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.


A functional label which refers to the principal word in a phrase. For example, an adjective phrase has an adjective as its Head, and a verb phrase has a verb as its Head.

See phrase.

heavy noun phrase shift

A syntactic process by which a noun phrase that is 'heavy' (i.e. long and/or complex) is moved to a position towards the end of a sentence. English has a tendency towards heavy noun phrase shift, and heavy noun phrases often seem easier to understand or interpret when they occur later in a sentence rather than earlier.


An expression that tempers an absolute statement by qualifying it in various ways. For example, maybe, perhaps, and generally can operate as hedges, as can expressions like it would seem that or as far as I can tell. Hedges can express a speaker's hesitation, doubt, or uncertainty about what is being said, and can also protect a speaker from repercussions of saying something that is incorrect.


Two different words are homonyms if they both look exactly the same when written, and sound exactly the same when pronounced.

  • Has he left yet? Yes – he went through the door on the left.
  • The noise a dog makes is called a bark. Trees have bark.

See also homophone.


Two different words are homophones if they sound exactly the same when pronounced.

  • hear, here
  • some, sum

See also homonym.

Englicious (C) Survey of English Usage, UCL, 2012-15 | Supported by the AHRC and EPSRC. | Cookies