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What are proper adjectives?

Average: 1.8 (804 votes)
In English most nouns are common nouns: house, car, grass, and dentist.

Other types of nouns are proper nouns (or real nouns).

Real nouns start with a capital letter: Spain, Brad, and Pizza Hut.

What are proper adjectives?

This is the same with adjectives.

Most adjectives are common adjectives: slow, modern, red, and exciting.

Proper adjectives start with a capital letter: Spanish, Martian, and Russian.

Proper adjectives are usually derived (formed) from proper nouns.

Spain = Spanish

Mars = Martian

Capital letters

Average: 3.2 (58 votes)

Using capital letters in English might differ from other languages. Here are some guidelines:

The word 'I' is always written with a capital letter. Newspapers often use capital letters for headlines. We also use capital letters in these situations:

The first word in a sentence.
The first word of direct speech.
When starting a quotation.
For titles and ranks – Captain Sparrow
Proper nouns – names, days, months, roads, cities etc.
Adjectives which are nationalities or languages.
For poetry.

Punctuation – the colon (:), semicolon (;) and dash (-)

Average: 4.2 (430 votes)

The colon can be used to give details of a word or phrase before it:
I have many hobbies: running, dancing and playing the violin.
I’ve got quite a few things to do this weekend: do the shopping, put my winter clothes away and collect my friend from the airport.
The islands have many attractions: wonderful beaches, a vibrant nightlife, good shopping and an interesting history.

Punctuation – the apostrophe (‘)

Average: 2.9 (50 votes)

The apostrophe is used to show that a letter is 'missing'. This is most common in contractions:
I'm, he's, we'll, don't, can't, won't and o'clock (of the clock) etc.

The apostrophe is used to show possessions. Here are the ways this is used:

Add 's to a singular noun:
The mobile that belongs to Mary - Mary's mobile.
The car that belongs to my neighbour - My neighbour's car.

Punctuation – question mark

Average: 2.7 (45 votes)

We use a question mark after a direct question but not after an indirect question. It is a common mistake to put a question mark after an in direct question.

Indirect questions
Here's a direct question:
‘What do you want?’ she asked.
The indirect question is:
She asked me what I wanted.
Most indirect questions are used in reported speech.

Punctuation – using commas

Average: 3 (55 votes)

Here are the main uses of a comma (,)

Before 'and' or after the name of a person who is being spoken to.
Sarah, where are you going?
Who are you speaking to, Peter?
It seems to me, Mary, that you were right about the forecasts.

Between items in a list.
He bought wine, pasta, a chocolate cake and a lot of other delicacies.

Punctuation – the full stop (.)

Average: 3 (42 votes)

We use a full stop at the end of a sentence. Some people also put full stops after abbreviations.

Vowel Sounds - When to use A and An

Average: 3.2 (475 votes)

Using an and a does not depend on the spelling of the word it comes before, it depends on the pronunciation of the word. In most cases though, an is used before words that begin with vowels (a, e, i, o u.):

an apple
an elephant
an igloo
an oven
an umbrella

If a word starts with a consonant sound, use a.

a ball
a car
a doll

Pronunciation Challenge

Average: 3 (49 votes)

English is full of words that are difficult to pronounce, including ones that come up in day to day conversation.

Here is a little challenge for you to practise the pronunciation of some of these words. First, match the word to the correct sentence and then practise saying it out loud. Use the links to dictionary.com to help you with the pronunciation of each word. Let me know if there are any other words you have difficulty with!

Lesson by Caroline


Average: 1.9 (334 votes)

English pronunciation can be very tricky, especially when words are spelt in a similar way but said completely differently! Here’s an exercise to help you practise. Of the words in red, which have the same pronunciation? For example: