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A.            Sentences, Clauses, and Phrases


A sentence is a grouping of words that makes complete sense. A clause is a group of words which has a verb but is only part of a sentence. For example, in the sentence, "The student is listening to what the teacher says about Greek," the italicized portion is a clause. A phrase is a group of words without a verb. In the previous example, "about Greek" is a phrase. Sentences may be divided into four classes:


·          A declarative sentence affirms or declares that something is or is not a fact or a possibility: “Christ died for us according to the Scriptures.”


·          An interrogative sentence asks whether something is or is not a fact: “Do you believe this?”


·          An imperative sentence commands or forbids something: “Repent and be baptized.”


·          An exclamatory sentence expresses a thought as an exclamation: “Praise the Lord!”


B.            Subject and Predicate


Every sentence has a subject and a predicate. The subject is the person or thing which constitutes the primary focus of the sentence. The predicate makes an assertion about the subject. For example, in the sentence, "The inquisitive student is paying careful attention," the inquisitive student is the subject and is paying careful attention is the predicate. Or again, in the sentence, "The study of the Bible is fun," study is the subject and is fun is the predicate.


C.            The Parts of Speech


1.             Noun - A noun is the name of anything, usually a person, place, or thing ("John", "desk", "town", "church", "wisdom", "grace", etc.). The most common use of a noun is as the subject of a sentence. "Student" in the sentence above is a noun. Also, any part of speech that functions as a noun is called a substantive. In the sentence, “Ann is a beautiful woman,” both Ann and woman are, being nouns, are substantives.



2.             Pronoun - A pronoun is a word used in the place of a noun ("I", "you", "it", "them", "who", etc.), most often to avoid monotony or stylistic repetition. Consider the sentence, "The student knows the teacher and listens to the teacher." This reads better with the use of a pronoun: "The student knows the teacher and listens to her." The noun for which a pronoun stands is called the antecedent. In our sentence, the antecedent of "her" is "teacher".


Here is another example: “John felt in John’s heart that John should have said to John, ‘John knows that John should have given more money to the poor.’” This should read: “John felt in his heart that he should have said to himself, you know that you should have given more money to the poor.’”


Pronouns come in a variety of forms:


a.              Personal pronouns such as "I", "you", "we", "they".


b.             Demonstrative pronouns such as "this", "that", "those".


c.              Possessive pronouns such as "mine", "yours", "ours", "theirs". These pronouns function like adjectives (see below).


d.             Interrogative pronouns such as "who?", "whose?", "which?", "what?".


e.              Indefinite pronouns such as "anyone", "someone".


f.              Reflexive pronouns such as "himself", "itself", “myself”, in which the subject of the sentence and the pronoun in the predicate refer to the same person or thing. For example, "He proclaimed himself to be the best student of all," or "Jesus did not save himself."


g.             Intensive pronouns are used when we want to emphasize or highlight another noun or pronoun. For example, "John himself did it," or "You yourselves claimed to be intelligent enough to understand Greek."


h.             Relative pronouns such as "who", "whom", "which", "that", are used to connect a subordinate clause with the main clause. For example, "The Spirit who brings life is among us," or "The book which you purchased will help you study Greek," or "The words that (or which) I speak are life."


i.               Reciprocal pronouns. The only reciprocal pronoun in the NT is the plural of "other, another," such as "of one another," "to one another."



3.             Verbs - A verb is a word by means of which we make statements about some person or thing, ask questions, or issue commands. "I wrote this lesson", "You listened to it", "He said that we are stupid" are examples of verbs.


There are two kinds of verbs: linking and action. Linking verbs tell who or what the subject is; action verbs tell what the subject does. In English, the most common linking verbs are "be" and "become". For example: "Bill is President," "Hillary will become President," and "You are crazy!" [By the way, the word "President" in the first sentence is a predicate nominative and in the third sentence the word "crazy" is a predicate adjective.]


Action verbs can be either intransitive or transitive. Intransitive verbs do not have a direct object. "Let's eat now," "I ran this morning," are examples of sentences with intransitive verbs. When a verb is transitive it carries its action onto something or someone else. "I ran the race," "The big guy tackled his opponent," are examples of sentences with transitive verbs. Race and opponent are direct objects that receive the action of the verbs ran and tackled, respectively.


Another basic thing to remember is that verbs have both person (first [I, we], second [you], third [he, she, it, they]) and number (singular, plural).



4.             Adjectives - Adjectives are words that qualify or add something to the meaning of a noun. Adjectives answer such questions as what kind of? how many? which? whose? For example, "The inquisitive student learns fast," or "The seventh trumpet was sounded."


Adjectives can be used either attributively, predicatively, or substantivally. (a) Attributive use - In the phrase, "the bad preacher," the word bad merely qualifies or more accurately defines the word preacher. It mentions one of his attributes (hence attributive adjective). But it is not a complete sentence and therefore does not predicate anything of the preacher. (b) Predicative use - In the sentence, "the preacher is bad," something is predicated of him, or asserted about him, namely, badness. Thus, the word bad is now a predicate adjective. (c) Substantival use - An adjective may also serve as a noun and thus as the subject of a sentence. Consider these two examples: "Only the good die young," and, “The wise seem to prosper more than the stupid.”



5.             Adverbs - Adverbs are words that qualify or add something to the meaning of verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs. For example, "The student turned in her assignment immediately and was told by the teacher that she had done very well." Thus adverbs tell you how or when the action is performed.



6.             Prepositions - These are words that generally are placed before nouns or pronouns to show the relation of the person or thing to something else. Prepositions are words like "to", "with", "for", "by", "from", "about", "concerning", "unto". Examples of prepositional phrases are, "under the tree", "above my head", "to the house". Tree, head, and house are called the object of the preposition. Prepositional phrases always begin with a preposition and end with a noun (or another substantive): “in the garden,” “around the house,” “for the man,” etc.



7.             Conjunctions - These are words that join together sentences, clauses, or words. "And", "but", "because", "or", "although" are among the most common conjunctions.



8.             Article - The article is technically a kind of adjective. In English we have both the definite article ("the") and the indefinite article ("a", "an"), but in Greek there is no indefinite article.



Consider this sentence: "The pastor himself preached poorly from the remarkable book of Romans and did not exegete it."


The adds to the meaning of "pastor"; it tells us which pastor, i.e., some pastor already known by the reader/listener. Therefore, it is a kind of adjective (the definite article).


pastor is the name of a person, hence a noun (i.e., a substantive).


himself is a reflexive pronoun referring to the pastor


preached makes a statement about the pastor and is therefore a verb; it describes the action performed by the pastor.


poorly qualifies the verb "preached"; it tells us how he preached and is therefore an adverb.


from precedes the noun "book" and shows the relation between the book and the pastor's preaching; hence it is a preposition.


remarkable adds something to the meaning of the noun "book" and is therefore an adjective (in fact, it is an attributive adjective).


book, a noun, is the object of the preposition "from".


of is another preposition.


Romans, another noun, is the object of the preposition "of".


and joins together the two clauses and is a conjunction.


did exegete make a statement about the preacher and are therefore verbs, describing the action performed by him.


not qualifies the verbs "did exegete" because it tells us how he exegeted, i.e., not at all; it is therefore an adverb.


it is a pronoun, standing in the place of the noun "book of Romans"; the antecedent of this pronoun is what?


D.            Other terms and grammatical concepts


1.             Inflection - Sometimes when a word performs a different function in a sentence or when it changes its meaning you will notice that its form also changes. This is called inflection. For example, the personal pronoun is he if it refers to a male and she if it refers to a female. It is he when it is the subject of the sentence ("He hit the ball"), but changes to him when it is the direct object ("She hit him"). What you will discover is that whereas English is not highly inflected, Greek is. Virtually every word is altered in form depending on its meaning and use in the sentence.



2.             Case - The different functions that words perform in a sentence are called cases. In English we have three cases: subjective, objective, possessive. The possessive case is the easiest to grasp. In the sentence, "Her purse is in his car," her and his are in the possessive case.


Unfortunately, many grammatical mistakes are made by failing to understand the difference between "objective" and "subjective."


If a word is the subject of a sentence, it is in the subjective case. The subject is that which does the action of the verb and is usually the first noun or pronoun before the verb in the sentence. For example, in the sentence, "She drank the Coke," She is clearly the subject of the verb drank and is therefore in the subjective case.


If a word is the direct object, it is in the objective case. The direct object is the person(s) or thing(s) that directly receives the action of the verb. It is that which is acted upon. Whatever the verb does, it does to the direct object. In the sentence, "Sam will flunk you if you don't come to class," you is receiving the action implied in the verb "flunk" and is therefore the direct object. You is therefore in the objective case. As noted earlier, the object of a preposition is always in the objective case.


In light of this, we do not say:


"I hit he."

"Fred took I to dinner."

"You gave the book to we."


Rather, we say:


"I hit him."

"Fred took me to dinner."

"You gave the book to us."


Here are a couple of the more common grammatical mistakes involving the confusion of subjective and objective cases:


"Don't tell anyone else, but keep this between you and I."


"We are extremely happy with John, so we gave he and his wife the night on the town."



3.             Number - Words can be either singular or plural, depending on whether they refer to one, or more than one.



4.             Gender - Both English and Greek recognize three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter (more on this in a subsequent lesson).


E.             Exercises


Identify the various parts of speech in these sample sentences.


1.             Bill thinks he is king of the universe, but we know differently.


2.             The terrorists reluctantly surrendered the hostages to us.


3.             You gave them their low-fat lunch.


4.             Sam is crazy to think we can learn all this in one day.


5.             Who knows someone who can save himself from sin?


6.             The book that he wrote is fascinating.



Insert the correct form of the relative pronoun (which, who, whose, whom) in the following sentences.


1.             Your books, _________ arrived on time, were damaged.


2.             The driver _________ brought them was apologetic.


3.             The man with _________ I had lunch was nice.


4.             You ___________ books were damaged may feel anger.


5.             The person on _________ they books fell is hurting.



So let's have some fun and test our grammatical (and spelling) skills! Circle any grammatical mistakes (whether related to nouns, cases, verbs, etc.) in the following paragraph (don't worry about punctuation).


Jim and Sally done what they could to help Mark learn grammar. They showed both he and his wife, Mary, as many of the concepts as possible. After Mark and Mary had went home, they called Mark on the phone. The conversation went like this. "Is that you, Mark?" "Yes, its me." "Why did you leave?" "I left because you said you was going to give me a test and I hate tests!"


Sally then said to Jim: "I'm concerned about Mark going back to school without being adequately equipped in grammar." "Oh, don't worry," replied Jim. "He'll do fine. After all, we taught him as good as we know how." "I know," said Sally. "But you and me both know what Mark is like. If he was better educated, I wouldn't worry so much." "I know," replied Jim. "But who can Mark blame except hisself?" "Well, he certainly can't blame you and I. We done our best."


"I know. But irregardless of what you say I'm afraid that he will never go further in life than high school if he don't improve. When I was graduated from high school I knew less grammar than Mark but I studied until it got better. After all, Mark is still so much older than me and he talks and writes like a hick."


"Your probably right," Sally replied. "But he's just so much different than you in every way. What can you attribute that to?"


"I have a criteria that I use. But to be perfectly honest, I'm to the point where I could care less! I read in the newspaper today that the data reveals you can't teach an old dog new tricks. The report also indicated that one of every two junior high students are as bad in grammar as Mark is. Personally, I don't have much hope."


I found 21 errors. How many did you find?