Glossary of Grammatical Terms


I’ve noticed that none of the books I use bother to define the terms they are describing. I’ve added definitions to the beginning of each entry and collected them here.

Noun – The part of speech that is used to name a person, place, thing, quality, or action and can function as the subject or object of a verb, the object of a preposition, or an appositive. Full description of nouns.

Preposition – a part of speech that indicates the relationship, often spatial, of one word to another. Full description of prepositions.

Proper Noun – a noun that denotes a particular thing; usually capitalized. Full description of proper nouns.

Plural – consisting of, containing, or pertaining to more than one. Full description of plural nouns.

Possessive – Of or relating to ownership or possession. Full description of possessive nouns.

Pronoun – The part of speech that substitutes for nouns or noun phrases and designates persons or things asked for, previously specified, or understood from the context. Full description of pronouns.

Indefinite Pronoun – A pronoun, such as English any or some, that does not specify the identity of its object. Full description of indefinite pronouns.

Antecedent – a preceding occurrence or cause or event. Full description of antecedents.

Personal Pronoun – A pronoun designating the person speaking (I, me, we, us), the person spoken to (you), or the person or thing spoken about (he, she, it, they, him, her, them). Full description of personal pronouns.

Relative Pronoun – A pronoun that introduces a relative clause and has reference to an antecedent. Full description of relative pronouns.

READ ALSO:  Common Errors in English

Relative Clause – a clause introduced by a relative pronoun. Full description of relative clauses.

Interrogative – of, pertaining to, or conveying a question. Full description of interrogative pronouns.

Demonstrative Pronouns – Pronouns that point to specific things. Full description of demonstrative pronouns.

Intensive – Indicating increased emphasis or force. Full description of intensive pronouns.

Reflexive – Directed back on itself. Full description of reflexive pronouns.

Object – a thing, person, or matter to which thought or action is directed.

Subject – The noun, noun phrase, or pronoun in a sentence or clause that denotes the doer of the action or what is described by the predicate.

Nominative – The category of nouns serving as the grammatical subject of a verb. Full description of pronoun nominative case.

Subjective – Relating to or being the nominative case. Full description of pronoun subjective case.

Objective – Pertaining to the semantic role of a noun phrase that denotes something undergoing a change of state or bearing a neutral relation to the verb. Full description of pronoun objective case.

Accusative – The case of nouns serving as the direct object of a verb. Full description of pronoun accusative case.

Genitive – Of, relating to, or being the grammatical case expressing possession, measurement, or source. Full description of pronoun genitive case.

Possessive – indicating possession, ownership, origin, etc. Full description of pronoun possessive case.

Gerund – a noun formed from a verb (such as the ‘-ing’ form of an English verb when used as a noun). Full description of gerund.

Nominal – functioning as or like a noun.

READ ALSO:  Modal verbs (and other verbs) to express Obligation

Verb – The part of speech that expresses existence, action, or occurrence. Full description of verbs.

Finite Verb – a verb form that distinguishes person, number, and tense, and also mood or aspect. Full description of finite verbs.

Nonfinite Verb – a verb form that does not indicate person or number.

Verbal – a word, particularly a noun or adjective, derived from a verb.

Nominal – functioning as or like a noun.

Modifier – A word, phrase, or clause that limits or qualifies the sense of another word or word group.

Modal – noting or pertaining to mood.

Perfect – Expressing action completed prior to a fixed point of reference in time.

Progressive – Designating a verb form that expresses an action or condition in progress.

Active – Verb form or voice used to indicate that the grammatical subject is the doer of action (agent).

Passive – Verb form or voice used to indicate that the grammatical subject is the object of the action or the effect of the verb.

Main Verb – a word used as the final verb in a verb phrase, expressing the lexical meaning of the verb phrase.

Mood – Also called mode – A set of verb forms or inflections used to indicate the speaker’s attitude toward the factuality or likelihood of the action or condition expressed. Full description of mood.

Indicative – The mood of the verb used in ordinary objective statements. Full description of indicative mood.

Imperative – Something that demands attention or action; an unavoidable obligation or requirement; necessity. Full description of imperative mood.

READ ALSO:  Affixes: Prefixes and Suffixes

Subjunctive – Subjective, doubtful, hypothetical, or grammatically subordinate statements or questions. Full description of subjunctive mood.

Subjective Mood – Form of a verb which express the action or state not as a fact, but only as a conception of the mind still contingent and dependent. Full description of subjective mood.

Transitive – Expressing an action carried from the subject to the object; requiring a direct object to complete meaning. full description of transitive verbs.

Intransitive – A verb or verb construction that does not require or cannot take a direct object. Full description of intransitive verbs.

Passive Voice – Not active, but acted upon; suffering or receiving impressions or influences. Full description of passive voice.

Past Tense – Actions or states in the past. Full description of past tense.

Present Tense – Actions or states at the time of speaking. Full description of present tense.

Modal Auxiliaries – Verbs that express the degree of certainty of the action in the sentence, or the attitude or opinion of the writer concerning the action. Full description of modal auxiliaries.

Modal – Noting or pertaining to mood.

Auxiliary – Additional; supplementary; reserve.

Adverbial – a word or group of words functioning as an adverb.


x