Posts Tagged ‘glossary’

Glossary of Grammar Terms Part IV

January 21st, 2010 in English Grammar


The term article refers to a determiner which has little meaning of its own. An article shows whether the noun phrase containing it is definite or non-definite. There are two articles in English – the definite article ‘the’ and the indefinite article ‘a/an’. The definite article indicates that the noun phrase containing it is already known to the listener or guessable from the context. The indefinite article is used to introduce a noun phrase for the first time.


The term attributive refers to the position between the determiner (if any) and the head noun in a noun phrase. For example in the phrase ‘an old textbook’, the attributive occupies the position between the determiner a and the noun textbook. In English only adjectives and nouns can be used in the attributive position.


Auxiliaries are often regarded as a subclass of verbs. English has two kinds of auxiliaries – primary auxiliaries and modal auxiliaries.

The primary auxiliaries are be, have and do. The modal auxiliaries are: will, would, can, could, shall, should, may, might, must, aught to. There are also two semi-auxiliaries: need and dare. These are anomalous. They sometimes behave like auxiliary verbs, but at other times behave like ordinary verbs.

Bare infinitive

An infinitive not preceded by to is called a bare infinitive. Examples are: write, work, run, stop, break etc.


The label base refers to the form which is the direct source of another form. For example, happy is the base for forming happily, unhappy and happiness.

Bound morpheme

The label bound morpheme refers to a morpheme which cannot stand alone. A bound morpheme must be attached to another morpheme within a word. Most common examples of bound morphemes are suffixes and prefixes.

Cardinal numeral

The label cardinal numeral applies to a counting number. Examples are: two, ten, eighteen and twenty seven. The English cardinal numerals are often classified as determiners. Some grammarians also label them as adjectives.


The label case refers to the modification made to a noun or noun phrase to express its relation to the rest of the sentence. In English, only a few pronouns exhibit case. For example, we say ‘I saw him’, but ‘he saw me’, not ‘him saw I’. Here I and me and he and him are two different case forms of the same pronoun.


The label clause refers to a grammatical unit consisting of a subject and a predicate. There are two kinds of clauses: a main clause and a subordinate clause.

Note that a main clause can stand alone whereas a subordinate clause must be attached to another clause within a larger sentence. Note that every English sentence has at least one main clause.