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What is an Adverb? Learn the Top 100+ English Adverbs

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Saying that something happened is one thing, but saying how it happened is another. This is where adverbs come in.

But what is an adverb, and why do you need them?

Adverbs provide flair and color to both speech and writing. They allow you to describe occurrences or situations in greater detail. An adverb can provide a key detail in a sentence. 

For example, take the sentence “I slept last night.” In most situations, this is enough information. But what if you want to talk about the quality of your sleep, or how long you slept? To explain this, you could say, “I slept fitfully last night,” or “I slept a long time last night.”

Woman Unable to Sleep

See? By using adverbs, you can give the exact amount of detail people need to read between the lines. If you slept fitfully, it might explain why you’re sleepy or grouchy that day. If you slept a long time, it might explain why you’re so energized and happy.

In this article, you’ll learn all about adverbs in English and how to use them. You can even start practicing right away by using words from our adverbs lists! Let’s get started.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in English Table of Contents
  1. What is an Adverb?
  2. Adverbs List: The 100+ Most Used Adverbs in English
  3. Use of Adverbs in English Sentences
  4. Finally…

1. What is an Adverb?

Top Verbs

1- Adverb Definition

An adverb is used to describe the manner in which something happened, or the state of a situation/condition. It can add vital information to an otherwise ambiguous sentence. 

Adverbs don’t modify parts of speech, but sometimes sentences are arranged to sound better based on the other words in the sentence. For example, the sentence “I ran quickly” sounds a little better than “I quickly ran,” though both are technically correct.

2- Spotting an Adverb

Adverbs are sometimes called the “-ly” words, because many of them end with the letters “-ly.” However, it’s important to note that not all adverbs have this ending. Also note that adjectives sometimes end with “-ly” as well (grisly, bristly, etc.), so this isn’t a catch-all distinction.

Perhaps the best way to spot an adverb in a sentence is by process of elimination. For example, if you already know what the subject, verb, object, and adjective are, you can see if there are extra words that add detail about how something was done. 

3- How to Make Adverbs in English

Adverbs are usually formed by adding the suffix “-ly” to an adjective. However, there are some exceptions. 

The Basics

1) If the adjective ends with “y,” you must take off the “y” and replace it with “ily.” [Heavy > Heavily; Perky > Perkily; Happy > Happily]

2) For adjectives that end with -able, -ible, or -le, you must remove the “e” and put a “y” in its place. [Understandable > Understandably; Probable > Probably; Believable > Believably]

3) For adjectives ending with “-ic,” simply add “-ally” to the end. [Academic > Academically; Prolific > Prolifically; Basic > Basically] The exception is the word “public,” which simply ends with “-ly.”

2. Adverbs List: The 100+ Most Used Adverbs in English

More Essential Verbs

Now that you know a little bit about adverbs, have a look at our English adverbs list with examples.

1- English Adverbs of Time

Time Adverbs in English

1

“Today”I’m trying a new recipe today.
Meaning: The current day.

2

“Yesterday”They took a long walk yesterday.
Meaning: The previous day.

3

“Tomorrow”I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow.
Meaning: The following day.

4

“Last [year / month / week]”Last year / month / week, Tom took a vacation.
Meaning: The previous year, month, or week.

5

“Soon”Natalie will buy a house soon.
Meaning: In the near future.

6

“Later”Later, I will read my book.
Meaning: In the future, after an unspecified period of time.

7

“First”Rick said he got there first.
Meaning: Before anyone/anything else.

8

“Last”I got there last.
Meaning: After everyone/everything else.

9

“Before”Kyle kissed his wife before he left.
Meaning: Prior to an action.

10

“After”After shopping, Spencer ate lunch.
Meaning: Following an action.

11

“Now”Now, will you tell me what’s bothering you?
Meaning: This moment.
One Woman Comforting Another

12

“Previously”Gina had previously gone to the museum.
Meaning: Before; prior to.

13

“Currently”It’s currently raining outside.
Meaning: Now; at the moment.

14

“Earlier”She put away her laundry earlier.
Meaning: Before/prior to an action or period of time.

15

“Instantly”Instantly, Erin knew what happened.
Meaning: Right away; without delay.

16

“Gradually”He gradually got around to doing his chores.
Meaning: Happening over time, in gradations.

2- English Adverbs of Frequency

17

“Never”Jack never thought it would happen.
Meaning: Not ever.

18

“Rarely”Jacqueline rarely stays up late.
Meaning: Almost never.

19

“Seldomly”Joana seldomly drinks soda.
Meaning: Happening sometimes but not often.

20

“Occasionally”Liz occasionally makes chocolate cream pie.
Meaning: Not very often.

21

“Sometimes”Sometimes life is hard.
Meaning: Happening some of the time.

22

“From time to time”From time to time, she prepares steak.
Meaning: This phrase means the same thing as “sometimes” or “occasionally.”

Steak with Vegetables

23

“Now and then”I like a glass of milk now and then.
Meaning: This phrase means the same thing as “sometimes” or “occasionally.”

24

“Often”Lily often gets upset with herself.
Meaning: Happening frequently.

25

“Usually”Michael usually doesn’t like going out.
Meaning: This word describes something that consistently happens the same way.

26

“Normally”That normally doesn’t happen.
Meaning: This word means the same thing as “usually.”

27

“Always”I always drink coffee in the morning.
Meaning: This word describes something that happens consistently, without fail, at all times.

Additional Note: People sometimes use this word when exaggerating something. For example, “She always nags me!” It’s probably not accurate to say that she always nags. In reality, she probably nags sometimes.

28

“All the time”Why does he talk about himself all the time?
Meaning: This phrase means the same thing as “always.” It’s used even more frequently than always when exaggerating.

29

“Annually”Most holidays occur annually.
Meaning: Happening once a year.

30

“Monthly”We set some money aside monthly.
Meaning: Happening once a month.

31

“Weekly”Quinten works out weekly.
Meaning: Happening once a week.

32

“Daily”Al, however, works out daily.
Meaning: Happening every day.

33

“Hourly”Many people are paid hourly.
Meaning: Happening every hour or by the hour.

34

“By the minute”They’re selling books by the minute.
Meaning: Happening every minute.

3- English Adverbs of Place

Woman Holding Globe

35

“Here”What do we have here?
Meaning: A demonstrative adverb for something nearby.

36

“There”He’s all the way over there!
Meaning: A demonstrative adverb for something farther away.

37

“Everywhere”Everywhere you go, there you are.
Meaning: Literally, “every single place.”

38

“Somewhere”I want to live somewhere quiet.
Meaning: A place that’s not specific.

39

“Anywhere”She would follow him anywhere.
Meaning: A place that’s not specific, with no place excluded.

40

“Nowhere”I can’t find it; it’s nowhere to be found!
Meaning: Not at/in any place.

41

“Inside”It’s time to go inside.
Meaning: The interior of something.

42

“Outside”It’s gloomy outside.
Meaning: The exterior of something.

43

“Up”Hurry, look up!
Meaning: Vertical direction toward the sky.
Child Pointing to Sky

44

“Down”Now, look down!
Meaning: Vertical direction toward the ground.

45

“Upstairs”Can you go upstairs and get something?
Meaning: Higher floor; top of a staircase.

46

“Downstairs”Mary walked downstairs.
Meaning: Lower floor; bottom of a staircase.

47

“Abroad”I would love to travel abroad.
Meaning: Covering a lot of area; far from home.

48

“Away”Please just go away.
Meaning: Covering a lot of area; far from home.

49

“Around”1) I’ll be around if you need me.
2) Let’s go around.
Meaning: 
1) Nearby
2) To curve about something

50

“Home”Ellen wants to go home.
Meaning: One’s house or place of living.

Additional Note: You may be wondering why we’re calling this word an adverb. This is because “home” adds information to the verb “go.” In the example, Ellen doesn’t just want to go (leave)—she wants to go home, specifically.

51

“Nearby”I hope there’s a restaurant nearby!
Meaning: Close; within the vicinity of the speaker or a specific place/area.

52

“Across”We must go across.
Meaning: Over or past something.

53

“Next”Who’s next?
Meaning: Coming immediately after something in sequence.

54

“Above”I’ll go above, and you stay here.
Meaning: Upward; on top of something.

55

“Underneath”Let’s take a look underneath.
Meaning: Downward; under something.

56

“North”Go north.
Meaning: A cardinal direction.

57

“South”Go south.
Meaning: A cardinal direction.

58

“East”Go east.
Meaning: A cardinal direction.

59

“West”Go west.
Meaning: A cardinal direction.

4- English Adverbs of Manner

Goman Getting Out of Bed

60

“Slowly”She slowly got out of bed.
Meaning: In a slow manner; not fast.

61

“Quickly”Valerie drove quickly.
Meaning: In a fast or hurried manner; not slow.

62

“Carefully”Pick up the book carefully.
Meaning: Done with caution and care.

63

“Quietly”Wendy entered the room quietly.
Meaning: In a silent manner; not loud.

64

“Happily”They happily ate ice cream together.
Meaning: In a happy or joyful manner.

65

“Sadly”Sadly, Hannah waved her best friend goodbye.
Meaning: In a sad or mournful manner.

66

“Angrily”Angrily, she threw the bottle across the room.
Meaning: In an angry manner.

67

“Grudgingly”She grudgingly took the dog for a walk.
Meaning: In a grudging manner. This usually indicates that you don’t want to be doing something, but you are anyway.

70

“Sleepily”Sleepily, she sat down at her desk.
Meaning: In a sleepy or tired manner.

71

“Easily”Randy boasted that he could finish the project easily.
Meaning: With ease; with no difficulty.

72

“Really”1) I really look forward to dinner.
2) I can’t believe he really did that.
Meaning: 
1) To a great extent.
2) Actually.

73

“Literally”I literally can’t do this.
Meaning: Happening in a literal sense; realistically.

74

“Figuratively”He figuratively compared the two objects.
Meaning: Happening in a figurative sense; not to be taken at face value.

For more information on the differences between “literally” and “figuratively,” check out this useful resource.

75

“Simply”Bridget simply turned him away.
Meaning: With ease; in an uncomplicated manner.
Couple Upset with Each Other

76

“Badly”1) My first attempt at badminton went badly.
2) She badly wanted to see him again.
Meaning: 
1) Done in a poor manner.
2) To a great extent.

77

“Nicely”John performed nicely in the play.
Meaning: In a satisfactory manner.

78

“Well”Linda thought he did well.
Meaning: Good; in a satisfactory manner.

79

“Appropriately”It’s important to act appropriately in all situations.
Meaning: In a manner that matches the situation or expectations.

80

“Timely”He made timely work of his model airplane.
Meaning: Without wasting time; quickly.

81

“Wonderfully”She could dance wonderfully.
Meaning: In a pleasing or exceptional manner.

82

“Beautifully”Mel painted beautifully.
Meaning: In a lovely or exceptional manner.

83

“Masterfully”That novel was masterfully put together.
Meaning: With great skill or talent; in an experienced manner.

84

“Dutifully”Dutifully, he protected the others.
Meaning: In a manner that denotes responsibility.

85

“Bravely”Karen bravely killed the spider.
Meaning: In a courageous manner.

86

“Stubbornly”Stubbornly, the child refused to go to sleep.
Meaning: In a manner that indicates an unwillingness to change one’s actions or opinions.

87

“Relentlessly”She searched for the ingredient relentlessly.
Meaning: Without stopping or giving up; in a constant, determined manner.

5- English Adverbs of Degree

Kid Jumping on Bed, Excited

88

“Very”I’m very excited for the holidays.
Meaning: To a great extent.

89

“Rather”He acted rather rude.
Meaning: To a great extent; more than expected or desired.

90

“Quite”She was quite pleased with how it turned out.
Meaning: To a great extent.

91

“So”Carol was so relieved when he came home.
Meaning: To a great extent.

Additional Note: This adverb is often used informally to express something in an exaggerated manner.

92

“Too”1) Jill got too carried away with the project.
2) I want to go to the beach, too!
Meaning: 
1) To a great extent, especially when it’s more than expected or desired. 
2) Also; as well; in addition.

93

“Pretty”Paul was pretty upset.
Meaning: Quite; very. 

Additional Note: This is not to be confused with the adjective “pretty,” which means “beautiful” or “lovely.” As an adverb, it’s used to express that something is done (or felt) to a great extent.

94

“Extremely”Be careful, the plate is extremely hot.
Meaning: Very; quite; to a great extent.

95

“Terribly”1) She missed him terribly.
2) Joe did terribly on his math test.
Meaning: 
1) A lot; very much.
2) In a very poor manner.

96

“Awfully”I can be awfully shy.
Meaning: To a great extent, especially in a way that’s not desired.

97

“Tremendously”Nelson was tremendously cautious.
Meaning: To a very great extent.

The following three adverbs are similar to each other and mean the same thing. They’re used interchangeably, and the one you hear most often will depend on where you are in the United States! 

98

“A bit”He was feeling a bit sick.
Meaning: Not much.

99

“A little”I’ll have a little dessert.
Meaning: Not much.

100

A tadHe was a tad worried.
Meaning: Not much.

Keep in mind that you may also hear combinations of the three adverbs above: “a little bit” and “a tad bit.” These mean the same thing and are also used interchangeably.

101

“Relatively”The room is relatively dark.
Meaning: To some extent; when compared with something related. 

Additional Note: This adverb can be a little difficult to understand. In the example sentence, the room can be considered dark when compared to other rooms nearby that may be lighter.

102

“Slightly”The measurements are slightly off.
Meaning: Not much; a little.

103

“Somewhat”She’s somewhat comfortable in her new job.
Meaning: To some extent; not completely.

3. Use of Adverbs in English Sentences

1- Rules

Here’s a basic breakdown of how to use adverbs in English, in terms of placement in a sentence.

  • In general, adverbs go at the end of a sentence, after the subject and verb (S + V + A).
  • Sometimes, they can go in the middle of a sentence (S + A + V).
  • In an imperative sentence, adverbs can occasionally be placed at the beginning of a sentence (A + V) or (A + S).
  • On rare occasions, the adverb may be the only word in a sentence, as the context will make it a complete thought (A). This is usually done when using commands or directions.

2- Sample Sentences

1) Bob talks softly. [S + V + A]

2) Paula really loves her job. [S + A + V]

3) Quickly, escape! OR Quickly, Sarah! [A + V or A + S]

4) Carefully! [A]

4. Finally…

You just went over more than 100 adverbs in English. Some of them actually have the same basic meaning! Adverbs really aren’t too difficult to pick up with enough practice and consistent study. Be sure to refer to this adverbs list as often as you need. And try using some of these English adverbs in your next conversation or written assignment! 

Students Chatting on Grass

If you want to dig into some more adverbs, EnglishClass101.com has a separate vocabulary list on the topic, with relevant images and audio pronunciations! Further, to continue learning about the different parts of speech in English, be sure to check out our other articles:

We know that English grammar and vocabulary can be a lot to take in! But know that your hard work and determination will pay off, and EnglishClass101 will be here with constant support and all the learning tools you’ll ever need. Create a free lifetime account today, and learn English like never before!

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English Keyboard: How to Install and Type in English

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You asked, so we provided—easy-to-follow instructions on how to set up your electronic devices to write in English! We’ll also give you a few excellent tips on how to use this keyboard, as well as some online and app alternatives if you prefer not to set up a English keyboard.

Log in to Download Your Free English Alphabet Worksheet Table of Contents
  1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in English
  2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for English
  3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer
  4. How to Change the Language Settings to English on Your Computer
  5. Activating the English Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet
  6. English Keyboard Typing Tips
  7. How to Practice Typing English

1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in English

A keyboard

Learning a new language is made so much easier when you’re able to read and write/type it. This way, you will:

  • Get the most out of any dictionary and English language apps on your devices
  • Expand your ability to find English websites and use the various search engines
  • Be able to communicate much better online with your English teachers and friends, and look super cool in the process! 

2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for English

A phone charging on a dock

It takes only a few steps to set up any of your devices to read and type in English. It’s super-easy on your mobile phone and tablet, and a simple process on your computer.

On your computer, you’ll first activate the onscreen keyboard to work with. You’ll only be using your mouse or touchpad/pointer for this keyboard. Then, you’ll need to change the language setting to English, so all text will appear in English. You could also opt to use online keyboards instead. Read on for the links!

On your mobile devices, it’s even easier—you only have to change the keyboard. We also provide a few alternatives in the form of online keyboards and downloadable apps.

However, because the UK and US keyboards are different, we’ll explain each part twice, once for the English (UK) keyboard and once for the English (US) keyboard.

3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer

1- Mac

1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Check the option “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in Menu Bar.”

3. You’ll see a new icon on the right side of the main bar; click on it and select “Show Keyboard Viewer.”

A screenshot of the keyboard viewer screen

2- Windows

1. Go to Start > Settings > Easy Access > Keyboard.

2. Turn on the option for “Onscreen Keyboard.”

3- Online Keyboards

If you don’t want to activate your computer’s onscreen keyboard, you also have the option to use online keyboards. Here are some good options for UK:

And for the US:

4- Add-ons of Extensions for Browsers

Instead of an online keyboard, you could also choose to download a Google extension to your browser for a language input tool. The Google Input Tools extension allows users to use input tools in Chrome web pages, for example.

4. How to Change the Language Settings to English on Your Computer

Man looking at his computer

Now that you’re all set to work with an onscreen keyboard on your computer, it’s time to download the English language pack for your operating system of choice:

  • Windows 8 (and higher)
  • Windows 7
  • Mac (OS X and higher)

1- Windows 8 (and higher) (UK)

  1. Go to “Settings” > “Change PC Settings” > “Time & Language” > “Region & Language.”
  2. Click on “Add a Language” and select “English (United Kingdom).” This will add it to your list of languages. It will appear as English (United Kingdom) with the note “language pack available.”
  3. Click on “English (United Kingdom)” > “Options” > “Download.” It’ll take a few minutes to download and install the language pack.
  4. As a keyboard layout, you’ll only need the one marked as “English (United Kingdom).” You can ignore other keyboard layouts.

2- Windows 8 (and higher) (US)

  1. Go to “Settings “> “Change PC Settings” > “Time & Language” > “Region & Language.”
  2. Click on “Add a Language” and select “English (United States).” This will add it to your list of languages. It will appear as English (United States) with the note “language pack available.”
  3. Click on “English (United States)” > “Options” > “Download.” It’ll take a few minutes to download and install the language pack.
  4. As a keyboard layout, you’ll only need the one marked as “US.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts.

3- Windows 7 (UK)

  1. Go to “Start” > “Control Panel” > “Clock, Language, and Region.”
  2. On the “Region and Language” option, click on “Change Keyboards or Other Input Methods.”
  3. On the “Keyboards and Languages” tab, click on “Change Keyboards” > “Add” > “English (United Kingdom).”
  4. Expand the option of “English (United Kingdom)” and then expand the option “Keyboard.” Select the keyboard layout marked as “English (United Kingdom).” You can ignore other keyboard layouts. Click “OK” and then “Apply.”

4- Windows 7 (US)

  1. Go to “Start” > “Control Panel” > “Clock, Language, and Region.”
  2. On the “Region and Language” option, click on “Change Keyboards or Other Input Methods.”
  3. On the “Keyboards and Languages” tab, click on “Change Keyboards” > “Add” > “English (United States).”
  4. Expand the option of “English (United States)” and then expand the option “Keyboard.” Select the keyboard layout marked as “US.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts. Click “OK” and then “Apply.”

5- Mac (OS X and higher) (UK)

If you can’t see the language listed, please make sure to select the right option from System Preferences > Language and Region

  1. From the Apple Menu (top left corner of the screen) go to “System Preferences” > “Keyboard.”
  2. Click the “Input Sources” tab and a list of available keyboards and input methods will appear.
  3. Click on the plus button, select “English,” and add the “British” keyboard. The “British – PC” keyboard can be used if you’re either using a non-Apple keyboard or are more used to those.

6- Mac (OS X and higher) (US)

  1. From the Apple Menu (top left corner of the screen) go to “System Preferences” > “Keyboard.”
  2. Click the “Input Sources” tab and a list of available keyboards and input methods will appear.
  3. Click on the plus button, select “English,” and add the “U.S.” keyboard.
Adding a system language

5. Activating the English Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet

Texting and searching in English will greatly help you master the language! Adding a English keyboard on your mobile phone and/or tablet is super-easy.

You could also opt to download an app instead of adding a keyboard. Read on for our suggestions.

Below are the instructions for both iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets.

1- iOS (UK)

  1. Go to “Settings” > “General” > “Keyboard.”
  2. Tap “Keyboards” and then “Add New Keyboard.”
  3. Select “English (United Kingdom)” from the list.
  4. When typing, you can switch between languages by tapping and holding on the icon to reveal the keyboard language menu.

2- iOS (US)

  1. Go to “Settings” > “General” > “Keyboard.”
  2. Tap “Keyboards” and then “Add New Keyboard.”
  3. Select “English (U.S.)” from the list.
  4. When typing, you can switch between languages by tapping and holding on the icon to reveal the keyboard language menu.

3- Android (UK)

  1. Go to “Settings” > “General Management” > “Language and Input” > “On-screen Keyboard” (or “Virtual Keyboard” on some devices) > “Samsung Keyboard.”
  2. Tap “Language and Types” or “+ Select Input Languages” depending on the device, and then “MANAGE INPUT LANGUAGES” if available.
  3. Select “English (UK)” from the list.
  4. When typing, you can switch between languages by swiping the space bar.

4- Android (US)

  1. Go to “Settings” > “General Management” > “Language and Input” > “On-screen Keyboard” (or “Virtual Keyboard” on some devices) > “Samsung Keyboard.”
  2. Tap “Language and Types” or “+ Select Input Languages” depending on the device, and then “MANAGE INPUT LANGUAGES” if available.
  3. Select “English (United States)” from the list.
  4. When typing, you can switch between languages by swiping the space bar.

3- Applications for Mobile Phones

If you don’t want to add a keyboard on your mobile phone or tablet, these are a few good apps to consider.

UK:

US:

6. English Keyboard Typing Tips

Typing in English can be very challenging at first! Therefore, we added here a few useful tips to make it easier to use your English keyboard.

A man typing on a computer

1- Computer

  1. To capitalise letters, you can either press the ‘caps lock’ button, or hold shift and then press the letter.
  2. You can get the Euro sign (€) by pressing ‘AltGr’ and ‘4 ‘(Windows) or ‘Option,’ ‘Alt,’ and ‘3’ (Mac). (for UK users)
  3. You can get the US Dollar sign ($) by holding down “Shift” and then pressing “4.” (for US users)
  4. The default for changing keyboard language/layout on Windows is to press ‘Left Alt’ and ‘Shift.’

2- Mobile Phones

  1. Many mobile keyboards will automatically capitalise new sentences.
  2. If you tap a double space after a word, the mobile keyboard will input a full stop.
  3. Pressing and holding a vowel will let you choose accented vowels.

7. How to Practice Typing English

As you probably know by now, learning English is all about practice, practice, and more practice! Strengthen your English typing skills by writing comments on any of our lesson pages, and our teacher will answer. If you’re a EnglishClass101 Premium PLUS member, you can directly text our teacher via the My Teacher app—use your English keyboard to do this!

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Your Ultimate Guide to English Verb Conjugations

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Conjugation enables you to speak and write English properly, in a way that other English-speakers will easily understand. It’s an essential aspect of the language, and learning how to properly conjugate verbs will fine-tune your English skills. 

While you can technically use English without conjugation, it won’t sound very professional and will make communication more difficult. 

In this article, you’ll learn all the basics of English verb conjugation so that you can make the most of every conversation!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in English Table of Contents
  1. What is Conjugation?
  2. Conjugation Examples
  3. Conjugating Irregular Verbs
  4. English Verb Conjugation Quiz
  5. Some Parting Words…

1. What is Conjugation?

Top Verbs

Learning English conjugations can be difficult, but there’s a bit of good news for you: Verbs are the only part of speech that you conjugate!

Conjugation is how a verb changes to properly fit in a sentence. Each verb has an infinitive form, which is the most basic form of that verb (to think, to cry, to explain). But these infinitive verbs don’t work in all sentences, so they must be changed according to the following factors:

  • Person (1st, 2nd, 3rd)
  • Number (singular, plural)
  • Tense (simple past, simple present, simple future)
  • Aspect (simple, progressive, perfect)

In English, this is usually done by adding the most appropriate suffix: -ed (past participle) or -ing (present participle, also called a gerund). 

Further, there are various subcategories of verb conjugations based on their tense and aspect. These subcategories are:

  • Indicative: Indicative conjugation is done to imply a statement of a true thing that happened, is happening, or will happen. 
  • Subjunctive: Subjunctive conjugation is done to imply what one wishes had happened, or how a result might differ if that thing had happened.
  • Conditional: Conditional conjugation is done to imply that something would happen or would have happened, in different circumstances.
  • Imperative: Imperative conjugation is done to imply a command. Only the first person plural, second person singular, and second person plural forms use the imperative.

And because English verb conjugation is unnecessarily difficult and complex, these subcategories are further divided into the nominal form and the progressive/continuous form. The progressive/continuous form is easy to spot because the verb conjugations end in -ing.

Before you move on to the examples below, you may find it helpful to brush up on your English verb knowledge. Be sure to read the article I wrote on the topic, where I also explain the most basic conjugation.

2. Conjugation Examples

More Essential Verbs

That was a lot to take in, so here I’ll include some examples using common English verbs. There’s a lot of information in the following English conjugation tables, so just take it easy and don’t expect to master these right away! 

1- To walk

  • Infinitive: To walk
  • Participle: Walked
  • Gerund: Walking
Family Out Walking in Field

A. Nominal Form

Indicative
PresentSimple pastFuturePerfectPast perfectFuture perfect
IWalkWalkedWill walkHave walkedHad walkedWill have walked
You [s]WalkWalkedWill walkHave walkedHad walkedWill have walked
He / SheWalksWalkedWill walkHave walkedHad walkedWill have walked
WeWalkWalkedWill walkHave walkedHad walkedWill have walked
You [p]WalkWalkedWill walkHave walkedHad walkedWill have walked
TheyWalkWalkedWill walkHave walkedHad walkedWill have walked
Subjunctive
PresentPerfectImperfectPast perfect
IWalkHave walkedWalkedHad walked
You [s]WalkHave walkedWalkedHad walked
He / SheWalkHave walkedWalkedHad walked
WeWalkHave walkedWalkedHad walked
You [p]WalkHave walkedWalkedHad walked
TheyWalkHave walkedWalkedHad walked
Conditional
PresentPerfect
IWould walkWould have walked
You [s]Would walkWould have walked
He / SheWould walkWould have walked
WeWould walkWould have walked
You [p]Would walkWould have walked
TheyWould walkWould have walked
Imperative – Present
I
You [s]Walk
He / She
WeLet’s walk
You [p]Walk
They

B. Progressive / Continuous Form

Indicative
PresentSimple pastFuturePerfectPast perfectFuture perfect
IAm walkingWas walkingWill be walkingHave been walkingHad been walkingWill have been walking
You [s]Are walkingWere walkingWill be walkingHave been walkingHad been walkingWill have been walking
He / SheAre walkingWas walkingWill be walkingHave been walkingHad been walkingWill have been walking
WeAre walkingWere walkingWill be walkingHave been walkingHad been walkingWill have been walking
You [p]Are walkingWere walkingWill be walkingHave been walkingHad been walkingWill have been walking
TheyAre walkingWere walkingWill be walkingHave been walkingHad been walkingWill have been walking
Conditional
PresentPerfect
IWould be walkingWould have been walking
You [s]Would be walkingWould have been walking
He / SheWould be walkingWould have been walking
WeWould be walkingWould have been walking
You [p]Would be walkingWould have been walking
TheyWould be walkingWould have been walking

2- To listen

  • Infinitive: To listen
  • Participle: Listened
  • Gerund: Listening
Man Holding Hand to Ear

A. Nominal Form

Indicative
PresentSimple pastFuturePerfectPast perfectFuture perfect
IListenListenedWill listenHave listenedHad listenedWill have listened
You [s]ListenListenedWill listenHave listenedHad listenedWill have listened
He / SheListenListenedWill listenHave listenedHad listenedWill have listened
WeListenListenedWill listenHave listenedHad listenedWill have listened
You [p]ListenListenedWill listenHave listenedHad listenedWill have listened
TheyListenListenedWill listenHave listenedHad listenedWill have listened
Subjunctive
PresentPerfectImperfectPast perfect
IListenHave listenedListenedHad listened
You [s]ListenHave listenedListenedHad listened
He / SheListenHave listenedListenedHad listened
WeListenHave listenedListenedHad listened
You [p]ListenHave listenedListenedHad listened
TheyListenHave listenedListenedHad listened
Conditional
PresentPerfect
IWould listenWould have listened
You [s]Would listenWould have listened
He / SheWould listenWould have listened
WeWould listenWould have listened
You [p]Would listenWould have listened
You [p]Would listenWould have listened
Imperative – Present
I
You [s]Listen
He / She
WeLet’s listen
You [p]Listen
They

B. Progressive / Continuous Form

Indicative
PresentSimple pastFuturePerfectPast perfectFuture perfect
IAm listeningWas listeningWill be listeningHave been listeningHad been listeningWill have been listening
You [s]Are listeningWere listeningWill be listeningHave been listeningHad been listeningHad been listeningWill have been listening
He / SheIs listeningWas listeningWill be listeningHave been listeningHad been listeningWill have been listening
WeAre listeningWere listeningWill be listeningHave been listeningHad been listeningWill have been listening
You [p]Are listeningWere listeningWill be listeningHave been listeningHad been listeningWill have been listening
TheyAre listeningWere listeningWill be listeningHave been listeningHad been listeningWill have been listening
Conditional
PresentPerfect
IWould be listeningWould have been listening
You [s]Would be listeningWould have been listening
He / SheWould be listeningWould have been listening
WeWould be listeningWould have been listening
You [p]Would be listeningWould have been listening
TheyWould be listeningWould have been listening

3- To move

  • Infinitive: To move
  • Participle: Moved
  • Gerund: Moving
Man Moving a Box

A. Nominal Form

Indicative
PresentSimple pastFuturePerfectPast perfectFuture perfect
IMoveMovedWill moveHave movedHad movedWill have moved
You [s]MoveMovedWill moveHave movedHad movedWill have moved
He / SheMovesMovedWill moveHas movedHad movedWill have moved
WeMoveMovedWill moveHave movedHad movedWill have moved
You [p]MoveMovedWill moveHave movedHad movedWill have moved
TheyMoveMovedWill moveHave movedHad movedWill have moved
Subjunctive
PresentPerfectImperfectPast perfect
IMoveHave movedMovedHad moved
You [s]MoveHave movedMovedHad moved
He / SheMoveHave movedMovedHad moved
WeMoveHave movedMovedHad moved
You [p]MoveHave movedMovedHad moved
TheyMoveHave movedMovedHad moved
Conditional
PresentPerfect
IWould moveWould have moved
You [s]Would moveWould have moved
He / SheWould moveWould have moved
WeWould moveWould have moved
You [p]Would moveWould have moved
TheyWould moveWould have moved
Imperative – Present
I
You [s]Move
He / She
WeLet’s move
You [p]Move
They

B. Progressive / Continuous Form

Indicative
PresentSimple pastFuturePerfectPast perfectFuture perfect
IAm movingWas movingWill be movingHave been movingHad been movingWill have been moving
You [s]Are movingWere movingWill be movingHave been movingHad been movingWill have been moving
He / SheIs movingWas movingWill be movingHave been movingHad been movingWill have been moving
WeAre movingWere movingWill be movingHave been movingHad been movingWill have been moving
You [p]Are movingWere movingWill be movingHave been movingHad been movingWill have been moving
TheyAre movingWere movingWill be movingHave been movingHad been movingWill have been moving
Conditional
PresentPerfect
IWould be movingWould have been moving
You [s]Would be movingWould have been moving
He / SheWould be movingWould have been moving
WeWould be movingWould have been moving
You [p]Would be movingWould have been moving
TheyWould be movingWould have been moving

3. Conjugating Irregular Verbs

Woman

In English, irregular verbs have conjugations that don’t follow the rules. Here are a few of the most common examples of irregular verbs with their conjugations. For this section, we’re not going to worry too much about the more complex conjugations that you saw above. I’ll keep this section simple by only including the verb tenses/aspects that are irregular.  

Let’s start with the English conjugations of “to be.”

1- To Be

  • Infinitive: To be
  • Participle: Been
  • Gerund: Being
IndicativeSubjunctive
PresentPastImperfect
IAmWasWere
You [s]AreWereWere
He / SheIsWasWere
WeAreWereWere
You [p]AreWereWere
TheyAreWereWere

2- To Have

  • Infinitive: To have
  • Participle: Had
  • Gerund: Having
IndicativeSubjunctive
PresentPastImperfect
IHaveHadHad
You [s]HaveHadHad
He / SheHasHadHad
WeHaveHadHad
You [p]HaveHadHad
TheyHaveHadHad

3- To Feel

  • Infinitive: To feel
  • Participle: Felt
  • Gerund: Feeling
IndicativeSubjunctive
PastImperfect
IFeltFelt
You [s]FeltFelt
He / SheFeltFelt
WeFeltFelt
You [p]FeltFelt
TheyFeltFelt

4- To Eat

  • Infinitive: To eat
  • Participle: Eaten
  • Gerund: Eating
Woman Eating Chocolate Bar
IndicativeSubjunctive
PastImperfect
IAteAte
You [s]AteAte
He / SheAteAte
WeAteAte
You [p]AteAte
TheyAteAte

5- To Bite

  • Infinitive: To bite
  • Participle: Bitten
  • Gerund: Biting
IndicativeSubjunctive
PastImperfect
IBitBit
You [s]BitBit
He / SheBitBit
WeBitBit
You [p]BitBit
TheyBitBit

6- To Sleep

  • Infinitive: To sleep
  • Participle: Slept
  • Gerund: Sleeping
IndicativeSubjunctive
PastImperfect
ISleptSlept
You [s]SleptSlept
He / SheSleptSlept
WeSleptSlept
You [p]SleptSlept
TheySleptSlept

7- To Tell

  • Infinitive: To tell
  • Participle: Told
  • Gerund: Telling
IndicativeSubjunctive
PastImperfect
IToldTold
You [s]ToldTold
He / SheToldTold
WeToldTold
You [p]ToldTold
TheyToldTold

As you can see, the majority of these irregular verbs tend to repeat, making them easier to memorize. Further, most of them only conjugate irregularly in the past tense. 

The downside is that these are only the beginning of irregular verbs. There are many more that you’ll have to memorize as you come across them. But you can do it! 

4. English Verb Conjugation Quiz

Woman Uncertain of Answer

Now, it’s time to test your knowledge. Don’t fret too much, though; this quiz will only focus on the simpler conjugations. 

1) Bob [talk] with Dana yesterday.

Choices:
A) Talk
B) Talks
C) Talking
D) Talked

2) Phil [to be] in love with Valerie.

Choices:
A) Are
B) Is
C) Am
D) Were

3) Lily is [finish] her assignment right now.

Choices:
A) Finished
B) Finish
C) Finishing
D) Finishes

4) Mary always [act] like she [know] everything.

Choices:
A) Acts/knows
B) Acted/knows
C) Acted/knew
D) Acting/knows

5) I [eat] oatmeal with peanut butter this morning.

Choices:
A) Eaten
B) Eat
C) Eats
D) Ate

The correct answers are: 

D – The word “yesterday” implies that the conversation happened the day before. Thus, the past tense conjugation is used.

B – Because Phil is a singular individual and currently in love, “is” is the most appropriate choice.

C – Lily is currently doing the action (indicated by the to be verb “is”), so the present form is used.

A – The word “always” implies that Mary currently does these things. Thus, the present form is used.

D – “Ate” is the past tense form of the word “eat,” and because the sentence doesn’t have a “to be” verb (to make it “I have eaten”), the correct conjugation must be “ate.”

5. Some Parting Words…

English verb conjugation is pretty terrible. But you’ve made it this far, and you’re going to make it even farther! 

Congratulations Card with Ribbon

If the English verb conjugation charts in this article seem daunting to you, don’t worry—they’re daunting for native English-speakers too. Before you try learning all of this information, you may find it easier to learn the infinitive, participle, and gerund forms of verbs first. These forms play into the more complex ones, and from there, it’s as easy as plugging-and-chugging your way through. 

For more information on this topic, be sure to check out more practical resources on EnglishClass101

Better yet, if you want to make a game out of learning conjugation, visit Verbix.com. Here, you can simply type in the infinitive form of any English verb, hit Enter, and see all of its different conjugations! Sometimes just playing around with new information can help you retain it better. 🙂

Before you go, let us know in the comments if you learned something new today! Do you feel more confident using English language conjugations? We hope that English conjugation is clearer to you now, and that you have a strong basis for future learning. Feel free to reach out with any questions, and we’ll do our best to answer them.

Until next time, happy learning!

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Celebrating Labor Day in the United States

If you could take three days off work or school starting right now, how would you spend your time? 

We all need a break sometimes. Whether we relax at home, enjoy the outdoors, pursue our creative interests, or spend time with friends, taking time away from our everyday life can work wonders. 

Each year, most Americans get this break in the form of Labor Day weekend. In this article, EnglishClass101.com will teach you about the origins of Labor Day in the United States, how it’s celebrated today, and some relevant vocabulary. 

Let’s get started!

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1. What is Labor Day All About?

Business People Excited about Getting Off Work

You’re probably familiar with the concept of Labor Day already, and I’m betting that you celebrated yours back in May. Around the world, Labor Day (or International Workers’ Day) is a special occasion for workers. They can take the day off and enjoy the final days of summer with friends, family, and loved ones. 

But why do we celebrate Labor Day in the first place? In the U.S., we celebrate this holiday to show appreciation toward workers, respect workers’ rights, and give workers the rest they deserve. 

You may be wondering what makes the American version of this holiday special, and why we hold it on a different date than most of the world. For that, we’ll need to look at the historical context…

Labor Day History

In the United States, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw much dissatisfaction amongst workers, and for good reasons. During this period, there was no way to make a decent living unless you were skilled in a field like mechanics or art. Many people worked in factories and were expected to work long hours, in dangerous environments, and with little or nothing to show for it. 

In 1894, workers of The Pullman Company (a railroad car manufacturer) decided enough was enough. During a major economic depression in the United States, The Pullman Company had laid off many of its workers and severely reduced pay for those remaining. The workers organized a union (called the American Railway Union) and began a strike. Namely, they refused to operate any trains that carried Pullman sleeping cars. The Pullman Strike ended in violence, and many lost their lives; the union’s leader was imprisoned, and later became a notable supporter of socialism.

While this event was tragic, it was not the only strike to occur during this period. The high volume of strikes, and their negative impact on the United States, encouraged people to begin honoring workers and making compromises.

Labor Day in the U.S. originated as a way for the government to mend things with the working population. We celebrate it in September instead of May because Europe underwent a labor crisis at around the same time as the U.S. Then-President Grover Cleveland feared that if he didn’t do something quickly, the same communist movements that started in Europe would sprout up in the U.S. Thus, Labor Day was set to be celebrated on a different date than Europe’s International Workers’ Day. 

    → Do you want to pick up some useful vocabulary? See our list of words related to Jobs / Work

2. When is Labor Day in the U.S.?

Each year, Labor Day takes place on the first Monday of September. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2020: September 7
  • 2021: September 6
  • 2022: September 5
  • 2023: September 4
  • 2024: September 2
  • 2025: September 1
  • 2026: September 7
  • 2027: September 6
  • 2028: September 4
  • 2029: September 3

Because this holiday takes place on a Monday, many American workers get a full “Labor Day weekend” (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday off work)! 

3. Labor Day Traditions & Celebrations

As mentioned, Labor Day weekend takes place near the end of summer. This means that students will soon be going back to school (which often starts just after Labor Day), and outdoor-lovers will be spending more time inside as the weather gets cooler. Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to enjoy those final days of summertime freedom with those we care about. 

One of the most iconic Labor Day traditions is that of barbecuing. American neighborhoods, parks, and other public locations are filled with the smells of barbecuing meats, vegetables, and other summertime favorites. When I think of a Labor Day picnic, I imagine a cheap paper plate loaded with potato chips, watermelon, baked beans, hot dogs, potato salad, and all the dessert items one could possibly want. Mmm. 

Labor Day is also a day of travel. Many people will drive (or fly) several hours to spend the holiday with their family in other cities or states. Others opt to travel to larger cities for more excitement (such as massive parades and incredible fireworks shows) or smaller cities for a quieter, more peaceful celebration. 

Of course, the long weekend is also the perfect time for companies and businesses to promote their products/services. There are always plenty of Labor Day sales, which usually begin a few weeks before the actual holiday. The most popular discounted items include furniture and electronics, which are normally too expensive to purchase on a whim. 

Labor Day also marks the beginning of professional (and college) football season in the United States. The very first pro football game of the season takes place on the Thursday after Labor Day (and I know people who get more excited about football season than Labor Day). 

4. White After Labor Day

An Airplane Taking Off

Have you ever heard the phrase: “Don’t wear white after Labor Day?” 

In times past, it was considered a fashion faux-pas to wear white after Labor Day (and before Memorial Day). Because of the fashion trends of the time, white was only to be worn during the summer, at weddings, or when on vacation. 

Over time, this “rule” has changed, though. Some people may still say that you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day, but it’s not taken as seriously as it was in years past. 

5. Important Vocabulary for Labor Day

Someone Riding Their Bike in a Park with Their Dog

Let’s review some of the vocabulary words from this article! 

  • Weekend [n] – Saturday and Sunday; the end of the workweek
  • Holiday [n] – a special day for celebration or commemoration
  • Monday – the first day of the workweek
  • Vacation [n] – time away from work or school
  • Sale [n] – a special deal or discount on certain items or services
  • Travel [n] – a word used to describe the action of traveling somewhere
  • September – the ninth month of the Gregorian calendar year
  • Picnic [n] – a meal eaten outdoors, especially with family, friends, or a romantic partner
  • Job [n] – the work that a person does for a living
  • Employee [n] – a person who works for a company, under a person of higher authority
  • Right [n] – the automatic entitlement to have something or do something
  • Strike [n] – an event where workers refuse to do their jobs in order to receive benefits 
  • Worker [n] – someone who works
  • Work [n] – a job or career
  • Union [n] – a group of workers who join together to bargain for a collective benefit 
  • Movement [n] – a group of people joining together in order to promote an idea
  • Labor [n] – any kind of work, though it usually refers to physically demanding work 
  • Career [n] – a lifelong pursuit toward specific work- or education-related goals
  • Labor Day – a day for American workers to take the day off
  • Parade [n] – a large procession that often involves music, dancing, and floats

You can find each of these words on our English Labor Day vocabulary list to hear their pronunciation and add them to your flashcard deck! 

Final Thoughts

While it’s seen as a fun and relaxing holiday today, Labor Day has roots in some pretty dark times for the U.S. But on the other side of those dark times, the U.S. has become a country much more attuned to the needs and rights of workers.

What are your thoughts on Labor Day in the United States? Does your country celebrate International Workers’ Day? And if so, how do you spend your time off? Let us know in the comments! 

If you want to learn more about U.S. culture and the English language, visit our blog page. We update it regularly with valuable information that you can start using today! And for more information on work in the U.S., see our article about How to Find a Job in the United States.
Happy Labor Day from the EnglishClass101.com team. 😀

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Top 100+ Verbs in U.S. English: Ultimate Verb List & Guide

Thumbnail

What is a verb, and why is it important to focus on learning them? 

As for the most basic verb definition, verbs are commonly referred to as “action words,” because they’re words that name an action (though they sometimes refer to a state of being). Without verbs, people wouldn’t be able to talk about anything worthwhile or exciting. We use verbs all the time: While talking about our day, explaining directions or instructions, telling friends a story…and they’re used in both speech and writing.

So, what are the most common English verbs?

In this article, I’ll be going over the 100+ most common verbs in the English language. These are verbs that you can start using and practicing today, and that you’ll find yourself coming back to more times than you can count

Before we get started on English language verbs, though, you may find the following articles useful:

Without further ado, here’s our list of all the verbs you need to know! 🙂

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in English Table of Contents
  1. Verb Usage: How to Use English Verbs
  2. Top 100+ Verbs List
  3. How EnglishClass101 Can Help You Master the English Language

1. Verb Usage: How to Use English Verbs

Top Verbs

There are three main components of verb usage to keep in mind before moving on to our list: 

  • Conjugation
  • Agreement
  • Basic sentence patterns

I’ll go into the basics of each one below.

1- Conjugation

Verb conjugation is how a verb’s tense is changed. You conjugate a verb by adding one of the following suffixes to the root verb:

  • -s (or -es)

Adding the suffix -s to a verb changes it to the third person singular present form. For verbs that end with a sibilant sound and don’t have a silent “e,” use -es instead.

Win -> Wins

Box -> Boxes

Hike -> Hikes

This form means that a singular third party (he, she, or it) is currently doing something:

He wins again.

She boxes like a professional.

The dog hikes with its owner.

  • -ing

Adding the suffix -ing to a verb changes it to the present participle form, which is also known as a gerund. For most verbs, you can simply add the suffix without making other changes: Peek -> Peeking.

But there are a few exceptions: 

  • If the verb ends in a silent “e,” you omit it before adding the -ing

Waste -> Wast -> Wasting.

  • If the verb ends in an “ie,” you replace it with the letter “y” before adding the -ing

Tie -> Ty -> Tying.

  • As for double consonants, rules vary: 1) If one vowel is followed by one consonant at the end of the word, that consonant is doubled. 2) If the verb ends in a “c”, you need to add a “k” after it, and then add the -ing:

1) War -> Warr -> Warring.

2) Mimic -> Mimick -> Mimicking.

  • -ed 

Adding the suffix -ed to a verb changes it to the past tense form. This means that the action happened in the past and is no longer happening.

  • Keep in mind that if the verb already ends with an “e,” you only need to put the -d after it: 

Wave -> Waved.

  • If the verb instead ends with a consonant directly followed by a “y,” you need to change the “y” to an “ie” before adding the -d:

Apply -> Applie ->Applied.

  • As for double consonants, rules vary, but these are fairly typical rules: 1) If one vowel is followed by one consonant at the end of the word, the consonant is doubled. 2) If the verb ends in a “c,” you need to add a “k” after it, and then the -ed. Keep in mind that there are exceptions to these rules, and the rules in U.S. English are different than those in British English.

1) Tap -> Tapp -> Tapped

2) Mimic -> Mimick -> Mimicked

There are also irregular ways to change the form of certain verbs. As English irregular verbs are a complicated topic with many variations, I won’t go into detail about them here. But whenever an irregular verb appears on our list of verb examples, I’ll make a note of it for you. 

2- Subject-Verb Agreement

Now that you have a general idea of how to change the tense of verbs, let’s look at how they need to work in a sentence. Namely, the concept of subject-verb agreement.

According to the rule of subject-verb agreement, the subject and verb must agree in terms of number. This means that if a singular subject is performing an action, then the verb must also be singular. And if a plural subject is performing an action, then the verb must also be plural

Here are some examples:

VerbSingular SentencePlural Sentence
Sleep
Sleeping
Slept

*Note that the Past Tense of this verb isn’t “sleeped,” but slept. This is an irregular verb conjugation.
The man sleeps.
The man is sleeping.
The man slept.
The men sleep.
The men are sleeping.
The men slept.
Play
Playing
Played
The child plays.
The child is playing.
The child played.
The children play.
The children are playing.
The children played.
Arrive
Arriving
Arrived
The woman arrives.
The woman is arriving.
The woman arrived.
The women arrive.
The women are arriving.
The women arrived.

As you can see from the verb examples above, there are different ways of changing the verb to match the subject in number.

  • For the base verb: If the subject is singular, the verb is made singular by adding an -s. If the subject is plural, the verb doesn’t change as it already matches the number.
  • For the Present Participle: The -ing verb itself remains the same for both singular and plural subjects, but a “be” verb is put directly in front of it. The appropriate “be” verb for the singular subject is is, and the appropriate “be” verb for the plural subject is are.
  • For the Past Tense: Guess what? There’s no change at all here, as the -ed verb already matches both the singular and plural subject in number! 🙂

3- Basic Sentence Patterns + Examples

Every sentence in English requires a subject (S) and a verb (V). Most sentences follow the S + V pattern. Keep in mind that the verbs in this sentence pattern are intransitive, meaning that the actions don’t require an object to be a complete sentence.

I walk

He talked.

She listens.

For more complex sentences, there’s also the sentence structure S + V + O, where O is the object to which or at which the action is being done. The verbs in this sentence structure are typically (but not always) transitive, meaning that an object is required to make the sentence complete. 

I walked toward the bank.

He is talking to his teacher.

She looked at the ocean.

Further, a verb’s placement in a sentence can vary based on what type of sentence it is. 

For instance, in an imperative sentence (a sentence that gives a command), the verb will most likely be at the beginning of the sentence: Bring me that mug. 

There are also instances where the verb can be at the end of the sentence, though this isn’t very common: What to give?

2. Top 100+ Verbs List

More Essential Verbs

We’ve compiled the best English verbs for beginners to learn, and divided them into easy-to-understand categories for you. These are English verbs used in daily life that you’ll hear over and over again. You really need to know these! 

1- English Action Verbs List

Action verbs are the most common type of verb. These are verbs that describe a specific action, and there are two categories: Physical and Mental/Abstract. 

Physical action verbs are things that you do outwardly with your body. Verbs that are mental/abstract typically refer to feelings, thoughts, or other types of doing or being that aren’t expressed through a specific bodily action. 

Physical Verbs List

VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional NotesIrregular?
1 Tell 

(Tells; Telling; Told)
To let someone know something, usually verbally.I want to tell you something.At some point, you may be asked the question “Can you tell?”

People ask this when they aren’t sure about something, and are checking to see if you’re sure about it. 

For example, a coworker asks your friend to do something. Your friend later turns to you and says “I didn’t hear what she said. Could you tell?”

You should know what they mean based on the context.


Note that the Past Tense form is “told,” NOT “telled.”
2 Ask

(Asks; Asking; Asked)
To inquire about something.I want to ask you a question.
3 Listen

(Listens; Listening; Listened)
3 Listen

(Listens; Listening; Listened)
To hear and understand what someone is saying.

To hear any noise.
4 Yell

(Yells; Yelling; Yelled)
To make a loud verbal noise, either with words or without.Don’t yell in the house.
5 Greet

(Greets; Greeting; Greeted)
To interact with someone upon meeting them.Joe didn’t know how to greet strangers.
6 Wave

(Waves; Waving; Waved)
To move your hand back and forth, either in greeting or to motion someone forward.Why didn’t you wave at me in the store?This isn’t to be confused with the noun “wave,” which refers to the ocean’s tides.
7 Move

(Moves; Moving; Moved)
To make any type of motion.

To relocate your place of residency.
Don’t move! 

Jill will move to Oregon in October.
8 Go

(Goes; Going; Gone; Went)
To leave your current place or position.Why do you have to go to work?

Note that there are two past tenses for this word: the irregular “gone,” and the modern past tense “went.”
9 Stay

(Stays; Staying; Stayed)
To remain where you are.I don’t want to stay in this apartment forever.
10 Wait

(Waits; Waiting; Waited)
To anticipate something that will happen, and stay around for it.

To serve someone.
I don’t think I can wait for my date any longer.

I can’t wait on you your whole life!
Don’t Keep Your Date Waiting
VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional NotesIrregular?
11 Give

(Gives; Giving; Gave)
To offer or provide something to someone else.Can you give me more time to finish the assignment?
Can you give me more time to finish the assignment?
12 Take

(Takes; Taking; Took)
To claim something as your own by reaching for it, or otherwise gaining it.Don’t you dare take the last cookie!

Take your time on the test.
In the second sentence, the word take is used a little bit differently. 

The phrase “take your time,” means not to hurry or go too fast when doing something. It’s sort of like “claiming” that time to use at your own pace.


Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “took,” NOT “taked.”
13 Put

(Puts; Putting; Put)
To place something in a certain spot.Put down your pencils.

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is simply “put,” NOT “putted.”
14 Bring

(Brings; Bringing; Brought)
14 Bring

(Brings; Bringing; Brought)
Will you bring me my book please?

What can you bring to this project?
In the first sentence, Adam is asking someone to give him an item that is out of his reach.

In the second sentence, the interviewer is asking what quality the job candidate can give to the project.

Both words have the same meaning, but are used in different contexts.


Note that the Past Tense of this verb is  “brought, ” NOT  “bringed.”
15 Get

(Gets; Getting; Got)
To retrieve or attain something.I hope you get the job.

Did you get that?
There may be times when someone asks you the question “Do you get it?”

This is usually a way of asking if you understand something, not if you actually attained an item.


Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “got,” NOT “getted,”
16 Make

(Makes; Making; Made)
To create or prepare something.Can you make dinner tonight?

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “made,” NOT maked.”
17 Look

(Looks; Looking; Looked)
To see something, or turn to see something.Look what I can do!
18 Watch

(Watches; Watching; Watched)
To observe something visually.What shows do you like to watch on TV?This is not to be confused with the noun “watch,” which refers to the time-telling device worn on the wrist.
19 Sit

(Sits; Sitting; Sat)
To take a seat with your back straight and feet on the ground.Sit up straight in your chair.

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “sat,” NOT “sitted.”
20 Stand

(Stands; Standing; Stood)
To be on your feet, supporting yourself vertically.I need to stand up and walk around for a few minutes.This is not to be confused with the noun “stand,” which refers to a vertical object used for holding something.

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “stood,” NOT “standed.”
21 Walk

(Walks; Walking; Walked)
To travel by foot at a slow pace.Will you walk with me?This is not to be confused with the noun “walk,” which refers to a walkway or path. 

You may also hear someone say that they’re “going on a walk,” which just means that they’re going to walk for exercise.
22 Run

(Runs; Running; Ran)
To travel by foot at a fast pace.I’m tired; I can’t run any longer.You may hear someone say that they’re “going on a run,” which just means that they’re going to run for exercise.

Note that the Past Tense for this verb is “ran,” NOT “runned.”
23 Lift

(Lifts; Lifting; Lifted)
To pick up something (usually heavy), especially from the ground.Can you help me lift this box?This is not to be confused with the noun “lift,” which refers to something (usually a machine) that lifts.
Man Lifting Weights
VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional NotesAdditional Notes
24 Play

(Plays; Playing;
To enjoy oneself through activities.How about we play a game?This is not to be confused with the noun “play,” which refers to a type of stage performance.
25 Stop

(Stops; Stopping; Stopped)
To end or cease an action or activity.Just stop bothering me already!
26 Rest

(Rests; Resting; Rested)
To take some time to stop an activity in order to regain energy.I’m so tired. I need to rest.You may hear someone say “Give it a rest!” This means that whatever you’re doing or saying is making them upset, and you should stop.
27 Sleep

(Sleeps; Sleeping; Slept)
To lose waking consciousness and slumber.You need to sleep before it gets too late.

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “slept,” NOT “sleeped.”
28 Try

(Tries; Trying; Tried)
To attempt to do something.You won’t succeed if you don’t try.
29 Work

(Works; Working; Worked)
To do some type of labor or perform some task.I appreciate that you work so hard.This word is also used as a noun. For instance, someone may say “I’m going to work,” which means they’re going to their place of employment.
30 Study

(Studies; Studying; Studied)
To make an effort toward learning, understanding, or memorizing something.I really need to study for the test next week.There are two other common uses of the word “study” as a noun. 

1) When someone says that another person is a “quick study,” it means they learn quickly.

2) A study is also a type of room, usually containing books, writing utensils, and a desk.
31 Leave

(Leaves; Leaving; Left)
To go away or depart.I want to leave this town soon,.There are a couple of common phrases in English that use this word as a noun:

1) “Go on leave”

2) “Take leave”

Both refer to going on a vacation (or suspension) from a place of work or study.


Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “left,” NOT “leaved.”
32 Drive

(Drives; Driving; Drove; Driven)
To operate a vehicle or to bring something about.I don’t want to drive at all after the car crash.

You’re going to drive me crazy if you don’t stop.
The first sentence refers to operating a vehicle.

The second sentence uses the word “drive” in the sense that the person Bill’s talking to will bring about his craziness.


Note that this verb has two past tense variations: the irregular “drove,” (he drove) and the past participle “driven,” (he has driven).
33 Travel

(Travels; Traveling; Traveled)
To visit new places.I want to travel the world someday.
VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional NotesIrregular?
34 Arrive

(Arrives; Arriving; Arrived)
To show up somewhere.What time should he arrive for dinner?
35 Clean

(Cleans; Cleaning; Cleaned)
To tidy up or sanitize.I really don’t want to clean the house right now.
36 Eat

(Eats; Eating; Ate)
To consume food.I can’t wait to eat dinner tonight.

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “ate,” NOT “eated.”
37 Drink

(Drinks; Drinking; Drank; Drunk)
To consume liquid.What would you like to drink?“Drink” is also used as a noun to name something that a person can drink.

For example, when used as a noun, the waitress could say: “What drink can I get you?”


Note that this verb has two past tenses: the irregular “drank,” (he drank the water) and the past participle “drunk,” (he has drunk the water).
38 Turn

(Turns; Turning; Turned)
To rotate or change direction; to change.Turn right at the stop sign.

How did my life turn into this?
In the first sentence,”turn” is used to indicate a change in direction.

In the second sentence, it’s used to mean a change from one thing to another.
39 Buy

(Buys; Buying; Bought)
To purchase something.What do you think I should buy mom for Christmas?

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “bought,” NOT “buyed.”
40 Laugh

(Laughs; Laughing; Laughed)
To make a joyful noise that indicates something funny happened.I love to hear you laugh.
41 Cry

(Cries; Crying; Cried)
To weep, usually associated with tears and sadness.Please don’t cry.
42 Smile

(Smiles; Smiling; Smiled)
To curve your mouth upwards, usually when you’re happy.Smile for the picture.
43 Frown

(Frowns; Frowning; Frowned)
To curve your mouth downward, usually when you’re sad.I don’t like to see you frown like that.P.S.: If someone tells you to “Turn your frown upside-down,” they want you to smile and be happy. 🙂
44 Hug

(Hugs; Hugging; Hugged)
To embrace someone by wrapping your arms around each other.I need a hug.
45 Kiss

(Kisses; Kissing; Kissed)
To embrace someone (usually a significant other or family member) by pressing your lips against them.Carla kissed her mother on the cheek before leaving.
Old Woman Kissing Old Man’s Cheek

2. Mental/Abstract Verbs List

VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional NotesIrregular?
46 Think

(Thinks; Thinking; Thought)
To use one’s brain to formulate ideas.Let me think about this first.

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “thought,” NOT “thinked.”
47 Know

(Knows; Knowing; Knew)
To understand something as fact and have knowledge of it.I want to know what you’re thinking.

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “knew,” NOT “knowed.”
48 Understand

(Understands; Understanding; Understood)
To grasp the concept of something.I don’t understand what’s going on.

Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “understood,” NOT “understanded.”
49 Comprehend

(Comprehends; Comprehending; Comprehended)
To understand on a deep level.Why is this problem so difficult to comprehend?
50 Acknowledge

(Acknowledges; Acknowledging; Acknowledged)
To accept something as true or as fact; to recognize.I acknowledge the importance of this book.

This is a problem we need to acknowledge.
51 Accept

(Accepts; Accepting; Accepted)
To agree to/with,The teacher doesn’t accept this kind of behavior in the classroom.
52 Believe

(Believes; Believing; Believed)
To have faith or trust in a fact or concept.I don’t believe what you’re telling me.
53 Like

(Likes; Liking; Liked)
To have a fondness for or toward something.I like living in Washington.
54 Love

(Loves; Loving; Loved)
To care about someone or something; to have romantic or otherwise positive feelings toward someone or something.I love my family.Nowadays, people often use the words “like” and “love” interchangeably. But traditionally, “love” has a much stronger, more sincere connotation.
55 Admire

(Admires; Admiring; Admired)
To have positive feelings of respect or love for someone; to watch or look at someone/something with such feelings.I admire Mara for her courage.

Admire this painting with me.
VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
56 Care

(Cares; Caring; Cared)
To sincerely take interest in the well-being of someone or something.She really cares about Lionel.
57 Hate

(Hates; Hating; Hated)
To greatly dislike something or someone, sometimes to the point of anger or disgust.Tom hates Linda.
58 Learn

(Learns; Learning; Learned)
To gain knowledge.I want to learn how to speak another language.
59 Respect

(Respects; Respecting; Respected)
To place due value upon another person (or thing).Can’t you respect your grandparents a little more?“Respect” is also used as a noun to embody the meaning of the verb.
60 Honor

(Honors; Honoring; Honored)
To respect; to uphold a certain moral standard or expectation.You need to honor your parents’ wishes.

Can I trust you to honor this rule?
You need to honor your parents’ wishes.

Can I trust you to honor this rule?
61 Calculate

(Calculates; Calculating; Calculated)
To think something through in order to come to a conclusion or solution.The accountant called back after calculating the numbers.
62 Wonder

(Wonders; Wondering; Wondered)
To think about something, especially by asking yourself about it or going through possibilities.I wonder if they’ll give me a discount on this dress.“Wonder” is also used as a noun in two ways:

1) To embody the meaning of the verb.

2) To refer to something that is very good or fascinating.
63 Expect

(Expects; Expecting; Expected)
To believe that something will happen.I expect that you’ll arrive on time.
64 Anticipate

(Anticipates; Anticipating; Anticipated)
To foresee something.I anticipate that the store will shut down soon.
65 Remember

(Remembers; Remembering; Remembered)
To have memory of something; to recall something.I wish I could remember our first date together.
Man Remembering Something
VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
66 Confuse

(Confuses; Confusing; Confused)
To make someone unsure of something; to make a situation more difficult to understand.To make someone unsure of something; to make a situation more difficult to understand.
67 Want

(Wants; Wanting; Wanted)
To desire or long for something.I want to eat a donut for breakfast.
68 Allow

(Allows; Allowing; Allowed)
To give permission for something to happen; to have something happen under your watch.I’ll allow you to eat a donut this one time.
69 Relax

(Relaxes; Relaxing; Relaxed)
To rest without worry or stress.I want you to relax.
70 Regret

(Regrets; Regretting; Regretted)
To wish you had or had not done or said something.I regret not joining the golf team in high school.

2- Linking Verbs

Negative Verbs

Linking verbs are used specifically to link the subject (S) to a noun or adjective that renames the subject. For example, in the sentence “I feel tired,” the verb feel renames the subject “I” as “tired.” In other words, “I” = “tired.”

Linking VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional NotesIrregular?
71 Look

(Looks; Looking; Looked)
To appear to be a certain way.Do I look okay in this outfit?
72 Appear

(Appears; Appearing; Appeared)
To become evident.I appear to be losing some weight.
73 Seem

(Seems; Seeming; Seemed)
To look or appear to be a certain way.Does Harold seem tense to you?This isn’t to be confused with the noun “seam,” which has the same pronunciation. The meanings are entirely different.
74 Feel

(Feels; Feeling; Felt)
Used to describe the experience of emotion, sensation, or a hunch.I feel hopeful today.

The table feels scratchy.

I feel like the essay is too long.


Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “felt,” NOT “feeled.”
75 Smell

(Smells; Smelling; Smelled)
Used to describe the experience of an aroma.Used to describe the experience of an aroma.
76 Taste

(Tastes; Tasting; Tasted)
Used to describe the experiencing of a taste.I hope it tastes good, too.
77 Sound

(Sounds; Sounding; Sounded)
Used to describe the experience of noise; used to describe someone’s thoughts on what they heard.It sounds like a carnival in here.

It sounds like Anya plans on leaving the company soon.
78 Act

(Acts; Acting; Acted)
Used to describe the state in which a person appears to be in.He acts like he owns the place.
79 Resemble

(Resembles; Resembling; Resembled)
To appear to be like another thing in some way.To appear to be like another thing in some way.
80 Remain

(Remains; Remaining; Remained)
To continue to be a certain way or in a certain state.Can things remain the way they are?This isn’t to be confused with the noun “remains,” which refers to something that’s left over.
81 Become

(Becomes; Becoming; Became)
To change state.A caterpillar becomes a butterfly.


Note that the Past Tense of this verb is “became,” NOT “becomed.”

3- Helping Verbs

Helping verbs in English can be a bit complicated, but luckily, there aren’t very many of them. There are two types of helping verbs:

  • Modal: Modal verbs imply that something is possible, impossible, certain, or probable. Oftentimes, modal verbs imply ability, permission, a request, or an offer of some sort.
  • Auxiliary: Auxiliary verbs add additional information to a sentence.

English Modal Verbs Table

Woman Telling Someone Maybe
Modal VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
82 CanThis implies the ability of someone/something to do an action.I can walk on my hands for thirty minutes.
83 MayThis implies permission to do something, or the possibility of something happening.May I go to the store with you?

I may buy ice cream later.
84 MustThis implies that something needs to happen, usually so that something else can happen.You must get at least a 70 to pass the test.
85 WillThis implies that something is going to happen, or that someone is going to do something.I will call you back later.
86 CouldThis implies the ability of something to perform an action (or be used for that action).Could that hairpin be used as a key?
87 WouldThis implies that an action would be performed if the possibility existed.I would help you if I could.
88 ShouldThis implies whether an action or event is necessary or a good idea.Should we really eat chocolate chips after dinner?
89 ShallThis means the same thing as “will.”I shall own this kingdom one day.Note that the word “shall” tends to sound a little bit pretentious in modern speech. In general, it’s better to use the word “will,” especially in casual conversation.
90 MightThis implies that there’s a possibility that something will happen.I might have to leave a few minutes early.

English Auxiliary Verbs Table

Auxiliary VerbMeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
91 Be

(Is; Being; Was)
To exist or have a certain quality.There’s no need to be rude about it.
92 Do

(Does; Doing; Did)
To perform an action.What is he doing?
93 Have

(Has; Having; Had)
For something to be necessary or inevitable; to possess something; to experience something.He has to make his mind up sometime.

I have a PS3.

I had a hard time last week.

4- Bonus: Verb Phrases

In English, there are many verb phrases that we use to specify a more specific action. A verb phrase is usually two words that describe a single action. Here are some of the most common ones that you’re likely to hear in daily life:

Verb PhraseMeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
94 Wake upTo stop sleeping.It’s time to wake up.
95 Give upTo lose hope and stop trying.You’ve come so far; don’t give up yet.
96 Pick upTo take something in your hands; to retrieve something; to gain knowledge of something.Can you pick up your toys off the floor?

I forgot to pick up rice at the store last weekend.

I was able to pick up some job-searching advice on the retreat.
This may be the most complicated verb phrase in English, as it has three potential meanings. The more you practice English, the easier it will be to know which meaning is relevant based on the context.
97 Brighten upTo become happier or more joyful; to be the reason for someone else becoming happier.Kierra brightened up when she saw Ian.

Ian really knows how to brighten up a room.
98 Shy awayTo neglect to do something because of fear or embarrassment.I didn’t mean to shy away from that job opportunity.
99 Take awayTo take something from another person; to gain information or value from something.Do I have to take away your phone?

I took away some good information from the lecture.
100 Give awayTo give something you own to someone else; to reveal a secret.I want to give away some of my old clothes soon.

I won’t give away the ending of the book.
101 Throw awayTo put something in the trash; to figuratively do so to something good in one’s life.Don’t throw away the leftovers!

Why did you throw away that good relationship you had?
102 Waste awayTo diminish over time.I hate to see that old house just waste away.
103 Sleep inTo sleep until late in the morning (or later than one usually wakes up).I really can’t wait to sleep in on Saturday.
104 Head outTo leave, usually for a specific place.I’m going to head out now.
105 Drop offTo leave something (or someone) at a certain place or with a certain person.The school bus dropped off the girl at her bus stop.
School Bus Dropping Girl Off at Home

3. How EnglishClass101 Can Help You Master the English Language

Okay, breathe out now. Unclench your fists. Leave the room to cry for a few minutes, if you need to. It’s over now. That’s all the detail I’ll be going into in this English verbs guide.

If you made it this far, I’m impressed. Verbs may just be the most difficult, spirit-crushing part of the English sentence, and you just read all about them. 

Don’t expect to be a master overnight; students in the United States start learning this stuff early on, up until the end of high school—and they still get some of this conjugation/tense stuff wrong. Really, irregular verbs are a nightmare. 

I recommend visiting this page often, or even printing it out to have a handy verb reference with you to study. And, as with anything you want to be truly good at, you need to practice using these verbs often! Some verbs may come easier than others, but with enough time and practice, you’ll be able to use everything in this verbs list like it’s nothing! 

Know that EnglishClass101.com wants to help you out on each step of your language-learning journey. We offer constant support, effective learning tools, and a fun approach to English-learning that we think you’ll love! (Well, as much as you can love learning an often-frustrating language.)

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you feel about English verbs. Do you feel like you have a better idea of how they work, or is there something you’re still not understanding? Are there any important verbs we missed? We look forward to hearing from you!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in English

Pronouns in English: The Ultimate Pronoun List & Guide

Thumbnail

Cathy bought Ben & Jerry’s ice cream because Cathy couldn’t find Dreyer’s. 

Cathy’s name is used two times in this sentence, causing it to drone on. If I were to use a pronoun instead of her name the second time, it would sound much better:

Cathy bought Ben & Jerry’s ice cream because she couldn’t find Dreyer’s.

Three Scoops of Ice Cream

So, what is a pronoun? Here’s a pretty simple definition:

Pronouns allow you to mention the same noun in a sentence multiple times, without repeating the same word (which will begin to sound dull and redundant). 

There are several types of pronouns in English, which I’ll explain in this article with pronoun examples. These words will make your speech and writing seem more fluent and natural, so trust me when I say that taking the time to learn them well is a must! 

Before getting started with this English pronouns lesson, I suggest you take a look at this condensed Pronoun Vocabulary List, which includes cute images and pronunciation examples. 🙂 

It’s okay if you need to take a couple of breaks along the way. Take some deep breaths and know that you can do this. You’ll be glad you did.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. Personal Pronouns
  2. Demonstrative Pronouns
  3. Interrogative Pronouns
  4. Indefinite Pronouns
  5. Relative Pronouns
  6. Reciprocal Pronouns
  7. Conclusion: How EnglishClass101 Can Help You Learn More English!

1. Personal Pronouns 

Introducing Yourself

The most common type of pronoun is the personal pronoun. Underneath the umbrella of personal pronouns, there are:

  • Subject pronouns
  • Object pronouns
  • Possessive pronouns
  • Reflexive & intensive pronouns

Each of these personal pronouns serve a different function in a clause or sentence, which I’ll explain below.

1- Subject Pronouns 

A subject pronoun is the subject of a sentence. This is the pronoun that performs an action, and there are both singular and plural forms.

Note that each of the words in the following English personal pronouns list performs an action (which is italicized) in the examples. 

Clothing in a Mall
SingularPlural
I

Meaning: 
Refers to a singular person speaking.

Example Sentence: 
I spent time with my family yesterday.
We

Meaning:
Refers to a group of people that includes you.

Example Sentence:
We went to Mt. St. Helens and the mall.
You

Meaning:
Refers to an individual you’re speaking to.

Example Sentence:
You are reading this article.
You

Meaning:
Refers to a group of people whom you’re speaking to.

Example Sentence:
“You really bought this for me?” Tom asked his friends.
He

Meaning:
Refers to a specified masculine individual.

Example Sentence:
He had to go to the bank last week.
They

Meaning:
Refers to a group of people that doesn’t include you. This is a gender-neutral pronoun.

Example Sentence:
They had no idea what to do.
She

Meaning:
Refers to a specified feminine individual.

Example Sentence:
She hasn’t come home yet.
It

Meaning:
Refers to a single, gender-neutral subject, usually an object or animal.

Example Sentence:
It ran away.

You may have noticed that there are no plural forms for the pronouns “He,” “She,” or “It.” While these pronouns are masculine, feminine, and gender-neutral, respectively, they can all be grouped under the gender-neutral plural pronoun “They.”

Take for example the sentence: “They had no idea what to do.” 

We have no idea who (or what) they are, or what their gender is. This could be a group of men, a group of women, a group of both men and women, or even a group of animals. “They” can be used for a couple or a group of anything, regardless of type or gender.

It is worth noting that “they” also sees use as a gender-neutral singular pronoun — both to refer to nonspecific people (“The doctor said they didn’t know what to do”) and as a preferred pronoun for specific people. Using the pronoun “it” can sound dehumanizing, so many prefer to use “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun when referring to people. Be careful, though — while its use is quite common in casual language, academics and style guides are still divided on whether the singular “they” is acceptable in formal language.

2- Object Pronouns

Object pronouns are those on the receiving end of a verb, and are typically used after the verb in a sentence or clause. 

Notice that two of these words are identical to those from the previous section: “You” and “it.” These words do not change form, whether they’re the subject or the object.

SingularPlural
Me

Meaning:
Refers to you as the speaker. It’s the object pronoun version of “I.”

Example Sentence:
My boyfriend bought chocolate for me.

Additional Notes:
Here, “me” is the object pronoun because the chocolate was bought for this person (this person isn’t the one buying it).
Us

Meaning:
Refers to a group of people that includes you. This is the object pronoun version of “we.”

Example Sentence:
Valerie always seems to get us lost.

Additional Notes:
Here, “us” is the object pronoun because the group, including the speaker, is lost due to Valerie (they don’t get themselves lost).
You

Meaning:
Refers to an individual you’re talking to, when they receive or are affected by an action.

Example Sentence:
Your friends looked everywhere and couldn’t find you.

Additional Notes:
Here, “you” is the object pronoun because this person is being looked for (and not looking for someone).
You

Meaning:
Refers to a group of people whom you’re speaking to when they receive or are affected by an action.

Example Sentence:
We tried to wait for you all!

Additional Note:
In the above sentence, the pronoun “you” is followed by the word “all,” to show that it’s a plural “you.” But more often than not, the word “all” will be omitted, as it’ll be clear a group is being spoken to. 

Fun Fact:
In some areas of the United States, particularly the southwest, people say y’all (a contraction of “you all”) and all y’all (“all of you all”).
Him

Meaning:
Refers to a masculine individual. This is the object pronoun version of “he.”

Example Sentence:
Sylvia showed him the movie.

Additional Notes:
Here, “him” is the object pronoun because 1) the person is male, and 2) the person is being shown something (not showing someone something).
Them

Meaning:
Refers to a group of people that doesn’t include you. This is a gender-neutral pronoun, and is the object pronoun version of “they.”

Example Sentence:
Sharla decided to go with them.

Additional Notes:
Here, “them” is the object pronoun because the group has someone going with them.
Her

Meaning:
Refers to a feminine individual. This is the object pronoun version of “she.”

Example Sentence:
Tom didn’t know what to buy her.

Additional Notes:
Here, “her” is the object pronoun because 1) the person is female, 2) and she is going to be receiving something (not the one who is going to buy something).
It

Meaning:
This refers to a gender-neutral objectindividual, when it receives or is affected by an action.

Example Sentence:
Nate saw the dog and petted it.

Additional Notes:
Here, “it” is the object pronoun because 1) the noun is gender-neutral, and 2) the dog is receiving the pet (and not petting something itself).
Dog Running Near Ocean

In each of the example sentences above, the underlined word is the object pronoun, and the italicized word is the verb or action being done to it. 

3- Possessive Pronouns

Next on our English pronouns list are possessive pronouns.

Possessive pronouns are used to show who owns something or who something belongs to. Possessive pronouns are also used as adjectives. This may sound confusing, but it really isn’t too hard!

As you look at the chart below, be sure to study the structure associated with possessive pronouns vs. possessive adjectives.

As a Pronoun

noun + be verb + possessive pronoun
As an Adjective

possessive pronoun + noun
Mine

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to you, the speaker.

Example Sentence:
Victory is mine.

Additional Note:
Be sure not to confuse this with the noun “mine” (referring to a place where something is dug up) or the verb “mine” (the act of digging). It’s entirely different in meaning.
My

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to you, the speaker.

Example Sentence:
That’s my umbrella.
Ours

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to a group that includes you.

Example Sentence:
This problem is ours.
Our

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to a group that includes you.

Example Sentence:
This is our house.
Yours

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to an individual you’re talking to.

Example Sentence:
That money is yours.
Your

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to an individual you’re talking to.

Example Sentence:
Is this your laptop?
His

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to a male individual.

Example Sentence:
That book is his.
His

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to a male individual.

Example Sentence:
That’s his dog.
Hers

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to a female individual.

Example Sentence:
The toolbox is hers.
Her

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to a female individual.

Example Sentence:
I don’t like her attitude.
Theirs

Meaning:
Used when something belongs to a group of people not including you.

Example Sentence:
They said that the car is theirs.
Their

Used when something belongs to a group of people not including you.

Example Sentence:
It was their idea!

4- Reflexive & Intensive Pronouns

Both reflexive and intensive pronouns end with the suffix -self (singular) or -selves (plural). However, they are used differently. 

Before going into detail about how to use them, here’s a chart showing the singular and plural forms of each reflexive and intensive pronouns. There are three things you should note: 

1) The forms for reflexive and intensive pronouns are identical when both singular and plural.

2) Only three pronouns have a plural form, which are “Your,” “Them,” and “Our.”

3) The pronoun “Our” can technically be used in singular form, though this is considered incorrect by some.

MyYourHimHerItThemOur
SingularMyselfYourselfHimselfHerselfItselfThemselfOurself
PluralXXXYourselvesXXXXXXXXXThemselvesOurselves

So, what’s the difference between reflexive and intensive pronouns? 

The biggest difference is that reflexive pronouns can’t be removed from the sentence and are necessary for the sentence to be correct. Intensive pronouns can be removed, and the sentence will still be correct. 

Here’s a chart to better explain this (note that I omitted the singular “Ourself” as this is generally incorrect):

MyselfYourself

Yourselves
HimselfHerselfItselfThemselvesOurselves
ReflexiveI’m all by myself.You should love yourself.



You should be ashamed of yourselves!
He cares about no one but himself.She treated herself to ice cream.The table moved all by itself!They can let themselves into the house.We hate ourselves for what we did.
IntensiveI corralled the horses all by myself.Did you make that yourself?

Are you, yourselves, going to the dance?
He wanted to escort her himself.She prepared everything herself.The only thing to fear is fear itself.Did they do that themselves?We paid for the bike ourselves.

Note that each of the example sentences using reflexive pronouns would make no sense if you took away the reflexive pronouns, whereas the intensive pronoun sentences would still completely make sense even without the intensive pronouns.

2. Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are pronouns that replace the antecedent noun in a sentence. Further, a demonstrative pronoun is one that demonstrates a noun, similar to what a person does through pointing or motioning in body language, but with words. For example, you can imagine someone pointing to something while saying “those.” 

Woman Pointing to Something on Computer Screen
MeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
This

[Singular]
“This” refers to something that’s nearby, or to the exact thing that one is experiencing.I can’t stand this traffic!“This” is used here because the word it references (traffic) is singular and is being experienced at that exact moment and place.
That

[Singular]
“That” usually refers to something farther away, like something you would point at.That strawberry looks funny.“That” is used here because the word it references (strawberry) is singular and is likely being pointed to or otherwise indicated.
These

[Plural]
“These” is the plural form of “this.”These bananas look good.“These” is used here because the word it references (bananas) is plural and is likely nearby (e.g. being held or directly looked at).
Those

[Plural]
“Those” is the plural form of “that.”Look at those bananas over there.“Those” is used here because the word it references (bananas) is plural and likely farther away, being pointed to or otherwise indicated.
Here“Here” is the equivalent of “this,” but relates only to location.Here is the money I owe you.“Here” is used in this sentence because the person likely has the money in-hand, and is, at that moment, giving it to the other person.
There“There” is the equivalent of “that,” but relates only to location.You can see the bank over there.“There” is used because the bank is probably in the distance, being pointed to or indicated.

3. Interrogative Pronouns

Basic Questions

Interrogative pronouns are used when asking a question, and are probably the easiest pronouns you’ll deal with for this reason. There are four basic interrogative pronouns: “What,” “Which,” “Who,” and “Where.” Note that “Who” can also change to “Whom” or “Whose” depending on the question being asked; I’ll go more into this later. 

For now, here’s an English pronouns chart that shows these interrogative pronouns in action! 

MeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
What“What” is typically used when asking for clarification on something.What did she say?“What” is used here because the speaker wants clarification on what the woman said.
Which“Which” is typically used when asking for someone to distinguish between two or more people/things.Which dress looks better on me?“Which” is used here because the speaker wants the listener to tell her, out of all the dresses, which one looks best on her.
Who / Whom / WhoseThe “Who” words are all used when asking specifically about a person.Who is that over there?

To whom should I address the letter?

Whose backpack is this?
Where“Where” is used when asking about direction or location.Where did I park the car?“Where” is used here because the speaker is asking about the location of their car.

Now, as promised, here’s information on the difference between who, whom, and whose.

Who is used when the person being asked about is the main subject.

Whom is used when the person being asked about is the one receiving (or who will receive) an action. In the example sentence, note the article “to” before the word whom. This indicates that something will happen to or be given to the person being asked about.

Whose is used when the question is about possession. Whose backpack, whose shirt, whose vehicle, etc. This is not to be confused with the conjunction “who’s,” which means “who is.”

4. Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns are used when there’s no need to be specific. For example, if you’re talking about a group of people in your office who all play golf, you could say “everyone in my office plays golf.” Or when you need to know what time it is and don’t really care who gives you the time, you could ask “Can anyone tell me the time?”

Golf Ball Near Hole

Here’s a breakdown of how these words are created.

-one-body-where-thing
EveryEveryoneEverybodyEverywhereEverything
SomeSomeoneSomebodySomewhereSomething
NoNo oneNobodyNowhereNothing
AnyAnyoneAnybodyAnywhereAnything

Note that the prefixes are always “every-,” “some-,” “no-,” or “any-,” depending on what you’re trying to say. 

And the suffixes are always “-one,” “-body,” “-where,” or “-thing.”

In the chart below, I’ve categorized the indefinite pronouns by their suffix. 

MeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
Everyone“Everyone” refers to each person in a specified group of people.Everyone ignored the new girl at school.Each person at the school ignored the new girl.
Someone“Someone” refers to one individual in a group of people, specified or unspecified.Someone stopped to help the old lady cross the street.An individual helped an old lady.
No one“No one” means that no individual in a group of people is included. Another translation could be “not a single person.”No one is perfect.There’s not a single person who’s perfect.
Anyone“Anyone” refers to an unspecified individual in a group of people.“Is anyone here?” she asked.She wants to know if there’s a person there; she doesn’t really care who.
Everybody“Everybody” has the same meaning as “everyone.”“Could everybody please be quiet?” Stan yelled.Stan wants each person around him to be quiet.
Somebody“Somebody” has the same meaning as “someone.”Somebody knocked on the door.An unknown individual knocked on the door.
Nobody“Nobody” has the same meaning as “no one.”“Nobody move!” he said.He doesn’t want a single person to move.
Anybody“Anybody” has the same meaning as “anyone.”Does anybody have some spare change?The speaker is asking if any person has change.
Everywhere“Everywhere” refers to each place or area, none excluded.“I looked for it everywhere, and can’t find it,” Sue said.Sue has *supposedly* looked in each possible place for what she’s looking for.
Somewhere“Somewhere” refers to an individual place.“I just need to go away somewhere,” he said.He needs to go away, to an unspecified place (meaning he doesn’t really know where or doesn’t want to say).
Nowhere“Nowhere” could also be “not a single place.”“Nowhere” could also be “not a single place.”Not a single place is quiet enough for the speaker.
Anywhere“Anywhere” refers to an unspecified place.I don’t want to go anywhere right now.The speaker doesn’t care where the place is, they just don’t want to go.
Everything“Everything” refers to each one of something, or all of something.Some days, everything seems to go wrong.Some days, each possible thing will go wrong.
Something“Something” refers to an individual thing.“There’s something odd about that man,” they whispered.They think that the man is odd for some unspecified reason.
Nothing“Nothing” could also be “not a single thing.”Nothing would make me happier right now than some food.Not a single thing will make the speaker as happy as food will.
Anything“Anything” refers to an unspecified thing.“Is there anything else I can get you?” the waiter asked.The waiter doesn’t care what’s needed, but if the person he’s speaking to needs something, he’ll get it.

5. Relative Pronouns

Relative pronouns connect a relative clause to an independent clause. In other words, they relate the noun to the noun’s significance.

There are five relative pronouns: “Which,” “That,” “Who,” “Whom,” and “Whose.”

MeaningExample SentenceAdditional Notes
Which“Which” is used in nonrestrictive clauses, meaning that the noun it precedes is not limited to only that thing. Typically, it’s used to add information to that noun in terms of the rest of the clause.It was her love which set him free.Here, “which” is used because it’s explaining what her love did. It added information.
That“That” is used in restrictive clauses, meaning that the noun it indicates is specific and limited to only that thing.I see the dog that we wanted to adopt.Here, “that” is used because the person is talking about a specific dog they wanted to adopt. The speaker isn’t talking about any other dog, only this one.
Who“Who” is used when talking about a specific person as the subject of a sentence (the one who did or is doing something).That’s the woman who stole your inheritance!
Whom“Whom” is used when the person being talked about is the object of an action, or was affected by an action.Is that the man whom you dated?
Whose“Whose” is used when specifying the person who owns something.Isn’t she the one whose house caught on fire?

6. Reciprocal Pronouns

Reciprocal pronouns are used when two (or more) nouns are being replaced at once, usually when both are performing an action in terms of the other person. There are only two of these pronouns: “each other” and “one another.”

  • Each other 
    • Bob and Joe hit each other.
One Kid about to Punch Another Kid
  • One another
    • “Why can’t you get along with one another?” their mother asked.
    • Note that “you” here is used in its plural form, as the mother is talking to both of her children.

And that’s all there is to it! 

7. Conclusion: How EnglishClass101 Can Help You Learn More English!

Improve Listening

Pronouns are one of the most difficult aspects of English for those seeking to learn the language—it’s even difficult for native English-speakers! 

Once you learn the English pronouns rules, their patterns, and the similarities between different English pronouns and their uses, they will become much easier. I promise! And don’t fret if you mess up sometimes. As long as you’re aware of your errors and keep striving to be better, you’re on the right track.

Now that you’ve reached the end, reward yourself with your favorite treat or activity. You’ve more than earned it! 😉

If you found this article helpful and want to keep up with our study and learning materials, create a free EnglishClass101.com account! Read more insightful blog posts like this one, study our free English vocabulary lists on a variety of topics, and download our mobile apps that are designed to let you study anywhere on your own time! By upgrading to a Premium Plus account, you can also take advantage of our MyTeacher program, and learn English one-on-one with your own teacher and personalized plan. It’s our goal to make English-learning both fun and informative!

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you feel about English pronouns now. Did our pronoun list help you at all? It’s a lot to take in, so let us know if there’s anything you’re struggling with. We look forward to hearing from you! 

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Premium PLUS: The Golden Ticket for Language-Learning

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As an active Premium PLUS member of JapanesePod101.com and KoreanClass101.com myself, I have an enjoyable experience learning at an accelerated pace with at least thirty minutes of study daily. The following Premium PLUS features contribute to my success:

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Pronunciation is an essential ingredient in language-learning. Proper pronunciation prompts clear understanding during conversations with native speakers.

Prior to learning full Korean sentences, my online Korean language tutor assigned the “Hana Hana Hangul” pathway to me. It demonstrated the writing and pronunciation of Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Throughout this pathway, I submitted recordings of my Hangul character pronunciations to my language teacher for review.

I was given a similar task on JapanesePod101.com with the “Ultimate Japanese Pronunciation Guide” pathway. My Japanese language teacher tested my pronunciation of the Japanese characters kana. My completion of the two pathways boosted my confidence in speaking.

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The host asks the following question:

어디에 살고 있습니까?

eodieseo salgo isseumnikka

“Where do you live?”

If you live in Tokyo, you would readily say the following:

도쿄에 살고 있습니다.

Tokyo-e salgo isseumnida.

“I live in Tokyo.”

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With the SRS flashcards, you can change the settings to your liking. The settings range from different card types to number of new cards per deck. Personally, I give myself vocabulary tests by changing the settings.

After studying a number of flashcards, I change the card types to listening comprehension and/or production. Then I test myself by writing the translation of the word or the spoken word or phrase.

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Homework assignments are advantageous to my language studies. There are homework assignments auto-generated weekly. They range from multiple-choice quizzes to writing assignments.

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After two days, I visited the local bank. It all started with my opening sentence:

은행 계좌를 만들고 싶어요

eunhaeng gyejwaleul mandeulgo sip-eoyo.

I want to open a bank account.

Everything went smoothly, and I exited the bank with a new account!

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Your Guide to Basic English Sentence Structures & Word Order

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Word order and sentence structure are essential for any language-learner. They can determine the meaning of a sentence, help you emphasize certain aspects of the sentence, and allow your speech and writing to sound more natural. 

In this article, I’ll guide you through the following two topics:

  • Correct sentence structure in English
  • English word order rules

I’ll also provide you with several English word order examples along the way, so you can see how it all works together. 

Once you understand the most basic English sentence structures, you’ll be a much more effective communicator. Before we continue, you may find it helpful to take a look at our English grammar page and familiarize yourself with some of the topics I’ll cover. 

Let’s get started!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in English Table of Contents
  1. Overview of Word Order in English
  2. Basic Sentence Structure Rules
  3. Let’s Add Prepositional Phrases
  4. And Now Modifiers
  5. Sentence Transformations!
  6. Final Thoughts

1. Overview of Word Order in English

Woman Cuddling Cat

What is the order of an English sentence?

Overall, the sentence structures in English are very flexible. Which structure you use depends on context and personal preference, although Subject + Verb + Object (SVO) is the most common structure. For example:

I pet the cat.

It’s also possible to form very simple sentences with only the subject and verb as long as they form a complete thought (SV):

He ran.

That said, there are four types of sentence structures that are commonly used in English.

1- The Four Types of Sentence Structures

Before we go any further, you need to know the difference between dependent and independent clauses. 

1. Dependent vs. Independent

Dependent: 

A dependent clause is one that requires an independent clause to be a complete sentence. Dependent clauses do not contain enough information (a subject, verb, and complete idea) to be a sentence. An example would be the clause “Since Kaitlyn didn’t come.” 

This clause leaves the listener wanting more information. What was the result of Kaitlyn not coming? 

Independent:

An independent clause is one that can be used by itself and contains all the information it needs to be complete. An example would be the clause “I felt lonely.” 

Although we don’t have tons of information available to us, the above clause represents a complete idea. It has a subject (I), a verb (felt), and a word that adds necessary information to the verb (lonely).

Putting Them Together:

Sitting Alone in Cold Weather

Remember how I said that a dependent clause needs an independent clause to be complete? Check this out:

“Since Kaitlyn didn’t come, I felt lonely.”

Now we have an answer to what was previously a dependent clause. And now we have even added more information to the already-completed independent clause. It’s a win-win! 

2. What are Four Types of Sentence Structures?

There are four basic English sentence structure types (simple, compound, complex, compound-complex). We’ve outlined them below.

DefinitionExamples
SimpleRequires a subject and a verb

Consists of one independent clause.

Sometimes it has an object as well.
I worked.” OR “I worked on the book.”

He proposed. OR “He proposed to her.”

She smiled.” OR “She smiled at him.”
CompoundConsists of two (or more) independent clauses.

The independent clauses are usually connected by a linking word or phrase (as shown in these examples), a semicolon, or a colon.
I worked, and then I made dinner.”

He proposed, and she said yes.”

She smiled and (she) took his hand.”
ComplexConsists of one independent clause and one dependent clause.I worked, even though I was tired.

Though nervous, he proposed.

Because she smiled, he was happy.
Compound-ComplexConsists of two independent clauses and one dependent clause.I worked, even though I was tired, and then I made dinner.

Though nervous, he proposed, and she said yes.

Because she smiled, he was happy; then she took his hand.

This is just an overview. In the following sections, I’ll go into more detail about how these sentence transformations work, starting with the basics of word order in English.

2. Basic Sentence Structure Rules

Woman Writing on Couch

As mentioned earlier, in English, you only need two words to create a whole sentence: The subject (S) and the verb (V). This is the SV sentence structure.

Sarah writes.

You can add more information to this simple sentence by adding an object (O) to the end. This becomes the SVO sentence structure.

Sarah writes poetry.

The SV and SVO sentence structures are the most common structures in the United States. The only real exception is when people are giving a command or asking a question. In this case, they may be able to get away with using one word or an incomplete thought:

  • “Peter!” (S)
  • “Stop!” (V)
  • “The book!” (O)
  • “Why?” (Question)

In the cases above, the context will help you determine the meaning. 

In all other situations, it’s most proper to use the SV or SVO structure (unless you want to talk like Yoda with OSV).

3. Let’s Add Prepositional Phrases

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1- The Basics

What happens to a sentence when you add a prepositional phrase? What does that look like?

A prepositional phrase adds information to simple sentences. Often, it answers the questions of where, when, how, and why something happened. 

Here are four examples of prepositional phrases:

  • In the park (Where)

“Sarah writes poetry in the park.”

  • At night (When)

“Sarah writes poetry at night.”

  • By herself (How)

“Sarah writes poetry by herself.”

  • Because it’s fun (Why)

“Sarah writes poetry because it’s fun.”

2- Position in a Sentence

Moonlit Field

In the above examples, the prepositional phrases are at the end of the sentence. But, a prepositional phrase can also come at the beginning of a sentence, although this is less common. The order you choose depends on what you want to emphasize in your sentence.

For example, if you want to emphasize what time Sarah writes poetry, you could say: 

At night, Sarah writes poetry.

This indicates when Sarah chooses to write. It also suggests that when she writes is more important than the fact that she writes poetry in general.

3- What to do with Multiple Prepositions

What if you wanted to tell someone all the information above in one sentence? Well, here are a few different ways:

  • Sarah writes poetry in the park by herself at night because it’s fun.
  • In the park, Sarah writes poetry at night by herself because it’s fun.
  • At night, Sarah writes poetry in the park by herself because it’s fun.
  • “Sarah writes poetry by herself in the park at night because it’s fun.
  • At night, in the park by herself, Sarah writes poetry because it’s fun.

Note that, usually, the why prepositional phrase comes at the end of the sentence. It tends to sound better there, and people are still able to emphasize it when it’s at the end through tone of voice. 

As you can see, the word order in English sentences for prepositional phrases is flexible. In general, you can choose the order that makes the most sense to you. 

And don’t worry too much. In most cases, people don’t use sentences this long in conversations! Instead, you’re more likely to hear a simple: “Sarah writes poetry in the park at night.

4. And Now Modifiers

A modifier is a word that modifies (adds info or meaning to) another word, usually a noun or verb. Below is an English word order chart describing each type of modifier with examples.

DefinitionExamplesUsagePlacement
AdjectivesWords that describe a noun.Hot


Easy
1. “It was a hot day.” 


2. “The test was easy.”
1. Before the noun it describes.

2. After the noun it describes, with a “be” verb in between.
AdverbsWords that describe a verb.Quickly


Carefully



Hopefully



Currently
1. “Quickly, I ran.”


2. “She put the knife down carefully.”

3. “The cat followed hopefully after its owner.”

4. “I currently don’t own a cat.”
1. Beginning of a sentence.

2. End of a sentence.

3. After the verb it describes.


4. After the subject performing the verb.
DeterminersWords that indicate which of something you’re talking about.This


That


These


Those
1. “This is good.”


2. “He didn’t know that.”

3. “These cookies are delicious.”

4. “Aren’t those strange?”
1. Beginning of a sentence.

2. End of a sentence.

3. Before a noun.


4. After a verb and before an adjective.
NumeralsNumbers that describe how many.One


Two


Three
1. “One more, please.”

2. “Can I have two?”


3. “I want three donuts.”
1. Beginning of a sentence.

2. End of a sentence.

3. After a verb.
PossessorsWords that indicate who possesses something.His



Her
1. “That book is his.”


2. “Where’s her backpack?”
1. End of a sentence.

2. Before a noun, usually an object.
Relative ClausesA series of words that add information to a sentence.That I ordered



That he saw



Of the color



That she wore
1. “That I ordered a bicycle is strange.”


2. “Where’s the squirrel that he saw?”

3. “The flower was of the color red.”


4. “The dress that she wore was very pretty.”
1. Beginning of a sentence. [uncommon]

2. End of a sentence.


3. After a be verb and before an adjective.

4. After a noun, usually an object.

Confused about how a relative clause differs from a prepositional phrase? You can find more information on this page.

1- Using Multiple Modifiers

What happens if you need to use more than one modifier in a sentence? 

Key: Adjective, Adverb, Possessor, Relative Clause.

I quickly sat on the green grass and dropped my book beside me.

I dropped my book beside me and quickly sat on the green grass.

The two sentences above use all the same words, but the two clauses are in a different order. Yet, note that the order of the modifiers within those clauses remains the same, even though the order of what happens in the sentence differs. 

  • The adjective is before the noun it describes (green grass).
  • The adverb is before the verb it describes (quickly sat).
  • The possessor is before the object that’s owned (my book).
  • The relative clause explains where the book was dropped (beside me).

Note that for the adverb, one could also say “sat quickly,” and it would be correct.

5. Sentence Transformations! 

Okay. So how do you use this information to create longer, more specific sentences? 

Because the English language is flexible with its word order, there are no solid rules for how to do this. The word order of modifiers and prepositional phrases often depends on the context. 

Below are a couple of English word order exercises to show you how this works. 

Minestrone Soup

1) Let’s take a look at this simple S + V sentence, and go from there.

Carol ate.

2) Add an object to create an SVO sentence. This will let the reader know what Carol ate.

Carol ate soup.

3) Now, how much soup did Carol eat?

Carol ate three bowls of soup.

4) When did Carol eat the soup?

Carol ate three bowls of soup yesterday.

5) What kind of soup did Carol eat?

Carol ate three bowls of minestrone soup yesterday.

Keep in mind that this is only one example of how you can transform a sentence. For example, you could also say, “Yesterday, Carol ate three bowls of minestrone soup.” And it would mean the same thing.

Now let’s look at another example:

1) Wendy played.

2) Wendy played chess.

3) Wendy played two games of chess.

4) Wendy played two games of chess last night.

5) Wendy played two difficult games of chess last night

Here, we did exactly the same thing, except in the final step when we added the modifier “difficult.” Instead of saying “the chess” was difficult, we said that the games of chess were difficult, which sounds more natural in English. 

1- Bonus: Making it a Yes-or-No Question

You’ve learned about simple and complex sentences, but what about English word order in questions? 

There are two main ways that you can turn sentences into simple questions. 

Option 1

1) Add the appropriate verb to the very beginning of the sentence. 

2) Conjugate the verb accordingly.

3) Put a question mark at the very end of the sentence.

Here’s how this would look using our example sentences:

Did Carol eat three bowls of minestrone soup yesterday?

Did Wendy play two difficult games of chess last night?

You may be wondering why the verbs are in the present tense in the questions, instead of the past tense. Although the events took place in the past (yesterday and last night), when asking a question about past events, the verbs should be in the present tense. 

For a more detailed explanation of how to conjugate verbs, make sure to visit my article on English verb conjugation! 

Option 2

1) Simply put a question mark at the end of the original sentence.

Carol ate three bowls of minestrone soup yesterday?

Wendy played two difficult games of chess last night?

This option is a little less formal than the first option. It’s typically used when you’re astonished or amazed at something. In the first example, you may emphasize “three bowls” because that’s a lot of soup

6. Final Thoughts

Girl Stressed about Studying

Because there are so many ways you can compose sentences in English, you may feel overwhelmed. Even though flexibility can be handy, it can take a long time to get used to English sentence structures. 

The word orders I outlined in this article are the most commonly used ones and are what you should focus on when you start learning English. Review the examples as many times, and as often, as you need to. The more you expose yourself to these sentence structures, the more familiar you’ll become with them. 

In the meantime, don’t be afraid to practice! You may want to start by writing or typing out simple sentences, and then expanding them step-by-step as I did above. And once you’re comfortable with the process, try using longer sentences in conversations with friends or family! 

For more English language content from EnglishClass101.com, check out the following pages:

  • Top 100 English Nouns
  • Top 100 English Adjectives
  • Top 100 English Verbs
  • Top 100 English Adverbs
  • Pronouns in English

Is there anything you’re still struggling with, or any topic we haven’t covered yet? Feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns in the comments section, and we’ll do our best to help you out! 

Happy learning!

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The Ultimate Guide to Telling Time in U.S. English

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Wherever you find yourself in the world, much of your life will be governed by time: What time you wake up, when you need to leave for work, how long your lunch break is, what time the museum opens, making sure you arrive on time for your date. In short, unless you plan on moving to this Norwegian town, you really do need to know how to tell time. 😉

Telling time and making appointments may be easy in your own language and country, but what about when you visit or relocate to the United States? The United States tends to do things differently than the rest of the world, probably just because we can…and in some ways, this applies to telling time.

The good news is that as long as you know your numbers and some basic time-related vocabulary, learning to tell the time in English shouldn’t be too difficult.
Learning to tell the time in English is an invaluable step in your language-learning journey, and something you’ll never regret taking the time to figure out.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in English Table of Contents
  1. How Do You Ask the Time in English?
  2. Talking About Hours
  3. Talking About Minutes
  4. Hours Divided into Minutes
  5. How to Describe Time in English with General Time References
  6. Time Adverbs
  7. Proverbs About Time in English
  8. Conclusion: How EnglishClass101 Can Help You Master English

1. How Do You Ask the Time in English?

Time

Before you learn about telling time, you should know how to ask for it. When first arriving in an English-speaking country, you’ll definitely be asking the time more than giving it! Here are some of the most common ways to ask someone what time it is.

  • Excuse me, what time is it?
  • Do you have the time, please?
  • Do you happen to have the time?
  • Can you please tell me what time it is?
  • Excuse me, please tell me the time.
  • What time should I arrive?
  • What time is the ___ [meeting, movie, etc.]?

Notice how the first five questions use polite phrases such as “excuse me,” and “please.” While it’s not always necessary to include these polite phrases (especially if you’re in a hurry and need the time right away!), people always appreciate you taking the time to be courteous. 🙂

Now that you’re familiar with asking about time in English, how do you say the time in English?

2. Talking About Hours

When telling time in American English, the majority of people go by the twelve-hour clock, though some are familiar with the twenty-four-hour clock (also called the Military Clock) as well. In this article, I’ll only be covering the twelve-hour format as this is the most widely used time format in the United States, and will help you learn how to tell time in English more than going over the 24-hour clock.

7 o’clock on Alarm Clock

1- Twelve-Hour Clock Time 

Before looking at the chart below, please note that in the United States, we sometimes add “o’clock” to the end of a time. This is considered a more formal and proper way of telling time, but more often than not, people drop the word “o’clock” and just say the number. In the chart, I wrote the example sentences both ways so that you can hear the difference yourself.

TimeUsage in a Sentence
1 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]The softball game starts at 1 o’clock.

OR

The softball game starts at 1.
2 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]Let’s meet at 2 o’clock.

OR

Let’s meet at 2.
3 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]The cafe closes at 3 o’clock.

OR

The cafe closes at 3.
4 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]Gerta left home at 4 o’clock.

OR

Gerta left home at 4.
5 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]It’s 5 o’clock.

OR

It’s 5.
6 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]Dinner will be ready at 6 o’clock.

OR

Dinner will be ready at 6.
7 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]We should leave at 7 o’clock.

OR

We should leave at 7.
8 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]She ate breakfast at 8 o’clock.

OR

She ate breakfast at 8.
9 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]At 9 o’clock, the telephone rang.

OR

At 9, the telephone rang.
10 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]10 o’clock just came and went.

In this example, using only “10” would sound a bit odd, so adding “o’clock” is the best way to say this sentence.
11 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]Rita was already hungry at 11 o’clock.

OR

Rita was already hungry at 11.
12 o’clock [a.m. / p.m.]Let’s get ice cream at 12 o’clock.

OR

Let’s get ice cream at 12.

A.m. vs. P.m.

Because we use the twelve-hour clock format, it’s important that we have a way to know which set of twelve hours we’re talking about. (Otherwise, we would all be heading to meetings and dates twelve hours late or early!)

In the U.S., we do this by using “a.m.” (short for the Latin phrase ante meridiem, referring to any time before midday / noon) and “p.m.” (short for the Latin phrase post meridiem, referring to any time after midday / noon). These initials are put directly after the time whenever clarification is needed (so that you go get ice cream at midday and not midnight, unless that’s your thing). Here are some examples:

  • 2 o’clock p.m. (afternoon)
  • 7 o’clock a.m. (morning)
  • 6 o’clock p.m. (evening)
  • 9 o’clock a.m. (morning)

Keep in mind that 12 o’clock a.m. is midnight, and 12 o’clock p.m. is midday—these are the most commonly confused times for those just learning this time format. 

This may sound confusing and unnecessarily difficult if you aren’t used to telling the time this way, but once you get the hang of it, it isn’t so bad. 😉

3. Talking About Minutes

A Clock Showing Hours and Minutes

An hour is made up of sixty “minutes,” and in the U.S., we give the exact time by saying the hour and then the minutes. Minutes, here, refer to how many minutes after the hour it is. In writing, this is written with the number of the hour followed by a colon, and then the number of minutes after the colon: [Hour]: [Minutes After].

For example, this may look like:

  • 1:34 (thirty-four minutes after one o’clock)
    • It’s 1:34 a.m., what are you doing up?
  • 3:16 (sixteen minutes after three o’clock)
    • At 3:16 p.m., she finally left the hospital.
  • 8:59 (fifty-nine minutes after eight o’clock, or one minute before 9 o’clock)
    • It was 8:59 a.m. when she looked at the clock.

4. Hours Divided into Minutes

Improve Listening

There are three common terms that we use to divide the hours into minutes in a simpler fashion: “quarter,” “third,” and “half.” This makes it much easier to quickly give someone the approximate time.

1- Quarter

In regards to time, people use the word “quarter” to represent 15 minutes (which is 1/4 of an hour, just as a quarter in U.S. money is 1/4 of a dollar). We use the phrase “quarter past” to say “fifteen minutes after” and “quarter to” to say “fifteen minutes until [or before].”

Here are some examples of this, with the time each one represents in parentheses:

  • Quarter past 5 (5:15)
    • Be ready for dinner at a quarter past 5.
  • Quarter past 9 (9:15)
    • The bus arrived at a quarter past 9.
  • Quarter to 4 (3:45)
    • She left work at a quarter to 4.
  • Quarter to 7 (6:45)
    • It was a quarter to 7, and Steve still hadn’t shown up.

2- Third

“Third” is not a common term used for time in the United States, but in case you do hear it used, it refers to 20 minutes (because 20 is 1/3 of 60). So “a third past” refers to twenty minutes after the hour, and “a third to” refers to twenty minutes before the hour.

  • A third past 1 (1:20)
    • Be there a third past 1.
  • A third past 5 (5:20)
    • They finished dinner at a third past 5.
  • A third to 9 (8:40)
    • She left the house at a third to 9.
  • A third to 12 (11:40)
    • At a third to 12, she stopped for lunch.
large Club Sandwich

Honestly, you don’t need to worry too much about this one, as it’s rarely used and doesn’t sound as natural as “quarter” and “half” in conversation.

3- Half

“Half” is a very common phrase you’ll hear when people talk about time in English. “Half” refers to 30 minutes, as that’s half an hour (“half an hour” or “half-hour” are phrases you’ll also hear often, simply meaning 30 minutes). As with the word “quarter,” people use the phrases “half past” and “half an hour to” to describe 30 minutes after or until an hour, respectively.

  • Half past 3 (3:30)
    • Meet me at half past 3.
  • Half past 7 (7:30)
    • Bill woke up at half past 7.
  • Half an hour to 6 (5:30)
    • Quinton showed up half an hour to 6.
  • Half an hour to 10 (9:30)
    • Sue took her shower at half an hour to 10.

This is probably the easiest term to remember, as the time will always have a “thirty” in it. But be careful to always pay attention to the words “past” or “to.” Mixing these up can result in disaster!

5. How to Describe Time in English with General Time References

Knowing exact numeric times is important, but it’ll only get you so far. People in the United States often tell the time using general references, seeing as this is much faster and simpler when an exact time isn’t needed. Here’s a quick chart of the most commonly used references with their meanings and example sentences. 

Beautiful Morning
MeaningUsage in a Sentence
Early Morning“Early morning” refers to the very first hours of the day, and there is no specific time frame that this represents. However, “early morning” typically refers to anywhere from 3am to 9am, depending on who you ask.Susan eats breakfast in the early morning after she wakes up.
Sunrise / Dawn“Sunrise” and “Dawn” refer to the same time of day, which is whenever the sun happens to begin rising above the horizon. When “sunrise / dawn” occurs varies over the course of a year, occurring earlier in summer and later in winter.The birds started singing at sunrise.

Alex woke up right at dawn.
Noon / Midday“Noon” and “Midday” refer to the same time of day, which is 12:00pm, or the very middle of a twenty-four-hour day. This is often around the time people have their lunch.“Can we talk again at noon?” Tom asked her.

Lillian always ate lunch around midday.
Early Afternoon“Early afternoon” refers to approximately two to four hours after noon (from noon to about 2pm or as late as 4pm).Vance enjoys walking in the early afternoon.
Late Afternoon“Late afternoon” refers to approximately four to seven hours after noon (from about 4pm to 7pm).They enjoyed a nice barbeque meal in the late afternoon.
Evening“Evening” is just before sunset or nightfall. This usually refers to the time period from 7pm to 8pm, though this can vary over the course of a year, with evening being earlier in winter months and later in summer months.She stayed out late that evening with her friends.
Sunset / Dusk“Sunset” and “Dusk” refer to the same time of day, which is when the sun begins to set below the horizon. This is before nightfall, but no longer considered daytime.Wendy and Rick watched the beautiful sunset together.


At dusk the sky sometimes turns purple.
Night“Night” refers to after the sun has set, and it’s dark outside. Depending on who you ask, it usually refers to any time after 8pm until sunrise the next day.Kyle didn’t get any sleep yesterday night.
Midnight“Midnight” refers to 12:00am, or the very middle of the night.Ira woke up at midnight feeling very hungry.
Moon through Clouds at Midnight

6. Time Adverbs

Adverbs are not the most fun thing to study, but in telling time, they are essential. With the adverbs I cover in this section, you can learn to tell time in a more general, easy-going way, and in a way that everyone will understand. But instead of telling the time, these adverbs describe the time.

1- Adverbs that Talk About the Present

These time adverbs all talk about something that is happening in the present time.

Usage in a SentenceAdditional Information
Right now“Come over here, right now!” his mother said.
CurrentlyI’m currently drinking a cup of coffee.
At the momentAt the moment, Olive doesn’t know what to do.
MeanwhileMeanwhile, the tow truck took Al’s car away.Note that “meanwhile” is different from the other words. Instead of simply talking about the present, it describes when something happens in the present, in relation to another action.

For example, suppose Al went to a restaurant to eat but parked somewhere he shouldn’t have. 

The sentence would read: “Al enjoyed a burger at the restaurant. Meanwhile, the tow truck took Al’s car away.”
At the same timeThey both started laughing at the same time.“At the same time” means roughly the same thing as “meanwhile,” but it’s used a little bit differently. It normally refers to two actions or events that occur simultaneously.

2- Adverbs that Place the Time

These time adverbs work to answer the questions: “When?” or “How long?” in terms of the current time.

Man Giving Speech
MeaningUsage in a SentenceAdditional Notes
Before“Before” means previous to or prior to.“Before I get started, I have a question,” the motivational speaker said.This sentence indicates that the speaker will get started, but not until he’s asked a question.
After“After” means later or at the end of something else. It’s the opposite of “before.”After a long day, Sara spent the evening watching TV.This sentence suggests that a long day has passed, and once it was over, Sara watched TV.
Soon“Soon” means in the near future.Henry was leaving for college soon.This sentence suggests that Henry will leave for college not long from now. This could be hours or even a couple of months, as “soon” is a very vague and subjective term, and often depends on context.
Almost“Almost” is similar to “soon,” and means nearly.“It’s almost time!” he said excitedly.The man in this sentence is excited because something he is looking forward to is happening soon.
In a little while“In a little while” means that something will happen after a certain period of time, but it won’t be long.I’ll be going to the store in a little while.This is another vague term. In this sentence, the speaker is going to the store after an unspecified period of time has passed. In the case of something like going to the store, it probably refers to minutes or hours.
Not long after“Not long after” is similar to “in a little while,” but gives a more specific idea of what will happen (or has happened) at the time being talked about.Not long after watching a horror movie, Val thought she heard noises.In this sentence, the thing that happened is Val watching a horror movie. Soon after, she thought she heard noises.
Later“Later” is similar to “after,” but is a more general reference to a future time.“Do you want to go out for dinner later?” Joe asked.In this sentence, Joe hasn’t specified what time he wants to have dinner. But based on the context, it probably means a few hours from the current time, and a more specific time will be set up if the answer is yes.
For a long time“For a long time” can essentially mean different things, but refers to much time passing or having passed.“I haven’t been this depressed for a long time,” said Jane. 

OR

“You were at the store for a long time,” said Uriel.
The first sentence suggests that Jane used to be that depressed but much time has passed since then.


In the second sentence, Uriel is telling someone that they took a long time at the store.
Anytime“Anytime” is a word that’s  used when one isn’t picky or specific about a time. It means that any time is okay, or that something can happen at any time.“You can stop by anytime,” said Liz.In this sentence, Liz is okay with the person she’s talking to visiting her at any time.
As soon as possible“As soon as possible” (often abbreviated to “ASAP”) means that something should happen at the earliest possible convenience.“Come to the front office as soon as possible,” the announcement said.In this sentence, the announcement wants someone to come to the office quickly, whenever they’re first able to.
In the near future“In the near future” is a more formal, long-winded way of saying “soon.” It’s often used when talking about larger projects or events.The sign read: “We hope to have this park reopened in the near future.”In this sentence, the sign indicates the park will hopefully be open again soon.

7. Proverbs About Time in English

In the United States, there are several proverbs and sayings related to time. In this section, I’ll only go over the most common idioms related to time in English, but these should give you a pretty good foundation.

  • Time is money.
    • When someone says “time is money,” they’re referring to the fact that the more time you work, the more money you’ll make. Working hard means more money.
  • Time flies.
    • When someone says “time flies,” they mean that time tends to go by quickly. A variation of this phrase is “time flies when you’re having fun,” which means that time goes faster when you’re enjoying how you spend it.
  • Time is of the essence.
    • This phrase means that time is the most important thing in a situation. People often say this when they need something done quickly.
  • An inch of gold will not buy an inch of time. 
    • This phrase means that time is of greater value than gold or money. No matter how much money you have, you can never get back your time, so it’s important to use your time wisely and not be too focused on using it for work. A variation of this phrase is “time is more precious than gold.”
  • Time heals all wounds. 
    • This phrase means that when someone’s been hurt (either physically or emotionally), it will get better with time. A variation of this phrase is “time heals most wounds,” which suggests that some wounds never heal at all, or require more than time to heal.
Depressed Woman Looking Out Window
  • You can’t stop time.
    • When someone says that you can’t stop time, it means that time always continues and there’s no way of getting around it.
  • Ahead of one’s time. 
    • If someone is “ahead of their time,” it means that they’re a forward-thinking individual, and wise.
  • Behind the times. 
    • On the other hand, if someone is “behind the times,” it means that they’re still living in the past, or not adapted to life’s changes as time goes on. This is often used in a negative sense.
  • Time of your life.
    • If someone has the “time of their life,” it means they’re having a lot of fun or that a lot of good things are happening to them. This phrase suggests that it’s the best time of their life.
  • Live on borrowed time. 
    • The phrase “live on borrowed time” means that everyone “lives on borrowed time,” in that we should consider our time precious because it doesn’t really belong to us, but was rather given to us. (You wouldn’t spend borrowed money on silly things, or be reckless with a borrowed object, would you?)
  • At the eleventh hour. 
    • “At the eleventh hour,” refers to the latest time at which something can or will happen. A similar phrase is “at the last minute.”
  • Beat the clock. 
    • When someone “beats the clock” it means that they’ve done something just in time, before it was too late.
  • Around the clock. 
    • If someone does something “around the clock” it means that they never stop, and are always doing it.
  • 24/7.
    • “24/7” means about the same thing as “around the clock.” If someone does something 24/7, they’re always doing it. “24/7” is short for “twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.”
  • It’s about time. 
    • Someone usually says “it’s about time” when they’ve been waiting for something to happen and it finally does. It’s usually said in a joking or impatient manner.

8. Conclusion: How EnglishClass101 Can Help You Master English

Basic Questions

So, reader, do you understand how to tell time in English better now? Is there anything about telling time you’re still struggling with or don’t understand? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll be glad to help! 

This article covered a lot of information about telling time in U.S. English, and it’s expected that you’ll need to go over some of this information again to fully process it. You’re a trooper for making it this far, and I hope you feel a little more comfortable telling the time now! 

Keep in mind that when learning about telling time in English, practice is key. Practice as much as you can, and you won’t regret it. 

As you continue to learn to tell time, you may also find it handy to check out my article on dates in U.S. English—you’ll be using time and dates together quite often, after all! 

EnglishClass101.com has many more learning tools for you, including insightful blog posts on an array of topics and free English vocabulary lists for you to study. For a more personalized, one-on-one approach to learning English, you can also upgrade to Premium Plus to take advantage of our MyTeacher program

English is one of the most difficult languages to learn, so the fact that you’ve come this far shows your determination and ability. Know that you can master English, and EnglishClass101 will be with you at each step of your journey!

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Learn Directions in English: North, South, East, West & More



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Knowing how to get from point A to B, especially in a new environment, is paramount. Having things to do and places to go in a new location is meaningless if you have no idea how to get there. Asking for directions (and giving them) in their own language is one of the most important skills a person can have—making it even more vital when visiting a country that speaks a different language.

Learn how to ask and give directions in English with EnglishClass101’s complete guide to directions in English!

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Table of Contents
  1. Cardinal Directions in English: Using North, South, East & West
  2. Giving Road Directions in English
  3. Describing Directions in English with Landmarks
  4. Must-know Phrases for Asking Directions
  5. Must-know Phrases for Giving Directions
  6. Putting it All Together!
  7. Conclusion

1. Cardinal Directions in English: Using North, South, East & West

Directions

1- Basic Directions

As you may know, there are four basic directions on a compass or map:
  • North: On a traditional map orientation, North is up.
  • South: On a traditional map orientation, South is down.
  • East: On a traditional map orientation, East is to the right.
  • West: On a traditional map orientation, West is to the left.
Note that these basic directions can be used as nouns, adverbs, or adjectives. As a noun, the directions are preceded by an article, as in “she visited the north.” As an adverb, the directions are used to describe the direction in which something happened (or will happen), as in “the plane flew east.” As an adjective, the directions are used to describe a place in terms of its direction, as in “South America.” I’ll go more into directions as adjectives a little later.

2- Combinations

There are also terms for the directions between the four compass directions in English that you should be aware of:
  • Northwest: This refers to the direction between North and West.
  • Northeast: This refers to the direction between North and East.
  • Southwest: This refers to the direction between South and West.
  • Southeast: This refers to the direction between South and East.

3- Talking About Directions on a Map


Women Holding a Map

There are a few basic sentence patterns you should know when learning about English directions:

  • ___ [place] is ___ [direction word] of ___ [another place].
    • [Oregon] is [south] of [Washington].

  • ___ [town/city] is in the ___ [direction word] part of ___ [country].
    • [San Diego] is in the [western] part of [the United States].

  • ___ [country] is to the ___ [direction word] of ___ [another country].
    • [The United States] is to the [south] of [Canada].

  • ___ [specific place] is to the ___ [direction word] of ___ [another place].
    • The [San Diego Zoo] is to the [north] of [San Diego].
    • Note here that you can also say: “The [San Diego Zoo] is in [northern] [San Diego].”


You may have noticed in a couple of examples that the direction word ended with “-ern.” This suffix is added to a direction word when it’s used as an adjective to describe a nonspecific area. For instance, in the second example, “western” is used to describe San Diego’s general direction within the U.S, not a specific area or direction.

Other examples include:

  • Northern hemisphere
  • Eastern heritage
  • Southwestern food

2. Giving Road Directions in English


Woman Looking in the Rear-view Mirror

Now that you understand the basic map directions, it’s time to learn how to ask and give directions in English. More specifically, how to do so on the road.

It’s unlikely that you’ll use north, south, east, and west when trying to find a specific place. For example, when you’re roaming the streets of Seattle, Washington looking for the Fremont Troll, these basic directions just won’t cut it.

1- Basic Opposites


When learning about directions in the English language, there are some common words you’ll often hear and use when looking around for different places. Here, I’ve paired opposites and their definitions so you can grasp the meaning of each. These are useful for giving street directions in English, in particular.

1. Front & Back


“Front” refers to being towards the face of something; “back” is the opposite, or being towards the opposite side of that thing. Here are some basic examples of how you may hear these words used in directions:

  • The bookstore is to the front of the park.
  • The police station is to the back of the park.

2. Left & Right


Left and Right Arrows

“Left” refers to the left-hand side, while “right” refers to the right-hand side.

  • You’ll find the hotel on the left.
  • Turn right at the stop sign.

3. Far & Close


“Far” means that something is a long distance away from where you are now. “Close” means that something is nearby.


4. In front of & Behind


If something is “in front of” something, it means that it’s to its face. If something is “behind” something, it’s to its back.

  • The library is in front of the grocery store.
  • The grocery store is behind the library.

5. Up & Down


“Up” can either refer to the direction of the sky, or to an increase in elevation. “Down” can either refer to the direction of the ground, or to a decrease in elevation.

  • I like looking up at the sky. [Direction of the sky]
  • Take the elevator up to the third floor. [Increase in elevation]
  • Don’t look down! [Direction of the ground]
  • The ball slid down the ramp. [Decrease in elevation]

6. Over & Under


“Over” refers to crossing on top of something, and “under” refers to crossing beneath something.


7. Across from & Next to


If something is “across from” something, it means that it’s directly facing it from a distance (usually with something in-between them, like a road or a lake). If something is “next to” something, it’s beside it.

  • Barbara’s house is across from Sara’s.
  • Jill sat next to Bill in class.

2- With References


Here are some common phrase patterns you’ll hear when being given directions. Many of these phrases contain words from the list above. If you want even more examples, you can check out our relevant vocabulary list.

1. Next to ___


If something is “next to” something else, it’s adjacent to it (directly beside it).

  • The hair salon is next to the game shop.
  • You’ll find the museum next to the park.

2. ___ away from


This phrase refers to something’s distance from another position, either in terms of measurable distance or time.

  • The Grand Canyon is about one-hundred and thirty-five miles away from the Horseshoe Bend.
  • The pizzeria is about five minutes away from the apartment.

Grand Canyon

3. Across the street from ____


When someone uses this phrase, it means that the location you’re looking for is separated by a street from something else.

  • Across the street from the apartments, you’ll find the ice cream shop.
  • The ranch is across the street from the high school.

4. By the intersection


An “intersection” is a place where the roads join, usually from four different directions, and traffic from each road must wait to make a turn or continue forward. This phrase indicates that the location you’re looking for is near an intersection.

  • The church is by the intersection.
  • The farmer’s market is located by the intersection.

5. Around the corner


“Around the corner” refers to turning left or right around the corner.


6. Up/down the road


Oftentimes, people will tell you to go up or down the road. Going “up” the road usually means going in the direction that it’s most elevated (e.g, slightly uphill), and going “down” the road usually means going in the opposite direction.

People often use hand gestures to show you which way you should go, especially when you’re not sure.

  • The next gas station is just up the road.
  • Go back down the road a few miles to find the rest stop.

7. Near the ___


This phrase means that the place you’re looking for isn’t far from the place mentioned.

  • The Bronx Museum of the Arts is near the Yankee Stadium.
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral is near the Rockefeller Center in New York.

8. To the right/left of ___


This is a common phrase to use with landmarks (which I’ll discuss more below). It means that you should turn right or left at a specific place or within proximity of a certain object. It can also be used to show you where to look, as in the examples below.

  • There’s a sign to the right of the road.
  • If you look to the left of the mountain, you can see an airplane.

9. Close to the ___


This phrase is practically the same in meaning as “near the ___” and is used exactly the same way.

  • The fire station is close to the main road.
  • Stay close to the freeway exits.

10. In front of/Behind the ___


To be “in front of” something means to be at its face. To be “behind” something is to be at its back. This phrase is often used to let you know where something is in relation to something else.

  • You pay for your tickets in front of the arena.
  • The supermarket is behind the cafe.

3. Describing Directions in English with Landmarks


Landmarks are special objects or other defining factors that make an area distinct from others. Landmarks can be manmade and intentional, or they can be everyday objects like trees, rocks, and even graffiti.

People frequently use landmarks when giving directions to someone, as it makes the directions less daunting and more specific. I know I feel more comfortable following directions when I hear words like “big tree,” “farm,” or “hotel,” instead of “Go due northeast fifty-two miles blah blah blah.”

Here are some common landmarks and phrases you may hear when someone gives you directions during your travels.

1- In the City


  • Airport
    • Turn left at the airport.

  • Subway station
    • When you see the subway station, make a right turn.

  • City center/downtown
    • Once you reach the city center, keep going straight through.

  • Park
    • You need to turn right at the park.


Fountain in a Park

  • Hotel
    • The first thing you’ll see after you turn is a big hotel.

  • Hospital
    • You can find the diner near the hospital.

  • Bank
    • From the bank, make a left.

  • [Restaurant name]
    • When you see the McDonald’s, pull in and turn around.

  • [Famous landmark]
    • At the end of the Golden Gate Bridge, keep going straight.

  • Railroad tracks
    • Cross the railroad tracks, and go down the road a few miles.

  • Mall
    • After you pass the mall, make a left onto the next street.

2- On a Road


  • Intersection
    • Make a right at the second intersection.

  • Traffic light
    • At the traffic light, make a left.

  • Crosswalk
    • After you’ve made it over the crosswalk, make a right turn.

  • Newspaper stand
    • Go around the corner where that newspaper stand is.

  • Gas station
    • The hotel is just a few miles up the road from the gas station.

  • Rest stop
    • From the rest stop, go back a few miles.

  • Stop sign
    • Keep going straight at the stop sign.

  • Farm
    • Make a right on the road just after the farm.

  • [Road name]
    • Make a left on Rose Petal Lane.

3- In a Structure or Building


Large House Interior

  • Restroom
    • Turn the corner where the restroom is.

  • Elevator
    • At the elevator, turn right.

  • Gate
    • Wendy’s is just across from Gate 3.

  • Parking lot
    • You’ll find the front office just across this parking lot.

  • Meeting room
    • After you pass the meeting room, turn left.

  • Terminal
    • Go straight through Terminal 1.

  • Parking garage
    • It’s on the third floor of the parking garage.

  • Gym
    • Just before the gym, make a right.

  • Drinking fountain
    • Make a left at that drinking fountain.

  • Breakfast room
    • Past the breakfast room, you’ll find an elevator.


4. Must-know Phrases for Asking Directions


text

When asking about directions in English, it’s always a good idea to include a polite beginning phrase, your question or need, and a courtesy or thank you phrase.

1- Polite Beginning Phrases


People tend to be more receptive and helpful when you begin with a polite phrase. These are some common ones:

  • Excuse me…
  • Pardon me…
  • Sorry to bother you…
  • May I ask…
  • Do you happen to know…

You can also combine some of these phrases to create a better-sounding sentence. Most of the time, you’ll want to start your polite phrase with one of the first three phrases, followed by one of the latter two phrases.

  • Excuse me, may I ask…
  • Pardon me, do you happen to know…
  • Sorry to bother you, may I ask…

2- Questions


After your polite phrase, you can ask your question. There are a few different question formats you can use:

  • …where ___ is?
    • May I ask where Main Street is?

  • …where I can find ___?
    • Do you happen to know where I can find the Six Flags amusement park?

  • …how to get to ___?
    • Do you happen to know how to get to the subway station from here?

  • …how far ___ is?
    • May I ask how far Universal Studios is?

  • …if ___ is far from here?
    • Sorry to bother you… May I ask if the Hollywood Walk of Fame is far from here?

3- Courtesy Phrases / Thanks


After the person you’re talking to has given you directions (or guided you to someone who can help), it’s always good to thank them. Here are the most common ways to do so:

  • Thank you.
  • I see, thank you.
  • I appreciate your help.

4- Examples


Here are some examples of how to ask for directions, using the above phrase formats.

Micky & Minnie Mouse

  • Excuse me, where is the restroom?Thank you!
  • Sorry to bother you, how do I get to the Prescott Valley Event Center?I see, thank you.
  • Pardon me, may I ask how far Disneyland is from here?I appreciate your help.

5. Must-know Phrases for Giving Directions


Let’s say that someone asks you for directions. How do you tell them which way to go, or what steps to take to reach their destination? In this section, I’ll go over a few of the most basic and practical phrases you can use and their definitions.

1- Street Phrases


U-turn Sign

  • Go straight
    • This means to continue going in the direction you’re facing.
    • “At the library, go straight.”

  • Go straight until ___
    • This means the same thing as above, but also includes information on when to stop.
    • Go straight until you reach the traffic light.”

  • Go back
    • This means to go in the opposite direction.
    • “When you reach the bookstore, go back.”

  • Go back until you reach ___

  • Make a U-turn
    • A “U-turn” (sometimes called a “U-ey”) is when you change direction by turning in the shape of a “U.” Always watch out for signs that prohibit this, though.
    • Make a U-turn before you reach the next rest stop.”

  • Turn left/right
    • This means that you make a left or right turn.
    • “Then turn left/right.”

  • Turn left/right at ___
    • This means the same thing as above, but includes information on where exactly to make the turn.
    • Turn left/right at the stop sign.”

  • Stay on ___ [road/street] until ___
    • This one’s a little more complex, and means to stay on the same road until a certain point is reached.
    • Stay on Pheasant Drive until you reach Cherokee.”

2- For Buildings


  • On the ___ floor
    • Use this phrase to specify what floor of a building something is on.
    • “You can find Mr. Reynolds on the third floor.”

  • Go upstairs/downstairs
    • Use this phrase to tell someone to change floors either up or down via the stairs.
    • Go upstairs to reach him.”

  • Take the elevator
    • Use this phrase to tell someone to change floors either up or down via the elevator.
    • Take the elevator down to the basement.”

  • The room to the left/right OR The room straight ahead
    • Use this phrase when indicating a specific room.
    • “The bathroom is the room to the right.”
    • “You can find a vending machine in the room straight ahead.”

Vending Machine

  • Just around the corner
    • Use this phrase to let someone know that all they have to do is turn the corner to find what they’re looking for.
    • “There’s a drinking fountain just around the corner.”

  • You’ll see a ___ [marker of some sort]; ___ [direction] here.
    • This one is more complex. Use it to indicate a landmark or specific object, and tell the person what to do once they reach it.
    • You’ll see a ficus plant; turn left here.”

3- Driving Directions in English


  • Keep going
    • Use this phrase to tell the person driving to continue going in the same direction.
    • Keep going until you reach the intersection.”

  • Stop
    • Use this phrase to tell the person driving to stop the car.
    • Stop at the nearest gas station.”

  • Hurry up / Go faster
    • Use this phrase to tell the person driving to speed up the car and drive faster.
    • “When we reach the freeway, hurry up a little / go faster.”

  • Slow down
    • Use this phase to tell the person driving to drive slower.
    • Slow down once we reach town.”

  • Turn right/left at ___
    • Use this phrase to tell the person driving to make a turn at a specific point (e.g. a stop sign or traffic light).
    • Turn right/left at the church.”

  • Turn right/left in about ___ [estimate of distance]
    • Use this phrase to tell the person driving to make a turn after they’ve driven a certain distance.
    • Turn right/left in about five miles.”

  • At the ___ turn right/left
    • This phrase is similar to the two previous phrases. Use this phrase to indicate where the person driving should turn.
    • At the gate, turn right/left.”

4- Reassurances


Two Women Conversing

Reassurances can make all the difference when giving someone directions, especially if that person is frantic to find the place or is running late. Here are a few phrases you can use to ensure that the other person remembers and understands your directions, which will make both of you feel better.

  • You won’t miss it.
    • You can use this phrase to let the person know that what they’re looking for (whether their destination or a landmark) is easy to find, and that they’ll know when they reach it.

  • You’ll know you’re there when ___.
    • This is similar to the above phrase, but offers information on what to expect or look for at a certain point.

  • Did you get that?
    • Asking the other person if they “got” your directions (meaning to remember and understand the directions) gives them a chance to ask you to repeat the directions if needed.

Other ways to ensure that the person you’re giving directions to arrives safely at their destination include:

  • Offering a description of the place
  • Repeating the directions
  • Asking them to repeat the directions back to you

5- What if You Don’t Know?


If you’re new to the area (or just bad with directions, like I am…), you probably don’t know how to help. In this case, just say so:

  • I’m sorry, but I don’t know where that is.
  • I’m sorry, I’m new here too.
  • I’m not sure how to get there, sorry.

If you happen to be in a public area (such as a hotel lobby or restaurant), you can also suggest that they talk to someone more knowledgeable—like a receptionist or server.

6. Putting it All Together!


Basic Questions

So, what do you do with all of these words and phrases? What do they look like in an everyday conversation about directions? In this section, I’ll provide an example conversation about directions in English using more complex directions based on those I outlined in this complete guide to directions in English. This should give you a better idea of how to ask and give directions in English.



You’re visiting the state of California and want to hit most of the tourist attractions before you leave. Right now, you’re on your way to SeaWorld but have gotten lost along the way. You pull over into a gas station and go inside to ask the clerk for directions:

You: Excuse me, how do I get to SeaWorld from here?

Clerk: It’s just south of here. Keep going down the road, then around the corner. From there, keep going straight until you see Montgomery-Gibbs Executive Airport, and then make a left on Kumeyaay Highway. Follow the road until you reach SeaWorld. Trust me, you won’t miss it.

You: Thank you, I appreciate your help.

Clerk: No problem. Did you get all that?

You: [Repeats directions.]

Clerk: Good. Have fun.

7. Conclusion


I hope you learned something new about giving and asking for directions in English, and that you feel more comfortable doing so. Understanding directions in English will take time and practice, but we know you can do it. Is there anything you’re still unclear about? Let us know in the comments!

To continue learning about the English language, explore EnglishClass101.com and start using our range of fun and practical learning tools. You can read more insightful blog posts like this one, study free English vocabulary lists, and chat with fellow English learners on our community forums. For a more personalized and guided learning experience, you can also upgrade to Premium Plus and take advantage of our MyTeacher program!

English is not an easy language to learn, but your determination and hard work will pay off, and you’ll have our constant support along the way. You’ll be able to speak, read, and write in English like a native before you know it! 🙂

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