Common Comparisons

An as…as simile or an idiomatic simile compares two things having some common characteristics.


as active as quicksilver.

as afraid as a grasshopper.

as ageless as the sun.

as agile as a cat.

as agile as a monkey.

as alert as a bird in springtime .

as alert nas a chamois.

as  alike as two peas in a pod.

as alone as Crusoe.

as ambitious as Lady Macbeth.

as ambitious as the devil.

as ancient as the stars.

as angry as a wasp.

as far apart as the poles.

as arid as a desert.

as artificial as clockwork.

as audacious as the day.

as awful as justice.

as  awful as silence.

as awkward as a cow on ice.


as bad as an itch.

as bald as a coot.

as bald as an egg.

as bare as winter.

as bare as a stone.

as barren as winter rain.

as bashful as a schoolgirl.

as beautiful as the sunset.

as beautiful as a rainbow.

as bent as a bercow. (John Bercow, very corrupt)

as big as bus.

s big as an elephant.

as big as a whale.

as bitter as gall.

as bitter as hemlock.

as bitter as wormwood.

as black as ebony.

as black as a starless night.

as black as soot.

as black as Erebus. (personification of darkness in Greek mythology)

as black as a sweep.

as black as pitch.

as blind as a mole.

as blind as ignorance.

as blith as May. (casual and cheerful)

as bold as brass.

as boundless as the ocean.

as brainless as a chimpanzee.

as brave as Achilles.( Greatest of all Greek warriors. Hero of Trojan War)

as brave as a lion.

as brief as time.

as brief as a dream.

as bright as a new shilling/ penny.

as bright as a button.

as brilliant as a diamond/ stars/ mirror.

as bright as a new pin.

as brisk as a flea.

as brisk as butterfly.

as brisk as a bailiff. (an official in law court who keeps order)

as brittle as a glass.

as brittle as biscuit.

as broad as Heaven’s expanse.

as brown as a bun.

as brown as a berry.

as brown as hazelnuts.

as buoyant as wings.

as busy as a beaver.

as busy as a bee.


as calm as summer sea.

as calm as glass.

as calm as death.

as calm as a millpond.

as candid as mirrors.

as careless as the wind.

as cautious as a fox.

as cautious as a scot.

as cautious as serpents.

as certain as sunrise.

as certain as Christmas.

as changeable as the moon.

as chaste as a lily.

as chaste as Minerva. (Goddess of wisdom)

as cheap as dirt.

as cheap as lies.

as cheeky as a monkey.

as cheeky as a young bantam cock.

as cheerful as the birds.

as cheerful as the sun.

as cheerless as the grave.

as cherry as a sunbeam.

as chill as death.

as chilly as a tomb.

as chubby as a cherub.

as clammy as death.

as clear as a bell.

as clean as a whistle.

as clean as a Dutch oven.

as clean as a new pin.

as clear as crystal.

as clear as daylight.

as clear as mud. (irony)

as clever as paint.

as clumsy as a bear.

as coarse a hemp.

as coarse as fustian.

as cold as a dog’s nose.

as cold as a corpse.

as cold as a frog.

as cold as ice.

as comfortable as coin.

as common as pin.

as common as poverty.

as common as dirt.

as cool as a cucumber.

as complacent as a cat.

as confident as Hercules.

as confident as justice.

as conscientious as a dog.

as consoling as night.

as constant as the sun.

as contagious as a yawn.

as contrary as light and darkness.

as contrary as black and white.

as convincing as multiplication table.

as cool as a cucumber.

as costly as an election.

as cosy as the nest.

as countless ass desert sands .

as countless as stars.

as countless as hairs on the head.

as cowardly as a wild duck.

as crafty as a fox.

as credulous as a child.

as crisp as bank notes.

as crooked as corkscrew.

as cruel as winter.

as cruel as death.

as cruel as Media.

as cunning as a fox.

as cunning as a monkey.

as curious as a fish.


as dangerous as machine guns.

as dark as midnight.

as dark as dungeon.

as dead as mutton.

as dead as wood.

as dead as a doornail.

as dead as a dodo.

as deaf as a post.

as deaf as a beetle.

as deaf ass billows.

as deceitful as the devil.

as deceptive as the mirage.

as deep as despair.

as deep as hell.

 as deep as the sea.

as dejected as a wet hen.

as delicious as a dream.

as delicious as the forbidden fruit.

as desolate as a tomb.

as devoted as a dog.

as difficult as a Greek puzzle.

as different as chalk from cheese.

as dirty as a hog.

as disappointing as wet gunpowder.

as dismal as a hearse.

as distant as the horizon.

as dizzy as a goose.

as docile as a lamb.

as dreadful as a gathering storm.

as dreary as an empty house.

as drunk as a top.

as drunk as a beggar.

as dry as a bone.

as dry as dust.

as dull as dishwasher.

as dumb as an oyster.


as eager as a bridegroom.

as easy as A.B.C.

as easy as an apple-pie.

as easy as a lie.

as elastic as a caterpillar.

as eloquent as Cicero.

as elusive as quicksilver.

as empty as space.

as empty as an idiots mind.

as enticing as a riddle.

as essential as the dew.

as expensive as glory


as fabulous as Alladin’s ring.

as faint as the hum of distant bees.

as fair as truth.

as fair as the morn.

as faithful as a dog.

as faithful as the sun.

as faithless as fair weather.

as false as dice.

as familiar as oath.

as  familiar as a popular song.

as far as the poles asunder.

as fast as light.

as fast as a storm.

as fast as an eagle.

as fat as a pig.

as fickle as the weather.

as fickle as the sea.

as fidgety as an old maid.

as fierce as wolves.

as firm as faith.

as firm as steel.

as firm as rocky mountains.

as fit as a fiddle.

as fixed as fate.

as flabby as a sponge.

as flat as a pancake.

as fleet as the wind.

as fleet as a greyhound.

as filmsy as gauze.

as foolish as a calf.

as foul as a sty.

as frail as a glass.

as frail as a lilly.

as free as breeze.

as free as a bird.

as free as thought.

as fresh as dew.

as fresh as a rose.

as fresh as a daisy.

as fresh as the sea breeze.

as friendless as the alarmclock.

as friendly as a puppy.

as fridge as an iceberg.

as frightened as Macbeth before Banquo’s ghost.

as frisky as colts.

as frizzled as a lawyer’s wig.

as fruitful as Egypt.


a garrulous as a magpie.

as garrulous as an old maid.

as gaudy as a butterfly.

as gay as the spring.

as gay as larks.

as generous as a lord.

as generous as a dream.

as genial as sunshine.

as gentle as a fawn.

as gentle as a lamb.

as gentle as a snowflake.

as glad as a fly.

as glib as glass.

as glossy as the finest silk.

as gloomy as night.

as glorious as the sun.

as glum as an oyster.

as glum as mud.

as gluttonous as curiosity.

as good as gold .

as good as play.

as gorgeous as heavens.

as good as gold.

as glum as an oyster.

as graceful as a swan.

as gracious as the morn.

as grand as victory.

as grand as a Greek statue.

as grave as a judge.

as grey as time.

as grey as smoke.

as great as a lord.

as greedy as a hog.

as green as grass.

as green as a leaf.

as grim as death.

as grim as hell.

as haggard as a witch.

as haggard as spectres.

as hairless as an egg.


as happy as a lark.

as happy as a child.

as hard as granite.

as hard as nails.

as harmless as a babe.

as harsh as truth.

as hasty as fire.

as hateful as hell.

as haughty as the devil.

as healthy as a May morning.

as hearty as an oak.

as heavy as lead.

as helpless as a baby.

as hideous as the witch of Endor.(a female sorcerer who was consulted by King Saul of Israel)

as high as heaven.

as high as the stars.

as hoarse as a raven.

as hollow as a drum.

aS honest as a mirror.

as hopeful as the break of the day.

as horny as a camel’s knee.

as horrid as a murderer’s dream.

as hot as hell.

as hot as pepper.

as hot as fire.

as hot as molten lead.

as hueless as a ghost.

as huge as Olympus.

as humble as a worm.

as hungry as a wolf.

as hungry as a church mouse.

as hungry as a bear.

as hushed as midnight.


as ignorant as a child.

as illimitable as the ocean.

as illusive as a dream.

as immaculate as an angle.

as immense as the sea.

as immortal as the stars.

as impatient as a lover.

as imperishable as eternity.

as impetuous as a poet.

as inconstant as the moon.

as inconstant as the waves.

as indolent as an old bachelor.

as industrious as an ant.

as inevitable as death.

as inexhaustible as the sea.

as inexorable as the grave.

as inflexible as granite.

as innocent as a lamb.

as innocent as a baby.

as invisible as the air.


as jealous as a cat.

as jealous as a Spaniard.

as jolly as a shoe brush.

as joyful as a fly.

as joyous as the laughter of a child.

as jubilant as old sleigh bells.


as keen as a razor.

as keen as hunger.

as keen as mustard.

as killing as a plague.

as kind as consent.

as knowing as the stars.


as languid as a love-sick maid.

as large as life.

as  lasting as the pyramids.

as lawful as eating.

as lawless as a stormy wind.

as lax as cut string.

as lazy as a toad.

as lazy as a lobster.

as lean as a skeleton.

as lean as a lath.

as level as a pond.

as liberal as the sun.

as lifeless as the grave.

aS light as down.

as light as feather.

as light as air.

as light as a cork.

as lithe as a panther.

as lithe as a tiger.

as little as Tom Thumb.(legendary English dwarf, the size of a thumb)

as little as a squirrel.

as lively as a cricket.

as loathsome as a toad.

as lonely as a deserted ship.

as lonely as a leper.

as loquacious as Polonious. (talkative courtier and father of Ophelia in Hamlet)

as loud as thunder.

as loud as a horn.

as lovely as Venus.

as lovely as a violet.

as low as the grave.

as lowly as a slave.

as loyal as a dove.


as mad as a hatter.

as mad as a hornet.

as mad as March hare.

as magnanimous as Agamemnon. (leader of Greeks in Trojan War)

as malicious as Satan. (Lucifer or Devil who revolted against God)

as mean as a miser.

as meek as a dove.

as meek as a mouse.

as merciless as Othello.

as merciless as a grave.

as merciless as ambition.

as merry as a lark.

as merry as spring.

as  mild as dove.

as mild as moonlight.

as mischievous as a monkey .

as mischievous as a kitten.

as mobile as humanity.

as modest as a primrose.

as modest as a dove.

as monotonous as the sea.

as motionless as a corpse.

as mournful as a grave.

as muddy as sheepdogs.

as mum as an oyster.

as mute as a tomb.

as mute as the grave.

as mysterious as the sphinx.

as mysterious as an echo.


as naked as the night.

as naked as a peeled apple.

as natural as life.

as nearsighted as a mole.

as neat as a nail.

as neat as ninepins.

as needful as the sun.

as nervous as a mouse.

as new as day.

as nice as ninepence.

as nimble as a lizard.

as nimble as quicksilver.

as noiseless as a shadow.

as noisy as a menagerie.

as numerous as the sands on the shore.

as nutty as a fruitcake.


as obedient as a puppet.          

as obnoxious as an alligator.

as obstinate as a mule.

as obstinate as a pig.

as old as creation.

as old as Methuselah.

as old as Trilobites.

as opaque as the sky.

as open as a smile.

as opposite as the poles.

as old as the hills.


As pale as Banquo’s ghost.

as pale as death.

as passionate as young love.

as patient as the hours.

as peaceful as sleep.

as persistent as a mosquito.

as piercing as light.

as placid as a duck-pond.

as plain as pikestaff.

as plain as day.

as playful as a rabbit.

as playful as kittens.

as pleasant as health.

as pleased as punch.

as plentiful as blackberries.

as poor as a church mouse.

as poor as dirt.

as populous as an anthill.

as positive as a Scotsman.

as powerful as deah.

as powerful as a lion.

as powerless as an infant.

as pretty as a picture.

as  pretty as paint.

as progressive as time.

as proud as a peacock.

as proud as Lucifer.

as punctual as springtime.

as pure as a lily.

as pure as winter snow.

as pure as faith.

as pure as the driven snow.


as  quick as a wink.

as quick as lightning.

as quick as silver.

as quick as a flash.

as quick as thought.

as quiet as a church mouse.

as quiet as a lamb.


as ragged as Lazarus.

as rapid as lightning.

as rare as blue rose.

as rare as a comet.

as ravenous as a winter wolf.

as real as the stars.

as rebellious as the sea.

as red ass cherry.

as red as a rose.

as red as blood.

as red as poppy.

as regal as Juno.

as regular as sunrise.

as relentless as fate.

as remote as a dream.

as resistless as the wind.

as restless as ambition.

as restless as the sea.

as rich as Creole.

as rosy as a bride.

as rosy as the morn.

as rotten as dirt.

as rough as hemp.

as rough as a storm.

as round as O.

as rude as a bear.

as rugged as a rhinoceros.

as ruthless as the sea.


as sacred as a shrine.

as sad as night.

as sad as doom.

as safe as bank.

as safe as a tortoise in a shell.

as salty as a sea sponge.

as salty as brine.

as saucy as the wave.

as scarce as hen’s teeth.

as scarce as feathers on a fish.

as secret as thought.

as secure as the grave.

as seedy as raspberry,

as selfish as a fox.

as senseless as stones.

as sensitive as a flower.

as serious as a doctor.

as serious as an owl.

as shallow as a pan.

as shameful as a sin.

as shapeless as an old shoe.

as sharp as a razor.

as sharp as thistle.

as short as a dream.

as short as the life of a wave.

as shy as a squirrel.

as shy as a fawn.

as sick as a dog

as sick as a parrot.

as silent as thought.

as silent as stone.

as silent as the dead.

as silent as the grave.

as silly as calves.

as  simple as A.B.C.

as simple as a child.

as sincere as sunlight.

as sleek as a mouse.

as sleepless as owls.

as slippery as an eel.

as slippery as ice.

as slippery as serpent.

as slow as a snail.

as slow as a tortoise.

as sly as a fox.

as small ass atoms.

as smart as sixpence.

as smart as paint.

as smooth as ice.

as smooth as silk.

as snug as a bug in a rug.

as sober as a judge.

as soft as velvet.

as soft as wool.

as soft as fur.

as soft as silk.

as solid as bricks.

as solid as a rock.

as solid as the ground.

as solitary as a tomb.

as soothing as the breath of spring.

as sound as the bell.

as sour as vinegar.

as sour as lemon.

as spacious as element.

as speechless as stone.

as spineless as jelly – fish.

as spiteful as a monkey.

as spotless as snow.

as spotless as lilies.

as spruce as an onion.

as stale as old beer.

as stately as an oak.

as stately as a queen.

as steadfast as the sun.

as steady as rock.

as stealthy as a cat.

as stiff as a board.

as stiff as a stone .

as stiff as a ramrod.

as still as a statue.

as still as a log.

as stinky as a carrion. (decaying dead flesh)

as stinky as a pole cat.

as stinky as a skunk.

as straight as a candle.

as  straight as a lance.

as straight as an arrow

as strange as a vision.

as strong as brandy.

as strong as Hercules.

as strong as steel.

as strong as an ox.

as stubborn as a mule.

as stupid as a sloth.

as stupid as a post.

as sturdy as an oak.

as subtle as a serpent.

as sudden as a snap.

as sudden as lightning.

as sulky as a bear.

as sure as death.

as sure as death.

as sure as sunrise.

as superfluous as a fifth wheel.

as superstitious as sailors.

as supple as a snake.

as suspicious as a cat.

as sweet as a rose.

as sweet as sugar.

as swift as an arrow.

as swift as lightning.

as swift as an arrow.

as swift as thought.


as talkative as a magpie.

as tall as steeple.

as tame as sheep.

as tall as a steeple.

as tall as a giraffe.

as tame as a sheep.

as taught as fiddle string.

as tedious as a guilty conscience.

as tender as a bud.

as tender as a lamb.

as tender as tears.

as terrible as Jove. (God of thunder)

as terrible as hell.

as thick as ants.

as thick as thieves.

as thick as hail.

as thin as wafer.

as thin as a groat.

as thin as a lath.

 as thirsty as a sponge.

as thirsty as Tantalus. (Greek mythological figure famous for his punishment)

as thoughtless as a lark.

as tidy as a candy soap.

as tight as a drum head.

as tight as teeth.

as timid as a mouse.

as thin as a rake.

as timid as a rabbit.

as tough as leather.

as timid as a fawn.

as tired as tombstones.

as tough as leather.

as tough as nails.

as tough as old boots.

as trackless as the sea.

as trackless as the desert.

as tranquil as the summer sea.

as transient as lightning.

as transparent as glass.

as treacherous as memory.

as tricky as an ape.

as trivial as a parrot’s prate.

as troublesome as a monkey.

as true as the gospel..

as true as steel.

as  truthful as a knight of old.

as tuneless as a bag of wool..


as ugly as a scarecrow.

as ugly as sin.

as ugly as a bear.

 as unapproachable as a star.

as unattractive as a gargoyle. ( a grotesque creature)

as uncertain as the weather.

as unchangeable as the past.

as unclean as sin.

as uncomplaining  as a lamb.

as uncompromising as justice.

as unconquerable as chewing gum.

as uncontrollable as the wave.

as unfeeling as rocks.

as unhappy as King Lear.

as universal as seasickness.

as  universal as light.

as unmerciful as the billows. (a large wave)

as unprofitable as smoke..

as unreal as dream.

as unstable as the wind.

as unsteady as the ocean.

as unusual as a sailor on horseback.

as upright as a tower.

as useful as a cow.


as vague as a shadow.

as vague as futurity.

as vain as a peacock.

as various as weather.

as violent as steam.

as virtuous a holy truth.

as  voracious as a camel.

as vulgar as money.


as wan as moonlight.

as warlike a wolf.

as warm as sunbeams.

as warm as wool.

 as wary as a fox.

as wasteful as a hen.

 as watchful as a sentinel. (a soldier or guard)

as wavering as Hamlet.

as weak as water.

as weak as reed.

as weather-beaten as a fisherman’s oar.

as welcome as dew on parched flowers.

as welcome as rain in hell.

as welcome as a star.

as welcome as a skunk.(irony. i.e. an unwelcome, unpleasant person)

as wet as a drowned cat.

as wet as a fish.

as white as fleece.

as white as ivory.

as white as a lily.

as white as porcelain.

as white as a ghost.

as white as snow.

as white as sheet.

as wise as Solomon.

as wise as an owl.

as witless as a jackdaw.


as yellow as saffron.

as yellow as jaundice.

as yellow as sulphur.

as young as morn.

as young as dawn.

as youthful as the month of May.


as zigzag as lightning.



As tame as a cat.

As blind as a bat.

As cunning as a fox.

As patient as an ox.

As greedy as a dog.

As cold as a frog.

As tricky as a monkey.

As stupid as a donkey.

As timid as a hare.

As free as the air.

As proud as a peacock.

As firm as a rock.

As hoarse as a crow.

As white as snow.

As blind as a mole.

As black as a coal.

As quiet as mice.

As cold as ice.

As hungry as a hunter.

As soft as butter.

As weak as a baby.

As red as a cherry.

As true as steel.

As slippery as an eel.

As ugly as a toad.

As flat as a board.

As deep as a well.

As sound as a bell.

As stiff as a post .

As pale as a ghost.

As hard a a marble.

As round as an apple.

As cold as stone .

As dry as a bone.

As light as feather.

As tough as leather.

As green as grass.

As bold as brass.

As quick as lightning.

As happy as a king.

 Sources: ‘New Madhyamik Grammar and Composition.’/  Wren and Martin / The Students’ Companion.


Onomatopoeic words


…. Skitterphoto

In English, ‘onomatopoeia’ is a figure of speech in which words are formed by an imitation of sound associated with something .It is a Greek word which means formation of names. Onomatopoeic words are vocal imitation of sounds. These words brings language to life and are fun to use.

Onomatopoeic words

Ahem of clearing throat
Arghh of an angry exclamation
Bang of guns
Babble of children talking
Blare of bands
Boom of cannon
Bump during collision
Bleep of electronic device
Buzz of bees/ phone
Click of door/ window/lock/ camera
Clap of thunder/ hands
Clank of chains
Clangour of hammer
Chime/Cling/Ring/Tinkle of bells
Chatter of teeth/ river/monkeys
Clatter of dishes/ big cities
Crack of whip
Crackle of ice/ fire/ glass/paintwork/ varnish
Crash of waves/ waterfall/ car
Creak of doors
Ding-dong of bells
Flip-Flop of slippers
Gurgle of water/ stream
Hiss of snake/ steam
Honk of horn.
Howl of winds/ wolves
Jingle of coins/ bells
Jangle of keys
Lap of waves / animal drinking
Meow of cats
Moo of cows
Moan of people in distress
Murmur of people speaking in a low voice
Mumble/ Mutter/ Glibber of a person talking
Plop of thing falling into water
Poof of a thing disappearing
Pop of a bottle cork
Patter of rain
Rustle of wind
Rattle of throat/ cars
Rumble of thunder/ waves/ avalanche
Sniff of nose
Scream of person/ engine
Shriek of a whistle/ person
Sizzle of sausages
Slam of door/ window
Slurp of sipping liquids
Snore of a sleeping person’s nose
Stammer of speech
Sneeze of a person
Squeak of a mouse/ person
Splash of oars on water/ water
Swish of silk/ dress/gown
Susurrus of wind
Screech of door /car/ monkey
Tap on the door
Tick of clock
Toot of horn
Twang of guitar/ musical instruments/horn
Throb of the heart
Trickle/ gush/ gurgle/ dip of water
Thud of heavy things falling
Whirr of a machine
Whizz of a bullet/ firework
Zip of a zipper

Sounds of Animals

Certain calls of animals are also onomatopoeic words. Though animals speak the same sounds all over the world different places have different ways of describing them. These onomatopoeic words related to animals often have long vowels like ‘oo’ , ‘ay’ attached to them.

Apes – gibber
Bees – buzz/ hum / drone
Birds – chirp / twitter
Camels – trumpet
Cats – mew / purr / caterwaul (when angry)
Cocks – crow
Cows / cattle – moo / low
Cricket – chirp / squeak
Crows – caw
Deer – bell / bark
Dogs – bark / bay/ yelp /snarl /growl
Dolphin – click
Donkeys – bray
Doves – coo
Ducks – quack
Eagles/ hawks/kites/peacocks – scream
Elephants – trumpet
Flies –buzz
Frogs – croak
Giraffe – bleat / hum
Goats – bleat /maa
Goose – honk
Guinea pig – wheek
Hare – squeak
Hamsters – squeak
Hens – cluck/ cackle
Hippopotamus – growl
Hornet – buzz
Hummingbirds – hum
Horses – neigh/ snort
Jackals – howl
Koala – shriek
larks – warble
Lambs – bleat
Lions – roar
locust – chirp
Mice – squeak
Moose – bellow
Mosquitoes – whine
Nightingales – warble
Monkeys – screech/ chatter
Ostriches – chirp/ bark
Owls– hoot/ scream/ shriek
Oxen – bellow
Parrots – screech/ squawk
Pigeons – coo
Pigs – grunt/ oink/ snort/squeal
Raccoons – trill
Ravens – croak
Rabbits – squeak / drum
Rhinoceros – bellow
Roosters – crow
Seagulls – scream / squawk
Seals – bark
Sheep – bleat
Snakes – hiss
Squirrels – squeak
Tigers – roar/ growl
Turkeys – gobble
Vultures – scream
Whales – sing
Wolves – snarl/ whine/ howl
Yaks – grunt/ squeak
Zebras – whinny


We / will get through it. –
Photo by Eva Elijas


Melinda / lives in a big house.

A big maple tree/ stood in a corner of the garden.

In sentence 1 , Melinda is the subject  of the sentence. The words ‘lives in a big house’ says something  about Melinda is the predicate of the sentence.

In sentence 2 the phrase ‘A big maple tree’ forms the subject of the sentence and ‘stood in the corner of the garden’ forms the predicate part of the sentence.

The part of the sentence which names what the sentence is about forms the subject.

The part of the sentence which says something (gives information) about the subject forms the predicate of the sentence.

The subject generally contains a ‘noun’, ‘a pronoun’ or  ‘a noun-phrase’,  and the predicate contains the ‘Verb-phrase’.

                          SUBJECT                         PREDICATE
          Elsa    saw  ‘Frozen’ yesterday.
          Robin    works at Microsoft Corporation.
          He    writes novels.
          She    is hungry.
          What she says    is unbelievable.
          The man in blue coat    is a doctor.

In the given examples the first two examples have ‘single noun’ as subject. The next two have ‘ pronouns‘ as their subject. While the last two have ‘ Noun phrases’ as their subject.

Non finite verbs  may also be used as subjects

                     SUBJECT                          PREDICATE
To err          is human
Doing exercise     is good for health.

Noun clause may be used as a subject

                    SUBJECT                          PREDICATE              
What we see           is not always true.

Preparatory ‘It‘ may be used as a dummy subject.

                           SUBJECT                                PREDICATE              
It                      (the rain)                       is raining.
It                      (the time)                      is  six o’clock now.  

Sometimes an ‘introductory there’ may be used along with a postponed subject.

There              is                              a man                           waiting at the door.

(Introductory subject)                (real subject)

There             is                                 a bear                         outside.

(Introductory subject)                 (real subject)


Children/ play.

Young children / play outside.

Many young children /play outside in the evening.

Many cheerful young children/ play outside in the evening during summer.


In most cases the subject is generally placed at the beginning of the sentence but it may also occur at the middle or at the end of the sentence.

  • Assertive sentences usually begin with a subject.

Children are fond of asking questions.   

  • Subjects may sometimes come after adverbs or an adverbial phrase.

 Usually my mother takes us for a drive.

During the monsoon Hilsa swims up River Ganges.

  • In an interrogative sentence the subject is placed :
  • After the verb   –                                

               Are you going to the movie tonight?

  • After wh- word and verb 

                When will your brother  come back home?

                 Where do birds migrate in winter?

  • Sometimes  relative pronouns are used as subject

Which is the tallest building?

Who  has broken the vase?

  • At times for adding a dramatic element the subject is placed after the verb

              At the bottom of the river lay his axe.

               On the table lay his books

               Against the wall stood a long ladder.

               Before us lay a feast fit for kings.

  • In exclamatory  and Opative sentences subjects are placed in the later part of the sentence.

What a kind lady she is!                               (exclamatory)

How beautiful the scenery is!                      (exclamatory)

May God bless you.                                        (opative , a wish)

Wish you a happy journey.                           (opative , a wish)

  • In an imperative sentence the subject is implied not stated

Come in.                       (Here subject you is understood)

Sit down.                       (Actually means – You sit down.)

Thank him.                   (Actually means – You  thank him.)

Brush your shoes.        (Actually means – You brush your shoes.)


Voice refers to the form of verb which indicates whether the subject is the doer of the action or the receiver of the action. It shows whether a transitive verb acts or is acted upon. A transitive verb has two voices.

Active: Arav paints a picture. Passive: A picture is painted by Arav. Photo by cottonbro on
  1. Active voice
  2. Passive Voice


A verb is said to be in the active voice when the emphasis is on the doer or the subject. We say that the verb is in the active voice when the subject is the doer of the action.

 Example:      Arav                  paints        a picture.

                      Subject (doer) ↑ –    verb↑ 

Here Arav is the doer of the action. The verb ‘paints’ is said to be in the active voice. 


A verb is said to be in the passive voice when the emphasis is on the receiver or the object. We say that the verb is in the passive voice when the subject is the receiver of the action.

Example :    A picture                        is painted      by        Arav.

                     Subject (receiver) ↑       verb↑ 

Here the subject is a picture. The verb ‘painted is said to be in the passive voice. The subject is acted upon or suffers the action.      

  [  Active = doing        :      Passive = suffering or receiving  ]


The following changes are done while changing a sentence from active voice to passive voice.

  • The object and subject change their places in the passive voice.

                                                 (Active verb form)

Active:       The cat                    chased                        the mouse.

Passive:      The mouse              was chased     by       the cat.   

                                               (Passive verb form)

  • A form of the helping (Be verb) is used according to the tense, number and person of the subject.
            ACTIVE VOICE              PASSIVE VOICE
Arav paints a picture.A picture is painted by Arav.
Arav paints two pictures.Two pictures are painted by Arav.
Arav painted a picture.A picture was painted by Arav.
  • . The past participle of the verb is used after the helping verb.
  • The preposition ‘by’ is added where the agent is important and necessary to complete the sense.

E.g. a) Active :      Arav stole my pendrive.

           Passive :     My pendrive was stolen by Arav.

        b)  Active :    Someone stole my pendrive.

             Passive :   My pendrive was stolen.     (as the agent the agent is not important we do not use ‘by’)

  • If an active verb is followed by a preposition, it is retained when the voice is changed into passive.

              Active: The teacher gave question papers to the students.

              Passive: Question papers were given to the students by the teacher.

  • When the active verb has two objects, one direct and the other indirect, either of them becomes the subject and the other is retained as object in the passive voice.

              Active: Sal gave me a book. [‘Me’ – indirect object, Book – direct object.]

              We may use either of the objects as the subject in the passive voice.

              Passive: A book was given to me by Sal.


             Passive : I was given a book by Sal.


Active Voice is used when the doer of the action is to be made prominent and we know the doer of the action.


Passive voice is used when we do not know who the doer of the action is.

          My purse was stolen at the shopping mall.

It is used when the action is more important than the doer of the action.

         The pandemic started in December 2019. (we are more interested in the action)


          TENSE       ACTIVE VOICE           PASSIVE VOICE
Simple Present He flies a kite.A kite is flown by him.
Present ContinuousHe is flying a kite.A kite is being flown by him.
Present PerfectHe has flown a kite.A kite has been flown by him.
Simple pastHe flew a kite.A kite was flown by him.
Past ContinuousHe was flying a kite.A kite was being flown by him.
Past perfectHe had flown a kite.A kite had been flown by him.
Simple futureHe will fly a kite.A kite will be flown by him.
Future ContinuousHe will be flying a kite.No passive voice
Future PerfectHe will have flown a kite.A kite will have been flown by him.

Changing Simple Present/ Past/ Future sentences into Passive Voice.

Object of active voice + be-verb + past participle (V3) + agent

Simple Present –   A kite is flown by him.

Simple Past       –   A kite was flown by him.

Simple Future   –   A kite will be flown by him.

Changing  Present/ Past Continuous Sentences into Passive – Voice

Object of active voice + be- verb+ being + past participle (V3) + agent

Present Continuous  –  A kite is being flown by him.

Past Continuous        –  A kite was being flown by him.

(No Future continuous Passive Voice)

Changing  Present/ Past/ Future Perfect Sentences into Passive – Voice

Object of active voice + have-verb + been + past participle (V3) + agent

Present Perfect    –  A kite has been flown by him.

Past Perfect          –  A kite had been flown by him.

Future Perfect     –  A kite will have been flown by him.


The imperative sentences in the passive voice takes this form-

Let + object + be + past participle (V3) [ Assertive sentence]

Active:  Do the work now

Passive: Let the work be done.

Let not  + object + be + past participle  (V3) [Negative sentence]

Active: Do not leave the door ajar.

 Passive: Let not the door be left ajar.

                      ACTIVE VOICE                    PASSIVE VOICE
           Take this medicine.        Let this medicine be taken.
           Do not make a noise.        Let no noise be made.
           Shut the door.        Let the door be shut.
           Give her the file.        Let the file be given to her.


There are two types of interrogative sentences-

  1. Sentences beginning with wh- words

Active : Who killed the tiger?

Passive: By whom was the tiger was killed?

[Who in active voice becomes ‘by whom in the passive voice. If there is ‘Do/ Does/ Didin the active voice, you will have to use be-verbs in the Passive voice.]

                    ACTIVE VOICE                          PASSIVE VOICE
Who wrote Macbeth? By whom  Macbeth was written?
Who belled the cat?By whom was the cat belled?
What will you do?What will be done by you?
Where did you see this man?Where was this man seen by you?
What do you want?What is wanted by you?
Whom did you laugh at?Who was laughed at by you?
When will he buy a car?When will a car be bought by him?
When will they announce the results?When will the results be announced?
Why did he punish you?Why were you punished by him?
Which shirt do you like?Which shirt is liked by you?
 What can you do with a fruit?What can be done with a fruit by you?
Why will they buy the land?Why will the land be bought by them?
  • Sentences beginning with verbs.  [ Sentences beginning with verbs are of two types]
  •  Those beginning with Do/ does/ did
  • Those beginning with other auxiliaries (is, am, was, can, would …) 

                     Active:  Did you do the work?

                     Passive: Was the work done by you?

                     Active : Can you write poetry?

                     Passive : Can poetry be written by you?

                       ACTIVE VOICE        PASSIVE VOICE
 Have you finished the work?Has the work been finished by you?
Do you visit your grandparents?Are your grandparents visited by you?
Did you teacher praise you?Were you praised by your teacher?
Are you writing English?Is English being written by you?
Does she like ice-creams?Are ice-creams liked by her?
Can you help the needy?Can the needy be helped by you?
Did she see the film?Was the film seen by her?


  • Sentences in Passive voice generally end with ‘by- clause’. But sometimes the ‘by-clause is omitted when the stress is on the action rather than the doer of the action or the agent.

    Passive:           The gang was nabbed.

    Passive:       The movie was made in the 80’s.

    Passive:   The shop was closed.

  • If the agent is implied not stated in Passive voice we use ‘people, one, someone, authority, I, she, they…’ as subject of in active voice.
               ACTIVE VOICE              PASSIVE VOICE
 Smoking is prohibited.The authority prohibits smoking.
Tresspassers will be prosecuted.Someone will prosecute tresspassers.
The giant was slain.Someone slew the giant.
English is spoken all over the world.People speak English all over the world.
Punctuality must be maintained.One must maintain punctuality.


  • In some passive sentences the agent is preceded by some other preposition instead of ‘by’.
             ACTIVE VOICE                PASSIVE VOICE
She knows him. He is known to her.
Astronomy interests him.He is interested in astronomy.
Their politeness surprised me.   I was surprised at their politeness.
Her behaviour pleased everyone.Everyone was pleased with her behaviour.



  • Infinitives after ‘be’ or ‘have’ verbs can be changed into Passive Voice.
                       ACTIVE VOICE                 PASSIVE VOICE
There is no time to lose.There is no time to be lost.
There is a lot to do.There is a lot to be done.
They are to do this work. This work is to be done by them.
There are two blogs to post.There are two blogs to be posted.


  • If the verb takes an object and infinitive after it the infinitives remain the same in the passive voice.
                        ACTIVE VOICE                          PASSIVE VOICE
We know him to be an actor.He is known to be an actor by us
Sam told her to write an essay.She was told to write an essay by Sam.



If the negative sentences contain do/does/did auxiliary that do-verb will be omitted in the passive and be-verb will be used. ‘Not’ will be placed between the be-verb and the main verb.

                  ACTIVE VOICE                    PASSIVE VOICE
    They can never win the match. The match can never be won by them.
    Doesn’t she speak Spanish? Is Spanish not spoken by her?
    He should not refuse the offer.The offer should not be refused by him.
     She does not love her friend.Her friend is not loved by her.


These verbs are active in form but passive in sense, and can be used transitively or intransitively with different subjects.

           ACTIVE VOICE                  PASSIVE VOICE
Honey tastes sweet.Honey is sweet when tasted.
The gate opened.The gate was opened.
The book is selling like hot cakes.The book is being sold like hot cakes.
The cookies have sold over a hundred pieces.The cookies have been sold over a hundred pieces.



                        ACTIVE VOICE                           PASSIVE VOICE
We must endure what we cannot cure.What cannot be cured must be endured.
Everyone thought that it was an earthquake.It was thought by everyone that it was an earthquake.
Active : She is writing a story. Passive: A story is being written by her. Photo by Liam Anderson on




Learning about the Future Tense
Let’s talk about the Future. Photo by Ali Pazani

The simple Future tense is used to indicate an action that will take place in the future.

The guests will soon be here.

We shall go to Colorado next week.

Who will help me set the dinner?

They will attack at dawn.

Tomorrow will be Thursday.

SENTENCE TYPE                STRUCTURE                 EXAMPLE
PositiveSubject + will/shall +V1 + Object I shall like ice-cream.
InterrogativeWill/shall + Subject + V1 + Object?Shall  I like ice-cream?
NegativeSubject + will/shall+ not + V1 + Object I shall not like ice-cream.

Situational use

  1. To express an action that will take place in the future – I shall go there tomorrow.
  2. With clauses of condition and time – He will miss the train unless he drives fast.
  3. For announcing a decision– I will buy a new laptop.
  4. For expressing hopes, expectations, promises – I think she will be very successful one day.
  5. For giving instructions through questions – Will you be quiet?
  6. With actions associated with adverbial phrases of a future time – My father will be sixty in March.

[ We use ‘shall’ with ‘I’ and ‘we’ and ‘ will’ with ‘ I, you, we, he, she, it, they’]


 Future Continuous tense is used to indicate some action that will be going on at some point of time in the future.

I shall be reading a book in the evening.

I wonder what she will be doing tomorrow.

Her children will be waiting to greet her at the airport.

We shall be celebrating her birthday when she returns home.

We shall be travelling all night.

When will you be visiting again?

By this time tomorrow, I shall be lying on the beach in Hawai.

SENTENCE TYPE                STRUCTURE                 EXAMPLE
PositiveSubject + will/shall + be + V4(-ing form of verb) + Object I will be eating ice-cream.
InterrogativeWill/shall + Subject+ be + V4 + Object?Will I be eating ice-cream?
NegativeSubject + will/shall + not+ be + V4 + Object I will not be eating ice-cream.

Situational use

  1. For expressing events in progress in the future – I shall be seeing you tomorrow at this time.
  2. For predicting the present – Don’t disturb-he will be sleeping now.
  3. For predicting a natural course of events – The train will be arriving soon.
  4. For polite inquiries Will you be staying here for a few days?
  5. For expressing pre-decided future plans – I am going to Rome on Sunday.


Future Perfect tense is used to indicate the completion of action by a certain time in the future.

By this time next year he will have taken his university degree.

I shall have finished this novel by tomorrow.

In August he will have stayed here for two years.

He will have submitted his project by next month.

The builders will have completed their work by Tuesday.

SENTENCE TYPE                STRUCTURE                 EXAMPLE
PositiveSubject + will/shall + have + V3(past participle) + Object I shall have eaten ice-cream.
InterrogativeWill/shall + Subject+ have + V3 + Object? Will I have eaten ice-cream?
NegativeSubject + will +not + have + V3 + Object I will not have eaten ice-cream.

Situational use

  1. To indicate actions that will be completed before a certain time in the future – I shall have finished my homework by 8 o’clock.
  2. For predicting the present – He will have left by now.
  3. For expressing past in the future – Tomorrow he will have been 80.


Future Perfect Continuous Tense indicates an action represented as being in progress over a period of time that will end in the future.

He will have been making preparations for his wedding for two months by July.

You will have been learning Sanskrit for two years by next month.

They will have been living in Iran for three years by the end of the year.

I shall have been teaching you for half an hour by the time this lesson ends.

They will have been playing for two hours by the time you reach there.

SENTENCE TYPE                STRUCTURE                 EXAMPLE
PositiveSubject + will/shall + have + been + V4(-ing form of verb) + ObjI will have been working for an hour by then.
InterrogativeWill/shall + Subject+ have + been + V4 + Object?Will I have been working for an hour by then?
NegativeSubject + will/shall+ not +been+ V4 + ObjectI will not have been running for an hour by then.

Situational use

  1. To indicate actions that will continue and will be finished sometime in future– He will have been teaching here for ten years by April.

Other ways to Express Future Tense

Future tense can be expressed in several other ways:

  1. Simple Present Tense – He retires next month.
  2. Present Continuous Tense – I am inviting them next week.
  3. Be + about to – The plane is about to land.
  4. Be + going to –  He is going to be a doctor.
  5. Be + (infinitive) verb – The President is to visit China next week.


‘Going to’ is used to indicate:

  • Intention

We are going to spend our holidays in Kashmir this summer.

I’m going to have my own way.

When are you going to finish your homework?

They are going to sow pulses this year.

We are going to have a new car soon.

  • To state something that is probable or likely to happen.

Look out! The ice beneath you is going to crack.

There is going to be a recession this year.

How long is this pandemic going to continue?

It is going to rain tonight.

He is running fast, he is going to win.

  • For stating future actions without reference to external circumstances.

I am going to tell you a story.

She is going to have a baby. 

He is going to be a chef.

  • For stating past events which was past at that moment.

When he found her, she was going to drown.

The last time we met you were going to open a start up.

[ Always use the root form of the verb with- going to:  Going to + V1:     Going to + eat]

Present, Past and Future went to a bar. It was Tense.
Photo by Tomas Ryant

Que Sera Sera/ Whatever will be, will be/ The future is not ours to see/ Que Sera Sera/ Whatever will be, will be.

Doris Day


Photo by Aphiwat chuangchoem on


Lord Jesus preached the message of peace.

The police caught the thief red-handed.

Rabindranath wrote Gitanjali.

I spoke to him yesterday.

Did you visit your grandma?

SENTENCE TYPE                STRUCTURE                 EXAMPLE
PositiveSubject + V2 + Object I liked ice-cream.
InterrogativeDid + Subject + V1 + Object?Did I like ice-cream?
NegativeSubject + did not + V1 + Object I did not like ice-cream.

Situational Use:

  1. To express a habitual actions of the past (always, never, often, seldom, generally, usually are used in these sentences)   – He generally came here everyday.
  2. To express an event/ actions completed in the past- I bought some apples yesterday.
  3. To express an action going on the time stated– While Krishna played the flute, Radha danced.
  4. Narrating events in the past – Once there lived a beautiful princess.
  5. For short but quickly finished events – I spent my childhood in India.
  6. For State verbs in the Past – Napoleon became the King.
  7. For second conditionals – If he worked hard, he could pass.
  8. For wishes – I wish I knew.
  9. For recommendations – It is time we went home.


  1. Story Telling – One fine day the king decided to go for a hunt.
  2. Narrating past events – When I was two, I was kidnapped.


I was painting a basket.

She was looking ill.

They were watching T.V. all the time.

They were talking loudly.

The students were not listening to the teacher.

You were watching TV at that time.

SENTENCE TYPE                STRUCTURE                 EXAMPLE
PositiveSubject + was/ were + V4(-ing form of verb) + Object I was eating ice-cream.
InterrogativeWas/ were + Subject + V4 + Object?Was I eating ice-cream?
NegativeSubject + was/ were + not + V4 + Object I was not eating ice-cream.

Situational Use:

  1. To express an action going in the past. – He was playing piano.
  2. To express repeated or habitual action in the past  – He was always bullying others.
  3. To indicate two simultaneous actions. –  He was cooking while she was reading.
  4. To indicate acts of incompletion – I was painting my house this morning.
  5. To indicate background in the past – I was working as an intern when I met him.
  6. To indicate distancing /less definite things–I was wondering when the economy will revive.
  7. To indicate gradual development of events – He was getting bored.

( when a verb ends with ‘e’ we remove ‘e’ and add ‘ing’. – come – coming:

when a verb ends with ‘ie’ we remove ‘ie’ and add ‘y’. – tie – tying:

when a verb ends with a consonant except ‘r’, w, y’  with a vowel before it we add the consonant twice. – cut – cutting)


The train had left before we had reached the station.

As soon as he had finished his speech, the people cheered.

The car had crashed by the time the driver realised that it was skidding.

He had broken his pencil before the exam ended.

I had lived there for ten years before moving to this town.

I had locked the door before I left the room.

I had trusted him before he cheated me.

I had reached home before the rain started.

Where had he been at that time?

He had opened the window before going to sleep.

I wish I had accepted the offer.

I told her that I had finished.

SENTENCE TYPE                STRUCTURE                 EXAMPLE
PositiveSubject + had + V3(past participle) + Object I had eaten ice-cream.
InterrogativeHad + Subject + V3 + Object? Had I eaten ice-cream?
NegativeSubject + had + V3 + Object I had not eaten ice-cream.

Situational Use:

  1. To express an action that has been completed before another action began. – The thief had fled before the police arrived.
  2. To express an unfulfilled wish in the past. – I wish you had told me the truth.
  3. To express things that happened before thinking or saying – He thought that I had left.
  4. In sentences with ‘after’, ‘when’, ‘as soon as’, ‘ no sooner than’ – No sooner had the teacher left than the boys began shouting.


I had been writing for two hours by then.

She had been visiting her for five months when we met.

She had been waiting for him for an hour when he came in.

They had been living here for six years by then.

She had been working on that novel for about eight years.

SENTENCE TYPE                STRUCTURE                 EXAMPLE
PositiveSubject +had+ been + V4(-ing form of verb) + ObjI had been running for an hour by then.
InterrogativeHad + Subject+ been + V4 + Object?Had I been running for an hour by then?
NegativeSubject + had+ not +been+ V4 + ObjectI had not been running for an hour by then.

Situational use

  1. To express the duration of action upto a certain time in the past – Everything had been going according to our plan.
  2. For focussing on the ongoing action – I had been reading in the garden.
  3. For expressing continuations from the past – At that time we had been living there for about a year.
  4. For expressing actions which are incomplete – I had been watching a lot of movies when I got that idea.

The Past time is expressed in six different ways according to its need.

  1. Simple Past  – I wrote an essay.
  2. Past Continuous – I was writing an essay.
  3. Past Perfect  – I had written an essay.
  4. Past Perfect Continuous – I had been writing an essay.
  5. Present Perfect – He has written a novel.
  6. Present Perfect Continuous – You have been crying.

Phrases and Clauses

Photo by Timothy Paule II on


A phrase is a group of word, within a sentence or a clause, having a structure to form a unit smaller than a clause and a sentence  but greater than a word. A phrase does not contain a subject and a finite verb like a clause or a sentence. (It may however contain an infinite verb like a participle, infinitive or gerund).

A phrase does not make complete sense in itself, but can have meaning only through its relation to some part of the sentence in which it stands.

E.g.  The writer was a man of great talent.

         He shot an arrow into the air.

        It was a scene of great beauty.

         She wore a gown made of silk.

The underlined words in italics are phrases.

There are five types of phrases named after their main word.

  1. Noun Phrase
  2. Adjective Phrase
  3. Verb Phrase
  4. Adverb Phrase
  5. Prepositional Phrase.


A Noun Phrase is a group of words that does the work of a noun. (subject or object to a verb).

It was a very bright light.

My favourite food is ice-cream.

I enjoy playing tennis.

Thinking good thoughts makes a good man.

To know ones self is a difficult task.

She loves to paint her thoughts.

The italicised words are used as nouns and are called Noun Phrases


When a group of words does the work of an Adjective, it is called an adjective phrase. An adjective phrase does not contain a subject and a finite verb. It does not make complete sense in itself, but can have meaning only through its relation to the part of sentence in which it belongs.

The following sentences show the difference between an adjective and an adjective phrase.

  1 a) The Prussian army was defeated.

      b) The army of Prussia was defeated. 

2. a) The doctor was a generous man.

    b) The doctor was a man of a generous nature.

3.  a) A valuable painting was stolen yesterday.

     b) A painting of great value was stolen yesterday.

The words in the first sentences (a) are examples of adjectives, while the group of words in the second sentences (b) are examples of adjective phrases.

The following are examples of Adjectives and their corresponding phrases.

A silver spoon.
A popular leader.
A populous country.
A religious woman.
A woollen coat.
A deserted town.
A spoon made of silver.
A leader liked by the people.
A country having a large population.
A woman of religious nature.
A coat made of wool.
A town without any inhabitants.


A group of words that does the work of an adverb but does not make complete sense by themselves is said to be an Adverb phrase.

Look at the following sentences:

  1. a) God is everywhere. (Where?)

b) God is in everyplace. (Where?)

  1. a) She replied rudely. (How?)

b) She replied in a rude manner. (How?)

  1. a) He was the Governor then. (When?)

b) He was a Governor in those days. (When?)

In the first sentences (a) everywhere, rudely and then are adverbs. In the second sentences (b) ‘everyplace’, ‘in a rude manner’, ‘in those days’ are adverb phrases.

Examine the following table of Adverbs and their equivalent Adverb Phrases.

                 Adverbs             Adverb Phrases
In a brave manner, or with bravery
In a foolish manner
Without doubt
Without any care
In former times / Once upon a time
At once / without delay
In a short time/ before very long
Not long ago
At that place
In (or to) a foreign country
Towards a higher place or level


A verb phrase is a group of words that does the work of a verb but does not make complete sense by themselves.

The girls were singing a song.

Each student will be given a sample paper.

The children have been playing for two hours .

The teachers are teaching in the class.

My father is going to the market.

The words in italics are examples of verb phrase.


A group of words which acts like a preposition but does not make complete sense by itself is called a prepositional phrase.

The circus came to our city.

There is a bus stop near our school.

On the way home, he met his friend.

Several ducks were swimming in the lake.

Darkness comes after sunset.

The mole lives under the ground.

He left for office at 8 o’clock.


A phrase is usually placed at the end of a sentence.


There were many people in the stadium.

There is a library near my home.

However, we may also place the phrase at the beginning.

In the stadium, there were many people.

Near my home, there is a library.


A clause is a group of words that forms a part of a sentence that has a subject and a finite verb of its own.


Generally clauses are of three types.


MAIN CLAUSE: It is also called the principal clause/ independent clause as the clause makes complete sense.

I knew that he would come.

COORDINATE CLAUSE :Two or more main clauses linked by a co-ordinating linker or conjunction is called a coordinate clause.

He would come and I knew it.

She came first as I had predicted last week.

He wished would pass and he did pass with flying colours. 

SUBORDINATE CLAUSE: A subordinate or dependent clause, does not make complete sense by itself and is dependent on the main clause for its complete sense.

I knew that he would come.

Here is another example-

 The teacher told him that he was late.

The sentence can be broken into two parts .

  1. The teacher told him.
  2. That he was late.

Each part of the sentence contains a subject and a predicate of its own. As there are two parts of the sentence, there are two clauses.

MAIN CLAUSE: The teacher told him. –It is also called the principal clause/ independent clause as the clause makes complete sense.

SUBORDINATE CLAUSE: That he was late. This clause is called subordinate or dependent clause, it does not make complete sense by itself and is dependent on the main clause for its complete sense.

Types of subordinate clause.

There are three types of subordinate clauses.

  1. Noun clause
  2. Adjective or Relative clause
  3. Adverb clause


A subordinate clause that acts as a noun in a sentence is called a Noun clause.

E.g.     a)  I told him that I would get his book.

           b)  Tell her what she wants to know.

           c)  I want to know if he is telling the truth.

Note: Noun clauses are generally introduced by
Wh- question words like who, why , what etc.  


A subordinate Adjective Clause is which qualifies a noun or a pronoun in the main clause and does the work of an adjective. It is also known as Relative Clause.


  1. The book that you are holding is a masterpiece.
  2. The car which is steel grey in colour is mine.
  3. I respect all those people who are knowledgeable.


A subordinate Adverb Clause is that which performs the function of an adverb in a sentence.


  1. Wait till I return.
  2. It is useless to argue as you will not understand.
  3. The suggestions were so good that I agreed immediately.

The underlined clauses, above are Adverb Clauses. Adverb clauses are introduced by the following subordinate conjunctions.

  • Adverb clause of ‘Place’ : (conjunctions used – where , wherever)
    • Wherever you go, I shall find you.
    • The child wants to go where his mother is.
  • Adverb clause of time. (Conjunctions – when while , before after, since,  whenever, till, until, as, as soon as, so long as)
    • The mother was cooking, while the children were dancing.
    • As soon as the robbers saw the police, they ran away.
  • Adverb clause of contrast. ( conjunctions –although, even if , even though)
    • He will not clear the exam , even if he works very hard now.
    • Although he is the younger one he looks older.
  •  Adverb clause of Manner. ( conjunctions- as, as if, as though, as … so.
    • She behaves as though she were a Queen.
    • Don’t treat me as if I am your servant.
  • Adverb clause of Purpose. ( conjunctions-so that, in order that, lest)
    •   Work hard lest you should fail.
    • The labourers worked hard so that they could earn their living.
  •    Adverb clause of Comparison. (conjunctions- as, than)
    • My mother is more intelligent than my father.
    • He is not as tall as his friend.
  • Adverb clause of ‘Condition’. (conjunctions- if, unless, provided that, in case)
    • If she extends an invitation ,I will surely go.
    • I will sign the invitation provided you give me the cheque.
  • Adverb clause of ‘Extent’. (conjunctions- so far as, as far as)
    • As far as my knowledge of him goes, he is a miser.
    • So far as I am concerned, I am willing to contribute.
  • Adverb clause of Result/ Effect / Consequence. (conjunctions – so, so…that)
    • The beggar is so poor that he hardly gets anything to eat.
    • He got up late, so he missed his school bus.
Adverb clause of condition.😀
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There are two ways of reporting the words spoken by an individual:

Directly – Ron said, “I will win the match.”

Indirectly– Ron said that he would win the match.

Direct speech – The actual words of the speaker is used within double inverted commas. (“   “)

Indirect Speech – When the words of a speaker are reported in our own words.

Reporting verb – In the direct speech, those words which appear outside the double inverted commas are called reporting verb. The reporting verb introduces the words of the speaker. This verb indicates who speaks to whom, how and when.

Reported speech : Those words which are used within inverted commas in the direct speech is called reported speech.

Direct speech example:

The teacher said, “The earth revolves around the sun.”

In this sentence – The teacher said    is the reporting verb.

“ The earth revolves around the sun.”   is the reported speech.

Indirect speech

The teacher said that the earth revolves around the sun.

[ R.V. = Reporting verb,       R.S.  = Reported speech  ]

[D.S. = Direct speech,           I.S. = Indirect speech]     

For changing Direct speech into Indirect speech, the following rules need to be observed.

Rule -1

 If the R.V. is in the present or the future tense, then the tense of the verb does not change. [ no need to change the tense of the R.S. ]

E.g. D.S-  He says, “He is in deep trouble.”

         I.S.- He says that he is in great trouble.

If the R.S. expresses a universal truth or some habitual facts, then the tense of the reported speech remains as it is.

E.g. D.S.- “ The teacher said, “God is immortal.”

       I.S. – The teacher said that God is immortal.”


 In case the reporting verb is in the past tense the tense of the verb will change correspondingly.

i) A simple present becomes a simple past.

e.g. D.S.- She said, “ I am busy.”

       I.S.-  She said that she was busy.

ii) A present continuous becomes Past continuous.

 D.S.- She said, “I am writing a poem.”

 I.S.- She said that she was writing a poem.

iii) A present perfect becomes a past perfect.

D.S.-They said, “We have done our duty.”

I.S. –They said that they had done their duty.

iv) The simple past is often but not always changed to past perfect.

D.S- Veronica said, “ I drank coffee after dinner.”

I.S.- Veronica said that she had drunk coffee after dinner.


If the R.S. expresses nearness in time or place then, it is changed into a word that expresses distance.

Now       –      Then

This        –     That

These    –     those

Thus     –      so/ that way

Come    –     Go

Here     –     There

Hence    –    Thence

Ago     –      before

Today  –    That day

Tomorrow  – The next day

Yesterday   –   The day before / The previous day

Last night  – The night before / The previous night

Last week/ month/ year    –     The week/ month/ year before or the  previous week/ month/ year etc.

Rule – 4 Rules regarding tenses

Said to  (in R.S.)            –              told

Said (in R.S.)                –               had said

Is saying                       –               was saying

Was saying                  –               had been saying

Can                               –               could

Will                               –                would

Shall                             –                should/would

May                              –                might    

Is                                   –                was

Am                                –                was     

Has                               –                 had

Has  been                     –                had been

Come                           –                 came

Has come                    –                 had come

Has been coming       –                 had been coming           

Is coming                     –                 was coming

Rule – 5

Rules regarding pronouns

a) Pronoun of first person change into the person and gender of the subject of R.V.

i)  D.S.- I said, “ I am happy today.”

     I.S.- I said that I was happy that day.

ii) D.S.-  You said, “I am happy today.”

     I.S.-  You said that you were happy that day.

iii) D.S. –  He said, “ I am happy today.”

     I.S.-  He said that he was happy that day.

iv) D.S. –  Robert said, “My pen is lost.”

      I.S.  – Robert said that his pen was lost.

b) Pronouns of the second person change according to the object of R.V.

D.S. – He said to me, “ You are right.”

I.S. – He said to me that I was right.

c) The pronouns of the third person do not change.

D.S. – He said, “She is an intelligent girl.”

I.S. – He said that she was an intelligent girl.

Rule 6

Rules for reporting statements or assertive sentences

i) Place suitable reporting verb.

ii)  While reporting statements ‘that’  conjunction is introduced.

iii) Change verb in reported speech.

iv) Change pointer word of nearness into that of distance.

D.S. – He said, “The bad weather last night stopped me from coming here.”

I.S. – He said that the bad weather the previous night stopped him from going there.

List of reporting verbs

said,        told,        added,          informed,         remarked/commented,        Answered/ replied    asserted,     assured,    hoped,     explained,     agreed,       admitted,     pointed out,     accepted,      advised,      insisted,       protested,      warned,       threatened,       refused     interrupted,      cursed,         offered,          congratulated        

Rule 7

Rules regarding interrogative sentences:                        

Interrogative sentences are of two types

  1. Formed by question verb. (wh-word :normal answer)
  2. Formed by auxiliary verb or helping verb. (Answers in ‘yes’ or ‘no’)
  3. If the R.S. is an interrogative sentence or a question, then the R.V. is changed to ‘asked’ or ‘enquired’.
  4. The question mark is removed and the R.S. is changed into a statement.
  5.  If the R.S.  begins with a ‘wh – word’,  then the same wh-word is used in the indirect speech.

     D.S- He said to me, “Where do you live?”

     I.S.- He asked me where I lived.

  1. If the question starts with a helping verb, then we use ‘if’ or ‘whether’ in the indirect speech.

 D.S.- Ansh said to Misha, “Is it necessary for me to meet the Principal?”

 I.S- Ansh asked Misha whether it was necessary for him to meet the Principal.

Reporting imperative sentences

If the R.S. is an imperative sentence, the R.V. is changed into a word that expresses command, a wish, a request, or an advice.

E.g. D.S.-The teacher said to Nash, “Stop making a noise.”

        I.S.- The teacher ordered Nash to stop making a noise.

        D.S.-  He said, “ Let us go for a walk.”

        I.S. – He suggested that they should go for a walk.

Rule -8

Rules regarding imperative sentences:

Reporting commands or requests

  1. While changing direct speech into indirect speech the reporting verb is changed into – advised, begged, commanded, entreated, forbade, ordered, requested or threatened.
  2. Conjunction ‘to’ is used in positive sentences.

     Conjunction ‘ not to’ is used in negative sentences.

D.S.- Teacher said to the students, “Do not make a noise.”

I.S. – Teacher told the students not to make a noise.


Teacher forbade the students to make a noise.

Reporting imperative sentences with ‘let’

  1. If ‘let us’ means suggestion

Should’ is used and the reporting verb is changed into ‘suggested’ or  ‘proposed’.

D.S.- Helen said, “Let us go for a movie.”

 I.S. – Helen proposed that they should go for a movie.

ii) If ‘let us’ expresses a call to action

Then it is usually reported by urged/ advised

D.S. – The Principal said to his staff, “Let us attend the lecture.”

I.S. – The Principal urged his staff to attend the lecture.

iii) If ‘let’ is used to mean allow or permit. Then the verb let in the reported speech is retained or changed into may/ might/ may be allowed to/ might be allowed to

D.S.- I said to him, “ Let me go home.”

I.S. – I told him to let me go home.

         I told him that I might be allowed to go home. 

Rules regarding exclamatory sentences:

If the R.S. happens to be an exclamatory sentence, then:

  1. The reporting verb is changed into words like exclaimed, exclaimed with joy/ sorrow, cried out, blessed, prayed, wished, cried.
  2. The interjections like alas, bravo, curse it, hurrah and well are omitted and their sense is expressed by means of phrases.

Ah! or Alas! – Exclaimed with grief or sorrow

Aha! Hurray! – Exclaimed with joy

Bravo! – Applauded

How! Oh! What! – Exclaimed with surprise

Pooh! – exclaimed with contempt

Shit! Sorry! – exclaimed with regret

  1. Conjunction ‘that’ is used.
  2.  The sense of sentence is made assertive.

 D.S. He said,Alas! My cat is no more.

 I.S.-  He exclaimed with sorrow that his cat was no more.

D.S.- He said to us,” Bravo! You have done well.”

I.S.-  He applauded us by saying that we had done well.

D.S. – “What a beautiful scenery it is!” he said.

I.S. – He exclaimed with joy that it was a beautiful scenery.


He agrees with them.
They agree with him.

A Verb must agree with its Subject in Number and Person. A singular subject takes a singular verb; and a plural subject takes a plural verb.

Rules for Agreement of subject and verb:

1) Two or more singular subjects joined by ‘and’ usually take a plural verb.

E.g. – Raman and Harry work hard.

 Air and water are necessary for survival.

  Nancy and I were the hosts of the party.

  The author and the publisher were in a meeting.   

2)   If two nouns suggest only one idea or refer to the same person or thing then it will take a singular verb.

E.g. Slow and steady wins the race.

Beans and rice is her favourite dish.

 The horse and carriage is at the door.

Comfort and luxury has made him lazy.

Bread and butter is a wholesome breakfast.

 Her hard work and dedication has paid off.

The author and publisher, Mr Charles is here amongst us.

 3) Words joined to a singular subject by ‘with’ or ‘ as well as’, ‘together with’, ‘along with’ take a singular verb.

E.g.  Alex as well as  Sharon likes tea.

The house, with its furniture was burnt.  

 Vinn along with his friends is punished.

 I as well as Shirley am going to the park.

Bren as well as his family is shifting to Texas.

The Captain, with all his men, was drowned.

The doctor with his interns has reached the O.T.

The teacher as well as her students is in the class.

The boy with his parents is waiting for the teacher.

Verna with her friends wants to participate in the competition.

The officer as well as his subordinates was present at the meeting.

4) When two or more subjects in the singular are joined by ‘or’, ‘nor’, ‘either or’, ‘ neither nor’– the verb used is singular.

E.g. Jack or Tom is to blame.

Either he or I am to blame.

Either Robert or Arnold was absent.

Neither Robert nor Arnold was present.

5)  When two subjects of a sentence are joined by ‘not only’… ‘ but also…’, ‘ either or’, ‘neither nor’ the verb agrees with the latter subject.

E.g.- Neither Tom nor his friends have come.

Either my friend or I am going to buy this dress.

The farmer or his servants were responsible for the theft.

Not only your certificates but your marks also are important.

Neither Ritu nor her friends are willing to attend the function.

6) When a plural noun (in Prepositional Phrases) comes between a singular subject and its verb, the verb used is singular.

 E.g. The quality of apples was not good.

A combination of colours charms the sky.

  The bag of mangoes is too heavy for the child.

  Much of the hard work of the farmers has been wasted due to drought.

7) ‘ Either’, ‘Neither’, ’Each’, ‘Every’, ‘Everyone’, ‘many a’, ‘one of the’, ‘little’, ‘less’ generally take  a singular verb.

E.g. Either of the boys has done this.

Each of these boys is intelligent.

Neither of them was found guilty.

Each one of her paintings is fantastic.

Much of the homework is already done.

  Every man, woman and child was happy.

  Everyone, whom we invited, has turned up.

  Only one of the five contestants is going to win.

Thanks to metro rail, less of my time is spent on commuting.

8) Some words can refer to amount/quantity as well as number. When, these words refer to amount/ quantity, they take a singular verb. When these words refer to number, they take a plural verb.

None, a lot of, a great deal of, plenty of, most of, etc, are some such words.

  E.g. I] None of the work (amount) was complete.

 None of the strategies (number) have worked.

II] A lot of energy was (amount) wasted on finding the treasure.

 A lot of books have (number)been written.

III] A variety of music is (amount) available here.

  A variety of music albums are (number) available here.

IV] Plenty of help has (amount) been offered to the poor family.

Plenty of trees were (number) planted by students.

9)  A collective noun usually takes a singular verb.

E.g. This pair of scissors is very sharp.

A bunch of keys is kept on the table.

A large crowd makes me feel nervous.

A swarm of bees was buzzing around the tree.

However, collective nouns like – committee, assembly, jury, congress, team- may take a singular or plural verb depending on whether it is taken as singular or plural.

E.g. The committee was united in their opinion

The  committee were divided in their opinion.

My new pair of socks is very tight.

 My new socks are very tight.

The team has decided to follow the strategy.

The team were divided on following the strategy.

10) Some nouns, which are plural in form but singular in meaning, take singular verb.

 E.g. No news is good news.

Measles is a contagious disease.

Mathematics is an interesting subject.

Billiards is fast becoming a popular game.

Physics is considered to be a difficult subject.

 11) Some nouns are singular in form but plural in meaning. We use plural verbs with such nouns.

E.g. – The people are enjoying themselves.

The cattle were driven to the farm.

 The children are playing in the park.

  12) Class nouns like- cutlery, stationery, food, furniture take a singular verb.

E.g.  The food here is quite good.

 The cutlery was well arranged.

 The new furniture is pretty expensive.

  The stationary was available at a cheap price.

13) Weight, measure, time, distance take a singular verb.

  E.g. Five years is a pretty long time.

  A hundred rupees is not a big amount for him.

  Ten kilos of milk was consumed by the players.

  Only one-fourth of the police force was deployed.

14) When a plural noun is the name of one thing it takes a singular verb.

  E.g. ‘ The Arabian Nights’ is a famous book.

 ‘ The United States’ has a big army.

15) When a sentence starts with ‘here‘, ‘there‘ the subject is placed after the verb and will take a singular or plural verb depending on the subject.

E.g. There is a tiger in the forest.

Here are the books that you ordered.

16) Verbs which appear before subjects in interrogative sentences (questions) will be singular or plural according to the subject.

E.g. Where are my keys?

Does she know the answer?

Have they solved the problem?

Is she the girl who won the Quiz?

16. Indefinite pronouns like ‘everyone’, ‘ ‘someone’, ‘nobody’, ‘anyone’ take a singular verb.

E.g. Someone is at the door.

Nobody is perfect.

Has anyone seen my book?

Something is better than nothing.

Everybody was present at the meeting.


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Sentences can be divided into two primary groups – Affirmative or Positive, and Negative sentences.


An affirmative sentence simply states something.  It is any declaration that is positive. An affirmative sentence expresses the validity of truth of an assertion.

Jane is a girl. – Is an example of an affirmative sentence.

Jane is not a boy. – Is an example of a negative sentence.

An affirmative or positive sentence means something is so, while a negative sentence – which is its polar opposite – means something is not so.


 A sentence is usually made negative in English by placing the adverb ‘not’ after the finite verb. Such verbs are:

Be      –  (is/am/ are/ was/were)

Have  –  ( has/ had )

Can    –  (could )

Shall  –  (should)

Will  – ( would)

May  – (might)



How to make sentences negative:

  1. The verb ‘be’:

We put not after the various forms of the verb ‘be’.

 Affirmative – He is working.

Negative – He is not working.

In case of ‘will be’ and ‘shall be’, we put ‘not’ after ‘will’ and ‘shall.’

Will be – will not be, shall be – shall not be.

  • The verb ‘Have’ (has, had)

I have a pen.                          I have no pen.

                                                 I do not have a pen.

                                                 I don’t have a pen.

She has a pen.                       She has no pen.

                                                 She does not have a pen.

                                                 She doesn’t have a pen.

She had a pen.                       She had no pen

                                               She did not have a pen.

                                                She didn’t have a pen.            

  • Verb made of two or more words:

We put not after the first word.

She is painting.                             She is not painting.

He should take a break.             He should not take a break.

  • Simple Present Tense

We use either do not or does not with the root form of the verb.

I eat fruit daily.               I do not eat fruit daily.

She eats fruit daily.       She does not eat fruit daily.

[ he/ she / it – does]     [ I/ you /we / they  – do]

  • Simple past tense

We use did not with the root form of the verb:

She played baseball.          She did not play baseball.

They wrote essays.              They did not write essays.    

  • Imperative sentences (commands)

We put do not (don’t) in the beginning of the sentence:

Close the door.                              Do not(don’t) close the door.

Give her the book.                  Do not (don’t) give her the book.  

In spoken English the adverb ‘not’ is usually shortened to (n’t):

 Unshortened form                                   Shortened form

I am not                                                       I’m not

Is not                                                            Isn’t

Are not                                                         aren’t

Was not                                                       wasn’t

Have not                                                      haven’t

Has not                                                         hasn’t

Had not                                                        hadn’t

Do not                                                           don’t

Does not                                                       doesn’t

Did not                                                          didn’t         

Cannot                                                           can’t

Could not                                                       couldn’t                   

 Will not                                                         won’t

 Would not                                                    wouldn’t

Shall not                                                          shan’t

Should not                                                      shouldn’t

Must not                                                         mustn’t

Ought not                                                        oughtn’t

Need not                                                          needn’t

Dare not                                                           daren’t

May not                                                            mayn’t

Might not                                                         mightn’t  


AFFIRMATIVE                             NEGATIVE

I am a boy.                             I am (I’m) not a boy.

He is a doctor.                       He is not (isn’t) a doctor.

They are my friends.            They are not (aren’t) my friends.

She was late yesterday.      She was not wasn’t late yesterday.

He can speak French.          He cannot (can’t) speak French.

She will go now.             She will not (won’t) go now.

They may help us.                They may not (mayn’t) help us.

It might cure her.                  It might not (mightn’t) cure her.  

They ought to help her.     They ought not (oughtn’t) help her.

Forming negatives using do (does) not and did not.

AFFIRMATIVE                                  NEGATIVE

I like mangoes.                      I do not (don’t) like mangoes.

They live in London.            They do not (don’t) live in London.

He speaks Spanish.               He does not speak Spanish.

They tried hard.                    They did not try hard.

She bought a new pen.        She did not buy a new pen.

Do it now.                              Do not (don’t) do it now.

Call everybody.                     Do not (don’t) call everybody.


The negative question or interrogative negative is formed by first making the interrogative sentence and then placing the adverb ‘not’ after the subject. If the shortened form of (n’t) is used then it is placed with the finite verb before the subject.

The interrogative form of ‘I am not’ is ain’t (colloquial) or ‘I am not’ (formal).


She went to college yesterday.

Did he not go to the college yesterday?

Didn’t she go to the college yesterday?

He has been to Paris.

Has she not been to Paris?

Hasn’t she been to Paris?


Is Sheena reading?

Isn’t Sheena reading?

Sheena is reading, isn’t she?

Sheena is not reading, is she?

These questions may be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

The last two Questions have been framed using Question tags.


Question tags are short questions added to the end of a sentence. A positive statement has a negative question tag and a negative statement has a positive question tag.

 She is beautiful, isn’t she?       

 He is not playing, is he?       

  • Positive statement           —–          negative question tag.
  • Negative  statement        ——         positive question tag.

Eg. All these students will do well, won’t they?

He did not believe me, did he?