Adjective

Definition: An adjective refers to and describes a noun. Example One: The red [red=adjective] car sped through the intersection. Example Two: The boy wore braces to correct his misaligned [misaligned=adjective] teeth. For more information and practice using adjectives click here. Back to Top

Adverb
Definition: Adverbs describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. They explain how, where, why, or when. Example One: I walked calmly into the courtroom [The adverb calmly describes the verb walked]. Example Two: The test was extremely difficult [The adverb extremely describes the adjective difficult]. For more information and practice using adverbs click here. Back to Top

Agreement
Definition: Agreement refers to maintaining consistency in person and number when using subjects and verbs. In addition, pronouns must agree in person and number. Example One: The examination [examination=singular] tends [tends=singular] to corroborate the technician's suspicions. Example Two: All supervisors [supervisors=plural] need [need=plural] to remain at their [their=plural] desks. For more information and practice using correct subject-verb agreement click here. For more information and practice using correct pronoun agreement click here. Back to Top

Antecedent

Definition: An antecedent is the word to which a pronoun refers. Example One: The boat [boat=antecedent] that [that=pronoun] capsized during the storm was called Issa's Friend. Example Two: The leaders [leaders=antecedent], without regard to whom [whom=pronoun] the board of directors made some budgetary decisions, understood that to respond defensively could cost them their positions. For more information and practice using antecedents and pronouns click here. Back to Top

Apostrophe
Definition: An apostrophe indicates possession and can also be used to replace missing letters or numbers. Example One: Bill Larson's house is small [the apostrophe (') represents that the house belongs to Bill]. Example Two: I don't want to go to school today [the apostrophe (') combines the word do not into one word don't]. For more information and practice using apostrophes click here. Back to Top

Appositives
Definition: Appositives are words or phrases that further explain a noun or a pronoun. Example One: Mrs. T., our psychology instructor [Appositive=our psychology instructor], assigned a research report of 4,000 words on the first night of class. Example Two: The team elected two co-leaders, Danny and me [Appositive=Danny and me]. For more information and practice using apostrophes click here. Back to Top

Article

Definition: Articles are words that modify nouns. Three common articles are the, a, and an. The is a definite article, meaning it restricts a noun to something both the speaker and reader knows. A and an are indefinite articles, which means the nouns referred to are general and not specific. Example One: The [the=definite article] student was an [an=indefinite article] authority on backpacking in the [the=definite article] Sierras. Example Two: A [a=indefinite article] respected authority on astronomy, Dr. Smith also has a [a=indefinite article] degree in botany. For more information and practice using articles click here. Back to Top

Auxiliary Verb
Definition: Auxiliary verbs—or helping verbs—combine with main verbs to form a complete verb. The auxiliary verbs are all the forms of do, be, and have. Example One: Did [did=auxiliary verb] you explain [explain=main verb] your point of view to the associates? Example Two: We had [had=auxiliary verb] not yet completed [completed=main verb] the project when we were asked to start another. For more information and practice using verbs click here. Back to Top

Bracket
Definition: Brackets contain words added to direct quotations to make them grammatically correct. Example One: "Several exercises that can be used in place of the machines in a fully equipped gym include push-ups [and] pull-ups" [The word and was added in brackets to this direct quote to make it grammatically correct]. Example Two: He told me to "[g]o home" [The letter g was added to this direct quote in brackets to make it grammatically correct]. For more information and practice using brackets click here. Back to Top

Cardinal Number
Definition: Cardinal numbers are the counting numbers: 1, 2, 3, and so on. Example One: The book contained over 500 [500=cardinal number] pages. Example Two: The number 13 [13=cardinal number] is considered an unlucky number. For more information and practice on correct number usage in grammar here. Back to Top

Clause
Definition: A clause contains a subject, verb, and modifiers—but is not necessarily a complete sentence. Example One: Although he had several years experience in management, [A clause, but not a complete sentence] he was not the most qualified candidate for the position [A clause and a complete sentence]. Example Two: The young man may not be quite so gracious in stressful circumstances [A clause an a complete sentence]. For more information and practice on clauses click here. Back to Top

Cliché
Definition: A cliché is an expression that has lost its power although at one time it was probably clever. Example One: Already 60 inches tall in third grade, my son stood out like a sore thumb [Cliché=to stand out like a sore thumb]. Example Two: The new SUV was quiet as a mouse [cliché=quiet as a mouse] and fast as grease lightning [cliché=fast as grease lightning]. For more information about clichés click here. Back to Top

Colloquial

Definition: Colloquial implies that expressions and phrases are not formal. Use formal language for academic writing. Example One: The manager should not blame the associate. The associate was just being real [colloquial=to be real]. Example Two: Oscar Mayer's solution was to implement a niche strategy and specialize in making, you guessed it, hot dogs [colloquial=you guessed it]. For more information about colloquialism click here. Back to Top

Comma Splice
Definition: A comma splice is a comma used incorrectly to join two independent sentences. Example One: The designer was not able to finish the project, she was forced to renegotiate the contract [comma splice=both phrases are complete sentences]. Example Two: The school board was desperate to find a new principle, out of fear the board selected an inexperienced applicant [comma splice=both phrases are complete sentences]. For more information about comma splices click here. Back to Top

Complex Sentence
Definition: A complex sentence is a sentence composed of an independent clause and a dependent clause. Example One: Whenever the captain entered the room [=dependent clause], the men came to attention [=independent clause]. Example Two: The African species is rare [independent clause] whereas the South American species is quite common [=dependent clause]. For more information and practice on complex sentences and clauses click here. Back to Top

Compound-Complex Sentence

Definition: A compound-complex sentence is a sentence with two or more independent clauses and a dependent clause. Example One: Even though I trained for months [dependent clause], my finish time for the marathon was poor [independent clause], and I will adjust my training for the next marathon [independent clause]. Example Two: With my experience in retail [dependent clause], I have learned excellent customer service skills [independent clause], and I now have the opportunity to work in customer relations for a small business [independent clause]. For more information and practice on complex sentences and clauses click here. Back to Top

Compound Sentence
Definition: A compound sentence consists of two independent clauses joined either by a coordinating conjunction or a semicolon. Example One: Before merging, the human resource departments of the two companies compared their cultures [=independent clause], and [=coordinating conjunction] they decided that it made sense for executives to meet socially to discuss company culture [=independent clause]. Example Two: The nutritional requirements of young children differ from those of older children [=independent clause]; [=semicolon] for this reason, dieticians in all schools in the district will attend a refresher course [independent clause]. For more information and practice on compound sentences and clauses click here. Back to Top

Conditional
Definition: Conditional describes sentences in which a result is predicated on a condition. Example One: If you come by 2 p.m.[this is the condition], I will help you [this is the result]. Example Two: If you came by 2 p.m., I would help you. Example Three: If you had come by 2 p.m., I would have helped you. For more information and practice on the usage of the conditional click here. Back to Top

Conjunction
Definition: Conjunctions are words that join sentences. Example One: I came to a new realization, and [conjunction=and] I decided I must fight for my point of view. Example Two: He spoke for an hour, although [conjunction=although] it seemed like only a few minutes. For more information and practice on conjunctions click here. Back to Top

Coordinating Conjunction
Definition: A coordinating conjunction is a word that joins two independent clauses. Example One: I came to a new realization, and [coordinating conjunction=and] I decided I must fight for my point of view. Example Two: He assumed we all agreed, but [coordinating conjunction=but] he had forgotten just how stubborn the audience was. For more information and practice on conjunctions click here. Back to Top

Dash
Definition: Dashes are used to indicate a shift from one idea to another. Dashes can also be used to provide emphasis or clarity. Example One: Some of the things needed for the play—props, costumes, and trumpets—still need to be rented [the dashes (—) provide clarity and separate the items from the rest of the sentence]. Example Two: The opera singer—if you can call her that—used to sing with a rock band [the dashes (—) provide emphasis for the phrase if you can call her that]. For more information and practice with dashes click here. Back to Top

Dependent Clause
Definition: A dependent clause is a phrase that cannot stand alone. Dependent clauses are introduced by subordinating conjunctions and followed by commas. Example One: Because the proposal did not make sense to the committee [because=subordinating conjunction introducing a dependent clause], the members voted not to renew the contract. Example Two: After I walked into the room [after=subordinating conjunction introducing a dependent clause], both my wife and my children stared at the spinach caught between my teeth. For more information and practice on clauses click here. Back to Top

Direct Object
Definition: A direct object receives the action of a verb. Example One: The manager fired the employee [employee=direct object]. Example Two: The defendants claimed that the store had already been burglarized [that the store had already been burglarized=direct object]. For more information and practice on direct objects click here. Back to Top

Ellipsis Points
Definition: Ellipsis is the name of the three dots used to show parts have been left out of a direct quotation. Example One: “Any effort . . . to restructure the team is most helpful” [The ellipsis shows some of the quotation was omitted]. Example Two: “All efforts to introduce the software before January . . . would be premature” [The ellipsis shows some of the quotation was omitted]. For more information and practice on ellipsis click here. Back to Top

Expletive

Definition: An expletive has two meanings: it is either an expression that adds no meaning to the sentence or a vulgar expression. Example One: There are [There are=expletive] topics that even the Human Resources Department avoids. Example Two: It is [It is=expletive] important to be briefed on the cultural backdrop in Myanmar before establishing a business there. For more information and practice with expletives click here. Back to Top

Fragment
Definition: A fragment is an incomplete sentence. Example One: Not to say that every child has that strong ability. Example Two: Our bank's leaders believe by delivering products and services that offer great value and friendly service and by adhering to core values of being fair, caring, human, dynamic, and driven. For more information and practice avoiding fragments click here. Back to Top

Gerund
Definition: A gerund is the -ing form of a verb used as a noun. Example One: Reading [reading=gerund] is a favorite pastime of many successful people. Example Two: Brisk walking [walking=gerund] is a low-cost way to stay in shape. For more information and practice on gerunds click here. Back to Top

Hyphens
Definition: A hyphen is used to connect two or more words in a sentence. Hyphenated words can act as modifiers or compound words that can stand alone.

Example One: Sally was a well-organized secretary [the word well-organized is hyphenated (-) because the two words together modify the word secretary]. Example Two: One-half of the students are male [the word one-half is a fraction and uses a hyphen (-) when written out]. For more information and practice with hyphens click here. Back to Top

Independent Clause
Definition: An independent clause is a phrase that can stand alone as a complete sentence. While independent and dependent clauses can have a subject and a verb, only an independent clause can stand alone. Example One: No business can thrive without vision. Example Two: The unethical conduct was seen in the worker's reluctance to make the gifts public knowledge. For more information and practice with independent clauses click here. Back to Top

Indirect Object
Definition: An indirect object receives the direct object. Example One: I lent them [them=indirect object] enough money [money=direct object] to start a business. Example Two: The CEO told the executive team [team=indirect object] that all members needed to adjust their budgets [that all team members needed to adjust their budgets=direct object]. For more information and practice on indirect objects click here. Back to Top

Indirect Quotation
Definition: An indirect quotation restates the general meaning rather than the actual words of the speaker.

Example One: Indirect quotation = Dick said he studied three hours for the math quiz. Example Two: Direct quotation = Dick said, “I studied three hours for the math quiz.” Delete quotation marks with an indirect quotation. For more information and practice with quotations click here. Back to Top

Infinitive
Definition: An infinitive is the non-conjugated form of a verb that begins with "to." Example One: The man wanted to be [to be=infinitive] a firefighter. Example Two: The school initiated a policy to allow [to allow=infinitive] flexibility in completing program requirements. For more information and practice on verbs click here. Back to Top

Interjection
Definition: An interjection is a short exclamation and is normally used to show emotion. Example One: Mercy! Did you see the highlights for the game on TV last night [The word mercy shows emotion when referring to the highlights of the game]? Example Two: Yikes! You mean the assignment was due yesterday and not today [The word yikes emphasizes the surprise of the individual, who did not understand when the assignment was due]? For more information and practice with interjections click here. Back to Top

Jargon
Definition: Jargon refers to expressions used only within certain disciplines or by certain people. Because formal writing is intended to be read by a wide audience, avoid jargon. Example One: "What's your AFSC?" asked the airman.

Example Two: "You have a bilateral probital hematoma," the nurse explained. For more information on jargon click here. Back to Top

Linking Verb
Definition: Linking verbs connect the subject to a noun or an adjective. The following are linking verbs: be, get, become, taste, feel, stay, sound, and appear. Example One: I became [became=linking verb] an entrepreneur [entrepreneur=predicate nominative]. Example Two: The pomegranate tastes [taste=linking verb] good. For more information and practice on verbs click here. Back to Top

Main Clause
Definition: A main clause is another name for an independent clause or a phrase that can stand alone. Example One: No business can thrive without vision. Example Two: The young [young=adjective] man [man=noun] walked [walked=verb] to the store [store=noun], but [but=conjunction] he [he=pronoun] forgot [forgot=verb] his [his=pronoun] wallet [wallet=noun] at [at=preposition] home [home=noun]. For more information and practice on clauses click here. Back to Top

Misplaced Modifier
Definition: A misplaced modifier is a modifier that is not connected to the object it is modifying. Example One: After going through this simulation several times, it is obvious [it=as a subject misplaces the following phrase] that you have many things to keep in mind when working with different cultures.

Example Two: When looking at the health care field, it [it=as a subject misplaces the following phrase] would be difficult to imagine what health care would be like without nurses. For more information and practice on modifiers click here. Back to Top

Modal Verb
Definition: Modal verbs are a special set of helping verbs. The following are modal verbs: can, should, must, and may. Sometimes dare and need are considered modal verbs. These modal verbs are quite irregular and idiomatic. Example One: I can [can=modal verb] write a paper. Example Two: I should [should=modal verb] participate often in my classes. For more information and practice on verbs click here. Back to Top

Modifier
Definition: A modifier changes the meaning of another word. A modifier can be a verb or adverb, but a phrase can also be a modifier. Example One: He spoke poignantly [poignantly=modifier and adverb] about his first home. Example Two: Exasperated by the lack of clarity [exasperated by the lack of clarity=modifier], the team decided to put its goals in writing. For more information and practice on modifiers click here. Back to Top

Nonrestrictive Clause
Definition: A nonrestrictive clause adds information about the antecedent but does not limit the antecedent. Example One: The elder President Bush, who remained accessible to the younger President Bush [who remained accessible to the younger President Bush=nonrestrictive clause], was careful not to give advice when it was not requested.

Example Two: The human brain, which weighs about three lbs. [which weighs about three lbs.=nonrestrictive clause], contains nearly 100 billion neurons. For more information and practice on clauses click here. Back to Top

Noun
Definition: A noun is a person, place, or thing—tangible or abstract. Example One: The supervisor [supervisor=noun] encourages the associates [associates=noun] to reach their goals [goals=noun]. Example Two: Freedom [freedom=noun] is a trait [trait=noun] that ennobles. For more information and practice on nouns click here. Back to Top

Ordinal Number
Definition: Ordinal numbers tell position: first, second, third, and so on. Example One: The team finished in third [third=ordinal number] place in the state championship. Example Two: The boy was first [first=ordinal number] in line for tickets to the concert. For more information and practice with number usage click here. Back to Top

Parallelism
Definition: Parallelism means that words in a list are grammatically similar. Example One: I like to run, bike, and play cards [The verbs run, bike, and play all agree in person and number=parallelism]. Example Two: A learning team needs to be able to resolve conflict by setting boundaries, communicating openly, and compromising [The verbs setting, communicating, and compromising are all constructed using the present participle (-ing)]. For more information and practice using parallelism click here.

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Parentheses
Definition: Parentheses are used to set off information that is not essential to the meaning of a sentence. Example One: The party cannot be held outside in February (the coldest month of the year) [The phrase the coldest month of the year is not essential to the sentence and is offset with parentheses ( )]. Example Two: My grandfather (1896-1969) fought in the First World War [The dates, 1969-1969, are not essential to the meaning of the sentence and are off set with parentheses ( )]. For more information and practice with parentheses click here. Back to Top

Participle
Definition: English has two types of participles: present and past. The present participle is the -ing form of a verb. Normally, the past participle is formed by adding -ed to a verb, but there are irregular forms of the past participle. In addition, participles can serve as adjectives. Example One: He was not enunciating [enunciating=present participle] clearly. Example Two: I have never cooked [cooked=past participle] spaghetti. Example Three: Never bite into a half-eaten [eaten=participle as an adjective] apple. For more information and practice on participles click here. Back to Top

Parts of Speech
Definition: Parts of speech refer to a way to classify words in a sentence. The following are parts of speech and covered as individual terms in the Grammar Glossary: noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, conjunction, preposition, verb, and interjection. Example One: The young [young=adjective] man [man=noun] walked [walked=verb] to the store [store=noun], but [but=conjunction] he [he=pronoun] forgot [forgot=verb] his [his=pronoun] wallet [wallet] at [at=preposition] home [home=noun].

Example Two: The woman [woman=noun] spoke [spoke=verb] for [for=preposition] one [one=adjective] hour [hour=noun] at [at=preposition] the reception [reception=noun], although [although=conjunction] the time [time=noun] seemed [seemed=verb] to be [to be=verb] only a few [few=adjective] short [short=adjective] minutes [minutes=noun]. For more information and practice on parts of speech please refer to the other terms in the Grammar Glossary or Grammar Mechanics sections. Back to Top

Preposition
Preposition: A preposition shows relationships between nouns. Some examples of prepositions are: over, under, around, through, in, and at. Example One: I walked through [through=preposition] the park on my way to the store. Example Two: The man drove around [around=preposition] the mountain. For more information and practice on prepositions click here. Back to Top

Pronoun
Definition: A pronoun takes the place of a noun. Example One: The man went to the store, but he [he=pronoun] forgot his wallet. Example Two: The woman did not know that she [she=pronoun] would be called into work this weekend. For more information and practice on pronouns click here. Back to Top

Quotation Marks
Definition: Quotation marks are used to set off someone's words or thoughts, titles of minor literary works, words that need special emphasis in a sentence, and formal definitions of words. Example One: John F. Kennedy said, "The torch has been passed to a new gentleman" [The quotation marks (") in this sentence are used to show the direct quote stated by John F. Kennedy].

Example Two: Helen said that her dog "learned how to fetch" [the phrase learned how to fetch is placed in quotation marks (") to identify the words that the subject, Helen, spoke]. For more information and practice with quotation marks click here. Back to Top

Redundancy
Definition: Redundancy refers to unnecessary repetition. Example One: We must tighten security measures on undocumented, illegal ["undocumented" and "illegal" have the same meaning in this phrase and are repetitive] immigrants in the United States. Example Two: Throughout his lifetime, he instilled this policy until he died ["throughout his life" has the same meaning as "until he died" in this sentence]. For more information and practice avoiding redundancy click here. Back to Top

Relative Clause
Definition: A relative clause is the clause introduced by a relative pronoun. The relative pronouns are who(m), which, and that. Example One: The book that you want [that you want=relative clause] is at the library. Example Two: Casey Jones, whom the admissions committee rejected [whom the admissions committee rejected=relative clause], was admitted to Georgetown University. For more information and practice on clauses click here. Back to Top

Relative Pronoun
Definition: A relative pronoun refers to a noun in the previous clause. The relative pronouns are who(m), which, and that. Example One: The book that [that=relative pronoun] you want is at the library. Example Two: Casey Jones, whom [whom=relative pronoun] the admissions committee rejected, was admitted to Georgetown University.

For more information and practice with pronouns click here. Back to Top

Restrictive Clause
Definition: A restrictive clause is one that limits its antecedent. Example One: Everyone [everyone=antecedent] who has a motorcycle is required to attend a safety course [who has a motorcycle=restrictive clause]. Example Two: Americans [Americans=antecedent] who travel to Ireland may have difficulty understanding English [who travel to Ireland=relative clause]. For more information and practice on clauses click here. Back to Top

Run-On Sentence
Definition: A run-on sentence is two independent clauses written together without correct punctuation or conjunctions. Example One: The orator waited for the audience to become quiet he began his speech in a low voice. [The orator waited for the audience to become quiet=independent clause] he began his speech in a low voice [he began his speech in a low voice=independent clause]. Example Two: Before the merger each of the directors was on edge afterwards they all slept much more soundly. [Before the merger each of the directors was on edge=independent clause] afterwards they all slept much more soundly [afterwards they all slept much more soundly=independent clause]. For more information and practice avoiding run-on sentences click here. Back to Top

Split Infinitive
Definition: A split infinitive is formed when an infinitive verb forms with a word inserted between "to" and the verb. Example One: Student teachers need to carefully observe [carefully=splits the infinitive "to observe"] as their mentors teach reading to English language learners.

Example Two: Airport security is willing to only permit [only=splits the infinitive “to permit”] 3-fluid ounces per container. For more information and practice on verbs click here. Back to Top

Subject
Definition: The subject of a sentence is the doer, sometimes called the agent. Example One: Boeing [Boeing=subject] produces airplanes. Example Two: Reacting sluggishly to the Middle East, the stock market [stock market=subject] closed down 23 points. For more information and practice on subjects click here. Back to Top

Subordinating Conjunction
Definition: A subordinating conjunction is a word that joins an independent clause and a dependent clause. Example One: He spoke for an hour although [subordinating conjunction=although] it seemed like only a few minutes. Example Two: She returned to school because [subordinating conjunction=because] she wanted to be promoted to CEO. For more information and practice on conjunctions click here. Back to Top

Verb
Definition: A verb shows action or state of being. Example One: The agent closed [closed=verb] the sale. Example Two: The cat lay [lay=verb] motionless. For more information and practice on verbs click here.

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