Grammar terms

grammar definitions

I can remember when I first started reading grammar books that the language was daunting (some of it still is!).

So here’s a few terms in case you need to refresh your memory.

Active voice: with the active voice, a subject performs the action of the verb, e.g. I kicked the ball.

Adjectives: describing words, such as hot, cold, beautiful.

Adverbs: tell how, when, where and how much, e.g. slowly, fast, very.

Clause: group of related words containing a subject and verb that is a complete sentence or part of a sentence, e.g. I work in a bank.

Collective nouns: refers to a group of people or things, e.g. team, jury, staff.

Conjunctions: link words or parts of a sentence, e.g. but, so, because.

Dependent clause: also known as subordinate clause – a group of related words containing a subject and predicate. Dependent clauses cannot stand alone – they depend on the independent (main) clause to make sense, e.g. because it was raining.

Determiners: come before a noun and tell us which ones, whose and how many, e.g. three, that, my, a.

Independent clause: also known as main clause – a group of related words containing a subject and predicate, e.g. She ate dinner. An independent clause can be a complete sentence or part of a sentence.

Modify: change or add to the meaning of another word or words, e.g. beautiful modifies the word plant (beautiful plant).

Nouns: persons, places or things, e.g. cat, man, woman.

Objects: receive the action of the verb, e.g. I caught the ball.

Passive voice: the subject receives the action of the verb, rather than carrying it out, e.g. The ball (subject) was kicked.

Personal pronouns: words such as I, me, mine, you, yours, his, hers and we, used to refer to a noun previously referred to or known.

Phrase: a group of related words that acts as a unit within a sentence, but do not form a complete thought, e.g. fed up and bored.

Predicate: what the sentence says about the subject, e.g. Jack laughed heartily at the joke.

Prepositions: used before a noun or pronoun to relate them to other words, e.g. by, to, at.

Pronouns: replace a noun previously mentioned or already known, e.g. it, you, who.

Proper nouns: take initial capitals and name a specific person, place or thing, e.g. Ms Smith, Sydney, Parliament House.

Relative pronouns: used after a noun to make it clear what person or thing we are referring to, e.g. that, which, who, whom, whose, whoever, whomever.

Subject: what or who the sentence is about. The subject often, but not always, performs the action of the verb – I invited a guest. (Not so in passive sentences – A guest was invited.)

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