Writing and Language Glossary

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Writing and Language Glossary

This glossary will help you quickly find definitions used in writing and grammar.



A word that modifies, or describes, a noun or a pronoun. An adjective may tell what kind, which one, how many, or how much.

The comparative degree of an adjective compares two people, places, things, or ideas. (worse, sadder)

The superlative degree of an adjective compares more than two people, places, things, or ideas. (worst, saddest)

A possessive adjective is a possessive noun or pronoun used before a noun. (John's, my)

A predicate adjective always follows a linking verb. It modifies the subject of the sentence.

A proper adjective is formed from a proper noun. It always begins with a capital letter.

A demonstrative adjective is the word this, that, these, or those used before a noun.

Adjective clause.:

A dependent clause that modifies a noun or pronoun.


A word that modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. Adverbs may tell how, when, where, in what manner, and how often.

Some adverbs have different forms to indicate comparative and superlative degrees.(loud, louder, loudest; sweetly, more sweetly, most sweetly)

Adverb clause.:

A dependent clause that modifies a verb, an adjective, or an adverb.


A reference in a piece of writing to a well-known character, place, or situation from a work of literature, music, or art or from history.


The act of breaking down a subject into separate parts to determine its meaning.


A short story or incident usually presented as part of a longer narrative.


See Pronoun.


A noun placed next to another noun to identify it or add information about it. (My basketball coach, Ms. Lopes, called for a time out.)


A statement, reason, or fact for or against a point; a piece of writing intended to persuade.


The adjectives a, an, and the. A and an are indefinite articles. They refer to any one item of a group. The is a definite article. It indicates that the noun it precedes is a specific person, place, or thing.


The person(s) who reads or listens to what the writer or speaker says.

Blue B

Base form.:

See Verb tense.


A tendency to think a certain way. Bias may affect the way a writer or speaker presents his or her ideas.


A list of the books, articles, and other sources used as reference sources in a research paper.



The central part of a composition that communicates and explains the main idea identified in the introduction.


The feature on many Web browsers that allows the user to save addresses of Internet sites so that the sites can be accessed quickly.


A group activity in which people generate as many ideas as possible without stopping to judge them.

Blue C


The form of a noun or pronoun that is determined by its use in a sentence. A noun or pronoun is in the nominative case when it is used as a subject, in the objective case when it is used as an object, and in the possessive case when it is used to show possession.

Cause-and-effect chain.:

A series of events in which one cause leads to an effect that in turn leads to another effect, and so on.


The methods a writer uses to develop the personality of the character. A writer may make direct statements about a character's personality or reveal it through the character's words and actions or through what other characters think and say about the character.

Chronological order.:

The arrangement of details according to when events or actions take place.


The quality of a piece of writing that makes it easy to understand.


A group of words that has a subject and a predicate and that is used as part of a sentence.

An independent clause, also called a main clause, has a subject and a predicate and can stand alone as a sentence.
A dependent clause, also called a subordinate clause, has a subject and a predicate, but it makes sense only when attached to a main clause.


An overused expression. (white as snow)


The grouping together of related items as a way of organizing information.


A quality of logical connection between the parts of a paragraph or composition.

Cohesive writing.:

A type of writing in which sentences and paragraphs are logically connected to one another.


The process of working with others on writing or other projects.


A casual, colorful expression used in everyday conversation.

Comparative degree.:

See Adjective; Adverb.

Comparison-and-contrast organization.:

A way of organizing ideas by illustrating their similarities and differences.


A word or phrase that completes the meaning of a verb. Three kinds of complements are direct objects, indirect objects, and subject complements.

Conceptual map.:

A graphic device that develops a central concept by surrounding it with examples or related ideas in a weblike arrangement.


A restatement or summing up of the ideas in a composition that brings it to a definite close.


The struggle between two opposing forces that lies at the center of the plot in a story or drama.


A word that joins single words or groups of words.

A coordinating conjunction(and, but, or, nor, for, yet) joins words or groups of words

that are equal in grammatical importance. Correlative conjunctions(both … and, just as… so, not only… but also, either… or, neither… nor) are pairs of words used to connect words or phrases in a sentence.


The thoughts and feelings associated with a word, rather than its dictionary definition.

Constructive criticism.:

Comments on another person's writing made with the intention of helping the writer improve a particular draft.


The words and sentences that come before and after a specific word and help to explain its meaning.


Correct spelling, grammar, usage, and mechanics.

Coordinating conjunction.:

See Conjunction.

Correlative conjunction.:

See Conjunction.


The quality of a speaker or writer that makes that person's words believable.

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