Grammatical Units of English

Grammatical units of English.

English grammar terms relates to the English language. Some terms here may have additional or extended meanings when applied to other languages. For example, “case” in some languages applies to pronouns and nouns. In English, nouns do not have case and therefore no reference to nouns is made in its definition here.

Term Definition
active voice one of two voices in English; a direct form of expression where the subject performs or “acts” the verb; see also passive voice eg: “Many people eat rice”
adjective part of speech that typically describes or “modifies” a noun eg: “It was a big dog.”
adjective clause seldom-used term for relative clause
Adjunct word or phrase that adds information to a sentence and that can be removed from the sentence without making the sentence ungrammatical eg: I met John at school.
adverb word that modifies a verb, an adjective or another adverb

eg: quickly, really, very

auxiliary verb

(also called “helping verb”)

verb used with the main verb to help indicate something such as tense or voice

eg: I do not like you. She has finished. He can swim.

direct speech saying what someone said by using their exact words; see also indirect speech

eg: “Lucy said: ‘I am tired.'”

direct object noun phrase in a sentence that directly receives the action of the verb; see also indirect object

eg: “Joey bought the car“, “I like it“, “Can you see the man wearing a pink shirt and waving a gun in the air?”

grading adverb adverb that can modify the intensity or grade of a gradable adjective

eg: quite hot, very tall

indirect object noun phrase representing the person or thing indirectly affected by the action of the verb; see also direct object

eg: “She showed me her book collection”, “Joey bought his wife a new car”

indirect question another term for embedded question
interrogative pronoun pronoun that asks a question.

eg: who, whom, which

intransitive verb verb that does not take a direct object; see also transitive verb

e.g. “He is working hard”, “Where do you live?”

lexical verb another term for main verb
linking verb verbs that connect the subject to more information (but do not indicate action), such as “be” or “seem”
Main clause another term for independent clause
number change of word form indicating one person or thing (singular) or more than one person or thing (plural)

eg: one dog/three dogs, she/they

Object thing or person affected by the verb; see also direct object and indirect object

eg: “The boy kicked the ball“, “We chose the house with the red door

objective case case form of a pronoun indicating an object

eg: “John married her“, “I gave it to him

part of speech one of the classes into which words are divided according to their function in a sentence

eg: verb, noun, adjective

Position grammatically correct placement of a word form in a phrase or sentence in relation to other word forms

eg: “The correct position for an article is at the beginning of the noun phrase that it describes”

preposition part of speech that typically comes before a noun phrase and shows some type of relationship between that noun phrase and another element (including relationships of time, location, purpose etc)

eg: “We sleep at night”, “I live in London”, “This is for digging”

prepositional verb multi-word verb that is formed with verb + preposition

eg: believe in, look after


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