Essential grammar terms

Abstract nouns

Abstract nouns are words that refer to ideas that we can only feel, hear or think of. We cannot see them or touch them. Examples are: hope, agony, anguish, fear, frustration, beauty, kindness and glory.

Subject verb agreement

The verb should agree with the subject in number and person. If the subject is in the third person singular form, the verb should also be in the singular form.

In the simple present tense when the subject is in the third person singular, the verb takes the marker ‘s’.

  • The sun rises in the east. (NOT The son rise in the east.)

The verb does not have the marker ‘s’ when the subject is a plural noun or pronoun.

  • Stars twinkle in the sky. (NOT Stars twinkles in the sky.)


Articles are the words ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’. They go before nouns. A singular countable noun must have an article or another determiner with it. Plural nouns can be used with and without articles.


Case is the form of a noun which shows whether it is being used as the subject or object in a sentence. Case also shows whether the noun or pronoun is the possessor. There are basically three cases – nominative, objective and possessive.

In English, only pronouns have different forms for the three cases.

When a noun or pronoun is used as the subject of the verb, it is in the nominative case. When a noun or pronoun is used as the object of the verb, it is in the objective case. When the noun or pronoun indicates possession, it is in the possessive case.