement)]



             * Know how to identify the main verb versus auxiliaries or helping verbs as in the following sentences (this is important when diagramming and determining the sentence pattern):


             The toddler should have been napping by the time she got home.

                  Since it is the last verb, “napping” is the main verb. We can now identify it as an action verb; “should have been” are helping verbs.


             The woman is being too harsh.

                  As the main verb, “is being” is a state of being verb


More information about coordinating conjunctions








declare their major on this form.


















Study Guide: Form Versus Function


*      Words that take the form of verbs but don’t function as verbs:


Swimming is lots of fun. [‘Swimming’ looks like a verb but functions as a noun]

You are a roaring success. [‘Roaring’ functions as an adjective]

I bought a used book. [‘Used’ functions as an adjective]


*      Words that take the form of an adverb but don’t function as adverbs:


Slowly is the way they walked. [‘Slowly’ looks like an adverb but functions as a noun]

The leaves blew in a downward spiral. [‘Downward’ functions as an adjective]


*      Words that function as verbs but don’t look like verbs:


Hearsay can fuel rumors. [‘Fuel’ looks like a noun but functions as a verb]

Can you up my credit line? [‘Up’ looks like a preposition but functions as a verb]

Coffee yellows my teeth. [‘Yellow’ looks like an adjective but functions as a verb]


*      Words that function as adverbs but don’t look like adverbs:


I’m going home. [‘Home’ looks like a noun but functions as a adverb]

The students will take the test tomorrow. [‘Tomorrow’ looks like a noun but functions as an adverb]



Test preparation: Words can be categorized in a number of ways. Verbs, for instance, can be categorized as transitive, intransitive, linking and be verbs. On our first exam, I may ask you to use a particular word (“smoke”, for example) in two of these four ways.








Form Versus Function As It Pertains To The Parts Of Speech

Grammar for Language Arts Teachers (Longman P, 2003). Eds. Calderonello, Martin, Blair.


  1. Those chimneys smoke badly.
  2. Some people smoke cigarettes.
  3. Many people don’t like cigarette smoke.
  4. These cookies taste delicious.
  5. Good cooks taste the food they make before serving it to guests.
  6. This food has an odd taste.
  7. The kids love lasagna.
  8. Barnaby wants love.
  9. The boys clean their room weekly.
  10. After dinner, Ellen wants a clean kitchen.
  11. You can bank on that!
  12. The bank is located downtown.
  13. Singing is fun.
  14. Ernie is singing in tomorrow’s play.
  15. Yesterday was very stressful.
  16. Susan gave me the money yesterday.
  17. The dogs in the park ate there.
  18. The dogs in the park ate all of the meat.
  19. The woman grew sad as she thought about her deceased spouse.
  20. The man grew cabbages and corn in his garden.