A (Very!) Simplified Grammar for English

Here are a couple of very simplified grammars for the English language. In these grammars, the "::=" means "may have the form of" and different alternatives are separated by vertical bars "|". Square brackets mean the surrounded forms are optional and curly braces mean that one or more forms may appear in sequence. The names of forms are in a red serif font, literal text is in a blue typewriter font and comments are in italics.

Super-simple grammar


statement  ::=   nounphrase  verb  nounphrase

nounphrase ::=   article  { adjective }  noun

article    ::=   a  |  an  |  the

adjective  ::=   big  |  small  |  red  |  green  |  blue  |  angry  |  happy

noun       ::=   boy  |  girl  |  dog  |  cat  |  bird  |  ball  |  box  |  floor  |  wall

tverb       ::=   likes  |  hates  |  drops  |  lifts  |  tickles

Slightly more complex grammar


sentence   ::=   statement  |  question  |  exclamation

statement  ::=   nounphrase  iverbphrase  { prepphrase }
                    |   nounphrase  tverbphrase  nounphrase

nounphrase ::=   article  { adjective }  noun  { prepphrase }
                       |   article  { adjective }  noun 's  nounphrase

article    ::=   a  |  an  |  the

adjective  ::=   big  |  small  |  red  |  green  |  blue  |  angry  |  happy

noun       ::=   boy  |  girl  |  dog  |  cat  |  bird  |  ball  |  box  |  floor  |  wall

prepphrase  ::=   preposition nounphrase

preposition  ::=  on  |  over  |  behind  |  by  |  of  |  to

iverbphrase  ::=  iverb  [ [ modifier ]  adverb ] { and [ modifier ] adverb }

modifier     ::=  very  |  rather

iverb       ::=   runs  |  jumps  |  falls  |  bounces

adverb      ::=   quickly  |  slowly  |  determinedly  |  happily

tverbphrase  ::=  [ [ modifier ]  adverb ] { and [ modifier ] adverb }  tverb

tverb       ::=   likes  |  hates  |  drops  |  lifts  |  tickles