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Abstract noun -
a noun used to describe a quality, an idea, or experience rather than something physical, e.g. height, intellingence, safety.
Active voice -
verb groups such as ‘gives'; ‘took', ‘has made', where the subject is the person or thing doing the action or responsible for it, e.g. The design team conducted many tests. See Passive Voice.
Auxiliary verb -
one of the verbs 'be' (is/are/was/were), 'have' (has/had), 'do' (does/did), used to add extra information to a main verb, e.g. to form the perfect and progressive verb aspects, passive voice, negatives and questions. There are also modal auxiliary verbs, e.g. can/could, will/would. See Modals.


Base form -
the form of a verb which has no letters added to the end and is not a past form, e.g. walk, go, have.


Choppy sentences -
These are sentences that are too short. Overuse of short sentences is not a good academic writing style.
Clause -

a part of a sentence which contains a subject and a verb

Conjunction -
a word which links together two clauses, groups of words. There are two types of conjunction: coordinating and subordinating. Coordinating conjunctions (or coordinators) EG and, but, so, for, or, join units with equal grammatical status. Subordinating conjunctions (or subordinators) EG although, because, as, when, before, after, if, join units with unequal grammatical status .
Consonant -
In English writing, consonants are represented by the letters p, b, t, th, d, k, g, ch, j, y, s, sh, z, f, v, w, l, r, h, m, n, ng. Most are pronounced the way they are written, except for y, which is pronounced as ye as in yesterday, yes.
Countable noun -

a noun that has a singular (one) and a plural form (more than one). EG cat/cats; foot/feet). Aslo known as Count Noun. See Uncountable Noun.


Definite article -
refers to the which is used with a noun to indicate that it is specific and known to speaker/writer and listener/reader. See  Indefinite article.



Gender -
a term referring to the difference between masculine and feminine words such as 'he' and 'she'. See Gendered Language and Gender-neutral Language
Gender-neutral language -

language that does not refer to female or male EG human race, human kind, human beings, instead of mankind; person instead of he/she/him .

Gendered language -
language that disciminates the female gender. EG chairman (instead of chairperson); mankind (instead of humankind; human race).
These are words that help to link ideas together and provide a smoother transition from one sentence to another. These words can be a pronoun (this, it), a coordinator (also, in addition); a subordinator (because, since) or even a repetition of an important noun.


Imperative -
In grammar, an imperative is a verb in the form that is typically used for giving orders or instructions.
Indefinite article -

a/an to express non-specific meaning (any one) or ‘a single unit'

Irregular verb -
has a past form and/or past participle which is formed in a different way from regular -ed ending. EG Regular: walk-walked-walked; Irregular: take-took-taken).See Regular verb.


Main clause -

This clause can stand on its own; it does not depend on another clause to have meaning. It is sometimes referred to as an Independent Clause .

a verb used with thebase form of another verb to express possibility, obligation, prediction, or deduction.EG can, could, may, might.


Noun -
is most often the name of a person or thing, EG a word like oil, memory, robot, which can be used with an article. Personal names (e.g. John) and place names (e.g.Auckland) are called 'proper nouns'; they are usually used without articles.  BUT there are exceptions. See Unit 5 Articles and Prepositions.


Object -
Objects identify who or what has been directly affected by the action of the verb. See Subject.


Passive voice -

verb forms such as ‘was given', ‘had been taken', where the subject is the person affected by the action. EG. Many tests were conducted by the design team. See Active Voice.

Past participle -

a verb form used to form perfect tenses and passives. Also called -ed ending.

Personal pronoun -

one of a group of words to refer to three classes of people: first person (I, we, my, our, us, me, my, mine); second person (you, your); third person (it, he, she, they, him, her)

Phrase -
a group of words which is not a complete clause. See Clause.
Plural -
a grammatical form used to refer to more than one person or thing. EG engine/engines; industry/industries. See also Singular.
Pronoun -
a word used instead of a noun to name someone or something directly. EG he, she, they, it, you, one, none. See Personal pronoun.


Regular verb -
refers to the form of verb which simply adds inflections to the base form without any change (base form: attach; present form: attaches; -ing form: attaching; past form: attached; past participle: attached). See Irregular verb.
Relative clause -
a subordinate clause which gives more information about someone or something in the main clause, usually introduced by who, which, that, whose.


Singular -
a grammatical form used to talk about one person, thing, etc, or about an uncountable quantity or mass. See also Plural.
Stringy sentences -
Sentences with too many clauses, usually connected with and, but,so, and sometimes because-the result of writing the way you speak, going on and on like a string without an end.
Subject -

the noun group in a clause that refers to the doer or agent of an action expressed by the verb. It usually precedes the main verb. See Object.

Subordinate clause -

a clause which begins with a subordinating conjunction such as ‘because' or ‘while' or 'which'. It must be used with a main clause. It depends on the main clause to have meaning. Therefore, it is referred to an a Dependent Clause). See Main Clause.


Transition -
a term which refers to words or phrases which connect sentences in meaningful ways, clarifying relationships between ideas by indicating forward movements or shifts in the directions of your thinking. See Conjunction.


Uncountable Noun -

has only singular form EG money, furniture, equipment, information, rudeness. Also known as Non-count Noun. See Countable Noun.


Verb Be -
'Verb to be' EG is, are, was, were, will be, would be. Also known as Auxilliary verbs.
Vowel -
The main English vowels are a (pronounced as `ah'), e (pronounced as `eh'), i (pronounced as `e') , o (pronounced as `or'), and u (`oo'). Also ^ (pronounced as 'uh'). English vowels are not always pronounced the way they are represented in writing. For example 'put' and 'cup' are pronounced differently. 'Umbrella' is pronounced with the 'uh' sound, and 'university is pronounced with the consonant sound 'y', sounding like 'yuniversity'.


Carter, R., & McCarthy, M. (2006). Cambridge Grammar of English: A comprehensive Guide: Spoken and Written English Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sinclair, J. (Ed.). (2004). Collins COBUILD English Usage. Glasgow: HarperCollins.

Swan, M. (2005). Practical English Usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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