Cheat sheet #1

Reflections on Language for Expressing Ideas (chapter 2) in Beverly Derewianka’s book A New Grammar Companion (2015) and Bruntt & Bryanne’s text Interlanguage Analysis (2013)

This reflection aims to investigate and present the abbreviation used when talking about grammar teaching along with the actual meaning and usages of the different types. My biggest constraint towards becoming a language teacher is, that I never really became familiar with the word groups, nor the meaning of words like sub-clause, post modifier or suffix. THUS I finally decided to get my head around it, thus creating this text (reflection) as a ‘cheat sheet’ for myself to consult in the future.

Word Groups and Abbreviations:

•NG: Nominal/noun group

•VG: Verbal/verb group

•adjG: Adjectival/adjective group

•advG: Adverbial/adverb group

•prepG: Prepositional group

•S: Subject

•Aux: Auxiliary verb (used in forming the tenses, moods, and voices of other verbs. The primary auxiliary verbs in English are bedo, and have, but there are also modal auxiliaries, explained beneath) Auxiliary verbs (aux) + participle (p) (-ed) e.g.: Has (aux) walked (p), Have (aux) walked (p), Had (aux) hoped (p). Auxiliary verb + -ing participle e.g.: Is (aux) studying (p), Were (aux) + discussing (p), Was (aux) teaching (p) (Irregular particles can cause difficulties for English learners)

•Conj: Conjunctions (used to join a word, phrase or clause. The main conjunctions are for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so.)

•SC: Subject Complement (typically as nominal sub-clause)

•C: Circumstantial (e.g. circumstantial sub-clauses; sub-ordinating conjunctions; if, because, as, although, where, while, until, since, when, in order to)

•PoM: Post-modifier (PoM inside an NG or AdjG as a relative sub-clause/pronoun e.g., who, which, whosethatwherewhen, why and how)

•PrM: Pre-modifier (a word, especially an adjective or a noun, that is placed before a noun and describes it or restricts its meaning in some way e.g., a loud noise)

•DO: Direct object (a noun, noun phrase or pronoun that refers to a person or thing that is directly affected by the action of a verb)

•IO: Indirect object (a noun, noun phrase or pronoun in a sentence, used after some verbs, that refers to the person or thing that an action is done to or for)


The simple present tense is the base form of the word +-s (or -es)-ending for he, she and it. Two of the most common verbs of the English language; be and have, are irregular in the present tense.

The simple past tense is typically formed by adding -ed to the base form. Many verbs, however, are irregular in the past tense. Examples:

Base form:                        Irregular simple past tense:
go                                        went
buy                                     bought
have                                   had

Many of the commonly used verbs are irregular in the past tense, Thus why past tense irregularities cause major problems for English learners.


Modal Verbs

Modal verbs (or modal auxiliaries) are auxiliary verbs that expresses necessity or possibility. I.e. Modal verbs  are auxiliaries that function to indicate the degree of certain surroundings or activities e.g. Might (modal auxiliary) enrol (base form), Must (modal auxiliary) read (base form). Modal verbs examples:

• must (permission or future possibility)

• shall (offer or suggestion)

• will (willingness, certain prediction or promise)

• should (advice or uncertain prediction)

• would (request, invitation or making arrangements)

• can (ability or request)

• could (past ability, suggestion or future possibility)

• may (necessity or obligation)

• ought to (what’s right and correct)

• might (present or future possibility)

Other auxiliaries
These are not strictly modals, but perform a similar function:

  • you need to pay
  • they have to leave
  • we had better hurry
  • we didn’t dare speak

Future time

Another auxiliary is “will”, which is generally used to indicate an action in the future as in these sentences from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings (example from Derewianka):

  • He will destroy Gondor.
  • I’ll go with Sam.
  • Elvish forlorn trees will grow there.

We often use multi-word verb groups, sometimes these are small words like prepositions and adverbs, that are added after the verb. E.g.  Wake up, sit down, get out, put up with, settle down, get away with, give up on, catch on, turn up, give in. This type of verb group is typically used in informal spoken contexts (Derewianka, p. 43).

Simply add not after the auxiliary. E.g. Could not, had not, is not. Negatives can also be contracted: Haven’t, Don’t, Didn’t, Weren’t, Doesn’t. The simple present and simple fast tense do not have auxiliaries, so we insert an auxiliary; E.g. Did not, does not, do not. The contraction of the negative in the future tense is irregular E.g. She will not eat her dinner becomes she won’t eat her dinner.

A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. There are 8 different types of pronouns:

•Personal (Subject): I, You, He, She, It, We, You and They.

•Object: Me, You, Him, Her, It, Us, You, and Them.

•Adjective: My, Your, His, Her, Its, Our, Your, and Their.

•Possessive: Mine, Yours, His, Hers, Its, Ours, Yours, and Theirs.

•Demonstrative: This, That, These and Those.

•Interrogative Relative: Who, Whom, What, Which, Where and When.

•Indefinite: Someone, Somebody, Everyone, Everybody, Anyone, None, Few Many, etc.

•Reflexive Intensive: Myself, Yourself, Himself, Herself, Itself, Ourselves, Yourselves, and Themselves

A suffix is added to the end of a base word. A suffix changes the meaning of the word.

-er ending (a person who):







-er ending (more):









-ful ending (full of):








-less ending (without):








A prefix is added to the beginning of a base word. A prefix also changes the meaning of the word.

re- ending (again):





un- ending (not):





pre- ending (before):






dis- ending (opposite of/not):





de- ending (opposite):






Bruntt & Bryanne (2013), Handbook for Language Detectives; Interlanguage analysis. SAMFUNDSLITERATUR, ISBN: 978-87-593-1573-6

Derewianka, B. (2015): A New Grammar Companion – For Teachers. Reprint. PETAA