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     Here are some terms that you should know. These should help you learn what you need to learn more easily and quickly. I'm not big on memorization, so don't if that's not your thing. But please review and refer to this often!

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Appositive / apposition: Noun, noun phrase or series of nouns placed next to another word or phrase to identify or rename it.


Example: My dog, Sparky, liked to chase birds. (“Sparky” renames “My dog.”)


And (two appositions in the same sentence): My dog, Sparky, got her name because she once lived in the building next door, a fire station. (“Sparky” renames “our dog,” and “a fire station,” renames the building next door.)



Auxiliary verbs: Also known as “helping verbs.”


Example: He may be going to the dance. The children had been swimming. Here are some of the words (and their various forms) you’ll often see as helping verbs: be, have, do, may, might, must, should, will.


Clause: A group of words that contains a subject and at least one verb with tense.


Conjunctions: Words that connect words, phrases, clauses and sentences.


Conjunctive adverb: An adverb connecting clauses or sentence, often after a semicolon. They include the following words: therefore, however, moreover, nevertheless, hence, consequently, thus (never thusly). A complete list can be found here.


Coordinating conjunction: A word that connects two sentence elements of equal rank.  To remember, use this device: FANBOYS – for, and, nor (see “correlative conjunction” immediately below), but, or, yet, so.


Correlative conjunction: Same as “coordinating conjunction,” but the words travel in pairs: either…or; neither…nor; both…and; not…but; not…nor; not only…but (also); whether…or.


Direct object: The recipient of the action of a transitive verb to complete the meaning. Usually answers the question “what?” or “who/whom?”:


            Examples: She sang a song. (She sang what? A song. So “song” is the direct object of the verb.) He loves her. (He loves whom? Her. So “her” is the direct object of the verb.)


Gerund: A word made from a verb that acts as a noun or adjective and ends in ing.


Indirect object: A word that follows a verb and tells to or for whom something is done. Example: She brought me a sandwich. (She brought a sandwich to me; “me” is the indirect object.)


Intransitive verb: A verb that DOES NOT take a direct object. (Be careful: Some of the same words, such as with “sang,” can be either transitive or intransitive. See “transitive verb” below.)


Example: She sang. (You’re just simply saying that she broke into song at some point, but you’re not saying what, specifically, she sang. So, it's intransitive.)


Linking verb:  A verb that links to a noun or adjective. Essentially, it is an equal sign, with the word that follows a linking verb modifying the noun (or noun phrase) that comes before the linking verb.


Example: The car is well-built. Car = well-built.


And: She was wonderful. She = wonderful.


And, as an answer to the question of “How are you feeling”:


I feel good. I = good. (It is NOT “I feel well.” The word “good” is an adjective, modifying the pronoun “I.” The sentence does NOT and can NOT take an adverb, which “well” is — because adverbs modify verbs, and linking verbs NEVER take a modifying adverb.).


Participle: A word made from a verb acting as a noun and used as an adjective that usually ends in -ing or -ed (though there are exceptions, which are detailed in your text under Past Participle (p. 93 and pp. 28 and 41.)


Present participle: Running as fast as he could, the older man couldn’t keep up with his much speedier grandson.

Past participle:  Suspected of arson, he tossed the matches into the trash before the police arrived.

An exception: Stricken with fear, he couldn't move an inch.


Parts of speech: There are eight parts of speech, and you should be able to identify them easily by the end of the semester. Remember, every word is a part of speech, but many, many words play many, many roles. In other words, one word can be a different part of speech depending on how it’s used – depending on its place in a phrase, clause or sentence. It’s something we’ll discuss a lot. That said, here are the eight parts of speech:


Noun:  A word used to name a person, place, thing, state of being, a quality or an action (as in “Fishing is fun.” Fishing means “the act of fishing.”)

Pronoun: A word used instead of a noun as with you, me, she, it, they, etc.

Verb: A word or group of words that typically express action, a state, or a relation between two things.

Adjective: A word that modifies a noun.

Adverb: A word that can modify virtually everything – verbs, adverbs, adjectives, phases, sentences – EXCEPT a noun.

Preposition: A word that indicates a location in space or time, and it links a noun or pronoun to another word in a sentence. Prepositional phrases can be either an “adjective” (adjectival), connecting to a noun or pronoun, or an “adverb” (adverbial), connecting to a word other than a noun.

Conjunction: A word that connect words, sentences, clauses and phrases.

Interjection: Wow, I bet you know what an interjection is. (“Wow” is an interjection, as would be this: “Ouch! Learning all this grammar hurts.”“Ouch,” obviously, is the interjection.)


Phrase: Not a clause. Does not have a subject AND a verb.


Predicate: A group of words that comes after the subject to complete the meaning of a sentence or clause.


Subjunctive: The mood of a verb expressing a wish or condition contrary to fact, such as this sentence from a Midol ad: Once a month, I wish I were a guy. For a more detailed explanation and examples, go to Subjunctive Mood.


Subordinating conjunction: A word or words that connect two unequal parts of a sentence; in other words, word or words that attach a subordinate clause to a main clause. For a complete list, click here. They include after, although, because, even though and a slew of others. Do not confuse subordinating conjunctions with coordinating conjunctions, which connect two equal parts of a sentence.

Example: The driveway was wet because it had rained.


Main clause: The driveway was wet
                           Subordinate clause: because it had rained.

Note: because is the subordinating conjunction and is part of the subordinate clause.


    Note: Do not confuse subordinae conjunctions with a coordinating conjunctions, which connect two equal parts of a sentence.



Transitive verb: A verb that MUST TAKE a direct object.


Example: She sang a song. (Here, unlike the example for “intransitive verb,” you are telling us specifically what she sang: a song.


And: She sang “We Are the Champions.” (Here, you are telling us specifically which song she sang, so “We are the Champions” is the direct object, which is required of a transitive verb.)




Verbal: A word made from a verb but functioning as a noun, adjective or adverb.


Example: Running is fun.


(Running —really, the “act of running”— is a verb word working as a noun and the subject of the sentence.)




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Note: I offer my thanks, especially to Phillip Gucker, the author of our text, and a number of good Web sites on the topic, particularly Grammar Girl and grammar.about.com. Thanks, too, to Profs. Chuck Marsh and Lisa McLendon, as well as many others, including students, who care about good word use. I recommend that you become acquainted with other online and printed resources you might find. And feel free to pass long to me any sites or resources you stumble upon.

  Updated Jan. 30, 2013