Linguistics | Grammar | Verbs | Families

Grammar is a branch of linguistics that deals with the arrangement (syntax) and form and structure (morphology) of words.  Every word in the English language can be classified by its use and position.  The following glossary lists the classification, punctuation marks and some of the terminology used for the analysis of a language.

adjective.  A word that qualifies a noun.  Adjectives are descriptive (the big book), quantative (many pages), interrogative (which page), demonstrative (those books) or indicate possession (my book).

adverb.  A word that describes how, where or when an action (verb) is performed.  It usually has the suffix -ly: they moved quickly.

antonyms.  Opposites: fast is an antonym of slow.

apostrophe. Punctuation mark indicating possession (Bob's car) or representing letters that have been removed (wouldn't, isn't).

article. A noun identifier.  'A' or 'the' being the indefinite and definite article.

capital letters. Used at the beginning of a sentence, quotes, proper nouns and titles of people and organisations.

case. The relationship between nouns and the rest of the sentence.  The cases used in English are: subjective, objective, possessive and indirective.

clause.  A group of words containing a subject and verb, forming part of a sentence.

colon. Punctuation mark introducing a list, quotation or summary.

comma. Punctuation mark which makes a slight break in a sentence.  Commas also divide a series of nouns, adjectives or phrases and isolate names and speech from the rest of the sentence.

conjugation. The recitation of the various forms of a verb.

conjunction. Words such as and, but and or that join phrases together.  They may be replaced by a semicolon.

exclamation mark. Punctuation mark indicating emotion.  It follows genuine exclamations not ordinary statements.

full stop (period). Punctuation mark which indicates: 1. The end of a complete sentence. 2. An abbreviation when the last letter is different from that at the end of the complete word (adj.  for adjective).

hyphen. Punctuation mark that joins compound words (lay-by, free-range) or marks a word that has been split at the end of a line.

impersonal. Referring to the third person he, she or it.

inflection. The modification of a word resulting from a change in tense, person or number.  Inflection need not change the spelling of the word.

interjection. Word or phrase expressing sudden emotion.

inverted comma. Punctuation mark enclosing direct quotations (speech).  There is normally a comma before and after the quote.  Single quotation marks indicate a title or quote within speech.

noun. The name of a person, thing or quality.  Types of noun include: common or concrete nouns (man, cat), proper nouns (London, John Bull), abstract nouns (love, hate) and collective nouns (flock, group).

object. A noun or pronoun that is the recipient of a verb: I love you.

paragraph. A group of related sentences.

parenthesis (brackets). Punctuation mark isolating part of a sentence which could be omitted.  The punctuation of the rest of sentance should run as if the brackets were not there.

person. The categorisation of a word depending on its use in the first (I), second (you) or third (he) person.

phrase. A group of words that contains a subject or verb but not both.  A phrase need not make sense on its own but form part of a clause.

preposition. A word that links a noun with the rest of the sentence.  Prepositions usually indicate location (in, on, with) or time (before, during, at).

pronoun. A word used in place of a noun.  There are two types: personal pronouns (I, you, it) and possessive pronouns (mine, yours, theirs).

question mark. Punctuation mark which follows direct questions but not reported ones.

semicolon. Punctuation mark providing a stronger break than a comma or replacing a conjunction.

sentence. A group of words containing a verb that makes complete sense.

subject. A noun or pronoun which governs a verb (ie its inflection): I love you.

syllable. A group of letters that usually contains a vowel and can be pronounced independently from the complete word.

tense. Inflections in a  verb to indicate when the action took place. Click here for verb tenses.

verb. A word describing an action or state: what a person or thing does or experiences. Click here for verb forms.

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