abstract noun a noun used to describe a quality, idea, or experience rather than something physical or concrete: EG joy, size, language. Compare with concrete noun.
active voice verb groups such as ‘gives’, and ‘has made’, where the subject is the person or thing doing the action or responsible for the action. Compare passive voice.
ADJECTIVAL CLAUSE another name for relative clause.
adjective a word used to tell you more about a thing, such as its appearance, colour, size, or other qualities; EG …a pretty blue dress.
adjunct a word or combination of words added to a clause to give more information about time, place, or manner. See also sentence adjunct and linking adjunct.
adverb a word that gives more information about when, how, where, or in what circumstances something happens. EG quickly, now. There are several different kinds of adverb: adverbs of degree, manner, place, time, duration, and frequency. There are also focusing adverbs.
adverbial group a group of words which does the same job as an adverb, thus giving more information about when, how, where, or in what circumstances something happens; EG in the street, again and again.
adverb of degree an adverb indicating the amount or extent of a feeling or quality: EG extremely.
adverb of duration an adverb which indicates how long something lasts; EG briefly.
adverb of frequency an adverb indicating how often something happens; EG often.
adverb of manner an adverb indicating the way in which something happens or is done; EG carefully.
adverb of place an adverb which gives more information about portion or direction: EG Move closer.
adverb of time an adverb which gives more information about when something happens; EG I saw her yesterday.
adverb particle an adverb used as part of a phrasal verb; EG hide out, sit up, turn round.
AFFIRMATIVE another name for positive.
AFFIX a letter or group of letters that is added to the beginning or end of a word to make a
different word; EG anti-communist, harmless. See also suffix and prefix.
agent the person who performs an action.
agreement another name for concord.
apostrophe s an ending (‘s) added to a noun to mark possession; EG …Harrlet’s daughter… the professor’s husband… the Managing Director’s secretary.
apposition the placing of a noun group after a headword in order to identify it or give more
information about it; EG …my daughter Emily.
article see definite article, indefinite article.
ASPECT the use of verb forms to show whether an action is continuing, repeated, or finished.
attributive used to describe adjectives that are normally only used in front of a noun: EG classical, outdoor, woollen.
auxiliary verb one of the verbs ‘be’, ‘have’, and ‘do’ when they are used with a main verb to form tenses, negatives, questions, and so on. Also called auxiliary. Modals are also auxiliary verbs.
bare infinitive the infinitive of a verb without ‘to’; EG Let me think.
base form the form of a verb which has no letters added to the end and is not a past form; EG walk, go, have, be. The base form is the form you look up in a dictionary.
broad negative adverb one of a small group of words including ‘barely’ and ‘seldom’ which are used to make a statement almost negative; EG I barely knew her.
cardinal number a number used for counting; EG one, seven, nineteen.
CASE the use of different forms of nouns or pronouns in order to show whether they are the subject or object of a clause, or whether they are possessive: EG I/me, Jim/Jim’s.
classifying adjective an adjective used to identify something as being of a particular type; EG Indian, wooden, mental. They do not have comparatives or superlatives. Compare with qualitative adjective.
clause a group of words containing a verb. See also main clause and subordinate clause.
clause of manner a subordinate clause which describes the way in which something is done, usually introduced with ‘as’ or ‘like’; EG She talks like her mother used to.
cleft sentence a sentence in which emphasis is given to either the subject or the object by
using a structure beginning with ‘it’, ‘what’, or ‘all’; EG It’s a hammer we need… What we
need is a hammer.
collective noun a noun that refers to a group of people or things; EG committee, team.
colour adjective an adjective referring to a colour; EG red, blue, scarlet.
common noun a noun used to refer to a person, thing, or substance. EG sailor, computer, glass. Compare with proper noun.
comparative an adjective or adverb with ‘-er’ on the end or ‘more’ in front of it; EG friendlier, more important, more carefully.
complement a noun group or adjective which comes after a link verb such as ‘be’, and gives more information about the subject or object of the clause; EG She is a teacher… She is tired… They made her chairperson.
complex sentence a sentence consisting of a main clause and a subordinate clause; EG She wasn’t thinking because she was tired.
compound a combination of two or more words functioning as a unit. For example, ‘self-centred’ and ‘free-style’ are compound adjectives, ‘bus stop’ and ‘state of affairs’ are compound nouns, and ‘dry-clean’ and ‘roller-skate’ are compound verbs.
compound sentence a sentence consisting of two or more main clauses linked by a coordinating conjunction; EG They picked her up and took her into the house.
concessive clause a subordinate clause, usually introduced by ‘although’ or ‘while’, which contrasts with a main clause; EG Although I like her, I find her hard to talk to.
concord the relationship between a subject and its verb, or between a number or determiner and its noun; EG I look/she looks… one bell/three bells. Also called agreement.
concrete noun a noun which refers to something we can touch or see; EG table, dress, flower. Compare with abstract noun.
conditional clause a subordinate clause usually starting with ‘if’. The event described in the main clause depends on the condition described in the subordinate clause; EG If it rains, we’ll go to the cinema… They would be rich if they had taken my advice.
conjunction a word linking together two clauses, groups, or words. There are two kinds of conjunction—coordinating conjunctions, which link parts of a sentence of the same grammatical type (and, but, or), and subordinating conjunctions, which begin subordinate clauses (although, when).
continuous tense a tense which contains a form of the verb ‘be’ and a present participle; EG She was laughing… They had been playing badminton. Also called progressive tense. contraction a shortened form in which an auxiliary verb and ‘not’, or a subject and an auxiliary verb, are joined together and function as one word; EG aren’t, she’s.
coordinating conjunction a word such as ‘and’, ‘but’, or ‘or’ which joins together two clauses, groups, of words of the same grammatical type.
coordination the linking of groups of words of the same grammatical type, or the linking of clauses of equal importance.
copula a name sometimes used to refer to the verb ‘be’. In this grammar, the term link verb is used.
countable noun a noun which can be singular or plural. EG dog/dogs, lemon/lemons, foot/feet. Also called count noun.
declarative mood a clause in the declarative mood has the subject followed by the verb. Most statements are made in the declarative mood. Also called indicative mood.
DEFECTIVE VERB a verb which does not have all the inflected forms that regular verbs have; for example, all modals are defective verbs.
defining non-finite clause a participle clause which is placed after a noun group to identify the person or thing you are talking about; EG The girl wearing the red hat.
defining relative clause a relative clause which identifies the person or thing that is being talked about. EG I wrote down everything that she said.
definite article the determiner ‘the’.
delexical verb a verb which has very little meaning in itself and is used with an object that carries the main meaning of the structure. ‘Give’, ‘have’, and ‘take’ are commonly used as delexical verbs; EG She gave a small cry… I’ve had a bath.
demonstrative one of the words ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘these’, and ‘those’ used in front of a noun; EG …this woman… that tree. They are also used as pronouns; EG That looks nice… This is fun.
DEPENDENT CLAUSE another name for subordinate clause.
determiner one of a group of words including ‘the’, ‘a’, ‘some’, and ‘my’ which are used at the beginning of a noun group.
direct object a noun group referring to a person or thing affected by an action, in a sentence with an active verb; EG She wrote her name… I shut the windows.
direct speech speech reported in the words actually spoken by someone, without any changes in tense, person, and so on.
DISJUNCT another name for sentence adjunct.
ditransitive verb a verb such as ‘give’, ‘take’, or ‘sell’ which can have both an indirect and a direct object; EG She gave me a kiss.
dynamic verb a verb such as ‘run’, ‘give’ or ‘slice’ which describes an action. Compare with stative verb.
‘-ED’ FORM another name for past participle.
ellipsis the leaving out of words when they are obvious from the context.
emphasizing adjective an adjective such as ‘complete’, ‘utter’ or ‘total’ which stresses how strongly you feel about something; EG I feel a complete fool.
ergative verb a verb which can be either transitive or intransitive in the same meaning. To use the verb intransitively, you use the object of the transitive verb as the subject of the transitive verb as the subject of the intransitive verb; EG He had boiled a kettle… The kettle had boiled.
exclamation a word or sentence spoken suddenly and loudly in order to express surprise, anger, and so on; EG Oh God!
finite a finite verb is inflected according to person, tense, or mood rather than being an infinitive or a participle.
first person see person.
focusing adverb a sentence adjunct which indicates the most relevant thing involved; EG only, mainly, especially fronting a structure with a topic at the beginning of a clause which is not the subject of the clause; EG Lovely hair she had.
GENDER a grammatical term referring to the difference between masculine and feminine words such as ‘he’ and ‘she’.
GENITIVE the possessive form of a noun; EG man’s, mens’.
GERUND another name for ‘-ing’ noun.
gradable a gradable adjective can be used with a word such as ‘very’ to say that the person or thing referred to has more or less of a quality; EG very boring, less helpful.
GROUP NOUN another name for collective noun.
HEAD another name for headword.
headword the main word of a noun group: EG …a soft downy cushion with tassels
idiom a group of two or more words with a meaning that cannot be understood by taking the meaning of each individual word; EG to kick the bucket, to run wild.
if-clause a conditional clause; or a clause used to report a ‘yes/no’-question.
imperative a clause in the imperative mood has the base form of the verb without a subject. EG Come here… Take two tablets every four hours… Enjoy yourself.
impersonal ‘it’ ‘it’ is an impersonal subject when it is used to introduce a fact, or when it is used in a cleft structure, EG It’s raining… It was you who asked.
indefinite article the determiners ‘a’ and ‘an’.
indefinite place adverb a group of adverbs including ‘anywhere’ and ‘somewhere’ used to indicate position or location in a general or vague way.
indefinite pronoun a group of pronouns including ‘someone’ and ‘anything’ used to refer to a person or thing in a general way
INDICATIVE MOOD another name for declarative mood.
indirect object a second object used with a transitive verb to indicate who or what benefits from an action, or gets something as a result of it: EG She gave me a rose
INDIRECT QUESTION another name for reported question.
INDIRECT SPEECH another name for reported speech.
infinitive the base form of a verb. It is often used with ‘to’ in front of it. EG (to) take, (to) see, (to) bring.
inflection the variation in the form of a word to show differences in tense, number, case and degree.
‘-ing’ adjective an adjective which has the same form as the present participle of a verb; EG …a smiling face …a winning streak.
‘-ing’ form see present participle.
‘-ing’ noun a noun which has the same form as the present participle of a verb; EG Swimming is good for you.
INTENSIFIER a submodifier which is used to reinforce an adjective and make it more emphatic; EG very, exceptionally.
INTERJECTION another name for exclamation.
interrogative adverb one of the adverbs ‘how’, ‘when’, ‘where’, and ‘why’ when they are used to ask questions.
interrogative mood a clause in the interrogative mood has part or all of the verb group in front of the subject. Most questions are asked in the interrogative mood.
interrogative pronoun one of the pronouns ‘who’, ‘whose’, ‘whom’, ‘what’, and ‘which’ when they are used to ask questions.
intransitive verb a verb which is used to talk about an action or event that only involves the subject and so does not have an object; EG she arrived… I was yawning.
inversion changing the word order in a sentence, especially changing the order of the subject and the verb.
irregular not following the normal rules for inflection. A irregular verb has a past form and/or past participle which is formed in a different way from the regular ‘-ed’ ending.
LEXICAL VERB another name for main verb.
linking adjunct a sentence adjunct used to introduce a comment or reinforce what is said; EG moreover, besides.
link verb a verb which links the subject and complement of a clause: EG be, become, seem, appear. Also sometimes called copula.
main clause a clause which is not dependent on, or is not part of, another clause.
main verb all verbs which are not auxiliaries. Also called lexical verb.
mass noun (in this grammar), a noun which is usually an uncount noun, but which can be used as a count noun when it refers to quantities or types of something: EG …two sugars… …cough medicines.
modal an auxiliary verb which is used with a main verb to indicate a particular attitude, such as possibility, obligation, prediction, of deduction: EG can, could, may, might. Also called modal auxiliary or modal verb.
modifier a word or group of words which come in front of a noun: EG …a beautiful sunny day… …a psychology conference.
mood there are three main moods in English: the declarative mood, the interrogative mood, and the imperative mood. There is also a less common mood, the subjunctive mood. See the individual entries for declarative mood, interrogative mood, imperative, and subjunctive.
negative sentence a sentence which uses a word like ‘not’, ‘never’, or ‘no-one’ to indicate the absence or opposite of something, or to say that something is not the case: EG I don’t know you… I’ll never forget. The opposite is positive sentence.
negative word a word such as ‘never’ and ‘not’ which expresses a negative meaning.
NOMINAL GROUP another name for noun group.
non-defining relative clause a relative clause which gives more information about someone or something, but which is not needed to identify them: EG That’s Mary, who was at university with me. Compare with defining relative clause.
non-finite the non-finite forms of a verb are the infinitive and participle forms: EG to take, taking, taken.
noun a word which refers to people, things, and abstract ideas such as feelings and qualities; EG woman, Harry, guilt.
noun group a group of words which acts as the subject, complement, or object of a clause, or as the object of a preposition. also called nominal group or noun phrase.
noun modifier a noun used in front of another noun, as if it were an adjective: EG …a car door… …a steel works.
number the way in which differences between singular and plural are shown; EG flower/ flowers, that/those. See also cardinal number and ordinal number.
object a noun group which refers to a person or thing, other than the subject, which is involved in or affected by the action of a verb. See also direct object and indirect object. Prepositions are also followed by objects.
object complement a word which is used to describe the object of a clause and which occurs with verbs such as ‘make’ and ‘find’; EG It made me tired… I found her asleep.
ordinal number a number that is used to indicate where something comes in an order or sequence; EG first, fifth, tenth, hundredth.
PARTICIPIAL ADJECTIVE another name for ‘-ing’ adjective.
participle a verb form used for making different tenses. See past participle and present participle for more details.
partitive a word which gives information about the amount of a particular thing; EG pint, loaf, portion.
partitive structure a structure in which quantifiers and partitives are linked to a noun group with ‘of’; EG many of them, a bottle of milk.
passive voice verb forms such as ‘was given’, ‘were taken’, ‘had been made’, where the subject is the person or thing that is affected by the action. Compare with active voice.
past form the form of a verb, often ending in ‘-ed’, which is used for the simple past tense.
past participle a verb form such as ‘seen’, ‘broken’, and ‘given’ which is used to form perfect lenses and passives, or in some cases an adjective. Also called the ‘-ed’ form, especially when an adjective.
past tense a tense used to describe actions or events which took place in the past. See tense for more details.
perfect tense a tense formed with ‘have’ and a past participle; EG I have met him… We had won.
performative verb a verb which states explicitly what action the speaker is performing when he or she uses it; EG apologize, resign, christen.
person a term used to refer to the three classes of people who are involved in something that is said. They are the first person (the person speaking or writing), the second person (the person being addressed), and the third person (the people or things that are being talked about).
personal pronoun a group of pronouns such as ‘I’, ‘you’, and ‘me’, used to refer back to the people or things you are talking about.
phase a structure in which you use two verbs in a clause in order to talk about two processes or events that are closely linked. EG She helped to clean the house… They remember buying the tickets.
phrasal verb a combination of a verb and an adverb and/or a preposition, which have a single meaning; EG back down, hand over, look forward to.
plural the form used to refer to more than one person or thing; EG dogs, women.
plural noun a noun which is only used in the plural form; EG trousers, scissors, vermin.
positive sentence a sentence which does not contain a negative word.
possessive a structure used to show possession; EG your, Jerry’s, mine.
possessive determiner a determiner such as ‘my’, ‘your’, and ‘their’. They are also called possessive adjectives.
possessive pronoun one of the words ‘mine’, ‘yours’, ‘hers’, ‘his’, ‘ours’, and ‘theirs’.
postdeterminer a small group of adjectives used after a determiner and in front of other adjectives; EG certain, remaining.
predeterminer a word which comes in from of a determiner; EG …all the boys… …double the trouble… …such a mess.
PREDICATE what is said about the subject of a clause.
predicative used to describe adjectives that are normally only used after a link verb such as ‘be’; EG alive, asleep, sure. Compare attributive.
prefix a letter or group of letters added to the beginning of a word in order to make a new word; EG semi- in semi-circular. Compare with suffix and affix.
PREMODIFIER another name for modifier.
preposition a word such as ‘by’, ‘with’ or ‘from’, which is always followed by a noun group or an ‘-ing’ form.
prepositional phrase a structure consisting of a preposition and its object; EG on the table, by the sea.
present participle a verb form ending in ‘-ing’ which is used to form verb tenses, and as an adjective. Also called the ‘-ing’ form.
present tense a tense used to describe events taking place in the present or situations which exist in the present.
productive feature a grammatical point which can be applied to an open class of words. See the introduction for more details.
PROGRESSIVE TENSE another name for continuous tense.
pronoun a word used instead of a noon, when you do not want to name someone or something directly; EG it, you, none.
proper noun a noun which refers to a particular person, place, or institution; EG Nigel, Edinburgh, Christmas. Compare with common noun.
purpose clause a subordinate clause, usually introduced by ‘in order to’, or ‘so that’; EG I came here in order to ask you out to dinner.
qualifier any word or group of words which comes after a headword and is part of the noun group; EG …a book with a blue cover… …the shop on the corner.
qualitative adjective an adjective which is used to indicate a quality, and which is gradable; EG funny, intelligent, small. Compare with classifying adjective.
quantifier a phrase ending in ‘of’ which allows you to refer to a quantity of something without being precise about the exact amount; EG some of, a lot of, a little bit of.
question a structure which typically has the verb in front of the subject and which is used to ask someone about something; EG Have you any money? Also called interrogative.
question tag a structure consisting of an auxiliary verb followed by a pronoun, which is used at the end of a tag question.
quote structure a structure which reports the exact words used by a speaker without any changes; EG She said ‘I’ll be late’. Compare with report structure.
reason clause a subordinate clause, usually introduced by ‘because’, ‘since’, or ‘as’; EG Since you’re here, we’ll start.
reciprocal pronoun the pronoun ‘each other’ and ‘one another’, used to show that two people do or feel the same thing; EG They loved each other.
reciprocal verb a verb which describes an action which involves two people doing the same thing to each other; EG They met in the street… He met her yesterday.
reflexive pronoun a pronoun ending in ‘-self’, such as ‘myself’ or ‘themselves’, which is used as the object of a verb when the person affected by an action is the same as the person doing it.
reflexive verb a verb which is typically used with a reflexive pronoun; EG shave yourself; pride yourself on.
relative clause a subordinate clause which gives more information about someone or something mentioned in the main clause. See also defining relative clause and non-defining relative clause.
relative pronoun a ‘wh’-word such as ‘who’ or ‘which’, used to introduce a relative clause; EG …the girl who was carrying the bag.
reported clause the part of a report structure which describes what someone has said; EG She said that I couldn’t see her.
reported question a question which is reported using a report structure rather than the exact words used by the speaker. Also called indirect question.
reported speech speech which is reported using a report structure rather than the exact words used by the speaker. Also called indirect speech.
reporting clause a clause which contains a reporting verb, which is used to introduce what someone has said; EG They asked if I could come.
reporting verb a verb which describes what people say or think; EG suggest, say, wonder.
report structure a structure which reports what someone has said by using a reported clause rather than repeating their exact words: EG She told me she’d be late. Compare quote structure.
result clause a subordinate clause introduced by ‘so that’ which gives the result of something; EG The house was severely damaged, so that it is now uninhabitable.
rhetorical question a question which you use in order to make a comment rather than to obtain information; EG Oh, isn’t it silly?
second person see person.
semi-modal the verbs ‘dare’, ‘need’, and ‘used to’ which behave rather like modals.
sentence a group of words which express a statement, question, or command. A sentence usually has a verb and a subject, and may be a simple sentence, consisting of one clause, or a complex sentence, consisting of two or more clauses. A sentence in writing has a capital letter at the beginning and a full-stop, question mark, or exclamation mark at the end.
sentence adjunct an adjunct which applies to the whole clause, rather than to part of it; EG We possibly have to wait and see. See also linking adjunct.
‘s’ form the base form of a verb with ‘s’ on the end, used in the simple present tense.
simple tense a tense formed without using an auxiliary verb; EG I waited… She sang.
singular the form used to refer to or talk about one person or thing; EG dog, woman. Compare with plural.
singular noun a noun typically used in the singular form; EG sun, business, jumble.
SPLIT INFINITIVE the placing of a word between ‘to’ and the base form of a verb; EG …to boldly go where no man has gone before.
stative verb a verb which describes a state; EG be, live, know. Compare with dynamic verb.
STRONG VERB another name for irregular verb.
subject the noun group in a clause that refers to the person or thing who does the action expressed by the verb; EG We were going shopping.
subjunctive a verb form which is used in some languages to express attitudes such as wishing, hoping, and doubting. The subjunctive mood is not very common in English, and is used mainly in conditional douses such as ‘If I were you…’.
submodifier an adverb which is used in front of an adjective or another adverb in order to strengthen or weaken its meaning; EG …very interesting… …quite quickly.
subordinate clause a clause which begins with a subordinating conjunction such as ‘because’ or ‘while’ and which must be used with a main clause.
SUBSTITUTION the special use of pronouns and other words to replace part or all of a clause; EG ‘Are you going to the party?’—’I hope so’.
SUFFIX a letter or group of letters added to the end of a word in order to make a different word, tense, case, and so on; EG slowly, Heidi’s. Compare with affix and prefix.
superlative an adjective or adverb with ‘-est’ on the end or ‘most’ in front of it; EG thinnest, quickest, most wisely.
tag question a statement to which a question tag (an auxiliary verb and a pronoun) has been added; EG She’s quiet, isn’t she?
tense the verb form which shows whether you are referring to the past, present, or future.
future the use of ‘will’ or ‘shall’ with the base form of the verb to refer to future events; EG She will come tomorrow.
future continuous the use of ‘will be’ or ‘shall be’ and a present participle to refer to future events; EG She will be going soon.
future perfect the use of ‘will have’ or ‘shall have’ and a past participle to refer to future events; EG I shall have finished tomorrow.
future perfect continuous the use of ‘will’ or ‘shall’ with ‘have been’ and a present participle to refer to future events; EG I will have been walking for three hours by then.
past the use of the past form to refer to past events; EG They waited.
past continuous the use of ‘was’ or ‘were’ with a present participle, usually to refer to past events; EG They were worrying about it yesterday.
past perfect the use of ‘had’ with a past participle to refer to past events; EG She had finished.
past perfect continuous the use of ‘had been’ with a present participle to refer to past events; EG He had been waiting for hours.
present the use of the base form and the ‘s’ form, usually to refer to present events; EG I like bananas… My sister hates them.
present continuous the use of the simple present of ‘be’ with a present participle to refer to present events; EG Things are improving.
present perfect the use of the simple present of ‘have’ with a past participle to refer to past events which exist in the present; EG She has loved him for ten years.
present perfect continuous the use of ‘have been’ and ‘has been’ with a present participle to refer to past events which exist in the present; EG We have been sitting here for hours.
‘that’-clause a clause starting with ‘that’ which is used mainly when reporting what someone has said; EG She said that she’d wash up for me. ‘That’ can be omitted when the clause is used after a reporting verb.
third person see person.
time clause a subordinate clause which indicates the time of an event; EG I’ll phone you when I get back.
title a word used before a person’s name to show their position or status; EG Mrs, Lord, Queen.
‘to’-infinitive the base form of a verb preceded by ‘to’: EG to go, to have, to jump.
transitive verb a verb used to talk about an action or event that involves more than one person or thing, and so is followed by an object; EG She’s wasting her money.
uncount noun a noun which refers to a general kind of thing rather than to an individual item, and so has only one form; EG money, furniture, intelligence. Also called uncountable noun.
verb a word used with a subject to say what someone or something does, or what happens to them; EG sing, spill, die.
VERBAL NOUN another name for ‘-ing’ noun.
verb group a main verb, or a main verb preceded by one or more auxiliaries, which combines with a subject to say what someone does, or what happens to them; EG I’ll show them… She’s been sick.
vocative a word used when speaking to someone, just as if it were their name; EG darling, madam.
‘WH’-CLAUSE a clause starting with a ‘wh’-word.
‘whether’-clause a clause used to report a ‘yes/no’-question; EG I asked her whether she’d seen him.
‘wh’-question a question which expects an answer giving a particular person, place, thing, amount, and so on, rather than just ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
‘wh’-word one of a group of words starting with ‘wh-‘, such as ‘what’, ‘when’ or ‘who’, which are used in ‘wh’-questions. ‘How’ is also called a ‘wh’-word because it behaves like the other ‘wh’-words.
‘yes/no’-question a question which can be answered simply with either ‘yes’ or ‘no’; EG Would you like some more tea?