The Englicious Glossary includes the new National Curriculum glossary terms, which are shown against a white background. However, there's much more to be found here:
- we have added many entries that we feel are important, but cannot be found in the NC Glossary (e.g. connective), and
- in many cases we have added information to the often very brief NC entries that need further explanation (e.g. clause and phrase).
Please note that in line with our practice throughout the site, we use capital letters for function terms such as Subject, Direct Object, Indirect Object, Modifier, etc. Although this convention is not followed in the documentation published by the Department for Education we have also done so in the text that forms part of the National Curriculum Glossary.
Tip: Within our units and resources, Glossary items appear highlighted within the text. When you hover over them, or click on them in the Slideshow, a popup is generated.
An active verb has its usual pattern of Subject and Object (in contrast with the passive).
- Active: The school arranged a visit.
- Passive: A visit was arranged by the school.
Active voice is the more common pattern (or voice) of sentence or clause, which contrasts with the special pattern of passive. In an active sentence which describes an action, like My sister painted the fence, the agent of the action (my sister) is expressed as the Subject. If this example is changed into a passive, the patient of the action (the fence) becomes the Subject: The fence was painted by my sister.
Adjectives are often called "describing words"; they often occur before a noun or after be.
The surest way to identify adjectives is by the ways they can be used:
- before a noun, to make the noun’s meaning more specific (i.e. to modify the noun), or
- after the verb be, as its complement.
- The pupils did some really good work. [adjective used before a noun, to modify it]
- Their work was good. [adjective used after the verb be, as its complement]
Adjectives cannot be modified by other adjectives. This distinguishes them from nouns, which can be.
Adjectives are sometimes called “describing words” because they pick out single characteristics such as size or colour. This is often true, but it doesn’t help to distinguish adjectives from other word classes, because verbs, nouns and adverbs can do the same thing.
- The lamp glowed. [verb]
- It was such a bright red! [noun]
- He spoke loudly. [adverb]
- It was a French grammar book. [noun]
See also: adjective phrase, possessive adjective.
- Express an attribute of a person or thing.
- Can be in an attributive position before the noun.
- an old car
- Can be in a predicative position after the verb.
- the car is old
Adverbs often modify verbs, and can also modify adjectives, other adverbs, or entire clauses.
The surest way to identify adverbs is by the ways they can be used: they can modify a verb, an adjective, another adverb or even a whole clause.
- Usha soon started snoring loudly. [adverbs modifying the verbs started and snoring]
- That match was really exciting! [adverb modifying the adjective exciting]
- We don't get to play games very often. [adverb modifying the other adverb, often]
- Fortunately, it didn't rain. [adverb modifying the whole clause 'it didn't rain' by commenting on it]
Adverbs are sometimes said to describe manner or time. This is often true, but it doesn't help to distinguish adverbs from other word classes that can be used as adverbials, such as preposition phrases, noun phrases and subordinate clauses.
- Usha went up the stairs. [preposition phrase as adverbial: modifies leaves]
- She finished her work this evening. [noun phrase used as adverbial]
- She finished when the teacher got cross. [subordinate clause used as adverbial]
On the distinction between adverb and Adverbial, see the entry on the latter.
An Adverbial is a word or phrase that is used, like an adverb, to modify a verb or clause. Of course, adverbs can be used as Adverbials, but many other types of words and phrases can be used this way, including preposition phrases and subordinate clauses.
- The bus leaves in five minutes. [preposition phrase as adverbial: modifies leaves]
- She promised to see him last night. [noun phrase modifying either promised or see, according to the intended meaning]
- She worked until she had finished. [subordinate clause as adverbial]
What exactly is the difference between adverb and Adverbial? The former is a word class label, whereas the latter is a function label. Adverbials are the units in a sentence or clause which provide an answer to one or more of the questions 'when did this occur?', 'where did this occur?', 'why did this occur?', or 'how did this occur?'. So in the sentence Harriet did well in the SPaG test we say that the word well is an adverb which functions as an Adverbial. Here are some further examples, with the Adverbials highlighted:
- Last week, we finished all the work quickly. [noun phrase and adverb phrase functioning as Adverbial]
- The police drove very fast. [adverb phrase functioning as Adverbial]
- She hurriedly finished her meal in the restaurant. [adverb phrase and prepositional phrase functioning as Adverbial]
A linking Adverbial is an Adverbial that links a sentence, clause, etc. to another bit of text. Here are some examples:
- Early application from students abroad is advised. However, where there is time to do so, students who are uncertain about their qualifications should write in the first instance to the Assistant Registrar, to check that they are eligible for consideration.
- By April eighty-seven, Dr. Reeves noticed that the floor of the eye socket was sinking. Nevertheless, on the eighteenth of May she resumed work as a nursing auxiliary in the out-patients department of Pembury Hospital.
Two words are antonyms if their meanings are opposites.
- hot - cold
- light - dark
- light - heavy
The apostrophe, written ', is one of the 9 main punctuation marks in English.
Apostrophes have two completely different uses:
- showing the place of missing letters (e.g. I'm for I am)
- marking possessives (e.g. Hannah's mother)
- I'm going out and I won't be long. [showing missing letters]
- Hannah's mother went to town in Justin's car. [marking possessives]
The articles are the, a, and an.
The articles the (definite) and a or an (indefinite) are the most common type of determiner.
- The dog found a bone in an old box.
Aspect is a grammatical notion, and refers to the way in which the unfolding of situations over time is encoded in language, typically through the use of grammatical patterns involving auxiliary verbs. For example, They are discussing it uses progressive aspect and presents the action as ongoing.
Some grammarians refer to the perfect construction as 'perfect aspect', as in They have discussed it, which indicates that the action occurred before the present, but has relevance in the present. Other grammarians refer to perfect constructions as 'perfect tense'. The National Curriculum refers to 'perfect tense' rather than 'perfect aspect', and it is reasonable for teachers to follow that usage.
An auxiliary verb that is used to mark aspect. The verb be is an aspectual auxiliary, e.g. in They were watching TV.
Some grammarians say that the perfect construction represents aspect as well. In that case, have is an aspectual auxiliary, e.g. in He has sold his car. The National Curriculum calls the perfect construction a tense rather than an aspect. It is reasonable for teachers to follow the National Curriculum in this case.
The auxiliary verbs are be, have and do and the modal verbs. They can be used to make questions and negative statements. In addition:
- be is used in the progressive and passive
- have is used in the perfect
- do is used to form questions and negative statements if no other auxiliary verb is present
- They are winning the match. [be used in the progressive]
- Have you finished your picture? [have used to make a question, and the perfect]
- No, I don't know him. [do used to make a negative; no other auxiliary is present]
- Will you come with me or not? [modal verb will used to make a question about the other person's willingness]
Auxiliary verbs 'help' the main verb they precede by adding further shades of meaning such as aspect or modality. E.g. They are leaving; She has finished; We should help him.