Talk:English grammar

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Suggest splitting[edit]

Cnilep's suggested articles[edit]

According to WP:SPLITTING, an article of more than 100 KB "Almost certainly should be divided." This article is slightly more than 120 KB. Other users have also recommended splitting, above.

Perhaps new articles called English nominals (grammar), English verbs (grammar), English word order, English interrogative sentences, English negation (grammar), and English comparatives (grammar) should be created and linked to, with very brief summaries included on this page. Those seem to be the longest sections.

Alternately, the article could be split into English phrasal syntax and English clausal syntax. The resulting articles would probably still be quite long, though. Cnilep (talk) 19:43, 14 April 2009 (UTC)

Fowler&Fowler's general comments in favor of multiple articles[edit]

Hi there, Very timely! I am here on this page as a result of a recent discussion on Wikipedia talk:Featured article candidate in which I bravely volunteered to work on English grammar. Another participant in that discussion, user:Awadewit, expressed interest as well.
I did a quick check on the page stats and here is the low down:
  • File size: 235 kB
  • Prose size (including all HTML code): 64 kB
  • References (including all HTML code): 16 kB
  • Wiki text: 118 kB
  • Prose size (text only): 45 kB (7658 words) "readable prose size"
  • References (text only): 10035 B
The page has been overwhelmingly edited by Ish ishwar (talk · contribs) (358 edits). S/he is followed by FilipeS (talk · contribs) (46 edits), Ruakh (talk · contribs) (44 edits), Tony1 (talk · contribs) (28 edits), (talk · contribs) (25 edits) and me (22 edits, :), all as a result of references I added recently). So, I imagine these editors (especially user:Ish ishwar) need to be sounded out.
No matter how you slice it, the page is big (as you suggest) and something needs to be done. From my perspective it would be easiest to create spin-off sub-articles for the larger sections, then replace each sectional content with a summary of the sub-article with a {{main|...}} blazoning the top, and then make it known to all interested parties that the new content be added to the sub-article (and only summarized here).
As often happens, the sub-articles in some cases already exist. For example, consider English verbs, which is the "main" for the "Verbs" section. The top four editors on that page are: Doric Loon (talk · contribs) (53 edits); Ihcoyc (talk · contribs) (36 edits); TEB728 (talk · contribs) (24 edits); and Jubileeclipman (talk · contribs) (20 edits). In other words, there is (what in set theory is called) a null intersection between the two sets of editors. :) The English verbs page, for example, has a pretty long section on tenses; however the terminology there (basic, progressive) is different from the one in the short section here (simple, continuous). Don't get me wrong, I'm not being critical of anyone, just pointing to the very understandable lack of communication that can exist in large projects. So, I'm guessing, we need to first sound out the various editors on each of the related pages and come to some sort of consensus on how to proceed. Does that sound reasonable? There are a number of other things, I'd like to mention, but why don't I leave posts on some talk pages first. Regards, Fowler&fowler«Talk» 21:11, 14 April 2009 (UTC)
Here are a few things that I feel should be discussed here:
  • At what level of difficulty and abstraction (i.e. in the spectrum that has theoretical linguistics at one end and an old fashioned prescriptive English grammar at the other) do we want to pitch the content?
  • Can we agree on a core set of references to cite, references that don't send a reader scurrying to the library at every other sentence?
My own sense is that the content should be no more abstract than say:
  • What do you think about a History section (see Ben Jonson's grammar and also Cobbett's in the refs)? It would likely make the article a lot more interesting for a general reader. And perhaps also a "Current/future trends" section?"
Greenbaum and Huddleston are both considered undergraduate texts that don't require previous knowledge of linguistics. In other words, I would keep away (except perhaps in a footnote to explain a finer point) from the more exhaustive texts by Quirk et al or Huddleston or Halliday. Similarly, I would keep away from journal articles (at least in meeting the goal of improving the article up to GA level). I feel that most readers would come to this page for concrete information about grammatical issues and they would likely be turned away if the page became too abstract. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 21:38, 14 April 2009 (UTC)
I tend to think that there should be coverage of the linguistic aspects of English grammar somewhere. On English verbs, my last edits was to add a few paragraphs discussing some of the more interesting transformational properties of English verbs - though I did my best to keep it comprehensible to laymen. We also have excellent and rather technical articles on the history of English vowels and several others.
A lot depends on what the target audience is. "English grammar" means one thing to native English speakers, and suggests the prescriptive school drills in standard written English. A non-native speaker of English has different needs, and will need rules on word formation, conjugations, and irregularities. And English is bristling with innovative features that should be discussed from both semantic and comparative viewpoints oriented towards linguists. All of these things are certainly coverable subjects; the question is, how should they be organized? - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 22:10, 14 April 2009 (UTC)
Do you mean Phonological history of English vowels, Phonological history of English consonants and Phonological history of the English language? (And related articles in the template Template:History of English?) They do seem well written. I imagine though this page has only passing connections with those sets of articles (that can be pointed out in footnotes). Or are you suggesting that the connections with phonetics will be of interest to non-native speakers and should be a more central concern? Fowler&fowler«Talk» 22:59, 14 April 2009 (UTC)
I don't contribute much nowadays to Wikipedia, but for what it's worth, I 100% agree that this article should be split (and trimmed, in the case of sections that have already been split off, but are nonetheless still quite long here). —RuakhTALK 01:04, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Smerdis of Tlon's suggested outline of new articles[edit]

I'd suggest starting with an outline of the subject first: this way, forks, mergers, and splits could all be handled under a single project. This way, we could have head articles that deal with the subject in elementary ways useful to students and second language learners, and have more detailed linguistic topics under subheadings or in separate articles. Just brainstorming on topics that ought to be covered here ---
  1. English grammar
    1. English lexicon
      1. English noun
        1. English plural
        2. English adjective
        3. English noun phrase
        4. English compound noun
        5. English pronoun
      2. English verb
        1. English verb phrase
        2. English preverb
        3. Tense in English
        4. Mood in English
        5. Aspect in English
        6. English auxiliary verb
        7. English copula
      3. English particle
        1. English adverb
        2. English preposition
        3. English interjection
        4. English deictic particle
    2. English syntax
      1. Subjects in English
      2. Predication in English
      3. Well formed sentences in English
      4. English transformational grammar

This is just off the top of my head. This way, we can keep the main articles relatively reader-friendly, while having subheadings or sub-articles to discuss more comparative and technical material. I'd also hasten to point out that there's a lot of material that belongs under English grammar in such articles as negation (grammar) or subjunctive mood. - Smerdis of Tlön (talk) 19:44, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Fowler&Fowler's list of articles to be integrated into Smerdis' outline[edit]

Thanks, that's great. To you list, I'm adding the pages that already exist, so that they can be integrated. First, there is the
  1. Category:English grammar (it has 64 pages). There are a few more pages that are not included in the category:
  2. English contraction (grammar)
  3. English compound
  4. The subjunctive in English (you've already mentioned)
  5. Subordinate clause (English, although title doesn't say.)
  6. Participles in Modern English
  7. Gerunds in English
  8. Adverbial clause (English, although title doesn't say.)
  9. Auxiliary verb (90% about English). Fowler&fowler«Talk» 22:08, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Additional arguments in favor of multiple articles[edit]

I'm amazed to see I am still the major editor of the verbs article - did a lot on it years ago, but not so much recently. It also is pretty long. I do agree that these should be integrated somehow. The trouble is that there is so much to say about this, and everybody keeps putting his or her own tuppenceworth in (as they should in Wikipedia) and it grows like Quatermas. We do have different approaches with different needs. Someone already mentioned the interest of the ordinary native speaker contrasted with the needs of the learner and the aspirations of the linguist. To that I would add that as my interest is in historical / comparative linguistics I come at issues with entirely different (and sometimes almsot contradictory) insights to those of a syntactician. It is indeed a question of organising - finding the right place for each approach - and making sure that future editors recognise that and put their comments in the right place. This will never work without complete consensus, so it is really good that everyone is in basic agreement so far. Ihcoyc's taxonomy of the main structural issues is great. How do we mesh that with different approaches to each question? --Doric Loon (talk) 20:41, 15 April 2009 (UTC)
Just a thought: would it be interesting to make the main English grammar article a discussion of the history of approaches to grammar and the reasons why there are different needs and different ways of looking at things today, and then give Ihcoyc's taxonomy as a list of particular issues and keep all the discussion in the sub articles? Just a random thought, I know that that is not the way our articles on other languages (German grammar etc) approach it. Or if that is too radical, we could at least have that as an introduction. --Doric Loon (talk) 20:41, 15 April 2009 (UTC)
That's not a bad idea. History is always a great way to lure the reader in. However, given that it is Wikipedia, sooner or later someone will create a page History of English grammar. So we might as well pre-empt them and put most of the material you suggest in such a page. Given that English grammar will be the "flagship" page, it will still need to summarize (if only briefly) the various other sub-articles (i.e. in addition to the History one). But we can include a healthy dose of the history page in the introduction. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 22:20, 15 April 2009 (UTC)
I've volunteered to help out on this article. I'm probably most interested in the historical aspects of grammar, so I would be willing to try my hand at the "History" section. Awadewit (talk) 00:48, 17 April 2009 (UTC)
Returning to splitting the page - before adding yet more - I think it could easily be split (and should be): the contents section gives us the outline. Simply move Section 1 to a new page, section 2 to an other and so on. Rewrite the contents section of this page as a kind of Meta-contents that sends readers to the appropriate page. Jubilee♫clipman 00:02, 18 April 2009 (UTC)
Additional: There is a problem that I have just noticed. Most of the sections already exist eg English verb. To split this present article up would potentially create multiple entries for the same subjects. The immeadiate solution would be to merge the grammatical information on verbs into the main Wiki on verbs, but that could end up making that (already large) page huge, thus exacerbating the situation. The same is true for other sections. We need to coordinate with other relevent Wiki pages, therefore. Jubilee♫clipman 00:38, 18 April 2009 (UTC)
Hi there! Yes, that is indeed a problem. However, I think we can eventually get a handle on it. If you examine the list I've made just below Ihcoyc's outline and, in particular, click on the Category:English Grammar, you'll see that there are 64 such articles (not all are relevant though).
For now, I think we are waiting to hear from everyone (especially the main author of the "English grammar" page, Ish iswar) and then we'll brainstorm some more about how best to integrate the pre-existing pages. For example, I made a stub the other day on English noun phrase. However, there already is a page noun phrase that is supposed to consider all languages. As it stands, though, it mostly covers English. I see also that my page English noun phrase will soon become too large to be just a section of the noun phrase page. So, I'm developing it independently, and will then summarize the contents for integration with the relevant section in noun phrase. As long we are aware of the existence of these other pages and the need to avoid content forks, I think we should be fine (that is, of course, if we aren't too wedded to any one version and remain open to compromise). Fowler&fowler«Talk» 18:59, 18 April 2009 (UTC)
To Doric Loon, Awadewit, and others, I've created a stub, History of English grammar, with a timeline as best I could with the time I had available this afternoon. Sometime later this weekend I'll add a paragraph long lead (so that a reader will have some clue as to where the page might be going). Why don't you start editing the page whenever it is convenient for you. Regards, Fowler&fowler«Talk» 20:23, 18 April 2009 (UTC)

Well done. That was indeed what I meant, the history of aproaches to grammar, not the history of the grammatical constructions themselves, which we do cover already. You've done a lot of work there - unless you found that list complete somewhere. Very useful, thanks. It does need some text now. I'm sorry, I can't help much just now, I have an ultra-stressful time at work. This revamping of the whole complex will be a long process, and for the moment all I can really say is, go ahead, it's the right idea. I'll help out if I can.--Doric Loon (talk) 07:09, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

Thanks. Well, I had to make up the bibliography myself (by looking around). Once that was in place, the timeline wasn't that hard. The book by Dons, for example, has the timeline for the seventeenth century. The seventeenth and eighteenth have been covered pretty exhaustively by different scholars. G. Brown's Grammar of English grammars, for example, has a "timeline" until 1863. Whether it is reliable, though, is not entirely clear! OK, I'll add a little bit of text, as I mentioned above, so that the page doesn't look too neglected (and gets noticed by some earnest/zealous Wikipedian with an itchy trigger finger). Fowler&fowler«Talk» 14:13, 19 April 2009 (UTC)
That looks excellent - thank you so much. I'm thinking I can get to this around August. I hope that is ok. Awadewit (talk) 23:47, 21 April 2009 (UTC)
August will be great! Sorry for the delay; the page went off my watchlist (on account of the "watchlist" and "unwatch" tabs almost overlapping on my laptop and of my accidentally clicking one when I intended the other. I have to wonder if I'm the only one who seems to be encountering this problem all the time.) As you will have noticed, I have moved History of English grammar to History of English grammars (i.e. of grammar writing). The move is temporary and I will also create an independent page for "History of English grammar." That, however, requires more work since its history begins with Old English and not just late in the sixteenth century. I have to say that as I've been reading up on this stuff, I see that there is a lot of exciting work being done in the nexus between literature and historical linguistics. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 12:01, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

In addition to the sources recommended by Fowler&fowler (Quirk et al. Student's Grammar of the English Language and Huddleston & Pullum Student's Introduction to English Grammar) I would add the Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English. In terms of organization, it might be easier to either adapt the contents of the current page or one of the other pages discussed above as a model. On the other hand, it might be more meaningful to adopt a new organization, inspired by these student grammars. With that noncommittal suggestion, I leave it to other users to approach consensus. Cnilep (talk) 19:10, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

Hi Cnilep, Sorry, I was away for a while. I have all three books and was reading Longman the other day. I especially like their Corpus, their four registers (conversation, fiction, news reporting, and academic prose) and their bar graphs showing how common a certain construction is in each register. Let me mull over your last suggestion. Thanks. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 00:33, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

There appear to be no arguments against. In fact the multiplication of articles already has begun. What do you say we get going on this? I recommend using the outline above. Why don't some of you take some of these red titles? The whole thing of course can be tied together by various sorts of cross-references, which you skilled editors know already. It's too big for one editor, so feel free to pitch right in. If you should go wrong, there is plenty of assistance here to straighten you out.Dave (talk) 12:41, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for the timely wake up call! If you don't mind, I will copy your post to a new section below, and also provide a summary there of what I see has happened since the first post was made above in April 2009. Your main point is well taken. We need to get working this article! (So, please look for a more detailed answer in a new section below.) And, thanks again! Fowler&fowler«Talk» 14:26, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

Referencing as a verb[edit]

Two of my young reporters say that they should be able to use the word "referencing" as a verb, i.e. "This is the new reality, said Perkins, referencing a new report on the English language." They say it's now part of the modern lexicon and I'm being old-fashioned by wanting to stick to "This is the new reality, said Perkins, referring to a new report."

Any opinions?

Many thanks, Martha (talk) 20:31, 20 April 2009 (UTC)

Hi Martha, "reference," of course, can be a verb (in the sense of "source," as used in Wikipedia, i.e. "Can you reference the passage?") but I'm assuming you mean in the sense of "refer?" The OED gives that as an archaic form! I have no idea whether it is coming back or not. It is at least not there in the dictionaries. I checked the Complete OED and Webster's unabridged ... They're probably the the wrong ones though for new usage. Hold on, let me check the Concise OED, which is usually more in tune with new trends ... Nope they don't have it either. You might consider posting at Wikipedia:Reference desk/Language. Good luck! Fowler&fowler«Talk» 00:27, 21 April 2009 (UTC)
Hmm. Apparently some people (50 in this instance) are using it in place of "refer to!" Please see "referencing President Obama"! Fowler&fowler«Talk» 00:35, 21 April 2009 (UTC)
PS Please see What We Talk About When We Talk About Art. In my view, this is still a solecism, and you shouldn't let your cub reporters get away with it. The usage seems to have found little favor among scholars. A search in Google scholar brought up only scientific/technical articles or law reviews (neither group known for language acumen). Not a single English Lit person was using it, nor any historians for that matter. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 09:18, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

From simple to complex[edit]

I agree this article should be split into multiple articles.

In general, the articles that are most helpful to me as a user, are those that quickly lay out the basics of a topic, and then branch out or build up to the deep complexities. THis article dives into very heavy material on the first screen, and I (personally) found its style to be tedious and not very readable. I speculate that this is the product of many, many experts adding and editing details, piecemeal, over time. In its present state, I find it to be very rich in content and detail, which is a good thing, but its highly fragmented and is not comfortably readable. I confess I didnt read very far, I wasnt getting what I looked for from the article.

When a user comes to an article for the first time, and is trying to digest the core concepts, it is highly distracting to encounter in the first few paragraphs, links to all the exceptions and side-topics. The reader has to mentally subtract all that extra chatter to find the core concepts. Its as if everyone is trying to get in their say, in one sentence. While there's a lot to be said for the Wiki concept of anyone being able to edit, there also comes a time when things have to be de-fragged or compressed, for the sake of maintaining readability for the average Joe.

What the article needs now is some quality time with a good editor to examine it as a whole, to rewrite all this content into a more readable set of articles, without losing any of the valuable contributions users have made so far. The topic of "English Grammar" is far too vast to be covered in one article, and too important to be left in this condition. I cannot do the job, my talent is in physical sciences, not languages. I hope one of Wikipedia's wonderful editors can dedicate some time to this one. Solviva (talk) 05:35, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

Clean up[edit]

Can someone from here please help with cleaning up the grammar on the linguistics article? It is terrible. TroubledTraveler (talk) 20:15, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

I completely agree with you. Case in point, the section concerning noun subclasses contains false examples. More than half of the examples for countable nouns can be modified by the determiner some depending on syntax and grammar. The difficulty with some in many dialects of English is that it is ambiguous depending on context. For example, "He said some remark."1 is a perfectly valid sentence in English. However, "He said some remarks."2 looks similar but is still valid, containing either the sense of phrase 1 or another sense, depending on the context of the speaker . This determiner with multiple roles in English is a poor method of ascertaining the particular subclass of a noun. In the section, it's stated as fact that some cannot modify countable nouns unless they are plural. This is untrue. Some cannot modify certain noun phrases depending on the structure and placement of nouns in that phrase. Some can, however, modify those nouns when it does not act as a quantifier. I can see where the person who wrote this section is coming from (the statement that countable nouns cannot stand alone is completely valid), however the examples are lacking in thoroughness.
But enough with my convoluted speech. Discuss. --KalvynHawbes (talk) 07:42, 11 September 2009 (UTC)

"Its" as a nominal genitive??[edit]

E.g. Is this mine? *No, it's its

Doesn't sound right to me. Can anyone supply an example of this from usage or literature? Surely there is no nominal genitive for the third person neuter. Grover cleveland (talk) 04:41, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

That form is confirmed to exist. Check COCA. ---Irbisgreif-(talk | e-mail)-(contribs) 05:13, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
what's COCA? Cheers. Grover cleveland (talk) 05:22, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
THE CORPUS OF CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN ENGLISH. Just look up "it 's its". ---Irbisgreif-(talk | e-mail)-(contribs) 06:21, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Thanks! Maybe I'm not searching correctly, but all the hits I get for "it 's its" use its as a determiner. E.g. the first hit is Texas is so big. It's a republic; it 's its own country. This is a determiner usage, not what is described in this article as a "nominal genitive". Cheers. Grover cleveland (talk) 13:43, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
The reason for which it sounds bizzare is that we usually only use it when describing an inanimate objects or persons of unknown gender, in opposition to the incorrect singular they or he. I.e. What is it? It's a ball. And inanimate objects rarely possess things. But think, maybe about a fish tank with a frog in murky water What's that? It's its head!. --Île_flottante~Floating island Talk 14:13, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

Examples from the CGEL provided here: Talk:Possessive_adjective#Its. CapnPrep (talk) 16:48, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

So why, over two years later, is "It is its" declared ungrammatical? Kdammers (talk) 10:02, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

"-en form" as a name for the past participle[edit]

What's the motivation for this nomenclature? Does it come from some reference work? Why not just call it a past participle? It is claimed that " the -en form does not express tense or a past time frame", but

  • even if this claim is true, it doesn't outweigh the convenience of using the traditional term that is widely understood
  • the claim doesn't seem true in an important way. I have killed him necessarily implies an event in the past (the killing).
  • the use of the term "past participle" in other languages, such as Latin, is uncontroversial. What is the significant difference between Latin and English usage that makes its use in English inappropriate?
  • the vast majority of such forms don't end in -en.

Is this anything more than a trendy neologism? Grover cleveland (talk) 04:58, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

Ditto for "nonpast". What's wrong with "present"? I admit that there are uses that refer to the future such as we go to the beach tomorrow, but does that really make it worth throwing out the traditional terminology that is widely known? This page is probably going to be used by students who are learning English. Grover cleveland (talk) 05:03, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

These are based on linguistic distinctions. (Awaits the arrival of his copy of The Oxford English Grammar so that he can find this.)
The main reason that these terms are used is traditional terms not properly describing what's going on. ---Irbisgreif-(talk | e-mail)-(contribs) 05:15, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Well, if you want to get really pedantic, "nonpast" is not completely accurate either. When telling a story one can use the present ("nonpast") form to describe past events to give more immediacy. I guess my thought is: is it really worth throwing out all the traditional usages for this reason? And is this novel terminology based on some source, or is it a Wikipedia editor's idea? Cheers. Grover cleveland (talk) 05:28, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
I haven't read up on verbials in English lately, so I can't say for sure. However, I am certain that past-nonpast is the terminology used, especially in diachronic linguistics. ---Irbisgreif-(talk | e-mail)-(contribs) 06:23, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Could one not just say Past tense or Past form of the verb X? -ed does not work either. The past tense of to spell is spelt, for example. --Île_flottante~Floating island Talk 18:34, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Michael Lewis's terms first form for the traditional bare infinitive/base form/present tense form, second form for the past tense form and third form for the -en form /past participle seem to me to be splendidly neutral. In addition, using -ing form solves any problem about whether a form ending in those three letters is a present particple, a gerund, or something else used in progressive (continuous) tenses/aspects gramorak (talk) 10:53, 11 July 2010 (UTC)

Back to working on the page[edit]

There appear to be no arguments against. In fact the multiplication of articles already has begun. What do you say we get going on this? I recommend using the outline above. Why don't some of you take some of these red titles? The whole thing of course can be tied together by various sorts of cross-references, which you skilled editors know already. It's too big for one editor, so feel free to pitch right in. If you should go wrong, there is plenty of assistance here to straighten you out.Dave (talk) 12:41, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

Apropos this latest post above, I feel that it is time to work on the article again and make a concerted effort to at least bring it up to Good Article class. For the benefit of those who are new to the discussion, here's a little history. In April 2009, we had a long discussion upstairs on splitting up the article into digestible bits (or in technical lingo to make it more modular). It was felt that the page was too long and was presenting—all at once—the nitty-gritty of the subject rather than a reader-friendly overview with links to the details. (Please also see the post by user:Solvivo in section From simple to complex above.) In the end, the consensus seemed to be that the "English grammar" article should have the following three sections:

  1. A concise history of grammar writing in English (linked to a longer parent article).
  2. An overview of English grammar, with links to the more detailed articles. This will be the meat of the page.
  3. A concise history of English grammar (also linked to a longer parent article).

In my view, things got bogged down, in part, because we were trying to work from the bottom up. I would like to suggest that we do the opposite:

  • A. Let us move the fine details of the article to parent articles right away.
  • B. Put an "underconstruction" tag on the article. Readers will have to put up with the inconvenience for a month or two. (They routinely do so with major highways and historic monuments.)
  • C. Introduce the three-section structure listed above.
  • D. I am happy to write a fledgling overview section. It will probably take me a week. I also already have a baby version of section 1 in History of English grammars. Section 3 ("History of English grammar"), however, will take longer to write and we can put that off for now. (Will also change the page name in section 1 to head off confusion with section 3.)

I will wait a week before I write the overview section. I will also then have a sub-section structure for the grammar overview section (which, as I mentioned above, will be the main section of the article) and editors will then also have concrete pages for addition of the finer details. An important point to remember, both for this page and for the sub-pages, is that we are not writing a text book. We can't make the Wikipedia article as detailed as the text-books we are using as references. That, among other things, wouldn't be fair to the authors of the text-books (who have done the hard work to earn their copyrights)!

Please let me know what you think. In the absence of major objections I will create the tripartite section structure and start writing the overview section next Saturday. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 14:49, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

It is a week now since the last post above. I have selected a table-of-contents structure for the article. It is based on the book
  • Carter, Ronald.; McCarthy, Michael. (2006), The Cambridge Grammar of English Language, Cambridge University Press. Pp. 973, ISBN 0521588464 

I believe that Carter and McCarthy is the most accessible of the modern grammars; it is also the most recent. I will write the first draft of the overview based on this book. At that time, the details in the current text will be moved to sub/parent articles. However, no information will be lost. Many people have already done the hard work of creating many examples and definitions. Think of the overview as initially just a place holder. It may have new examples, but the old ones already in place will gradually be blended in. Similarly, the overview may have terms that are different from those in the current text; those too will be disambiguated in the second round of revisions. In addition, I'll be integrating information from the three books we've discussed above in the later revisions. These books are:

  • Biber, Douglas; Conrad, Susan; Leech, Geoffrey (2002), Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English, Harlow: Pearson Education Limited. Pp. 487, ISBN 0582237262 
  • Huddleston, Rodney D.; Pullum, Geoffrey K. (2005), A student's introduction to English grammar, Cambridge University Press. Pp. 320, ISBN 0521612888 
  • Greenbaum, Sidney; Quirk, Randolph (1990), A Student's Grammar of the English Language, Addison Wesley Publishing Company. Pp. 496, ISBN 0582059712 

Fowler&fowler«Talk» 14:50, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

PS I will add the tentative toc-structure in a minute. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 14:50, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

Here is the tentative table of contents structure I'll be following:

  1. Overview of English grammar
    1. Word classes and phrase classes
      1. Nouns, determiners, pronouns and noun phrases
      2. Verbs and verb phrases
      3. Adjectives and adjective phrases
      4. Adverbs and adverb phrases
      5. Prepositions and prepositional phrases
    2. Sentence and clause patterns
      1. Verb complementation
      2. Clause types
      3. Clause combination
      4. Adjuncts
    3. Notions and functions
      1. Time
      2. Modality, speech acts, and questions
      3. Negation, condition, and comparison
    4. Information packaging
  2. History of English grammar writing (based on this)
  3. History of English grammar

If there are no objections, I'll start writing the overview tomorrow, Sunday 29 November 2009. Regards, Fowler&fowler«Talk» 14:55, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

Hi, I was going to start the revision today, but I've had a minor family emergency. I will now start the revision on Wednesday December 2. Thanks for your patience. Regards, Fowler&fowler«Talk» 22:49, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

Starting revision[edit]

Hi, I'm back. I will start the revision shortly. Instead of splitting the current page into different subpages and worrying about content forks, I will be (temporarily) moving the current page to the talk page subpage: Talk:English grammar/English grammar old. I will be following the section structure I've described above. Thanks. Regards, Fowler&fowler«Talk» 22:14, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

(Update) I've completed the first draft of the first half, "Word classes," up to conjunctions. Since it was written fast, I will spend the next few days tidying up. Then, sometime early next week, I'll do the second half "Clausal structure" etc. Once that is done and the first round of tidying up over, I'll start worrying about the subarticles, the old text and all the things that are needed to turn this into a GA class article. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 22:50, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I got waylaid again by some contingencies. I will now do the Sentence and Clause section this coming weekend. Regards, Fowler&fowler«Talk» 10:53, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

plural of equipment[edit]

Is it correct to say " Advanced Equipments and Maintenance Company"? or it should be "Advanced Equipment and Maintenance Company"? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:47, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

"Advanced Equipment...". LaRoza (talk) 16:04, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

Regular and Irregular Verbs[edit]

The section on regular and irregular verbs ignores the history of English. English has Germanic strong and weak verbs in addition to irregular verbs. The internal vowel changes of strong verbs are somewhat regular and a class of their own. Perhaps the article could reflect the reality of English instead of over-simplifying it based on ignorance of Germanic verbs?LaRoza (talk) 16:06, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

The question of what's an irregular verb and what's a minority paradigm is subjective. One could debate whether English has enough strong verbs to classify them as minority paradigms (where a minority paradigm would be considered regular, just as there are regular -er and -ir verbs in Spanish). It makes sense when teaching Old English to divide them into classes. But many have become regular, and some of the remaining strong verbs break apart into even smaller groups in Modern English, e.g. drink drank drunk and bind bound bound were the same class drincan dranc druncen and bindan band bunden but vowel changes and the loss of the preterite forms leave bind, find, grind and wind as the only verbs in the i/ou paradigm - so are they regular verbs of a very, very small minority paradigm, or just irregular verbs? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:00, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

Pronouns as a closed class[edit]

Maybe determiners or prepositions would make a better example of a closed class. But I changed it to refer to Spivak pronouns rather than singular "they", as singular "they" makes a very, very poor example of how pronouns are a closed class. "They" is already a pronoun, so singular "they" wouldn't be an example of a new pronoun being incorporated into the pronoun system, but of a pronoun changing in usage (that is, it's not very different from "you" expanding to take over the functions of "thou"). Furthermore, the article before I edited said that it hadn't achieved acceptance in its 40 years of existence, even though as you can see on the wiki page for singular "they" (and referenced in other articles), sing. "they" has a very long history. Spivak pronouns, on the other hand, as they demonstrate how neologisms can't be accepted as pronouns very easily - the cases of new 2nd person plural pronouns grew organically out of phrases that all incorporate "you" in them (y'all, yinz, you guys, etc.). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:10, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

need help[edit]

is it grammatical correct to use this phrase (the whole entire )world —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:10, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

OT - Migration Period[edit]

An edit of mine has been challenged on the grounds that the English language - contained in the edit - is inadequate and in large parts even incomprehensible plus some further not very positive predications . If you have time to spend, please have a look over at the talk-page Talk:Migration_Period#Critical comments to the intro, and here -> Draft for intro and chronology section . Sechinsic (talk) 11:24, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

why a man cry when laugh or cry hertly? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:45, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

Emphatic mood[edit]

Where is the emphatic mood? (talk) 22:20, 23 November 2010 (UTC)

Grammatical terms - link to page needed[edit]

The page has no reference to euphemism, meiosis, litotes, etc. That is entirely right for a main "English Grammar" page. Wikipedia has articles on those three topics, and presumably on other terms.

But there is nothing obvious in the page even linking to such things.

The page should have a link to a page which lists English grammatical terms, with one-line descriptions (HTML DL/DD ?) and that page should link to the pages for those terms. (talk) 11:21, 28 November 2010 (UTC)


Shouldn't we also include the Conditional Mood and maybe note that Interrogative Mood exists? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:23, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

there are not synonyms , homophones, etc. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:55, 23 December 2010 (UTC)


What is Noun of Proudly,extremely,sadly,fairly,vigorously —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:38, 24 January 2011 (UTC)

Verb section[edit]

I suggest that a chart like one found here here could be inserted to show the various combinations of progressive aspect, modal verb, etc., instead of mentioning individual combinations in each section. Count Truthstein (talk) 18:31, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

I have done this. Count Truthstein (talk) 19:05, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
The table looks identical to the source you suggested, and I don't see a copyright release in the source. Is copying the chart fair use, or is it a copyright violation? I suggest you ask someone at the copyright help desk (or wherever) if you're not sure. Duoduoduo (talk) 16:40, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

Prepositions as closed class[edit]

I think the section at the beginning about closed classes needs some help. For one thing it says that their has not gained "complete acceptance" after "more than 40 years of use." A couple of things with this: First of all, it implies that complete acceptance of a new word is requisite for that class to be called open as opposed to the statement earlier in the same section that closed classes "seldom" admit new words. Secondly, "more than 40 years" implies that they has been used for only somewhat longer than exactly 40 years, yet the article on singular they gives examples dating back 100s of years. I'm not disputing that prepositions are a closed class if such things as closed and open classes really exist, but the example given is very poor. Also, when it says it has not been accepted, who or what exactly is doing the accepting? It would be nice if actual quotations from Carter and McCarthy could be provided so that some context could be provided and those without access to the book can make judgments about whether it really supports the assertions being made in the article.

I'd also like to say that I personally would be much more inclined to accept use of singular they than I would the word celebutante. Surely there are better examples of new nouns that have become commonplace and accepted... How bout x-ray? Theshibboleth (talk) 23:47, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

Examples from literature[edit]

Right now a very large number of examples of English grammar in this article are drawn from English literature. This approach shows that the authors of the article are very well-read, but the examples are needlessly long and complicated, and as such they make it difficult for the reader to find the relevant part of the example — the part that is actually intended to illustrate the grammatical point.

I suggest that we (or I) go through the article and purge it of all the examples that meet the above description, and replace them with examples that are short and to the point (even though not drawn from literature). Comments, anyone? Duoduoduo (talk) 16:50, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

This could be a good idea. It would have the side effect of cutting down the references section. Some quotations could be kept if Wikipedia editors don't have good enough imaginations to come up with interesting examples, and to add flavour. I agree that some of the quotations are obscure in meaning - "To dry the old oak's sap, and cherish springs". Another advantage would be that this would make it easier to show variations (such as active and passive voice) without misquoting. Count Truthstein (talk) 16:15, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

"Used to" as an auxiliary verb[edit]

User:Duoduoduo has added "used to" as a non-modal auxiliary verb. I'm not comfortable with this and would like to have a source for this. It seems to be one of those exceptional parts of the language which are hard to fit in with everything else. Look at section 6.3 of A Short Overview of English Syntax by Rodney Huddleston - "used to" isn't listed there, only be, have and do. Count Truthstein (talk) 16:23, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

Here's a passage from List of English auxiliary verbs, with pro and con citations:
Dare, need, used (to), and ought (to) are sometimes [Palmer p.19] considered auxiliaries, but they do not permit subject-auxiliary inversion in many dialects.[citation needed] When they are auxiliaries, they permit sentences such as Dare you go? (with non-auxiliary equivalent Would you dare to go?), Need you say this? (Do you need to say this?), Used we to go?, and Ought we to go through with this? ((Do we have to / Should we) go through with this?).... However, Warner [p.8] rejects ought and used as auxiliaries because the subsequent infinitive form includes the particle to.
Palmer, F. R., A Linguistic Study of the English Verb, Longmans, 1965.
Warner, Anthony R., English Auxiliaries, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1993.
I'll put this into this article. Duoduoduo (talk) 18:07, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
This doesn't settle the question of whether it is a modal or not. It seems to have a similar syntax to "ought", in that it is like a normal modal verb which uses "to" before the verb. One could argue that it doesn't have a modal meaning, but neither does "would" when used in the habitual sense. Count Truthstein (talk) 19:59, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
"Used to" does not have a modal meaning, so by definition of "modal" it is not modal. Likewise, when "would" is used for the habitual aspect, it is not being used as a modal; when "would" is used as in "I would go if I could", it is being used as a modal. A difference between "would" and "used to" is that "would" has multiple uses, one of which is modal, whereas "used to" has no modal use. Duoduoduo (talk) 20:37, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
If I understand you, you have a modal verb defined as (a) having a particular syntax (b) having a particular meaning. The discussion over at Talk:Modal_verb#Modal verb or auxiliary debates the same point. User:Drew.ward seems to only want point (b). If point (a) is included as well, the term "modal verb" cannot be understood merely as a "verb" which is "modal". I believe it would be better only to have point (a). Modal verbs express such a wide range of meanings that I don't see the point in excluding habitual aspect. Count Truthstein (talk) 19:58, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

We're not deciding anything here about how to define terms: this is Wikipedia, so we just report what's out there in the literature. What's out there is that no phrase with "modal" in it is used for something that has no modal meaning, and the literature treats modality as something entirely different from aspect. "Used to" is aspectual; see e.g. Comrie's Aspect. "Used to" is not modal; see e.g. Palmer's Mood and Modality or any other publication on modality.

Do you have a source that says that "used to" is a modal auxiliary or modal anything? If not, we can't treat it that way on Wikipedia. Duoduoduo (talk) 22:24, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

We actually need a source to say that "used to" is a non-modal auxiliary, in order to support the statement "Non-modal auxiliary verbs form a closed class consisting of only three or four members: "be", "do", "have", and for some but not all sources, "used (to)"." which occurs in the article. Count Truthstein (talk) 20:06, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
Furthermore, if "used" is included in this list, "would", "will" and "shall" should be as well - as you have said above that "would" is not always a modal verb. Count Truthstein (talk) 20:19, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
The sentence that you quoted and said needs a citation in that regard has the citation right there in the sentence: footnote [19], which you deleted when you copy-and-pasted or re-typed the sentence to here. It is Palmer, F. R., A Linguistic Study of the English Verb, Longmans, 1965, p.19. He says it's an auxiliary. Since no one says it's a modal auxiliary, which by definition it's not, by process of elimination that makes it non-modal.
You make an interesting point about will, shall, and would. Would in its habitual usage ("we would go there every day") is a certainly used as a non-modal auxiliary, which make would both a modal and a non-modal auxiliary in different contexts. Will and shall are disputed items: I think there are some linguists who say they are purely modal and never express future tense -- that all English expression of futurity is really volitional modality or predictive modality. But I believe there are also many linguists who disagree with the idea that they are always modal, since statements like "the sun will rise tomorrow at 6:14 AM" convey that the speaker means this as a statement of fact, not a prediction; under this interpretation, will is a tense-marking auxiliary in some contexts and a modal auxiliary in others. As for shall, one (possibly prescriptive) interpretation of shall is that in the first person it is a statement of futurity (in contrast to will in the first person being a statement of volitional modality). According to that interpretation, shall is sometimes a non-modal auxiliary. So we have to be careful about putting will and shall into the list of non-modal auxiliaries, as I believe there is no consensus about them.
A question, then, is whether to list at least would as a non-modal auxiliary. there may be no specific literature precedent on this, since generally literature sources either list all auxiliaries (of course without listing would twice), or they list modal auxiliaries. So in making a separate list of the non-modal auxiliaries, we have to decide whether "list of non-modal auxiliaries" is intended to mean a list of auxiliaries that can be used non-modally, as you suggest, or whether it is intended to mean a list of auxiliaries that are never used modally. Duoduoduo (talk) 00:25, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
Actually shall and will are always modal auxiliaries (when used as auxiliaries) as is would as discussed above. English has ten methods of expressing futurity and these vary by certainty from the two purely certain forms "I am going to the mall tonight" and "Santa Clause comes tonight" (they are linguistically certain, even if true certainty in life regarding the future isn't possible). Will and shall are both used to express highly certain modal futures (future through modal qualification). Will expresses the idea that a given future is highly certain to become true due to the volition of the speaker. Shall expresses the similar idea that a given future is highly certain but that it is to become true due to some outside force (including possibly the volition of someone other than the speaker or subject). This is why you find shall in the Ten Commandments and not will (the will of God) as well as in legal documents (the will of the people or as prescribed by law (versus your own personal will). The use of shall for the first persons and you for the 2nd and 3rd goes back to a tradition of etiquette in which it was seen as impolite to be taken to be forcing your will on someone or to do things solely because of your own will. So, using "I shall / We shall" removes the impetus from the speaker while using "You will / he will / they will" politely implies that the subject is in charge of his own destiny even when he is not. Although used commonly to express the future tenses, these are not tense-marking auxiliaries but rather modal auxiliaries. The effect of conveying tense requires additional context.
Would, as you guys are using it, is simply future by volition in the past. In the example "we would go there every day", would is not being used to express any sense of aspect or in particular to express habituality. That is being expressed via "every day". Although I am not very interested in opening up the huge debate that it would be here (because this disagrees with Palmer and Comrie which apparently is not allowed ;) ), I actually consider habitual to be a mood rather than an aspect. I say this because habituality (or is it habitualness?) is a further qualification of the verb which is what mood is. Modals establish an attestation that can be verified as true or not. The tense for utterances with all but indicative moods is based on the contrast between the Time of Utterance (the time at which the utterance is siad/heard/written/read) and the earliest time at which that attestation can be evaluated as true or not. Habitual statements are attesting that such and such verbal argument is something that is true on a regular basis. In "John reads the newspaper every morning", it is attested that reading the newspaper is something John does every morning. That can be evaluated immediately and thus the sentence is present tense. Similarly "I'll do cardio daily until the wedding" can be evaluated at the earlier of two future times -- either the first time "I" doesn't do cardio, or the day of the wedding -- making this sentence future tense. "We would go there everyday" works the same way for the past. "I used to eat fish." is not just habitual. It's a double edged sword that expresses the idea that something was true for the subject, but is no longer true at the time of utterance. This is again modal and not aspectual as it can be evaluated as true or not. Only with the addition of an habitual modal would an utterance with USED also be habitual: "I used to eat breakfast everyday, but now I don't have the time."
Thus, I would say that USED (the TO actually belongs to the subordinated verb) is actually a modal auxiliary, but that it is not expressing the habitual mood.Drew.ward (talk) 04:43, 6 June 2011 (UTC)


hi i just want to ask a question about pronunciation as i've been studying this language for a while and i am still looking for the answer to my question, is there a rule or anything like it that i can follow when it comes to pronounce letters they are pronouced differently according to where in the word they are located????? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:16, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

"Which" referring to non-nouns[edit]

In the phrase "Florence is nice when it's not too crowded, which it won't be if you come off season," "which" appears to be referring to the adjective "crowded." How is this catered for in the rules of English grammar? (talk) 13:34, 13 February 2012 (UTC)

Dative/Accusative in lieu of Objective or Oblique for cases and pronouns[edit]

I have changed Kwami's recent edit of the pronoun section in which he switched things over from objective to oblique case to Dative/Accusative and created an article describing this phenomenon. I have added only basic information to the new article so if someone wants to play around and add a bit more English-centric detail / linking, have at it.

The reason for my changes is that the term objective case is a misnomer because this supposed objective is not actually a case (nor is it most often purported to be one) but rather is a net term used to describe situations in which the forms used for dative & accusative cases are identical and of course in English, these forms are almost always used as some sort of object (direct, indirect, preposition) thus the word objective.

I can understand Kwami's change from objective (which is less than ideal for the reasons cited above) to oblique as this is at least a legitimate case in many languages and from a surface standpoint seems like what English is using as well. The reason for changing it from oblique to dative/accusative though is that English in fact does not fall into that group of languages that uses an oblique case but rather still falls firmly into the Germanic language family's Nominative-Dative-Accusative-Genitive system but just having that morphologically combined form that makes it difficult to discern the presence of two cases in both nominative and dative situation.

Man, wouldn't describing English be a lot easier if we didn't have so many situations where different things look exactly the same? ;) Drew.ward (talk) 16:55, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

Dative/Accusative is more familiar so might be better to use, but other terms aren't incorrect. There is no basis for saying that the dative and accusative cases are different things in English, i.e. a noun phrase which is different in two different uses, one of which we call "accusative", the other "dative". For the sake of seeing the relationships between Germanic/Indo-European languages, it could be worth mentioning that they used to be separate cases but "fused" with each other. Count Truthstein (talk) 17:31, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
Right...I'm definitely NOT proposing using Dative/Accusative in lieu of dative and accusative. Rather I am saying that Dative/Accusative should be used herein to refer to conflation of the forms of those two cases where necessary versus objective case (which isn't a case with that point being the main argument against such a moniker). I think we're on the same page.Drew.ward (talk) 17:44, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
But it's simply a content fork for oblique case, and so IMO should be merged there. — kwami (talk) 19:04, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
No it's not a content fork for oblique case. English does not have an oblique case. I realize you've cited a reference claiming such, but the general consensus among linguists and English language specialists and in fact almost everything written about the English language for the past 300 years is that English (like the other Germanic languages) has Nominative, Dative, Accusative, and Genitive cases with Dative and Accusative sharing a single Dative/Accusative form. The oblique case belongs to languages outside of this language family. Please stop trying to put oblique into articles referencing English. You've placed a dubious tag on the Dative/Accusative article I'd written because you personally don't agree with it, but your insistence on this oblique thing and your taking the time to go through other articles and replace things with it is what is truly dubious. Unless you're an expert on the English language or can convince the linguistic realm of there being a new case in English and that it's suddenly lost two of its others, you should stop trying to push this idea through editing.Drew.ward (talk) 02:53, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
"conflation of the forms of those two cases" — there's no such thing. You're claiming that in the clause "John threw the dog a bone", John in in the nominative case, the dog is in the dative, and a bone is in the accusative. But English nouns do not have case, apart from (arguably) the genitive. Syntactic roles are not "case".
There's no difference between your "dative/accusative" and the oblique – unless you differentiate inclusion of the genitive, in which case there's no difference between "dative/accusative" and the objective. It's simply a difference of terminology, not of concept. — kwami (talk) 08:14, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

Total Rewrite Needed[edit]

This article is an absolute embarrassment. Not only is the vast majority of information entirely incorrect, but it doesn't even come close to matching up with coordinating articles on the individual topics and concepts discussed herein. Also, far too many people without competent knowledge of English grammar are editing this page while at the same time the works of individual authors are being cited as trusted references regardless of whether the views they purport are in line with accepted linguistic consensus. I've just scanned through the section on mood and there was so little in that section that was correct that the only thing I could justify leaving was the initial sentence and only that after rewording it.

If this article cannot be brought up to snuff, it should be removed and links to the appropriate coordinating pages be put in its place.Drew.ward (talk) 07:14, 22 March 2012 (UTC)


I have reverted Kwami's reversal of my edit (which was reversed without discussion counter to WP policy.

Kwami you have asked why I did not 'fix sourced material rather than delete it'. Sourced or not, that material is too incorrect to be 'fixed'. Verb phrases do not express mood. English does not 'have three moods'. It has probably hundreds of moods just like every other language. Everything in that section was absolutely and totally incorrect. It cannot be fixed because there is not enough there to fix. Sourced incorrect information is still incorrect information and has no place in Wikipedia. I can easily source David Duke's and Hitler's views on race into a nicely referenced article on the topic but I really doubt it's going to express a factual view. Sourced trash is still sourced trash. There are already existing articles on mood in wikipedia that while not perfect are far more factual than anything previously proposed in the mood section of this page.Drew.ward (talk) 08:01, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

"Mood" is an inflectional category. English does not have "hundreds" of moods; neither does any other language.
(Some linguists use "modality" for the concepts you're talking about, rather like the difference between case and case roles. Or "analytic mood". But without such a dab, "mood" is understood to be morphological.)
The traditional understanding is that there are three moods in English. That is, there are three inflectional paradigms which are called "mood": indicative, subjunctive, and imperative. Now, there are many who would take issue with that, or with one or another aspect of it (mood is a notoriously difficult category to address adequately), but it is still probably the basis for any discussion.
If things are incorrect, then tag them for correction. Blanking the article is little more than vandalism.
And no, your actions run counter to WP policy. You are proposing the edit, so it's up to you to justify it. — kwami (talk) 08:04, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
There is nothing wrong with the section on moods. This is an argument about grammatical terminology. We need sources to show that "mood" means something different to how it is being used in the article for it to be changed. Count Truthstein (talk) 20:30, 29 March 2012 (UTC)

New article on syntax[edit]

I propose that English syntax, which currently redirects to English grammar, should cover the material in English grammar#Clause syntax and English verbs#Syntax, which both cover the same material.

English grammar would have very brief remarks about English syntax and link to the main article. It would also continue to list the lexical categories of English and other categories of constituents (such as noun phrases and prepositional phrases), as well as discussing structures of sentences above the level of clause (independent and dependent clauses).

English verbs would focus on verbs as a lexical category, rather than describing the complex interactions of auxiliary and non-auxiliary verbs. It would continue to reference possible uses of forms of verb lexemes, but for a systematic description the reader would be directed to other articles. Count Truthstein (talk) 20:01, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

Sounds like a good idea. Ultimately I don't think there should be very much detail in the English Grammar article, it's too big a subject, we should aim to move all the detail to separate pages and keep just a summary and the main points here. Victor Yus (talk) 08:13, 5 July 2012 (UTC)
The new article is at English clause syntax. It still needs tidying up a bit. Count Truthstein (talk) 20:05, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

Recent Changes to Pronouns[edit]

@Victor Yus, could you provide some references for the sections referring to "There" as a component of "There+BE" as a pronoun? Just as "it" in the similar "It+BE" construction is not acting as a pronoun, I don't think that "there" within the "there+BE" construction can be analyzed separately from the construction as a whole. There are similar equivalents in many other languages including "hay" (there is/are) in Spanish and "Es+GEBEN" (it gives) in German that perform the identical function and for which it's also not possible to divide off the components even though they can be used for other things otherwise in the language. "There" in "there are many reasons" doesn't represent or refer back to some missing noun (a requisite of a pronoun). Thus, unless considerably consensus can be found among grammarians and linguists of English, it seems that the section on there as a pronoun should be deleted.

My second concern is with calling "which" an interrogative pronoun. Which is an interrogative adjective (which you do point out), but even when used alone, always is used as an adjective modifying either an explicit or contextual noun. Consider even the example from your revision: "The word which is used to ask about alternatives from what is seen as a closed set: which (of the books) do you like best? (It can also be an interrogative determiner: which book?; this can form the alternative pronominal expressions which one and which ones.)" Even in your example you have included missing contextual information "(of the books". "Which" is the universal interrogative yet requires something to modify. In fact, every other interrogative is nothing but a shorthand representation of a longer "which form": who = which person; what = which thing; where = which place; when = at which time; how = in which manner; why = for which reason; etc. But, just as when it is used as an interrogative (adjective), when seemingly appearing as a pronoun, it in fact not a pronoun, nor is it even occupying the pronoun position, but is instead, as usual, acting as an interrogative adjective modifying an (assumed understood) pronoun, noun, etc.

Again, perhaps there is consensus among the majority of grammarians and linguists to go ahead and refer to "there" and "which" as pronouns, but unless you ignore the linguistics of English, it seems to me a mistaken analysis. Cheers on working so hard on this article all this time.Drew.ward (talk) 21:54, 9 September 2012 (UTC)

I'll check what some grammar books, but certainly as to which, I don't think there's really any doubt (all the dictionaries I have to hand give it as a pronoun). When it modifies an explicit noun it's a determiner, when it doesn't it's a pronoun (just like this and that and his and all and various others). (Some linguists regard a pronoun as simply a determiner with the noun deleted - I think that's reported at the determiner or the pronoun article.) As to there there is certainly more doubt, and yesterday I added a mention of that doubt (dictionaries and linguists seem to differ as to their interpretations), but it seems to me more than just tenable that there is acting as a dummy pronoun (expletive pronoun, whatever you call it) - not referring to anything as such, but playing the syntactic role of a pronoun (and we tend to place words in word classes primarily according to the syntactic role they play). In all constructions like "Are there...?" and "..., isn't there?" and "For there to exist...", there is behaving exactly like a pronoun (or noun) and not like anything else. As long as we mention the fact that other analyses exist, I don't see reason to dispute the inclusion of this section in this article, though another alternative would be to split it off into a separate article (called Constructions with there or something like that) and just summarize and link to it here. Victor Yus (talk) 07:41, 10 September 2012 (UTC)

the man you saw yesterday's sister[edit]

Is this really good English? It doesn't sound it to me. (talk) 20:45, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

Yes, it is correct. Strange, but correct, as in John's sister.--Technopat (talk) 17:06, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
I would strike this out if I found it as an editor, and use "of" rather than " 's". Basic. Tony (talk) 09:34, 10 October 2015 (UTC)

External links[edit]

OK, so having now been accused twice of edit warring by the user who reverted my original edit and insists on restoring two external links without justifying their relevance (WP:EXT is very clear on this: "The burden of providing this justification is on the person who wants to include an external link."), I'm raising the matter here to see what the consensus is on this. Wikipedia is not a directory (my edit summary for my initial edit) and as there are currently five other external links, I see no reason whatsoever for more, one of which is borderline spam. --Technopat (talk) 00:56, 11 August 2013 (UTC)

Nice to see you on the talk page finally. If you think that there are to many external links in the article, you better had a look on all the links and not only the last two.
  1. The first in the list is a wiki book and does not count. The first external link to is in my eyes worth a discussion because there is a lot of advertising there and for some material you have to register. E.g. on the simple-past page there are four google ads, one for their own grammar book plus a registration form.
  2. As to the second link to the “Modern English Grammar”: I guess that content does not help most wikipedia users because the explanations are rather specific.
  3. “The Internet Grammar of English” requires JavaScript and uses frames, so the site is not accessible for some readers, especially disabled persons with screen readers. The site also opens popunder advertising in the background.
  4. “A Short Overview of English Syntax” is just a very long single page with badly or rather non-formatted content, there is no index or other help for navigation.
  5. And now to the two links you want remove. The “Basic Grammar Rules” has also slight deficits with the navigation because it uses dropdown boxes with JavaScript. However, there is an index page, maybe we could link to that page. After all, the content is clear and there is a lot of information on that site.
  6. The “Lingolía English Grammar” has a clear and easy structure with site navigation and index pages. All grammar topics are well explained. There is also an exercise on every topic with additional explanations. The site has only one google text ad on the top. There is an iPad App and a PDF available but those are not in focus and the user is not urged to buy anything. All grammar explanations and exercises on the site are free and no registration is needed.
So if you want to remove one or more links, it would be a good idea to have a look on the first four links because they really infringe some rules of WP:EL.
I would recommend removing the links 1, 3, and 4 and to change the link for 5 to the text-only version. --net (talk) 13:39, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
First of all, you can cut the sarcasm. As I've already had occasion to point out to you twice, policy is very clear: WP:EXT on this – "The burden of providing this justification is on the person who wants to include an external link." If you have a point to make, that is, to defend inclusion of an external link, this is the place to make it. Starting an edit war and then accusing another editor (me) of doing so is not a good way of getting things done around here. Nice try, but if you choose to ignore policy, that's up to you. BTW, don't forget that great English expression: "When you point your finger at someone, don't forget there are three others pointing back at you." Second, if you reckon there are external links that shouldn't be here, go ahead and remove them. As for the eventual merits of the external links you wish to retain, I'll leave that up to whatever consensus can be achieved here. Personally, I prefer to spend my time here at Wikipedia improving articles and dealing with pure vandalism than arguing with users who should know better. Regards, --Technopat (talk) 21:55, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

"Noun Gender"[edit]

... with the G capped?

It's a pretty silly section, in my view. Tony (talk) 09:33, 10 October 2015 (UTC)

It seems too long, at least. There is an article, Gender in English, where such information could be placed if any of it is of value. W. P. Uzer (talk) 10:01, 10 October 2015 (UTC)


"There are historical, social, cultural and regional variations of English. Divergences from the grammar described here occur in some dialects of English. This article describes a generalized present-day Standard English, the form of speech and writing found in types of public discourse including broadcasting, education, entertainment, government, and news reporting, including both formal and informal speech. There are differences in grammar between the standard forms of British, American, and Australian English, although these are minor compared with the lexical and pronunciation differences."

This seems disorganised. Can I make it:

"This article describes a generalized present-day standard English—the form of speech and writing found in types of public discourse such as broadcasting, education, entertainment, government, and news reporting, including both formal and informal registers. There are differences in grammar between the standard forms of British, American, and Australian English, although these are minor compared with the lexical and pronunciation differences."

Isn't it too detailed for the lead to list "historical, social, and cultural"? Are these followed up specifically in the article? Tony (talk) 09:14, 19 August 2016 (UTC)