The UVic Writer's Guide


Glossary


There are entries for these letters:

[A] [C] [G] [H] [I] [N] [O] [P] [R] [S] [V]

A

Adjectival
Functioning as an adjective. Phrases and clauses that modify nouns are adjectival.
Adjective
A word that modifies the meaning of a noun.

The little girl climbed quickly up the very tall tree.

Adjectives are capable of comparison:

positive: small, beautiful

comparative: smaller, more beautiful

superlative: smallest, most beautiful.

Adverb
A word that modifies the meaning of a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. They answer the questions "how?" "when?" "where?" etc.

The little girl climbed quickly up the very tall tree.

Adverbs are capable of comparison:

positive fast, quickly

comparative faster, more quickly

superlative fastest, most quickly.

Adverbial
Functioning as an adverb. Phrases and clauses that modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs are adverbial.
Article
One of a set of three words: the, the definite article; aand an, the two forms of the indefinite article.
Auxiliary
A "helping verb" like "have" or "should" or "was."

I should have been trying to please them, but I forgot.

C

Case
The use of word form to indicate grammatical function. The form "I" identifies the pronoun as either a subject or a subject completion, "my" or "mine" indicates possession, while "me" is the equivalent object form. Noun endings only indicate whether or not the noun is a possessive: Lara, Lara's.
Clause
A group of words containing a complete predication. Clauses belong to two types: (1) subordinate, relative, or dependent clauses (italicised below) function only when conjoined to (2) a main, coordinate, or independent clause, which can--contrariwise--stand by itself.

Before Tanya or I arrived, it had become late and cold, so we left.

Completion
A word or group of words that combine with a verb to complete the meaning of a predicate. Different verbs take different kinds of completions: objects, indirect objects, subject completions.
Complex sentence
A sentence made up of a main clause together with one or more subordinate or relative clauses.

Barb ran down the street for help while Liz called the police.

Compound Sentence
A sentence made up of two or more independent or main clauses.

Liz ran down the street for help and Barb called the police.

Conjunction
One of a small number of relational (function) words that join words or groups of words together. Conjunctions are of two kinds: some like "and," "or," "for," join words or phrases of equivalent grammatical weight.

Before Tanya or I arrived, it had become late and was turning cold, so we left.

Others, like "since," "when," and sometimes "for," connect subordinate clauses to the rest of the sentence.

Before Tanya or I arrived, it had become late and cold, so we left.

Conjunctive Adverb
An adverb expressing a relationship between main clauses, which can be joined by a semi-colon. Unlike a conjunction, a conjunctive adverb need not come between the main clauses:

I worked hard; nevertheless I did no better than before.

I worked hard; I nevertheless did no better than before.

There are entries for these letters:

[A] [C] [G] [H] [I] [N] [O] [P] [R] [S] [V]

G

Gender Specificity
The restriction of noun or pronoun reference to male or female persons or animals. "He" and "chairman" exhibit gender specificity: the former is a very odd pronoun to use for a woman; the latter an incongruous noun when used for the same purpose.
Gerund
A verbal that functions as a noun (as distinct from a participle that functions as an adjective). In the following examples, "Running" is a gerund in the first, and a modifying participle in the second.

Running in every race was Amanda's goal.

Running in every race, Amanda was known to everyone.

Grammar
1. The rules by which native speakers generate acceptable sentences in a language. 2. the study or codification of such rules.

H

Hyper-correct
Too correct; so correct as to be wrong.

That's between Jay and I.

I

Infinitive
The non-finite form of a verb, that is, the form of the verb which is not limited to time, place, or agent. A verbal capable of functioning as a noun, or a modifier, or combined with an auxiliary verb to construct a synthetic verb form. Infinitives can have subjects and completions.

To offer help is better than to refuse it.

Friends and neighbours stopped by to offer help after the fire.

I was able to offer help because I was at hand.

Inflectional System
The pattern of endings indicating different cases or numbers in nouns and pronouns, as well as different tenses in verbs:

Subject: he they who it Mary

Possessive: his their(s) whose its Mary's
Object: him them whom it Mary
Tenses:
give, gave, given
tide, rode, ridden
go, went, gone
sit, sat, sat

Interjection
An exclamatory word intended to express strong feelings.
Interrogation
questioning

M

Modifier
A word or group of words that adds to or refines the meaning of another word. Modifiers are either adjectives or adverbs.
Mood
the form of the verb by which it denotes a state (indicative), a command (imperative), a question (interrogative), or a hypothetical condition (subjunctive).

There are entries for these letters:

[A] [C] [G] [H] [I] [N] [O] [P] [R] [S] [V]

N

Negation
A denial; the opposite of affirmation

Mark did not sell his store.

Non-restrictive clause
A clause that adds to our knowledge of whatever it is it modifies but without being crucial to its identification; the opposite of restrictive clause.

The children, who loved ice cream, ran to the Dairy Queen.

Noun
The name of a person, place, or thing. A proper belongs to a particular individual; a common noun identifies a member of a group.

Mark sold his store.

O

Object (direct)
The person or thing affected by the action of the verb; a verb completion

Noel hit the ball; it hit me.

Noel hit me the ball.

Object (indirect)
The person or thing indirectly affected by the action of the verb; a verb completion.

Noel hit me the ball.

Object case
The form that certain pronouns take when they are the object in a sentence. (The object case combines the Old English accusative and dative cases, corresponding roughly to the direct and indirect objects noted above.)

P

Participle
One of two different kinds of verb-derived words which can function as nouns, modifiers, or parts of synthetic verbs. Present participles end with "-ing." Past participles of most verbs end with "-ed" or "-en."

I hate running when I feel tired.

He was running scared.

Parts of Speech
The classes of words from which sentences are constructed: nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections etc.
Phrase
A unified group of words which does not include both parts of the actor-act combination that produces predication. The term is a general one, but includes the prepositional phrase as one of its most important classes.

In the box which sat on the porch behind the house was an egg.

Plural
more than one; the opposite of singular.
Possessive Case (traditionally called the genetive case)
The form indicating "possession"; it includes but is not restricted to ownership.

Predicate
what is said about the subject. It comprises a verb, which may stand alone, or the entire verb phrase including complements.

Children read.

Friends and neighbours stopped by to offer help after the event.

Grass is green.

Predication
The act of saying something about a subject.
Preposition
One of a small number of relational (function) words like "in," "on," "behind," etc. which are known as prepositions because they are "pre-posed" or "placed before" the phrases they introduce.

In the box which sat on the porch behind the house was an egg.

Pronoun
A word standing for a noun. There are many different kinds of pronouns, including the following: indefinite pronouns ("some," "any"), demonstrative pronouns ("this," "those"), interrogative pronouns ("who," "which"), personal pronouns ("I," "you," "she"),

There are entries for these letters:

[A] [C] [G] [H] [I] [N] [O] [P] [R] [S] [V]

R

Relative pronouns
Which, that, whom> and so on.
Restrictive clause
A clause crucial to the identification of whatever it modifies; the opposite of a non-restrictive clause. The restrictive clause is not set off from the rest of the sentence by commas.

Children who are allergic to milk should avoid ice cream.

S

Singular
One; the opposite of plural.
Subject
The word or words in a sentence about which something is said.

Children read.

Friends and neighbours stopped by to offer help after the event.

Subject Case
Traditionally called nominative case) the form that certain pronouns take when they are the subject or subject completion of a sentence.

Iam here.

This is she.

Subject Completion (also called a subjective completion)
Either a noun or an adjective (a predicate nominative or a predicate adjective) that completes a copulative or linking verb by defining or describing its subject.

The ball appeared round.

Ms. Carswell is a lawyer.

Synthetic verb form
A multi-part verb form expressing one of a variety of possible degrees of pastness, futurity, completeness, habitualness, determination, uncertainty or the like.

I should have been trying to please them, but I forgot.

V

Verb
A word which specifies the action or condition in which the subject of a sentence participates. Predicates comprise a verb with whatever modifiers or complements accompany it.

Friends and neighbours stopped by to offer help after the event.

You seem unhappy.

Verbs are capable of being inflected for tense (and number):

stop (stops) stopped stopped

bite (bites) bit bitten

Verb Phrase
The combination of a verb and an adverb whose combined meaning cannot be deduced from their individual meanings.

Friends and neighbours stopped by to offer help after the event.

Compare:

He stopped by the side of the road.

Verbal
A form of a verb which either (1) does not function as a verb but as a noun or adjective or (2) combines with another verb to form a predicate. Infinitives and participles are verbals.

There are entries for these letters:

[A] [C] [G] [H] [I] [N] [O] [P] [R] [S] [V]


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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated Sept 24, 1995