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All words may be classified into groups called parts of speech. There are 8 parts of speech namely: Nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections.

We shall now discuss these parts of speech one at a time:


A noun is the part of speech that names a person, a place, a thing or an idea. You use nouns every day when you speak or write. Every day you probably use thousands of nouns. Because nouns name the objects and people and places around you, it would be very difficult to talk about anything at all without them.

Many nouns name things you can see:

Persons Places Things

boy lake boot

student country shadow

John Kamau Nairobi chair

stranger Jupiter sweater

writer Kenyatta Market calendar

Barack Obama Sierra Leone short story

Some nouns name things you cannot see such as feelings, ideas and characteristics:

Feelings Ideas Characteristics

excitement freedom curiosity

fear justice cowardice

anger fantasy courage

happiness faith imagination


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surprise evil self-confidence

Exercise 1

What words in each sentence below are nouns?

Example: John is a dancer – John, dancer

  1. The students planned a party.
  2. Three boys performed songs.
  3. Excitement filled the air.
  4. Joyce Chepkemoi won a prize.
  5. Otieno lives in a house on my street.

Exercise 2

Copy the nouns below and write whether it names a person, a place, a thing, or an idea.

Example: river – place

  1. Candle Guitar
  2. Wrestle China
  3. Joy Hatred
  4. Menengai Crater Masanduku Arap Simiti
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Exercise 3

Write down each noun in the following sentences.

Example: Kenya is a beautiful country – Kenya, country

  1. The musicians played drums and trumpets.
  2. Her family lives in a village.
  3. Petronilla enjoyed the trip.
  4. A festival was held in Kenyatta University.
  5. People in costumes filled the streets.
  6. Boys in Scouts uniforms were leading the parade.
  7. The holiday was a great excitement.
  8. A taxi brought the family to the airport.
  9. Maryanne built a huge castle in the wet sand.
  10. Her mother swam in the warm water.

There are different kinds of nouns:

Common and proper nouns

All nouns can be described as either common or proper. When you talk or write about a person, a place, a thing, or an idea in general, you use a common noun.

Example: Doctors work hard. They treat many patients.

A proper noun is the name of a particular person, place, thing, or idea. Proper nouns always begin with capital letters.

Example: Ephraim Maree is a doctor. He comes from Kirinyaga.

Note: When a proper noun is made up of more than one word, only the important words in the noun will begin with a capital letter. Do not capitalize words such as the, of, or for.

Example: Gulf of Mexico, Statue of Liberty, the Commander–in–Chief.

Common and Proper Nouns

Common Proper Common Proper

street Kerugoya city Raila Odinga

author South Africa ocean Wanjohi

policeman Asia bed Moi Avenue

country Indian Ocean wardrobe Lake Victoria

mountain England continent Dr. Frank Njenga

lake Mandela assistant Professor Saitoti

Proper nouns are important to good writing. They make your writing more specific, and therefore clearer.

Exercise 4

Which words are proper nouns and should be capitalised? Which words are common nouns?

Example: kenya Proper: Kenya

  1. july student 11. america
  2. book kendu bay 12. business
  3. face john hopkins 13. day
  4. england life 14. east africa
  5. crocodiles johannesburg 15. calendar

Exercise 5

List the common nouns and the proper nouns in each of the following sentences.

Example: Nancy welcomed the guests.

Proper: Nancy Common: guests

  1. Lucky Dube was a famous singer.
  2. This dancer has performed in London and Paris.
  3. His last flight was over the Mediterranean Sea.
  4. She worked as a nurse during the Second World War.
  5. Her goal was to educate students all over the world.
  6. It was the worst accident in the history of Europe.
  7. Bill Gates is best known for founding Microsoft.
  8. The Pilot was the first woman to cross that ocean alone.
  9. She grabbed a kettle and brought them water.
  10. Professor Wangari Maathai won a Nobel Peace Prize.

Singular and Plural Nouns

A noun may be either singular or plural. A singular noun names one person, place, thing, or idea.

Example: The farmer drove to the market in his truck.

A plural noun names more than one person, place, thing or idea.

Example: The farmers drove to the markets in their trucks.

Rules for forming plurals

The following are guidelines for forming plurals:

  1. To form the plural of most singular nouns, add -s.

Examples: Street–streets, house–houses, painter–painters, shelter–shelters, event-events, hospital–hospitals.

  1. When a singular noun ends in s, sh, ch, x, or z, add -es.

Examples: dress-dresses, brush-brushes, axe-axes, coach-coaches, box–boxes, bench-benches, dish-dishes, waltz–waltzes.

  1. When a singular noun ends in o, add -s to make it plural.

Examples: Piano-pianos, solo-solos, cameo–cameos, concerto–concertos, patio-patios, studio-studios, radio-radios, rodeo–rodeos.

  1. For some nouns ending with a consonant and o, add -es.

Examples: hero-heroes, potato-potatoes, echo-echoes, veto-vetoes, tomato-tomatoes.

  1. When a singular noun ends with a consonant and y, change the y to i and add -es.

Examples: Library – libraries, activity – activities, story – stories, city – cities, berry – berries.

  1. When a singular noun ends with a vowel (a,e,i,o,u) followed by y, just add -s.

Examples: Valley – valleys, essay – essays, alley – alleys, survey – surveys, joy – joys.

  1. To form the plural of many nouns ending in f or fe, change the f to v and add -es or s.

Examples: Wife – wives, thief – thieves, loaf – loaves, half – halves, shelf – shelves, leaf – leaves, scarf – scarves, life – lives, calf – calves, elf – elves.

  1. For some nouns ending in f, add –s to form the plural.

Examples: proof – proofs, belief – beliefs, motif – motifs, cliff – cliffs.

  1. Some nouns remain the same in the singular and the plural.

Examples: deer – deer, sheep – sheep, series – series, species – species, moose – moose, trout – trout.

  1. The plurals of some nouns are formed in special ways.

Examples: foot – feet, child – children, mouse – mice, man – men, woman – women, ox-oxen, tooth – teeth.

NB: If you don’t figure out the correct spelling of a plural noun, look it up in a dictionary.

Exercise 6

What is the plural form of each of the following nouns? Example: scarfscarves

  1. tooth cuff 17. moose 25. boss
  2. wife deer 18. child 26. fox
  3. giraffe cliff 19. echo 27. bunch
  4. hero auto 20. baby 28. ferry
  5. radio studio 21. sky 29. flash
  6. potato man 22. beach 30. ship
  7. belief roof 23. eye
  8. thief rodeo 24. Volcano

Exercise 7

Write the plural form of each noun in brackets to complete each sentence correctly.

Example: I bought two ________________ from the shop. (loaf) loaves

  1. I used two different _______________ to cut the rope. (knife)
  2. She peeled the _______________ with a knife. (potato)
  3. They are feeding the noisy _____________. (goose)
  4. The tools are placed on the _____________. (shelf)
  5. Mukami cut a few _______________ for the salad. (tomato)
  6. The ______________ are playing in the field. (child)
  7. Some ______________ are hiding in the ceiling. (mouse)
  8. The ______________ of the buildings must be repaired. (roof)
  9. The music helped them imagine the strange _________. (story)
  10. Koech used creative ______________ to help young people sharpen their imagination. (activity)

Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Countable Nouns

These are nouns that take plurals and can be counted.


Egg – eggs One egg, three eggs, ten eggs

Potato – Potatoes Twenty potatoes

Onion – Onions Two hundred onions

Such nouns are known as COUNTABLE or COUNT NOUNS

Uncountable Nouns

These are nouns that do not take plurals and cannot be counted.

Examples: salt, butter, cooking fat, milk, bread, jam

We do not say:

Two butters*

Ten milks*

Three breads*

Such nouns are known as UNCOUNTABLE or MASS NOUNS

Exercise 8

Rewrite the words below in two columns, COUNTABLE and UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS

orange coffee

furniture tea

water gold

chair team

friend music

Plurals with uncountable Nouns

One way to express plurals of uncountable nouns is by use of expressions of quantity.


a piece of information – pieces of information

a loaf of bread – four loaves of bread

a tin of soup – three tins of soup

a piece of furniture – several pieces of furniture

a litre of milk – twenty litres of milk

a bottle of beer – ten bottles of beer

Exercise 9

Supply an appropriate expression of quantity for the following uncountable nouns

  1. …………………………………..of cigarettes.
  2. …………………………….. of cooking oil
  3. …………………………….of jam.
  4. ……………………………….of butter.
  5. …………………………………of soda.
  6. …………………………………. of toothpaste
  7. ……………………………..of rice.
  8. five ……………………………….. of flour.
  9. two ……………………………….. of chocolate.
  10. four…………………….. of news.

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns are nouns that represent a group of people or things as a single unit.

Some collective nouns can take plural forms


crowd (s) flock (s)

group (s) herd (s)

team (s) committee (s)

pair (s)

Some collective nouns, however, cannot be used in the plural:


furnitures* beddings*

equipments* informations*

luggages* baggages*

Exercise 10

When I arrived at the airport, there were………1……… (crowd) of people blocking the entrance with their ……………..2………………( luggage ). Near the customs sections, several……………3…………….. (group) of officials were standing, checking the ………………4……………… (equipment) that was being loaded onto a trolley. Most people were standing, waiting for… ………….5…………….. (information) from the loudspeakers on the departures and arrivals of aircraft.


A compound noun is a noun that is made up of two or more words. The words that form compound nouns may be joined together, separated or hyphenated.


Joined: bookcase, blackboard, pushcart

Separated: high school, rabbit hutch, radar gun

Hyphenated: go-getter, mother-in-law, sergeant-at-arms

Compound nouns are usually a combination of two or more word classes. The most common combinations are as follows:

  1. Some are formed by joining a noun with another noun. Most of these compound nouns take their plurals in the last words.


tableroom(s) grass root(s) prize-fighter(s)

cupboard(s) policeman/men rubber-stamp(s)

bookcase(s) farmhouse(s) sanitary towel(s)

cowshed(s) fruit machine(s) shoulder blade(s)

  1. Some are formed by joining a verb and an adverb. Most of these compound nouns also take their plurals in the last words.


breakfast(s) push-up(s) rundown(s)

takeaway(s) knockout(s) slip-up(s)

sit-up(s) meltdown(s)

  1. Some compound nouns are formed by joining an adjective and a noun. Most of these also take their plurals in the last words.


hotdog(s) polar bear(s) safe guard(s)

blackboard(s) quicksand

highway(s) remote control(s)

nuclear power right angle(s)

  1. Some are formed by joining a verb and a noun. Most of these also take their plurals in the last words.


driveway(s) playground(s) spend thrift(s)

breakdance(s) pushchair(s) go-getter(s)

mincemeat screwdriver(s)

password(s) spare wheel(s)

  1. Some ore formed by joining an adverb and a noun. Most of these also take their plural in the last words.


overdraft(s) overcoats(s) backyards(s)

backbencher(s) undercoat(s) backbone(s)

backlog(s) underwear(s) oversight(s)

  1. A few compound nouns are formed by joining an adverb and a verb. These ones also take their plurals in the last words.


outbreak(s) backlash(es) output(s)

outburst(s) outcast(s) input(s)

  1. A few others are formed by joining a noun and a verb. They also take their plurals in the last words.


nosedive(s) nightfall(s)

  1. A number of compound nouns are formed by joining two nouns by use of hyphens and a short preposition in between. These compound nouns always take their plurals in the first words.


commander(s)-in-chief sergeant(s)-at-arms

mother(s)-in-law sister(s)-in-law


Exercise 11

Underline the compound nouns in the following sentences and write down their plural forms where possible.

  1. John wants to be a quantity surveyor when he grows up.
  2. Rainwater had washed away all the top soil.
  3. The footballer was shown a red card by the referee.
  4. Neither candidate won the elections, forcing a runoff.
  5. The goalkeeper saved a penalty in the second half.
  6. He killed the wild pig with a sledge hammer.
  7. Njoroge’s tape-recorder was stolen yesterday.
  8. The theatregoer was disappointed with the show.
  9. Size 8’s latest song has caused an uproar.
  10. He attempted a creative writing workshop.

Possessive Nouns

A possessive noun shows who or what owns something. A possessive noun can either be singular or plural.

Singular possessive nouns

A singular possessive noun shows that one person, place, or thing has or owns something. To make a singular noun show possession, add an apostrophe and s (‘s).


the feathers of the chick – the chick’s feathers

the hat that belongs to the man – the man’s hat

Other examples:

the child’s toy the fish’s fins

Mark’s bike the horse’s tail

Using possessive nouns is shorter and better than other ways of showing possession.


LONGER: The dog belonging to Papa is barking.

BETTER: Papa’s dog is barking.

Plural Possessive Nouns

A plural possessive noun shows possession or ownership of a plural noun.


The cars that belong to the teachers are parked here.

The teachers’ cars are parked here.

When a plural noun ends in s, add only an apostrophe after the s to make the noun show possession.

Not all plural nouns end in s. When a plural noun does not end in s, add ‘s to form the plural possession.


the shoes of the men – the men’s shoes

the food of the children – the children’s food

The noun following a possessive noun may either be the name of a thing or a quality.


Thing – Koki’s raincoat Brian’s umbrella

Quality – the judge’s fury Bob’s courage

Exercise 8

Change the following phrases to show possession in a shorter way.

Example: the claws of the leopard

the leopard’s claws.

  1. the tail of the lion
  2. the dog that Cliff has
  3. the hat of my mother
  4. the book that Evans owns
  5. the pot that the child has
  6. the name of the doll
  7. the mobile phone that Lucy owns
  8. the shoes that Kimani has
  9. the teeth that the fox has
  10. the rabbit that my friend owns

Summary of rules of forming Possessive Nouns

  1. For singular a noun, add an apostrophe and s.

Example: Mr. Mukui’s car is a Toyota Corolla.

  1. For plural noun ending in s, add an apostrophe only.

Example: The victims’ property was stolen

  1. For a plural noun that does not end in s, add an apostrophe and s.

Example: The women’s boots were muddy.

Singular Noun Singular possessive Plural Noun Plural possessive

boy boy’s boys boys’

child child’s children children’s

mouse mouse’s mice mice’s

deer deer’s deer deer’s



Exercise 9

Write the following phrases to show possession.

Example: teachers – pens = teachers’ pens

  1. cooks – aprons women – sports
  2. men – boots carpenters – nails
  3. countries – flags sailors – uniforms
  4. guests – coats musicians – instruments
  5. athletes – medal neighbours – pets

Exercise 10

Rewrite the following sentences changing the BOLD words to plural possessive nouns.

Example: The players on the teams practised after school.

The teams’ players practised after school.

  1. Each day the wealth of the couple increased.
  2. There was a team of men and a team of women.
  3. The uniforms that the teams wore were new.
  4. Numbers were printed on the shirts of the athletes
  5. 5. Scores made by the team-mates were put on the scoreboard.
  6. The players enjoyed the cheers of their friends.
  7. The whistles of the coaches stopped the game.
  8. The eyes of the children were full of tears of joy.
  9. The soothing voices of their mothers calmed them.
  10. However, the houses belonging to their neighbours were destroyed.


A pronoun is a part of speech that takes the place of a noun. They include such words as I, we, he, she, they, me and us.

Pronouns enable you to avoid repeating the same names (nouns), when writing or speaking, which would otherwise make you sound very awkward and wordy. By using pronouns effectively, you can make your writing and speaking flow smoothly.

Pronouns can be classified into 6 types. These are personal, indefinite, demonstrative, interrogative, reflexive and intensive pronouns.

Personal pronouns

A personal pronoun is a word that is used in place of a noun or another pronoun. They are used to refer to nouns that name persons or things.


Awkward: Kamau put on Kamau’s gum boots. Then Kamau went to the shamba.

Improved: Kamau put on his gum boots. Then he went to the shamba.

In the above example, the personal pronoun his helps the writer avoid repeating the same noun. The pronoun he acts as a bridge to connect the two sentences.

Personal pronouns are further classified in terms of person and gender.


In terms of person, personal pronouns can be divided into three classes.

  • First person – I, my, me, we, our and us.

These ones refer to the person(s) speaking.

Example: I always ride my bike to school.

  • Second person – you, your, yours

These refer to the person(s) spoken to.

Example: I will call you tomorrow.

(iii) Third person – he, his, him, she, hers, her, it, its, they, their, them.

These ones refer to another person(s) or thing(s) that is being spoken of.

The personal pronoun it usually replaces a noun that stands for a thing or an animal. It is never used in place of a person.


Personal pronouns can also be classified by gender. Gender can either be masculine (referring to male people), feminine (referring to female people) or neuter (referring to animals or things).


Joseph cleaned his car. (his is the third person, masculine gender).

Isabel said the dress was hers (hers is the third person, feminine gender).

The dog wagged its tail. (its is the third person, neuter gender).


In English, personal pronouns have three forms: the subject form, the object form and the possessive form.


She is a painter. (subject form)

He praised her. (Object form)

It is her best painting. (Possessive form)


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Subject Pronouns

A subject pronoun takes the place of a noun as the subject of a sentence. These pronouns are:

  • Singular forms – I, you, he, she, it
  • Plural forms – we, you, they


Noun Subject Pronoun

The housegirl takes care of her. She takes care of her.

The dog guards the house. It guards the house.

Mark and Francis love swimming. They love swimming.

Subject pronouns also appear after forms of the linking verbs be.


The watchman today is he.

The composers were they.

Exercise 1

Underline the subject pronouns in the following sentences.

Example: She ate a water melon

  1. They ate fish and chips.
  2. We like Italian food.
  3. It is delicious.
  4. The biggest eater was he.
  5. You helped in the cooking.
  6. The cooks were Tom and I.

Exercise 2

Replace the underlined words with subject pronouns.

Example: Pio and Gama are friends – They

  1. The glasses were under the table.
  2. Emma fed the chicken.
  3. The pears were juicy.
  4. Uncle Ben and Lillian visited the orphans.
  5. The new waitress is Jane.
  6. The fastest runners were Tecla and Kirui.
  7. Lisa went to the hall.
  8. The chicken was slaughtered.
  9. Lucky Dube and Brenda Fasie were South African Singers.
  10. Samuel Wanjiru has won many athletics medals.

Object pronouns

Object pronouns can replace nouns used after action verbs. These pronouns are:

  • Singular – me, you, him, her, it
  • Plural – us, you, them


The driver drove him. (Direct object)

The parents thanked us. (Direct object)

The reporters asked him many questions. (Indirect object)

In the above examples, the personal pronouns are the direct or indirect objects of the verbs before them.

Object pronouns can also replace nouns after prepositions such as to, for, with, in, at or by. That is, they can be objects of prepositions.


Gladys waved to them. (Object of a preposition)

The delivery is for me.

Ben went with them to the theatre.

Exercise 3

Choose the correct pronoun in the brackets in the following sentences.

Example: Irungu photographed (us, we). = us

  1. Lisa asked (he, him) for a picture.
  2. Adam sketched Lisa and (I, me).
  3. He gave a photo to (us, we).
  4. Ann and (she, her) saw Dave and Bob.
  5. Adam drew Lisa and (they, them).
  6. Mark helped (I, me) with the packing.
  7. Loise praised (him, he) for his good work.
  8. Everyone spotted (they, them) easily.
  9. That night Mike played the guitar for (us, we).
  10. (We, Us) drove with (they, them) to the mountains.

Possessive pronouns

A possessive pronoun shows ownership.

Example: My pen is black.

There are two kinds of possessive pronouns:

  1. Those used as adjectives to modify nouns. These possessive pronouns are:

Singular: My, your, his, her, its

Plural: Our, your, their


My shirt is yellow. Your food is on the table.

His bag is green. This is her dress.

Its fur is soft. These are our parents.

Pay your bills. They removed their bats.

The above possessive pronouns always appear before nouns to modify them. Hence, they are called modifiers.

  1. Those that stand alone and replace nouns in sentences. These possessive nouns are:

Singular: mine, yours, his, hers, its

Plural: ours, yours, their


The yellow shirt is mine. The food on the table is yours.

The green bag is his. This dress is hers.

Its is the soft fur. These crops are ours.

These bills are yours. Those hats are theirs.

Exercise 4

Complete the following sentences by choosing the correct possessive pronoun from the brackets.

Example: The lazy girl completed (her, hers) home work. = her.

  1. (My, mine) journey to Mombasa was enjoyable.
  2. Florence said (her, hers) was the best.
  3. Are the pictures of Fort Jesus (your, yours)?
  4. (Her, Hers) were taken at Jomo Kenyatta Beach.
  5. Tomorrow we will make frames for (our, ours) pictures.
  6. (My, mine) class is planning a trip to Mt. Kenya.
  7. (Our, ours) trip will be taken on video.
  8. Micere is excited that the idea was (her, hers).
  9. Koki and Toti cannot hide (their, theirs) excitement.
  10. (My, mine) dream is to climb to the highest peak of the mountain.


  1. The pronoun I is used as a subject or after forms of the linking verb be.


Subject: I travel by bus.

After the linking verb be: Yesterday, the prefects on duty were Victor and I.

  1. The pronoun me is used as an object after action verbs or words (prepositions) such as to, for, with, in, or at.


Object: Rose met me at the gate.

After prepositions: Rose waited for me at the gate.

You are coming with me.

  1. When using compound subjects and objects (i.e. subjects and objects comprising of a pronoun and a noun or another pronoun), always name yourself last.


Diana and I visited our grandmother yesterday.

Who appointed Chege and me?

Rose waited for her and me at the gate.


A contraction is a shortened form of two words. One or more letters are omitted and an apostrophe (’) is used in place of the letters left out.

A contraction is formed by combining pronouns and the verbs am, is, are, will, would, have, has, and had.

Pronoun + verb Contraction Pronoun + verb Contraction

I am I’m I have I’ve

He is he’s he has he’s

It is it’s it has it’s

You are you’re you have you’ve

They are they’re they have they’ve

I will I’ll I had I’d

You will you’ll you had you’d

We would we’d we had we’d


1.Some contractions look the same but are formed from different words.


he is, he has = he’s

we had, we would = we’d

2.Some possessive pronouns sound like contractions. Because the words sound alike, they are sometimes confused.


Possessive pronouns Contractions

its it’s

your you’re

their they’re

whose who’s

Incorrect: The team celebrated it’s victory.

Correct: The team celebrated its victory.

Incorrect: Your late for the preps.

Correct: You’re late for the preps.

Incorrect: Whose the fastest runner in the world?

Correct: Who’s the fastest runner in the world?

Rules of using possessive pronouns and contractions correctly:

  1. If the word you want to use stands for two words, it is a contraction and needs an apostrophe.
  2. Never use an apostrophe in a possessive pronoun.

Exercise 5

Write the contractions for the following word pairs. Example: It has = it’s

  1. You will 3. He had 5. You have
  2. We would 4. I am 6. They will

Exercise 6

What pronoun and verb make up each of the following contractions?

Example: It’s = it is, it has

  1. I’ll 3. you’d 5. they’re
  2. we’re 4. he’s 6. she’d

Exercise 7

Choose the correct word given in brackets in the following sentences.

  1. The Kenyan government has worked hard to improve (its, it’s) educational system.
  2. (Whose, Who’s) going to decide where the guests will sleep?
  3. (Their, They’re) learning French in their school.
  4. Only students (whose, who’s) scores are excellent will join national schools.
  5. (Its, It’s) been estimated that about 8 million Kenyans are living with HIV AIDS.


An indefinite pronoun is a pronoun that does not refer to a specific person or thing.

In English, there are singular indefinite pronouns, plural indefinite and both singular and plural indefinite pronouns.

Singular Indefinite Pronouns

another anything everybody neither one

anybody each everyone nobody somebody

anymore either everything no one someone.

An indefinite pronoun must agree with its verbs and in number with its possessive pronoun. The above indefinite pronouns are used with singular verbs. They are also used with singular possessive pronouns.


Agreement with verbs

Correct: Everyone has heard of Lake Turkana.

Incorrect: Everyone have heard of Lake Turkana.

Correct: Nobody knows what happened to Samuel Wanjiru.

Incorrect: Nobody know what happened to Samuel Wanjiru.

Correct: Everything about the old man remains a mystery.

Incorrect: Everything about the old man remain a mystery.

Agreement in number with possessive pronouns

Correct: Neither believed his/her eyes.

Incorrect: Neither believed their eyes.

Correct: Each strained his/her neck to see.

Incorrect: Each strained their neck to see.

Plural indefinite pronouns

both many few several

These indefinite pronouns use plural verbs and possessive pronouns.


Plural verbs

Correct: Few know about Lake Olbolosat.

Incorrect: Few knows about Lake Obolosat.

Correct: Both stand by what they believe.

Incorrect: Both stands by what they believe.

Plural possessive pronouns

Correct: Several reported their findings.

Incorrect: Several reported his/her findings.

Both singular and plural indefinite pronouns

all some any none

These indefinite pronouns may be singular or plural, depending on their meaning in the sentence.


All of my story is true. – singular

All of the guests are here. – plural

None of the lake is foggy. – singular

None of the photos are spoiled. – plural.


Underline the indefinite pronouns in the following sentences and then write the correct form of the verb or possessive pronoun in the brackets.

  1. All the photographs of the killer (is, are) unclear.
  2. (Has, Have) anybody seen my camera?
  3. Many (believes, believe) a monster lives in the lake.
  4. Each of the photographs (make, makes) people want more.
  5. All of the evidence (indicates, indicate) that he was killed by his wife.
  6. Everyone has taken (his, their) payment.
  7. Several eyewitnesses volunteered to give (his, their) accounts.
  8. Anyone can lose (her, their) eyesight.
  9. Another reported (his, their) case to the police.
  10. Somebody left (her, their) handbag in the lecture hall.


A demonstrative pronoun is used to single or point out one or more persons or things referred to in the sentence. These pronouns are this, that, these, and those.

This and these point to persons or things that are near.


This is a gazelle.

These are the students of Kianjege West Secondary School.

That and those point to persons or things that are farther away.


That is the city square.

Those are the lodging rooms.

This and that are used with singular nouns. These and those are used with plural nouns.

Exercise 9

Pick the correct demonstrate pronouns from the choices given in the brackets in the following sentences.

  1. (This, That) is the canteen we are entering now.
  2. (This, That) is the dispensary across the street
  3. (These, Those) are beautiful flowers on the counter over there.
  4. Are (those, these) chocolate bars on the far counter?
  5. I think (these, those) are called Vuvuzelas.


An interrogative pronoun is used to ask a question. These pronouns are who, whose, whom, which and what.


Who is the mayor of this town?

Whose is the red car?

Which is her blouse?

What did she ask you?

Whom should I trust with my secret?


Who, whom, and whose are often used to ask questions. Hence, they are interrogative pronouns.

WHO is the subject form. It is used as the subject of a verb.


Who taught you how to play the guitar? (Who is the subject of the verb taught.)

WHOM is the object form. It is used as the direct object of a verb or as the object of a preposition.


Whom did you meet? (Whom is the object of the verb did meet).

For whom is this trophy? (whom is the object of the preposition for).

WHOSE is the possessive form. It can be used :

  • To modify a noun


Whose umbrella is this? (whose modifies the noun umbrella)

  • Alone as the subject or object of a verb


Whose are those water melons? (whose is the subject of the verb are)

Whose did you admire? (whose is the object of the verb did admire)

Exercise 10

Pick the correct interrogative pronouns from the brackets in the following sentences.

  1. (Who, Whom) owns that shop?
  2. (Who, Whom) can we ask the way?
  3. (Which, What) did they ask you?
  4. (Which, What) are the objects on the table called?
  5. To (who, whom) does the boutique belong?

Exercise 11

Complete the following sentences with who, whom, or whose.

  1. ________________ knows the origin of the Luos?
  2. ________________ did you ask about it?
  3. To _______________ did you give the letter?
  4. _________________ is the most attractive painting?
  5. _________________ is likely to receive the Chaguo la Teeniez award?
  6. For ______________ did you buy this doll?
  7. _________________ skill in dancing is the best?
  8. _________________ is the officer-in-charge here?
  9. _________________ are you looking at?

10._________________ are those healthy Merino sheep?


Reflexive and intensive pronouns end in -self or –selves. These are myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, and themselves. There is, however, one difference between reflexive and Intensive pronouns.

A reflexive pronoun refers to an action performed by the subject of the sentence. The meaning of the sentence is incomplete without the reflexive pronoun.


Monicah bought herself a new dress.

(The meaning of the sentence is incomplete without the reflexive pronoun because we do not know for whom Monicah bought the dress).

An Intensive pronoun is used to emphasise a noun or a pronoun. It does not add information to a sentence, and it can be removed without changing the meaning of the sentence.

I myself pulled the boy out of the river.

(If you remove myself, the meaning of the sentence does not change)

Exercise 12

Identify the Reflexive and Intensive pronouns in the following sentences, labelling them accordingly.

  1. I myself have never tried mountain climbing.
  2. He himself was taking the cows to graze in the forest.
  3. My sister Annastasia mends her clothes herself.
  4. She often challenges herself by doing strenuous activities.
  5. You may ask yourself about the sanity of beer drinking competition.


  1. Double subjects

We all know that every sentence must have a subject. Sometimes we incorrectly use a double subject – a noun and a pronoun – to name the same person, place, or thing.

Incorrect Correct

Jane she is my cousin. Jane is my cousin.

She is my cousin.

Her scarf it is pretty. Her scarf is pretty.

It is pretty.

Jane and she should not be used as subjects together.

The subject her scarf should not be used together with it.

Use only a noun or a pronoun to name a subject.

  1. Pronouns and their Antecedents

The antecedent of a pronoun is a noun or another pronoun for which the pronoun stands.

A personal pronoun, you will remember, is used in place or a noun. The noun is the word to which the pronouns refer and it is therefore its antecedent.

The noun usually comes first, either in the same sentence or in the sentence before it.


We met Mureithi. He is the medical doctor.

(He stands for Mureithi. Mureithi is the antecedent).

The students had come to school with their mobile phones.

(Their stands for students. Students is the antecedent).

Pronouns may be the antecedents of other pronouns.


Does everybody have his booklet?

(everybody, which is a singular indefinite pronoun, is the antecedent of his).

All of the students have brought theirs.

(All, which is a plural indefinite pronoun, is the antecedent of theirs).

Now, a pronoun must agree with its antecedent in number. Agree here means that the pronoun must be the same in number as its antecedent. The word number means singular or plural.

If the pronoun is singular, the word that it stands for must be singular, and it must be plural if the word it stands for is plural.


Correct: The scientists tested their new discovery.

(Scientists is plural; their is plural.)

Incorrect: The scientists tested his new discovery.

Correct: Mr. Kiama turned on his TV.

(Mr Kiama is singular; his is singular)

Correct: Nobody left her workstation.

(Nobody is singular, her is singular)

NB: When the antecedent refers to both males and females, it is best to use the phrase his or her.

  1. Use of we and us with nouns.

Phrases such as we students and us girls are often incorrectly used. To tell which pronoun to use, drop the noun and say the sentence without it.

Problem: (We, Us) boys study hard.

Solution: We study hard. = We boys study hard.

Problem: The DC praised. (us, we) students.

Solution: The DC praised us. = The DC praised us students

  1. Using the pronoun Them

The word them is always a pronoun. It is always used as the object of a verb or a preposition, never as a subject.


Correct: The president greeted them. (direct object of the verb greeted)

Correct: She gave them a sandwich. (Indirect object of the verb gave)

Correct: The information was useful to them. (object of the preposition to)

Incorrect: Them they arrived late.

  1. Using Those

Although we previously said that those is used as a demonstrative pronouns, it is sometimes used as an adjective i.e. a word that modifies a noun or a pronoun. If a noun appears immediately after it, those is now an adjective, not a pronoun.


Those are the new desks that were bought. (Those is a pronoun, the subject of the verb are).

Those desks are attractive. (Those is an adjective modifying the noun desks).

Exercise 13

Each of the following sentences has a double subject. Write each correctly.

  1. Papa Shirandula he is a good actor.
  2. Many people they find him funny.
  3. The show it was on television for many years.
  4. Their daughter she is also in that show.
  5. The shoes they are beautiful.
  6. People they like our hotel.
  7. My brother he drives a matatu.
  8. Our hotel it is open seven days a week.
  9. The TV it is very clear today.
  10. My brother and sister they work in Nairobi.

Exercise 14

Pick the correct pronoun in the brackets in the following sentences.

  1. (We, Us) students started a school magazine last month.
  2. Many careers are unpromising. (Them, Those) are the ones to avoid.
  3. One of (them, those) motivational speakers was especially interesting.
  4. A financial analyst told (we, us) students about his work.
  5. Finding jobs was important to (we, us) graduates.


A verb is a word that:

  • expresses an action
  • expresses the state that something exists, or

(iii) links the subject with a word that describes or renames it.

Hence, there are two kinds of verbs. These are action verbs and linking verbs.


Action verbs express actions. They show what the subject does or did. Most verbs are action verbs.


Cats drink milk.

The ball flew over the goal post.

The farmer tills the land.

Robert ran to the house.

The action may be one that you can see.


They crowned their new King.

The action may be one that you cannot see.


She wanted recognition.

Whether the action can be seen or not, an action verb says that something is happening, has happened, or will happen.


A linking verb links the subject of a sentence with a word or words that :

  • express(es) the subject’s state of being


She is here. (expresses state of being)

She seems ready. (state of being)

  • describe(s) or rename(s) the subject.


Anna is a nurse. (a nurse describes Anna)

Joyce is cheerful. (cheerful describes Joyce)

The road is bumpy. (bumpy describes the road)

A linking verb does not tell about an action.

Common linking verbs

Am look grow are feel remain

is taste become was smell sound

were seem will be appear

NB: Some verbs can be either linking verbs or action verbs.


The crowd looked at the mangled car. – ACTION

The driver of the car looked shocked. – LINKING

The chef smelled the food. – ACTION

The food smelled wonderful. – LINKING


Identify the verb in each of the following sentences. Then label each verb Action or Linking.

  1. Queen Elizabeth of England seems an interesting historical figure.
  2. We watched the Olympic games on television.
  3. The crowd cheered loudly.
  4. She seems calm.
  5. PLO Lumumba is a quick thinker.
  6. The hunter aimed the arrow at the antelope.
  7. The referee blew the whistle to start off the game.
  8. She was very tired after the journey.
  9. She is careful when crossing the road.
  10. The country seems prosperous.


In some sentences, the verb is more than one word. It is in form of a phrase, which is called a verb phrase. A verb phrase consists of a main verb and one or more helping verbs. The main verb shows the action in the sentence.

The helping verb works with the main verb. Helping verbs do not show action.


Mark Francis has passed the examinations.

H.V. M.V.

He will be admitted to a national school.

H.V.H.V. M.V.

His parents are happy with him.

H.V. M.V.

Common helping verbs

am will can would is shall could

must are have may was has should

were had might

Some verbs, such as do, have and be can either be used as main verbs or as helping verbs.


As main verbs As helping verbs

I will do the job. I do like the job.

Who has a pen? He has lost his pen.

They are my friends. They are coming today.

Sometimes helping verbs and main verbs are separated by words that are not verbs.


I do not ride a bicycle any more.

Can we ever be friends again?

We should definitely apologise for the mistakes.

Exercise 2

Indicate H.V. under the Helping verb and M.V. under the Main verb in the following sentences.

  1. The school choir is singing a new song.
  2. The football season has finally begun.
  3. This car just can travel very fast.
  4. He had waited for this chance for years.
  5. My parents will be visiting us soon.
  6. Our friends have come for a visit.
  7. You must buy your ticket for the game.
  8. Sarah has chosen Kenyatta University for her degree course.
  9. She is hitting her child with a rubber strap.
  10. I will go for the game next week.


The time of an action or the state of being is expressed by different forms of the verb. These forms are called the tenses of the verb.

There are three main forms of a verb: the present, the past, or the future.

The Present Tense

A verb which is in present tense indicates what the subject of the sentence is doing right now.


The teacher sees the students.

The verb sees tells that the teacher is seeing the students now. To show the present tense, an -s or -es is added to most verbs if the subject is singular.

If the subject is plural, or I or You, the -s, or -es is not added.


The bird hatches in the nest.

The stream flows down the hill.

The boys rush for their breakfast.

We talk a lot.

Rules for forming the Present Tense with Singular Subjects

  1. Most verbs: add –s

get – gets play – plays eat – eats

  1. Verbs ending in s, ch, sh, x, and z: add -es

pass – passes mix – mixes punch-punches buzz – buzzes push – pushes

  1. Verbs ending with a consonant and y: change the y to i and add -es

try – tries empty – empties

Exercise 3

Write the correct present form of each verb in the brackets in the following sentences.

  1. She carefully ________________ the map. (study)
  2. A fish _______________ in the water near me. (splash)
  3. She _______________ her hands. (wash)
  4. He ______________ to the classroom. (hurry)
  5. Bryan and I ____________ the assignment. (discuss)

The Past Tense

A verb which is in past tense shows what has already happened.


Tito liked his grandmother’s story.

The verb liked tells that the action in the sentence happened before now.

Rules for forming the Past Tense

  1. Most verbs: Add -ed play – played

talk – talked

climb – climbed

  1. Verbs ending with e: Add -d praise – praised

hope – hoped

wipe – wiped

  1. Verbs ending with a consonant and -y: Change the y to i and add –ed bury – buried

carry – carried

study – studied

  1. Verbs ending with a single vowel and a consonant: Double the final consonant and add-ed stop – stopped

man – manned

trip – tripped

Exercise 4

Write the past tense forms of each of the verbs in brackets in the following sentences.

  1. John _____________ his house burn into ashes. (watch)
  2. The baby _____________ loudly. (cry)
  3. The teacher ______________ at the naughty student. (yell)
  4. The chef ______________ a delicious cake. (bake)
  5. We ______________ for a present for our grandmother. (shop)

The Future Tense

A verb which is in future tense tells what is going to happen.


Evans will take his car to the garage.

She will probably come with us.

The verbs will take and will come tell us what is going to happen. Hence, they are in future tense.

To form the future tense of a verb, use the helping verb will or shall with the main verb.

Exercise 5

Write the future tense forms of the verbs in the following sentences.

  1. We write in exercise books.
  2. The train stopped at the station.
  3. He decides what he wants to do.
  4. They practise in the football field.
  5. Rats multiply very fast.

More Tenses

The above three forms of tenses can further be divided into:

  1. The simple tenses – Present simple tense

– Past simple tense

– Future simple tense

  1. The perfect tenses – Present perfect tense

– Present perfect progressive – Past perfect tense

– Future perfect

– Future perfect progressive

  1. The progressive tenses – Present progressive tense

– Past progressive tense

– Progressive tense

– Future perfect progressive tense.

The simple Tenses

The most common tenses of the verb are the simple tenses. You use them most often in your speaking and writing.

  1. Present simple tense.

Look at the following sentences.

  • I know
  • He goes to school every day.
  • The sun rises from the east.

All the above sentences contain a verb in the present simple tense. This tense is used for different purposes.

  • To state a personal fact

Example: I know Kisumu.

(ii) To point out a regular habit.

Example: He goes to school every day.

(iii) To state a known scientific fact

Example: The sun rises from the east.

Exercise 6

Complete the following sentences putting the verbs in brackets in the present simple tense.

  1. They _________ their new principal. (like)
  2. Every morning, she ______________ her teeth. (brush)
  3. The earth ______________ on its own axis. (rotate)
  4. Twice a year, he _______________ his family. (visit)
  5. Air ____________ when heated. (rise)
  6. Past Simple Tense

The past simple tense is used when an action has been completed.


We cleaned our classrooms yesterday.

He drove the car this morning.

She planned the whole incident.

Exercise 7

Write down the past simple tense of the following words and then use each of them in sentences of your own.

start breathe

add roam

trap obey

annoy worry

pity fit

  1. Future Simple Tense

The future simple tense places the action or condition in the future. It is formed by using the word shall or will before the present form of the main verb.


We shall need help with her load.

She will eat the bananas alone.

The dancers will entertain them.

Exercise 8

Use the following words in future simple tense in sentences of your own.

see develop

go begin

exist consume

introduce hunt

bring become

The Perfect Tenses

The perfect tenses are used to show that an action was completed or that a condition existed before a given time. The perfect tenses are formed using has, have, or had before the past participles, that is, verb forms ending in -ed.


  1. Present Perfect Tense:

Ceasar has just finished his homework.

Kamau and Njoroge have now agreed to meet.

  1. Present Perfect Continuous Tense

Kibet has been working in his shamba for two hours.

We have been swimming in this pool for ten minutes.

  1. Past Perfect Tense

We had completed the work by the time the supervisor came.

Nobody knew that she had already remarried.

  1. Past Perfect Continuous Tense

I had been trying to contact him for two hours before he finally appeared.

Mrs. Masumbuko had been feeling unwell the whole week before she decided to visit a doctor.

  1. Future Perfect Tense

Agege will have sold his goats by two p.m.

By next term, twenty students will have dropped from this school.

  1. Future Perfect Continuous

The players will have been playing for twenty minutes by the time the President arrives.

By the end of this term, she will have been living with her aunt for five years.

Exercise 9

Rewrite the following sentence changing the verb into present perfect, present perfect progressive, past perfect, past perfect progressive, future perfect and future perfect progressive tenses. Make any necessary changes to make the sentences meaningful.

John comes here every year.

The Progressive Verb Forms

The progressive form of the verb shows continuing action.


I am singing

She was dancing.

The progressive form is formed using various forms of the verb be plus the present participle, that is, a verb form that ends in –ing.


  1. Present Progressive Tense

I am reading a book about Red Indians.

Her mother is preparing dinner.

  1. Present Perfect Progressive

He has been cleaning his car since morning.

They have been exercising for a week now.

  1. Past Progressive Tense

She was cooking supper when I arrived.

They were fighting fiercely when the police arrived.

  1. Past Perfect Progressive Tense

Sonko had been wearing an earring for years before he removed it.

Onyancha had been killing children before he was finally discovered.

  1. Future Progressive

He will be tilling the land next week.

Joyce and Joan will be washing clothes all morning.

  1. Future Perfect Progressive

The children will have been sleeping for two hours by the time their parents arrive.

John will have grown a beard by the time he is twelve.

Exercise 10

Rewrite the following sentence changing the verb into present progressive, present perfect progressive, past progressive, past perfect progressive, future progressive and future perfect progressive tenses. Make any necessary changes to make the sentences meaningful.

Jane plays the guitar well.


Present tense

A verb and its subject must agree in number. To agree means that if the subject is singular, the verb must be in singular form. If the subject is plural, the verb form must be plural.


The baby cries every morning. – SINGULAR

The babies cry every morning. – PLURAL

Rules for subject-verb Agreement

  1. Singular subject: Add -s or -es to the verb

The man drives a bus.

She teaches in a primary school.

He studies his map.

  1. Plural subject: Do not add -s or -es to the verb

The men drive buses.

They teach in primary schools.

We study our maps.

  1. For I or You: Do not add -s or -es to the verb

I hate books.

You like dogs.

I admire actors.

When a sentence has a compound subject, that is, two subjects joined by and, the plural form of the verb is used.


John and James work at Naivas Supermarket.

The teachers and the students respect one another a lot.

Subject-verb Agreement with be and have

The verbs be and have change their forms in special ways in order to agree with their subjects.

Various ways in which be and have change in order to agree with their subjects

Subject Be Have
1.Singular subjects:



He, she, it

Singular Noun

am, was

are, were

is, was

is, was

have, had

have, had

has, had

has, had

2.Plural subjects:




Plural Noun

are, were

are, were

are, were

are, were

have, had

have, had

have, had

have, had

Exercise 11

Put appropriate Present tense verbs in the blank spaces in the following sentences. Ensure that the subject agrees with the verb and that the sentence makes sense.

  1. The dogs _______________ their owners.
  2. She ______________ at the door.
  3. They ______________ the road at the Zebra-crossing.
  4. Many blind people ___________________ dogs as guides.
  5. We ________________ dogs every day.
  6. Mark always _______________ his house.
  7. I often _______________ with June.
  8. Mwangi __________________ his aunt in Mombasa.
  9. Jane and he ________________ next month.
  10. The directors ______________ the company.


We have learned in the previous chapter how to form the past tense and how to use helping verbs to show that something has already happened. We saw that for most verbs, we form the past tense and participles by adding -d or -ed to the verb. Verbs that follow this rule are called Regular Verbs.


The farmer planted his crops last month. – past tense

The crops have been planted recently. – past participle.

For all regular verbs, the past and the past participles are spelled alike. They are made up by adding -d or -ed to the present form of the verb.


PresentPastPast Participles














had helped

had rescued

had rushed

had supported

had played

had talked

had lived

The spelling of many regular verbs changes when –d or -ed is added, that is, the last consonant is doubled before adding -d or -ed. For those ending -y, it is dropped and replaced with –i:


PresentPastPast Participles












(had) hopped

(had) drugged

(had) permitted

(had) knitted

(had) cried

(had) carried

Exercise 12

Write the present, past and past participles of the following verbs. Remember to change the spelling appropriately where necessary.

  1. prevent 6. aid
  2. donate 7. relieve
  3. hurry 8. share
  4. worry 9. enrol
  5. train 10. save

Irregular Verbs

Some verbs do not form the past by adding -d or –ed. These verbs are called irregular verbs. There are only about sixty frequently used irregular verbs. For many of these, the past and the past participles are spelled the same but some are different.


He saw great misery all around him. – past

He has seen great misery all round him. – past participle

Common irregular Verbs

VerbPast tensePast participles










































( had) begun

(had) chosen

(had) gone

(had) spoken

(had) ridden

(had) fought

(had) thrown

(had) come

(had) sung

(had) stolen

(had) swum

(had) made

(had) run

(had) grown

(had) written

(had) rung

(had) drunk

(had) lain

(had) done

(had) eaten

(had) known

For a few irregular verbs, like hit and cut, the three principal parts are spelled the same. These ones offer no problems to learners. Most problems come from irregular verbs with three different forms. For example, the irregular verbs throw and ring.

throw threw had thrown

ring rang had rung

If you are not sure about a verb form, look it up in the dictionary.

Exercise 13

Write the past tense and past participles of the following irregular verbs and then use each of them in sentences of your own.

  1. arise fall
  2. tear blow
  3. wear freeze
  4. lay fly
  5. see Write



A verb is in active voice when the subject of the sentence performs the action.


Our teacher punished us for making noise in class.

Subject action

Players arrived for their first match early in the morning.

Subject action

In the above sentences, the subject is who performed the action. Hence, the verbs of these sentences are in active voice.


The word passive means “acted upon”. When the subject of the sentence receives the action or expresses the result of the action, the verb is in passive voice.


We were punished by the teacher for making noise.

Sub action

He was helped by a passer-by.

Sub action

In the above sentences the subjects we and he receive the action.

When we do not know who or what did the action, or when we do not want to say who or what did it, we use the passive voice.

The passive form of a verb consists of some form of be plus the past participle.


Active Passive

Baabu explored the sea. The sea was explored by Baabu.

Be + past participle

The captain helped him. He was helped by the captain.

Be+past participle

Exercise 14

Write the verbs from the following sentences and then label each one Active or Passive.

  1. The guest of honour presented prizes to the best students.
  2. The cattle were taken home by the herders.
  3. The health officer ordered the slaughter house closed.
  4. Peace and order has been restored in the area by the youth wingers.
  5. The workers cleared the farm.
  6. The crop was harvested by the hired workers.
  7. The government stressed the importance of unity among tribes.
  8. The farmers were urged to redouble their efforts in food production.
  9. The K.I.E is developing support materials for the 8-4-4 system of education.
  10. A fishing pond was started by the Wildlife Club in the school.


Some sentences express a complete thought with only a subject and an action verb.


The sun shines.

Subject Action verb

In other sentences, a direct object must follow the action verb for the sentence to be complete. A direct object is a noun or a pronoun that receives the action of the verb.


The goalkeeper caught the ball.

Subject action verb direct object

Transitive verbs

A Transitive verb is an action verb that must take a direct object for the sentence to express a complete thought. A direct object answers the question what? or whom?


The captain steered the ship. (Steered what? the ship)

The teacher praised the students. (Praised whom? The students)

Transitive verbs cannot be used alone without direct objects in sentences; they would not have complete meanings.

Exercise 15

What are the action verbs and the direct objects in the following sentences?

  1. He carried his bag with him.
  2. The two friends discussed the examination paper.
  3. We took a trip to Nakuru last month.
  4. The water splashed me.
  5. He gave interesting facts about whales.
  6. We searched the house for rats.
  7. They cheered the team noisily.
  8. My brother bought a camera.
  9. Njoroge admires Papa Shirandula.
  10. We viewed the shouting star at midnight.

Intransitive verbs

An Intransitive verb is an action verb that does not require a direct object for the sentence to have complete meaning.


The ship sailed.

Subject action verb

The child smiled.

Subject action verb

They do not answer the questions what? or whom? Sometimes they answer the questions how? or how often?


The ship sailed smoothly. (How did it sail? Smoothly)

The child smiled repeatedly. (How often did the child smile? Repeatedly)

Both transitive and intransitive verbs

Some verbs can be used both transitively and intransitively.


We cheered our team noisily. (Transitive)

We cheered noisily. (Intransitive)

He broke the window pane. (Transitive)

The glass broke. (Intransitive)

NB: Only transitive verbs can be changed from active to passive voice.


Active Passive

He kicked the ball. The ball was kicked by him.

She bought a new dress A new dress was bought by her.

She wailed loudly ??

They danced well ??

Exercise 16

Indicate at the end of each of the following sentences whether the underlined verb is Transitive or Intransitive.

  1. Some whales sing songs.
  2. We gave our books to the gatekeeper.
  3. She cried bitterly.
  4. He made a sketch of the giraffe.
  5. John danced to the music.
  6. The bird flew in the air.
  7. They located the lost ship.
  8. She pleaded with him mercifully.
  9. The children heard the sound from the cave.
  10. It rained heavily.


Some pairs of verbs confuse learners of English because their meanings are related but not the same. Others confuse them because they sound similar, but their meanings are different. Others are similar in appearance but different in meanings.

The pairsMeaningPresent tensePast tensePast participleExamples of its usage


To be in a seated position

To put or place







Sit on that chair.

Set the cage down.



To rest in a flat position

To put or place







The cat lies on the table.

Lay the cloth on the table.



To move upward

To move something upward or to lift







The children rise up early in the morning.

The scout raised the flag.



To allow or permit

To depart or to allow to remain where it is







Let the bird go free.

Leave this house now!

Leave the door closed.



To gain knowledge or skill

To help someone learn or to show how or explain







I learned a lot in school.

That teacher taught me in Biology.



To be able

To be allowed

I can ride my bike well.

You may go out.


Pick the correct verb from the ones given in brackets in the following sentences.

  1. Studying spiders closely can (learn, teach) us how they get their food.
  2. An insect that (lays, lies) motionless on a leaf can become prey to some other animal.
  3. The lion will (lay, lie) there waiting for its prey.
  4. The monster spider (sits, sets) patiently near its web.
  5. Experience has (taught, learned) me not to take things for granted.
  6. A bird (raises, rises) its body using its wings.
  7. This (raises, rises) another question,
  8. Nature has (learned, taught) spiders new tricks.
  9. The watchman instantly (raises, rises) the alarm when there is danger.
  10. The trappers have (lain, laid) fresh traps for the porcupines.


An adjective is a word that describes or modifies a noun or a pronoun. To describe or modify means to provide additional information about nouns or pronouns. To modify further means to change something slightly.

Writers and speakers modify an idea or image by choosing certain describing words, which are called adjectives. Hence, these adjectives are also called modifiers. Adjectives are like word cameras. They are words that describe colours, sizes and shapes. Adjectives help you capture how the world around you looks and feels.

Adjectives tell:

  1. What kind?


The powerful gorilla knocked down the hunter.

The old man walked slowly.

  1. How many?


Three zebras were resting.

He has few friends.

  1. Which one(s)?


This painting is attractive.

These farmers are clearing the field.

There are 5 main kinds of adjectives, namely:-

  1. Descriptive adjectives
  2. Definite and indefinite adjectives
  3. Demonstrative adjectives
  4. Interrogative adjectives
  5. Articles and possessive adjectives

Descriptive adjectives

Descriptive adjectives tell us the size, shape, age, colour, weight, height, make, nature and origin of the nouns they are describing.

Examples of descriptive Adjectives:





















































South African



Descriptive adjectives are of two types:

  1. Common descriptive adjectives – these are adjectives that give general features of somebody or something. They are the adjectives of size, shape, age, colour, weight, height, make and nature. Refer to the examples in the diagram above.
  2. Proper adjectives – These ones are formed from proper nouns. They are always capitalized. They always appear last in a string of adjectives modifying the same noun, just before the noun itself.


The Japanese ambassador

A Mexican carpet

An Italian chef

Note that when a proper adjective comprises of two words, both are capitalized.


A South African farmer

A North American cowboy

Exercise 1

Find the adjectives in the following sentences and indicate what types they are.

  1. Alaska is the largest state in the USA.
  2. The Alaskan Senator is Lord John Mc Dougal.
  3. Kenya is the tallest mountain in Kenya.
  4. Alaska has a tiny population of one and a half million people.
  5. Northern Province has small, scattered towns.
  6. A trip to Northern Kenya will take you across vast wilderness.
  7. American tourists are fond of wild animals.
  8. There is a huge lake in the Rift Valley Province.
  9. I sent a letter to my Australian pen pal.
  10. I have a beautiful Egyptian robe.

Demonstrative Adjectives

A demonstrative adjective tells which one or which ones. They are used before nouns and other adjectives.

There are 4 demonstrative adjectives in English: This, that, these and those. This and these are used to refer to nouns close to the speaker or writer. That and those refer to nouns farther away. This and that are used before singular nouns while these and those are used before plural nouns.


This picture is very beautiful.

Singular noun

That one is not as beautiful.

Singular noun

These drawings are very old.

Plural noun

Those ones were painted in Uganda.

Plural noun

Exercise 2

Choose the word in brackets that correctly completes each of the following sentences.

  1. My bus left the station before (that, those) matatus.
  2. (Those, These) chairs behind me were occupied.
  3. My seat has a better view than (this, that) one over there.
  4. (Those, That) man should fasten his seat belt.
  5. (This, That) car is old, but that one is new.
  6. (These, Those) clouds are far away.
  7. (This, That) window next to me has a broken pane.
  8. (That, This) chair near me is broken.
  9. My car is moving faster than (these, those) buses over there.
  10. (These, Those) goats grazing over there are my uncle’s.

Definite and indefinite adjectives

These are adjectives which tell how many or how much. They give the number or the quantity, either specific or approximate, of the noun in question.


Three elephants were killed by the game rangers.

He bought several houses in Kileleshwa.

Don’t put much sugar in the tea!

More examples



















Adjectives that are in form of numbers are used with countable nouns:


Two calves were born yesterday.

Five chimpanzees performed funny tricks.

Many children like dinosaurs.

A definite or indefinite adjective may look like a pronoun, but it is used differently in a sentence. It is an adjective used to modify a noun.

Adjectives that are in form of quantity are used with uncountable nouns.


Do you have any water in the house?

How much flour did you buy?

Interrogative Adjectives

The interrogative adjectives are used with nouns to ask questions. Examples are what, which, and whose.


What movie do you want to see?

Which leaves turn colour first?

Whose son is he?

An interrogative adjective may look like an interrogative pronoun but it is used differently. It is an adjective, used to modify a noun.

Exercise 3

Underline the adjectives in the following sentences.

  1. Twenty bulls were slaughtered for the wedding.
  2. Few people know the name of our president.
  3. They stole all the money in the safe.
  4. There isn’t much sugar in the dish.
  5. Numerous disasters have hit China this year.
  6. What game is playing on TV tonight?
  7. Whose car is that one over there?
  8. Which house was broken into?
  9. I don’t know what misfortune has faced him.
  10. Nobody knows which table was taken.

Articles and Possessive Pronouns

Two special kinds of adjectives are the articles and the possessive pronouns.


Articles are the words a, an and the. A and an are special adjectives called indefinite articles. They are used when the nouns they modify do not refer to any particular thing.


A student rang the bells. (No specific student)

An orange is good for your health. (No specific orange)

A is used before a noun that begins with a consonant sound. An is used before a noun that begins with a vowel sound. Note that it is the first sound of a noun, not the spelling, that determines whether to use a or an.


An hour an heir

A hall

The is a special adjective known as the definite article. It is used to refer to particular things.


The tourist was robbed. (A particular tourist).

The team began practising at 8 o’clock. (A particular team).

All articles are adjectives. The is used with both singular and plural nouns, but a and an are used with singular nouns


The tourist, the tourists, a tourist

The adjective, the adjectives, an adjective

Exercise 4

Choose the correct article from the choices given in brackets in the following sentences.

  1. (A, An) mountain climber climbed Mt. Elgon.
  2. He went up a cliff and was stranded on (a, an) jagged rock.
  3. No one knew (a, the) route he had taken.
  4. (The, An) climber’s friend called the local police.
  5. The police began the search within (a, an) hour.
  6. A police dog followed (a, the) climber’s scent.
  7. A helicopter began (a, an) air search of the mountain.
  8. The dog followed the climber’s scent to (a, the) jagged edge of the cliff.
  9. A climber from (a, the) police team went down the jagged rock.
  10. (A, An) rope was tied to the climber and he was pulled to safety.

Possessive Pronouns

The words my, her, its, our and their are possessive pronouns, but they can also be used as adjectives. These modifiers tell which one, which ones or whose?


My brother likes Sean Paul, but his sister does not.

Of his songs, Ever Blazing is his favourite.

Our school produces heroes, its fame is widespread.

Exercise 5

Write the adjectives from the following sentences and the nouns they modify.

  1. In her lifetime, Brenda Fasie composed many songs.
  2. Her early songs entertained her fans all over the world.
  3. Our first performance was successful.
  4. Her coughing grew worse with time.
  5. They agreed that it was their best goal in ten years.

Position of adjectives in sentences

  1. Most adjectives appear immediately before the nouns they are modifying e.g.

Descriptive: The beautiful house belongs to my uncle.

Demonstrative: That house belongs to my uncle.

Numerals: Two houses were burned down.

Articles: The house on fire belongs to her sister.

Possessive pronouns: Their house was burned down.

  1. Predicate Adjectives

Some adjectives appear after the nouns that they are modifying. These adjectives are always used after linking verbs that separate them from the words they modify. An adjective that follows a linking verb and that modifies the subject is called a predicate adjective.


Joyce seemed lonely.

Her brother was upset.

He became concerned.

Exercise 6

Identify the predicate adjectives in the following sentences.

  1. Her early songs were often quiet and serious.
  2. One of her songs, Vulindlela, is very popular.
  3. The dark city below the sky seems calm and peaceful.
  4. Her performance in K.C.S.E. was brilliant.
  5. The West African singer Kofi Olominde is extraordinary.


We have seen that adjectives describe nouns. One way in which they describe nouns is by comparing people, places or things.

To compare two people, places or things, we use the comparative form of an adjective. To compare more than two, we use the superlative form of the adjective.


ONE PERSON: Kimenju is tall.

TWO PERSONS: Kimenju is taller than James.

THREE OR MORE: Kimenju is the tallest of all.


The comparative form of the adjective is used to compare one thing, person or place with another one. It is formed in two ways.

  1. For short adjectives, add –er.


great + er = greater sweet + er = sweeter

big + er = bigger light + er = lighter.

  1. For longer adjectives, the comparative is formed by using the word more before them.


More handsome more remarkable

More attractive more hardworking

Most adjectives ending in -ful and -ous also form the comparative using more.


More successful more curious more ferocious

More beautiful more generous more prosperous


The superlative form of the adjective is used to compare a person, a place or a thing with more than one other of its kind.


Elephants are the largest animals in the jungle.

However, they are the most emotional animals.

The superlative form of an adjective is formed in two ways.

  1. By adding -est to the short adjective


great + est = greatest sweet + est = sweetest

big + est = biggest light + est = light

  1. For longer adjectives, use most before them.


most mysterious most awkward

most successful most attractive

The ending -er in the comparative becomes -est in the superlative while more becomes most.

Adjective comparative superlative

strong stronger strongest

quick quicker quickest

adventurous more adventurous most adventurous

co-operative more co-operative most co-operative

Summary of rules comparing with adjectives:

1.For most short adjectives:

Add -er or -est to the adjective

bright dark smart

brighter darker smarter

brightest darkest smartest

2.For adjectives ending with e:

Drop the e and add -er or -est

safe nice wide

safer nicer wider

safest nicest widest

3.For adjectives ending with a consonant and y:

Change the y to i and add -er or -est

Busy crazy happy

Busier crazier happier

Busiest craziest happiest

4.For single-syllable adjectives ending with a single vowel and a consonant:

Double the last consonant and add -er or -est

Flat slim fat

Flatter slimmer fatter

Flattest slimmest fattest

5.For most adjectives with two or more syllables: Use more or mostcareful generous

more careful more generous

most careful most generous

Points to note about Adjectives:

  1. A comparative is used to compare two persons, or things or two groups of persons or things.


A rat is smaller than a mouse.

Buffaloes are larger than domestic cows

  1. A superlative is used to compare a thing or a person to more than one other of its kind.


Lions are the bravest of all animals.

Elephants are the largest of all herbivores.

  1. You must use the word other when comparing something with everything else of its kind.


Leopards are more ferocious than any other cat.

  1. Do not use both -er and more, or -est and most.

Incorrect: Men die more earlier than women.

Correct: Men die earlier than women.

Incorrect: My father is the most oldest of the three brothers.

Correct: My father is the oldest of the three brothers.

Exercise 7

Write the adjectives in brackets in the following sentences correctly.

  1. My next sculpture will be even ___________________ (beautiful).
  2. That was the ________________ cartoon I have ever watched (funny).
  3. English is my ____________ subject of all (enjoyable).
  4. Job is the ______________ person in his family. (energetic)
  5. She is the ______________ of the three nurses. (helpful)
  6. That story sounds ____________ than fiction. (strange)
  7. He is _______________ than a cat. (curious)
  8. Her school grades are ______________ than mine. (high)
  9. You are _______________ than Maria. (creative)
  10. My next test will be _______________ than this one. (simple)

Irregular comparisons

Some adjectives have special forms for making comparisons. That is, they do not form their comparatives by use of -er or more, or their superlatives by use of -est or most. Instead, these adjectives change the words completely to form comparatives and superlatives.


Adjectives Comparative Superlative

good better best

well better best

bad worse worst

ill worse worst

little less or lesser least

much more most

many more most

far farther farthest

Example of use in sentences:

The presentation of our play was good.

Our second performance was better.

But our last performance was the best.

Exercise 8

Write the correct forms of the adjectives in brackets in the following sentences.

  1. The comedy was the ________________ show of the three. (good)
  2. Mary had a _________________ cold yesterday. (bad)
  3. It was her ____________ performance this year. (good)
  4. Her illness is getting _____________ every day. (bad)
  5. The old woman received the _____________ amount of money from the MP. (little)
  6. Smoke your cigarette _______________ away from the children. (far)
  7. There was ______________ noise in the classroom than yesterday. (little)
  8. The musician said that that was a very ______________ year for him. (good)
  9. This year’s songs were much ______________ than last year’s. (good)
  10. He has the _____________ pairs of shoes in the school. (many)


  1. Those and Them

Those is an adjective if it is followed by a noun. It is a pronoun if it is used alone.


Those thieves are daring! (Adjective modifying thieves)

Those are thieves! (Pronoun)

Them is always a pronoun. It is used only as the object of a verb or as the object of a preposition. It is never used as an adjective.


We followed them. (Object of a verb)

They caught one of them. (Object of a preposition)

We heard them thieves breaking the door. (Incorrect)

  1. The extra Here and There with demonstrative adjectives

It is incorrect to use the demonstrative adjectives this, that, those, and these with here and there before the nouns they modify.


“This here job”

“That there house”

“These here books”

“Those there carpets”

The adjectives this and these include the meaning of here whereas the adjectives that and those include the meaning of there. Saying this here is like repeating oneself.

  1. Kind and sort with demonstrative adjectives

Kind and sort are singular and hence should be used with singular demonstrative adjectives this and that.


I like this kind of story.

She likes that sort of food.

Kinds and sorts are plural and should be used with plural demonstrative adjectives these and those.


Those sorts of horror movies scare me.

These kinds of sports are for strong people.

Exercise 9

Choose the correct adjectives from the ones given in brackets in the following sentences.

  1. A robot is one of (those, them) machines that looks and acts human.
  2. (These, This) sorts of machines are very strange.
  3. (This, This here) church was built in 1921.
  4. (Them, Those) mushrooms are very delicious.
  5. (Them, Those) soldiers won the battle.
  6. People call (these, this) kinds of songs Soul.
  7. John needed a name for (them, those) songs.
  8. (This, this here) play is called Aminata.
  9. Human beings have a fascination with (those, that) kind of machine.
  10. (These, This) sort of a car is meant for ministers.


An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Adverbs tell how, when, where, or to what extent an action happens.


HOW: The man walked quickly.

WHEN: It will rain soon.

WHERE: We shall meet here at 2 p.m.

TO WHAT EXTENT: He is extremely rude.

Other examples:


happily sometimes underground fully

secretly later here extremely

together tomorrow there quite

carefully now inside very

sorrowfully finally far rarely

painfully again upstairs

fast often downstairs

hard once somewhere

slowly first forward

hurriedly next behind

quietly then above

Adverbs used to describe verbs

Adverbs that describe verbs tell how, when, where and to what extent an action happened.


HOW: John waited patiently for his turn.

WHEN: He is now walking into the office.

WHERE: He will eat his lunch there.

TO WHAT EXTENT: He is very pleased with himself.

Adverbs make the meaning of the verb clearer.


He will eat his lunch. (Without adverb)

He will eat his lunch there. (The adverb makes it clear where the action of eating will take place.)

Exercise 1

Write the adverbs in the following sentences and then indicate whether the adverb tells how, when, where, or to what extent.

  1. The tourist travelled far.
  2. They cheerfully greeted their grandmother.
  3. Tina hurried downstairs when she heard the knock.
  4. He worked carefully and skilfully.
  5. She was extremely agitated.
  6. The scientist looked curiously at the creature.
  7. Soon the bell was rung.
  8. The hall was fully occupied.
  9. They hugged their grandmother adorably.
  10. He brought the cake down.

Adverbs used to describe adjectives

Adverbs that tell to what extent can be used to describe adjectives.


The cave was very dark.

adv adj

The tea was extremely hot.

adv adj

Other adverbs used with adjectives

Just nearly somewhat most

These adverbs make the adjectives they are describing more understandable and precise.


The tomb was dark. (Without adverb)

The tomb was fully dark. (The adverb fully describes the extent of the darkness).

Exercise 2

Identify the adverb in each of the following sentences and then indicate the adjective it describes.

  1. He is a highly successful businessman.
  2. The extremely cold weather made me shiver.
  3. They are quite difficult to deal with.
  4. The house is barely visible from here.
  5. He is a very old man by now.
  6. She is mysteriously secretive about her activities.
  7. Jackline is horribly mean with her money.
  8. The book was totally exciting.
  9. The secretary was completely mad when the money was stolen.
  10. The boss is never punctual for meetings.

Adverbs used to describe other adverbs

Some adverbs that tell to what extent are used to describe other adverbs.


The student spoke very softly.

adv adv

The cold subsided very gradually.

adv adv

These adverbs make the adverbs they are describing more understandable and clear.


She spoke rudely. (Without adjective modifier)

She spoke extremely rudely. (extremely describes the extent of her rudeness).

Exercise 3

Identify the adverbs modifying other adverbs in the following sentences.

  1. The mourners covered the casket with earth very gradually.
  2. He appeared on her surprisingly quickly.
  3. The sun appeared somewhat closer that day.
  4. He drinks extremely irresponsibly.
  5. The driver sped the car totally carelessly.

Specific categories of Adverbs

  1. Adverbs of time – These answer the question when?


He joined the class yesterday.

Today, I will go to the cinema.

  1. Adverbs of place– These answer the question where?


Mrs. Kilome has gone out.

The bus stop is near the post office.

  1. Adverbs of frequency: These answer the question how often?


She often leaves without permission.

He always works hard.

  1. Adverbs of manner: These answer the question how?


Many ran fast to catch the bus

He painted the house badly.

  1. Adverbs of degree. These answer the question how much?


Luka is extremely intelligent.

She is very ill.


Many adverbs are formed by adding -ly to an adjective.


Slow + -ly = slowly quiet + -ly = quietly

Sometimes the addition of -ly to an adjective may require changing the spelling in the adjective.


Easy + -ly = easily (y changes to i)

Full + -ly = fully (ll changes to l)

Other adverbs are complete words on their own. That is, they are not formed from other words.


fast tomorrow soon first later

next inside somewhere quite


  1. Soon and quite can be used only as adverbs.


The school will soon open.

The holiday was quite well spent.

  1. Some other modifiers, like late or first, can either be used as adverbs or adjectives.


The visitors arrived late. (adverb)

The late arrivals delayed the meeting. (adjective)

The robbers had gotten there first. (adverb)

The first house was already broken into. (adjective)

  1. When you are not sure whether an adjective or an adverb has been used in a sentence, ask yourself these questions.

(i) Which word does the modifier go with?

If it goes with an action verb, an adjective or another adverb, it is an adverb.


The story teller spoke quietly. – used with an action verb.

The story teller was very interesting. – used with an adjective.

The story teller spoke extremely slowly. –used with another adverb.

But if it goes with a noun or a pronoun, it is an adjective.


The quiet story teller spoke. – used with a noun.

He was quiet. – with a pronoun.

(ii) What does the modifier tell about the word it goes with?

If the modifier tells when, where, how, or to what extent, it is an adverb.


He will come tomorrow. – When?

He will come here. – Where?

He will come secretly. – How?

He will be very cautious. – To what extent?

But if it tells which one, what kind, or how many, it is an adjective.

He will steal this cow. – Which one?

He will carry a sharp spear. – What kind?

He will be jailed for ten years. – How many?

(iii) Adverbs and predicate adjectives

You will recall that we said that an adjective appears after a linking verb and modifies the subject.


He became successful. (successful modifies he)

You seem tired. (tired modifies you)

You appear sick. (sick modifies she)

You look great! (great modifies you)

They sound bored. (bored modifies they)

It feels wet. (wet modifies it)

The oranges taste sweet. (sweet modifies oranges)

The baby grows big. (big modifies baby)

She smells nice. (nice modifies she).

Sometimes the verbs in the sentences above are used as action verbs. In this case, they are followed by adverbs, not adjectives. They modify the verbs and tell how, when, where, or to what extent.


The singer looked up.

v adv

We tasted the chocolate eagerly.

v adv

The principal appeared suddenly.

V adv

(iv) Good and well

Good and well have similar meanings, but differ in their use in a sentence.


Incorrect: He narrates the story good.

Correct: He narrates the story well.

Good is always an adjective and modifies nouns or pronouns. It is never used to modify a verb.


He is a good narrator. (Adjective modifying the noun narrator)

Well can be used as either an adjective or an adverb.


I feel well. (As an adjective)

He drives well. (As an adverb)

Exercise 4

Choose the correct form of the words in brackets in the following sentences.

  1. Luos tell you (quick, quickly) that they are not Bantus.
  2. Over the months, the snow (gradual, gradually) melted.
  3. Rice tastes especially (good, well) with avocado.
  4. The popularity of video games has grown (rapid, rapidly).
  5. The name of the town may sound (strange, strangely) to some people.
  6. These puppies look a little (odd, oddly).
  7. The idea of breaking the door does not sound (reasonable, reasonably).
  8. Visitors eat Nyama Choma very (rapid, rapidly).
  9. If Nyama Choma has been prepared (good, well), it tastes even better than chicken.
  10. Since fish is high in protein and low in fat, it is bound to keep you (good, well).


We have seen that we can use adjectives to compare people, things or places.

Adverbs can also be used to compare actions. And like adjectives, we use the comparative form of an adverb to compare two actions and the superlative form of an adverb to compare more than two actions.


ONE ACTION: Maree swims fast.

TWO ACTIONS: Maree swims faster than Ciku.

THREE OR MORE: Maree swims fastest of all.

Just like adjectives, adverbs have special forms or spelling for making comparisons.


The comparative form of the adverb is used to compare one action with another. It is formed in two ways:

  1. For short adverbs, add –er.


The bird flew higher than the helicopter.

The president arrived sooner than we expected.

  1. For most adverbs ending in -ly, use more to make the comparative.


She visited him more frequently than Martin.

The tractor towed the lorry more powerfully than the bull-cart.


The superlative form is used to compare one action with two or more others of the same kind.


Of the three athletes, Kipruto runs the fastest.

The lion roars the loudest of all the big cats.

Adverbs that form the comparative with –er form their superlative with -est. Those that use more to form comparative use most to form superlative.


Adverbs Comparative Superlative

long longer longest

fast faster fastest

softly more softly most softly

politely more polite most polite

Points to Remember

  1. Use the comparative to compare two actions and the superlative to compare more than two.


Comparative: He sat nearer to the window than him

Superlative: He sat nearest to the window than all the others.

  1. Do not leave out the word other when comparing one action with every other action of the same kind.


Incorrect: The lion roared louder than any lion.

Correct: The lion roared the loudest of all.

  1. Do not use both -er and more or -est and most.

Incorrect: The dancer moved more faster than before.

Correct: The dancer moved faster than before.

Summary of rules for comparing with Adverbs

1 1.For most adverbs

Add -er or -est to the adverb

hard late deep

harder later deeper

hardest latest deepest

2For most adverbs comprising of two or more syllables: Use more or most with the adverbSkilfully firmly rudely

more skilfully more firmly most rudely

most skilfully most firmly most rudely

Exercise 5

Write each of the following sentences using the correct form of the adverb.

  1. Does she cry ______________ (often) than the baby does?
  2. She crosses the river _____________ (slowly) than her son does.
  3. James jumps into the swimming pool _____________ (quickly).
  4. Charles swims _____________ (skilfully) than all of us.
  5. Of all the athletes, Tecla Lorupe is ____________ (fast).
  6. The antelope disappeared _____________ (swiftly) than the gazelle.
  7. Chicharito scored the goal _____________ (accurately) of all.
  8. Mange and Marto stayed in the hall ______________ (long) of all.
  9. Sarah walks _____________ (gracefully).
  10. Ng’ang’arito sang ____________ (sweetly) of all participants.


A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between other words in a sentence.


The cat lay under the table.

The preposition under connects the verb lay with table. Under points out the relationship between lay and table.

Hence a preposition is a word that links another word or word group to the rest of the sentence. The noun or pronoun after the preposition is called the object of the preposition. The table is the object of the preposition under in the above sentence. The preposition under relates the verb lay to the noun table.

More examples:

She gave it to me.

(The preposition to relates the pronoun me with the action gave).

I liked the bike with the metal handles.

The preposition with relates the noun handles with the noun bike.


about before except on toward

above behind for onto under

aboard below from out underneath

across beneath in outside until

after beside inside over up

against between into past upon

along beyond like since with

among by near through within

around down of throughout without

at during off to

From the above list of prepositions, you will note that some of them tell where, others indicate time, others show special relationships like reference or separation.

Changing one preposition with another in a sentence changes the meaning of the sentence.


The cat lay under the table.

The cat lay on the table.

Lying under the table means below the surface of the table but on means above the surface.

Exercise 1

Write the preposition in each of the following sentences and say what relationship it indicates.

  1. Sometimes they lie on the ground.
  2. They have grown maize for food.
  3. The children played with the dolls.
  4. A man found some treasure in the cave.
  5. They make clothes from cotton.

Exercise 2

Use the most appropriate preposition to complete the sentences below.

  1. Driving had been my dream ________________ years.

2._____________ 1990, I bought a second-hand car.

3.______________ that year, I learned how to drive.

  1. I rolled the car ________________ the road _____________ more than two kilometres.
  2. I was really thrilled ______________ the experience.


A prepositional phrase consists of a preposition, its object and any words that modify the object.


The school children waited for the green light.

In this sentence, the preposition is for, its object is light, and the modifier, or adjective, is green. The entire preposition phrase modifies the verb waited.

Sometimes two or more nouns or pronouns are used as objects in a prepositional phrase.


He needs a worker with diligence and a good character.

The preposition with has two objects: diligence and character.

Exercise 3

Identify the prepositional phrase in each of the following sentences. Underline the preposition once and its objects twice.

  1. Donkeys help people in many ways.
  2. They bring happiness to the people around them.
  3. In large cities, they help to carry water.
  4. On farms, they carry heavy loads.
  5. How could you travel across a river?
  6. You might swim to the other side.
  7. You might cross at a shallow place.
  8. You can cross by boat.
  9. Bridges are a better solution to the problem.
  10. Most bridges are built over water.

Types of prepositional phrases

Prepositional phrases can either be:

(i) Adjective prepositional phrases – these prepositional phrases, just like adjectives, modify nouns and pronouns.


A scout leader wears a uniform with many badges.

In this sentence, with many badges is an adjective prepositional phrase modifying the noun uniform.

(ii) Adverb prepositional phrases – these ones, just like adverbs, modify verbs, adjectives or other adverbs.


Scouts rain for many hours.

(The adverb prepositional phrase for many hours modifies the verb train.)

They are active in all public functions.

(The adverb prepositional phrase in all public functions modifies the adjective active.)

The scout leader commands forcefully with a loud voice.

(The adverb prepositional phrase with a loud voice modifies the adverb forcefully.)

We have seen that the object of a preposition is the noun or pronoun that follows the preposition. When the object of the preposition is a pronoun, we use an object pronoun like me, you, him, her, it, us, and them. (And not a subject pronoun like I, he, she, we, and they).


Correct: I gave a present to her.

Incorrect: I gave a present to she.

Correct: I gave a present to Jane and her.

Incorrect: I gave a present to Jane and she.

Exercise 4

Choose the pronoun in brackets that correctly completes each of the following sentences.

  1. The dog chased after Travis and (her, she).
  2. Cleaning the house was a tasking job for Evans and (I, me).
  3. We planned a family picture of our parents and (us, we).
  4. The victory belonged to (he, him).
  5. Michael and Bernard stood behind Mom and (she, her).
  6. The crowd around (we, us) started cheering.
  7. My little sister ran behind Sammy and (I, me).
  8. The toys belong to Karen and (him, he).
  9. Johnny sat between James and (me, I).
  10. I went to the cat race with Jim and (she, her).

Sometimes one prepositional phrase immediately follows another.


The thief entered the house through the door on the right.

(through the door modifies the verb entered and tells where. on the left modifies the noun door and tells which one.)

A prepositional phrase can be at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a sentence.


BEGINNING: At dusk we closed the shop.

MIDDLE: The chief of the area was helpful.

END: The path went through the village.

Preposition or Adverb?

Sometimes the same word can be used as either a preposition or an adverb. How can you tell the difference between the two?


PREPOSITION: He has a box inside the house.

ADVERB: They ran inside.

You can tell the difference by remembering the following:

(i) A preposition never stands alone. It is always followed by its object, a noun or a pronoun.


The helicopter flew past the airport. (Preposition)

The aircraft was parked inside the hangar. (Preposition)

(ii) An adverb is never followed by a noun or a pronoun, may be by an adverb.


The helicopter flew past. (Adverb)

The aircraft was parked inside. (Adverb)

The helicopter flew past noisily. (Adverb)

Therefore, if a word begins a prepositional phrase, it is a preposition. If it stands alone or is followed by an adverb, it is an adverb.

Some words that can be used either as prepositions or adverbs.

above down over

along in out

around Inside outside

below near under

by off up

Exercise 5

Indicate after each of the following sentences if it has a preposition or an adverb.

  1. Jack stood outside the shop.
  2. He was curious and went inside.
  3. He saw strange things in every corner.
  4. An old coat and several sweaters lay over a chair.
  5. Blue and green umbrellas stood above the fire place.
  6. He looked up suddenly.
  7. He sat down heavily.
  8. Then he lifted the curtain and peeped outside.
  9. A jogger ran by
  10. Jack ran out.


Negatives are words that mean “no” or “not”. These words are adverbs and not prepositions!


She has no more work.

There are none left.

Other common negatives

not nowhere nobody aren’t haven’t

never nothing no one doesn’t wouldn’t

The combination of a verb and not also form a contraction which is also a negative. The letters n’t stand for not.


They won’t be able to attend the funeral.

He couldn’t make a speech.

Double negatives:

A sentence should have only one negative. Using double negatives in a sentence is usually incorrect. A double negative is the use of two negative words together when only one is needed.


Incorrect Correct

We don’t need no money. We don’t need any money.

She hasn’t bought nothing. She hasn’t bought anything.

Mark hasn’t no homework. Mark hasn’t any homework. Or

Mark has no homework.

When you use contractions like don’t and hasn’t, do not use negative words after them. Instead, use words like any, anything, and ever.


We don’t have any work.

He hasn’t any work.

I won’t ever respond to the summons.

Other negatives include hardly, barely, and scarcely. They are never used after contractions like haven’t and didn’t.


Incorrect: We couldn’t hardly continue with the work. Correct: We could hardly continue with the work.

Incorrect: The child can’t barely walk.

Correct: The child can barely walk.

Exercise 6

Write the following sentences choosing the correct negatives from the ones given in brackets.

  1. They (have, haven’t) nothing to eat.
  2. Isn’t (anyone, no one) at home?
  3. Didn’t you (ever, never) swim in that river?
  4. There isn’t (anybody, nobody) weeding the farm.
  5. Ann and Martin haven’t (anywhere, nowhere) to sleep.
  6. Our friends (had, hadn’t) none of the fun.
  7. Isn’t (anybody, nobody) watching Tahidi High?
  8. Hasn’t (anyone, no one) thought of washing the utensils?
  9. Tabby (hasn’t, has) had no luck.
  10. We haven’t (ever, never) tried.


A conjunction is a word that connects words or groups of words. Like prepositions, conjunctions show a relationship between the words they connect. But, unlike prepositions, conjunctions do not have objects.

There are 3 main categories of conjunctions;

  • Coordinating conjunctions
  • Subordinating conjunctions
  • Correlative conjunctions


Coordinating conjunctions connect related words, groups of words, or sentences. There are three coordinating conjunctions: and, but and or. And is used to join words, groups of words, or sentences together. But shows contrast while or shows choice.


The bull and the cart are inseparable. (Connects two subjects).

The cart carries the farmer and his tools. (Connects two direct objects).

The food was hard and tasteless. (Connects two predicate adjectives).

Each night, the dancers danced in a circle or in several other patterns. (Connects two prepositional phrases).

Some people died in the fracas, but most managed to escape, alive. (Connects two sentences).

Exercise 1

Complete each of the following sentences using the most appropriate coordinating conjunction

  1. Bats and insects fly, ____________ only birds have feathers.
  2. Eagles build nests on cliffs ______________ in tall trees.
  3. Parrots live in wild places _______________ in zoos.
  4. Swallows ______________ sparrows often build nests in buildings.
  5. Hummingbirds are tiny __________ very brave.
  6. Many birds fly south in winter, ______________ others do not.
  7. Their feathers keep them warm ____________ dry.
  8. A bird can fly forward _____________ backward.
  9. Many birds shed old feathers ______________ grow new ones.
  10. Their legs are weak ____________ their wings are strong.


Subordinating conjunctions connect two or more clauses to form complex sentences. (Refer to Part Two of this handbook). Subordinating conjunctions introduce subordinate clauses. They include because, since, if, as, whether, and for.


If I go home, my dog will follow me.

(The subordinating conjunction if connects the subordinate clause I go home with the main clause my dog will follow me.)

The stayed inside the church because it was raining.

He was always rude since he was a child.

The rain fell as they entered the building.

The pastor asked the congregation whether they were happy.

The man rejoiced for he had won a prize.

Exercise 2

Join the following pairs of sentences using the most appropriate subordinating conjunctions.

  1. They arrived late. It was raining heavily.
  2. John worked hard. He wanted to buy a house.
  3. I won’t carry the umbrella. You need it.
  4. I drove the car madly. I was late for the meeting.
  5. He will come. The meeting ends.


Correlative conjunctions are conjunctions that are used in pairs to connect sentence parts. These include either ….. or, neither ….. nor, not only……. but also, whether ……. or and both …… and.


Both boys and girls attended the conference.

People brought not only food but also clothes for the victims of the floods.

The students ride either on bicycles or motorbikes.

The sailor had to decide whether to sail on or head back when the weather changed.

Neither John nor James was moved by the shocking news.

Exercise 3

Join the following pairs of sentences using the correlative conjunctions in brackets.

  1. The vehicles stopped for repairs. The vehicles stopped for fuel. (either…..or)
  2. The drivers knew they had to travel more than fifty kilometres. If they did not travel more than fifty kilometres, they would have to endure harsh storms. (either….or).
  3. Many people build their own homes. Many people grow their own food. (not only…but also)
  4. Men wanted to buy the pictures. Women also wanted to buy the pictures.(both…. and)
  5. Maize is an important part of a Kenyans’ diet. Meat is important too. (both… and)


An interjection is either a single word or a short group of words that is used to express a feeling or emotion. Interjections can express such feelings as urgency, surprise, relief, joy, or pain. An interjection that expresses strong emotion is often followed by an exclamation mark. An interjection that expresses mild emotion is usually followed by a comma.


Let’s go! We can’t sleep before we find the missing boy. (urgency)

Phew! I was afraid we would never find him. (relief)

Oh, you have grown so big. (surprise)

Well, I have never been so happy. (joy)

Exercise 1

Identify the interjection in the following sentences and indicate what feeling or emotion it expresses.

  1. Say, have you heard about Nameless and Jua Kali, the famous Kenyan musicians?
  2. Wow! Seeing the calf being born was exciting.
  3. “All right!” I yelled to him. “This is not the right thing to do.”
  4. Boy! Some people felt wonderful being in the air balloon, but I felt nervous.
  5. Oh, did that boat rock back and forth for a while.



Some words in the English language have unique origins and formations.

  1. Sound words (onomatopoeias)

Some of the words imitate the sounds they represent. These words are called sound or onomatopoeic words. For example, the words bang and crash describe a loud, sudden noise. The word murmur describes a low, soft noise that keeps going.

Many English words imitate noises made by animals. For example, the word chirp imitates the short, high sound made by a small bird or a cricket.

Other examples of sound (onomatopoeic) words

beep gobble neigh squeal

blast growl purr tick

buzz hiss quack zip

clang honk rip

clatter hum roar

crack meow smash

crunch moo splash

Exercise 1

Write a sound word for each of the following descriptions.

  1. The sound of something breaking
  2. The loud, deep sound of a lion.
  3. The sound of a clock.
  4. The sound of an angry dog.
  5. The sound of a loud bell.
  6. The sound made by a duck.
  7. The sound of a bottle opening.
  8. The sound of a cat drinking milk.
  9. The sound of a bomb exploding.
  10. The sound of a snake.
  11. Words that come from names of people and places (Eponyms)

Some of the words in the English language come from the names of people and places.


WordMeaningNamed after
SandwichTwo or more slices of bread with meat between them.John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, who liked eating meat between slices of bread.
MaverickA person who breaks from conventional actionsSamuel Maverick, a Texas cattle owner who refused to brand the calves of one of his herds as per the requirements.
SaxophoneA musical wind instrumentAdolphe Sax, the Belgian inventor of the musical instrument.
MadrasA cotton cloth with a design or pattern on plain backgroundMadras, a city in India, where it was invented.
RugbyA gameRugby school, England, where rugby was invented.
TarantulaA large, hairy spiderTaranto, a town in Italy where Tarantulas are found.
ShylockA greedy money-lenderThe relentless and vengeful money- lender in Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice.
SousaphoneA musical instrumentJohn Phillip Sousa, an American composer who invented the Sousaphone.

There are many more words in the English language which originated from names of people or places.

Exercise 2

Find out from your dictionary the origins and meanings of the following English words.

  1. lima bean 6. guppy 11. guillotine
  2. cardigan 7. cheddar 12. macadam
  3. bloomer 8. quisling 13. pasteurisation
  4. canary birds 9. silhouette 14. watt
  5. Ferris wheel 10. Marxism 15. ohm
  6. Words formed from blending two or more words (portmanteau words)

Some words in the English language are a blend of two or more words or morphemes.


WordCombination ofMeaning
SmogSmoke + fogA combination of smoke and fog in the air.
FantabulousFantastic + fabulousIncredible, astonishing, unbelievable, wonderful
BrunchBreakfast + lunchA late breakfast taken some hours before lunch
WikipediaWiki + encyclopaediaA website
ComcastCommunication + broadcastA television system that more than the usual number of lines per frame so its pictures show more detail.
SporkSpoon + forkAn eating utensil that is a combination of a spoon and a fork.
SkortSkirt + shortsAn item of clothing that is part skirt and short.
SimulcastSimultaneous + broadcastTo broadcast a programme on television and radio at the same time
CyborgCybernetic + organismA fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are superhuman
MotelMotor + hotelA roadside hotel

Exercise 3

Identify the words that are blended to form the following words. Find out their meanings from your dictionary.

  1. slithy 6. breathalyser
  2. chortle 7. cable gram
  3. galumph 8. camcorder
  4. bash 9. edutainment
  5. blog 10. email
  6. Words formed by use of prefixes and suffixes

Some words are formed by addition of prefixes and suffixes to other words.


A prefix is a word part that is added to the beginning of a word to form another word or to change its meaning. The word to which the prefix is added is called the base word.


Prefix Base word New word

un friendly unfriendly

pre pay prepay

A prefix changes the meaning of the base word. For example, the prefix un-above means “not”. Hence, unfriendly means “not friendly”. Each prefix has its own meaning.

More examples of common English prefixes






















wrong, incorrectly


before, in advance

before, preceding

opposing, against, the opposite


opposition, opposite direction

put into or on

outside, beyond

between, among

inside, within

absence, negation

excessively, completely

after in time, or order

before in time, place order or importance

favouring, in support of


half, partly

across, beyond


beneath, below

misspell – to spell incorrectly

revisit – visit again

preschool – before school

antecedent, ante-room

anti-aircraft, antibiotic, aticlimax

contraceptive, contraband

counter-attack, counteract

engulf, enmesh

extraordinary, extracurricular

interact, interchange

intramural, intravenous

non-smoker, non-alcoholic

overconfident, overjoyed

postpone, post-mortem

precondition, preadolescent


repaint, reawaken

semicircle, semi-conscious

transnational, transatlantic

unacceptable, unreal, unhappy, unmarried

underarm, undercarriage

Exercise 4

Give the meaning of the following prefixes and write two examples each of words in which they are used. Use your dictionary.

  1. ultra- infra-
  2. syn- hypo-
  3. sub- hemi
  4. peri- ex-
  5. out- dia-


A suffix is a word part that is added to the end of a base word to form a new word or to change its meaning.


Enjoy + able = enjoyable

Each suffix has its own meaning. The suffix “able” means “capable of”. Hence enjoyable means “capable of being enjoyed.”

Common English suffixes

Noun Suffixes



-ance, -ence


-er, -or



-ity, -ty




-sion, -tion

Verbs suffixes



-ify, -fy

-ize, ise

Adjective suffixes

-able, -ible




-ic, -ical

-ious, ous


– ive



state or quality

act or process of

quality of

place or state of being

one who

doctrine, belief

one who

quality of

condition of

state of being

position held

state of being



make or become


capable of being

pertaining to

reminiscent of

notable for

pertaining to

characterized by

having the quality of

having the nature of


characterized by

privacy, advocacy

refusal, dismissal

Maintenance, eminence

freedom, kingdom

trainer, protector

Communism, Marxism

chemist, pharmacist

veracity, curiosity

argument, armament

heaviness, fearlessness

fellowship, headship

concession, transition

eradicate, fumigate

enlighten, freshen

terrify, specify

civilize, apologize

edible, presentable

regional, sectional


fanciful, colourful

musical, mythic

nutritious, portentous

fiendish, greenish

creative, abusive

endless, pointless

sleazy, cheeky

Exercise 5

Add an appropriate suffix to each of the following words and then give the meaning of the new word.

  1. hope 6. green
  2. read 7. wear
  3. child 8. fear
  4. grey 9. kind
  5. play 10. Wash


Words in English language have various meanings depending on their usage in sentences.

  1. hom*oGRAPHS

hom*ographs are words which are spelled the same but have different meanings. They usually appear as separate entries in a dictionary.


The man dug a well in his compound.

They worked well together.

In the first sentence, the noun well means “a spring of water”. In the second sentence, the adverb well means “in a good manner”.

Examples of common hom*ographs in the English Language

bear(V) to support or carry

(N) an animal

I will bear the burden.

The bear killed the hunter.

sow(V) to plant seed

(N) female pig

The farmer sowed the seeds.

The sow is very fat.

lead(V) to guide

(N) a metal

The mother duck can lead her ducklings around.

Gold is heavier than lead.




(V) lock

(V) turning something around

(N) moving air

The tiger was now so close that I could smell it.

“Will you please close that door?”

Wind your watch.

The wind howled through the woodlands.

date(V) to determine the age

(N) to “go out”

(N) a kind of fruit

(N) a calendar time

Can you date this sculpture?

I have a date with Mary.

Dates are grown in South Africa.

What is the date today?

fast(Adj) quick

(V) to choose not to eat food

He is a fast runner.

The Christians fast just before Easter.

hide(N) animal skin

(V) to conceal

He is tanning the hide.

They hide their money under their pillows.

net(N) woven trap made of rope or cord

(Adj) amount remaining after deductions.

They caught fish using a net.

His net pay is thirty thousand shillings per month.

pick(N) a kind of tool

(V) to choose

He used a pick to dig the hole.

Pick the dress that you want.

Some hom*ographs are spelled the same but pronounced differently.


The wind is strong today.

This path winds through the hills.

Exercise 6

Write two meanings of the following hom*ographs and use each of them in sentences of your own.

  1. pen 6. act
  2. tire 7. arms
  3. dove 8. block
  4. wound 9. box
  5. mean 10. bank
  6. hom*oPHONES

hom*ophones are words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings.


She will buy music composed by my favourite artist.

hom*ophones are often confused when writing by many students because of similarity in pronunciation.

Examples of common hom*ophones in English



(V) the walkway

(N) island

I quickly walked down the aisle.

He grew up on the isle of Elba.



(V) permitted

(Adv) not silently

His mother allowed him to stay up late.

She read the story aloud.



(V) past tense of “eat”

(N) number

She ate a quick lunch.

I bought eight tickets.



(N) a round object used in games

(V) to cry

He took the ball to the beach.

Please don’t bawl! It’s not that bad.



(V) to stand something

(Adj) naked

He can’t bear exams.

He stood outside in the rain completely bare.



(N) the bottom

support of something

(N) the lowest pitches in music

We need a new base for that lamp.

I sang bass in the church choir.

More examples of hom*ophones

lead, led

least, leased

loan, lone

male, mail

meet, meat

mind, mined

morning, mourning

naval, navel

new, knew

no, know

one, won

pear, pair

pie, pi

piece, peace

pier, peer

poor, pour

rain, reign

raw, roar

read, reed

road, rode

sale, sail

saw, sore

see, sea

sun, son

tail, tale

tea, tee

there, they’re

they’re, there

tide, tied

too, to

two, too

wail, whale

warn, worn

weal, wheel

wear, where

weather, whether

week, weak

weight, wait

while, wile

wood, would

write, right

yew, you

your, you’re

acetic, ascetic

axle, axial

formerly, formally

ion, iron

loch, lock

holy, wholly

heal, heel

ad, add

ail, ale

all, awl

alms, arms

altar, alter

arc, ark

aren’t, aunt

anger, augur

aural, oral

away, aweigh

awe, oar, or, ore

bale, bail

band, banned

bean, been

blew, blue

brake, break

cell, sell

cent, scent, sent

cereal, serial

check, cheque

chord, cord

cite, site, sight

coo, coup

cue, queue

dam, damn

dew, due

die, dye

doh, doe, dough

earn, urn

ewe, yew, you

faint, feint

fair, fare

feat, feet

few, phew

find, fined

fir, fur

flaw, floor

flea, flee

flew, flue

flour, flower

for, fore, four

foreword, forward

fort, fought

gait, gate

genes, jeans

gnaw, nor,

gorilla, guerrilla

grate, great

groan, grown

guessed, guest

hale, hail

hair, hare

Exercise 7

Give the hom*ophones and the meanings of the following words.

  1. in 6. knight
  2. heard 7. knows
  3. horse 8. tick
  4. hey 9. rung
  5. need 10. sees

Synonyms are words that have almost the same meaning but different spelling and pronunciation.


Slender–thin finish–end sick–ill

Some words have several synonyms. For example, happy has such synonyms words like light-hearted, pleased, and cheerful.

Synonyms help vary the writing, just like pronouns do. For example, the word happy and its synonyms help vary the writing.

Daniel felt happy – Daniel felt light-hearted.

She was happy with her grade – She was pleased with her grade.

They sang a happy song – They sang a cheerful song.

Examples of common synonyms in English

about, approximately

accomplish, achieve

administer, manage

admit, confess

almost, nearly

annoy, irritate

answer, reply

arise, occur

arrive, reach

begin, start

belly, stomach

bizarre, weird

brave, courageous

chop, cut

clerk, receptionist

close, shut

contrary, opposite

correct, right

daybreak, dawn

demonstrate, protest

denims, jeans

desert, abandon

devil, Satan

disappear, vanish

eager, keen

emphasize, stress

enormous, huge, immense

enquire, investigate

evaluate, assess

fanatic, enthusiast

fool, idiot

sincere, honest

skull, cranium

soiled, dirty

suggest, propose

sunrise, dawn

temper, mood

trustworthy, reliable

formerly, previously

fragrance, perfume

function, operate

garbage, rubbish

gay, hom*osexual

grab, seize

gut, intestine

hard, tough

hashish, cannabis

hawk, peddle

hint, trace, tip

homicide, murder

hunger, starvation

hurry, rush

idler, loafer

if, whether

illustrate, demonstrate

imitate, mimic

immediate, instant

immobile, motionless

impartial, neutral

impasse, deadlock

impolite, rude

inconsiderate, thoughtless

infamous, notorious

informal, casual

inheritor, heir

instructions, directions

jealous, envious

joy, delight

lacking, missing

lethal, deadly

ultimate, final

uncommon, unusual

uncooked, raw

unforeseen, unexpected

unfortunate, unlucky

unmarried, single

untimely, premature

lousy, awful

madness, insanity

magnify, exaggerate

manmade, artificial

material, fabric

merciless, cruel

midway, halfway

mind, intellect

mirror, reflect

mistrust, distrust

modern, contemporary

movie, film

murderer, assassin

naked, bare

nameless, anonymous

nightfall, dusk

noon, midday

numerous, many

object, thing

outside, external

overlook, miss

peaceable, peaceful

poisonous, toxic

post-mortem, autopsy

praise, compliment

reasonable, fair

refrain, chorus

religious, devout

respond, reply

scarcity, shortage

signal, sign

silly, foolish

vain, useless

vary, differ

vast, huge

winery, vineyard

withstand, resist

zenith, peak

Exercise 8

Give the synonyms of the following words:

1.start 6. collect

2.come 7. assist

3.lengthy 8. build

4.shattered 9. reply

5.Fix 10. purchase


Antonyms are words that have opposite meanings. Antonyms also add variety to your writing.


Cold-hot heavier – lighter fearful – brave.

Some words have more than one antonym. Some of these antonyms can be formed by adding a prefix to a base word.


Kind – cruel, unkind like – hate, dislike

Examples of common antonyms in English

absent – present

absurd – sensible

abundant – scarce

accidental – intentional

accuse – defend

accurate – incorrect

admit – deny

advance – retreat

after – before

alien – native

alone – together

always – never

amuse – bore

anger – kindness

applaud – boo

asleep – awake

beautiful – ugly

beg – offer

below – above

bitter – sweet

buy – sell

careful – careless

cease – begin

civilian – military

closed – open

condemn – praise

crooked – straight

dangerous – safe

dead – alive

deep – shallow

destroy – create

drunk – sober

east – west

enemy – friend

evil – good

exhale – inhale

expensive – cheap

fail – succeed

fat – skinny

fertile – barren

floor – ceiling

former – latter

funny – serious

generous – stingy

genuine – fake

guilty – innocent

humble – arrogant

husband – wife

illegal – lawful

import – export

indoor – outdoor

inferior – superior

intelligent – stupid

joy – grief

kind – mean

king – commoner

lazy – industrious

lock – unlock

majority – minority

man – woman

merciful – cruel

moist – dry

nervous – calm

obey – disobey

original – copy

patient – impatient

permit – forbid

polite – rude

positive – negative

private – public

push – pull

question – answer

quick – slow

reckless – cautious

rival – friend

sane – insane

servant – master

sick – well

simple – complex

slavery – freedom

smart – dumb

solid – gas

spend – save

stranger – friend

strong – weak

sudden – gradual

suffix – prefix

tame – wild

temporary – permanent

thaw – freeze

tough – tender

unique – common

vacant – occupied

victory – defeat

villain – hero

war – peace

young – old

Exercise 9

Give the antonyms of the following words:

  1. easy 6. sweat
  2. whisper 7. stationary
  3. triumph 8. strengthen
  4. dull 9. precious
  5. dangerous 10. Naked

An idiom is a phrase that has a special meaning as a whole. The meaning of an idiom is different from the meanings of its separate words.


It was raining cats and dogs.

(The idiom raining cats and dogs does not mean that cats and dogs were falling out of the sky! It means “raining heavily”.)

I put my foot in my mouth today.

(The idiom put my foot in my mouth means “to say the wrong thing”. Sometimes the context in which an idiom is used can give a hint of its meaning.)


Jeff is talking through his hat when he says that he can spell every word in the English language.

(This idiom clearly means that Jeff cannot possibly spell every word in the English language. Hence, the idiom talking through his hat means talking nonsense.)

More examples of idioms in the English language

Idiom Meaning
1It was a blessing in disguise.Something good that is not recognised at first.
2He is a doubting Thomas.A sceptic who needs physical or personal evidence in order to believe something.
3That scandal was a drop in the bucket.A very small part of something big or whole.
4The punishment was a slap in the wrist.A very mild punishment.
5The thief received a taste of his own medicine.He was mistreated the same way he mistreats others.
6Don’t add fuel to the fire!When something is done to make a bad situation even worse than it is.
7The principal is just all bark but no bite.When someone is threatening and/or aggressive but not willing to engage in a fight.
8The theory is all Greek to me.Meaningless and incomprehensible.
9We are all in the same boat.When everyone is facing the same challenges.
10The house cost him an arm and a leg.Very expensive. A large amount of money.
11The teacher has an axe to grind with the bursar.To have a dispute with someone.


Joyce is the apple of my eye.

Someone who is cherished above all others.

13The boy did the work at the drop of a hat.Willing to do something immediately
14The politician is a back seat driver.People who criticize from the sidelines
15They were back to square one in their search for the treasure.Having to start all over again.
16The government has to go back to the drawing board on the issue of the New Constitution.When an attempt fails and it’s time to start all over again.
17The exam was a piece of cake.A task that can be accomplished very easily.
18The investigator realised he was barking the wrong tree.A mistake made in something you are trying to achieve.
20Stop beating around the bush.Avoiding the main topic, not speaking directly about an issue.
21I will bend over backwards to see you through school.Do whatever it takes to help.

Willing to do anything.

22She was caught between a rock and a hard place.Stuck between two very bad options.
23You are biting off more than you can chew.To take on a task that is way too big.
24John decided to bite his tongue.To avoid talking.
25Tom has a cast iron stomach.Someone who has no problems, complications, or ill effects with eating or drinking anything.
26That is a co*ck and bull story.An unbelievable tale.
27I will have to win, come hell or high water.Any difficult situation or obstacle.
28Don’t cry over spilt milk.When you complain about a loss from the past.
29He likes crying wolf.Intentionally raise a false alarm.
30Tim is a dark horse.One who was previously unknown and now is prominent.
31Kinyua is a devil’s advocate.Someone who takes a position for the sake of argument without believing in that particular side of the argument.
32My father drinks like a fish.To drink very heavily.
33This problem is driving me up the wall.To irritate or annoy very much.
34The students had a field day with the visiting guests.An enjoyable day or circ*mstance.
35The food was finger licking good.Very tasty food or meal.
36He changed from rags to riches.To go from being very poor to being very wealthy.
37I need to get over it.Move beyond something that is bothering you.
38She got up on the wrong side of the bedTo someone who is having a horrible day.
39Joan is a good Samaritan.Someone who helps others when they are in need without expecting a reward.
40I have a gut feeling she will die.A personal intuition you get, especially when you feel something may not be right.
41The player lost his head when he missed the goal.Angry and overcome by emotions.
42He was head over heels in love with her.Very excited and joyful, especially when in love.
43He gave her a high five when he won the contest.Slapping palms above each other’s heads as a celebration gesture.
44Let us hit the books!To study, especially for a test or exam.
45I will hit the hay now.Go to bed or go to sleep.
46The preacher hit the nail on the head.Do or say something exactly right.
47She hit the sack after a hard day’s work.Go to bed or sleep.
48Hold your horses, the speaker is coming.Be patient.
49The certificate was an icing on the cake after the monetary reward.When you already have it good and get something on top of what you already have.
50The girl became careless in the heat of the moment.Overwhelmed by what is happening at the moment.
51The policeman kept an eye on him.Carefully watch somebody.
52He kept his chin up during the burial.To remain joyful in a tough situation.
53The old man kicked the bucket.Die
54Lend me your ear.To politely ask for someone’s full attention.
55You let the cat out of the bag.To share a secret that wasn’t supposed to be shared.
56The by-election was not a level playing field.A fair competition where no side has an advantage.
57He ran all over like a chicken with its head cut off.To act in a frenzied manner.
58Mr. Gumo is a loose cannon.Someone who is unpredictable and can cause damage if not kept in check.
59I am not interested in his mumbo jumbo.Nonsense or meaningless speech.
60She is the new kid on the block.Someone new to the group or area.
61He started off on the wrong foot.Getting a bad start on a relationship or task.
62The accused man is now off the hook.No longer have to deal with a tough situation.
63I said that off the record!Something said in confidence that the speaker doesn’t want attributed to him or her.
64I was on pins and needles.Anxious or nervous especially in anticipation of something.
65The prefects sit on the fence when there is a strike.Undecided.
66The dog appeared out of the blue.Something that suddenly and unexpectedly occurs or appears.
67You will get the job over my dead body.When you absolutely will not allow something to happen.
68Mark is fond of passing the buck to his brother.Avoid responsibility by giving it to someone else.
69Dennis is a peeping Tom.Someone who observes people in the nude or sexually active people, mainly for his own gratification.
70Pipe down! We have heard you!To shut up or be quiet.
71You are pulling my leg.Tricking someone as a joke.
72Rise and shine! It’s time to go to school.Time to get out of bed and get ready for work or school.
73The businessman has run out of steam nowadays.To be completely out of energy.
74The convict was saved by a bell.Saved at the last possible moment.
75He was a scapegoat for the amorous politician.Someone else who takes the blame.
76The naughty boy got away scot-free.To escape and not have to pay.
77She was sick as a dog.To be very sick (with flu or a cold).
78He has a sixth sense.A paranormal sense that allows you to communicate.

Other common idiomatic expressions and sayings

  1. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. – Having something that is certain is much better than taking a risk for more, because chances are you might lose everything.
  2. A fool and his money are easily parted. – It’s easy for a foolish person to lose his/her money.
  3. A house divided against itself cannot stand. – Everyone involved must unify and function together or it will not work out.
  4. A leopard can’t change his spots. – You cannot change who you are.
  5. A penny saved is a penny earned. – By not spending money you are saving money (little by little).
  6. A picture paints a thousand words. – A visual presentation is far more descriptive than words.
  7. Actions speak louder than words. – It’s better to actually do something than just talk about it.
  8. Curiosity killed the cat. – Being inquisitive can lead you into a dangerous situation.
  9. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. – Don’t rely on it until you are sure of it.
  10. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. – When someone gives you a gift, don’t be ungrateful.
  11. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. – Do not put all your resources in one possibility.
  12. Drastic times call for drastic measures. – When you are extremely desperate you need to take extremely desperate actions.
  13. Elvis has left the building. – The show has come to an end. It’s all over.
  14. Every cloud has a silver lining. – Be optimistic, even difficult times will lead to better days.
  15. Great minds think alike. – Intelligent people think like each other.
  16. Haste makes waste. – Doing things quickly may result in a poor ending.
  17. Idle hands are the devils’ tools. – You are more likely to get it trouble if you have nothing to do.
  18. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. – When one thing goes wrong, then another, and another ….
  19. It takes two to tango. – A conflict involves two people and both must cooperate to have it resolved.
  20. It’s a small world. – You cannot hide from your evil deeds in this world.
  21. Let bygones be bygones. – To forget about a disagreement or argument.
  22. Let sleeping dogs lie. – To avoid restarting a conflict.
  23. Never bite the hand that feeds you. – Don’t hurt anyone that helps you.
  24. Practice makes perfect. – By constantly practising, you will become better.
  25. Rome was not built in one day. – If you want something to be completed properly, then it’s going to take time.
  26. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. – The bigger and stronger opponent may be more difficult to beat, but when he does, he suffers a much bigger loss.
  27. Variety is the spice of life. – The more experiences you try the more exciting life can be.
  28. When it rains, it pours. – Since it rarely rains, when it does it will be a huge storm.
  29. You are what you eat. – In order to stay healthy, you must eat healthy foods.
  30. You can’t judge a book by its cover. – Decisions shouldn’t be made primarily on appearance.

Exercise 10

Give the meaning of the italicized idioms in the following sentences.

  1. I was completely at sea when the Prime Minister visited my house.
  2. Jane has her hands full. She can’t take on more work.
  3. Do you have a bone to pick with me?
  4. I can’t make heads or tails of this story.
  5. The test was as easy as pie.
  6. I am sick and tired of doing nothing at work.
  7. I am broke! I have to borrow some money.
  8. She dropped me a line yesterday.
  9. He filled in for her when she fell sick.
  10. My business is in the red.



A phrase is a group of words without a subject or a predicate or both and does not express a complete thought. Therefore, a phrase can never stand on its own as a complete sentence. Using different kinds of phrases enables a writer or a speaker to create informative and descriptive sentences that vary in structure. Phrases combine words into a larger unit that can function as a sentence element.

The most common kinds of phrases in English are: Noun phrases, verb phrases, prepositional phrases, gerund phrases and participial phrases.


A noun phrase consists of a noun and all its modifiers. It can function as a subject, object, or complement in the sentence. The modifiers may include articles, prepositions and adjectives.


(a) Noun phrases as subjects

The lazy old man sleeps all day long.

Some school boards reward teachers who produce good results.

(b) Noun phrases as objects

Teachers rejected the proposed performance contracts.

Critics opposed the controversial marriage bill.

(c) Noun phrases as complements

Teaching is a valuable profession.

Sheila is a hardworking no-nonsense lady.

Exercise 1

Identify the noun phrases in each of the following sentences and indicate whether it functions as a subject, object or complement.

  1. I saw a TV show yesterday.
  2. Playful animals really fascinate me.
  3. Yesterday, I had a thrilling adventure.
  4. Swimming is an exciting activity.
  5. Twenty university students were expelled last month.
  6. She is a certified public health officer.
  7. Many of the soldiers were killed in the battle.
  8. The old woman carried a heavy load of firewood on her back.
  9. Peter seems a very complicated man to understand
  10. A devastating earthquake hit China yesterday.

A verb phrase consists of a main verb and its helping verbs. It can function as the predicate of a sentence. The predicate tells what the subject does or is. (It tells something about the subject).


John was born in Malindi.

This problem may have contributed to the collapse of the economy.

Without highly-trained workers, many Kenyan companies would be forced to close down.

Sometimes the parts of a verb phrase are separated from each other by words that are not verbs.


He is finally buying a new house.

Salesmen must occasionally travel long distances.

Some words are joined with other words to make contractions.


He hasn’t turned up for the meeting. (has + not)

We couldn’t tell what had killed the cow. (could + not)

I’ve ordered them to leave the house. (I + have).

NB: The word not and the contraction n’t are adverbs. They are never part of a verb or verb phrase.

Exercise 2

Write the verb phrase in each of the following sentences.

  1. We should have taken pictures of the wild animals.
  2. You must have seen the posters of the event.
  3. They should have been told to come with flowers to plant in the school compound.
  4. Mr. Muchira would have told some interesting stories.
  5. Scientists must’ve visited the Menengai Crater.
  6. He must have seen some wonderful places.
  7. Many advocates do fear the new Chief Justice.
  8. The scouts have often made camp here.
  9. The bull fighters would sometimes stampede noisily.
  10. I could have read the book if he had allowed me.

A prepositional phrase is made up of a preposition, the object of the preposition, and all the words between them. It often functions as an adjective or adverb, but it can function as a noun as well.


We carried the fruits in our school bags. (Adverb telling where)

The plane flew through the cloud. (Adverb telling where)

Almost half of Africa’s population suffers from water – related diseases. (Adverb modifying suffers).

The water supply in the United States is expected to decline dramatically. (Adjective modifying water supply).

The best time to practise water conservation is before a water shortage. (Noun functioning as a complement).

In sentence 1 above, the preposition is in, the object of the preposition is bags, and the modifiers or adjectives are our and school.

Sometimes two or more nouns or pronouns are used as objects in a prepositional phrase.


He needs a wife with diligence and a good character.

Diligence and character are objects of the preposition with.

When prepositional phrases function as adjectives and adverbs in sentences, they are called adjectival and adverbial phrases respectively.

(a) An adjectival prepositional phrase modifies nouns or pronouns.


The woman wears shoes with sharp heels. (An adjectival phrase modifying the noun shoes)

The man with a funny-looking dog crossed the road. (An adjectival phrase modifying the noun man)

(b) An adverbial prepositional phrase modifies verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.


Soldiers train for many months. (An adverbial phrase modifying the verb train)

People are lazy in the afternoons. (An adverbial phrase modifying the adjective lazy.)

She arrived late in the night. (An adverbial phrase modifying the adverb late).

Sometimes one prepositional phrase immediately follows another.


The man led him through the door on the left.

Note that the prepositional phrase through the door is an adverbial phrase modifying the verb led and tells where? The second prepositional phrase on the left is an adjectival phrase modifying the noun door and tells which one?

A prepositional phrase can be at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a sentence.


At dusk, we began to walk home.

The map of the area was very helpful.

The path went by a forest and a large lake.

Exercise 3

Underline the prepositional phrases in the following sentences and indicate what type each of them is.

  1. The oldest building is found in Mombasa.
  2. Five companies around the country have bought new fire engines.
  3. The barking of the dog scared the strangers.
  4. Bulls are bred for hard work.
  5. Most bridges are built over water.
  6. Travellers were spared many miles of travel.
  7. I went by bus to the market.
  8. At the market, I saw beautiful and unusual people.
  9. I also saw a display of colourful clothes.
  10. She took him through the lesson with professional expertise.

A gerund is a verb form used as a noun. It is formed by adding –ing to the present tense of a verb. Gerunds can be used as subjects, direct objects, objects of prepositions, and complements.


Subject: Fishing is a popular activity in Nyanza Province.

(Fishing is a gerund, the subject of the verb is)

Direct object: The sport involves riding. (riding is a gerund, the direct object of the verb involves)

Object of preposition: The sport is similar to fencing. (fencing is a gerund, the object of the preposition to).

A gerund phrase includes a gerund, its modifiers, objects or complements. It always functions as a noun.


Becoming a Tusker Project fame finalist was Msechu’s lifetime dream. (The gerund phrase is the subject of the sentence.)

Msechu dreamt all his life about winning the top award. (The gerund phrase is an object of the preposition about).

One of Msechu’s biggest disappointments was losing to Alpha. (The gerund phrase is a complement).

The game involves jumping over hurdles. (The gerund phrase is an object of the verb involves).

Exercise 4

Underline the gerund or gerund phrases in the following sentences and label each one subject, direct, object, object of preposition, or complement accordingly

  1. In early days, golfing was a game for the rich.
  2. The rich were mostly interested in protecting their status.
  3. Playing golf with a commoner would mean lowered status.
  4. Much of the rich people’s time was spent playing the game.
  5. Training thoroughly improved a golfer’s accuracy in the game.
  6. There he learned about playing the game.
  7. Later, he started contesting with other junior golfers.
  8. At fifteen or sixteen, he began playing with the professionals.
  9. Participating in international tournaments was the golfer’s dream.
  10. But the greatest dream was winning an in international title.

A participle is a verb form that always acts as an adjective. There are two types of participles:

(a) The past participle – it is usually formed by adding –d, or -ed to the present tense.


Fooled, the shopkeeper bought fake products. (Fooled is a past participle modifying the noun shopkeeper)

Shaken, he dashed to the police station.

(Shaken is a past participle modifying the pronoun he)

The participles of irregular verbs, however, do not follow the above rule: run-run, throw-thrown.

(b) The present participle – it is usually formed by adding -ing to the present tense of any verb.


Smiling, the conman stepped out of the shop. (Smiling is a present participle modifying the noun conman).

Using participles is a simple way of adding information to sentences and to vary sentences beginnings.

A participial phrase consists of a present or past participle and its modifiers, objects, or complements. It always functions as an adjective.


Rounding the corner, the conman met two policemen.

(Rounding the corner is a present participial phrase modifying the noun conman).

Surprised by the appearance of the conman, the policemen started blowing their whistles.

(Surprised by the appearance of the conman is a past participial phrase modifying the noun policemen).

A participle or participial phrase is not always at the beginning of a sentence. Sometimes it may appear in the middle but it should be near the noun or pronoun it modifies.


The skilled policemen, seeing a chance of a lifetime, arrested the conman.

The conman, losing control, fought the policemen fiercely.

Points to note

Both the gerund and the present participle are created by a adding –ing to the present tense of a verb. BUT how can you tell whether a word is a gerund or a participle? It all depends on how the word is used in a sentence.

(i) A participle is used as a modifier in a sentence.


Gaining courage, the conman attempted to escape. (Gaining courage is a participial phrase modifying conman).

(ii) A gerund is used as a noun in a sentence.


Gaining courage made the conman look aggressive. (Gaining courage is a gerund phrase, the subject of the verb made).

Exercise 5

Underline the participial phrases in the following sentences, indicating whether it is a past or present participial phrase and the noun or pronoun it modifies.

  1. Defying all odds, Kisoi Munyao attempted to climb to the highest peak of Mt. Kenya for seven times.
  2. Failing each time, he refused to give up.
  3. Seeing his passion to scale the peak, the government offered him financial assistance.
  4. The climber ascended slowly, making steady progress.
  5. Pleased with his progress, he camped at eleven thousand feet.
  6. The climber, determined to hoist the Kenyan flag, progressed on the following morning.
  7. Slipping on the snow, Munyao fell on a dry tree trunk.
  8. A rope worn from too many climbs then broke.
  9. One of his hot water bottles, slipping to the bottom of the cliff, broke into pieces.
  10. Munyao, overcome with joy, finally hoisted the flag at Point Batian.

An infinitive is a verb form that usually appears with the word to before it. To is called the sign of the infinitive.


to lift to eat to launch to register

To is a preposition if it is followed by a noun or noun phrase, but it is a sign of the infinitive if it is followed by a verb or verb phrase.


Joseph longed for a flight to the moon. (Prepositional phrase)

Not until 1985 was he able to succeed. (Infinitive)

An infinitive phrase consists of an infinitive and its modifiers, objects or complements. It can function as a noun, adjective, or adverb.


To write clearly and concisely can be difficult sometimes. (Infinitive phrase functioning as a noun and the subject of the sentence).

Proofreading your writing is a good way to ensure the absence of typing mistakes. (Infinitive phrase functioning as an adjective modifying the noun way).

To greatly increase the amount of stress in your life, leave your writing task until the night before it is due. (Infinitive phrase functioning as an adverb modifying the verb leave).

Exercise 6

Underline the infinitive phrases in each of the following sentences and state whether it is functioning as a noun, adjective or adverb.

  1. To climb Mt. Kenya was the dream of Kisoi Munyao.
  2. The freedom hero decided to climb the mountain on the eve of the country’s independence.
  3. He was one of the first Kenyans to try this risky climb.
  4. His determination helped him to make rapid progress to reach Point Batian.
  5. Munyao was able to reach the peak with very limited climbing gear.
  6. To reach Point Batian was Munyao’s ultimate goal.
  7. At first few other climbers bothered to listen to Munyao.
  8. He was even forced to finance much of his expedition himself.
  9. Munyao worked hard to achieve his dream of hoisting the Kenyan flag.
  10. His success made it easier for other climbers to scale the tallest mountain in Kenya.

A phrasal verb is a verb that consists of two or three words. The first word is always an action word followed by one or two particles. The particle is either an adverb, a preposition or both.


Verb adverb

Get across

Turn down

Put up

Verb preposition

Give in

Put on

Take off

Verb Adverb Preposition

Put up with

Look forward to

Look down on

The meaning of phrasal verbs is usually different from the meaning of the individual words that form them. One cannot, therefore, guess the meaning of a phrasal verb from the usual meanings of the verb and the particles. The best thing is to master the meanings of as many phrasal verbs as possible.


Abide by –obey rules

Accustom to-familiarize

Book in-reserve

Beef up-add force

Bail somebody out-help somebody out of difficulties

Act on-take action on information received

Break down-failure of engine, collapse

Break out-start suddenly

Bring up-raise a child

Call for-demand, require

Call off-cancel

Call on/upon-urge

Carry out– do, execute

Carry away-draw attention

Carry on– continue

Check on –verify

Come about– happen

Come across-meet

Deal with– tackle

Die down-lessen

Die out-become extinct

Do without-manage with out

Drop off-doze

Drop out-withdraw

End in-result into

End up-finally come to

Enter in to-venture, begin

Fade away-die slowly

Fall apart-break

Fall for-get attracted to

Fall in– collapse

Fear for-be concerned about

Break into-enter by force start singing, dancing, laughing or crying suddenly

Feel for – sympathise

Figure out-come to understand by thinking

Fill in-compete (especially a form)

Fit in– mix smoothly

Flow in-arrive steadily

Get away with-escape punishment

Give in-surrender

Give out-distribute

Give up-despair

Go after-chase

Go ahead-continue

Go over-check, revise

Go through-suffer, struggle, succeed

Grow into-become something

Gun down– shoot dead

Hand in– submit

Hand over-transfer duties

Hang up-end a telephone conversation

Have back– get back

Hear from-receive communication from

Hold back-prevent from progressing

Hold on-wait

Identify with– associate with

Jump at –seize a chance

Jump on-challenge, criticize

Keep off – avoid, keep away from

Keep up-maintain

Kick off-begin a football match/beginning of a football match

Let down-disappoint

Light up-brighten

Live up to-do in accordance with

Look forward to-long for

Look out for-try to find

Look up to-admire, respect

Make away with-steal and escape

Make out-understand, figure out, write out

Make up for-compensate

Nail down-subdue

Note down-record

Open up-talk freely

Open with– start with

Order around-keep on telling somebody to do things

Own up-confess

Part with-give away

Point-direct attention to

Put off-postpone, switch off, discourage a person

Put out-extinguish

Put up with-tolerate

Rough up-handle roughly

Run-into-meet unexpectedly

Run out-use up, run short of

Set off-start a journey

Set up-establish

Settle down-adapt in a new place

Shout down-disapprove a speaker

Sleep out-sleep outdoor

Take after-resemble

Turn down-reject

Turn off-switch off, divert, leave one road for another

Turn out– arrive, attend

Turn to-ask for help or advice

Urge on-encourage, incite

Use up- exhaust

Verge on-be very close to something

Wake up to– realize

While away-pass time in a relaxed mind

Wind up-finish (a speech)

Wipe out-destroy completely

Attend to-deal with something

Align with-to give ones support publicly to a certain plan

Allude back-to mention someone or something indirectly

Answer back-to reply rudely to someone who has more authority than you

Appeal for-to make a request for something

Abstain from-to avoid to do something enjoyable deliberately

Absolve from/absolve of-remove; exonerate from blame

Be absorbed in-be so interested or involved in something that you don’t notice anything else

Acquaint with-to know or learn about something

Adhere to– to obey a rule, a law or an agreement

Awaken to (awake to)-to begin to notice something

Bombard with-ask so many questions or give too much information

Borrow from-use an idea that was initially used by someone else

Break up-end a relationship/end an event/stop a fight

Brighten up-make something more interesting or attractive

Brim with-be full of something

Capitalize on-use an opportunity or situation to help you achieve something

Get carried away-become so excited with something that we lose control of our feelings

Cave in-collapse; fall down or in wards

Chip in-add something in a conversation

Churn out-quickly to produce large quantities of things

Close down-stop doing business completely

Comb through-search thoroughly

Conform to-obey

Cross off-draw a line through something on a list to show that you have a list with it

Feed for-to look after

Let down-disappoint

Listen in-secretly listen to a conversation, eavesdrop

Fish out-to pull something out of a container

Be faced with-have challenges

Flood in-arrive quickly and in big numbers

Itch for-want very much to do something immediately

Listen in-secretly listen to a conversation eavesdrop

Refrain from-not to do something

Round up-find and arrest

Scale down-reduce the number or amount of something

Stumble across/ stumble on/ stumble upon-find something or meet someone accidentally

Talk over-discuss an issue

Touch down-of aircraft land



What is a sentence?

A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete thought. A complete thought is clear. A sentence always begins with a capital letter. It ends with a full stop (.), a question mark (?) or an exclamation mark (!).


Ted sent me a letter.

Jane slept soundly.

Sentence fragments

A sentence fragment does not express a complete thought. The reader or listener cannot be sure what is missing in or the meaning of a sentence fragment.

He or she will be left wondering: What is this about? What happened?


Fragment: The huge boat. (What happened?)

Sentence: The huge boat sails down the river.

You can correct a sentence fragment by supplying the missing information.

Subjects and predicates

The two fundamental parts of every English sentence are the subject and the predicate.

A subject can be described as the component that performs the action described by the predicate. It tells who or what does or did the action. It may also name the topic.

The predicate tells about the subject. It tells what the subject does or is.


Subject Predicate

(Who or what) (What is said about the subject)

The antelope jumped over the high fence.

Pigs eat anything is sight when hungry.

In a sentence, a few key words are more important than the rest. These key words make the basic framework of the sentence. The verb and its subject are the key words that form the basic framework of every sentence. The rest of the sentence is built around them.


Sentence Key words

The young kids jumped playfully. kids, jumped

Their faces shone brightly. faces, shone

To find out the subject, ask who or what before the verb.


Who jumped playfully? – kids

What shone brightly? – faces

To find out the verb, ask what after the subject.


The young kids did what? – jumped

Their faces did what? – shone

The key word in the subject of a sentence is called the simple subject. For example, kids, faces. The complete subject is the simple subject plus any words that modify or describe it. For example, The young kids, Their faces.

The key word in the predicate is called the simple predicate. For example, jumped, shone. The complete predicate is the verb plus any words that modify or complete the verb’s meaning. For example, jumped playfully, shone brightly.

The simple subjects and predicates may sometimes be more than one word. For simple subjects, it may be the name of a person or a place.


Barack Obama won the US presidential race.

South Africa is the home of many bats.

The simple predicate may also be more than one word. There may be a main verb and a helping verb.

Tanya has acted in many TV shows.

She will be performing again tonight.


An object in a sentence is a word or words that complete the meaning of a sentence. It is involved in the action but does not carry it out. The object is the person or thing affected by the action described in the verb. It is always a noun or a pronoun and it always comes after the verb.


The man climbed a tree.

Some verbs complete the meaning of sentences without the help of other words. The action that they describe is complete.


It rained.

The temperature rose.

Some other verbs do not express a complete meaning by themselves. They need to combine with other words to complete the meaning of a sentence.


Christine saw the snake.

Rose wears goggles.

He opened the door.

In the above examples, the snake, goggles and the door are the objects as they are the things being affected by the verbs in the sentences.

(Refer to the topic on Transitive and Intransitive Verbs under the main topic VERBS in Chapter One).

Exercise 1

Which groups of words are sentences and which ones are sentence fragments?

  1. A huge storm was coming.
  2. Behind the wattle tree.
  3. After the earthquake.
  4. The wind broke several houses.
  5. Surprised by a loud noise.
  6. Winds of high speed.
  7. Rescue workers arrived.
  8. From different parts of the world.
  9. Many people were injured.
  10. In the weeks after the earthquake.

Direct and indirect objects

Objects come in two types, direct and indirect:

Direct objects

The direct object is the word that receives the action of a verb.


Christine saw a snake. ( a snake receives the action of saw)

Rose wears goggles. (goggles receives the action of wears)

Sometimes the direct object tells the result of an action.


Tecla won the race.

She received a trophy.

To find the direct object first find the verb. Then ask whom or what after the verb.


Christine saw a snake. Rose wears goggles

Verb: saw verb: wears

Saw what? a snake wears what? goggles

Tecla won the race She received a trophy

Verb: won verb: received

Won what? the race received what? a trophy

Remember, we said earlier that a verb that has a direct object is called a transitive verb and a verb that does not have an object is called an intransitive verb. We also said that a verb may be intransitive in one sentence and transitive in another. Other verbs are strictly intransitive, e.g. disagree.

Indirect objects

The indirect object refers to a person or thing who receives the direct object. They tell us for whom or to whom something is done. Others tell to what or for what something is done.


I gave him the book.

He is the indirect object as he is the beneficiary of the book.

Direct object or adverb?

Direct objects are sometimes confused with adverbs. The direct object tells what or whom as we have seen earlier. Adverbs on the other hand tell how, where, when or to what extent. They modify the verbs.


Brian Swam slowly. (slowly is an adverb telling how)

Brian Swam a tough race. (race is a direct object telling what).

Verbs can also be followed by a phrase that tells how, when, or where. This kind of a phrase is never a direct object but an adverbial phrase.


Brian swam across the pool. (across the pool tells where Brian Swam).

Therefore, to decide whether a word or a phrase is a direct object or adverb, decide first what it tells about the verb. If it tells how, where, when or to what extent, it is an adverb. If it tells what or whom, it is a direct object.

Exercise 2

Identify the objects or the adverbs/adverbial phrases in the following sentences. If the sentence has two objects, indicate the direct object and the indirect object.

  1. Nanu sings pop music.
  2. Nanu sings sweetly.
  3. He spoke very quietly.
  4. I have read that book three times.
  5. She has gone to the bank.
  6. David gave her a present.
  7. David disagreed bitterly.
  8. The player sat on his heels.
  9. She made a list of the items to buy.
  10. They offered him help.


Some sentences do not take objects or adverbs (or adverbial phrases) after the verbs. Instead, they take complements. A complement is the part of the sentence that

gives more information about the subject (subject complement) or about the object (object complement) of the sentence.

Subject complements

Subject complements normally follow certain verbs like be, seem, look, etc.


He is British. (British gives more information about he)

She became a nurse. (a nurse gives more information about she)

Object complements

Object complements follow the direct objects of the verb and give more information about those direct objects.


They painted the house red. (red is a complement giving more information about the direct object house)

She called him an idiot. (an idiot is a complement giving more information about the direct object he).

The complement often consists of an adjective (e.g. red) or a noun phrase (e.g. an idiot) but can also be a participle phrase.


I saw her standing there. (standing there is a complement telling more about her).

Exercise 3

Pick out the complements in the following sentences and indicate whether subject, object or participial complements.

  1. The tourist is a German citizen.
  2. She seems a very arrogant lady.
  3. You look tired.
  4. They painted the car green.
  5. James nicknamed Lucy the queen.
  6. I saw him stealing the mango.
  7. They beat the thief senseless.
  8. The priest looks a kind person.
  9. We left her crying.
  10. Job left her trembling.


Sentences can be categorised in terms of structure or in terms of purpose.


Sentences can be categorised into 3 main types:

  • Simple sentences

(ii) Compound sentences

(iii) Complex sentences.


A simple sentence contains a single subject and predicate. It describes only one thing, idea or question, and has only one verb. It contains only an independent (main) clause. Any independent clause can stand alone as a sentence. It has a subject and a verb and expresses a complete thought.


Bill reads.

Jack plays football.

Even the addition of adverbs, adjectives and prepositional phrases to a simple sentence does not change its structure.


The white dog with the black collar always barks loudly.

Even if you join several nouns with a conjunction, or several verbs with a conjunction, it remains a simple sentence.


The dog barked and growled loudly.


A compound sentence consists of two or more simple sentences joined together using a co-ordinating conjunction such as and, or or but.


The sun was setting in the west and the moon was just rising.

Each clause can stand alone as a sentence.


The sun was setting in the west. The moon was just rising.

Every clause is like a sentence with a subject and a verb. A coordinating conjunction goes in the middle of the sentence; it is the word that joins the two clauses together.

Other examples:

I walked to the shops, but my wife drove there.

I might watch the film, or I might visit my aunt.

My friend enjoyed the film, but she didn’t like the actor.


Two simple sentences should be combined to form one compound sentence only if the ideas they express are closely related. If the ideas are not closely related, the resulting sentence may not make sense.


Incorrect: The car is old, and Dan likes sociology.

Correct: The car is old, but it functions superbly.

Punctuating compound sentences

When writing some compound sentences, a comma is used before the conjunction. The comma tells the reader where to pause. Without a comma, some compound sentences can be quite confusing.


Confusing: Jane studied the specimen and her sister took notes.

(The sentence might cause the reader to think that Jane studied both the specimen and her sister).

Better: Jane studied the specimen, and her sister took notes.

(The comma makes the sentence to be clear).

Sometimes the parts of a compound sentence can be joined with a semicolon (;) rather than a comma and a conjunction.


Jane studied the specimen; her sister took notes.

Never join simple sentences with a comma alone. A comma is not powerful enough to hold the sentences together. Instead use a semicolon.


Incorrect: My father enjoyed the meal, he didn’t like the soup.

Correct: My father enjoyed the meal; he didn’t like the soup.

Correct: My father enjoyed the meal, but he didn’t like the soup.


A complex sentence contains one independent (main) clause and one or more subordinate (dependent) clauses. They describe more than one thing or idea and have more than one verb in them. They are made up of more than one clause, an independent clause (that can stand by itself) and a dependent clause (which cannot stand by itself).


The picture looks flat because it is colourless.

(The picture looks flat is the independent (main) clause whereas because it is colourless is the subordinate (dependent) clause)

What is a clause?

A clause is a group of words that contains a verb and its subject. There are two types of clauses – main clauses and subordinate clauses.


A main clause is a clause that can stand as sentence by itself. A compound sentence contains two or more main clauses, because it is made up of two or more simple sentences. Each of these simple sentences is a main clause.


Robots operate machines, and they solve many labour problems.

Robots operate machines and they solve many labour problems are both main clauses. They are also simple sentences. Main clauses are sometimes called independent clauses.


Subordinate clauses are clauses that do not express a complete thought. So they cannot stand by themselves.


If technology will improve When robots can do the work

While electronics will work After the system is complete

None of the above clauses express a complete thought. They are sentence fragments that leave the reader wondering then what?

Subordinate clauses are introduced by subordinating conjunctions such as if, when, while, and after.

Other examples of subordinating conjunctions:

Although because so that until

as before than whatever

as if in order that though wherever

as long as provided till whenever

as though since unless where

Now we can understand a complex sentence better. We have said that it contains one main clause and one or more subordinate clauses.

Main clause subordinate clause

The bell started ringing before we were out of bed.

The battery needs recharging so that it can work tonight.

The subordinate clause can sometimes appear before the main clauses.


When the power failed, the computer stopped.

Before you know it, your flat screen television will be stolen.

The subordinate clause can also sometimes appear in between the sentence.


The medicine man, who knew many tricks, cheated the man that he had been bewitched.


Subordinate clauses may be used in sentences as adjectives, adverbs and nouns in complex sentences. Such clauses are called adjectival, adverbial and noun clauses respectively. They add variety to one’s writing. They can also make one’s writing more interesting by adding details.


Without subordinate clause: The bushman told us about the hidden cave.

With subordinate clause: The bushman, who knew the forest well, told us about the hidden cave.

  • Adjectival clauses

An adjectival clause acts as an adjective in a sentence, that is, it modifies a noun or a pronoun.


The bushman, who knew the forest well, told us about the hidden cave.

(who knew the forest well is an adjectival clause that modifies the noun bushman).

The bushman told us a legend that involved the cave.

(that involved the cave is an adjectival clause that modifies the noun legend).

An adjective clause usually comes immediately after the noun it modifies.

More examples:

People still search for the treasure that the pirate hid.

As can be seen from the above examples, adjectival clauses, like adjectives, modify nouns or pronouns answering questions like which? or what kind of?

Adjective Adjective clause

The red coat the coat which I bought yesterday

Like the adjective red, the adjectival clause which I bought yesterday modifies the noun coat. Note than an adjectival clause usually comes after what it modifies while an adjective comes before.

Relative pronouns

Besides use of subordinating conjunctions, adjectival clauses can be introduced by relative pronouns. Relative pronouns are the words who, whom, whose, that and which. These words relate the subordinate clauses to the word it modifies in the main clause.


The books that people read were mainly religious.

Some fire-fighters never meet the people whom they save.

The meat which they ate was rotten.

In the last sentence, the relative clause (called so because it is introduced by the relative pronoun which) which they ate modifies the noun meat and answers the question which meat?

More examples:

They are searching for the one who borrowed the book.

The relative clause who borrowed the book modifies the pronoun one and answers the question which one?

Besides relating the adjectival clause to a noun or pronoun in the main clause, a relative pronoun may also act as the subject, object, predicate pronoun, or object of a preposition in the clause.


Subject: This is the forest that has a secret cave.

(that is the subject of has)

Object: The map, which you saw, guides the way.

(which is the object of saw)

Object of a preposition: The map leads to the cave of which the bushman spoke.

(which is the object of the preposition of)

In informal writing or speech, you may leave out the relative pronoun when it is not the subject of the adjectival clause, but you should usually include the relative pronoun in formal academic writing.


Formal: The books that people read were mainly religious.

Informal: The books people read were mainly religious.

Formal: The map which you saw guides the way.

Informal: The map you saw guides the way.

But never omit the relative pronoun if it is in the clause.


Correct: This is the forest that has a secret cave.

Incorrect: This is the forest has a secret cave.

Commas are put around adjectival clauses only if they merely add additional information to a sentence.


The map, which you saw, shows the way.

This adjective clause can be left out without affecting the grammatical structure of the sentence. It is merely adding information to the sentence by telling us which map?

The map shows the way.

(ii) Adverbial clauses

An adverbial clause is a subordinate clause which takes the place of an adverb in a sentence. Just like adverbs and adverbial phrases, adverbial clauses answer the questions where, when, how, to what extent, with what goal/result and under what conditions. In addition, an adverbial clause may tell why.

Note how an adverb clause can replace an adverb and an adverbial phrase in the following example:

Adverb: The Prime Minister gave a speech here.

Adverbial phrase: The Prime Minister gave a speech in the afternoon.

Adverbial clause: The Prime Minister gave a speech where the workers were striking.

Usually, an adverbial clause is introduced by a subordinating conjunction like because, when, whenever, where, wherever, since, after and so that.

Note that a subordinate adverb clause can never stand alone as a complete sentence.


after they left dining hall

The above adverbial clause will leave the reader asking what happened after they left the dining hall?

Adverbial clauses express relationships of cause, effect, place, time and condition.


Adverb clauses of cause answer the question why?


Njoroge wanted to kill his uncle because he had murdered his father.


Adverbial clauses of effect answer the question with what goal/result?


Njoroge wanted to kill his uncle so that his father’s murder would be avenged.


Adverbial clauses of time answer the question when?


After Njoroge’s uncle married his mother, he wanted to kill him


Adverbial clauses of condition answer the question under what conditions?


If the uncle cooperates, Njoroge may decide to pardon him.


Adverbial clauses of place answer the question where?


Njoroge organised a demonstration where his father’s murder occurred.

Note that an adverbial clause can appear either before or after the main clause of the sentence.

(iii) Noun clauses

A noun clause is a clause which takes the place of a noun or a noun phrase. It can be used in any way that a noun is used. That is, it can act as the subject, object, object of a preposition, or predicate noun in a sentence. Just like a noun, a noun clause answers the questions who, when, or what?


As subjects

Noun: Kamau is unknown

Noun phrase: Their destination is unknown

Noun clause: Where they are going is unknown.

The noun clause where they are going is the subject of the verb is.

As objects

Noun: I know French.

Noun phrase: I know the three ladies.

Noun clause: I know that Latin is no longer spoken as a native language.

In the first sentence, the noun French acts as the direct object of the verb know. In the third sentence, the entire clause that Latin is no longer spoken as a native language is the direct object of the verb know.

As objects of the preposition

Noun: He talked about him.

Noun phrase: He talked about the funny items.

Noun phrase: He talked about what you bought at the supermarket.

In the first sentence the pronoun him is the object of the preposition about. In the third sentence, what you bought at the supermarket is the object of the preposition about and answers the question about what?

As predicate nouns

Her first day in school was what shaped her life.

The adverbial clause what shaped her life gives more information about the subject of the sentence Her first day in school.

Words often used to introduce noun clauses

that when whose

what whatever whoever

how who whoever

where whom


You cannot tell the kind of a clause from the word that introduces it. You can tell the kind of clause only by the way it is used in a sentence. If the clause is used as a noun, it is a noun clause. If the clause is used as a modifier, it is an adjectival clause or an adverbial clause.


Whoever built the house was not an expert. (Noun clause as a subject)

No one knew where he came from. (Noun clause as a direct object)

He left the construction site whenever he wished. (As an adverbial clause)

This is the layout which he left behind. (As an adjectival clause).

Exercise 4

Identify the following sentences as simple, compound or complex. If it is a complex sentence, indicate whether it has an adjective, an adverb or a noun subordinate clause.

  1. The hotel is not very old.
  2. The hotel is not very old; it was constructed in 1987.
  3. It has a strange name, but it attracts many tourists.
  4. Whoever broke the mirror will have to pay for it.
  5. The Gor Mahia fans hope that the team will win again.
  6. Did I tell you about the author whom I met?
  7. They are searching for the man who stole the cow.
  8. People began riding horses at least five thousand years ago.
  9. Some people watch the moon as though it affects their lives.
  10. Some superstitions were developed when people felt helpless about the world around them.
  11. The parachute was really a sail that was designed for skiing.
  12. The moon orbits the earth every 291/2 days.
  13. My dog loves bread crusts.
  14. I always buy bread because my dog loves the crusts.
  15. Whenever lazy students whine, Mrs. Ndegwa throws pieces of chalk at them.
  16. The lazy students whom Mrs. Ndegwa hit in the head with pieces of chalk complained bitterly.
  17. My dog Shimba, who loves bread crusts, eats them under the kitchen table.
  18. A dog that drinks too much milk will always be alert.
  19. You really do not want to know what Aunt Lucy adds to her stew.
  20. We do not know why, but the principal has been away from school for two months.

We have seen how sentences are categorised into simple, compound and complex depending on their internal structures. Now, we shall see how they can be categorised in terms of purpose.

There are five kinds of sentences classified according to their end marks and the different jobs they do:

  • Declarative sentences
  • Interrogative sentences
  • Exclamatory sentences
  • Imperative sentences
  • Conditional sentences
  • Declarative sentences

A declarative sentence simply states a fact or argument without requiring either an answer or action from the reader or listener. It is punctuated with a simple period. (fullstop)


Nairobi is the capital of Kenya.

He asked which path leads back to the park.

Deserts are dry.

The declarative sentence is the most important type of sentences. You can write an entire essay or report using only declarative sentences, and you should always use them more often than any other type. Some declarative sentences contain indirect questions but this does not make them into interrogative sentences.


He asked which path leads back to the park.

  • Interrogative sentences

An interrogative sentence asks a direct question and always ends in a question mark.


How many roads lead into Mombasa city?

Does money grow on trees?

Do you like deserts?

Note that an indirect question does not make a sentence interrogative.



When was Professor Saitoti the Vice President of Kenya?


I wonder when Professor Saitoti was the Vice President of Kenya.

A direct question requires an answer from the reader or listener, while an indirect question does not. A special type of direct questions is the rhetorical question. A rhetorical question is one that you do not expect the reader or listener to answer.


Why did the Mau Mau war take place? Some people argue that it was simply a way of Kenyan Africans saying “enough is enough”.

Rhetorical questions can be very effective way to introduce new topics or problems in one’s writing or speech. But if you use them too often, you sound patronising or even monotonous or mediocre!

  • Exclamatory sentences

An exclamatory sentence expresses strong feeling, emphasis or emotion. It is actually a more forceful version of a declarative sentence that is marked at the end with an exclamation mark.


It was so cold!

How beautiful this picture is!

You look so lovely tonight!

Exclamatory sentences are very common in speech and sometimes in writing (but rarely).

Note that an exclamation mark can appear at the end of an imperative sentence, but this does not make it into an exclamatory sentence.

  • Imperative sentences

An imperative sentence gives a direct command to someone. This sentence can end either with a period or with an exclamation mark, depending on how forceful the command is.



Read this book tomorrow.

Always carry water.

Wash the windows!


You should not usually use an exclamation mark with the word “please”.


Close that door, please!

Please close that door.

In an imperative sentence, you is always the subject. It is usually not stated in the sentence. We say that you is the “understood” or “implied” subject.


(You) Please bring my camera.

(You) Take your medicine before going to bed.

  • Conditional sentences

A conditional sentence expresses what one would do if a condition were or were not met.

The condition in the conditional if-clause will determine the fulfilment of the action in the main clause.


If I had a million dollars, I would buy a Hummer.

John would be very successful if he had more brains.

In sentence 1, the condition of having a million dollars will determine whether the speaker will buy a hummer or not. In sentence, the condition of John not having more brains determines that he is not very successful.

Exercise 5

Label each of the following sentences declarative, imperative, exclamatory, interrogative or conditional

  1. There is a terrible storm tonight.
  2. Try to cover yourself with a blanket.
  3. How strong the winds are!
  4. If the storm continues, we shall have to go down into the bunker.
  5. Do you think it will rip off the roof?
  6. Look at that that flash of lightning!
  7. What an amazing sight that is!
  8. The night looks dark and scary.
  9. Please tell the children to stop screaming.
  10. Susan will sit beside me if the storm continues.
  11. We are hopeful all will be well.
  12. Dive under the table if it breaks the roof.
  13. How will I find my way?
  14. Can I take a glass of water?
  15. John wants to know what will happen if our house collapses.
  16. There goes the thunder!
  17. We shall have to move to another city if we get out of this alive.
  18. Tell me a good city where we can move to.
  19. The storm is subsiding.
  20. Hooray! Safety at last!


Direct speech is used to give a speaker’s exact words. It is also referred to as direct quotation. Direct speech is always enclosed within quotation marks.


Hemedi announced, “My aunt works in a biscuit factory.”

“Creating jobs will be my first priority,” the governor said.

A comma always separates the quoted words from the speaker’s name, whether the name comes before or after the quotation


Jim asked, “Who are you voting for?”

“I don’t know yet,” answered Carol.

A direct quotation always begins with a capital letter


Senator Karaba said, “You must believe in the new constitution.”

When a direct quotation is divided by speech tags, the second part of the quotation must begin with a small letter.


“Register to vote,” said the senator, ‘before the end of the day”.

If the second part of the quotation is a complete sentence, the first word of this sentence is capitalized.


“I did register,” said Carol. “It took only a few minutes”

Commas and full stops are placed inside quotation marks


“Last night,” said Joyce,” I listened to a debate.”

Quotation marks and exclamation marks are placed inside a quotation mark if they belong to the quotation. If they do not, they are placed outside the quotation.


Joyce asked, “Whom are you voting for?”

Did Carol say, “I don’t know yet’’?

I can’t believe that she said, “I don’t know yet’!

Speech tags may appear before, in the middle or at the end of the direct speech.


He said, “You know quite well that you have to vote.”

“You know quite well,” he said, “that you have to vote.”

“You know quite well that you have to vote,” he said.

Exercise 6

Rewrite the following sentences correctly in direct speech. Ensure you punctuate them accordingly.

  1. John said there was a terrible accident in Nairobi.
  2. Petro added it happened in Umoja Estate.
  3. It involved a train and a bus added John.
  4. Sarah asked did anyone die.
  5. No one died, but the railway line was destroyed answered Peter.
  6. Over the months said John the railway line has been rebuilt.
  7. How lucky that no one died exclaimed Sarah.
  8. I think they should put a railway-crossing sign board Petro said it would help bus drivers a lot.
  9. Or they should put bumps on both sides of the railway line to slow down the buses John suggested
  10. Who knows what might happen next wondered Sarah


Indirect speech is used to refer to a person’s words without quoting him or her exactly. It is also referred to as indirect quotation or reported speech. The original spoken words are not repeated. The exact meaning is given without repeating the speaker’s words.


Direct speech: The governor said, “Creating new jobs will be my first priority.”

Indirect speech: The governor said that creating new jobs would be his first priority.

Several changes do occur when changing a sentence from direct to indirect speech

  1. Quotation marks

Quotation marks are left out when writing a sentence in direct speech.


Direct: Hemedi announced, “My aunt works in a biscuit factory”

Indirect: Hemedi announced that his aunt worked in a biscuit factory.

  1. Tense – The tense of a verb in the direct sentence will change in indirect speech


  1. Simple present changes to past simple

Direct: John said, “She goes to school early.”

Indirect: John said that she went to school early.

  1. Simple past changes to past perfect

Direct: John said, “She went to school early.”

Indirect: John said that she had gone to school early.

  1. Present progressive changes to past progressive

Direct: “The baby is eating a banana,” the nurse said.

Indirect: The nurse said that the baby was eating a banana.

  1. Present perfect changes to past perfect

Direct: “South Sudan has become a republic,” the new president declared.

Indirect: The new president declared that South Sudan had become a republic.

  1. Past progressive changes to past perfect progressive

Direct: “I was dreaming when the fire started,” the boy said.

Indirect: The boy said the he had been dreaming when the fire started.

  1. Future simple changes to modal

Direct: “I will visit you tomorrow,” my desk mate said.

Indirect: My desk mate said the he would visit me the following day.

  1. May changes to might

Direct: I may also visit you too,” I replied.

Indirect: I replied that I might also visit him too.

Sometimes the verb in indirect speech does not change tense. This occurs in sentences that are universal truths

Direct: Our Geography teacher said “The earth rotates round the sun.”

Indirect: Our Geography teacher said that the earth rotates round the sun.

  1. Words referring to place also change


Direct: “I live here,” retorted the old man.

Indirect: The old man retorted that he lived there.

Direct: This place stinks,” noted the boy.

Indirect: The boy noted that that place stunk.

  1. Words referring to time also change


Direct: “I will visit you tomorrow,” he shouted.

Indirect: He shouted that he would visit me the following/next day.

Direct: “He died last year,” the policeman reported.

Indirect: The policeman reported that he had died the previous year/ the year before.

  1. Demonstrative pronouns also change:


Direct: This book is mine,” Jane claimed.

Indirect: Jane claimed that that book was hers.

Direct:These are hard times,” observed the president.

Indirect: The president observed that those were hard times.

  1. Pronouns also change


Direct:My car is better than yours,” the teacher bragged.

Indirect: The teacher bragged that his/her car was better that his/hers/theirs.

Exercise 7

Change the following sentences from Direct to Indirect speech.

  1. “Did you see the fire at the West gate Mall?” asked Joel.
  2. Njagi said, “Ten fire-engines arrived in fifteen minutes.”
  3. Patty exclaimed, “It destroyed an entire block of building!”
  4. “One fire fighter was slightly injured,” said Joel.
  5. Njagi said, “Several people working in the building escaped unhurt.”
  6. “Tell me what will happen to them,” said Patty.
  7. “Other people are giving them food and clothes,” replied Joel.
  8. Njagi added, “They are resting in the school for now.”
  9. “These terrorists will finish us!” exclaimed Patty.
  10. “Don’t worry,” Joel said “They will be apprehended tomorrow.”


A question tag or a tag question is a phrase that is added at the end of a statement to turn into a question. When a speaker uses a question tag at the end of a statement, he/she is seeking for approval, confirmation or correction.


APPROVAL: I look smart today, don’t I? Yes you do.

CORFIRMATION: These are the new students, aren’t they? Yes they are.

CORRECTION: I paid your money yesterday, didn’t I? No you didn’t.

Many learners face a problem of supplying the correct question tags to sentences. This is because they fail to observe the following rules of question tags:

  1. A comma must be put to separate the statement with the question tag. A question mark must be placed at the end of the question tag.


Rufftone has released a new album, hasn’t he?

He is pushing for a decision by tomorrow, isn’t he?

  1. The auxiliary verb in the statement must be repeated in the question tag


Nelson Mandela was in prison for 27 years, wasn’t he?

The people of South Africa have lost a great hero, haven’t they?

  1. When there is no auxiliary verb in the statement, the appropriate form of the auxiliary verb Do must be used in the question tag


Mark Francis wakes up very early, doesn’t he?

Peter Bryan bought an I-pad phone, didn’t he?

  1. The subject in the statement must be repeated in the question tag. If it is a noun in the statement, it changes to the appropriate pronoun. If it is a pronoun in the statement, it remains a pronoun in the question tag.


Fatou Bensouda is a prosecutor in ICC, isn’t she?

She does her work meticulously, doesn’t she?

  1. When the statement is positive (i.e. It does not have the word not in it), the question tag must be negative (i.e. must use the negative word not) and vice versa.


David Rudisha has broken another record, hasn’t he?

Catherine Ndereba hasn’t been very active, has she?

Douglas Wakiihuri does not run any more, does he?

Ezekiel Kemboi entertains the audience after winning, doesn’t he?

You will note from the above examples that the auxiliary verb is usually contracted (joined) with the negative indicator not when using question tags. However, this does not apply when using primary auxiliary verb am and the modal auxiliary verbs will and shall. Am does not allow contraction with not, will and shall usually change their forms to allow contraction.


WRONG: I am the next speaker, amn’t I?

CORRECT: I am the next speaker, am I not?

WRONG: They will be late for church, willn’t they?

CORRECT: They will be late for church, won’t they?

WRONG: We shall attend the Memorial service, willn’t we?

CORRECT: We shall attend the memorial service, shan’t we?

  1. Whereas there is no inversion in the statement, inversion must occur in the question tag i.e. the auxiliary verb comes before the subject


President Uhuru Kenyatta has won the case, hasn’t he?

Subject verb verb subject

He can now relax and attend to his duties, can’t he?

Subject verb verb subject

  1. For sentences that are in form of requests and commands, the question tags will commonly take the auxiliary verb will or shall followed by the appropriate pronoun.


Please help me with your pen, will you?

Let us go for a swim, shall we?

Bring me that chair, will you?

Stop that noise, will you?

Kneel down right away, will you?

Those are the rules that govern question tags and if followed well, the learners will not have any problems with question tags.

Exercise 8

Supply the appropriate question tags in the following sentences.

1.The marriage caused a rupture in her relationship with her mother, _____________?

2.She didn’t think anyone would be interested in a woman like her, _______________?

3.The troops are on standby in case chaos erupt, _________?

4.The Prime Minister must take a firm stand against extremists in his party, _________?

5.I am the best so far, ____________________?

6.The amendments will strengthen the bill, __________?

7.The new tax is tantamount to stealing from the poor, ____?

8.Please send all your remarks to Prof Kibwana as soon as possible, _______________?

9.She raised the gun and pulled the trigger,______________?

10.We need to learn to prioritize, __________________?

11.Get out of this room now, ___________________?

12.We’ve made a reservation for next week, ____________?

13.They couldn’t conceal the secret any more, ___________?

14.We shall not accept anything less, __________________?

15.I am not a conman, __________________?

16.Jonny wanted to pursue a career in theatre, __________?

17.Sharon’s parents claim that the house is legally theirs, ____________?

18.I haven’t told you my name, _________________?

19.Come and visit us tomorrow, __________________?

20.Time will tell whether he made the right choice, _______?




Capitalization is the writing of a word with its first letter as an upper case and the remaining letters in lower case. The following are the cases when capitalization is used:

  1. Abbreviations

Abbreviations begin with a capital letter.

  1. Titles of persons


Prof. George Saitoti Mr. Stephen Kiama

Dr. Ephantus Maree Mrs. Teresa Ndegwa

Lt. James Conary Ms. Jacinta Atieno

Note that all the above abbreviations end with a period. Miss is not an abbreviation, so it doesn’t end with a period.

  1. Words used as addresses


St. (street) Blvd. (Boulevard)

Ave. (Avenue Rte. (Route)

Rd. (Road) Apt. (Apartment)

  1. Words used in businesses


Co. (Company) Inc. (Incorporation)

Corp. (Corporation) Ltd. (Limited)

  1. Some abbreviations are written in all capital letters, with a letter standing for each important word.


P.O. (Post Office) USA (United States of America)

P.D. (Police Department) E.A. (East Africa)

  1. Initials of names of persons


E.W. Gichimu D.M. Weyama

W.W. Muriithi Everlyne A. Kira

  1. Titles of books, newspapers, magazines, TV shows and movies.


The Minister’s Daughter (book) Tahidi High (TV show)

The Daily Nation (newspaper) Harry Potter (movie)

Drum Magazine (magazine) The Day of the Jackal (book)

Capitalize the first and last words only. Do not capitalize little words such as a, an, the, but, as, if, and, or, nor etc.

  1. Titles of shorts stories, songs, articles, book chapters and most poems.


Half a Day (short story)

Kigeugeu (song)

Three Days on Mt. Kenya (short story)

The Noun Clauses (chapter in a book)

Grass Will Grow (a poem)

  1. Religious names and terms


God Allah Jesus the Bible the Koran

Do not capitalize the words god and goddess when they refer to mythological deities.

  1. Major words in geographical names


ContinentsAfrica, Asia, Europe, Australia

Water bodies – the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Nile River, RiverTana, Lake Victoria.

Landforms – the Rocky Mountains, the Aberdares Mountains, the Rift Valley, the Sahara Desert.

Political Units – the Kirinyaga County, the Central Province, Inoi Sub-location.

Public AreasNairobi National Park, Wajee Nature Park.

Roads and HighwaysJogoo Road, Kenyatta Avenue, Uganda Road.

  1. Names of organisations and institutions


Kianjege West Secondary School, United Nations, University of Nairobi, Nairobi Women’s Hospital

Note that here you capitalize only the important words. Do not capitalize such words such as a, in, and of. Do not capitalize such words as school, college, church and hospital when they are not used as parts of names.


There will be a beauty contest at school.

  1. Months, days and holidays


June Labour Day

Tuesday December

Kenyatta Day Mashujaa Day

Do not capitalize names of seasons: autumn, summer, winter, spring

  1. Languages, races, nationalities and religions


Chinese Kikuyu Christianity Caucasian

Bantu Nigerian Muslim Oriental

  1. The first word of every sentence


What an exciting day it was!

  1. The pronoun I


What should I do next?

  1. Proper Nouns


Lang’ata Cemetery Ann Pauline Nyaguthii

Kangaita Women’s Group Muhigia Teachers Sacco

  1. Proper Adjectives


We ate at an Italian restaurant.

She is a German.

  1. The first word in greetings and the closing of a letter


Dear Mark, Yours sincerely,

Dear Bryan, Yours faithfully,

My dear Mum, Very truly yours,

  1. Quotations


Jamlick exclaimed, “This book would make a great movie!”

Where,” asked the stranger, “is the post office?”

It’s late,” Billy said. “Let’s go home!”

  1. First word of each main topic and subtopic in an outline


  1. Parts of speech
  2. Nouns

(i) Proper nouns

Exercise 1

Correct all errors of capitalization in the following sentences.

  1. this play is a revision of shakespeare’s earlier play, the merchant of venice.
  2. john kiriamiti wrote my life in crime
  3. i admire women who vie for parliamentary seats
  4. benard mathenge and his wife have travelled to america.
  5. my grandmother grew up in witemere.
  6. the nile river is one of the largest rivers in africa.
  7. each year tourists visit maasai mara national park.
  8. the tv show papa shirandula has attracted many viewers.
  9. uganda and kenya have signed an agreement over the ownership of migingo islands.
  10. our country got its independence in december 1963.
  11. on christmas day, all my relatives gathered at my home.
  12. waiyaki is a fictional character in ngugi wa thiongo’s novel, the river between.
  13. the city of mombasa gets its water from river tana.
  14. i would like to become a famous writer like sydney sheldon.
  15. they captured the stark beauty of hell’s gate national park in their movie.


Punctuation is the system of symbols that we use to separate sentences and parts of sentences, and to make their meaning clear. Each symbol is called a punctuation mark. For example (. , ! – : etc)

Punctuation marks can be grouped into:

  1. End marks
  2. The comma
  3. The semicolon and the colon
  4. The hyphen
  5. The apostrophe
  6. Quotation mark
  7. End Marks

There are three kinds of end marks: the full stop (.), the question mark (?), and the exclamation mark (!). End marks show where sentences end.

  1. The full stop (.)

A full stop is used to end a complete sentence. We use a full stop to end:

(i) A declarative sentence- a sentence that makes a state


The highest skyscraper in Nairobi is Times Tower.

(ii) An imperative sentence – a sentence that makes a request or tells someone to do something.


Please climb the stairs carefully.

Note: An imperative sentence is followed by an exclamation mark when it expresses a strong emotion.


Be careful!

(iii) At the end of an indirect question – one that tells what someone asked, without using the person’s exact words.


The naughty boy wanted to know why there was no mid-term break.

Other uses of the full stop

Full stops are also used:

(iv) After initials and after most abbreviations


L.L. Coo J. Mr. Sammy Njagi 11:00 A.M.

Sept. Wed. 2hr. 12min

Note that some abbreviations do not require full stops:


M (metres) FM (frequency modulation) Km kilometres)

(v) After each number or letter that shows a division of an outline or precedes an item in a list.


Outline List

  1. Parts of speech 1. Water – borne diseases
  2. Nouns 2. Air-borne disease
  3. Types of nouns 3. Sexually – transmitted diseases
  4. Uses of nouns 4. Skin diseases
  5. Verbs 5. Hereditary diseases
  6. Types of verbs 6. Lifestyle diseases
  7. Uses of verbs 7. Infectious diseases

(vi) Between numerals representing dollars, cents, before a decimal and in percentages


$ 25.65 165.42 25.3%

  1. The question mark (?)

The question mark is used at the end of an interrogative sentence (a sentence that asks a question).


When was the Times Tower built?

Who built it?

  1. The Exclamation mark (!)

The exclamation mark is used at the end of the exclamatory sentence and after an interjection. (An exclamatory sentence expresses strong feeling, emotion or emphasis. An interjection is a word or group of words that expresses strong feelings).


Exclamatory sentence: Oh, what a tall building it is!

Interjections: Superb! Fantastic! Impressive!

An exclamation mark can also be used at the end of an imperative sentence that expresses strong feeling.


Sit! And stay in that chair if you know what’s good for you!

  1. The comma (,)

There are a number of uses of the comma in English. A comma generally tells the reader where to pause. They are used:

(i) To separate words in a series except the last

The three or four items in a series can be nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, phrases, independent clauses, or other parts of sentences.


Nouns: John, Jim, Jack walk to school every day.

Verbs: He located, patched, and sealed the leak in the tyre.

Adverbs: She walked quickly, steadily, and calmly.

Prepositional phrases: He walked through the park, over the bridge, and onto the streets.

Independent clauses: The match was over, the crowd cheered, and Barcelona received the first- place trophy.

Adjectives: The fresh, ripe fruit was placed in a bowl.

Note in the above examples that a comma must be used just before the conjunction.

(ii) Before the conjunction in a compound sentence


Some students were taking their lunch, but others were studying.

Marto photographed the accident scene, and he sold the pictures to the newspaper.

Would she be a lawyer, or would she be a doctor?

Note: A comma is not required in very short compound sentence in which the parts are joined by and. However, always use a comma before the conjunctions but and or.


Marto photographed the accident scene and Toni reported it.

Marto photographed the accident scene, but Toni reported it.

Note also: A comma is not required before the conjunction that joins the parts of a compound verb unless there are more than two parts.


Mary entered and won the beauty contest.

That camera focuses, flashes, and rewinds automatically.

(iii) After introductory words phrases or clauses

Special elements add specific information to a sentence, but they are not essential. A comma is used to separate a special element from the rest of the sentence.


Word: Cautiously, he entered the building.

Phrase: After his failure, he disappeared from the public scene.

Clause: Because he had practised daily, he presented his new song perfectly.

Note: If the pause after a short introductory element is very brief, you may omit the comma.


At first he was unsure of his singing ability.

Finally it was his turn.

Commas are also used after introductory words such as yes, no, oh and well when they begin a sentence.


Well, it’s just too cold out there.

No, it isn’t seven yet.

Oh, you have spilled the milk.

(iv) With interrupters

Interrupters are words that break, or interrupt the flow of thought in a sentence. The commas are used before and after the interrupter to indicate pauses.


I didn’t expect, however, to lose the job.

So many people assumed, unfortunately, that he sings as well as he does.

He was chosen, nevertheless, as the new band leader.

(v) To set off nouns of direct address


Yes, Kamau, you can borrow my book.

Serah, do you know where I kept my phone?

How is your leg, grandpa?

(vi) To set off the spoken words in a direct sentence or quotation from the speech tag


Jackson said, “After my injury I had to learn to walk again.”

“The therapists urged me to keep trying,” he continued.

If the speech tag interrupts the spoken words, commas are used after the last word of the first part of the spoken words and after the last word in the speech tag.


“After a while,” he added, “I was walking without a cane”.

Note: When a sentence is indirect or reported, no commas are used.


He added that after a while he was walking without a cane.

(vii) When writing dates

Place a comma after the day of the month.


July 3, 1965 December 12, 2010

(viii) When referring to geographical location

Place a comma between the name of the town or city and the name of the state, district, or country.


Kibingoti, Kirinyaga County Mombasa, Kenya

(ix) After the salutation and closing of a friendly or business letter


Dear Rose, Yours sincerely,

  1. The semicolon (;) and the colon (:)

The semicolon (;)

The semicolon is used:

(i) To separate the parts of a compound sentence when no conjunction is used


Mountain climbing is exciting; it can also be dangerous.

Note that the semicolon replaces the comma and the coordinating conjunction. Conjunctions that are commonly replaced by semicolons are and, but, or, for, and nor. (ii) Before a conjunctive adverb that joins the clauses of a compound sentence

(Conjunctive adverbs are words like therefore, however, hence, so, then, moreover, nevertheless, yet, consequently, and besides).


The competition takes place in July; however, I prefer August.

(iii) To separate the parts of a series when commas occur within the parts


Last year I flew to Johannesburg, South Africa; Cairo, Egypt; and Kingston, Jamaica.

The colon (:)

The colon is used:

(i) To introduce a list of items


My school bag contains the following items: exercise books, text books, pencils, pens, a geometrical set, and a packet of crayons.

(ii) After the greeting of a business letter


Dear Mr. Mututho:

(iii) Between numerals that represent hours and minutes and between chapter and verse in a biblical reference


9:00 A.M. 6:00 P.M. Exodus 2:1-3

  1. The Hyphen (-)

The hyphen is used:

(i) To divide a word at the end of a line of writing


When walking along the streets of Naivasha, he met Waina-


Note that only words with two or more syllables may be divided at the end of a line and words should be divided only between syllables. Never divide a word of one syllable and do not divide words to leave a single letter at the end or beginning of a line.

Incorrect: attraction

Correct: attraction.

  • In compound adjectives that come before the nouns they modify and in certain compound nouns


Samuel Wanjiru was a worldfamous athlete.

She is my sisterinlaw.

(iii) In compound numbers from twenty-one through ninety-nine and in fractions


seventythree relatives onequarter full

  1. The Apostrophe (’)

The apostrophe is used:

(i) To form the possessive of a singular noun

Add an apostrophe and an s.


the babys cot Jamess car Josephs radio

(ii) To form the possessive of a plural noun that does not end in s

Add an apostrophe and an s.


childrens mens womens

(iii) To form the possessive of a plural noun that ends in s

Add only the apostrophe.


tricksters tenants

(iv) To form the possessive of an indefinite pronoun

Use an apostrophe and an s.


everybodys somebodys nobodys

Note: Never use an apostrophe with a possessive pronoun like our, yours, hers, theirs.

(v) In names of organisations and business

Show possession in the last word only.


the United Nations brochure

(vi) In hyphenated terms

Show possession in the last word only.


My mother-in-laws photograph album

(vii) In cases of joint ownership

Show possession in the last word only.


Peter and Patricks Limousine

(viii) In forming contractions

In contractions, apostrophes replace omitted letters.


shes = she is arent = are not I’m = I am

its = It is isnt = is not we’ll = we will

cant = cannot wont = will not they’ve = they have

(ix) To show that part of a date has been omitted


The tribal clashes of 08 (the tribal clashes of 2008)

The 82 coup attempt (the 1982 coup attempt)

  1. Quotation Marks (“ ”)

The quotation marks are used:

  1. i) To enclose the spoken words in a direct sentence. Indirect sentences need no quotation marks


Direct speech: The presidential candidate promised, Creating new jobs for the youths will be my first priority.

Indirect speech: The presidential candidate promised that creating new jobs would be his first priority.


  1. Always begin a direct quotation with a capital letter.


The minister said, “You must conserve our environment.

  1. When the spoken words are divided by the speech tag, begin the second part of the quotation with a small letter.


Bring me the money, said the moneylender, “before the end of the day.

  1. If the second part of the quotation is a complete sentence, the first word of this sentence is capitalized.


I am scared, said the borrower. “That moneylender is a brute.

  1. Place commas and fullstops inside quotation marks

Place semicolons and colons outside quotation marks.


Last month,” the borrower explained, I borrowed some money from the moneylender.”

Carol said to the borrower, And you refused to repay back on time”; however, the borrower did not agree.

These candidates were suggested in the article Our Country’s Future”: Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, and Martha Karua.

  1. Place question marks and exclamation marks inside quotation marks if they belong to the quotation. Place them outside if they do not belong to the quotation.


Carol asked, “How much money did you borrow?

Did the borrower say, “I can’t remember”?

“You are a fool!” exclaimed Carol.

  1. Use single quotation marks to enclose a title or quotation within a quotation.


Carol heard the borrower say, I can’t rememberbefore she lost her temper.

  1. If the title or quotation within the quotation ends the sentence, use both the single and the double quotation marks after the last word of a sentence.


Carol heard the borrower say, I can’t remember.’”

  1. In a quotation of more than one paragraph, use quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph and the end of the final paragraph.

Exercise 1

Punctuate each of the following sentences appropriately.

  1. He earned about three million dollars that year
  2. You know who Jomo Kenyatta was, don’t you
  3. What a wonderful and inspired leader he was
  4. He was also a person who helped many people
  5. Some people write stories but others write poems.
  6. Try to write a concise informative and interesting letter.
  7. Also make sure your letter has a heading an inside address a salutation a body a closing and your signature.
  8. One of the most exciting modern developments I believe is the computer.
  9. Today is July 2 2011. I will never forget this date.
  10. I have lived in Sagana Kirinyaga County since 2008.
  11. Try submitting your work to these Publishers Longhorn Publishers Jomo Kenyatta Foundation or Oxford University Press.
  12. Remember a writing career requires the following traits confidence perseverance and a thick skin!
  13. Long ago people used hand sharpened straws or reeds as pens.
  14. Fountain pens were invented in our great grandparents time
  15. Soft tip pens and rolling ball pens were invented twenty five years ago
  16. What would you do if you couldn’t build a house for yourself
  17. Youd find someone who could built it for you wouldn’t you.
  18. These archives are important to modern historians research.
  19. In his play shreds of tenderness, John Ruganda said people who have never lived through a coup d’etat have romantic ideas about it.
  20. Mr. Mureithi said a short letter to a friend is an insult.




Exercise 1

  1. students, party

2.boys, songs

  1. Excitement, air
  2. Joyce Chepkemoi, prize
  3. Otieno, house, street

Exercise 2

  1. candle – thing 5. guitar – thing
  2. wrestler – person 6. China – place
  3. joy – idea 7. hatred – idea
  4. Menengai Crater – place 8. Masanduku arap Simiti – person

Exercise 3

  1. musicians, drums, trumpets
  2. family, village
  3. Petronilla, trip
  4. festival, Kenyatta University
  5. people, costumes, streets
  6. holiday, excitement
  7. Taxi, family, airport
  8. Maryanne, castle, sand
  9. mother, water

Exercise 4

Proper nouns Common nouns

July book

England face

Kendu Bay crocodiles

John Hopkins student

Johannesburg life

America business

East Africa day


Exercise 5

  1. Proper – Lucky Dube Common – singer
  2. Proper – London, Paris Common – dancer
  3. Proper – Mediterranean sea Common – flight
  4. Proper – Second World War Common – nurse
  5. Common – goal, students, world
  6. Proper – Europe Common – accident
  7. Proper – Bill Gates, Microsoft
  8. Common – pilot, woman, ocean
  9. Common – kettle, water
  10. Proper – Professor Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize

Exercise 6

  1. tooth – teeth 9. cliffs 17. moose 25. bosses
  2. wives 10. deer 18. children 26. foxes
  3. giraffes 11. cliff 19. echoes 27. bunches
  4. heroes 12. autos 20. babies 28. ferries
  5. radios 13. studios 21. Skies 29. flashes
  6. potatoes 14. men 22. beaches 30. ships
  7. beliefs 15. roofs 23. Eyes
  8. thieves 16. rodeos 24. volcanoes/volcanos

Exercise 7

  1. knives 2. potatoes 3. geese 4. Shelves
  2. tomatoes 6. children 7. mice 8. roofs
  3. stories 10. activities

Exercise 8

  1. the lion’s tail
  2. Cliff’s dog
  3. my mother’s hat
  4. Evan’s book
  5. the child’s pet
  6. the doll’s name
  7. Lucy’s mobile phone
  8. Kimani’s shoes
  9. the fox’s teeth
  10. my friend’s rabbit

Exercise 9

  1. cook’s aprons women’s sports
  2. men’s boots carpenter’s nails
  3. countries’ flags sailors’ uniforms
  4. guests’ coats musicians’ instruments
  5. athlete’s medals neighbours’ pets

Exercise 10

  1. The couple’s wealth
  2. a men’s team, a women’s team
  3. The teams’ uniforms
  4. the athletes’ shirts
  5. The team-mates’ scores
  6. their friends’ cheers
  7. The coaches’ whistles
  8. The children’s eyes
  9. Their mothers’ soothing voices
  10. their neighbours’ house


Exercise 1

  1. They ate fish and chips.
  2. We like Italian food.
  3. It is delicious
  4. The biggest eater was he.
  5. You helped in the cooking.
  6. The cooks were Tom and I.

Exercise 2

  1. They were under the table.
  2. She fed the chicken.
  3. They were juicy.
  4. They visited the orphans.
  5. The new waitress is she.
  6. The fastest runners were Tecla and she.
  7. She went to the hall.
  8. It was slaughtered.
  9. Lucky Dube and she were South African singers.
  10. He has won many athletics medals.

Exercise 3

  1. Lisa asked him for a picture.
  2. Adam sketched Lisa and me.
  3. He gave a photo to us.
  4. Ann and she saw Dave and Bob.
  5. Adam drew Lisa and them.
  6. Mark helped me with the packing.
  7. Loise praised him for his good work.
  8. Everyone spotted them
  9. That night Mike played the guitar for
  10. We drove with them to the mountains.

Exercise 4

  1. My journey to Mombasa was enjoyable.
  2. Florence said hers was the best.
  3. Are the pictures of Fort Jesus yours?
  4. Hers are about Jomo Kenyatta Beach.
  5. Tomorrow we will make frames for our
  6. My class is planning a trip to Mt. Kenya.
  7. Our trip will be taken on video.
  8. Micere is excited that the idea was
  9. Koki and Toti cannot hide their
  10. My dream is to climb to the highest peak of the mountain.

Exercise 5

  1. You will = You’ll
  2. we would = we’d
  3. he had = he’d
  4. I am = I’m
  5. you have = you’ve
  6. they will = they’ll

Exercise 6

  1. I’ll = I will
  2. we’re = we are
  3. you’d = you would, you had
  4. he’s = he is, he has
  5. they’re = they are
  6. she’d = she would, she had

Exercise 7

  1. its They’re 5 it’s
  2. who’s whose

Exercise 8

  1. All – are Everyone – his
  2. Anybody – has Several – their
  3. Many – believe Anyone – her
  4. Each – makes Another – his
  5. All – indicates Somebody – her

Exercise 9

  1. This Those 5. these
  2. That those

Exercise 10

  1. Who What 5. whom
  2. Whom What

Exercise 11

  1. Who whom
  2. Whom Whose
  3. whom Who
  4. Whose Who
  5. Who Whose

Exercise 12

  1. myself – intensive
  2. himself – intensive
  3. herself – reflexive
  4. herself – reflexive
  5. yourself – reflexive

Exercise 13

  1. Papa Shirandula is a good actor.
  2. Many people find him funny.
  3. The show was on television for many years.
  4. Their daughter is also in that show.
  5. The shoes are beautiful.
  6. People like our hotel.
  7. My brother drives a matatu.
  8. Our hotel is open seven days a week.
  9. The TV is very clear today.
  10. My brother and sister work in Nairobi.

Exercise 14

  1. We those 5. us
  2. Those us


Exercise 1

  1. seems – Linking verb
  2. watched – Action verb
  3. cheered – Action verb
  4. seems – Linking verb
  5. is – Linking verb
  6. aimed – Action verb
  7. blew – Action verb
  8. was – Linking verb
  9. is – Linking verb
  10. seems – Linking verb

Exercise 2

Helping verb Main verb

  1. is singing
  2. has begun
  3. can travel
  4. had waited
  5. will be visiting
  6. have come
  7. must buy
  8. has chosen
  9. is hitting

10 will go

Exercise 3

  1. studies
  2. splashes
  3. washes
  4. hurries
  5. discuss

Exercise 4

  1. watched
  2. cried
  3. yelled
  4. baked
  5. shopped

Exercise 5

  1. will write
  2. will stop
  3. will decide
  4. shall practice
  5. will multiply

Exercise 7

  1. started breathed
  2. added roamed
  3. trapped obeyed
  4. annoyed worried
  5. pitied fitted

Exercise 8

  1. will/shall see will/shall develop
  2. will/shall go will/shall begin
  3. will/shall exist will/shall/consume
  4. will/shall introduce will/shall hunt
  5. will/shall bring will/shall become

Exercise 9

  1. John has come here every year. – present perfect
  2. John has been coming here every year. – present perfect progressive
  3. John had come here every year. – past perfect
  4. John had been coming here every year. – past perfect progressive
  5. John will have come here every year. – future perfect
  6. John will have been coming here every year. – future perfect progressive.

Exercise 10

  1. Jane is playing the guitar. – present progressive
  2. Jane has been playing the guitar. – present perfect progressive
  3. Jane was playing the guitar. – past progressive
  4. Jane had been playing the guitar. – past perfect progressive
  5. Jane will play the guitar. – future progressive
  6. Jane will have been playing the guitar. – future perfect progressive

Exercise 11

  1. guard cleans
  2. stands study
  3. cross visits
  4. use wed
  5. feed run

Exercise 12

Present Past Past participle

  1. prevent prevented prevented
  2. donate donated donated
  3. hurry hurried hurried
  4. worry worried worried
  5. train trained trained
  6. aid aided aided
  7. relieve relieved relieved
  8. share shared shared
  9. enrol enrolled enrolled
  10. save saved saved

Exercise 13

Present Past Past participle

  1. arise arose arisen
  2. tear tore torn
  3. wear wore worn
  4. lay laid lain
  5. see saw seen
  6. fall fell fallen
  7. blow blew blown
  8. freeze froze frozen
  9. fly flew flown
  10. write wrote written

Exercise 14

  1. presented – active was harvested – passive
  2. were taken – positive stressed – active
  3. ordered – active were urged – passive
  4. restored – passive is developing – active
  5. cleared – active was started – passive

Exercise 15

Action verbs direct object

  1. carried his bag
  2. discussed the examination paper
  3. took a trip
  4. splashed me
  5. gave interesting facts
  6. searched the house
  7. cheered the team
  8. bought a camera
  9. admires Papa Shirandula
  10. viewed the shooting star

Exercise 16

  1. Transitive Intransitive
  2. Transitive Transitive
  3. Intransitive Intransitive
  4. Transitive Transitive
  5. Intransitive Intransitive

Exercise 17

  1. teach raises
  2. lies raises
  3. lie taught
  4. sits raises
  5. taught laid


Exercise 1

  1. largest vast
  2. Alaskan American, wild
  3. tallest huge
  4. tiny Australian
  5. small, scattered beautiful, Egyptian

Exercise 2

  1. those Those
  2. Those This
  3. that This
  4. That those
  5. This Those

Exercise 3

  1. Twenty What
  2. Few, our Whose
  3. all Which
  4. much what
  5. Numerous, this which

Exercise 4

  1. A the
  2. a an
  3. the the
  4. The the
  5. an A

Exercise 5

  1. many – songs
  2. Her, early – songs, her – fans
  3. Our, first – performance
  4. Her – coughing
  5. their, best – goal, ten – years

Exercise 6

  1. quiet, serious
  2. popular
  3. calm, peaceful
  4. brilliant
  5. extraordinary

Exercise 7

  1. more beautiful 6. stranger
  2. funniest 7. more curious
  3. most enjoyable 8. higher
  4. most energetic 9. more creative
  5. most helpful 10. simpler

Exercise 8

  1. Best Farther
  2. Bad Less or lesser
  3. Best Good
  4. Worse Better
  5. Least Most

Exercise 9

  1. those these
  2. These those
  3. This This
  4. Those that
  5. Those


Exercise 1

Adverb What it indicates

  1. far where
  2. cheerful how
  3. downstairs where
  4. carefully, skilfully how
  5. extremely how
  6. curiously how
  7. soon when
  8. fully to what extent
  9. adorably how
  10. down where

Exercise 2

Adverb Adjective

  1. highly successful
  2. extremely old
  3. quite difficult
  4. barely visible
  5. very old
  6. mysteriously secretive
  7. horribly mean
  8. totally exciting
  9. completely mad
  10. never punctual

Exercise 3

Adverb Adverb

  1. very gradually
  2. surprisingly quickly
  3. somewhat closer
  4. extremely irresponsibly
  5. totally carelessly

Exercise 4

  1. quickly odd
  2. gradually reasonable
  3. good rapidly
  4. rapidly well
  5. strange well

Exercise 5

  1. more often more swiftly
  2. more slowly most accurately
  3. quickly the longest
  4. more skilfully gracefully
  5. the fastest the most sweetly


Exercise 1

  1. on – where
  2. for – purpose
  3. with – use
  4. in – place
  5. from – place

Exercise 2

  1. for
  2. In
  3. In
  4. down, for
  5. by

Exercise 3

Preposition Object/objects

  1. in ways
  2. to people
  3. In cities
  4. On farms
  5. across river
  6. to side
  7. at place
  8. by boat
  9. to problem
  10. over water

Exercise 4

  1. her us
  2. me me
  3. us him
  4. her me
  5. us her

Exercise 5

  1. outside – preposition up – adverb
  2. inside – adverb down – adverb
  3. in – preposition outside – adverb
  4. over – preposition by – adverb
  5. above – preposition out – adverb

Exercise 6

  1. have Anybody 7. anybody 10. ever
  2. anyone anywhere 8. anyone
  3. ever had 9. Has


Exercise 1

  1. but but
  2. or and
  3. or or
  4. and and
  5. but but

Exercise 2

  1. They arrived late because it was raining heavily.
  2. John worked hard as he wanted to buy a house.
  3. I won’t carry the umbrella for you need it.
  4. I drove the car madly since I was late for the meeting.
  5. He will come before the meeting ends.

Exercise 3

  1. The vehicles either stopped for repairs or for fuel.
  2. The drivers knew they had either to travel more than fifty kilometres or endure harsh storms.
  3. Many people not only build their own homes but also grow their own food.
  4. Both men and women wanted to buy the pictures.
  5. Both maize and meat are important parts of a Kenyan’s diet.


Exercise 1

  1. Say – wonderment
  2. Wow! – joy
  3. All right! – urgency
  4. Boy! – fear
  5. Oh – surprise


Exercise 1

  1. crack quack
  2. roar pop
  3. tick lap
  4. growl boom
  5. chime hiss

Exercise 2

  1. Lima bean – a broad, flat, pale-green or white bean used as a vegetable – named after Lima, the capital of Peru where it was grown first.
  2. Cardigan – a kind of a pullover or sweater that buttons down the front – named after J.T. Brudwell, the 7th Earl of Cardigan.
  3. Bloomer – a woman’s baggy and long garment for the lower body – named after Amelia Bloomer, an American women rights and temperance advocate.
  4. Canary birds – yellow songbirds – named after Canary Islands, Spain, where they are found in large numbers.
  5. Ferris wheel – a special wheel for an amusem*nt park – named after the inventor G.W. Ferris.
  6. Guppy – the most popular freshwater tropical fish – named after R.J.L. Guppy, the man who introduced it in England.
  7. Cheddar – A firm Cheese – named after the English village of Cheddar, where it was first made.
  8. Quisling – a person who treacherously helps to prepare for enemy occupation of his own county, a traitor – named after Vidkum Quisling, a Norwegian politician.
  9. Silhouette – an outline portrait or profile – named after a French minister of finance, Etienne de Silhouette.
  10. Marxism – the political and economic theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels – named after Karl Marx.
  11. Guillotine – a device used for carrying out executions – named after Dr. Joseph Guillotine, the designer.
  12. Macadam – small, broken stones that are used for making roads – named after John L. McAdam, a Scottish engineer who invented this kind of a road.
  13. Pasteurisation – the process of heating milk, wine, beer, or other liquids hot enough to kill harmful bacteria and to prevent or stop fermentation – named after Louis Pasteur, a French chemist, who invented the process.
  14. Watt – Unit of measuring electric power – named after James Watt, a Scottish engineer, who pioneered in the development of the steam engine.
  15. Ohm – a measure of electrical resistance – named after George S. Ohm, a German physicist.

Exercise 3

  1. slithy – lithe + slimy breathalyser – breath + analyser
  2. chortle – chuckle + short cablegram – cable + telegram
  3. galumph – gallop + triumph camcorder – camera + recorder
  4. bash – bang + smash 9. edutainment – education + entertainment
  5. blog – web + log email – electronic + mail

Exercise 4

  1. utra – beyond – ultraviolet, ultrasonic
  2. syn – in union – synchronize, symmetry
  3. sub – at a lower position – submarine, subsoil
  4. peri – round, about – perimeter
  5. out – surpassing, exceeding – outperform
  6. infra – below – infrared, infrastructure
  7. hypo – under – hypodermic, hypothermia
  8. hemi – half – hemisphere
  9. ex – previous – ex-wife, ex-policeman
  10. dia – across, through – diagonal

Exercise 5

  1. hopeful – full of hope greenish – having green colour
  2. reader – a person who reads weary – tired
  3. childish – having manners of a child fearless – lacking fear
  4. greyish – having grey colour kindness – the quality of being kind
  5. playful – fond of playing washable – can be washed

Exercise 6

  1. Pen – a device for writing

– an enclosure for sheep

  1. Tire – to make weary

– the rubber material on the wheel of an automobile or bicycle.

  1. Dove – past tense of dive

– a bird

  1. Wound – past tense of wind

– an injury.

  1. Mean – stingy

– average

  1. Act – a dramatic performance

– doing something

  1. Arms – upper limbs

– weapons

  1. Block – a building

– obstruct

  1. Box – a carton

– fight with gloves

  1. Bank – edge of a river
    • a money depository

Exercise 7

  1. in –inn knight – night
  2. heard – herd knows – nose
  3. horse – hoarse tick – tic
  4. key – quay rung – wrung
  5. need – knead sees – seize

Exercise 8

  1. start – begin collect – gather
  2. come – arrive assist – help
  3. lengthy – long build – construct
  4. shattered – broken reply – answer
  5. fix – repair purchase – buy

Exercise 9

  1. easy – hard sweet – sour
  2. whisper – yell stationary – mobile
  3. triumph – fail strength – weaken
  4. dull – interesting precious – worthless
  5. dangerous – safe naked – clothed

Exercise 10

  1. at sea – confused
  2. has his hands full – is busy
  3. have a bone to pick with me – have a quarrel
  4. make heads or tails – make sense
  5. as easy as pie – very easy
  6. sick and tired – can’t stand, hate
  7. broke – to have no money
  8. dropped me a line yesterday – sent me a letter or email
  9. filled in for her – did her work while she was away
  10. in the red – losing money, not profitable


Exercise 1

  1. a TV show – object
  2. Playful animals – subject
  3. a thrilling adventure – object
  4. an exciting activity – complement
  5. Twenty university students – subject
  6. a certified public health officer – complement
  7. Many of the soldiers – subject
  8. The old woman – subject, a heavy load – object
  9. a very complicated man – complement
  10. A devastating earthquake – subject

Exercise 2

  1. should have taken must have seen
  2. must have seen do fear
  3. should have been told have made
  4. would have told would stampede
  5. must’ve visited could have read

Exercise 3

  1. in Mombasa – adverbial modifying the verb found.
  2. around the country – adjectival modifying the noun companies.
  3. of the dog – adjectival modifying the noun barking.
  4. for hard work – adverbial modifying the verb bred.
  5. over water – adverbial modifying the verb built.
  6. of travel – adjectival modifying the noun miles.
  7. by bus – adverbial modifying the verb went.

to the market – adverbial modifying the verb went.

  1. At the market – adjectival modifying the noun.
  2. of colours clothes – adjectival modifying the noun display.
  3. with professional expertise – adverbial modifying the phrasal verb took through.

Exercise 4

  1. golfing – complement
  2. protecting their status – object of the preposition in.
  3. Playing golf with a commoner – subject
  4. playing the game – direct object
  5. Training thoroughly – subject
  6. playing the game- object of preposition
  7. contesting with junior golfers – subject
  8. playing with the professionals – direct object
  9. Participating in international tournaments – subject
  10. Winning an international title – complement

Exercise 5

  1. Defying all odds – present participial phrase – Kisoi Munyao
  2. Failing each time – present participial phrase – he
  3. Seeing his passion to scale the peak – present participial phrase – government
  4. making steady progress – present participial phrase – climber
  5. Pleased with his progress – past participial phrase – he
  6. determined to hast the Kenya flag – past participial phrase – climber
  7. Slipping on the snow – present participial phrase – Munyao
  8. worn from too many climbs – past participial phrase – rope
  9. slipping to the bottom of the cliff- present participial – bottles
  10. overcome with joy – past participial phrase – Munyao

Exercise 6

  1. To climb Mt. Kenya –noun
  2. to climb the mountain – noun
  3. to try this risky climb – adjective modifying the noun Kenyans
  4. to make rapid progress – adverb modifying the verb helped
  5. with very limited climbing gear – adverb modifying the verb reach
  6. To reach Point Batian – noun
  7. to listen to Munyao – noun
  8. to finance much of his expedition – adverb modifying the verb forced
  9. to achieve his dream of hasting the flag – adverb modifying the verb worked
  10. to scale the tallest mountain in Kenya – adverb modifying the verb made.


Exercise 1

  1. A huge storm was coming. – sentence
  2. Behind the wattle tree- sentence fragment
  3. After the earthquake – sentence fragment
  4. The wind broke several houses. – sentence
  5. Surprised by a loud noise – sentence fragment
  6. Winds of high speed – sentence fragment
  7. Rescue workers arrived. – sentence
  8. From different parts of the world – sentence fragment
  9. Many people were injured. – sentence
  10. In the weeks after the earthquake – sentence fragment

Exercise 2

  1. pop music – object
  2. sweetly – adverb
  3. very quietly – adverbial phrase
  4. that book – object, three times – adverbial phrase
  5. to the bank- adverbial phrase
  6. her – indirect object, a present – direct object
  7. bitterly – adverb
  8. on his heels – adverbial phrase
  9. a list of the items to buy – object
  10. help – object

Exercise 3

  1. a German citizen – subject complement
  2. a very arrogant lady – subject complement
  3. tired – subject complement
  4. green – object complement
  5. the queen – object complement
  6. stealing the mango – participial complement
  7. senseless – object complement
  8. a kind person – subject complement
  9. crying – participial complement
  10. trembling – participial complement

Exercise 4

  1. Simple sentence
  2. Compound sentence
  3. Compound sentence
  4. Complex – whoever broke the mirror – noun clause
  5. Simple sentence
  6. Complex sentence – whom I met – adjectival clause
  7. Complex sentence – who stole the cow – adjectival clause
  8. Simple sentence
  9. Complex sentence – as though it affects their lives – adverbial clause
  10. Complex sentence – when people felt helpless about the world around them – adverbial clause.
  11. Complex sentence – that was designed for skiing – adjectival clause
  12. Simple sentence
  13. Simple sentence
  14. Complex sentence – because my dog loves crusts – adverbial clause
  15. Complex sentence – whenever lazy students whine – adverbial clause
  16. Complex sentence – whom Mrs. Ndegwa hit in the head with pieces of chalk – adjectival clause
  17. Complex sentence – who loves bread crusts – adjectival clause
  18. Complex sentence – that drinks too much milk – adjectival clause
  19. Complex sentence – what Aunt Lucy adds to her stew – noun clause
  20. Compound sentence

Exercise 5

  1. Declarative Declarative
  2. Imperative Imperative/conditional
  3. Exclamatory Interrogative
  4. Conditional Interrogative
  5. Interrogative Declarative
  6. Exclamatory Exclamatory
  7. Exclamatory Conditional
  8. Declarative Imperative
  9. Imperative Declarative
  10. Conditional Exclamatory

Exercise 6

  1. John said, “There was a terrible accident in Nairobi.”
  2. Petro added, “It happened in Umoja Estate.”
  3. “It involved a train and a bus,” added John.
  4. Sarah asked, “Did anyone die?”
  5. “No one died, but the railway line was destroyed,” answered Peter.
  6. “Over the months,” said John, “the railway line has been rebuilt.”
  7. “How lucky that no one died!” exclaimed Sarah.
  8. “I think they should put a railway-crossing sign board,” Petro said. “It would help bus drivers a lot.”
  9. “Or they should put bumps on both sides of the railway line to slow down the buses,” John suggested.
  10. “Who knows what might happen next?” wondered Sarah.

Exercise 7

  1. Joel asked him if he saw the fire at the West Gate Mall.
  2. Njagi said that ten fire-engines had arrived in fifteen minutes.
  3. Patty exclaimed that it had destroyed an entire building.
  4. Joel said that one fire fighter had been slightly injured.
  5. Njagi said that several people working in the building had escaped unhurt.
  6. Patty wanted to know what would happen to them.
  7. Joel replied that other people were giving them food and clothes.
  8. Njagi added that they were resting in the school at that time.
  9. Patty exclaimed that those terrorists would finish them.
  10. Joel told them not to worry; they would be apprehended the following day.

Exercise 8

Supply the appropriate question tags in the following sentences.

  1. The marriage caused a rupture in her relationship with her mother, didn’t it?
  2. She didn’t think anyone would be interested in a woman like her, did she?
  3. The troops are on standby in case chaos erupts, aren’t they?
  4. The Prime Minister must take a firm stand against extremists in his party, mustn’t he?
  5. I am the best so far, am I not?
  6. The amendments will strengthen the bill, won’t they?
  7. The new tax is tantamount to stealing from the poor, isn’t it?
  8. Please send all your remarks to Prof Kibwana as soon as possible, will you?
  9. She raised the gun and pulled the trigger, didn’t she?
  10. We need to learn to prioritize, don’t we?
  11. Get out of this room now, will you?
  12. We’ve made a reservation for next week, haven’t we?
  13. They couldn’t conceal the secret any more, could they?
  14. We shall not accept anything less, shall we?
  15. I am not a conman, am I?
  16. Jonny wanted to pursue a career in theatre, didn’t he?
  17. Sharon’s parents claim that the house is legally theirs, don’t they?
  18. I haven’t told you my name, have I?
  19. Come and visit us tomorrow, will you?
  20. Time will tell whether he made the right choice, won’t it?


Exercise 1

  1. This play is a revision of Shakespeare’s earlier play, The Merchant of Venice.
  2. John Kiriamiti wrote My life in Crime.
  3. I admire women who vie for parliamentary seats.
  4. Bernard Mathenge and his wife travelled to America.
  5. My grandmother grew up in Witemere.
  6. The Nile River is one of the largest rivers in Africa.
  7. Each year tourists visit Maasai Mara National Park.
  8. The TV show Papa Shirandula has attracted many viewers.
  9. Uganda and Kenya have signed an agreement over the ownership of Migingo Islands.
  10. Our country got independence in December, 1963.
  11. On Christmas Day, all my relatives gathered at my home.
  12. Waiyaki is a fictional character in Ngugi wa Thiongo’s novel, The River Between.
  13. The city of Mombasa gets its water from River Tana.
  14. I would like to become a famous writer like Sidney Sheldon.
  15. They captured the stark beauty of Hell’s Gate National Park in their movie.

Exercise 2

  1. He earned about three million dollars that year.
  2. You know who Jomo Kenyatta was, don’t you?
  3. What a wonderful and inspired leader he was!
  4. He was also a person who helped many people.
  5. Some people write stories, but other write poems.
  6. Try to write a concise, informative, and interesting letter.
  7. Also make sure that your letter has a heading, an inside address, a salutation, a body, a closing, and your signature.
  8. One of the most exciting modern developments, I believe, is the computer.
  9. Today is July 2, 2011. I will never forget this date.
  10. I have lived in Sagana, Kirinyaga County, since 2008
  11. Try submitting your work to the following publishers: Longhorn Publishers, Jomo Kenyatta Foundation, or Oxford University Press.
  12. Remember, a writing career requires the following traits: confidence, perseverance, and a thick skin!
  13. Long ago, people used hand–sharpened straws and reeds as pens.
  14. Fountain pens were invented in our great–grandparents’ time.
  15. Soft-tip pens and rolling-ball pens were invented twenty-five years ago.
  16. What would you do if you couldn’t build a house for yourself?
  17. You’d find someone who could build it for you, wouldn’t you?
  18. These archives are important to modern historians’ research.
  19. In his play Shreds of Tenderness, John Ruganda said, “People who have never lived through a coup d’etat have romantic ideas about it.”
  20. Mureithi said, “A short letter to a friend is an insult.”




In English, we have various vowel sounds. We shall study them one after the other.

Sound //

Consider the letter ‘a’ in the words below. Each says this sound.

Pan Fan Ban Brash Cat

Pat Dad Ham Mat Rash

Track Cram Fanned Flash Pack

Rag Sand Slam Tag Man

Sound /ᶾ˸/

  • This sound is more like the sound you make when you are disgusted.
  • The letters in boldface say this sound. Study them carefully.
  • Bird
  • Shirt
  • Flirt
  • Turn
  • Learn
  • First
  • Berth
  • Her
  • Heard
  • Hurt
  • Purse
  • Birth
  • Cur
  • Fur
  • Firm
  • Herd
  • Burn
  • Curt
  • Pert
  • Stir
  • Blur
  • Shirk
  • Surge

Sound /a:/

  • It is pronounced by having a much wider open mouth position.
  • Inside your mouth is shown in the process of saying this sound.
  • Examples of words bearing this sound include:
  • Far
  • Farm
  • Guard
  • Heart
  • Hard
  • Bar
  • Bard
  • Cart
  • Car
  • Dart
  • Card
  • Par

Sound /ə/

  • This sound (referred to as schwa) is a short vowel sound.
  • It mostly found in words containing letter ‘o’, for example,
  • Confuse
  • Contemptuous
  • Continue
  • Condolence
  • Also in words such as:


Sound /Ʌ/

Examples of words containing this sound include:

  • Sun
  • Son
  • Some
  • Pun
  • Fun
  • Cum
  • Cup
  • But
  • Much
  • Begun
  • Fun
  • Sung
  • Swum
  • Bug
  • Bunk
  • Brush
  • Hum
  • Rung
  • Truck
  • Stunned
  • Drum
  • Dumb
  • Fund

Sound /ɔ˸/

  • It is a long sound.
  • The mouth doesn’t move while saying this sound, and it can be pronounced as long as you have breath.
  • It is said in words such as:
  • Or
  • More
  • Chores
  • Dorm
  • Pork
  • Door
  • Four
  • Fore
  • Nor
  • Law
  • Cord
  • Form
  • Horn
  • Lord
  • Saw
  • Shore
  • Chalk
  • Jaw
  • Scorn

Sound //

  • It is a short sound.
  • The mouth doesn’t move.
  • Each of the words below bear this sound:
  • Got
  • On
  • Cost
  • Lost
  • Odd
  • Boss
  • Stock
  • Plot
  • Block
  • co*ck
  • Cop
  • Mop
  • Rod
  • Sock
  • Shot
  • Pot
  • Blot
  • Crock
  • Frog
  • Swat
  • Swatch

Sound //


Sound /u:/

Sound /I:/

  • Long sound
  • Said in words such as the ones below:
  • Sheep
  • Feet
  • Meat
  • Tweet etc.

Sound /ᶦ/

It is a short sound.

In words such as:

  • Fit
  • Bit
  • Quit
  • Blip etc.


The table below has columns with different sounds. Pronounce each of the words in the list and classify, according to the highlighted letter(s), under the column that bears that sound.


















The sound /ᵗᶴ/

  • Made by releasing the stopped air through your teeth by the `tip of your tongue.
  • It is voiceless because vocal cords do not vibrate when you say it.
  • Most words with letters ‘CH’ say this sound, for example,







  • There are those with letters ‘TCH’ for example,







  • Some are with letters ‘TU’, for example,



The Sound /ᵈᶾ/

  • Pronounced the same way as /ᵗᶴ/. It is just that it is voiced.
  • Letters representing this sound include:
  • Letters ‘DG’
  • Fudge
  • Budge
  • Bridge
  • Judge
  • Letter ‘J’
  • Judge
  • Jump
  • Joy
  • Joke
  • Eject
  • July
  • Jake
  • Project
  • Letters ‘DU’
  • Procedure
  • Graduate
  • Individual
  • When letter ‘G represents the sound

It does that when it is in front of an ‘e’, ‘i’, or ‘y

  • Letters ‘GE’, for example,
  • Agent
  • Germ
  • Gem
  • Budget
  • Gel
  • Angel
  • Danger
  • Emergency
  • Gentle
  • Bilge
  • Urgent
  • Knowledge
  • Large
  • Singe
  • Enlarge
  • Challenge
  • Ridge
  • Emerge
  • Letters ‘GI’, for example,
  • Agile
  • Allergic
  • Apologize
  • Contagious
  • Gist
  • Digitize
  • Eligible
  • Giraffe
  • Engineer
  • Fragile
  • Fugitive
  • Legion
  • Original
  • Vigilant
  • Letters ‘GY’, for example,
  • Allergy
  • Clergy
  • Egypt
  • Analogy
  • Zoology
  • Stingy
  • Gym
  • Liturgy
  • Panegyric

The Sound /f/

  • The sound is unvoiced or voiceless.
  • Air is stopped by pushing the bottom lip and top teeth together. The air is then pushed through to produce this sound.
  • The /f/ sound has the following letters saying it:
  • Letter ‘F’
  • Four
  • Wife
  • Knife
  • Life
  • Family
  • Staff
  • Puff
  • Five
  • Letters ‘PH’
  • Phone
  • Graph
  • Paragraph
  • Phrase
  • Letters ‘GH’
  • Cough
  • Rough
  • Laugh
  • Enough
  • Tough
  • Draught

The Sound /v/

  • The same mouth shape as /f/ is formed when pronouncing the sound /v/.
  • It is voiced.
  • Your top teeth is put on your bottom lip.
  • Words bearing this sound include:
  • Van
  • Vehicle
  • Vice
  • Unvoiced
  • Voice
  • Obvious
  • Previous
  • Drive
  • Save
  • Jovial
  • Virtue
  • Care
  • Wolves
  • Knives

The Sound /d/

  • /d/ is voiced. The vocal cords vibrate.
  • The low of air is stopped at the front of the mouth by tongue.
  • Practice speaking the words below:
  • Dad
  • Do
  • Did
  • Dog
  • Mad
  • Sad
  • Bad
  • Done
  • Loud
  • And

Sound /t/

  • To make this sound, your tongue stops the flow of air at the front of your mouth.
  • It is a voiceless/unvoiced sound.
  • It said in words like:
  • To
  • Top
  • Get
  • Hot
  • Pot
  • Butter
  • Later
  • What
  • Today
  • Tuesday

The sound /k/

There are various letters that say the sound /k/. let’s study these letters.

  • Letter ‘K’ always say this sound. Examples of words include:
  • Kill
  • Key
  • Kick
  • Sake
  • Letter ‘C’, for example,
  • Call
  • Corn
  • Cane
  • Campaign
  • Camp
  • Confusion
  • Cucumber
  • Colic etc.
  • Letters ‘CK’ for example
  • Kick
  • Mock
  • Truck
  • Back etc.
  • Letter ‘Q’ for example,
  • Quack
  • Quail
  • Quartz
  • Quarter
  • Quick
  • Letters ‘CH’, for example,
  • Chaotic
  • Character
  • Ache

The Sound /g/

Found in words such as:

  • Galaxy
  • Game
  • Gate
  • Gibbon
  • Give
  • Goat
  • Gazelle
  • Gecko
  • Gold
  • Gown
  • Girl
  • Ghost
  • Geyser
  • Garbage

The Sound /ᶴ/

  • This sound is unvoiced – only air passes through the mouth when said.
  • The teeth are put together and the corners of the lips are brought together towards the middle.
  • Most words with letters ‘sh’ this sound. For example,




  • There are words with letters ‘CH’ that say this sound, for example,





















  • Some words with ‘SU’ also say it, for example,






  • There are yet those with letters ‘TIO’, for example,





  • Then there are those with letters ‘SIO’, for example,




Sound /ᶿ/

  • Pronounced with your tongue between your teeth.
  • It is unvoiced.
  • The words bearing this sound include:
  • Mouth
  • Thing
  • Faith
  • Fourth
  • Thick
  • Think
  • Three
  • Thought
  • Tenth
  • Math
  • Myth
  • Thumb
  • Youth
  • Thrive
  • Growth
  • North
  • Truth
  • Pith
  • Thank
  • Thorn
  • Thimble
  • Three
  • Theme
  • Therapist
  • Thigh
  • Thickness

Sound //

  • Unlike /ᶿ/, it is voiced.
  • It also pronounced with tongue touching or between your teeth.
  • It is found in such words as:
  • With
  • There
  • Clothing
  • These
  • Thence
  • Then
  • Their
  • they

Sound /s/

  • This is a hissing sound like a snake.
  • It is voiceless.
  • The few rules for some of the common spellings that say the sound /s/ are:
  • Letter ‘S’, for example,












  • Letter ‘SC’, for example,





  • Letter ‘X’, for example,





  • Letter ‘C’, for example,







Sound /z/

  • The /z/ is like the sound of buzzing bees.
  • It is voiced.
  • Most words with the letter ‘Z’ say /z/, for example,
  • Zoo
  • Zip
  • Zebra
  • Quiz
  • Buzz
  • Freeze
  • Doze
  • prize
  • There are those words with letter ‘S’ saying this sound, for example,
  • Is
  • Was
  • His
  • Hers
  • Nose
  • Noise
  • Noises
  • Rose
  • Roses
  • Frogs
  • Girls
  • Friends
  • Lies
  • Busy
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Sounds
  • Pose
  • Reason
  • Rise
  • Eyes
  • These
  • Days
  • Says
  • Ties
  • Has
  • Flows
  • Because
  • Shoes
  • Visit
  • Those
  • Bananas
  • cows
  • The other group of words are those with letter ‘X’, for example,



Sound //

  • Words bearing this sound are borrowed from French.
  • Pronounced in the same way as /ᶴ/ only that is voiced.
  • The examples of words with this sound are:
































Practice in sentences

  • Measure the beige door on the garage.
  • It was my decision to fly to Asia to seek treasure.

Sound /l/

Sound /r/

  • Raise the back of your tongue to slightly touch the back teeth on both sides of your mouth. The centre part of the tongue remains lower to allow air to move over it.
  • It is voiced.
  • It is found in words with letter ‘R’ e.g.
  • Red
  • Friday
  • Worry
  • Sorry
  • Marry
  • It is also said in words with letters ‘WR’ e.g.
  • Write
  • Wrong
  • Wrath
  • Wry
  • Wring

Sound /w/

  • Your lips form a small, tight circle when making the sound /w/.
  • Letters representing the /w/ sound are:
  • Letter ‘W’









  • Letters WH










  • Letters ‘QU’









  • Others



Sound /m/

  • Made by pressing the lips lightly.
  • The words that follow contain the sound:
  • Mum
  • Mine
  • Me
  • Morning
  • Farmer
  • Shame
  • Meat
  • Myself

Exercise 1

Read the sentence below pronouncing each word correctly and then group the words in their appropriate columns. Consider the highlighted letters.

The seven students took the first test for their driver’s licences on Thursday.


Exercise 2

Considering the pronunciation of highlighted letters, pick the odd word out.

  • Judge, gesture, garage
  • Jump, gift, geological
  • Fungi, just, go
  • Digit, game, gamble
  • Hygiene, prodigy, entangle
  • Gecko, gem, zoology

Exercise 3

Pronounce each word correctly and then group it under the column containing the sound that the highlighted letter(s) bear.





















// //

Exercise 4

Circle the letter(s) that say /f/ and underline those saying /v/ in the sentences below.

  • Please forgive me for forgetting the leftover food.
  • Save the four wolves that live in the cave.
  • A diphthong is a combination of two vowel sounds.
  • Some of the diphthongs include:
  • /ᵊᶹ/
  • /ᵃᶸ/
  • /ᵉᶦ/
  • /ᵊᶹ/

In words like;

  • Role
  • Bone
  • Phone
  • Stone
  • Close
  • Note
  • Notice
  • Lonely
  • Home
  • Hope
  • Open
  • Ocean
  • Remote
  • Solar
  • Polar
  • Modal
  • Total
  • Motor
  • Moment
  • Bonus
  • Focus
  • Vogue
  • Social
  • Soldier
  • Co-worker
  • Most
  • Post
  • Host
  • Ghost
  • Both
  • Low
  • Know
  • Mow
  • Sow
  • Show
  • Tow
  • Owe
  • Own
  • Bowl
  • Blow
  • Grown
  • Throw
  • Go
  • Ago
  • No
  • So
  • Toe
  • Hero
  • Zero
  • Veto
  • Ego
  • Echo
  • Radio
  • Studio
  • Mexico
  • Potato
  • Tomato
  • Logo
  • Motto
  • Cold
  • Gold
  • Bold
  • Sold
  • Told
  • Roll
  • Poll
  • Control
  • Bolt
  • Colt
  • Folk
  • Comb
  • Won’t
  • Don’t
  • Soul
  • Shoulder
  • Road
  • Load
  • Boat
  • Coast
  • Coat
  • Oak
  • Soak
  • Approach
  • Boast
  • Ok
  • Obey
  • Omit
  • Hotel
  • Motel


Said in words such as:

  • How
  • Cow
  • Now
  • Allow
  • Owl
  • Brown
  • Down
  • Town
  • Clown
  • Drown
  • Crown
  • Crowd
  • Powder
  • Browse
  • Loud
  • Proud
  • Cloud
  • Out
  • Shout
  • About
  • Doubt
  • Foul
  • Noun
  • House
  • Mouse
  • Mouth
  • South
  • Couch
  • Found
  • Ground
  • Around
  • Pound
  • Sound
  • Count
  • Amount
  • Mountain
  • Announce
  • Bounce
  • Allowing
  • Towel
  • Bowel
  • Power
  • Tower
  • Flower
  • Shower
  • Hour
  • Our
  • Sour
  • Flour
  • coward


The words containing this diphthong are:

  • wait
  • late
  • bait
  • date
  • tale
  • bail
  • bale
  • sale
  • gate
  • waste
  • wade
  • baby
  • bacon
  • paper
  • April
  • Danger
  • Angel
  • Stranger
  • Basis
  • Lazy
  • Crazy
  • Fail
  • Mail
  • Sail
  • Rail
  • Raise
  • Raid
  • Afraid
  • Wait
  • Straight
  • Faint
  • Paint
  • Fate
  • Rate
  • Kate
  • Race
  • Base
  • Place
  • Lake
  • Take
  • Name
  • Ache
  • Rage
  • Patient
  • Racial
  • Nation
  • Nature
  • Fatal
  • Patriot
  • Radio
  • Vacant
  • Weight
  • Eight
  • Vein
  • Neighbour
  • Break
  • Steak
  • Age
  • Wage
  • Save
  • Cave
  • Wave
  • Ray
  • Gray
  • Play
  • Lay
  • Day
  • May
  • Pray
  • Convey
  • Survey
  • Stain
  • Change etc.


Write another word pronounced the same way as:

  1. Gait
  2. Made
  3. Mail
  4. Pale
  5. Pain
  6. Plain
  7. Sale
  8. Tale
  9. Vain
  10. Waist
  11. Wait
  12. Eight
  13. Sew
  14. No
  15. Toe
  16. Grown

Study the pairs of words below carefully.

Fit – feet

Let – late

Van – fan

Pun – pan

  • What do you notice? You realize that only one sound makes the pronunciation of one word distinct from the other. Each pair is called a minimal pair.
  • A minimal pair is therefore a pair of words that vary by only one sound especially those that usually confuse learners, such as /l/ and /r/, /b/ and /p/, and many others.

Minimal Pairs of Vowel Sounds

Sound /i/ and /i:/

  1. Bid – bead
  2. Bit – beat
  3. Bitch – beach
  4. Bin – bean/ been
  5. Chip – cheap
  6. Fit – feat/ feet
  7. Fist – feast
  8. Fizz – fees
  9. Gin – gene
  10. Sin – seen/ scene
  11. Still – steal/ steel
  12. Sick – seek
  13. Is – ease
  14. Itch – each
  15. Risen – reason
  16. Piss – piece/ peace
  17. Pick – peak/ peek
  18. Mill – meal


Write another word in which either sound /i/ and /i:/ will make it vary from the one given.

  • Hit
  • Sheet
  • Tin
  • Peach
  • Lip
  • Neat
  • Kip
  • Eel
  • Greed
  • Pill
  • Skied
  • Skim

Sounds /i/ and /e/

  1. Did – dead
  2. Disk – desk
  3. Built – belt
  4. Bit – bet
  5. Lipped – leapt
  6. Middle – meddle
  7. Fill – fell
  8. Bid – bed
  9. Bill – bell
  10. Lit – let
  11. List – lest
  12. Clinch – clench


Complete the table below with a word in which either the sound /e/ or /i/ brings the difference in pronunciation.

5 Fen

Sounds /e/ and /ei/

The following words vary by one having the vowel sound /e/ and the other a diphthong /ei/

  1. Wet – wait
  2. Bread – braid
  3. Fen – feign
  4. Bed – bade
  5. Get – gate/ gait
  6. Let – late
  7. Met – mate
  8. Lest – laced
  9. Tech – take
  10. West – waste/ waist
  11. When – wane
  12. Edge – age
  13. Gel – jail
  14. Lens – lanes
  15. Breast – braced
  16. Sent – saint
  17. Test – taste
  18. Best – based
  19. Wren – rain/ reign
  20. Led – laid
  21. Bled – blade
  22. Fed – fade


Each word below has another word in which either the sound /e/ or /ei/ will bring the distinction in pronunciation. Write that word.

  • Fell
  • Pain
  • Hail
  • Sell
  • Well
  • Mate
  • Raid
  • Date
  • Men
  • Stayed
  • Bet
  • Jail

Sounds /ᵆ/ and /ᶺ/

  1. Batter – butter
  2. Cap – cup
  3. Cat – cut
  4. Back – buck
  5. Brash – brush
  6. Dabble – double
  7. Rang – rung
  8. Track – truck
  9. Bad – bud
  10. Began – begun
  11. Bag – bug
  12. Pan – pun
  13. Drank – drunk
  14. Fan – fun
  15. Hat – hut
  16. Badge – budge
  17. Hang – hung
  18. Massed – must
  19. Rash – rush
  20. Sank – sunk
  21. Ran – run
  22. Swam – swum
  23. Ban – bun
  24. Ham – hum


Complete the table below with the minimal pair of the word. Consider the sound indicated in each column.


Sounds // and /e/

Look at the list below.

  1. Bad – bed
  2. And – end
  3. Had – head
  4. Jam – gem
  5. Pat – pet
  6. Sat – set
  7. Shall – shell
  8. Man –men
  9. Bag – beg
  10. Ham – hem
  11. Pan – pen
  12. Sad – said
  13. Manned – mend
  14. Land – lend


Complete the table with appropriate word that vary with the sound indicated in the column.


Minimal Pairs of /ɑ˸/ and /ᵌ˸/

  1. fast – first
  2. bath – berth/birth
  3. heart – hurt
  4. bard – bird
  5. car – cur
  6. card – curd
  7. guard – gird
  8. pa – per
  9. bar – bur
  10. barn – burn
  11. carve – curve
  12. dart – dirt
  13. par – purr
  14. park – perk
  15. star – stir
  16. arc – irk

Exercise 6

Considering the sounds /ɑ˸/ and /ᵌ˸/, write the minimal pair of:

  • far
  • heard/herd
  • pass
  • farm
  • shark
  • curt

Minimal Pairs of /b/ and /v/

  1. bat – vat
  2. beer – veer
  3. bowl – vole
  4. bow – vow
  5. gibbon – given
  6. bale – veil
  7. bane – vein
  8. curb – curve
  9. bolt – volt
  10. bowl – vole
  11. broom – vroom
  12. dribble – drivel
  13. dub – dove
  14. jibe – jive
  15. rebel – revel

Exercise 7

There is another word that will vary with the one written below with just one sound. Depending on the sounds /b/ and /v/, write that word.

  • van
  • boat
  • Vest
  • Vowels
  • Vent
  • Bury
  • Loaves
  • Verve

Minimal pairs of /f/ and /v/

  • Fan – van
  • Off – of
  • Fat – vat
  • Fee – v
  • Foul – vowel
  • Fender – vendor
  • Serf/Surf – serve
  • Duff – dove
  • Fie – vie
  • Foal – vole
  • Guff – guv
  • Waif – waive
  • Gif – give
  • Life – live
  • Safe – save
  • Belief – believe
  • Feel – veal
  • Staff – starve
  • Feign – vain/ vein
  • Foist – voiced
  • Fox – vox
  • Reef – reeve

Exercise 8

Write the minimal pair of the word below with consideration being either the sound /f/ or /v/.

  • Ferry
  • Leaf
  • Vast
  • Fine
  • Half
  • Proof
  • Veil
  • Grief
  • Calf
  • Fault
  • Vile
  • Strive

Minimal Pairs of Sounds/s/ and /ᶿ/

  • Mouse – mouth
  • Sing – thing
  • Face – faith
  • Force – fourth
  • Sick – thick
  • Sink – think
  • Sort – thought
  • Tense – tenth
  • Mass – math
  • Miss – myth
  • Pass – path
  • Saw – thaw
  • Seem – theme
  • Some – thumb
  • Song – thong
  • Worse – worth
  • Gross – growth
  • Sigh – thigh
  • Sin – thin
  • Sum – thumb
  • Piss – pith
  • Sawn – thorn
  • Symbol – thimble
  • Sore – thaw
  • Truce – truth
  • Suds – thuds
  • Sought – thought
  • Moss – moth
  • Sank – thank
  • Sump – thump

Sounds /t/ and /d/

  • Town – down
  • Touch – Dutch
  • Tear – dare
  • Ten – den
  • Tongue – dung
  • Tart – dart
  • Tech – deck
  • Tin – din
  • Toe – doe
  • Tough – duff
  • Tuck – duck
  • Tab – dab
  • Tank – dank
  • Tick – dick
  • Tine – dine
  • Hat – had
  • Spent – spend
  • Too/ to/two – do
  • Train – drain
  • Tide – dyed/died
  • Torn – dawn
  • Teal – deal
  • Teen – dean
  • Tyre/tire – dire
  • Toes – doze
  • Tout – doubt
  • Tug – dug
  • Tale/ tail – dale
  • Teed – deed
  • Tier – deer
  • Tint – dint
  • Sheet – she’d
  • Wait – weighed
  • Tie – die
  • Try – dry
  • Tear – dear
  • Tip – dip
  • Tame – dame
  • Team – deem
  • Tent – dent
  • Toast – dosed
  • Tomb – doom
  • Tower – dour
  • Tux – ducks
  • Tamp – damp
  • Tell – dell
  • Till – dill
  • Tusk – dusk
  • Sight – side
  • Beat – bead

Exercise 9

Each word below has another word in which all the sounds are the same except either the sound /t/ or /d/ is different. Write that word.

  • Bat
  • God
  • Write
  • And
  • At
  • Bed
  • Bored
  • Eight
  • Bet
  • Feet
  • Hit
  • Hurt
  • Mat
  • Mend
  • Neat
  • Nod
  • Set
  • Played
  • Sat
  • Dead

Minimal Pairs of /k/ and /g/


  • Came – game
  • Card – guard
  • Cold – gold
  • Clean – glean
  • Crate – great
  • Cap – gap
  • Coast – ghost
  • Kale – gale
  • Can – gone
  • Course – gorse
  • Cram – gram
  • Crepe – grape
  • Crew – grew
  • Croup – group
  • Crow – grow
  • Key – ghee
  • K – gay
  • Clamour – glamour
  • Clad – glad
  • Crane – grain
  • Creed – greed
  • Krill – grill
  • Cunning – gunning
  • Cab – gab
  • Cape – gape
  • Clam – glam
  • Cord – gored
  • Coup – goo
  • Crate – grate
  • Cuff – guff


  • Clock – clog
  • Dock – dog
  • Frock – frog
  • Muck – mug
  • Brick – brig
  • Broke – brogue
  • Crack – crag
  • Prick – prig
  • Puck – pug
  • Shack – shag
  • Slack – slag
  • Snuck – snug
  • Stack – stag
  • Whack – wag
  • Wick – wig
  • Jock – jog
  • Lack – lag
  • Luck – lug
  • Beck – beg
  • co*ck – cog
  • Hack – hag
  • Pick – pig

Exercise 10

Complete the table with appropriate word that only differs with one sound with the one given. Consider the sounds in the columns.

  1. hom*oPHONES

Words pronounced the same way but have different spellings and meanings are the hom*ophones. The list below is English hom*ophones.

  1. Accessary accessory
  2. Ad, add
  3. Ail, ale
  4. Air, heir
  5. Aisle, I’ll, isle
  6. All, awl
  7. Allowed, aloud
  8. Alms, arms
  9. Altar, alter
  10. Ante, anti
  11. Arc, ark
  12. Aural, oral
  13. Away, aweigh
  14. Awe, oar, or, ore
  15. Axel, axle
  16. Aye, eye, I
  17. Bail, bale
  18. Bait, bate
  19. Baize, bays
  20. Bald, bawled
  21. Ball, bawl
  22. Band, banned
  23. Bard, barred
  24. Bare, bear
  25. Bark, barque
  26. Baron, barren
  27. Base, bass
  28. Bay, bey
  29. Bazaar, bizarre
  30. Be, bee
  31. Beach, beech
  32. Bean, been
  33. Beat, beet
  34. Beau, bow
  35. Beer, bier
  36. Bell, belle
  37. Berry, bury
  38. Berth, birth
  39. Bight, bite, byte
  40. Billed, build
  41. Bitten, bittern
  42. Blew, blue
  43. Bloc, block
  44. Boar, bore
  45. Board, bored
  46. Boarder, border
  47. Bold, bawled
  48. Boos, booze
  49. Born, borne
  50. Bough, bow
  51. Boy, buoy
  52. Brae, bray
  53. Braid, brayed
  54. Braise, brays, braze
  55. Brake, break
  56. Bread, bred
  57. Brews, bruise
  58. Bridal, bridle
  59. Broach, brooch
  60. Bur, burr
  61. But, butt
  62. Buy, by, bye
  63. Buyer, byre
  64. Call, caul
  65. Canvas, canvass
  66. Cast, caste
  67. Caster, castor
  68. Caught, court
  69. Caw, core, corps
  70. Cede, seed
  71. Ceiling, sealing
  72. Censer, censor, sensor
  73. Cent, scent, sent
  74. Cereal, serial
  75. Cheap, cheep
  76. Check, cheque
  77. Choir, quire
  78. Chord, cord
  79. Cite, sight, site
  80. Clack, claque
  81. Clew, clue
  82. Climb, clime
  83. Close, cloze
  84. Coarse, course
  85. Coign, coin
  86. Colonel, kernel
  87. Complacent, complaisant
  88. Complement, compliment
  89. Coo, coup
  90. Cops, copse
  91. Council, counsel
  92. Cousin, cozen
  93. Creak, creek
  94. Crews, cruise
  95. Cue, queue
  96. Curb, kerb
  97. Currant, current
  98. Cymbal, symbol
  99. Dam, damn
  100. Days, daze
  101. Dear, deer
  102. Descent, dissent
  103. Desert, dessert
  104. Deviser, divisor
  105. Dew, due
  106. Die, dye
  107. Discreet, discrete
  108. Doe, dough
  109. Done, dun
  110. Douse, dowse
  111. Draft, draught
  112. Dual, duel
  113. Earn, urn
  114. Ewe, yew, you
  115. Faint, feint
  116. Fair, fare
  117. Farther, father
  118. Fate, fete
  119. Faun, fawn
  120. Fay, fey
  121. Faze, phase
  122. Feat, feet
  123. Ferrule, ferule
  124. Few, phew
  125. File, phial
  126. Find, fined
  127. Fir, fur
  128. Flair, flare
  129. Flaw, floor
  130. Flea, flee
  131. Flex, flecks
  132. Flew, flu, flue
  133. Floe, flow
  134. Flour, flower
  135. Foaled, fold
  136. For, fore, four
  137. Foreword, forward
  138. Fort, fought
  139. Forth, fourth
  140. Foul, fowl
  141. Franc, frank
  142. Freeze, frieze
  143. Friar, fryer
  144. Furs, furze
  145. Gait, gate
  146. Gamble, gambol
  147. Gays, gaze
  148. Genes, jeans
  149. Gild, guild
  150. Gilt, guilt
  151. Gnaw, nor
  152. Gneiss, nice
  153. Gorilla, guerrilla
  154. Grate, great
  155. Greave, grieve
  156. Greys, graze
  157. Groan, grown
  158. Guessed, guest
  159. Hail, hale
  160. Hair, hare
  161. Hall, haul
  162. Hangar, hanger
  163. Hart, heart
  164. Haw, hoar, whor*
  165. Hay, hey
  166. Heal, heel, he’ll
  167. Hear, here
  168. Heard, herd
  169. He’d, heed
  170. Heroin, heroine
  171. Hew, hue
  172. Hi, high
  173. Higher, hire
  174. Him, hymn
  175. Ho, hoe
  176. Hoard, horde
  177. Hoarse, horse
  178. Holey, holy, wholly
  179. Hour, our
  180. Idle, idol
  181. In, inn
  182. Indict, indite
  183. It’s, its
  184. Jewel, joule
  185. Key, quay
  186. Knave, nave
  187. Knead, need
  188. Knew, new
  189. Knight, night
  190. Knit, nit
  191. Knob, nob
  192. Knock, nock
  193. Knot, not
  194. Know, no
  195. Knows, nose
  196. Laager, lager
  197. Lac, lack
  198. Lade, laid
  199. Lain, lane
  200. Lam, lamb
  201. Laps, lapse
  202. Larva, lava
  203. Lase, laze
  204. Law, lore
  205. Lay, ley
  206. Lea, lee
  207. Leach, leech
  208. Lead, led
  209. Leak, leek
  210. Lean, lien
  211. Lessen, lesson
  212. Levee, levy
  213. Liar, lyre
  214. Licker, liquor
  215. Lie, lye
  216. Lieu, loo
  217. Links, lynx
  218. Lo, low
  219. Load, lode
  220. Loan, lone
  221. Locks, lox
  222. Loop, loupe
  223. Loot, lute
  224. Made, maid
  225. Mail, male
  226. Main, mane
  227. Maize, maze
  228. Mall, maul
  229. Manna, manner
  230. Mantel, mantle
  231. Mare, mayor
  232. Mark, marque
  233. Marshal, martial
  234. Mask, masque
  235. Maw, more
  236. Me, mi
  237. Mean, mien
  238. Meat, meet, mete
  239. Medal, meddle
  240. Metal, mettle
  241. Meter, metre
  242. Might, mite
  243. Miner, minor
  244. Mind, mined
  245. Missed, mist
  246. Moat, mote
  247. Mode, mowed
  248. Moor, more
  249. Moose, mousse
  250. Morning, mourning
  251. Muscle, mussel
  252. Naval, navel
  253. Nay, neigh
  254. None, nun
  255. Od, odd
  256. Ode, owed
  257. Oh, owe
  258. One, won
  259. Packed, pact
  260. Pail, pale
  261. Pain, pane
  262. Pair, pare, pear
  263. Palate, palette, pallet
  264. Paten, pattern,
  265. Pause, paws, pores, pours
  266. Pawn, p*rn
  267. Pea, pee
  268. Peace, piece
  269. Peak, peek
  270. Peal, peel
  271. Pearl, purl
  272. Pedal, peddle
  273. Peer, pier
  274. Pi, pie
  275. Place, plaice
  276. Plain, plane
  277. Pleas, please
  278. Plum, plumb
  279. Pole, poll
  280. Practice, practise
  281. Praise, prays, preys
  282. Principal, principle
  283. Profit, prophet
  284. Quarts, quartz
  285. Quean, queen
  286. Rain, reign, rein
  287. Raise, rays, raze
  288. Rap, wrap
  289. Raw, roar
  290. Read, reed
  291. Read, red
  292. Real, reel
  293. Reek, wreak
  294. Rest, wrest
  295. Retch, wretch
  296. Review, revue
  297. Rheum, room
  298. Right, rite, write
  299. Ring, wring
  300. Road, rode
  301. Roe, row
  302. Role, roll
  303. Roux, rue
  304. Rood, rude
  305. Root, route
  306. Rose, rows
  307. Rota, rotor
  308. Rote, wrote
  309. Rough, ruff
  310. Rouse, rows
  311. Rung, wrung
  312. Rye, wry
  313. Saver, savour
  314. Spade, spayed
  315. Sale, sail
  316. Sane, seine
  317. Satire, satyr
  318. Sauce, source
  319. Saw, soar, sore
  320. Scene, seen
  321. Scull, skull
  322. Sea, see
  323. Seam, seem
  324. Sear, seer, sere
  325. Seas, sees, seize
  326. Sew, so, sow
  327. Shake, sheikh
  328. Shear, sheer
  329. Shoe, shoo
  330. Sic, sick
  331. Side, sighed
  332. Sign, sine
  333. Sink, synch
  334. Slay, sleigh
  335. Sloe, slow
  336. Sole, soul
  337. Some, sum
  338. Son, sun
  339. Sort, sought
  340. Spa, spar
  341. Staid, stayed
  342. Stair, stare
  343. Stake, stoak
  344. Stalk, stork
  345. Stationary, stationery
  346. Steal, steel
  347. Stile, style
  348. Storey, story
  349. Straight, strait
  350. Sweat, sweet
  351. Swat, swot
  352. Tacks, tax
  353. Tale, tail
  354. Talk, torque
  355. Tare, tear
  356. Taught, taut, tort
  357. Tea, tee
  358. Team, teem
  359. Teas, tease
  360. Tare, tear
  361. Tern, turn
  362. There, their, they’re
  363. Throw, through
  364. Throes, throws
  365. Throne, thrown
  366. Thyme, time
  367. Tic, tick
  368. Tide, tied
  369. Tire, tyre
  370. To, too, two
  371. Toad, toed, towed
  372. Told, tolled
  373. Tole, toll
  374. Ton, tun
  375. Tor, tore
  376. Tough, tuff
  377. Troop, troupe
  378. Tuba, tuber
  379. Vain, vane, vein
  380. Vale, veil
  381. Vial, vile
  382. Wail, wale, whale
  383. Wain, wane
  384. Waist, waste
  385. Waive, wave
  386. Wall, waul
  387. War, wore
  388. Warn, worn
  389. Wart, wort
  390. Watt, what
  391. Wax, whacks
  392. Way, weigh
  393. We, wee
  394. Weak, week
  395. We’d, weed
  396. Weal, we’ll, wheel
  397. Weather, whether
  398. Weir, we’re
  399. Were, whirr
  400. Wet, whet
  401. Weald, wheeled
  402. Which, witch
  403. Whig, wig
  404. While, wile
  405. Whine, wine
  406. Whirl, whorl
  407. Whirled, world
  408. Whit, wit
  409. White, wight
  410. Who’s, whose
  411. Wood, would
  412. Yaw, yore, your, you’re
  413. Yoke, yolk
  414. You’ll, yule


Write two words pronounced the same way as each of the following words.

  • B
  • C
  • I
  • P
  • T
  • U

In English there are letters that are usually not pronounced in certain words. Let us have a look at these letters and words in which they are silent.

Letter ‘A’

  • Logically
  • Musically
  • Romantically
  • Stoically
  • Artistically

Letter ‘B’

  • Aplomb
  • Bomb
  • Climb
  • Comb
  • Crumb
  • Debt
  • Jamb
  • Lamb
  • Limb
  • Numb
  • Plumb
  • Subtle
  • Succumb
  • Thumb
  • Tomb
  • Womb

Letter ‘C’

  • Ascend
  • Abscess
  • Ascent
  • Conscience
  • Conscious
  • Crescent
  • Descend
  • Descent
  • Discipline
  • Fascinate
  • Fluorescent
  • Isosceles
  • Luminescent
  • Muscle
  • Obscene
  • Resuscitate
  • Scenario
  • Scene
  • Scent
  • Scissors

Letter ‘D’

  • Wednesday
  • Hedge
  • Dodge
  • Pledge
  • Grudge
  • Sandwich
  • Handkerchief

Letter ‘E’

  • Hate
  • Name
  • Like
  • Hope
  • Lessen
  • Surprised

Letter ‘G’

  • Align
  • Assign
  • Benign
  • Campaign
  • Champagne
  • Cologne
  • Consign
  • Gnarl
  • Gnash
  • Gnaw
  • Gnome
  • Gnu
  • Reign
  • Sign

Letter ‘H’

  • Honest
  • Hour
  • Heir
  • Honour
  • Ache
  • Anchor
  • Archaeology
  • Architect
  • Archives
  • Chaos
  • Character
  • Cholera
  • Charisma
  • Chemical
  • Chemist
  • Chorus
  • Choir
  • Echo
  • Loch
  • Shepherd
  • Monarch
  • Scheme
  • psych

Letter ‘I’

  • Business
  • Parliament

Letter ‘K’

  • Knock
  • Knapsack
  • Knave
  • Knead
  • Knee
  • Kneel
  • Knell
  • Knew
  • Knickers
  • Knife
  • Knight
  • Knit
  • Knob
  • Knock
  • Knot
  • Know
  • Knowledge
  • Knuckle

Letter ‘L’

  • Calm
  • Half
  • Talk
  • Walk
  • Would
  • Should
  • Calf
  • Salmon
  • Yolk
  • Folk
  • Balk

Letter ‘N’

  • Autumn
  • Column
  • Condemn
  • Damn
  • Hymn
  • Solemn

Letter ‘O’

  • Lesson

Letter ‘P’

  • Psychology
  • Pneumonia
  • Pseudo
  • Psychiatrist
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychotic
  • Receipt
  • Corps
  • Coup

Letter ‘S’

  • Island
  • Aisle
  • Apropos
  • Bourgeois

Letter ‘T’

  • Apostle
  • Bristle
  • Bustle
  • Castle
  • fasten
  • glisten
  • hustle
  • jostle
  • listen
  • moisten
  • mortgage
  • nestle
  • rustle
  • thistle
  • trestle
  • whistle
  • wrestle

Letter ‘U’

  • baguette
  • biscuit
  • build
  • built
  • circuit
  • disguise
  • guess
  • guide
  • guild
  • guile
  • guillotine
  • guilt
  • guilty
  • guilty
  • guise
  • guitar
  • rogue
  • silhouette
  • colleague
  • tongue

Letter ‘W’

  • awry
  • playwright
  • sword
  • wrangle
  • wrap
  • wrapper
  • wrath
  • wreak
  • wreath
  • wreck
  • wreckage
  • wren
  • wrench
  • wretched
  • wriggle
  • wring
  • wrinkle
  • wrist
  • writ
  • write
  • wrote
  • wrong
  • writhe
  • wrong
  • wrought
  • wrung
  • wry


Identify the silent letter(s) in:

  1. debtor
  2. isle
  • mock
  1. depot
  2. acquit
  3. womb
  • patios
  • thyme
  1. handsome
  2. sandwich
  3. government
  • listen
  • Christmas
  • Whether
  1. Rapport
  • Ballet
  • Chalet
  • Aplomb
  • Ricochet
  1. Clothes
  • Cupboard
  • Faux
  • Mnemonic
  • Numb
  • Rendezvous
  • Catalogue
  • Vegetable
  • Asthma
  • months
  • debris

Not all syllables in a word are given equal emphasis. By the same token, not all words in a sentence are said with equal length.

The relative emphasis that may be given to certain syllables in a word, or certain words in a sentence is what we refer to as stress.

You say a syllable or a word is stressed when it is said louder or longer than the rest.

Stress is studied in two levels:

  • Word level; and
  • Sentence level.

Stress at the Word Level

A part of a certain word when said louder or longer then it is stressed.

Rules of Word Stress

  1. For two-syllable nouns and adjectives, stress the first, for example

Cloudy carton table

  1. For verbs with two syllables and prepositions, emphasize the second syllable, for example
  2. Words with three syllables.
  • Those ending in –er, -ly, emphasis put on the first syllable, for example,
  • Stress the first, for those ending in consonants and in –y, for example,
  • Stress the last syllable if the word ends in –ee, -ese, -eer, -ique, -ette, for example,
  • Look at the ones with the suffixes below, where stress is placed on the second,

-ary: library

Cial: judicial, commercial

-cian: musician, clinician

-tal : capital, recital

Stress is important in studying the heteronyms. A pair, or group of words is referred to as heteronym when those words are spelled the same way but have different pronunciation and meaning. We have two main categories of heteronyms:

  • Noun- verb pairs; and
  • Verb -and-adjective pairs.

We stress the first syllable if noun and the second if verb.

Examples of noun-and-verb pairs are included in the table below:


In sentences;

  • Many factories produce the produce we import.
  • Allan became a convert after deciding to convert to Christianity.

Sentence Stress

Sentence stress is accent on certain words within a sentence.

Most sentences have two basic word types:

  • Content words which are the key words carrying the sense or meaning- message.
  • Structure words which just make the sentence grammatically correct. They give the sentence its structure.

Look at the sentence below:

Buy milk feeling tired.

Though the sentence is incomplete, you will probably understand the message in it. The four words are the content words. Verbs, nouns, adjectives, are content words.

You can add words to the sentence to have something like:

Will you buy me milk since I am feeling tired?

The words: will, you, me, since, I, are just meant to make the sentence correct grammatically. They can also be stressed to bring the intended meaning.

Now let’s study the sentence below:

Joan doesn’t think Akinyi stole my green skirt.

Each word in the sentence can be stressed to bring the meaning as illustrated in the table.

Sentence Meaning
Joan doesn’t think Akinyi stole my green skirt.She doesn’t think that, but someone else does.
Joan doesn’t think Akinyi stole my green skirt.It is not true that Joan thinks that.
Joan doesn’t thinkAkinyi stole my green skirt.Joan doesn’t think that, she knows that.
Joan doesn’t think Akinyi stole my green skirt.Not Akinyi, but someone else. Probably Njuguna or Adhiambo.
Joan doesn’t think Akinyistole my green skirt.Joan thinks Akinyi did something to the green skirt, may be washed it.
Joan doesn’t think Akinyi stole my green skirt.Joan thinks Akinyi stole someone else’s green skirt, but not mine.
Joan doesn’t think Akinyi stole my green skirt.She thinks Akinyi stole my red skirt which is also missing.
Joan doesn’t think Akinyi stole my green skirt.Joan thinks Akinyi stole my green shirt. She mispronounced the word.

Exercise 1

  1. The words that follow can be nouns or verbs dependingon the stressed syllable. Use each as both the verb and noun in a single sentence.
  • Cement


  • Permit
  • Content
  1. Underline the part of the word in boldface you will stress in each of the following sentences.
  • The boy has been asked to sert the de.sert.
  • My handsome cortwilles.cort me to the dance.
  • After updating my sume, I will re.sume my job search.
  • They have to testin the annual Math con.test.
  • If you vict me, I will remain a con.vict for 5 years.

Exercise 2

Each word in the sentences below can be stressed to bring the meaning. What will be the meaning when each word is stressed?

  • I love your sister’s handwriting.
  • You came late today.
  • It is the rise and fall of voice in speaking.
  • Intonation is crucial for communication.
  • In English there are basically two kinds of intonation: rising and
  • We can use arrows to show the intonation – whether rising or falling. ↘ represents falling intonation while ↗ represents the rising one.

Falling Intonation

  • Falling intonation is when we lower our voice at the end of a sentence.
  • This usually happens in:
  • Statements, for example,
  • I like↘
  • It is nice working with ↘
  • She travelled to↘
  • W/H Questions
  • What is your ↘name?
  • Where do you ↘live?
  • How old are↘ you?
  • Who is this young↘ man?
  • Commands
  • Get out ↘
  • Give me the ↘
  • Close your ↘
  • Exclamatory sentences e.g.
  • What a wonderful ↘present!
  • How ↘nice of you

Rising intonation

  • When we lower our voice.
  • Used in:
  • General Questionsg.

Do you visit them↗ often?

Have you seen ↗her?

Are you ready to ↗start?

Could you give me a↗ pen, please?

  • Alternative questionsg.

Do you want ↗coffee or ↘tea?

Does he speak↗ Kiswahili or ↘English?

  • Before tag questionsg.

This is a beautiful ↘place, ↗isn’t it?

She knows↘ him,↗ doesn’t she?

  • Enumeratingg.

↗One, ↗two,↗ three, ↗four,↘ five.

She bought ↗bread, ↗cheese, ↗oranges, and ↘apples.


Using an arrow, determine whether rising or falling intonation is used in the sentences.

  • This music sounds good.
  • I love watching horror movies.
  • My sister’s name is Amina.
  • Blue is my favourite colour.
  • Is that tv good?
  • Do you like that movie?
  • Are you hungry?
  • Get me my shoes.
  • Study your lessons now.
  • Are you insane?
  • How many more hours before you are done with your work?
  • Which novel is the best for you?
  • He is a little bit nervous, isn’t he?
  • You should listen to your parents’ advice.
  • Did you finish your homework?
  • Water is good for the body.
  • This is good!
  • What a crazy show.


  • A formal contest of argumentation between two sides is what debate is.
  • Debate embodies the ideals of reasoned argument, and tolerance for divergent points of view.
  • There are two sides in the debate: the proposition and the
  • These two teams are presented with a resolution, such as, ‘Girls and Boys Should play in a mixed football team.
  • The teams are given enough preparation time.
  • The team affirming the resolution speaks first.
  • The opposing team then must refute the arguments offered by the affirming team and offer arguments rejecting the resolution.
  • Both sides are given the opportunity to present their positions and to directly question the other team.
  • Neutral judge (s) then evaluate the persuasiveness of the arguments and offer constructive feedback.

Preparation Time

This is the time you have from when the motion is announced to the beginning of the debate. During this time:

  1. Research on the motion to get facts. The facts can be got from the teachers, other students, etc.
  2. Write notes on the facts. You can once in a while look at them during your presentation.
  3. Practice how to speak. Do it in front of friends and relatives, as well as in front of a mirror.
  4. If anxious, do some physical exercise. You can also take a deep breath just before your presentation.
  5. Dress decently.

Points Delivery

Here are the points that will help you be successful during your points delivery:

  1. Deliver your points in a confident and persuasive way.
  2. Vary your tone to make you sound interesting. Listening to one tone is boring.
  3. Speak quite loudly to be comfortably heard by everyone in the room. Shouting does not win debates.
  4. Make eye contact with your audience, but keep shifting your gaze. Don’t stare at one person.
  5. Concisely and clearly express your points to be understood by your audience members.
  6. Provide a proof for each point you put across. If you don’t you will not earn a point.
  7. Speak slowly and enunciate your words. When you slow down your speech, you give your audience and the judge more time to process your strong points.
  8. Use gestures to elaborate on your points.
  9. Pause to divide your major points.


  • Only supportive and argumentative heckling is permitted.
  • Heckling is a brief phrase (about two words) or other non- verbal actions that are directed to the judge of the debate.
  • They are reminder to the judge to pay close attention to the message immediately expressed by the speaker.
  • There are two types of heckles:
  • Those that are non-verbal, such as,
  • Rapping the knuckles on the desktop.
  • Rapping the palm on the desk.
  • Stamping the feet

They are meant to encourage the judge to heed a particularly strong point being made by the speaker.

  • Those that are verbal, such as,
  • Objective
  • Evidence
  • Point of information

They are said after standing up by one member of the opposing side. These are meant to alert the judge to a problem in the opposing side’s argument.


After you deliver your points during the debate, everyone claps for you. How could you have delivered your points to earn their heckling?


Have you ever attended the formal meetings where you are asked questions and are expected to respond to them? More than once you will be invited to attend interviews. You can also invite someone to interview. For this reason, you should some interview tips.

The two participants in an interview are the interviewer (at times a panel of interviewers), and the interviewee.

Tips for the Interviewees

Job Interview Preparations

If you really want to be considered for a particular job following an interview, you have to adequately prepare to succeed. The following are the preparations the interviewee would put in place before the interview:

  • Contact your referees to alert them that you will be interviewed and they are likely to receive a call.
  • Prepare your documents. Make sure they are neat and well arranged.
  • Know the location where you are having the interview. It will help you know how long it will take you to reach there.
  • Do some research about the organization.
  • Prepare what to wear and how to groom.
  • Anticipate potential questions and prepare answers correctly.
  • Arrive early enough for the interview.
  • Prepare questions to ask the interviewer at the end. It will show how much you are interested in working there.

During the Interview;

  • Greet the interviewer.
  • Knock on the door and wait for response before you enter. Shut the door behind you quietly.
  • Wait until you are offered the seat before sitting.
  • Sit or stand upright and look alert throughout.
  • Make good eye contact with the interviewer to show you are honest.
  • Explain your answers whenever possible and avoid answering questions with yes/no as answers.
  • Answer questions honestly. Don’t ever lie!

Common Blunders you MUST Avoid

Avoid falling foul of the following:

  1. Turning up late for the interview.
  2. Dressing and grooming inappropriately.
  3. Giving simple yes/no as answers.
  4. Speaking negatively about your previous employer.
  5. Sitting before invited.
  6. Discussing time-off or money.

As an Interviewer

Before the Interview:

  1. Write down questions to ask.
  2. Call the prospective employee’s referees.
  3. Prepare the place for the interview.
  4. Alert the interviewee about the interview. Mention the time and place.
  5. Arrive early for the interview.

During the Interview:

  1. Allow them enough time to respond to questions.
  2. Encourage them to speak by, for example, nodding your head when they answer questions.
  3. Speak and ask questions politely. Be friendly but formal as much as you can.
  4. Make eye contact with the interviewee to show you are listening to them.

Exercise 1

You are the secretary of journalism Club at Maembe Dodo Mixed School. On Friday you would like to interview your school Deputy Principal on the issue of Students’ Discipline.

  • Write down any three questions you would ask him/her.
  • Other than writing down questions to ask, how else would you prepare for this day?
  • State four things you would do as you interview him.

Exercise 2

Read the conversation below and then answer questions after it.

Ms Naomi: Welcome to our Doctor’s office.

Mr. Josh: Nice to be here.

Ms Naomi: I see from your resume that you are a cardiologist with 10 years of practice.

Mr. Josh: That’s right.

Ms Naomi: This interview is just to get to know you a little and then there are follow up interviews. So what do you do in your free time?

Mr. Josh: I like golfing and swimming. I also like to read newspapers.

Ms Naomi: Why did you want to be a doctor?

Mr. Josh: Actually I love helping people get well. I think cardiology has made great strides recently and I would like to share my findings with others.

Ms Naomi: Have you written in any scientific journals so far?

Mr. Josh: Not yet. But hopefully soon.

Ms Naomi: OK, we’d like to learn more about you. Let’s go for lunch with our colleagues, if that’s OK.

Mr. Josh: That’s fine, I am free.

  • What two things qualify Ms Naomi as a good interviewer?
  • Identify two evidences of interview tips displayed by Mr. Josh.

Have you ever stood in front of a big group of people to present your talk? Well here we shall learn how to prepare your speech and deliver it effectively.

Preparation for Speech Delivery

There are steps any speaker should follow in preparation for presentation of speech. They include:

  1. Doing some research on the topic to present. Get the facts about the topic. If you do enough research, your confidence level will be boosted.
  2. Practice in front of a group of friends or relatives. This can also be done in front of a mirror, or videotaping your rehearsals. You will be able to correct your gestures, postures etc.
  3. Write down the points about the topic on a note pad. You can refer to them when giving the speech.
  4. Plan on how to groom and dress decently. You should appear presentable to feel confident.

Grabbing and Keeping Audience Attention

Your opening determines how long your audience will listen to your presentation. If they are bored from the beginning; the chance that your message will effectively get across is very little.

The most commonly used methods are:

  1. Asking a question. The question should make them think about the topic. For example, ‘How many of you would like to be millionaires?’
  2. Stating an impressive fact connected to the topic of your presentation. For example: ‘About 30% of Kenyans are millionaires.
  3. Telling a story closely connected to the topic. It should neither be too long nor intended to try to glorify the speaker. For example: “Dear audience, before I begin I would like to tell you a short story about Maina Wa Kamau became a millionaire. Don’t worry, it’s not too long. …..”

Other methods of beginning a speech are:

  • Using humour
  • Starting with a quote that ties with your topic.
  • Using sound effect.

Presentation of Speech

There are various techniques of delivering speech. They are what will ensure understanding of your message. Some of these techniques include:

  1. Use gestures effectively to reinforce the words and ideas you are trying to communicate to your audience. For example, when talking about love, you can use your hands to form a cup shape to indicate how tiny something is.
  2. Make eye contact with your audience members to study their reactions to you. If you sense boredom, you need to improve and if you sense enthusiasm, it will help pump you up.
  3. Use movements to establish contact with your audience. Getting closer to them physically increases their attention and interest, as well as encouraging response if you are asking questions.
  4. Your posture should be upright. The way you conduct yourself on the platform will indicate you are relaxed and in control. Do not lean or slouch.
  5. Wear appropriate facial expressions to show feelings and emotions. Smile to show happiness, for example.
  6. Speak loud enough to be heard by all your audience members.
  7. Pronounce the words correctly and speak clearly for your message to be understood.
  8. Pause at key points to let the message sink.

Stage Fright

Almost all speakers are nervous. Even the most experienced do. Fear of addressing a group is not wrong, but how we deal with it is what is possibly not good enough. Those speakers who seem relaxed and confident have learnt how to handle anxiety.

Symptoms of Nervous Speakers

An anxious speaker can be identified in case of:

  • Shaking hands
  • Sweating palms
  • Dry mouth
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Squeaky voice
  • Knocking knees
  • Facial flushes
  • Watery eyes
  • Mental confusions
  • jitters

Causes of Fear

  1. Past failures during presentation. Plan to succeed instead.
  2. Poor or insufficient preparation. Nothing gives you more confidence than being ready.
  3. Discomfort with your own body and movement.

Dealing with Anxiety

A speaker can try the suggestions below to deal with anxiety before and on the day of speech.

Before the day;

  1. Know your topic by doing adequate and thorough research. You will be sure of presenting accurate information and be able to answer questions asked by audience members.
  2. Practice delivering your speech several times. This helps you be sure of your organization of the main points.

On that day;

  1. Do some physical exercises like press ups, push walls, etc. to reduce anxiety.
  2. Use simple relaxation techniques like taking deep breath, tightening and relaxing your muscles, etc.
  3. Wear clothes that you feel confident in. when you feel good about of you feel, your confidence level is boosted. You don’t need to adjust your clothes or hair during your speech.
  4. Spot friendly faces in the crowd. These are people who give you positive feedback (e.g. nodding, smiling). Such faces give you encouragement to speak.
  5. Come up with ways to hide your anxiety. For example,
  • When mouth goes dry, drink some water
  • In case of excessive sweating, wear clothes that will not allow your audience detect
  • If your hands shake, use gestures to mask the shaking.

Exercise 1

In the next three days, you are presenting a speech on the topic: Effects of HIV/AIDS.

  • Write down any three ways you would prepare for the speech delivery.
  • State the techniques you would employ to ensure your audience listens to you throughout and that they understand the message during the presentation.

Exercise 2

Makufuli is presenting his speech. Your friend, Makwere claims that Makufuli is not confident.

  • What could have warranted this claim?
  • State four reasons that could be behind Makufuli’s state?
  • Discussion is a process where exchange of ideas and opinions are debated upon in a group.
  • A group which comprises a small number of people is given a topic to discuss.

Preparation for Group Discussion

Do the following before you start the discussion:

  1. Select/choose group leaders. Choose the secretary to write the points down and the chair to lead the discussions.
  2. Research round the topic to make sure you have the points. You can get the points from the sources including:
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Friends, relatives and teachers
  • Text books
  • Internet
  • Television
  1. Arrive early for discussions. It is advisable you do so so that you start early and finish early.
  2. Gather writing materials – pen and note book.
  3. Prepare with questions to ask.

Participating in a Group Discussion

Remember the tips below for success during the discussion:

  1. Learn to listen to each other and respond to what other people have to say.
  2. Speak with moderation. What you say is usually more important than how much you say. Quality is needed rather than the quantity.
  3. Back up each point you put across. You can explain your points in a number of ways including:
  • Providing facts or statistics to support it;
  • Quoting expert opinion;
  • Explain why said what you said; and
  • Referring to your own experience.
  1. Stay calm and polite. Use polite words like ‘May I ….?, please …, etc.’
  2. Take notes of important words and ideas.
  3. Speak clearly.
  4. Speak loud enough to be heard by all the group members.

The Common Discussion Mistakes

Having learnt what you should do during the discussion, let us now learn what under no circ*mstances y do. You should never:

  • Dominate the discussion;
  • Interrupt abruptly;
  • Be inaudible;
  • Carry out mini-meetings; or
  • Talk over each other.


You and your group members have been assigned the topic: ‘Responsibilities of a Good Citizen’ by your teacher of History and Government. You are supposed to discuss this before you give the presentation in two days.

  • State three ways in which you would prepare before you start discussing the topic.
  • How would you ensure your group members and yourself benefit from this discussion?
  • From the heading, an oral report is spoken, not written.
  • Being oral, it doesn’t mean writing is not involved. As part of preparation, you have to write notes on the topic or at least an outline of points.
  • When asked to present an oral report you get the opportunity to practice your speaking skills.
  • A spoken report has various elements including an introduction, body and conclusion.

Preparation for Oral Reports

You can prepare by:

  1. Researching on the topic. Get all the facts about what is known and unknown by your audience.
  2. Take notes on the facts about the topic. Choose your words appropriately in the process.
  3. Practice the report before presenting it. You may
  • Practice in front of a mirror.
  • Practice in front of friends or relatives.
  • Videotape your rehearsals.

More practice is required if it has to be memorized.

  1. Plan on how to dress and groom.
  2. Prepare the visual aids if you plan to use the them. Select the appropriate chart, picture, etc. that will make abstract ideas concrete.


  1. Stand up straight. Your upper body should be held straight, but not stiff. Do not fidget.
  2. Make eye contact in order to look surer of yourself and to ensure your audience listens better.
  3. Vary your tone appropriately and speak clearly.
  4. Use gestures to make your points well understood and to keep the audience interested.
  5. Pause at key points to let the point sick.
  6. Speak loud enough for everyone to hear you.
  7. If you have visual aids use them appropriately.


You have seen thieves robbing your neighbor’s house. During this time you have your phone that you have used to capture one of the two robbers. The next day you are called at the police station to report on what occurred.

  • State any three ways you would prepare to deliver this oral report.
  • What three details would you include in your report?
  • How would you deliver the report to ensure the information is understood?


Etiquette is the rules that indicate the proper and polite manner to behave.

  • When one uses courteous language, he/she uses a language that is very polite and polished to show respect.
  • At no time should you allow yourself be rude, ill-mannered, impolite, inconsiderate, or even thoughtless.
  • Being and remaining polite will go a long way in building relationships.
  • To show politeness and respect:
  • Use the word please in request;
  • Say thank you to those who help or compliment you.
  • Start your requests or interrogatives beginning with words such as can, could, may, will, or would.
  • Say excuse me when you interrupt other people or intrude into their time or privacy.
  • Use question tags.
  • In this section, we shall learn the words and phrases that show respect.
  • Please
  • We use it when you want someone to do something for you. For example: Can you pass that cup, please?
  • Also used when you want something from someone. For example: Lend me ten shillings, please.
  • Thank you
  • Use it whenever someone does something for you.
  • Use it when someone commends you.
  • Sorry
  • Say it any time you inconvenience someone.
  • Say it when step on someone’s toes, etc.
  • Also when someone asks you something you cannot do.
  • Excuse me

To introduce a request to someone, or to get past someone, use this phrase. For example

Excuse me, can you show me where Amina lives?

  • Pardon me

Almost as ‘excuse me’

Exercise 1

Jennifer has gone to the shop to buy a bar of soap. The shopkeeper tells her to be polite the next time she comes to buy from him. Showing where, which polite phrases could Jennifer have failed to use?

Exercise 2

Read the dialogue below and then explain how Jacinta expresses politeness.

John: I would like to send this letter to japan by airmail, how much is the charge?

Jacinta: It’s one pound, do you need extra stamps?

John: I do, I have been also expecting a package from New-York. Here is my identity card and receipt.

Jacinta: Would you mind signing this form? Here is the package.

John: Finally, I would like to send this registered letter to London.

Jacinta: Please fill in the complete address in capital letters.


Telephone etiquette are the rules that demonstrate the proper and polite way to use your phone/telephone.

It starts from how you prepare for phone calls to when you end the call.

Preparation for Phone Call

The following should be done before placing a call:

  • Ensure you have enough time. It will not auger well to suddenly end the conversation because of insufficient airtime.
  • Go to a place where there is silence. Too much noise will distract your attention.
  • Think through exactly what you want to say. Write it down if possible so you don’t forget what to say or ask and look as though you didn’t have anything to say.

Tips to Display When Making a Call

Whether at work, at home, or on your mobile phone, remember to display the tips below at all times:

  1. Identify yourself at the beginning of the call.
  2. Speak clearly and slowly especially when leaving the message.
  3. Speak with a low tone of voice. Be sure to know how loud you may be.
  4. Always end with a pleasantry, for example,’ Have a nice day.’
  5. Let the caller hang up first.
  6. Stay away from others while talking on the phone. They don’t need to hear your private conversation.

What to Avoid

  1. Avoid being distracted by other activities while speaking. Some of these activities include:
  • Rustling papers
  • Chewing
  • Driving
  • Speaking with someone
  • Shopping
  • Working on the computer
  1. Avoid allowing interruptions to occur during the conversation.
  2. Do not engage in an argument with the caller.
  3. Talking too loudly.

Not at these Places

The following are places you should not make a call. You should even have your cell phone in a silent mode or switch it off altogether.

  • Bathrooms
  • Hospitals
  • Waiting rooms
  • Meetings
  • Museums
  • Places of worship
  • Lectures
  • Live performances
  • Funerals
  • Weddings

Telephone Conversations

Here we shall focus on majorly business telephone conversations. It should be noted that there are patterns that are followed; but not all will follow this rigid pattern. The six patterns include:

  1. The phone is answered by someone who asks if he/she can help.
  2. The caller makes a request either to be connected to someone or for information.
  3. The caller is connected, given information or told that that person is not present at the moment.
  4. The caller is asked to leave a message if the person who is requested for is not in.
  5. The caller leaves a message or asks other questions.
  6. The phone call finishes.

Exercise 1

Read the telephone conversation below and then answer questions that follow.

Pauline: (a form two student, Wajanja School) ring ring… ring ring …

Secretary: Hello, Wajanja School, this is Ms Esther speaking. How may I be of help to you?

Pauline: Yes, this is Pauline Karanja a form two student calling. May I speak to the principal, please?

Secretary: I am afraid Ms Kaluma is not in the office at the moment. Would you like to leave a message?

Pauline: I would really want, thanks. When she comes back, tell her I wanted to ask for one day permission. My brother is sick and I would like to request her that I report one day after the opening day. It is I who will be left with my siblings as the brother goes to the hospital. That is all.

Secretary: Sorry for that, I wish him quick recovery. I would give her the message as soon.

Pauline: I would be grateful madam. Thanks again.

Pauline: Welcome Pauline. Just ensure you report as stated here.

Secretary: Ok have a nice day madam.

Pauline: You too have a perfect day. Goodbye

  • With examples, outline the patterns of telephone conversation in above.
  • Identify evidences of telephone etiquette tips displayed by Pauline in the conversation above.

Exercise 2

Your sibling is very sick. You are planning to make a doctor a phone call to come to your home to provide medication.

  • State any three preparations you would put in place before making this important call.
  • Give four bad habits you would avoid when making this call.

Exercise 3

Joan has just called the parent to ask them to pay the school fee. Unfortunately, the parent is not happy with the way she has made the call. Identify any four telephone etiquette tips she could have failed to display.

  • Register denotes the choice of language, whether that be formal or informal.
  • It is the choosing of appropriate language for the context.
  • There are factors that determine the language we use.
  • It is important to select the right language for the right situation.
  • The choice of register is affected by:
  • The setting of the speech;
  • The topic of the speech;
  • The relationship that exists between the speakers; and
  • The age.

The Setting

There are words we use depending on the field. There are those we use in the field of medicine, in the field of law etc. they are also those that we use at home when talking to family members. A chemist, for example, will ask for ‘sodium chloride’ while at the laboratory, while at home she will request for ‘salt’. At work place, people tend to use formal language while informal language at home.


  • If, for example, you want to ask for something valuable from a brother you would say: ‘I was wondering if you could lend me….’. This is a formal language even though it is your family member you are talking to.
  • When offering your boss tea or coffee, you will still use formal language for example: ‘Would you mind being served tea or coffee? ’ and to a friend you will say: ‘Tea or coffee?


There are words you use when speaking to different people in different situations. More often than not, an intimate couple will use words like ‘darling’, ‘honey’, etc. These words cannot be used to address your colleague at work place; or even your pastor.


There are ways to speak to a child and those of speaking to adults. To a baby, we use words like ‘popopoo’ while to an adult ‘long call’, etc.

The Words used in Different Fields

Field of Medicine

Some words used in the hospitals, clinics and other health stations include: X-ray, syringe, paracetamol, doctor, nurse, mortuary, patient, etc.

Police Station

Lockup, cell, bond, etc.


Aircraft, flight, air hostess, etc.

Information Technology

Computer, laptop, CPU, Monitor, software, hardcopy, hard disk, etc.


The words used by the teachers, students and others at school are: chalk, ruler, blackboard, senior teacher, deputy principal, dean of studies, etc.


Technical terms used by lawyers and in the courts of law include: adult probation, affidavit, alimony, Amicus Curiae brief, annulment, appeal, appellant, appellee, arrest, plaintiff, defendant, dismissal, oath, revocation hearing, learned friend, etc.


Read the conversation below and then answer question that follow.

Caller:Is this the Credex?

Receptionist:Yes, how may I be of help to you?

Caller:It’s Dorothy calling.

Receptionist:Oh, Dorothy! How is the going?

Caller: Lunch today?

Receptionist: Of course..

Caller: what time then?

Receptionist: After I have seen the deputy principal. There are packets of chalk I am supposed to deliver.

  • Giving the reasons, where is the Credex?
  • What is the relationship between the caller and the receptionist?
  • Explain the formality of the language the receptionist and the caller use.
  • Give illustrations for (c) above.

Being a cyclical process, turn taking starts with one person speaking, and continues as the speaker gives control to the next individual. This is then offered to another person and then back to the original speaker. Orderly conversation has to take place.

A turn is a crucial element within turn taking. Each person takes turn within the conversation – either in person or on phone.

Achieving Smooth Turn Taking

It is achieved with:

  1. Using specific polite phrases, for example, those for,
  • Interrupting
  • Accepting the turn when offered it
  • Keeping your turn
  • Getting other people speaking, etc.
  1. Using gestures to indicate you have completed what you are saying or that you want to say something. You drop your arm when you have completed and raise it when you want to say something.
  2. Varying the intonation to show you have or have not finished speaking.
  3. Use noises like ‘uming’ and ‘ahing’ while thinking so as not to lose your turn.

Turn Taking Cues

There are various ways of signaling a finished turn. They might be indicated when the current speaker:

  1. Asks a question, for example, ‘Did you want to add anything?’
  2. Trails off (his/her voice becomes weaker to the extent you may not hear his words)
  3. Indicates they are done speaking with a closing statement, for example, ‘That’s all I wanted to say.’or ’I think I have made my point.
  4. Uses marker words (those that allow the other a chance to speak), for example, ‘well…’ or ‘so…’
  5. Drops the pitch or volume of their voice at the end of their utterance. This is the use of falling intonation.
  6. Uses gestures to signal that another can contribute.

Violations in Turn-Taking

There are five well known turn-taking violations in a conversation. They are: interruptions, overlaps, grabbing the floor, hogging the floor, and silence. Do you know what they really are? If you don’t, read the explanations for the violations in that order.

  1. Inhibiting the speaker from finishing their sentences during their turn.
  2. Talking at the same time as the current speaker. This is interruptive overlap. However, cooperative overlap is encouraged as it shows you are interested in the message.
  3. Interrupting and then taking over the turn before being offered it.
  4. Taking over the floor and ignoring other people’s attempt to take the floor.
  5. Remaining without saying anything for quite some time.

The List of Turn-Taking Phrase

To interrupt;

  • Before I forget, …
  • I don’t like to interrupt, but ….
  • I wouldn’t usually interrupt, but …
  • I’m afraid I have to stop you there.
  • I will let you finish in a minute/second/moment ….
  • May I interrupt?

To accept the turn when offered it;

  • I won’t take long.
  • What I wanted to say was …

To stop other people from interrupting you during your turn use;

  • I have just one more point to make
  • I have nearly finished
  • Before you have your say …
  • I haven’t quite finished my point yet
  • I know you’re dying to jump in, but….

To offer the turn to another use;

  • …., right?
  • But that’s enough from me.
  • Can you give me your thoughts on …?
  • Does anyone want to say anything before I move on?
  • How about you?

To take the turn back after being interrupted;

  • As I was saying (before I was interrupted)
  • To get back on topic…
  • Carrying on from where we left on…

Note: The list is endless, and you can come up with other appropriate phrases.

  • English is a polite language. For this reason, it is advisable to indirectly contradict a person. It is rude to do it directly.
  • Although conversation is a two way street, interrupting a speaker is usually regarded as rude. However, at times you need to interrupt. When then can one interrupt?
  • You can only interrupt to:
  • Ask a question;
  • Make a correction;
  • Offer an opinion; and
  • Ask for clarification.

In this section, we shall learn how to interrupt and disagree politely.

Steps to Interrupting

It is important to take note of the following steps when interrupting a speaker during a conversation or during a discussion:

  1. Signal to the speaker that you have something to contribute by implementing the body language such as:
  • Making eye contact;
  • Slightly raising your hand;
  • Sitting forward on your seat;
  • Quietly clearing your throat; or
  • Coughing quietly.
  1. Wait patiently until the speaker pauses or incase of a lull in the conversation.
  2. Speak clearly using polite phrases. These phrases will be learnt later.
  3. Wait for the speaker to acknowledge your request to speak before you do so.
  4. After you have spoken, thank the speaker and allow them continue.
  5. Take a deep breath and calm yourself before interrupting when you feel angry or annoyed.
  6. Take care to use low tone of voice.


  1. Unnecessary interruptions.
  2. Finishing speaker’s sentences.
  3. Interrupting to correct the speaker unnecessarily.
  4. Speaking harshly or using disparaging comments.

Phrases used in Interruption

Below is the list of phrases which you can use to politely interrupt someone:

  • May I say something here?
  • I am sorry to interrupt, but …
  • Excuse me, may I add to that…?
  • Do you mind if I jump in here?
  • Before we move on to the next point, may I add …?
  • Sorry, I didn’t catch that, is it possible to repeat the last point?
  • I don’t mean to intrude ….
  • Sorry to butt in, but …
  • Would this be a good time to ….?
  • Excuse the interruption, but …
  • I hate to interrupt, but …
  • I know it is rude to interrupt, but …

How to Disagree Politely

The tips that follow will help you handle disagreements without annoying the other person in a discussion or discussion:

  1. Actively listen to the other person’s point of view. This helps in showing respect and understanding of the other person’s perspective.
  2. Stay calm even if you feel angry.
  3. Acknowledge the other person’s point of view before the buts.
  4. Disagree only with the person’s idea but not he person.
  5. Use polite phrases to respectfully disagree.
  6. Speak in a low tone.
  7. Give some credence to the other person’s point of view before challenging it. For example, say: It’s partly true that I bought this phone at a cheap price, but …

Disagreeing Politely Expressions

  • I agree up to a point, but …
  • I see your point, but …
  • That’s partly true, but …
  • I’m not so sure about that.
  • That’s not entirely true
  • I am sorry to disagree with you, but …
  • I’m afraid I have to disagree
  • I must take issue with you on that
  • It’s unjustifiable to say that..
  • This is the process of discussion between two or more disputants, aimed at finding the solution to a common problem.
  • It is a method by which people settle their differences.
  • It is also the process by which a compromise or agreement is reached while avoiding argument.
  • There could be a difference between people with different aims or intentions, especially in business or politics. When this happens, they have to reach an agreement.
  • Negotiation skills will be helpful when:
  • Haggling over the price of something;
  • Negotiating with your employer e.g. for higher salary;
  • Negotiating for peace/ solving conflict;
  • Negotiating for better services; etc.

Stages of Negotiation

  1. Preparation comes first. During this time, ensure all the pertinent facts of the situation is known in order to clarify your own position. It will help in avoiding wasting time unnecessarily.
  2. Discussion then follows. This is the time to ask questions, listen and make things easier to understand. At times, it is helpful to take notes to record all points put forward.
  3. Negotiate towards a win-win outcome. Each party has to be satisfied at the end of the process.
  4. Agreement comes after understanding both sides’ viewpoints and considering them.
  5. Implement the course of action. If for example, paying the amount, it has to be paid.

Points Every Negotiator Should Consider

  1. Ask questions, confirm and summarise. These three activities ensure that there is no confusion on what each party wants.
  2. Acknowledge each other’s point of view. Show that you have listened to and understood their perspective. Show appreciation of the other person’s point of view.
  3. Listen attentively to the other person.
  4. Respond to negative comments and complaints. Avoid confrontational language.
  5. Behave in a confident way, but don’t be rude. Make polite but firm requests.
  6. Give options/alternatives. You can both win if you recognise that you share a common ground.


You are planning to buy a new model car.

  • Write down three relevant facts you would want to know before going to buy the car.
  • State any three hints for the negotiators you would consider when haggling over the price of that car.

Listening is different from hearing. When you listen, you understand both the verbal and non-verbal information.

Why should you listen? You listen:

  • To obtain information
  • To understand the message
  • For enjoyment
  • To learn

In this section, we shall learn the techniques of active listening.

Techniques of Paying Attention

In order to benefit from a talk as the listener, you should take note of the following key tips:

  1. Keep an open mind. Listen without judging the speaker or mentally criticizing their message they pass. You just have to hold your criticism and withhold judgment.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the topic under discussion. Audience tend to listen more if they have idea of the topic being discussed. How then can one familiarize himself/ herself with the subject? They can do this by:
  • Reading from the books.
  • Reading from the internet.
  • Asking for ideas from those who know.
  1. Use the speaker responses to encourage the speaker to continue speaking. You will also get the information you need if you do so. Some of the speaker responses we use include:
  • Slightly nodding the head, but occasionally.
  • Smile occasionally.
  • Using small verbal comments like yes, uh huh, mmmh, I see, etc.
  • Reflecting back e.g. you said …
  1. Take notes on the important points. This can in itself be a distractor. You should therefore know when to and when not to take notes.
  2. Listen for the main ideas. These are the most important points the speaker wants to get across and are repeated several times.
  3. Wait for the speaker to pause before asking a clarifying question. Just hold back.
  4. Avoid distractions. Don’t let your mind wander or be distracted by other people’s activities. If the room is too cold or too hot get the solution to that situation if possible.
  5. Sit properly. Sit upright
  6. Make eye contact with the speaker. When you do this you will be able to understand the non-verbal messages too.

Signs of Inactive Audience

You can easily tell whether your audience listens or not. The inattentive listeners tend to possess the following characteristics:

  • Fidgeting
  • Doodling
  • Playing with their hair
  • Looking at a clock or watch
  • Picking their fingernails
  • Passing small pieces of paper to one another
  • Shifting from seat to seat
  • Yawning

Barriers to Effective Listening

There are many things that get in the way of listening and you should avoid these bad habits so as to become a more effective listener. These factors that inhibit active listening include;

  1. Lack of interest in the topic being discussed.
  2. Unfamiliarity with the topic under discussion.
  3. One might fear being asked a question and in the process fail to look at the speaker.
  4. In case of noise the listeners might not get what the speaker is saying.

Exercise 1

Mwangi Mwaniki, the author of one of the set text you study, is coming to your school to give a talk on the themes in his novel.

  • How would you prepare for this big day?
  • State what you would do to ensure you benefit from the talk during the presentation.



A personal space is an imaginary area between a person and their surrounding area. This space makes the person feel comfortable and should therefore not be encroached.

The distance can exist at work, at home and in our social circles.

The personal space varies depending on factors such as:

  • Gender
  • Trust
  • Relationship
  • Familiarity with the person.

Why Respect People’s personal Space?

  1. To make them feel comfortable.
  2. To maintain good relationships.
  3. To enhance listening. Especially during a talk.

General Personal Space Rules

The personal space guidelines below will help enhance listening and speaking:

  1. Respectfully keep your distance if you walk into a room and see two people in private conversation.
  2. Pay attention to your volume when you speak, whether on the phone or in person, to ensure you don’t distract attention of others.
  3. Maintain physical space at table and chair rows so the people around you have enough room to write, raise their hands, etc.
  4. Be mindful of amount of perfume or cologne you wear as if it is in excess it might distract others.
  5. Never lean on the other person’s shoulder unless invited to.
  6. Don’t eavesdrop on another person’s phone conversation. In case you overhear details of the conversation, keep it confidential.

Dealing with Space Intrusion

Depending on the nature of the intrusion, you would deal with space encroachment in different ways. Here are the steps of dealing with a person who leans on your shoulder:

  1. Lean away or take a step back away from the person hoping they would take a hint.
  2. Come right out and say you feel discomfort being too close.
  3. Explain why you need more space. You can for example tell them you need more space to write.


You have attended a one day seminar. The person sitting next to you is said to be intruding your personal space. What four personal space guidelines could this person have failed to follow?

  • The face you wear is a great component of emotion and feeling.
  • The various facial expressions represent various feelings. A smile for example, represents joy, while a scowl, anger.
  • When speaking or listening, flex your facial muscles as appropriate. You can’t smile when the speaker is talking about incidence of tragedy. Doleful face will do.
  • Remember your face is like a switch and will keep changing depending on the feelings and emotions.

Some words for Describing Facial Expressions

Emotion/ FeelingFacial Expression
Approval/ agreementAppealing
Happy and peacefulBeatific
Angry or unhappyBlack, grave
SurprisedWide-eyed, quizzical
Extremely happyRadiant
  • A speaker will always move part of their body especially a hand, arm or the head when speaking.
  • This is done to express the idea or meaning.
  • As a speaker you can use illustrators of what you are saying using your hands. They will add mental image to what is being conveyed. For example,
  • Headshake to mean ‘no’.
  • Use hands to form the shape of heart to express love.
  • Use the hands to form the bow shape to show the big belly. Etc.
  • Did you know you can use your eyes to listen? We use the eyes to listen to another person’s body language – gesture included.
  • An eye is a powerful tool of effective communication.
  • Let us learn some situations that demand different uses of the eyes. For example:
  • When arguing, hold your gaze.
  • When deferring, lower your eyes.
  • When loving someone, stare in the pool of their eyes.
  • Making eye contact is very vital as you can get the feedback from your listeners, on your message. When you notice they are bored you know you have to make adjustments and when they show enthusiasm then this will help in pumping you up.
  • Too much eye contact by the listener indicate they have interest in either you or the information you are putting across.
  • Speakers tend to look up:
  • At the end of their utterances.
  • To indicate to the others to have their turn.
  • Speakers tend to look away when:
  • Talking non-fluently.
  • Thinking
  • Not sure of the topic.
  • A curtsy is a polite gesture of respect or reverence made chiefly by women and girls.
  • It is the female equivalent of males’ bowing.

When to Bow or Make Curtsy

  • To end a performance.
  • To show respect.

How to Curtsy

  • Lower your head.
  • Hold your skirt at the edges with both hands.
  • Place your right foot behind the left.
  • Bend your knees outward

How you look when speaking in front of an audience or when going for an interview is very crucial. It both boosts your confidence level and build respect.

Your appearance involves the clothes you wear as well as how you groom.

Grooming on the hand involves what you do to your body other than the clothing. Your personal hygiene is the simplest term that can replace the term grooming.


The kind of clothe you wear will depend on such factors as:

  • Your occupation;
  • Weather;
  • Location; and
  • Your preference.

Guidelines for Clothing

  1. Your cloth should fit comfortably.
  2. The cloth should also be neat and clean.
  3. Wear the right cloth for appropriate occasion.


Read the grooming checklist below.

  1. Your hair should be lean, trimmed and neatly arranged.
  2. If you are a man, ensure your facial hair is freshly shaved.
  3. Fingernails should be neat, clean and trimmed.
  4. Teeth should brushed and with fresh breath.
  5. Body should be freshly showered.
  6. If a woman, use make up sparingly and be natural looking.
  7. Use perfumes/aftershave/colognes sparingly or even use non at all.


Ayub has been invited to an interview. State four grooming mistakes he should be careful to avoid.



Giving clear instructions is one of those things that seems easy to do but actually are more complex.

The tips that follow will help you in giving clear instructions:

  1. Get the attention of the other person. Be sure you have the attention of the person, or people, you are giving instruction. This is one way in which you will tell whether they are listening. Do you know ways to get the attention of a child or even a group of people in some noisy place? Here are some suggestions;
  • Ring the bell
  • Bang the table/door
  • Switch off the lights
  • Clear your throat
  • Blow the whistle, and many others.
  1. Use simple language that can be understood. Avoid using too much vocabulary.
  2. Break instructions down and deliver them in steps. Give one instruction at any given time to avoid any confusion.
  3. Repeat instructions to them.
  4. Be loud enough.
  5. Give instruction beginning with a verb i.e. use the imperative forms. For example: Take three cups…
  6. Ask them repeat instructions to you in their own words.
  7. Make eye contact.


You are a mother. On a certain day, very early in the morning, you want to go to pay your friend a visit. Before you leave, you have decided to leave your 6-year old son instructions on how to prepare his lunch.

  • Make a list of methods you would use to get his attention before giving instructions.
  • Other than getting his attention, how else would you ensure you leave him clear and understandable instructions?


Once in a while people will ask you to lead them to their destination. If it is not possible to do this then the best thing to do will be to give them directions to those places. The most important thing to do is to be brief and clear.

Let us learn the steps to giving the clear directions.

Steps to Giving Clear Directions

  1. Give the direction with few turns. Remember shortcuts may be faster, but at times are complicated especially in the case of many turns.
  2. Indicate the turns—whether left or right. Tell them to turn a left or a right. For those who know cardinal points, you can use north, south, west, or east.
  3. Mention the landmarks, for example, a large clock, a school, a river, e.t.c. Tell them: `you will see a blue church…
  4. Specify distance. Offer the Ballpark Figures (rough estimates of the time and length of travel). The three ways of specifying the distance are:
  • Telling them how many streets or buildings to pass;
  • Giving them distance in kilometres, metres , or miles;and
  • Telling them how much time in minutes or hours it will take them to reach their destination.
  1. Warn them about any confusing parts of the route. For example, let them know of a narrow road that people normally miss.
  2. Say which side of the street or road their destination is on. There could be two houses that look alike on either sides of road. Tell them: My house is on the right.
  3. Repeat directions to them and allow them repeat back directions to you.
  4. Draw a simplified map if paper and pencil or pen are available.
  5. Give them a drop-dead point. This is the place when if you reach you know you are lost and have to make a U-turn. For example, tell them: if you see a big black billboard you have gone too far.


Your church is in the same estate you live. Your mother goes to a different church. On this particular Sunday she has decided to join you later in your church. For that reason, she asks you to give her the direction to the church.

  • Mention three ways you would specify her the distance from your home to the church.
  • Apart from specifying the distance, how else would you ensure she reaches the church when giving her the direction?




  • Hill
  • Sit
  • Still
  • Blip
  • Fill
  • Blink
  • Thrill


  • Jeep
  • Creek
  • Greased
  • Teal
  • cheat


  • jet
  • bed
  • wet


Exercise 1

Sound /s/: seven, students, first, test, licences

Sound /z/ : driver’s, licences, Thursday

Exercise 2

  • Garage
  • Gift
  • Go
  • Digit
  • Entangle
  • Gecko

Exercise 3

Sound /ᶴ/ :tissue, passion, ocean, cautious, solution, pressure, Persian, chef, sure, precious

Sound /ᶾ/ :Caucasian, division, leisure, vision, casual, conclusion, television, decision, collision, exposure

Exercise 4

Sound /f/ : forgive, for, forgetting, leftover, food

Sound /v/ :forgive, leftover


  • Gate
  • Made
  • Male
  • Pail
  • Pane
  • Plane
  • Sail
  • Tail
  • Vane/vein
  • Waste
  • Weight
  • Ate
  • Sow
  • Know
  • Tow
  • Groan


Exercise 1

  • Heat
  • sh*t
  • Teen
  • Pitch
  • Leap
  • Knit
  • Keep
  • Ill
  • Grid
  • Peel
  • Skid
  • Scheme

Exercise 2

  • Hid
  • Mess
  • Hem
  • Led
  • Fin
  • Led
  • Din
  • Pig

Exercise 3

  • Fail
  • Pen
  • Hell
  • Sail/sale
  • Whale
  • Met
  • Read/red
  • Debt
  • Main
  • Stead

Exercise 4

  • Bat
  • Much
  • Mud
  • Flash
  • Come
  • Dam
  • Sung
  • Ankle
  • Crush
  • Suck
  • Damp
  • Tag

Exercise 5

  • Merry
  • Bland
  • Kettle
  • Vet
  • Sex
  • Track
  • Tread
  • Mat

Exercise 6

  • Fir/fur
  • Hard
  • Purse
  • Firm
  • Shirk
  • Cart

Exercise 7

  • Ban
  • Vote
  • Best
  • Bowels
  • Bent
  • Very
  • Lobes
  • Verb

Exercise 8

  • Very
  • Leave
  • Fast
  • Vine
  • Halve
  • Prove
  • Fail
  • Grieve
  • Carve
  • Vault
  • File
  • Strife

Exercise 9

  • Bad
  • Got
  • Ride
  • Ant
  • add
  • Bet
  • Bought
  • Aid
  • Bed
  • feed
  • Hid
  • Heard
  • Mad
  • Meant
  • need
  • Not
  • Said
  • Plate
  • Sad
  • Debt

Exercise 10

  • Tag
  • Flock
  • Tuck
  • Come
  • Cash
  • Jag
  • Gave
  • Sack
  • League
  • Grab
  • Glass
  • Could
  • Coat
  • Block
  • Gill
  • Duck
  • Cut
  • Lock
  • Rag
  • got


  • bee, be
  • see, sea
  • aye, eye
  • pee, pea
  • tea, tee
  • ewe, you


  1. b
  2. s
  • c
  1. t
  2. c
  3. b
  • s
  • h
  1. d
  2. d
  3. n
  • t
  • t
  • h
  1. t
  • t
  • t
  • b
  • t
  1. e
  • p
  • x
  • m
  • b
  • z
  • ue
  • e
  • th
  • th
  • s


Exercise 1

  • Bamburi cement was used to cement the bridge.
  • After leaving us his address, he will address those students over there.
  • He had to permit us to do business since we had a business permit.
  • The content of the letter will content the man.
  • Sert, de
  • es, cort
  • re, sume
  • test, con
  • vict, con

Exercise 2

  • I – no one else loves your sister’s handwriting.
  • Love – I don’t hate your sister’s handwriting
  • Your – Not any other person’s sister
  • Sister’s – not your brother’s or your uncle’s
  • Handwriting – It I only your sister’s handwriting I love, not her walking style or her cooking.
  • You – all the others came early
  • Came – you did not leave late
  • Late – Not early
  • Yesterday – the rest of the days you came early


  • Falling
  • Falling
  • Falling
  • Falling
  • Rising
  • Rising
  • Rising
  • Falling
  • Falling
  • Rising
  • Falling
  • Falling
  • Rising
  • Falling
  • Rising
  • Falling
  • Falling
  • Falling


I could have:

  • Spoken confidently
  • Varied my tone appropriately
  • Spoken loud enough to be heard by everyone
  • Made my contact with my audience
  • Provided proofs for my points in persuasive way.
  • Spoken slowly and enunciated words correctly
  • Used gestures that reinforced my ideas
  • Paused at key points


Exercise 1

  • Questions
  • How would you handle cases of indiscipline among the students?
  • Will you appoint prefects in charge of discipline?
  • What punishment will you mete out on those who are indiscipline? Etc.
  • I would;
  • Inform him about the interview.
  • Arrive early for the interview.
  • Prepare the place to interview him..
  • I would;
  • Allow him enough time to respond to the questions.
  • Encourage him to speak by slightly nodding my head.
  • Make eye contact with him.

Exercise 2

  • Ms Naomi is a good interviewer because;
  • She warmly welcomes Mr. Josh, hence making him feel free to speak.
  • She also offers to take Mr. Josh along with her for lunch.
  • Josh:
  • Explains her answers well.
  • Is honest. When asked whether he has written in any scientific journal he says not yet.


Exercise 1

  • I would;
  • Do some research on the topic.
  • Practice adequately.
  • Write down my points.
  • Dress and groom well.
  • I would;
  • Effectively use gestures to reinforce my ideas.
  • Make eye contact with my audience.
  • Wear appropriate facial expressions.
  • Speak loud enough to be heard by all.
  • Pronounce my words correctly.
  • Pause at key points to let the information sink.
  • Speak slowly to allow my points be processed.

Exercise 2

  • Makufuli could have:
  • Had shaking hands
  • Sweating palms
  • Dry mouth
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Squeaky voice
  • Knocking knees, etc
  • Makufuli probably:
  • Could have dressed uncomfortably.
  • Could have failed to research on the topic.
  • Could have failed the first time and could have feared to fail again.
  • Could not have rehearsed his speech.


  • Choose group leaders.
  • Do research on the topic to get facts.
  • Write the points.
  • Arrive early for the discussion.
  • Gather writing materials to use.
  • Ensure each point given is backed up.
  • Ensure members speak with moderation.
  • Speak clearly.
  • Take notes on what is discussed.
  • Ensure members listen to each other.


  • Prepare the photo to show the police.
  • Ask the neighbours questions to get more facts.
  • Practice how to report.
  • I would:
  • Vary my tone appropriately.
  • Make eye contact with the officer.
  • Use gestures effectively.
  • Pause at key points.
  • Speak loud enough enough.
  • Speak slowly.


Exercise 1

  • Failed to use ‘thank you’ after being given the bar of soap.
  • Failed to use ‘please’ when asking to be given the bar of soap.
  • Failed to use ‘excuse me’ to get the shopkeeper’s attention.

Exercise 2

  • She has used ‘please’ when asking John to fill the address.
  • She has used ‘would’ in asking questions.


Exercise 1

  • The patterns include;
  • Answering of the phone – Hello, …
  • Request — May I speak to the principal, please?
  • The caller is told the principal is not in the office at the moment.
  • Pauline is asked to leave a message.
  • Pauline leaves the message for the principal.
  • The call finishes with pleasantry – have a nice day.
  • Evidences:
  • She introduces herself to the secretary.
  • She ends the call with pleasantry.
  • She speaks politely to the secretary.

Exercise 2

  • I would:
  • Ensure I have adequate airtime.
  • Go to a quiet place.
  • Jot down what to tell the doctor.
  • Ensure the place to make the call has network.
  • I would avoid:
  • Talking too loudly
  • Engaging in an argument with the doctor.
  • Interrupting the doctor.
  • Being distracted by other activities.

Exercise 3

Joan could have failed to:

  • Identify herself at the beginning of the call.
  • Speak clearly and slowly.
  • Speak with a low tone of voice.
  • End the call with a pleasantry.


  • Credex is a school. There is the use of words such as ‘pieces of chalk’, and the ‘deputy principal’.
  • The two are friends .
  • At first it is formal. But when the receptionist realizes it is Dorothy calling it becomes informal.


Is this the credex?


How is the going?

Lunch today?


  • Know the prices elsewhere
  • Whether I can get discount
  • Whether the purchase of the car comes with any offer
  • Whether the car is in high demand
  • Whether the car is readily available. Etc.
  • I would:
  • Make polite but firm requests.
  • Ask questions and summarise to avoid confusions.
  • Respond to negative comments from the seller.
  • Give alternatives.
  • Show appreciation of the seller’s viewpoint.
  • Listen attentively to the seller.
  • Ensure we arrive at a clear agreement acceptable to both of us.


  • I would:
  • Read the set book to remind myself of the themes.
  • Ensure I sit where I would be comfortable.
  • Prepare questions to ask him.
  • I would:
  • Take down the main points.
  • Make eye contact with the author.
  • Hold back until the speaker pauses before I interrupt.
  • Encourage the speaker to continue speaking by using some responses.
  • Avoid interruptions.


He could have failed to:

  • Speak in a low voice during the talk.
  • Maintain the physical distance between the two of us at the table.
  • Resist leaning on my shoulder or chest.
  • Resist eavesdropping on my phone conversation.


I would avoid:

  • Dirty unarranged hair
  • Dirty fingernails
  • Foul breath teeth
  • Unbathed body
  • Excess make up
  • Excess perfumes or colognes


  • Switch off the lights in his room
  • Call his name
  • Bang the table beside him
  • Clap my hands
  • Use simple language
  • Give one instruction at a time
  • Be loud enough
  • Repeat the instruction.
  • Ask him if he has any question
  • Ask him repeat instructions back to me.
  • Make eye contact.


  • Giving the distance in metres.
  • Telling her time in minutes.
  • Telling her the number of streets to pass.
  • I would give her the route with minimal turns.
  • I would indicate the turns.
  • Mention the landmarks.
  • Warn her about any confusing part of the route.
  • Have her repeat directions back to me.
  • Draw a simplified map.
ENGLISH FORM ONE NOTES FREE - Educationnewshub.co.ke (2024)


What are the parts of speech in English form one? ›

The parts of speech are commonly divided into open classes (nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs) and closed classes (pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, articles/determiners, and interjections). Open classes can be altered and added to as language develops, and closed classes are pretty much set in stone.

What is the definition of an adjective and an example? ›

An adjective is a word that modifies or describes a noun or pronoun. Adjectives can be used to describe the qualities of someone or something independently or in comparison to something else. Examples: Adjectives in a sentence I like old houses. The boy is tall and skinny.

Which term is an adjective? ›

Grammarly. Updated on April 6, 2023 · Grammar. Adjectives are words that describe the qualities or states of being of nouns: enormous, doglike, silly, yellow, fun, fast. They can also describe the quantity of nouns: many, few, millions, eleven.

What are 5 examples of a verb? ›

Some examples of verbs referring to actions are as follows:
  • Walk.
  • Run.
  • Talk.
  • Sit.
  • Read.
  • Write.
  • Jog.
  • Cough.

What are 8 parts of speech? ›

The Eight Parts of Speech
  • NOUN.
  • VERB.

What are 10 examples of adjectives? ›

The 22 Most Common English Adjectives
  • Good. This coffee is good. I am good.
  • Big. This shirt is very big.
  • Small. He wants a small sandwich.
  • Hot. The tea is hot. ...
  • Cold. The food is cold. ...
  • Expensive. The supermarket is expensive.
  • Difficult. This game is difficult, I don't understand the rules.
  • Easy. These exercises are very easy.
Oct 10, 2022

What is preposition in English? ›

A preposition is a word or group of words used before a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase to show direction, time, place, location, spatial relationships, or to introduce an object. Some examples of prepositions are words like "in," "at," "on," "of," and "to." Prepositions in English are highly idiomatic.

What is the definition of interjection and examples? ›

An interjection is a word or phrase that is grammatically independent from the words around it, and mainly expresses feeling rather than meaning. Oh, what a beautiful house! Uh-oh, this looks bad. Well, it's time to say good night. Actually, um, it's not my dog.

What is a word before a noun called? ›

Preposition. This comes before a noun or a noun phrase and links it to other parts of the sentence. These are usually single words (e.g., on, at, by,…) but can be up to four words (e.g., as far as, in addition to, as a result of, …).

What is an adverb in grammar? ›

Revised on February 7, 2023. An adverb is a word that can modify or describe a verb, adjective, another adverb, or entire sentence. Adverbs can be used to show manner (how something happens), degree (to what extent), place (where), and time (when).

What kind of word is fun? ›

Fun commonly functions as an adjective ("I had a fun time") and as a noun ("Let's have some fun"), and somewhat less commonly as a verb ("I'm just funning you").

How do you write a speech Form 1? ›

Structuring the Speech
  1. Introduction: Introduce the topic and your views on the topic briefly.
  2. Body: Give a detailed explanation of your topic. Your focus should be to inform and educate your audience on the said topic.
  3. Conclusion: Voice out your thoughts/suggestions. Your intention here should be to make them think/act.

What are the parts of the speech in Unit 1? ›

There are eight parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. Keep in mind that some words can function in a number of ways. As a result, you need to know the definition of each part of speech. NOUNS: A noun is a word used to name a person, place, thing, or idea.

What is the part of speech for the word "one"? ›

one (noun) one (pronoun) one (adjective) one–armed bandit (noun)

What is part of speech for Primary 1? ›

The eight parts of speech are: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.

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