The grammar of a language is an analysis of the various functions performed by the words of the language, as they are used by native speakers and writers.
There are many different ways of analyzing a language. In such an analysis, words can be given various names, depending on the function which they perform. For instance, words which perform the function of naming things are commonly referred to as nouns, and words which perform the function of expressing states or actions are commonly referred to as verbs.
It should be kept in mind that many English words can perform more than one function. For instance, in the following sentences, the underlined words can be referred to as nouns because they perform the function of naming things.
e.g. I have lost my comb.
Water is one of the necessities of life.
However, in the following sentences, the same words can be referred to as verbs because they perform the function of expressing actions.
e.g. I comb my hair every morning.
Do you water your plants once a week?
In this book, widely used terms such as noun, verb, pronoun and so on, will be used in order to explain the way in which words function in the English language.
2. Verb forms
English verbs may have different forms, depending on the subject of the verb, and depending on when the action expressed by the verb takes place.
In the following sentences, the subjects of the verbs indicate who or what is performing the actions expressed by the verbs. The verbs in these examples are underlined.
e.g. We live in the city.
He lives on Queen Street.
These examples illustrate how the form of a verb may vary, depending on the subject of the verb. In the first example, the subject is we, and the form of the verb is live. In the second example, the subject is he, and the form of the verb is lives.
The different verb forms which indicate when the action expressed by a verb takes place are usually referred to as tenses.
e.g. We always walk to work.
We walked to work yesterday.
In the first sentence, the verb walk is in the Simple Present tense. In the second sentence, the verb walked is in the Simple Past tense. Present tenses are usually used to express actions which are taking place in the present; whereas past tenses are usually used to express actions which took place in the past.
The infinitive form of a verb can be used without reference to any particular subject or any particular time. In English, the infinitive form of a verb begins with the word to. For instance, to walk is the infinitive of the verb used in the two preceding examples.
3. Uses of the simple present tense
The Simple Present is one of four present tenses in English, and is used in various ways. In the examples given below, the verbs in the Simple Present tense are underlined.
For instance, the Simple Present can be used to refer to actions which occur at regular intervals.
e.g. We visit our friends every Sunday.
They take a holiday once a year.
Geese fly south every fall.
The Simple Present is also used in stating general truths.
e.g. Gas expands when heated.
The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world.
Canada lies north of the United States.
In addition, the Simple Present is used when referring to printed material, and when describing events portrayed in a book, film, or other work of art.
e.g. The report presents the information clearly.
At the end of the film , the hero finds the hidden treasure.
Occasionally, the Simple Present is used to express actions occurring in the future or the past.
e.g. Our plane leaves at eight o'clock tomorrow night.
Burglar Steals Valuable Paintings
In the first example, the Simple Present is used to refer to something which will happen in the future. In the second example, which is written in the style of a newspaper headline, the Simple Present is used to refer to something which happened in the past.