Grammar Glossary

Abstract Noun

Expresses ideas, qualities etc. Truth, happiness, danger, beliefs.

Active Voice

The subject of verb performs the action.
The dog chased the cat. (see passive)


Modify nouns (describe nouns). Blue dress.

Adjectival Phrase

A phrase which modifies or describes noun/p.n.
John is the teacher with the brushed back hair.


Provides information about verb – how, when, where, why. Carefully, yesterday, etc.

Adverbial Phrase

Word group provides information about verb. She was speaking in an unusual way.

Adverbial Clause

Subordinate clause – functions as adverbial.


Definite (the) Indefinite (a, an)


Position of adjective before a noun.
The green olives. (See predicative)

Auxiliary verb

Helping verb. He is going. She will come.


A group of words which contains a subject and a finite verb.

Collective Noun

Groups of people/things etc family, team.

Common Noun

general words referring to people, things, places, concepts, states

Complex Sentence

Has a main (principal, independent) clause and
one or more subordinate clauses. Mary likes
Tasmania because it is very peaceful.

Compound Sentence

Has two or more main clauses joined by a co-
ordinate conjunction. Mary likes apples and
Tom likes bananas.

Concrete Noun

Have physical reality – book, chair, music.


A joining word. (see next entry)

Coordinate Conjunction

Joins words, phrases, clauses equal in status.
Mary and John. Mary went but John stayed.


Nouns which can be counted. Book/books.

Demonstrative Determiner

This book, these books, that man, those men.

Demonstrative Pronoun

Replaces a noun. I will take these with me.


Used with a noun – eg articles, demonstratives,
possessives. the book, these books, my books

Direct Object

The action of verb passes onto the object.

She ate the chocolate ice cream.

Finite Verb

Carries the inflections for subject and tense.
Every complete sentence needs a finite verb.

Gradable Adjective

Can be modified to show degree. Hot – Hotter

Indirect Object

Some verbs (ditransitive) have two objects.
She gave the boy a ticket. (IO boy) (DO a ticket)


Base form of verb – to go, to leave, to be etc


Adding affixes to mark grammatical meaning.

Example: He goes. They worked.

Interrogative Pronoun

Used for asking questions. Who, Which, What

Intransitive Verb

A verb that does not take an object. She ran.

Modal Auxiliary

Can, could, may, might, should, must, will etc


refers to a person, place, thing concept or state.

Noun Phrase/Group

Phrase that fills the function of a noun. The little boy with red hair is happy.



Passive Voice

The subject affected by action of verb (rather than doer of verb).
The cat was chased by the dog.


Non-finite form of verb. It’s raining. I’ve been.

Part of Speech

Word Class – noun, verb, adjective, etc.


1st person, 2nd , 3rd etc. I, you, he

Personal Pronoun

Used to refer to persons or things. I, you, he, etc.


A group of two or more words which can act as a single part of speech.

Phrasal Verb

Verb combined with preposition or adverb which forms a separate verb with own meaning.
He called off the meeting.


Part of sentence which is not the Subject.


Position of adjective after the verb.
The olives are green. (See attributive)


Usually in front of noun/noun phrase. On the
hill, over the road, etc. Indicate direction, time,
position etc.

Prepositional Phrase

Phrase that begins with preposition. Can
function as adverbial or adjectival phrase.

Present participle

ing form of verb – singing


Used in place of a noun. Pro (for) noun.

Primary Auxiliary

Helping verb. Used with other verbs to make
tenses, passive forms and indicate person.
It is raining. He has travelled. He didn’t come.

Proper Noun

Name of specific individual, place, etc. Sydney

Reciprocal Pronoun

Each other, one another

Reflexive Pronoun

Myself, himself, themselves. I did it myself.


Group of words used to make a statement, ask
a question, give an order. Begins with capital
letter and ends with full stop, question mark etc.


The part of sent which is focus or doer of verb.

Subject Complement

Linked to subject by Verb to be (or linking verb).

She is a teacher. They are happy.

Subordinate Clause

Dependent clause introduced by subordinator.

It cannot stand alone.

Subordinating Conjunction

Joins dependent clause to principal or
independent clause. Because, when, if etc.

Superlative Adjective

High- Highest, Reliable – Most reliable.


Indicates when the action or event occurred.
He studies every day. He studied last week.

Transitive Verb

A verb which has a direct object.
She beat the drum. (SVO)


Nouns which cannot be counted and usually do not have a plural form. Rice, coffee, paint, advice etc.


Doing or action word. Express states and mental
process. They travelled. She feels happy.

Verb Phrase/Group

A phrase that consists of verbs/auxiliaries.

Word Class

Used interchangeably with the term ‘Part of Speech’.

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