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Introduction to traditional grammar


teaching in C13 Paris (BL MS Burney 275)1. Introduction 
aims and audience

2. The basics  
accidence and syntax  
2.2 PARTS OF SPEECH | 2.3 noun | 2.4 adjective | 2.5 adverb | 2.6 verb | 2.7 article | 2.8 pronoun | 2.9 preposition | 2.10 conjunction | 2.11 interjection | 2.12 words with more than one function  
2.13 PARTS OF THE SENTENCE | 2.14 subject | 2.15 predicate | 2.16 phrase | 2.17 clause | 2.18 apposition

3. Old English 
3.1 DECLENSION | 3.2 number | 3.3 gender | 3.4 case | 3.5 nominative | 3.6 accusative | 3.7 genitive | 3.8 dative | 3.9 instrumental | 3.10 cases after prepositions | 3.11 noun-declension | 3.12 adjective-declension | 3.13 pronoun-declension
3.14 CONJUGATION | 3.15 strong and weak verbs | 3.16 preterite-present verbs | 3.17 anomalous verbs
3.18 syntax

Grammatical terms 
general index


1. Introduction

medieval students and masterThis guide is designed mainly for students who haven't been taught formal grammar at school, and find that the study of  medieval literature at University level requires basic language skills that they don't have. It is deliberately conservative, keeping as far as possible to the terminology of 'traditional grammar', which is found in most of the dictionaries, glossaries and grammars you are likely to use. Since this terminology is mainly derived from Latin and Greek grammar, it isn't an ideal way of describing English, which in some respects has a very different structure. If your main interest is in modern English language rather than medieval literature, you should consult  a reference work using a more recent analytical model; two approachable examples are the Collins Pocket English Grammar (London: HarperCollins, 1992), and David Crystal's Rediscover Grammar (London: Longman, rev. ed. 1996).
You should also note that the guide is descriptive rather than prescriptive; it introduces you to basic grammatical terms and concepts rather than telling you what you should or shouldn't do in your written English. 

2. The basics

2.1 Accidence and syntax
Grammar deals with two aspects of language, accidence and syntax.
i) Accidence is mainly concerned with how individual words vary in form according to their grammatical function: e.g.
book, books; write, wrote. This variation in form is known as inflexion.
ii) Syntax is concerned with how individual words are put together to make sentences.

Words can be classified into 9 categories: noun, adjective, adverb, verb, article, pronoun, preposition, conjunction, interjection.

2.3 Noun the name of a person, place, or thing: Clarissa, Middlemarch, book. Nouns can be inflected to indicate the plural (book, books; man, men) and, in some instances, the possessive (or genitive) case (see 3.4, 3.7): Shakespeare's Sonnets, the wife's admirers, the men's room, a week's holiday. 

2.4 Adjective a word describing (or 'qualifying') a noun: purple patches, a handsome husband, the posture is ridiculous, the three Musketeers, the fifth column, my country, that woman. Some adjectives are inflected to indicate the comparative (happier) and superlative (happiest); others use more and most instead: e.g. Mama says that she was then the prettiest, silliest, most affected husband-hunting butterfly she ever remembers.
Most adjectives can be used either attributively (the green hat) or predicatively (the hat is green); e.g.:
Johnson:  I had no notion that I was wrong or irreverent to my tutor. Boswell: That, sir, was great fortitude of mind. Johnson:  No, sir, stark insensibility.

2.5 Adverb a word qualifying an adjective (very fat, so sweet, seriously displeased), a verb (he almost ran, I read slowly), another adverb (I read incredibly slowly, I am most seriously displeased), or the sentence as a whole (Then my trousers fell down. Fortunately nobody noticed). Most adverbs form their comparative and superlative with more and most, but a few are inflected (faster, fastest). The characteristic adverb-ending is -ly.

2.6 Verb a word expressing a state or action: be, have, do, run, write, love give, can, must.

2.6 i) Main verbs and auxiliary verbs
Verbs are divided into two classes, main verbs and auxiliary verbs.
The great majority of verbs function as main verbs, which can be used on their own in a sentence:
Run! I send no compliments to your mother. I saw something nasty in the woodshed.
A small number of very common verbs (e.g.
can, may, will, must, dare) function as auxiliary verbs. As the term suggests, auxiliary verbs act as a support system to the main verbs, and will only occur together with a main verb, expressed or understood: e.g. I cannot reconcile my heart to Bertram. I may, I must, I can, I will, I do / Leave following that, which it is gain to miss. He would say that, wouldn't he?
The verbs do, have, and be can be used either as main verbs (
I have an overdraft at the bank. I do as little work as I can. Why am I a fool?) or as auxiliaries (We have seen the lions at Longleat. You don't mind if I smoke, do you? Yes, I do! Why are we waiting?).
Auxiliary verbs can be used to form questions (
Why does he conduct the music with a poker?) and negative statements (A lady does not move),and to express tense, mood, voice, and aspect (see next four sections).

2.6 ii) Tense indicates the time at which, or during which, the action described by the verb takes place. Only two tenses are marked by inflexion in English, the present (I/you/we run, he/she/it runs) and the past (I ran, etc.; I walked, etc.). Other tenses are formed periphrastically (that is, by the use of auxiliary verbs): e.g. the perfect (You have wasted two whole terms) and the pluperfect (Mr McKnag had been so shocked by Flora's letter that his old trouble had returned) are formed by adding have to the main verb, and the future usually by adding will or shall (In this life or the next, I will have my vengeance. Not only marble, but the plastic toys / In cornflake packets will outlive this rhyme).

2.6 iii) Mood 
The verb has three moods:

a) Indicative, used for statements and questions (No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money. Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?). By far the most common mood; often not specifically indicated in glossaries.

b) Imperative, used for commands (Publish and be damned! Unhand it, sir! Do not lean out of the window. Keep Britain tidy).

c) Subjunctive, used to express wishes, demands, and hypothetical or unreal conditions (I wish I were dead! I insist that he leave [or: should leave] at once. If you were to read Richardson for the story, your patience would be so fretted that you would hang yourself. Had we but world enough and time, / This coyness, lady, were no crime. Be that as it may...).
Apart from the dropped -s ending in the present tense of verbs (as in that he leave), which tends in any case to be an American rather than an English idiom, the only distinctive subjunctive forms in modern English are found in the verb to be (present tense be, past tense singular were); the subjunctive mood is now mainly indicated by past tense forms (If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?) or by the use of auxiliary verbs (If I were as rich as Mr Darcy, I should not care how proud I was. I would keep a pack of foxhounds, and drink a bottle of wine every day).

2.6 iv) Voice
The verb has two voices, active (e.g. I write my essays at the last minute. The dog bit the man) and passive (e.g. My essays are written at the last minute. The man was bitten by the dog). The passive is formed by the verb be and the past participle of the verb (see 2.6 vi)).

2.6 v) Aspect indicates the way in which the action or state described by the verb is regarded (e.g. as completed or in progress); compare the simple past tense form I wrote with the forms I was writing (progressive aspect) and I have written (perfective aspect).

2.6 vi) Finite and non-finite forms
A finite form of the verb is one that expresses tense and mood. The non-finite forms of the verb are called the infinitive, the present participle, and the past participle (the last two terms are rather misleading, however, as neither expresses tense: e.g. in
I was singing, singing is a present participle, and in he will be beaten, beaten is a past participle).

a) the infinitive
This usually has to in front of it, except after auxiliary verbs:
We laugh at the elixir that promises to prolong life to a thousand years; and with equal justice may the lexicographer be derided who, being able to produce no example of a nation that has preserved their words and phrases from mutability, shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his language, and secure it from corruption and decay, that it is in his power to change sublunary nature, or clear the world at once from folly, vanity, and affectation.

b) the present participle
Marked by its ending in  -ing:
We were working in the Library. The English winter, ending in July / To recommence in August . . .

c) the past participle
Usually (though not always) ends in -ed (I love, I have loved, I was loved) or -en (I write, I have written, it was written). 
E.g.: The English language, while it was employed in the cultivation of every species of literature, has itself been hitherto neglected; suffered to spread into wild exuberance, resigned to the tyranny of time and fashion, and exposed to the corruptions of ignorance, and caprices of innovation.
Note: often the past tense form of the verb is the same as that of the past participle, and the grammatical context must be used to distinguish them. Compare I walked home, she won the match (past tense, finite form) with I have walked home, the match was won (past participle, non-finite form following auxiliary verb).
All other forms of the verb are finite. Test your recognition of finite and non-finite forms on this example:

The Devil, having nothing else to do,
Went off to tempt my lady Poltagrue.
My Lady, tempted by a private whim,
To his extreme annoyance, tempted him.

2.7 Article
This minute category contains only the definite article  (the) and the indefinite article (a, an).

2.8 Pronoun
A word used as a substitute for a noun: he, himself, that, what, who, each, either, some, one.
There are several different kinds of pronoun, including

  • personal (I, you, he, etc.)
  • possessive (my, mine, etc.)
  • reflexive (myself, etc.)
  • relative (who, which, that; e.g. the woman who rode away, the book that I bought)
  • interrogative (who, what, which; e.g. What was that? I asked her who was there)
  • demonstrative (this, that; e.g. Drink this.)
2.8 i) Case
Six pronouns, I, we, he, she, they, and who, have three different case-forms (a relic of the Old English case-system; see 3.4): the subjective (or nominative) (I go to work. Who is it?);  the possessive (or genitive) (That's my book. Whose is it?); and the objective (She hit me. By whom?).

2.8 ii) Person
Personal, possessive, and reflexive pronouns distinguish person in both singular and plural:



1st person I, my, myself we, our, ourselves
2nd person you, your, yourself you, your, yourselves
3d person he, she, it (etc.) they, their, themselves
2.8 iii)
Personal, possessive and reflexive pronouns also distinguish gender in the third person singular. In Modern English this means that the form varies according to the sex (or lack of it) of what is being talked about: masculine (he, etc.) for male persons and (sometimes) animals, feminine (she, etc.) for female, and neuter (it, etc.) for other things.

2.9 Preposition
Prepositions are used to relate nouns or pronouns grammatically to the rest of the sentence. They can be either simple (at, on, by, through, with) or compound (away from, because of, by means of).

2.10 Conjunction
Conjunctions are used to link words or groups of words. Conjunctions can be co-ordinating (and, but, or) or subordinating (if, although, because, that, when, so that); see 2.17. Like prepositions, they can be either simple (and, but, if) or compound (so that, provided that, as long as).

2.11 Interjection
an exclamation, grammatically independent of the rest of the sentence: Alas! Oh dear! Damn! D'oh!

2.12 Words with more than one function
Note that many words can be classified in more than one way, and their function in the sentence should always be taken into account. For instance, that in that man functions as an adjective; in I like that as a demonstrative pronoun; in I wouldn't go that far as an adverb; in the book that I bought as a relative pronoun; and in he said that he would come as a subordinating conjunction. When in doubt, look carefully at the grammatical context.

The sentence is a self-contained syntactical unit. It is traditionally divided into two parts, subject and predicate.

2.14 The subject of a sentence represents the person or thing about which a statement is being made:
The cat sat on the mat. All Ireland is washed by the Gulf Stream.
When the verb is active (e.g. sat), the subject carries out the action; when it is passive (e.g. is washed), the subject is affected by the action. The usual position for the subject is at the beginning of the sentence, but this is not invariable:
What am I to do?
Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?
Last night we stayed up late.

Or even: Him the almighty power / Hurled headlong.

In imperative sentences the subject is usually not expressed:
Run! Make my day! Don't even think about parking here!

2.15 The predicate contains all parts of the sentence other than the subject. It can contain several elements, but the only essential one is a finite verb (Run! Birds fly). Other possible elements are:

2.15 i)
an object
Some verbs take a direct object (I need a drink. She hit him), others both a direct and an indirect object (Give me the daggers. Don't bring Mr Elton any more wine). The indirect object normally comes before the direct object; it can be replaced by a phrase with to or for (Give the daggers to me. Don't bring any more wine for Mr Elton). Verbs which take an object are known as transitive, those which don't (e.g. He laughed. It's raining) as intransitive.

2.15 ii)
a complement
This can be either a subject complement (She is fat. He became a midwife. You seem surprised) or an object complement (Drinking makes me fat. They appointed him chairman. He proved them wrong). Subject complements refer back to the subject of the verb, object complements to its object.

2.15 iii)
an adverbial element
This may qualify the verb (That will do nicely. March indefatigably on) or the sentence as a whole (Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn).

2.16 The phrase is a small group of words which functions in the same way as a single part of speech; unlike the sentence, it doesn't have both a subject and a predicate. Traditional grammar concentrates on a few specific types of phrase:

2.16 i) the prepositional phrase, which is introduced by a preposition (under the greenwood tree; by the rules of grammar; with his muddy boots on).

2.16 ii) the participial phrase, which includes a present or past participle (pouring himself a drink; all things considered).

2.16 iii) the infinitive phrase, which includes an infinitive (to learn my ABC; to be a pilgrim).

Individual nouns (or pronouns), adjectives, and adverbs can be replaced by phrases of this kind:
The end of writing is to instruct (cf. The end of writing is instruction: noun)
I saw a woman wearing Manolo Blahniks
(cf. I saw a fashionable woman: adjective)
All things considered, it's not worth it (cf. Ultimately it's not worth it: adverb).

2.17 The clause is a group of words containing its own subject and predicate. Clauses can be either main clauses or subordinate ('dependent) clauses.
A simple sentence,
with a single subject and predicate (e.g. The cat sat on the mat), consists of a single main clause.
A compound sentence contains more than one main clause (She gave me a ring but I diced it away. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness to the flesh.) The main clauses are linked by co-ordinating conjunctions (e.g. and, but, or). Where the subject of the two clauses is the same, it need not be expressed in both: They cut me up with a knife and fork / And tied me to a cabbage stalk.
A complex sentence is one which contains not only a main clause (or clauses) but at least one subordinate clause (There'd be no kissing if he had his wish. When I'm a veteran with only one eye, / I shall do nothing but look at the sky. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done).
Subordinate clauses can be introduced by:

  • subordinating conjunctions: if, because, although, since, etc.
  • relative pronouns: e.g. We have done those things which we ought not to have done. I met a man who wasn't there.
  • interrogative pronouns: e.g. I've no idea who she was.
  • relative adverbs: e.g. Where there is leisure for fiction, there is little grief.
  • interrogative adverbs: e.g. I don't know how you could do such a thing.
  • or sometimes inverted word-order: Had we but world enough and time...
Relative pronouns are sometimes omitted: e.g. Well, Lulu, here is another book and we have not read half the ones we have got yet.
Subordinate clauses, like phrases, can replace nouns (or pronouns), adjectives, or adverbs:
  • noun clause: What's to come is still unsure. I know that he's here. (Cf. The future is still unsure. I know that.)
  • adjectival clause: I met a man who was over eighty. (Cf. I met an old man).
  • adverbial clause: He went home when it was dark. I left the party because they threw me out bodily. (Cf. He went home late. I left the party reluctantly).
Is the following sentence simple, compound, complex, or compound and complex?
Full of quiet dignity, and so obviously an English gentleman of perfect breeding and impeccable taste, even in the khaki shorts, sun-helmet and old school tie appropriate to the burning tropical sun, his bronzed clean-cut countenance radiant with the unselfconscious superiority so much admired---yet so vainly imitated---by less fortunate nations untouched as yet by the public school tradition, the Civil Engineer, watching the gradual but irresistible collapse of his new bridge into the brown, swirling waters of the flooded river hundreds of feet below, and ignoring, with the ease of long practice, the coarse but good-natured badinage of his workmen and the less friendly, indeed actively hostile, criticism of the representatives of the local authorities, consoled himself by imagining, with a thrill of anticipatory aesthetic pleasure, the excellence of the English prose, beautifully phrased and brilliantly punctuated, soon to be enshrined in his report justifying and explaining this unfortunate contretemps---an exquisite prose developed through his regular attendance at the admirable lectures on the Use of English provided, regardless of trouble and expense, though without extra emolument accruing to the lecturer dedicated to the task, by the benevolent authorities of his old University.

John Swannell

When a noun (or pronoun) is followed by another noun describing it, the second noun is in apposition to the first: Have you got Mr Bones, the undertaker? I, Tiresias, have foresuffered all.

3. Old English

Finglesham buckleYou will find a detailed account of Old English grammar, designed for student use, in Bruce Mitchell and Fred C. Robinson, edd., A Guide to Old English, 7th edn. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007), and you should learn to find your way round it---start with pages 1-7. Because it is so detailed, however, you may find it hard to sort out the wood from the trees at first. The notes here are intended 

  • to give you an overview of the main features of Old English grammar
  • to identify the main difficulties you will meet
  • to explain the technical terms that you will need to recognize.
The main difference between Old English (OE) and Modern English (MnE) is that OE is, like modern German, a highly inflected language. Grammatical relationships which in MnE are made clear by the use of prepositions, auxiliary verbs, and a rigidly fixed word-order are often shown in OE by inflexion instead, and you will have to pay close attention to inflexions in order to make sense of OE texts. The way in which inflexions vary in nouns, pronouns, and adjectives is known as declension; in verbs it is called conjugation.

OE nouns, pronouns, and adjectives vary their forms according to their number, gender, and case.

3.2 Number: normally either singular (= one) or plural (= more than one), as in MnE. However, a linguistic fossil, the dual (= two) is preserved in the first and second person personal pronouns as an intermediate form between singular and plural: so we have

singular ic, thu  I, you [one person]
dual wit, git we two, you two
plural we, ge we, you  [more than two people]
3.3 Gender
MnE has natural gender (see 2.8 iii)): he, she, and it refer to the actual gender of the person or thing being described. OE, however, has grammatical gender: as in modern French and German, every noun is assigned a gender which may have no natural connection whatever with what it describes. So OE hlaefdige 'lady' is grammatically feminine, but OE wif 'woman' is neuter, and OE wifmann 'woman' is masculine.

3.4 Case
This is one of the ways in which inflexions can be used to express grammatical relationships. Case is used extensively in many languages (including German, Greek, and Latin), and you will need to master it to translate OE correctly. Very little of the OE case-system survives in MnE; one area where it does survive to some extent is in the pronouns (see 2.8 i)), and you may find it helpful to start there. The following summary is only a rough guide to the meaning and functions of the cases; for other uses, see Mitchell and Robinson, sections 188-92.
There are five separate cases in Old English: nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, and (less common) instrumental.

3.5 Nominative
The subject-case: He andwyrde sona 'He answered at once'; Him andwyrde se faeder 'The father answered him.' Note that in OE the subject is not necessarily placed before the beginning of the sentence, or even before the verb.

3.6 Accusative
Characteristically the direct-object case: Tha se engel gelaehte hine 'Then the angel seized him'; Tha stowe habbath giet his iefernuman 'His successors still have that place'. Note that in OE the direct object may be placed before the verb, as in the second example.

3.7 Genitive
Mainly possessive; can often be rendered by MnE 'of'. E.g. Godes engel 'God's angel'; on Cyres dagum cyninges 'in the days of King Cyrus'. Note: hiera fif 'five of them'; fela wundra 'many wonders'.

3.8 Dative
Characteristically the indirect-object case: Sege thinum leodum miccle lathre spell 'Give your people a much more hostile message'; He sealde aelcum anne pening 'He gave each one a penny'. Can often be rendered by 'to' or 'for' in MnE.

3.9 Instrumental
This refers to the means by which, or the manner in which, an action is done, and can often be rendered in MnE by 'by' or 'with': lytle werode 'with a small force'; wundum werig 'worn out by wounds.' Nouns have no separate instrumental inflexion, and use dative forms to express this case.

3.10 Cases after prepositions
All the above cases except the nominative may also occur after prepositions:
e.g. on thone thriddan daeg [accusative] 'on the third day'; with thaes hrofes [genitive] 'towards the roof'
and some prepositions can be followed by more than one case.

3.11 Noun-declension
Nouns (as in modern German) can have either a strong or a weak declension. These terms refer simply to the kind of inflexional endings they have. Strong nouns (e.g. stan 'stone', hus 'house', giefu 'gift') have a wide variety of inflexional endings; weak nouns (e.g. sunne 'sun', nama 'name') have endings predominantly in -an. The weak endings in particular are not always distinctive enough to be very helpful in establishing the grammatical function of a noun; for other clues to its function, see under 3.12, 3.13.

3.12 Adjective-declension
Adjectives, like nouns, can be declined either strong or weak (case-endings similar, but not identical, to those of nouns). But while a given noun will belong to either the strong or the weak declension (not both), the great majority of adjectives (as in modern German) can take either strong or weak inflexions according to their function in the sentence. Weak endings are always used after the definite article and the demonstrative adjectives 'this' and 'that', and sometimes after possessive adjectives like 'my' as well. Adjectives agree with the nouns they qualify in number, gender, and case.

3.13 Pronoun-declension
This is considerably more complicated than in MnE (see Mitchell and Robinson, sections 15-21); it will save you time in the long run to learn by heart at least the forms of the personal pronoun (Mitchell and Robinson, sections 18, 21).

You will also find that it saves time to learn the forms of the definite article (Mitchell and Robinson, section 16), as this will often allow you to establish the number, gender, and case of the noun it goes with without having to identify the form of the noun itself (a task which can be difficult, time-consuming, and inconclusive).
Note that i) the definite article doubles as the demonstrative adjective 'that'; translate according to context
ii) the in Old English is not a form of the definite article but a very common indeclinable relative pronoun ('
who, which, that').

OE verbs have a larger number of distinct inflexions than MnE verbs, and a distinctive present and past subjunctive form. See Mitchell and Robinson, sections 87-134, for full details. The main types of verb are summarized below.

3.15 Strong and weak verbs
The two main types of verb in OE (as in MnE) are strong and weak.
Weak verbs,
the more regular and more common type, normally form their their past tense and past participle by adding an ending with -d-: e.g. fyllan (infinitive), fylde (past  tense), gefylled (past participle), which gives the MnE verb-forms '[to] fill', '[he/she] filled', '[he/she has] filled'. This has remained the dominant type of verb in MnE: love, loved; walk, walked, etc.
Strong verbs form their past tense and past participle by vowel-change: e.g. drincan (infinitive), dranc (past tense), gedruncen '[to] drink', '[he/she] drank', '[he/she has] drunk'. Many strong verbs still survive in MnE: ride, rode, ridden; choose, chose, chosen; run, ran, run; win, won.
In OE there is sometimes vowel-variation within the present tense (ic ceose 'I choose', but he ciest 'he chooses') or the past tense (ic band 'I bound' but we bundon 'we bound') as well as between the present and the past.
These vowel-changes are not always predictable (though the analogy of the corresponding MnE verb can sometimes help; when in doubt, look through Mitchell and Robinson, Appendix A (pp. 152-58), where you will find a list of all the verb-forms you are likely to encounter.

3.16 Preterite-present verbs
These are a small but frequently-occurring group of verbs, mainly auxiliaries, which have a present tense which is past (='preterite') in form but present in meaning: e.g. dearr 'dare', can 'can',  maeg 'may'. They have acquired a new, weak past tense: dorste 'dared', cuthe 'could', mihte 'might'.

3.17 Anomalous verbs
These are common verbs too irregular to fit into the previous categories: they include wesan/beon 'to be', gan 'to go' (note the irregular past tense eode 'went'), willan 'will'.

Consult Mitchell and Robinson, Ch. 5. The most likely source of problems for the beginner is word-order: the standard pattern of the MnE sentence, subject-verb-object, is much less common in OE, especially in the poetry. Those who have studied German will recognize the following features of OE word-order:

  • Infinitives or past participles may be placed at the end of a main clause: Ic wolde thas lytlan boc awendan 'I wanted to translate this little book'.
  • An object, complement, or adverb may be put at the beginning of the sentence for emphasis: in this case the subject will follow the verb: Tha swigode se cyning 'Then the king was silent.'
  • In subordinate clauses the verb is usually moved to the end of the clause: thaet hie thone Godes mann abitan scolden 'that they should eat up the man of God.'
Because of this greater variety in word-order, you will need to look closely at inflexional endings to be sure you have understood the Old English correctly. So, for instance, don't assume automatically that a noun (or pronoun) at the beginning of a sentence is the subject of that sentence. Is it in the nominative case? If not, it can't be the subject. Does it agree in number with the verb that follows it? If it is singular and the verb is plural, or vice versa, it can't be the subject of that verb.

General index
of grammatical terms


accidence 2.1
accusative case 3.6
active voice 2.6 iv)
adjectival clause 2.17
adjectival phrase 2.16
adjective 2.4
adverb 2.5
adverbial clause 2.17 
adverbial phrase 2.16
anomalous verbs 3.17
apposition 2.18
article 2.7
aspect 2.6 v)
attributive (adjective) 2.4
auxiliary verb 2.6 i)

case 2.8 i), 3.4-10
clause 2.17
comparative (adjective) 2.4
comparative (adverb) 2.5
complement 2.15 ii)
complex sentence 2.17
compound conjunction 2.10
compound preposition 2.9
compound sentence 2.17
conjugation 3, 3.14-17
conjunction 2.10
co-ordinating conjunction 2.10, 2.17

dative case 3.8
declension 3
definite article 2.7
demonstrative pronoun 2.8
dependent clause 2.17
direct object 2.15 i)
dual 3.2

feminine 2.8 iii), 3.3
finite 2.6 vi)
future 2.6 ii)

gender 2.8 iii), 3.3
genitive case 2.8 i), 3.4, 3.7
grammatical gender 3.3

imperative 2.6 iii)
indefinite article 2.7
indicative 2.6 iii)
indirect object 2.15 i)
infinitive 2.6 vi)
infinitive phrase 2.16
inflexion 2.1
instrumental case 3.9
interjection 2.11
interrogative adverb 2.17
interrogative pronoun 2.8, 2.17
intransitive 2.15 i)

main clause 2.17
main verb 2.6 i)
masculine 2.8 iii), 3.3
mood 2.6 iii)

natural gender 3.3
neuter 2.8 iii), 3.3
nominative case 2.8 i), 3.5
noun 2.3
noun clause 2.17
noun phrase 2.16
number 3.1-2

object 2.15 i)
object complement 2.15 ii)
objective case 2.8 i)

participial phrase 2.16
parts of speech 2.2-12
passive voice 2.6 iv)
past participle 2.6 vi)
past tense 2.6 ii)
perfect tense 2.6 ii)
perfective aspect 2.6 v)
periphrastic (verb-forms) 2.6 ii)
person 2.8 ii)
personal pronoun 2.8
phrase 2.16
pluperfect tense 2.6 ii)
plural 2.3, 3.2
possessive case 2.3, 2.8 i), 3.7
possessive pronoun 2.8
predicate 2.15
predicative (adjective) 2.4
preposition 2.9
prepositional phrase 2.16
present participle 2.6 vi)
present tense 2.6 ii)
preterite = past tense 2.6 ii)
preterite-present verb 3.16
progressive aspect 2.6 v)
pronoun 2.8

reflexive pronoun 2.8
relative adverb 2.17
relative pronoun 2.8, 2.17

sentence 2.13-17
simple sentence 2.17
singular 3.2
strong declension 3.11-12
strong verb 3.15
subject 2.14
subject complement 2.15 ii)
subjective case 2.8 i)
subjunctive 2.6 iii)
subordinate clause 2.17
subordinating conjunction 2.10, 2.17
superlative (adjective) 2.4, (adverb) 2.5
syntax 2.1

tense 2.6 ii)
transitive 2.15 i)

verb 2.6
voice 2.6 iv)

weak declension 3.11-12
weak verb 3.15

I am grateful to my former colleague, John Swannell, for the last sentence in section 2.17, and to all the other masters and mistresses of the English language whose words I have borrowed to enliven the student's journey through the dusty deserts of barren philology. I am also grateful to Bob Wilkins, Institute of Archaeology, Oxford, for permission to reproduce his photograph of the Finglesham buckle, and to the British Library for permission to reproduce the illustration from London, British Library, Burney MS 275, f. 275r (no further reproduction permitted).

Bella Millett, English Department, University of Southampton

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Set up by Bella Millett, enm@soton.ac.uk. Last updated 09 September 2014 .