English in Use/Glossary

English in Use
General ContentsIntroduction
Parts of speech ArticlesNounsVerbsGerunds and participlesPronounsAdjectivesAdverbsPrepositions, Conjunctions and Interjections
Other topics OrthographyPunctuationSyntaxFigures of SyntaxGlossary
External Resources

Absolute — Not immediately dependent on the other parts of the sentence in government.

Abstract — Considered apart from any application to a particular object.

Abstract noun — A noun that denotes an idea, emotion, feeling, quality or other abstract or intangible concept.

Active verb — A verb that expresses action as distinct from mere existence or state.

Adjective — A word that modifies a noun or describes a noun’s referent.

Adjunct — A clause in a sentence that amplifies its meaning.

Adverb — A word that modifies a verb, adjective, or various other types of words, phrases, and clauses.

Adverb of cause — Adverbs of cause are why, wherefore and therefore.

Adverb of degree — Adverbs of degree are those which answer to the question, how much? how little? or to the idea of more or less.

Adverb of manner — Adverbs of manner are those which answer to the question, how? or, by affirming, denying, or doubting, show how a subject is regarded.

Adverb of place — Adverbs of place indicate where something happens.

Adverb of time — Adverbs of time are those which answer to the question, when? how long? how soon? or how often?

Affirmative — An answer that shows agreement or acceptance.

Agreement — Rules that exist in many languages that force some parts of a sentence to be used or inflected differently depending on certain attributes of other parts.

Antecedent — A word, phrase or clause referred to by a pronoun.

Aorist — A temporal feature of the verb which denotes the speaker's standpoint of the event described by the verb, as from outside of the event and seeing it as a completed whole.

Aphaeresis — The loss of letters or sounds from the beginning of a word, such as the development of special from especial.

Apocope — The loss or omission of a sound or syllable from the end of a word.

Apposition — A construction in which one noun or noun phrase is placed with another as an explanatory equivalent, both having the same syntactic function in the sentence.

Appositive — Of or being in apposition.

Archaism — The adoption or imitation of archaic words or style.

Arrangement — Relative position of words in a sentence.

Article — A part of speech that indicates, specifies and limits a noun (a, an, or the in English).

Attribute — A word that qualifies a noun.

Auxiliary — A verb that accompanies the main verb in a clause in order to make distinctions in tense, mood, voice or aspect.

Capital — An uppercase letter.

Cardinal adjective — A cardinal number used as an adjective.

Case — A category of nouns, pronouns, or adjectives, specialized (usually by inflection) to indicate a particular syntactic relation to other words in a sentence.

Clause — A word or group of words ordinarily consisting of a subject and a predicate.

Collective noun — A noun which, though singular, refers to a group of things or animals.

Common adjective — A common adjective is any ordinary epithet, or adjective denoting quality or situation: as, good, bad, peaceful, warlike, eastern, western, outer, inner.

Common noun — A noun that can be preceded by an indefinite article, and denotes any member, or all members of a class; an ordinary noun such as dog or city.

Comparative degree — Adverbial or adjectival forms modified by more or ending in er, used when comparing two things.

Comparison — The ability of adjectives and adverbs to form three degrees.

Compound — A lexeme that consists of more than one stem; for example laptop, formed from lap and top.

Compound adjective — A compound adjective is one that consists of two or more words joined together, either by the hyphen or solidly: as, nut-brown, laughter-loving, four-footed; threefold, lordlike, lovesick.

Compound personal — A compound personal pronoun. compound personal pronouns are myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself.

Compound relative — Compound relatives are whoever, whosoever, whichever, whichsoever, whatever, whatsoever.

Compound sentence — A compound sentence is a sentence which is composed of at least two independent clauses.

Conjugation — In some languages, one of several classifications of verbs according to what inflections they take.

Conjunction — A word used to join other words or phrases together into sentences.

Conjunctive adverb — An adverb that connects two clauses.

Consonant — A sound that results from the passage of air through restrictions of the oral cavity; any sound that is not the dominant sound of a syllable, the dominant sound generally being a vowel.

Continuous tense — Expressing an ongoing action or state.

Declension — A way of categorizing nouns, pronouns, or adjectives according to the inflections they receive.

Defective verb — A verb with an incomplete conjugation; for example, one that can only be conjugated in certain persons and numbers.

Definite article — An article that introduces a noun and specifies it as the particular noun that is being considered; in English, the only definite article is the.

Diaeresis — A diacritic placed over a vowel letter indicating that it is sounded separately, usually forming a distinct syllable, as in naïve, Noël, Brontë.

Ellipsis — The omission of a grammatically required word or phrase that can be implied.

Enallage — The substitution of one grammatical form for another one.

Finite verb — A verb that is inflected for person and for tense according to the rules and categories of the languages in which it occurs.

First-future tense — The first-future tense is that which expresses what will take place hereafter.

Gender — A division of nouns and pronouns (and sometimes of other parts of speech), such as masculine, feminine, neuter or common.

Gerund — A verbal form that functions as a verbal noun. In English, a gerund has the same spelling as a present participle, but functions differently.

Government — That power which one word has over another, to cause it to assume some particular modification.

Grammar — A system of rules and principles for speaking and writing a language.

Hyperbaton — An inversion of the usual or logical order of words or phrases, for emphasis or poetic effect.

Imperative mood — The grammatical mood expressing an order.

Indefinite article — A word preceding a noun to indicate that the noun is new or unknown. In English it can be a (before a consonant sound) or an (before a vowel sound) in the singular; in the plural an article isn't used at all, or the pronoun some is used instead.

Independent clause — A clause that can stand by itself as a grammatically viable simple sentence.

Indicative mood — The mood of a verb used in ordinary factual or objective statements.

Infinitive — The uninflected form of a verb. In English, this is usually formed with the verb stem preceded by 'to'.

Infinitive mood — The infinitive of a verb is its basic form with or without the particle to.

Inflection — A change in the form of a word that reflects a change in grammatical function.

Interjection — An exclamation or filled pause; a word or phrase with no particular grammatical relation to a sentence, often an expression of emotion.

Interrogative — A word (pronoun, pronominal adjective, or adverb) implying interrogation, or used for asking a question: why, who, when, etc.

Introductory phrase — A phrase or clause that introduces a sentence.

Irregular comparison — Comparison of adjectives which cannot be compared regularly.

Irregular verb — A verb that does not follow the normal rules for its conjugation.

Italic characters — A typeface in which the letters slant to the right.

Letter — A symbol in an alphabet.

Liquid — An l or r sound.

Mimesis — The representation of aspects of the real world, especially human actions, in literature and art.

Mood — A verb form that depends on how its containing clause relates to the speaker’s or writer’s wish, intent, or assertion about reality.

Morphology — The forms of word formation.

Multiplicative adjective — An adjective which expresses the multiplicity.

Mute — A letter that, in a particular word, does not correspond to any sound in the word's pronunciation.

Neuter verb — A verb that expresses neither action nor passion, but simply being, or a state of being.

Nominative — Giving a name; naming; designating; said of that case or form of a noun which stands as the subject of a finite verb.

Non-finite verb — A verb form that is not limited by a subject and, more generally, is not fully inflected by categories that are marked inflectionally in language, such as tense, aspect, mood, number, gender, and person.

Note of exclamation — Punctuation used to denote excitement, surprise or shock; exclamation point.

Note of interrogation — The punctuation mark "?", used at the end of a sentence to indicate a question.

Noun — A word that can be used to refer to a person, place, thing, quality, or idea; one of the basic parts of speech in many languages, including English.

Number — Of a word or phrase, the state of being singular, dual or plural, shown by inflection.

Numeral — A numeral adjective.

Numeral adjective — An adjective that expresses a definite number: as, one, two, three, four, five, six.

Object — The noun phrase which is an internal complement of a verb phrase or a prepositional phrase. In a verb phrase with a transitive action verb, it is typically the receiver of the action.

Objective — Of, or relating to a noun or pronoun used as the object of a verb.

Ordinal adjective — An ordinal number used as an adjective.

Paragoge — The addition of a sound, syllable or letter to the end of a word, either through natural development or as a grammatical function.

Parenthetical phrase — A phrase in the sentence which is not essential to the meaning of the sentence.

Parsing — To resolve into its elements, as a sentence, pointing out the several parts of speech, and their relation to each other by government or agreement; to analyze and describe grammatically.

Participial adjective — A participle used as an adjective, such as drowning in the drowning man and drowned in the drowned man.

Participle — A form of a verb that may function as an adjective or noun.

Part of speech — The function a word or phrase performs in a sentence or phrase.

Passive voice — A grammatical voice in which the subject receives the action of a transitive verb.

Past participle — A past participle is usually identical to the verb's past tense form, though in irregular verbs the two usually differ.

Past perfect tense — Tense of verb conjugated by adding had before the past participle of a verb.

Perfect tense — A tense that expresses action completed at the present time; in English it is formed by using the present tense of have with a past participle.

Period — The punctuation mark (“.”) indicating the end of a sentence or marking an abbreviation.

Person — A linguistic category used to distinguish between the speaker of an utterance and those to whom or about whom he is referring; implemented in most languages by a variety of pronouns.

Personal — Denoting person; as, a personal pronoun.

Personification — A figure of speech, prosopopeia, in which an inanimate object or an abstraction is given human qualities.

Phrase — A word or group of words that functions as a single unit in the syntax of a sentence, usually consisting of a head, or central word, and elaborating words.

Pleonasm — A phrase in which one or more words are redundant as their meaning is expressed elsewhere in the phrase.

Plural — A word in the form in which it potentially refers to something other than one person or thing; and other than two things if the language has a dual form.

Possessive — A pronoun in the possessive case.

Potential mood — A verbal construction or form stating something is possible or probable.

Predicate — The part of the sentence (or clause) which states something about the subject.

Prefix — That which is prefixed; especially one or more letters or syllables added to the beginning of a word to modify its meaning; as, pre in prefix, con in conjure.

Preposition — A closed class of non-inflecting words typically employed to connect a noun or a pronoun, in an adjectival or adverbial sense, with some other word.

Propositional phrase — A phrase that has both a preposition and its object or complement; may be used as an adjunct or a modifier.

Present participle — The present participle is identical in form to the gerund.

Present tense — The form of language used to refer to an event, transaction, or occurrence which is happening now (or at the present time), or an object that currently exists.

Preterit — The preterite tense, simple past tense: the grammatical tense that determines the specific initiation or termination of an action in the past.

Progressive form — A form of a verb in which its gerund (or present participle) is used with any form of the verb to be. Examples: I am defining. It had been snowing.

Pronominal — Of, pertaining to, resembling, or functioning as a pronoun.

Pronominal compound — An adjective herein, therein, wherein.

Pronoun — A type of noun that refers anaphorically to another noun or noun phrase, but which cannot ordinarily be preceded by a determiner and rarely takes an attributive adjective.

Proper adjective — An adjective derived from a proper noun, such as British derived from Britain.

Proper noun — The name of a particular person, place, organization or other individual entity.

Prosthesis — The prepending of phonemes at the beginning of a word without changing its morphological structure, as in nother from other.

Quotation — A fragment of a human expression that is being referred to by somebody else.

Radical — Of or pertaining to the root of a word.

Redundant verb — A verb which has two forms for past tense.

Regimen — A syntactical relation between words, as when one depends on another and is regulated by it in respect to case or mood; government.

Regular comparison — Adjectives are regularly compared, when the comparative degree is expressed by adding er, and the superlative, by adding est to them.

Regular verb — A verb which conjugates regularly. In English, a verb which uses an ed suffix to form its past participle.

Relation — Reference of word to other words.

Relative — A relative pronoun. Relative pronouns are who, which, what, that, whoever, whosoever, whichever, whichsoever, whatever, whatsoever.

Remote — Not directly related.

Roman characters — A serifed style of typeface. Upright, as opposed to italic.

Second-future tense — The second-future tense is that which expresses what will have taken place at some future time mentioned.

Semivowel — A sound in speech which has some qualities of a consonant and some qualities of a vowel. A letter which represents a semivowel sound, such as w or y in English.

Sentence — A grammatically complete series of words consisting of a subject and predicate, even if one or the other is implied, and typically beginning with a capital letter and ending with a full stop.

Sign — An auxiliary, suffix, etc. that modifies a word.

Small letters — The minuscule or small letters (a, b, c, as opposed to the uppercase or capital letters, A, B, C).

Subject — The word or word group (usually a noun phrase) that is dealt with. In active clauses with verbs denoting an action, the subject and the actor are usually the same.

Subjunctive mood — A verb inflected to indicate that an act or state of being is possible, contingent or hypothetical, and not a fact.

Superlative degree — The form of an adjective that expresses which of more than two items has the highest degree of the quality expressed by the adjective; in English, formed by appending est to the end of the adjective (for some short adjectives only) or putting most before it.

Supposition — An assumption, conjecture, speculation or something supposed.

Syllepsis — A figure of speech in which one word simultaneously modifies two or more other words such that the modification must be understood differently with respect to each modified word; often causing humorous incongruity.

Synaeresis — The contraction of two vowels into a diphthong or a long vowel.

Syncope — A missing sound from the interior of a word, for example by changing cannot to can't or Hawai'i from the root name Hawaiki.

Syntax — A set of rules that govern how words are combined to form phrases and sentences.

Tense — Any of the forms of a verb which distinguish when an action or state of being occurs or exists.

Thing sui generis — In a class of its own; one of a kind.

Tmesis — The insertion of one or more words between the components of a compound word.

Understood words — Words that are omitted by ellipsis.

Unstressed numeral — A numeral in which one is replaced with indefinite article.

Verb — A word that indicates an action, an event, or a state.

Verbal — A verb form which does not function as a predicate, or a word derived from a verb.

Voice — A particular mode of inflecting or conjugating verbs, or a particular form of a verb, by means of which is indicated the relation of the subject of the verb to the action which the verb expresses.

Vowel — A sound produced by the vocal cords with relatively little restriction of the oral cavity, forming the prominent sound of a syllable. A letter representing the sound of vowel; in English, the vowels are a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y.