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Glossary of terms used on this site

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  • Glossary
Term Definition

A sentence that is written in active voice has a subject which has the function of actor - John plays the bass; America invaded Iraq.


A word that modifies a noun, making its meaning more precise - The cold house; The damaging allegations.


A word that modifies other parts of speech in the way an adjective modifies a noun - John ran speedily; The two parties angrily debated the matter.


A clause element that modifies another clause in the same way an adverb modifies a phrase - She ran off in the direction of the house; I didn't know about adverbials until I went to university.


A word that shares a relationship of opposition with another - Start and finish; Black and white; Male and female.


The relationship of opposition between two words, or antonyms.


The use of two adjacent noun phrases to refer to a single referent - The controversial footballer, Joey Barton, was sent off; The biggest mistake of his career, deciding to go to war, will haunt him.

Auxiliary verb

A verb that accompanies a lexical verb in a verb phrase, indicating person, number, tense, aspect or voice - I will become king; World peace might come about one day.

British National Corpus

A collection of spoken and written English which can be searched for patterns in language use.

Categorical assertion

A statement presented with no modality - London is the capital of England; Capitalism is organised crime; Europe's economies are struggling.

Change of state verb

A verb that suggests a process of change from one thing to another – It has stopped raining; The business expanded its operations.


A grammatical unit that makes a proposition, containing at least a subject and a predicate.

Clause element

A part of a clause that performs a particular grammatical role – subject, predicate, object, complement or adverbial.


A word that frequently occurs with or near to another - Brutally with honest; Tall and dark with handsome.


The study of which words – or collocates - tend to occur around certain other words.

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