Alphabetic organizer


Abstract nouns: describe an idea or concept.

warmth, compassion

Accusative: grammatical term for the direct object of a verb. Also known as the objective.

I dropped the plate.

Active: with the active voice, you learn ‘who’ or ‘what’ is responsible for the action at the beginning of the sentence. In other words, when the subject acts, the verb is active.

She spoke fluent French.

Adjectives: modify nouns or pronouns and tell which, whose, what kind and how many.

beautiful, several, tall

Adverbs: modify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs, and tell how, when, where and how much.

quickly, slowly, later

Antecedent: word or phrase to which a pronoun refers.

The book is new. I haven’t read it.

Apostrophes: punctuation mark used in contractions (can’t) and to indicate possession.

the cat’s bowl

Appositives: noun phrases or nouns that follow nouns or pronouns and rename or describe them.

The bird, a magpie, flew into the house.

Articles: the definite article (the) and the indefinite article (a and an).

Attributive adjectives: adjectives that come before nouns.

beautiful day

Auxiliary verbs: help make larger verbal structures – are, is, was, have, has, be, may, must. They can be primary auxiliary verbs (be, have) or modal auxiliary verbs (must, could).

We are waiting. You must behave yourself.


Base: the base form of a word to which prefixes and suffixes are added to create new words.

love, work, eat


Clause: group of related words containing a subject and a verb. A clause may be a whole sentence or part of a sentence.

She likes swimming.

Clichés: overused expressions.

Avoid clichés like the plague.

Collective nouns: have a singular form, but refer to more than one person or item.

jury, team, family

Complements: complete the sense of a subject or object.

She is a writer.

Concrete nouns: an object experienced through one or more senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch.

desk, flower, door

Conjunctions: join words, phrases and clauses.

 and, so, but, because

Contractions: shortened forms of a word or words with the missing letters marked by an apostrophe.

don’t, can’t

Copular verbs: linking verbs joining the subject of a sentence to a complement.

He is happy.

Count nouns: individual items that can be counted and made plural.

trees, angels


Dangling participle: present participle does not agree with the subject of the sentence. (The present participle is also known as the -ing participle.)

Running fast, the bus passed us. (The bus is not running.)

Definite article: the.

Demonstrative pronouns: this, that, these and those. They can function as determiners (these apples) or pronouns.

 These are mine.

Dependent clauses: cannot stand alone (also known as subordinate clauses).

Although he felt miserable, he attended the party.

Determiners: little words that tell us which ones, whose and how many.

the, a, three, that, my

Direct objects: see Object.


Ellipses ( … or . . . ): indicate the omission of material. There are always three full stops, but opinion varies as to whether you need spaces between them.


Finite verb: forms of the verb showing tense, person and number.

I go, she goes, he went.

First person: I, we


Genitive: grammatical term for the possessive – apostrophes and possessive pronouns.

 my, mine

Gerund: verb ending in -ing that acts as a noun.

She hates knitting.


Homonym: word identical with another in pronunciation and/or spelling, but different in meaning.

fair (refers to colouring and justice)

Hyphen: joins the two parts of a compound word.

shake-up, mother-in-law


Imperative: an order.

Fetch the ball.

Indefinite article: a and an.

Independent clause: also known as the main clause. It can stand alone as a complete sentence or part of a sentence.

He finished the crossword.
He finished the crossword while she drank her coffee.

Indicative: mood of the verb used in ordinary statements when stating a fact, expressing an opinion or asking a question.

We read the book.

Indirect object: see Object.

Indirect speech: reported speech without the exact repetition of words so there is no need for quotation marks.

She said she felt fat.

Infinitive: the base form of a verb with to.

to help, to dance, to eat

Intensifiers: intensify other words.

very, much

Intransitive verbs: do not require a direct object.

She danced.

Irregular verbs: do not have a standard conventional -ed form.

earnt, dreamt, taught


Jargon: industry-specific language.


Mass nouns: see Noncount nouns.

Modal verbs: helping verbs that denote mood (can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should, must, ought). Also known as auxiliary modal verbs.

He could study harder.

Modify: add information to a word or statement by describing, limiting or particularising the meaning.

A good man.


Nominative: subject of a verb. Also known as the subjective.

Noncount nouns: also known as mass nouns, noncountable nouns or uncountable nouns. These nouns cannot be counted or made plural.

water, blood, skiing

Nonfinite verbs: have no person, tense or number. They are often adjectival in function.

to go, going, the whistling wind

Nouns: the names of persons, places or things.

cat, book, report

Number: singular and plural forms of nouns, pronouns, determiners, and verbs.


Object: noun or pronoun that receives the action of a verb. An indirect object either comes before the direct object or is used with a preposition (to or for). Also known as the objective case.

She hit the ball. (direct object)
He gave the boy a bat. (indirect object)
She gave the bat to the boy. (indirect object)


Participles: verb forms acting as adjectives.

a running bear

Passive voice: you either learn at the end of the clause who is responsible for the action or you aren’t told at all. In other words, when the subject is acted upon, the verb is passive.

A mistake was made.
The procedures were analysed by the manager.

Perfect aspect: verb construction that describes events occurring in the past but linked to a later time, usually the present.

I have completed the task. (the action occurred before the present time)

Person: first person – I or we; second person – you; third person – he, she, it, they.

Personal pronouns: refer to a particular person, group, or thing (he, his, she, her, it).

Phrasal verbs: verb plus another word or phrase, usually a preposition.

shake up, come to, put up with, make up

Phrase: group of words containing a subject or a verb, but not both. They work as a unit, but cannot stand alone.

Fed up and bored, he ate his lunch in silence.

Possessive: inflected form of nouns and pronouns indicating ownership. Also known as the genitive.

Predicate: the part of the sentence that says something about the subject. A sentence is made up of a subject and a predicate.

The manager edited the report.

Predicative adjectives: adjectives that come after linking verbs.

Roses are pretty.

Prefix: element attached to the beginning of a word to give it a new meaning. Sometimes the prefix is followed by a hyphen.

coordinate, pro-democracy

Prepositions: used before nouns or pronouns to relate them to other words. Common prepositions are by, for, in, of, to.

Progressive aspect: verb phrase made with a form of the verb to be plus a verb ending in -ing that indicates an action or condition is continuing in the present, past or future.

I am studying French.

Pronouns: take the place of nouns. Personal pronouns are I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they. Possessive pronouns are mine, his, hers, its, ours, your/yours, theirs.

Proper nouns: have capitals and are used to name a specific person, place or thing.

Ms Smith, Sydney


Regular verbs: form the past tense by adding -d or –ed to the base form.

walked, talked, searched

Relative pronouns: connect a clause or phrase to a noun or pronoun. The most common relative pronouns are who, whom, whose, which, that.

The man whom I met yesterday.


Second person: you

Split infinitive: when a word is placed between to and the verb.

to boldly go

Subject: the topic of the sentence. Also known as the subjective.

She read the paper.
The handsome man looked at her.

Subjunctive: asks the reader to imagine an ideal or hypothetical scenario.

If I were a carpenter, would you marry me anyway?

Subordinate clauses: cannot stand alone (also known as dependent clauses).

Although he felt miserable, he attended the party.

Suffix: an element added to the end of a word to change its word class or meaning.

motherhood, talkative, demonstration

Superlative: used for comparing more than two people or things.

She was the best in her class.

Syntax: the way words are put together to create sentences.


Tense: shows the time of a verb’s action: past, present or future.

Third person: he, she, it, they

Transitive verbs: take a direct object.

Julian tidied his room.


Verbs: show action or state of being. They are ‘doing words’.

play, write, sit


Word classes: sets of words displaying the same grammatical property (also known as parts of speech).

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