Grammatical Terms

ACTIVE VOICE

            Indicates that the subject of a sentence is providing the action. See also PASSIVE VOICE.

Example: I wrote the report.

 

ANTECEDENT

Noun or pronoun to which another pronoun refers.

Example: Peter (noun) finished his (pronoun) report.

 

APPOSITIVE

Identifies or explains another word(s).

Example: Juan de la Cruz, engineer, suggested further review.

 

ARTICLE

Adjectives a and an (indefinite articles) and the (definite article).

Example: the generator

 

AUXILIARY VERB

Helps another verb form or verb phrase.

Example: The professorr is lecturing.

 

CASE

Property of a noun or pronoun showing its relation to other words. Nominative case: noun or pronoun is used as the subject of a sentence; objective case:  is used as the object of a verb or preposition; possessive case: is used to show ownership. See BASIC FORMS OF PRONOUNS.

Example: He is here (nominative). The supervisor returned the tools to John and me (objective). My duty is finished (possessive).

 

COLLECTIVE NOUN

Name of a group or collection of objects.

Example: team; family

 

COMPARATIVE DEGREE

Used when comparing two persons or things. See also SUPERLATIVE DEGREE.

Example: Our proposal is longer than theirs.

 

COMPLEMENT

Completes the meaning of a verb.

Example: The supervisor dictated the letter.

 

COMPOUND PREDICATE

Two or more connected verbs or verb phrases.

Example: He wrote and mailed the report.

 

COMPOUND SENTENCE

Has two or more independent clauses.

Example: (1) The computer malfunctioned, but (2) the technician repaired it.

 

COMPOUND SUBJECT

Two or more words joined by and, or, nor.

 Example: The supervisor and his assistant left early.

 

COORDINATE CONJUNCTION

Connects words, phrases, and clauses of equal importance.

 Example: I wrote and he edited.

 

DANGLING MODIFIER

Does not refer to another word or does not modify any other word. See also MISPLACED MODIFIER.

Example: After hearing (dangling) the alarm, the signal was acknowledged. (Better: After hearing the alarm, we acknowledged the signal.)

 

DEPENDENT (SUBORDINATE) CLAUSE

Group of words in a sentence with a subject and predicate that alone does not express a complete thought.

Example: The man who was introduced first is from the government.

 

DIRECT OBJECT

Noun or noun equivalent that receives a verb’s action; answers the question what or whom after the verb.

Example: He answered (what?) the phone.

 

EXPLETIVE

Introductory word such as it or there that fills the position of the subject when the actual subject comes after the verb.

Example: There are two engineers on duty. (Better: Two engineers are on duty.)

 

FUTURE PERFECT TENSE

Denotes action to be completed at a definite future time.

Example: I will have finished the report by the time you need it.

 

FUTURE TENSE

Denotes future time.

Example: I will attend the safety meeting next week.

 

GERUND

Verb form ending in –ing used as a noun; may be a subject, a direct object, an object of a preposition, a subjective complement, or an appositive.

Example: Boxing is a popular sport.

 

IMPERATIVE MOOD

Expresses a command or request; always present tense, second person.

Example: Close the door.

 

INDICATIVE MOOD

Used to say something or ask something.

Example: The Captain greeted the crew (statement).

 

INDIRECT OBJECT

Noun or noun equivalent usually indicating to whom or for whom something is done; occurs before the direct object.

Example: The writer sent the publisher (indirect object) a letter (direct object).

 

INFINITIVE

Verb form used as a noun, an objective, or an adverb, usually preceded by to.

 Example: He wanted to see the play.

 

INTRANSITIVE VERB

One that has no object. See also TRANSITIVE VERB.

Example: The time passed quickly.

 

LINKING VERB

Links a subject with another word that explains or describes it.

Example:  The Engineer is an author.

 

MISPLACED MODIFIER

One positioned in a sentence so it appears to modify the wrong word. See also DANGLING MODIFIER.

Example: They only (misplaced) toured the engine room. (Better: They toured only the engine room.)

 

MODIFIER

Word(s) that restricts or qualifies the meaning of another word.

Example: a blue sky

 

MOOD

Expresses the attitude of the speaker or writer (statement; question; wish; expression of possibility or doubt; command). See IMPERATIVE MOOD, INDICATIVE MOOD, and SUBJUNCTIVE MOOD.

 

NOMINATIVE CASE

Indicates the case of a subject or a predicate noun.

Example: Our boss (subject) is a former pilot (predicate nominative).

 

NONRESTRICTIVE CLAUSE

Subordinate clause that is nonessential to the meaning of the sentence; usually set off with commas.

Example: The book, which was just release, is hard to understand.

 

OBJECTIVE CASE

Indicates the case of a direct object, an indirect object, or the object of a preposition.

Example: They gave us (indirect object of gave) the money (direct object of gave) to deposit in the bank (object of in).

 

PARTICIPLE

Verb form used as an adjective or predicate adjective.

Example: The increasing profits are encouraging.

 

PASSIVE VOICE

Indicates that the subject of a sentence is receiving the action (is being acted upon)  See also ACTIVE VOICE.

Example: The instructions were written by me.

 

PAST PERFECT TENSE

Denotes action completed at some definite time in the past.

Example: I had started to read when the telephone rang.

 

PAST TENSE

Denotes past time.

Example:  I began to type.

PERSON

Indicates who is speaking: first person (the one speaking); second person (the one being spoken to); third person (the person or thing being spoken about). See  also BASIC FORMS OF PRONOUNS.

Example: I edit the newsletter (first person). You edit the newsletter (second person). They edit the newsletter (third person).

 

POSSESSIVE CASE

             Shows possession.

Example:  my computer; the woman’s computer

 

PREDICATE

Part of a sentence containing the verb and other words that make a statement about the subject.

Example: My friend James is a captain.

 

PREDICATIVE ADJECTIVE

Follows a linking verb and modifies the subject.

Example: The advice is useful.

 

PRESENT PERFECT TENSE

Denotes action completed at the time of speaking or writing (that also may be continuing into the present).

Example: He has delivered the stores to the ship.

 

PRESENT TENSE

Denotes action occurring now.

Example: I see the results.

 

 RELATIVE ADJECTIVE

Relative pronoun (for example, whose) used as an adjective.

Example: He is an attorney whose case was overturned.

 

RELATIVE ADVERB

Adverb (for example, where, when, why) referring to an antecedent in the main clause and modifying a word in the subordinate clause.

Example: I scheduled my writing for a time when I was alone.

 

RELATIVE PRONOUN

Pronoun (for  example, who/whom, which/that) that takes the place of a noun and joins a dependent clause to a main clause. See BASIC FORMS OF PRONOUNS.

Example: He is the one who is most likely to succeed.

 

RESTRICTIVE CLAUSE

Clause essential to the sentence’s meaning.

Example: The office that has the computer will be enlarged.

 

SUBJECT

Word or group of words in a sentence about which a statement is made.

Example: The work is easy.

 

SUBJUNCTIVE MOOD

Used to express beliefs, doubts, wishes, uncertainty, and contrary-to-fact conditions.

Example: If I were younger, I would join the Peace Corps.

 

SUBORDINATE CONJUNCTION

Words such as since, so that, and although used to link subordinate and main clauses.

Example: I came today because I wanted to see you before you left.

 

SUPERLATIVE DEGREE

Used to compare more than two persons or things. See also COMPARATIVE DEGREE.

Example: This trip is the longest I’ve ever taken.


TENSE

Change in verb’s form to distinguish time. See PRESENT TENSE, PRESENT PERFECT TENSE, FUTURE TENSE, FUTURE PERFECT TENSE, PAST TENSE, and PAST PERFECT TENSE.

 

TRANSITIVE VERB

Expresses action or state of being and has a direct object. See also INTRANSITIVE VERB.

Example: I reviewed (what?) your policy guidelines.

 

VERBAL

Verb form used as another part of speech. See GERUND, INFINITIVE, and PARTICIPLE.

 

VOICE

Indicates whether a subject is doing the acting or is receiving the action (being acted upon). See ACTIVE VOICE and PASSIVE VOICE.