Glossary of grammar

Adjectives are describing words (red, new, unusual, important).

Adverbs modify verbs and often end -ly (usually).

Apostrophes are used for possessives or for contractions. "Your friend's (possessive) grammar is improving in its accuracy. It's (it is) a good thing, she's (she is) taking lessons." Note the difference between "its accuracy' and 'it's a good thing'. It's = it is and there's (there is) a contraction.

Auxiliary verbs help to complete the meaning by combining with other verbs, such as be, do, have.

Collective nouns refer to groups (choir, team etc). Use singular verb if the collective refers to a unit.

Colons are used before lists of phrases or short sentences. e.g. This glossary covers English terms such as: how adjectives describe words; the use of apostrophes; and the definition of a collective noun.

Commas indicate a pause or break up a list of words.

Conjunctions are connecting words, such as and, but, because, although, while.

Gerund is the -ing form after certain verbs and prepositions (I like travelling, after drinking wine I feel sleepy).

Infinitive is the base form of a verb, such as go, sit, stand.

Modal verbs are auxiliary or helping verbs which convey a mood or judgement. They include can/could, may/ might, will/ would, shall / should, must, ought to, need, used to.

Passive varies the relationship between subject and object. Think active first, "The cats saw the dogs". Use passive to change the emphasis to a specific character or thing. "The gunman was arrested by the police" (passive). This is arguably more interesting than "The police arrested the gunman" (active).

Prepositions: across, after, at, behind, before, between, beyond, by, down, for, from, in, on, out, over, round, since, through, under, up, with.  Multi-word prepositions include because of, due to, instead of, near to, on behalf of, in spite of, as far as

Pronouns are used instead of a noun already used to avoid repetition.

Semi-colons provide a stronger break than commas.

Verbs are words used to describe an action.


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