ENGLISH LANGUAGE

DECLENSION

Declension (otherwise known as the inflection of nouns and pronouns) is the change in form of nouns and pronouns to indicate person, number, case; and gender. Specifically, noun declension refers to the change in spelling or appearance of a noun to mark a change in its meaning and usage. Nouns generally inflect for NUMBER, GENDER, and CASE.   NUMBER A noun is said to be in the singular number when it denotes one person, place, or thing; e.g. boy, cat. But it is said to be in the plural number when it denotes more than one person, place, or thing; e.g. boys, cats. Hence, nouns exhibit two numbers – singular and plural – in English. Singular nouns generally form their plurals by adding ‘S’. Some (ending in ch, s, sh, x, z, or in o) add ‘es’. Some (ending in f or fe) change to ‘ves’. Some (ending in y) change to ies’. Some are irregular. Since there is no single way of forming plurals of nouns, we shall examine the problems of number in the noun under the following headings: Regular plurals. Irregular/Exceptional plurals Foreign plurals Compound Nouns and their plurals.   1) Regular Plurals Many countable nouns form their plurals by adding -s or -es to the singular form (sometimes with a change of the final letter; e.g. – f to -v, – y to -i). Examples: a) Nouns that form their plurals by adding -s to their singular forms include:   b) Nouns that end in -ch, – sh -x, and some that end in -s or -es, make their plurals by adding -es to the singular.     c) Many nouns that end in -o preceded by a consonant form their plurals by adding -es to the singular form:   d) Twelve nouns ending in -f or fe drop the -f or fe and add -ves. These nouns are:   e) Nouns ending in y preceded by a consonant form their plurals by changing the y into -ies. See the following examples:     2) Irregular/Exceptional Plurals: There are four categories of irregular/exceptional plurals. They are: those related to words that end in -o, – f, – fe, and y; those that form their plurals by adding -en; those that require vowel change to form their plurals, and (d) those that have the same form for both singular and plural. (a) Words that end in -o, – f/ -fe, and -y: (i) Some nouns of foreign origin that end in -o preceded by a consonant form their plurals by adding only -s to their singular form:   Similarly, if the -o is preceded by a vowel or a semi-vowel (y,w), the plural is formed by simply adding -s to the singular:   (ii) About seventeen nouns ending in -for -fe form their plurals by simply adding -s to the singular form. These are:   Yet, some nouns (at least four in number) ending in -f form their plurals by taking either -s or -ves. Examples:   (iii) Note that a noun that ends in `-y’, preceded by a vowel, forms its plural by adding `-s’ to the singular form.   (b) Four nouns form their plurals by simply adding -en or -ne to their singular form. They are:   (c) A few nouns form their plurals by a vowel change. They are eight in number:   (d) There are a few nouns, especially of fish and animals, measurements and nationalities that have the same form for the plural as for the singular:

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ADJECTIVES

Adjectives are words that modify nouns or noun-equivalents and fellow adjectives. The italicised words below are some examples of adjectives: Professor Stefano is a seasoned scholar. He is prolific. He has produced many good works of art. Some people are passing through hard times these days.   Classification of Adjectives Adjectives can be grouped into two broad classes according to the functions they perform: Determiners. Describers.   DETERMINERS Determiners are small adjectives which normally identify and precede nouns. They signal the approach of a noun and generally define or limit the meaning of the noun, restricting its application. The following are common examples of determiners in English Language:   1) Articles These are three small adjectives: a, an, and the. A or an [a(n)] means any while the means this or that. A(n) is an indefinite article that makes reference to no specific thing, but the is a definite article that indicates a particular thing. While a is used before words that begin with consonants, an is used before words that begin with vowels. The may form a plural noun when it precedes a descriptive adjective, or a common noun when it precedes a proper noun. Examples Give me a pen. (any pen) Please buy an envelope for me. (any envelope) The boy is honest. (That boy ….. ) The rich are unhappy. (All rich people …… ) Are you the Solomon of our generation? (the wise man)   2) Demonstrative Adjectives These are four small adjectives – this, that, these, and those – that indicate or refer to things. This and that precede singular nouns while these and those precede plural nouns. This and these refer to things that are close to the speaker in time and space but that and those relate to things that are removed from the speaker in time and space. Examples This pen is mine but that one over there is yours. These students are obedient.   3) Possessive Adjectives These indicate ownership: my, your, his, her, its, our, their. Examples Obed took my bucket. The dog wagged its tail.   4) Distributive Adjectives These include each, every, either, neither. They are used to indicate things considered separately/individually or in isolated lots. Examples Each person played his role. Every student in this college knows her name. Either soup will serve our purpose.   5) Interrogative Adjectives These are used adjectivally in asking questions: what, which, whose, whatever, whichever. They precede nouns in the questions. Examples What papers do you read? Which way Nigeria? Whose turn is it to speak?   6) Emphasizing Adjectives These adjectives relate to and emphasize the nouns or pronouns beside them: very, own, one. Examples He is the very man I am talking about. That is my own car.   7) Indefinite Adjectives These do not specify the exact number, quantity or measurement of the nouns they modify: some, many, few, much, most, other, not much, all, several, less, enough. Examples Some boy shouted the poor girl down. Many people are poor these days.   8) Exclamatory Adjectives These are employed in exclamatory expressions: what! which! Examples What a loss! Which way!   9) Numerical Adjectives These adjectives specify number or generally indicate the position occupied by anything. Cardinal Numbers – one, two, three, four, etc. Ordinal Numbers – first, second, third, fourth, etc. General Ordinals – next, last, other, former, latter. Examples One man (or two men) came here yesterday. Mary took first position in the class last semester.   10) Other Quantifiers In addition to the above, there are other small adjectives which fall within the class of determiners. They include the following quantifiers: both, half, double, twice, one-third, three-quarters, whole, plenty.

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VOICE

Voice refers to the form which a transitive verb assumes to show whether it acts or is acted upon. This implies that the verb has two voices: active and passive. The active voice is used when the subject of the transitive verb is the doer or the active agent in an action, while the passive voice is used when the subject is acted upon or suffers the action done to it.   DISTINCTION BETWEEN ACTIVE VOICE AND PASSIVE VOICE I) Active voice is the name given to the verb in a sentence where the subject of the sentence is the doer of the action, while passive voice is the name given to the verb in a sentence where the receiver of the action is used as subject of the sentence. Examples Active: He killed a dog. Passive: A dog was killed by him.   II) Active voice uses both transitive and intransitive verbs (E.g. He ate rice. He smiled.) but passive voice uses only transitive verbs (E.g. The rice was eaten by him). However, some transitive verbs cannot be passivised; e.g. have, cost, resemble, contains, suites, measures, get into, etc. (‘I have a bad cold’ or ‘This pen cost ten naira’ cannot be turned into the passive construction.)   III) Active voice permits indefinite subjects such as someone, somebody, one, a boy, a man, people, nobody, etc. but passive voice does not permit them. Examples Active: Someone called your name. Passive: Your name was called.   IV) Active voice projects the doer of an action but passive voice emphasizes the receiver of the action and suppresses the active agent with by. Examples Active: Joseph beat my sister. Passive: My Sister was beaten by Joseph.   V) Some suffixes (e.g. – ing’; -ous’, ‘-er’, ‘ -or’) largely convey active meaning and the words to which they are attached can be used mainly in active voice; but other suffixes such as -able’ , “-ible’, ‘ -ee’ are passive in meaning and can be used in the passive voice; however, ‘ -ous’, may be either active or passive in some sentences (e.g. He is a suspicious character) while some ` -ee’, (e.g. absentee, referee, refugee, trustee, etc). Do not bear the passive meaning. Examples Active word: farming, desirous, worker, tutor, etc. Passive words: desirable, incredible, payee, etc.   VI) Different tenses in the passive voice are made by using different parts of the verb “to be” with the past participle but the verb “to be” is not required to build the verb phrase in the active voice. Below is a summary of the differences in form of both voices in different tenses illustrated with the verb “teach”.   VII) In the passive construction, adverb particles must not be removed from the verbs requiring them and adverbs of manner are put immediately in front of the past participles they qualify. (You will be well taken care of). But in the active construction, adverbs of manner may take end-position (John will take care of you well) and prepositions will precede the objects they govern (He will give it to you now).   VIII) An imperative sentence in the active construction begins with the active verb (Stop that! Make room for him) while its passive version is introduced with the verb let, followed by the object and the “to be” element before the main verb and any other element(s). (Let that be stopped. Let room be made for him).   USES OF THE ACTIVE AND PASSIVE VOICE

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PERSON, MOOD AND NUMBER AS GRAMMATICAL PROPERTIES OF VERBS

PERSON Person is the form of the verb which designates the person speaking (i.e. first person; e.g. I am), the person spoken to (i.e. second person; e.g. You are) and the person or thing spoken of (i.e. third person; e.g. He/It is).     MOOD Mood (or MODE) is the form of the verb that is used to indicate the manner in which the action is conceived. It expresses the attitude or thought of the speaker towards the action of the verb in a sentence, whether the speaker is merely making a statement, giving an order, or expressing a simple wish. Thus, we have three basic moods in English: namely, the indicative mood, which states a fact, asks a question, or makes a supposition ; the imperative mood, which expresses a command, or prayer, or request, or advice; and the subjunctive mood, which expresses doubt, a condition contrary to fact, a wish or regret, a concession, or a supposition. Below are some examples of mood: 1) Indicative Mood The sky is blue. Who is that? If he is honest, he need not fear. 2) Imperative Mood Halt! Get away from here. Forgive us our sins, O God. Lend me your pen, please. 3) Subjunctive Mood If I had a pen, I would write. I wish I were unborn. I move that the guilty be punished.     NUMBER Number refers to the change in the form of a verb, a noun, or a pronoun to designate singular (i.e. one item) or plural (i.e. more than one item). Specifically, therefore, the verb assumes two different forms – singular or plural -to show its agreement with its subject in number. The following examples will suffice to illustrate: Singular – I eat; you eat; he/she/it eats. Plural – We eat; you eat; they eat. Notably, the verb, except to be , regularly indicates person and number only in the third person singular of the present tense with an “-s” marker. A singular subject takes a singular verb (e.g. John is a boy) while a compound subject takes a plural verb (e.g. John and James are boys). Similarly, a collective noun takes a singular verb while plural nouns and nouns of multitude take plural verbs.

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THE FUTURE PERFECT TENSE

The Future Perfect Tense Form This tense is formed with shall/will + perfect infinitive (without to): shall + have spoken = (We) shall have spoken. will + have read = (You) will have read.   Functions The future perfect tense is used to express: I) an action that will be completed at a given time in the future: By the end of this year, I shall have read ten novels.   II) an action which at a given time in the future must have ended before another action takes place: I shall have finished my degree exams before your next visit. You will have cleared the field before tilling the soil. By the time the referee comes, Ibe will have run round the field three times.     The Future Perfect Continuous Tense Form This tense is formed with shall/will have been + present participle: shall have been + eating: I shall have been eating. will have been + dancing: She will have been dancing.   Function The future perfect continuous tense describes an action, which, though considered already begun at a given future time, will still be in progress by then: I shall have been eating my brunch by this time tomorrow.       Future-in-the-Past Tense: (also called Future Simple in the Past Tense) Form This tense is made up of should/would + the bare infinitive: (I/We) should + write = I/We should write. (He/You/They) would + sing = He/You/They would sing.   Functions The future-in-the-past tense is used to describe: I) an action that, at a point in past time, still lay in the future: I told John that I should visit him the next day. Eze said that he would employ her.   II) an action that was supposed/expected to take place at a future time in the past: Osondu insisted that I should speak first. Ngozi said that she would be given the trophy. (would be given: passive form of future-in-the-past)   III) an action that was intended to take place at some time in the past but probably did not occur: I should have been redeployed to the headquarters (passive voice). Ezinne thought that she would be invited to the party (passive voice). My wife projected that our food stuff would have been exhausted before the next supply came. (But her projection was wrong eventually.) We thought that Mr. Okonkwo would marry Ugomma. (But he didn’t marry her after all.)   IV) an action that was expected to occur at a certain future time in the past and it occurred as expected:  We knew that Ihuoma would pay us a visit some day. (Not surprisingly, therefore, she visited us today.) The doctor said that his “AIDS” patient would die (and the patient died soon after). I told you that you would be promoted (and you were promoted) – passive voice.   V) improbable condition in if-clause where the action in the if-clause is not expected to happen: If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. If I won the election, I should throw a party.   VI) a gentle advice in an if-clause: If I were you, I would repent and save my soul. If we were in your position, we would help the poor.       Future-in-the-Past Continuous Tense: (also known as future-continuous-in-the-past) Form The future-in-the-past continuous tense is composed of: should/would + be + present participle (… ing) We/I should be singing. You/He/She/It/They would be eating.   Function This tense is generally used to express an action that, at a point in past time, was expected/supposed to be going on: Mr. Ibe expected that his daughter would be reading when he arrived.     Future Perfect-in-the-Past Tense Form This tense is formed with: Should/would + have + Past participle. We/I should have spoken. You/She/He/It/They would have gone.   Function The future perfect-in-the-past tense is used to express an action which was expected to have occurred at an anticipated future time in the remote past if other events had not overtaken it:  I should have come to your house if you had invited me. You would have received an award if you had worked towards it. If Obika had not called him back, he would have gone out.     Future Perfect-in-the-Past Continuous Tense Form This tense is made up of: should/would + have + been + present participle (… ing) Examples We/I should have been reading. You/He/She/It/They would have been complaining.   Function This tense is used to express an action which was supposed/expected to have been happening at a certain future time in the remote past if some other intervening action (s) had not occurred: If he had not been made the President’s praise-singer, he would have been campaigning against corruption in the armed forces before the death of the President.

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