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English Grammar: All You Need to Know

Learn about the nuts and bolts of English grammar on this accessible and well-paced course from UCL.

1,504 enrolled on this course

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English Grammar: All You Need to Know

1,504 enrolled on this course

  • 6 weeks

  • 2 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours
  • 100% online

    How it works
  • Unlimited subscription

    $189.99/yearLearn more

What is grammar?

Grammar is the study of sentence structure, a uniquely human part of our culture and identity.

On this six-week course from UCL, you’ll take an in-depth look at English grammar, learning how to construct sentences, create meaning, and communicate effectively both personally and professionally.

Examine the structure of sentences

Beginning with an introduction to key terminology, you’ll discover how words, phrases, and clauses are combined to create sentences.

You’ll learn about grammatical forms, such as nouns, noun phrases, verbs and verb phrases, as well as about grammatical functions, including Subject, Predicate, Complement, and Adjunct, before moving on to semantic roles.

With this knowledge, you’ll be able to confidently analyse sentences at several levels.

Take a closer look at tense, aspect, and mood

After gaining a comprehensive overview of the forms and functions of grammar, you’ll then examine how different grammatical notions, such as tense, aspect, and mood are implemented in English.

Learn about the principles of effective communication in speech and writing

In the final week of this course, you’ll examine how to highlight certain parts of your message and clarify your meaning using information structuring.

Having studied structural and semantic concepts at different levels, by the end of the course you will have gained a deep understanding of English grammar and the principles of effective communication.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds Hello and welcome to the

Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds course English Grammar: All You Need to Know. My name is Bas Aarts, and I’m Professor of English Linguistics at UCL, University College London. The aim of this course is to give you a complete overview of the grammar of the English language in an engaging and interactive way. We start with the smallest building blocks of the language, words, and how these form word classes. And how words form phrases, and phrases form clauses. And we’ll also be looking at other grammatical notions, such as Subjects and Direct Objects. By the end of the course, you’ll have a solid knowledge of the grammar of the English language, and you’ll be able to confidently and accurately use its grammatical terminology.

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 seconds You’ll also know the distinction between grammatical form and grammatical function, and you’ll have learned something about

Skip to 1 minute and 1 second the principles of information structuring: how we can communicate successfully and effectively. This course, by the way, is not for you if you’re aiming to improve your English. There are lots of other courses available for that purpose, but you may need to look elsewhere. If you’re a teacher of English, you may be interested in our sister courses ‘English Grammar for Teachers’ and Teaching English Grammar in Context’, also available on the FutureLearn platform. The time investment on this course is about one and a half to two hours per week, over six weeks. So the course runs over six weeks. So around 12 hours in total.

Skip to 1 minute and 43 seconds Now, I’m a bit of a grammar nerd and certainly a grammar enthusiast, and I hope to convey, if not the nerdiness, definitely the enthusiasm for the study of English grammar.

Skip to 1 minute and 55 seconds It’s a fascinating subject: finding out about the nuts and bolts of English sentences, and how they are put together. So I very much hope that you’ll join me on this course.

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    The building blocks of English: word classes and phrases

    • Welcome to the course!

      Welcome to the course English Grammar: All You Need to Know. In this activity I will introduce myself as the Lead Educator, and I will give you an overview of the course and its aims and objectives.

    • Word classes

      In this activity we will take a first brief look at the word class categories into which we can classify English words: noun, determinative, adjective, verb, preposition, adverb, conjunction and interjection.

    • Nouns, noun phrases and pronouns

      In this activity we will explore the word class of nouns, which includes pronouns. We can use nouns in larger units called noun phrases.

    • Determinatives

      In this activity we look at determinatives. These are placed at the beginning of noun phrases to help you identify the referent of the noun.

    • Adjectives and adjective phrases

      In this activity we discuss adjectives. These are typically words that describe nouns in noun phrases, but they can also occur after verbs such as 'be', 'seem', 'appear', etc.

    • Verbs and verb phrases

      In this activity we look at verbs and verb phrases. Verbs can express a huge range of meanings, typically activities, but also states, feelings, and other kinds of situations. Verbs can function as the Head of verb phrases.

    • Prepositions and prepositional phrases

      In this activity we look at prepositions and prepositional phrases. We will see that prepositions often express spatial meaning ('in', 'out', 'through'), but not always.

    • Adverbs and adverb phrases

      In this activity we look at adverbs and adverb phrases. Adverbs can express a wide range of meanings, and can function as the Head of adverb phrases.

    • Conjunctions

      In this activity we look at conjunctions. These are words that can link various types of grammatical units. We will see that there are two types: coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions.

    • Interjections

      In this activity we look at the very minor word class of interjections. We will see that they often have an interpersonal function.

    • Simple and multi-clause sentences

      In this activity we look at simple and multi-clause sentences. The former can stand on their own, whereas the latter involve one or more subordinate clauses.

    • Help with terminology

      In this activity I will discuss some published and online resources that can help you with your study of English grammar.

    • Summary and feedback

      Looking back over the week, looking forward and your thoughts.

  • Week 2

    Grammatical functions and semantic roles

    • Grammatical functions

      In this activity I will explain the notion of grammatical function

    • Subject

      In this activity we look at the grammatical function of Subject.

    • Predicate and Predicator

      In this activity we look at the grammatical functions of Predicate and Predicator.

    • Complement

      In this activity we look at the grammatical function of Complement.

    • Direct Object

      In this activity we look at the grammatical function of Direct Object.

    • Indirect Object

      In this activity we look at the grammatical function of Direct Object.

    • Predicative Complement

      In this activity we look at the grammatical function of Predicative Complement.

    • What is the difference between Predicative Complements, Direct and Indirect Objects?

      In this activity we look at the differences between Predicative Complements, Direct and Indirect Objects.

    • Prepositional Phrase as Complement

      In this activity we look at the grammatical function of Prepositional Phrase as Complement.

    • Complement Clause

      In this activity we look at the grammatical function of Complement Clause.

    • Adjunct

      In this activity we look at the grammatical function of Adjunct.

    • Semantic roles

      In this activity we look at the semantic roles (Agent, Patient, etc.) that we can assign to the arguments of verbs.

    • Analysing clauses at the levels of grammatical form, grammatical function and semantic roles

      In this activity I will discuss how we can analyse sentences at the levels of grammatical form, grammatical function and semantic roles.

    • Summary and feedback

      Looking back over the week, looking forward and your thoughts.

  • Week 3

    Using words and phrases to build clauses

    • Subordination defined

      In this activity we will explore the notion of subordination and how we can define it.

    • Markers of subordination

      In this activity we will explore how subordination is indicated in English.

    • Finite subordinate clauses

      In this activity we explore finite subordinate clauses. These are subordinate clauses that contain a verb that carries tense.

    • Non-finite subordinate clauses

      In this activity we explore non-finite subordinate clauses. These are subordinate clauses that do not contain a verb that carries tense.

    • Clause types

      In this activity we look at how we can classify clauses according to their syntactic characteristics into different clause types.

    • Summary and feedback

      Looking back over the week, looking forward and your thoughts.

  • Week 4

    Talking about time: tense and aspect

    • Tense

      In this activity we look at the grammatical notion of tense: the way in which a language encodes the notion of time.

    • Uses of the present tense

      In this activity we look at the different ways in which we can use the present tense in English.

    • Uses of the past tense

      In this activity we look at the different ways in which we can use the past tense in English.

    • The past tense forms of auxiliary verbs

      In this activity we look at the past tense forms of auxiliary verbs.

    • Other ways of referring to present, past and future time

      In this activity we look at other ways of referring to present, past and future time.

    • Aspect

      In this activity we look at aspect, the way in which languages encode how situations develop over time.

    • Perfect aspect

      In this activity we look at the perfect construction in English.

    • Progressive aspect

      In this activity we look at the progressive construction in English.

    • Perfect, progressive and passive combinations

      In this activity we look at how we can comine perfect, progressive and passive auxiliary verbs in English.

    • Aspect and lexical meaning

      In this activity we look at how verbs and their arguments can express various types of situations.

    • Summary and feedback

      Looking back over the week, looking forward and your thoughts.

  • Week 5

    Talking about what is possible, probable and necessary: mood and modality

    • Mood and modality

      This term mood refers to the way in which the grammar of a language encodes 'modality'. This concept is concerned with semantic notions as ‘possibility’, ‘probability’, ‘necessity’, ‘obligation’, etc.

    • Three types of modality in English

      The English language distinguishes three types of modality: deontic, epistemic and dynamic. We will discuss each of them in detail.

    • The expression of modality in English

      In this video we look at the many different ways in which modality can be expressed in English.

    • The meanings expressed by the core modal verbs

      In this activity we will look at the meanings of each of the core modal verbs in detail: will/would, shall, should, can/could, may/might, and must.

    • Marginal modal verbs

      In this activity we will look at marginal modal verbs, including *dare*, *need* and *ought [to]*.

    • Modal idioms

      In this activity we will look at modal idioms.

    • Lexical modality

      In this activity we will look at lexical modality.

    • Other issues pertaining to modality

      In this activity we will look at other issues pertaining to modality.

    • Summary and feedback

      Looking back over the week, looking forward and your thoughts.

  • Week 6

    How to communicate effectively: presenting information

    • Information structuring

      This term 'information structuring' refers to the way in which users of the English language can highlight certain parts of the content of a clause, for example by moving constituents to the front or the end of a sentence.

    • Two principles of information structuring

      In this activity we will discuss two principles of information structuring: the Given-Before-New Principle and the Principle of End Weight.

    • Movement

      In this activity we explore how constituents can be displaced for information structuring purposes.

    • Passivisation

      In this activity we will look at passivisation as an information structuring device.

    • The Indirect Object - Prepositional Phrase as Complement alternation

      In this activity we will look at the Indirect Object - Prepositional Phrase as Complement alternation in the light of information structuring.

    • The existential and presentational constructions

      In this activity we will look at the existential and presentational constructions with regard to information structuring.

    • Inversion

      In this activity we will look at inversion as an information structuring device.

    • Clefting

      In this activity we will look at cleft constructions with regard to information structuring.

    • Final test

      In this test you can assess the knowledge you have gained during this course. There are 24 questions in this quiz. This quiz performs best on a desktop.

    • Summary of this week and the course as a whole and your thoughts

      Looking back over this week and the course as a whole, and your thoughts.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify the main building blocks of sentences: word classes, phrases and clauses
  • Explain the distinction between grammatical form and grammatical function
  • Demonstrate a good understanding of key grammatical terms and how to use them
  • Apply some of the principles of how we can communicate effectively, using grammatical means

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone who wants to learn about English grammar in an engaging way, whether for pleasure or in a professional context.

What software or tools do you need?

The course uses a textbook with the same title: English Grammar: All You Need to Know which is available only on Amazon. Purchase is optional. The course also links to the UCL Englicious website (free sign-up).

IMPORTANT: Please note that this course is NOT designed to help you improve your English writing or speaking skills.

If you are a teacher, the FutureLearn courses English Grammar for Teachers and Teaching English Grammar in Context, also from UCL, may be more suitable for you.

Who will you learn with?

I'm a Professor of English Linguistics at UCL with a passion for English grammar.

After you take this course I hope you will be just as enthusiastic!

Who developed the course?

UCL (University College London)

UCL was founded in 1826. It was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, and the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it.

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Choose the best way to learn for you!

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$189.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

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  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$69/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access

Free

Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 9 Nov 2022

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 14 November 2022 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 14 November 2022 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

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