The English Language

History of the English language:

The English Language has always been a medium for exchanging thoughts and expressions. It forms the basis of communication done at every level in the world up till today. English has already become a global language, by virtue of the economic and political progress made by English-speaking nations in the past 200 years1. English is now an important language for communication at the social and business level. It is a language that transmits the thoughts between people and allowed the governments to govern the masses. It is the lingua franca of global trade and commerce in the current Information Age. English is mostly used in the publishing of scientific research and literature, which is the backbone of a nation's growth from the perspective of knowledge. As such, English is seen as the most important language that is needed to be studied because it has some indirect impact on the educative and economic masses of the whole nation.

Influence of English on work:

The English of the present time has not always been this way. This is a result of decades of development that has transformed English to what it is now. There had been a series of socio-political events that affected the language and had a transforming impact on it. In addition, English has experienced major transformations throughout the centuries, which was the result of the many cultural mixes.

In AD 597, England was bought in contact with Latin civilizations that added many words to the English vocabulary, making a number of significant changes to the language. Subsequently, the Scandinavian invasion and Norman Conquest brought about some cultural influence on the English language resulting in some changes to its vocabulary and grammar.

The English language eventually gained supremacy due to the growth of business, literature and sciences during the expansion of the British Empire. The English language was then available in many forms, some popular ones of which are Indian English, Caribbean English and West African English.

The importance of English as a language:

Out of the world’s population, around 20% speak English (around 1.5 billion people out of a total population of 7.5 billion). Surprisingly, not all of them are native English speakers. About 400 million people speak English as their first language. About 600 million people speak English as a second language. Another 600 million people are fluent users of English as a foreign language. The figures above is a huge increase since the 1950s, which is a clear indication that this language is going to be an important language for many decades to come.

The fact that English being an international language adds more to its importance. Thus, for a wider span of communication, the knowledge of English has become necessary. It has been a major medium of communication all over the world in business, social and political issues and scientific advancements. The future of the language can be predicted by its currently set statistics and it won’t be wrong to say that English would occupy a visible part in future as a supreme language.

The English writing system:

The written and spoken symbols in English language are highly interlinked. Taking the example of the word ‘dollar’, it is sounded as /dɒlə/ when read. And the pronunciation is also decided through this symbolic representation of the sound. There is also a direct relationship found between the written symbol and the meaning of the word. Like for the above example, the symbol [$] would tell us that it is some kind of currency.

Also, the meanings of a same symbol could vary geographically because the dollar is a currency in Canada, USA, Australia, Singapore, and many others. They differ in value and to differentiate among them vocally, they are called Canadian dollar, US dollar, Australian dollar, or Singapore dollar respectively. Thus, for a single symbol, we can have a multiple understandings of it based on the different geographic locations.

Meaning-based writing

English Phonology:

Phonology deals with the pattern of speech and sounds used in the language. The English phonology is somewhat complicated because some English alphabets have an established disparity of more than one sounds to it.

 

The sound patterns for English consonants are 17 sounds from the Roman alphabet:

[ /b/, /d/, /f/, /g/, /h/, /j/, /k/, /l/, /m/, /n/, /p/, /r/, /s/, /t/, /v/, /w/, /z/ ]

And 7 sounds from different letters like:

[ /θ/, /ð/, /ʃ/, /ʒ/, /tʃ/, /dʒ/ /ŋ/ ]

 

All 26 letters of the English language are known as Roman alphabets.

The table below illustrates the sound of English consonants and their Roman alphabets:

English Phonology

English Grammar:

Grammar is the way in which you put words, phrases, clauses, and sentences together to express an idea clearly. It is a set of rules that describes various kinds of words and their uses in a sentence. There are 8 word classes in the English language and they form the parts of speech:

  1. Nouns
  2. Pronouns
  3. Verbs
  4. Adjectives
  5. Adverbs
  6. Prepositions
  7. Conjunctions
  8. Articles

 

1. Nouns

Nouns are words used to refer to things such as people (i.e. man), objects (i.e. suitcase), animals (i.e. wolf), places (i.e. classroom), qualities (i.e. thickness), phenomena (i.e. storm), and intangible concepts (i.e. love). Proper nouns, on the other hand, are nouns beginning with a capital letter (i.e. England, American, or Anthony).

 

Common Nouns

Proper Nouns

Abstract Nouns Concrete Nouns

Non-specific people, places, or things, and not capitalized unless they are at the start of a sentence.

e.g. man, country, author

Names of specific people, places, or things, and always begin with a Capital letter.

e.g. England, American, Anthony

Abstract objects such as ideas, concepts, feelings, states, or qualities. Things that cannot be seen.

e.g. love, beauty, justice

Physical objects that can be seen, heard, tasted, smelled, touched, or felt with all your five senses.

e.g. storm, house, cake

Countable Nouns Uncountable Nouns
Collective Nouns

Things that can be expressed in plural forms, and usually ends with an -s.

e.g. cow(s), house(s), heart(s)

Things that cannot be counted, thus are considered as singular, and takes a singular verb.

e.g. water, lightning, milk

A group of more than one person or thing. They are usually expressed as singular (e.g. 1), unless the members within the group are acting as individuals (e.g. 2).

e.g. 1: The audience were clapping their hands in the theater.

e.g. 2: The jury agree on the guilt of the accused.

Plural Nouns

Indicate more than one thing, person, or idea. They usually have endings with: an -s, an -es, a -ves’, or an -ies. Several nouns also have irregular plural forms at the end of the word.

 

Examples:

Nouns usually end with an -sto indicate more than one item:

boy — boys

dog — dogs

fan — fans

table — tables

 

Nouns with s, sh, ch, or x at the end of the word, forms the plural by adding an -es:

bus — buses

bush — bushes

watch — watches

box — boxes

 

Nouns with an f at the end of the word needs to drop the f and add a -vesto indicate the plural form:

loaf — loaves

self — selves

 

Nouns with a consonant + y needs to drop the y and add an -iesto indicate the plural form:

spy — spies

baby — babies

 

Nouns ending in ano’ preceded by a consonant add -es:

potato — potatoes

zero — zeroes

 

Nouns with hyphenated compound words need to add an -s to the main word:

guest-of-honor — guests-of-honor

sister-in-law — sisters-in-law

 

Nouns with irregular plural forms are written differently at the end of the word:

man — men

mouse — mice

child — children

 

Nouns that keep their Greek and Latin plural forms are also written differently:

crisis — crises

fungus — fungi

nucleus — nuclei

Noun as a Subject Noun as a Direct Object Noun as an Indirect Object Noun as an Object of Preposition

Matt (subj.) is my brother.

I read the book (dir. obj.).

We gave John (indir. obj.) the book.

My family went to the beach (obj. of prep.).

Possessive Nouns

Express ownership of a noun previously mentioned. Most possessive nouns are formed by adding an ‘-’s’.

e.g. 1: The coat belongs to Peter. It is Peter’s.

e.g. 2: Thomas’ pen is inside the drawer.

 


2. Pronouns

Pronouns are words used in replacement of noun phrases and they usually refer to things or people already known. (i.e. They said she talks to herself).

 

Types of Pronouns Examples
Personal he, she, it, they
Demonstrative this, these, those, that
Interrogative which, who, whom, what, where
Indefinite anybody, nobody, others, all, none, some
Possessive his, hers, yours, mine, ours
Reciprocal each other, one another
Relative which, where, who, whom, whose, that
Reflexive/Intensive himself, herself, yourself, themselves

 

3. Verbs

Verbs in English are used to represent various kinds of actions involving people and things in events. Verbs are an important part of an English sentence and it is not possible to communicate something appropriately without the usage of verbs.

 

Transitive Verbs Intransitive Verbs Infinitives

Action is done to a direct object.

e.g. He built a house last month.

Action is not done to anyone or any direct object.

e.g. I slept early last night.

Verbs that can be used as a noun or an adjective. (to + verb)

e.g. I want to tell you a story.

Participles

Participles can be used as adjectives to modify nouns or pronouns. They are based on verbs and express action or a state of being.

Present participles: end with ‘-ing’.

Past participles: end with ‘-ed', ‘-en', ‘-d', ‘-t', ‘-n'.

Examples:

Present: The boy is cycling in the park.

Past: Tired and exhausted after a long day, I went back to sleep.

Past: The bridge was broken.

 

4. Adjectives

Adjectives are words used to provide more information about the quality of objects or things, and are usually used together with nouns in an English sentence. 

 

Nominal Adjectives Attributive Adjectives Predicative Adjectives

Nominal Adjectives act like nouns.

e.g. Out with the old (nom. adj.), and in with the new (nom. adj.).

Attributive Adjectives usually precede their nouns in simple phrases.

e.g. 1: Happy (attr. adj.) children (noun).

e.g. 2: She saw a playful (attr. adj.) child (noun).

Predicative Adjectives are usually linked via a linking mechanism to the noun or pronoun they modify.

 e.g. 1: She made me sad (pred. adj.).

e.g. 2: Work makes me tired (pred. adj.).

 

5. Adverbs

Adverbs are words or phrases typically used with verbs to provide more information about the action, state and event (i.e. quickly, tomorrow). Some adverbs are used with adjectives to modify the information and meaning of things (i.e. very, extremely). It plays a vital part in constituting the sentence structure to better communicate the meaning of a speech.

Adverbs that modify verbs Adverbs that modify adjectives Adverbs that modify adverbs

Adverbs that usually end with the suffix ‘-ly’.

 

e.g. 1: He snored loudly.

e.g. 2: She jogs regularly.

Adverbs that always come before the adjectives they modify.

e.g. 1: I am totally exhausted.

e.g. 2: The room is strangely quiet.

Adverbs that always come before the adverb they modify.

e.g. 1: She sobbed quite softly because she was sad.

e.g. 2: They spoke rather loudly in the hall.

Conjunctive Adverbs
Adverbs that are used within a sentence to join two clauses together. Often preceded with a semicolon and followed by a comma. Conjunctive adverbs are namely: also, consequently, meanwhile, next, still, finally, nevertheless, furthermore, otherwise, then, however, indeed, thus, therefore, likewise, and instead.

e.g.: I should have gone to school; instead, I played truant.

 

6. Prepositions

Prepositions are meant to provide information about the details of the environment within a sentence, such as time (i.e. in the evening, at dawn), place (i.e. beside the chair, on the floor), and other connections (i.e. with a kick, without a word) involving actions and things.

 

Common Prepositions
at about down near past underneath
after by during on like until
above before except onto since up
among beneath for of through upon
along behind from off throughout with
around beside into out to within
against between inside outside toward without
across beyond in over under

 

7. Conjunctions

Conjunctions are words or phrases used to indicate relationships between events.

 

Coordinating Conjunction Subordinating Conjunction Correlative Conjunction
Coordinating conjunctions join words and clauses of equal status Subordinating conjunctions connect one clause to another, whereby one clause is dependent on the other. Correlative conjunctions join elements that are alike or similar.
Examples
We ate apples and pears. While we were walking in the park, it rained. Either you go after your dreams, or you will work to fulfil someone else's dreams.
Word examples Word examples Word examples
and yet after how either... or
or nor before since neither... nor
for than as so... as
but that where both... and
so when whether not only... but also

 

8. Articles

Articles are words used with nouns within English sentences to form noun phrases in order to classify things or identify things that are already known.

 

Types of English Articles
a an the
i.e. I have a book. i.e. You eat an apple. i.e. I will eat the banana.

 

 


We began this section with a brief introduction of the English language - its history, development, and global influence on nation states, political affairs, and commence. By studying the origin of the English language, it forms the basis of learning it as a language. In addition to that, it allows us to better appreciate the evolution of the many cultures that made the language to what it is today. 

The formation of the words in the English language depends on its alphabets like any other language that uses the alphabetic writing system. We have also covered the 8 word classes that form the parts of speech, which is one of the most important components to master in English Grammar.

There is more to learn for English Grammar and consider that it has many strict rules for combining words in a specific order to create phrases and sentences, we will leave that for another day.

Alternatively, you can contact me if you want to learn English as a second language. I will be delighted to help you out on this!