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Lesson 1: Adjectival Order

Adjectival Order
Order of adjective is the systematic arrangement of varying classes of adjectives that modify a noun. It is possible for a noun to be modified by more than one adjective. This is called cumulative adjectives. For example:

The six round black tables
Only beautiful old African ladies
First four big northern cows
How then do we arrange such adjectives? There are a few suggestions in circulation in various media. Some differ in what should come first and next. It is observed that some suggest that age should come before shape.

Here the order is based the structure given by seasoned authorities like Randolph Quirk and Sidney Greenbaum in A University Grammar of English and Dele Ashade in A-Z of JAMB’s Use of English.

When ordering your adjectives, the determiners come first, followed by number (ordinal before cardinal). Then, opinion adjective which has the following objective epithets coming in the order of size, shape, age, colour, material and origin.

1. Determiners:
Articles: a/an and the
Pronoun: my, that, your

2. Number:
Ordinal: first, second, third
Cardinal: one, two, three

3. Opinion adjective:
beautiful, gentle, unruly

4. Size:
big, small, large

5. Shape:
round, oval, rectangular

6. Age:
ancient, new, current

7. Colour:
scarlet, black, green

8. Material:
wooden, plastic, metal

9. Origin:
Italian, Nigerian, African

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Lesson 2: Grammatical Concord

Agreement is the relationship between a subject and its verb, or between a number or determiner and its noun; e.g. I look/she looks… one bell/three bells. It is also called concord. Agreement can also be seen as the relationship between words in gender, number, case, person, or any other grammatical category which affects the forms of the words.

Concord, as it is also often referred to, mainly focuses on subject-verb agreement. This is subdivided into three categories:

  • Grammatical concord
    Concord of proximity
    Notional concord

Some Rules for Grammatical Concord
The grand rule of subject-verb concord is that a singular subject takes a singular verb and a plural subject takes a plural verb. And it is needful to establish this fact that singular verbs are inflected with suffix ‘-s’ while plural verbs maintain the base form. In other words, a singular verb ends with an ‘s’ and a plural verb has no ‘s’.

Let’s check some of the guiding rules under grammatical concord:

Rule 1: Singular subjects take singular verbs.
The student advocates for free lunch after the extra mural lesson.
A serious situation calls for a serious approach.
The period between pregnancy and childbirth is sometimes critical.
Anxiety solves no problem.

Rule 2: Plural subjects take plural verbs.
The children wake up late every day.
Serious issues call for serious approaches.
The young boys on the pitch play
What you see and how you react determine the outcome.
My father and his friend believe in corporal punishment.
Note: The focus is on the subject of the verb, not what comes in between the subject and the verb.

Rule 3: When a subject is joined to another noun by subordinator, disregard the subjoined noun or noun phrase. Focus on the first noun.
The chairman alongside other members visits the orphanage quarterly.
The teachers with the principal encourage the students to perform well.
The senior prefect, as well as, other students never likes the physics teacher.
From the examples above, we have two nouns in each subject slot as highlighted below:

The chairman alongside other members …
The teachers with the principal …
The senior prefect, as well as, other students…
The subjoined nouns are members, principal and students. Going by the rules, the focus of the expression is on chairman, teachers and senior prefect. Hence, they determine the nature of the verbs. Moreover, the sentence can be restructured thus for further clarity:

*Alongside other members, the chairman visits the orphanage quarterly.
*With the principal, the teachers encourage the students to perform well.
So, the main subject determines the status of the verb.

Other examples:

The man with his children attends to customers.
The soldiers as well as the vigilante team watch over the small community.

Rule 4: When more than one is used as a subject of a verb in simple present tense, the verb should be singular because the headword is one.
More than one man was asked to embark on the journey.
More than one mango was shared among the children.

Rule 5: When two nouns refer to one person at the subject position, the verb should be singular, of course, because it is one person.
See these:

My husband and boss never goes late for meetings.
Here the speaker’s husband is also her boss. So, one pre-modifier us used for both nouns as it is one person. Compare, “My husband and my boss never go late to meeting”. Here, the speaker is referring to two different people.
The president and Commander-in-chief of the armed forces lives his life fighting corruption.

The class captain and best student of our set is just too proud.

Note: Always check for the pre-modifier when you have two nouns in the subject slot. When the nouns refer to one person, we use one pre-modifier.

Rule 6: When an indefinite pronoun pre-modifies a subject or acts as the main subject, the verb should be singular.
Everyone loves to be respected.
Every boy and girl loves his or her mother.
Nobody cares for everybody’s job.

Rule 7: Some nouns end with ‘s’ but they are singular. You need to be careful because they are meant to go with singular verbs.
Measles is caused by uncleanliness.
Mathematics has been the problem of most students.
Statistics was the only course accredited in that institution.

Rule 8: When a relative/adjectival clause qualifies a noun, the verb in the relative/adjectival clause works with the noun it qualifies.
For instance, ‘One of the girls that sit in the front row has been suspended’. ‘sit’ in the relative clause agrees with ‘girls’ as the relative clause, ‘that sit in the front row’ qualifies the noun, ‘girls’. Then, the main verb in the sentence ‘has’ agrees with ‘one’.

Semantically, it means many girls sit in the front row only one has been suspended.

Other examples:

Algebra is one of the topics that confuse
Dr Osoba is one of the lecturers who teach well in LASU.

Rule 8: when a generic reference is used with the definite article ‘the’ as a subject of the verb, the verb should be plural.
Generic reference is used when you make a reference to all the members of a class of people or things.


The rich also cry.
The less privileged look after one another.
The young dream
The wise don’t talk too much.

Rule 9: When a result of a survey is issued or reported, caution should be exercised to avoid error of overgeneralization.
For instance, ‘One in ten prefer coffee to tea’; Not, ‘One in ten prefers coffee to tea’. In the real sense, more than one person prefers coffee. So, if we have thirty-two people in a group and we say one in ten, it then means at least two. Such expressions attract the plural.

Other examples: One in every five boys go to the local cinema.

Rule 10. When an uncountable noun is introduced with a quantifier or percentage, it attracts a singular verb. In the same vein, when a countable noun is introduced in percentage, it goes with a plural verb.
A quarter of the land is occupied by the aborigines.
Two cups of flour is enough for the cake.
Only ten percent of people in the world actually believe in self-actualization.
A two-third of the ECOMOG forces were involved.

Rule 11. When a modal auxiliary verb precedes a main verb, the verb maintains the base form.
The boy might come
He came in so that we could discuss the issue.
The matter should go to court.

Rule 12: Mandative Subjunctive: Mandative Subjunctive is used to express a demand, requirement, request, recommendation or suggestion. When it is used with either a the singular or the plural subject, the verb takes the base form:
I recommend he attend the seminar alone.
I pray she come early tomorrow.
The board suggests the chairman resign immediately.

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Concord of proximity

The rule here says when a subject of a sentence is initiated by ‘either…or, ‘neither…nor, ‘not only…but’ only the noun after the correlative conjunction, that is, the one closer to the main verb is considered to determine the status of the verb.

For instance
Neither the vice principal nor the teachers honour the principal.
Neither the teachers nor the vice principal honours the principal.
Either the main man or I am supposed to anchor the event.
Not only the king but his subjects swear to the gods of the land.
Not only the people of the land but also the priest defies the tradition

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Notional concord

Here under notional concord we consider the relationship between collective nouns and their verbs. A collective noun is a noun used to refer a group of people or thing e.g. committee, team etc.

With collective nouns, the context determines whether the verb is singular or plural. If the noun is taken as a unit. Then the singular verb will be used but if the members in the group are seen as separate. Then, the plural will be used.

1.The committee meets once in a year.
2.The committee contribute to issues as they are empowered.
3.The jury vote according to their consciences.
4.The jury was dissolved after the case.

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Intensifiers are words that modify the degree of an adjective. Let’s look at these two:

So and Too

Use of so

The word so is one very small word but it has plethora uses. It is mainly an adverb and it belongs to the family of the intensifier. Let’s look at some of its uses:

So is used to show the degree of an adjective/adverb. When this happens, it must be accompanied by a that clause to show the extent of the adjective/adverb
He spoke so quickly that I couldn’t hear him.
The king was so frustrated that he cursed his subjects.

So is used to refer to what has already been mentioned
Will he visit the family? I hope so
I hope you are fine. If so, glory be to God

So can be used as a clipped form of also:
He goes to the cinema always. So do I.
They hardly respect adults in your village. So in mine.
Note: you don’t use so with negative verbs. Use neither or either.

Don’t say: She will not come. So I won’t.

Say: She will not come. Neither will I.

So is also used to show the result and reason for something
We waited for you endlessly so we had to get going.
No customer came again so we closed the shop.

  • So cannot be used with adjective+noun. Rather, use such.
She is so a peaceful fellow.
She is such a peaceful fellow.

Use of too
Too is one intensifier that suffers wrong usage. Speakers of English need to know or be reminded that it connotes negativity. It is used to show undesirable extreme, more than necessary/demanded/wanted.

If you are described as too beautiful, you may need to go back to the mirror and make some adjustment.

Other examples are:

Tochukwu can be too gentle.
The pap seems too sweet for an infant.
The teacher is always too serious with assignment.
The jester was warned that his joke was too funny.
You can show the affected situation:

They were too tired to have a bath.
It’s just too cold to go outside bare.
Too can also be used to mean as well/also.

After doing the dishes, mop the floor too.
Close all doors and the windows too.
Never trust those boys and their friends too.

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