Glossary of Grammar Terms Part I

Absolute comparative

The term absolute comparative refers to a comparative form used without a standard of comparison. Examples are: the younger generation, he knows better. In these examples the absolute comparative does not provide an answer to the questions ‘younger than who’ or ‘better than whom’.

Absolute construction (also called nominative absolute)

The term absolute construction or nominative absolute refers to a phrase which is linked to the sentence containing it only by meaning. There is no grammatical link of any kind between the nominative absolute and the remaining parts of the sentence. In the following examples the words or phrases given in bold text are absolute constructions.

The day being rainy, we didn’t go out.
The two women, their business concluded, retired to the bar.

Abstract noun

An abstract noun is one which denotes something which is not physical and cannot be touched. Examples are: honesty, kindness, bravery, happiness, joy, sorrow, sadness, surprise etc.


The term acronym refers to a word constructed by combining the initial letters of the principal words in a phrase. An acronym can be pronounced as a word. Examples are: scuba for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus and laser for light amplification by simulated emission of radiation.

Active voice

A verb form in which the subject represents the doer of the action. In English, an intransitive verb can only occur in the active form. Examples are given below:

I woke up at 7 am.
She smiled sweetly.

A transitive verb can occur in the active and passive voice.

He killed the spider. (Active voice)
I enjoyed the play. (Active voice)

You will have noticed that in all the sentences given above, the subject represents the person or thing responsible for the action.


The label applied to any word or phrase which modifies a noun in the same way that an adjective does. In the examples given below, the word given in bold text is adjectival.

An interesting story (Here the adjectival is an adjective phrase consisting only of an adjective)
A very long letter (Here the adjectival is an adjective phrase containing a degree modifier and an adjective.)


An adjective is a word used to modify a noun. Examples are: beautiful, kind, brave, clever, intelligent, smart, upset etc. An adjective typically denotes a temporary or permanent quality associated with a noun.

An adjective can be used in attributive (before the noun) and predicate (after the verb) position. In the examples given below adjectives are used in attributive position.

This is a red shirt.
He is a clever boy.
She is a beautiful girl.

In the examples given below the adjectives are used in predicate position.

It is red.
He is clever.
She is beautiful.