Ogden's rules of grammar for Basic English extend the 850 word vocabulary to the breadth needed to describe objects and events in the environment and more smoothly communicate with people.

  1. Plurals are formed with a trailing "S". The normal exceptions of standard English also apply, notably "ES" and "IES".
  2. There are four derivatives for the 300 nouns: -"ER" and -"ING", and two adjectives, -"ING" and -"ED".
  3. Adverbs use -"LY" from qualifiers.
  4. Degree is expressed with "MORE" and "MOST". Be prepared to find -"ER" and -"EST" in common usage.
  5. Negative adjectives are formed with "UN"-
  6. Questions are formed by inversion and by "DO".
  7. Operators and pronouns conjugate in full.
  8. Compound words may be combined from two nouns (milkman) or a noun and a directive (sundown).
  9. Measurement, numerals, currency, calendar, and international terms are in English form.
  10. Technical expressions required and customary for the immediate task are included in the locally used form.

Miscellaneous Rules, Insights and Comments

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Here in are some insights, rules, and comments about the usage of Basic English. Many are bows to realities and not necessarily to be taught to the beginning learner, but are important to the "intermediate" or "media" basic that will be used in general writing as Basic English.

"Listed are a certain number of complex words (formed by putting Basic words together) of which straightforward additions Basic is free to make use." This opens the way to making closed compound words by using prefixes over-, under-, outer-, inner-, self-, etc. & -able, -full, -self where the root meaning of the Basic word is clear.]

Where the un- is changed to in-, im-, or ir- in full English, these forms are given. Though it is not necessary for them to be forced on the learner's attention, they are used freely in Basic Writing." - ISL 239

Where -er is added to names to become the name of the person or thing which does the act in question, -or sounds the same as if the ending were in -er - Actor, sailor, creditor.

Expect to see superlatives -er, -est. One syllable. [This essentially makes -est a Basic ending, and extends the scope of -er, when used as a superlative of short words.]

Verbs (operators) conjugate in full. [see words there that are not specifically included in the 850.]

Pronouns (words used in place of a noun) conjugate in full. [see words there that are not specifically included in the 850.]

Form changes in names of acts as in normal English. [What does this mean?]

Degree with "more" and 'most'. [This conjugation of 'much' adds two words to the Basic vocabulary.]

Not every possible use of un- or -ly is covered because a great number of words formed with the -ing and -ed endings may have these additions as well.

And 60 other verb forms are, strictly speaking, used only as nouns: instead of "I attempted to come", say, "I made an attempt to come."

act, attack, attempt, awake, base, be a sign of, bite, blow, burn, burst, control, cook, cry out, crush, cry, damage, desire, doubt, drink , fly, fold, give, go, go into, guide, hate, have sex, hear, hope, jump, kick, kiss, laugh, lead, let, love, look for, measure, pull, push, regret, reward, roll, run, see, shake, sleep, slip, smile, sneeze, start, station, stop, support, swim, talk about, taste, touch, walk, wash, whistle . Why repeat these four : give, go, let, see ?

We count 123 Basic words that can be verbs with no spelling changes. [Richards gets 200, but with spelling changes, which required extra learning and that is not good.]

account, act, agree, answer, amount, arm, attack, attempt, awake, baby, bag, base, box, bite, birth, blow, brush, building, burn, burst, care, comfort, control, cook, cool, chain, comb, complete, credit, crush, cloud, cry, damage, design, desire, doubt, drain, dress, drain, drink, equal, experience, farm, fear, fire, fly, fold, force, fork, free, guide, hammer, hate, hear, hook, hope, house, jump, key, kick, kiss, laugh, lead, leaf, lift, like, live, light, look, love, machine, measure, market, mixed, move, nail, offer, play, pleasure, pull, push, plow, rain, rate, regret, reward, roll, roof, root, run, sail, school, seed, shake, sign, sleep, slip, smile, sneeze, snow, sponge, spoon, start, station, stop, stretch, support, swim, talk, taste, tax tired, touch, value, walk, wash, wall, war, warm, weather, whistle, wire, wrong.

Wordsnot on the list, but are there


an -- variation of "a". am, are - conjugation of "be" away -- compound of a + way.


been, being -- conj. of "be" better, best -- comparative and superlatives of Good and Well.


came, coming - conj of "come"


does, did, done, doing -- conj of "do"


economics -- title of supplementary list


farther, farthest -- comparative and superlative of Far. further, furthest -- from Far.


gave, given, giving -- conj. of "give" gone, goes, going -- conj of "go" got, gat, gotten, getting - conj. of "get"


has, hath, have, had, having - conj. of "have" her, him -- pronouns of He. his, hers -- possessive pronouns.


inner - comparative of "in" international -- title of supplimentary list is -- conj. of "be" it, its, itself -- pronouns.

J, K

kept, keeping -- conj. of "keep"


less, least -- comparative forms of Little


made, making -- conj. of "make" me, my, mine -- pronouns. mechanics -- title in supplimentary list might -- transitive of "may" more, most -- comparative and superlative of Much.


nearer, nearest -- comparative of Near never -- contraction of "not ever".


one -- Basic English assumes the numbers are known: 1, 2, 3, ...; their spelled out use is from the international list, with "one" becoming a pronoun. our, ours -- possessive pronoun outer - comparative of out

P, Q, R


's -- possessive as "apostrophe s". Usage: Bob's box as alternate to box of Bob. said, saying - conj of "say" saw, seen, seeing -- conj. of "see" sent, sending -- conj. of "send" she -- feminine pronoun of He


their, them, these, they, those -- plural and possessive pronouns. took, taken, taking -- conj. of "take"


us -- plural pronoun of" "I

V, W

was, were -- past tense of "be" we -- plural of "I" went -- past tense of "go" worse, worst -- comparative and superlatives of bad would -- from axillary "will" what, which, whom, whose -- variations of the question, Who (Old English, "hwa")

X, Y, Z

your, yours -- possessive of You

The rule that operatives (verbs) and pronouns conjugate in full gives us, for example, for "be" : am, are, is, been, being, was, were. And the full range of pronouns and possessives. The comparatives and superlatives adverbs are discussed separately. Several of the variations can be taken at face value; to prove the variation may have to go back to Old English roots.

Words used although not there

Words that are never used

These words are the clue that a person is using pure Basic English. The felt need to use these high frequency, tho unnecessary, words leads to the "Simple English" extension of Basic wherein the most common words are assumed to be known au priori. These words will not be known for international use, but are suitable in a "next step" for those going towards full English. Can and know are the only "top 50 words" not in Basic 850. ( Top 50 words make up 43% of total English usage. ) Other popular words not in Basic are, in sequence,:
think, find, must, should, just, tell, leave, few, ask, follow, during, hold, around, consider, problem, plan, stand,course ;
Followed by :
city, close, unite, bring, try, provide, continue, pay, study, until, service, report, toward, figure, return, include, yet, big, expect, car, several, matter, usual, rather, per, often, action.
Alternate Spellings at various levels of common, but informal, usage.
though - tho ; through -thru ; laugh - laff ; cough - coff ; rough - ruff ; tough - tuff ; enough - enuff ; light - lite ; bright - brite ; night - nite ; and complex words such as : throughway - thruway ; tonight - tonite ; overnight - overnite.