English glossary 1

The basic terms & definitions you will need for A2 English Language & Literature.


A term used to denote nouns that have no physical qualities (courage, idea).

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A word that defines attributes of a noun (the blue flower) and that can express contrasts of degree (the smaller boy was the fastest).

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A word that describes the action of the verb (the girl laughed loudly).

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A term to denote words, phrases or clauses that function as adverbs.

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The repetition of consonants, especially at the beginning of words.

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The technique of giving human characteristics and form to what is not human (i.e an animal, object or value). See personification.

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A rhetorical device in which opposites are contrasted to emphasise a point or persuade (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him).

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Words that are opposite in meaning (hot/cold, fast/slow).

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The repetition of the same or similar vowel sounds.

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The linking of linguistic units without a conjunction (The girl sang quickly, hesitantly,fearfully).

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Auxiliary verb

A verb that preceded the lexical verb in a verb phrase (I can go, I have gone).

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The break or pause in a line of verse, often marked by punctuation. It is often used to slacken the stiffness of formal metrical patterns (i.e to imitate colloquial speech) or to bring dramatic emphasis.

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A group of words, usually with a finite verb, which is structually larger than a phrase. Clauses may be described as independent (main) or dependent (subordinate).

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An image that has become meaningless because of overuse (we'll leave no stone unturned).

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The construction and addition of new words to the existing word stock.

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Collective noun

A noun that refers to a group of people,animals or things (family, government).

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Two or more words that frequently occur together as part of a set phrase.

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Characteristic of informal spoken language.

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Common noun

A noun that refers to general group of objects or concepts (table,happiness).

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Comparative adjective

The form of an adjective telling us the degree of a particular quality (louder, more intelligent).

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Complex sentence

A sentence made up of one main and one or more subordinate clauses.

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Compound sentence

A sentence made up of at least two main clauses joined together by a co-ordinating conjunction.

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Concrete noun

A noun that refers to physical things like people, objects, places or substances.

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A sentence adverb with a linking function (however,otherwise).

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The associations attached to a word in addition to its dictionary definition.

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The social circumstances in which speech and writing take place.

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A shortened word (can't, you're).

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Co-ordinating conjunction

A word that joins elements of equal rank (and,or,but).

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Count noun

A noun that refers to things that can be counted and that have a plural form (cats,lorries).

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A grammatical mood used to express a statement (I live in a flat).

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Deictic, deixis

Terms used to denote words or expressions that rely on the context to convey meaning (now,over,there,you).

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The dictionary definition of a word.

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A language marked by distinctive grammar and vocabulary, which is used by a group of speakers with common regional or social backgrounds.

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Language interaction with two or more participants.

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Direct speech

The actual words spoken by a person which are recorded in a written form enclosed in quotation marks ("You know I love books, she said).

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Having two syllables.

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A verb that expresses an action rather than a state and that can be used in the progressive (run/running, fly/flying).

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The omission of sounds in connected speech.

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The omission of a part of a sentence which can be understood from the context.

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End focus

The arrangement of clause items so that attention is focused on the last word (The only person who can help you right now is me).

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A term used to describe a line of verse in which there is a natural pause in the meaning of phrasing at the end of a line of poetry.

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The overlapping of meaning from one line of verse to the next.

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A word that replaces a term seen by society as taboo, socially unacceptable or unpleasant.

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"umm", "err".

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Apoetic unit of measure containing one or two stressed syllables and a variable number of unstressed syllables.

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A change in the sequence of clause elements in order to draw attention to the first linguistic item (Bright was the morning).

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A term used to describe consonants where air escapes through a small passage, making a hissing noise (v or f).

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The role of words of phrases within a clause.

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Applicable to an entire group.

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Head word

The main element in a phrase.

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Using language or fillers (like "um", "y'know", "sort of") that delay completion. Seen to show lack of status.

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A line of verse containing six feet.

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Words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings.

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Exaggeration used to heighten  feeling and intensity.

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A unit of poetic metre containing one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.

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An individual's own distinctive way of speaking.

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A descriptive or metaphorical use of language which creates a vivid picture.

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A grammatical mood expressing a directive (commanding, warning, requesting, inviting, pleading etc.) usually is no subject and the verb is in the base form.

(Go away, keep out, please give generously, bring a friend, help us).

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Indirect object

An animate being that recieves the action of a verb (he gave her a present, the woman told the story to her neighbour.)

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Indirect speech

The words of a speaker reported in the form of a subordinate clause introduced by "that",(He replied that everyone was well), instead of being quoted directly.

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A word or phrase adding emphasis (so, very, incredibly).

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Internal rhyme

The repetition of rhymes within a line or verse.

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A grammatical mood expressing a question in which the subject and verb are inverted (Are you ready?).

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Interrogative word

A question word used at the beginning of a clause to mark a question. Also known as a wh-word.

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The quality of tone of the voice in speech.

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There are three main forms of this concept:

1. Rhetorical irony - occurs when what is meant is the opposite of what the words appear to say.

2. Dramatic irony - occurs when a reader or audience gain a knowledge or understanding which a narrator or main character doesn't possess.

3. Situational or cosmic irony - when the outcome of events is the opposite to everything that had been predicted and prepared for.

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Specialised technical terms.

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A term used to describe constants articulated with the lips (m,p).

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A term used to describe the consonants produced by touching the bottom lip to the upper teeth.

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Language change

The process of change in a language over a period of time.

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The term used to describe the vocabulary of a language. Also called lexicon.

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A deliberate understatement.

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Main clause

A clause that is not dependant and makes sense on its own.

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A misuse of words that sound similar (description for prescription).

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A descriptive use of language in which one thing is directly seen in terms of another (a sea of troubles).

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Metaphorical language

The term used to describe any language use that is non-literal, using devices like metaphor, similie and oxymoron to create poetic and descriptive effects.

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The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of verse.

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Minor sentence

A sentence or utterance that lacks one or more of the clause elements and that often occurs in an unchanging formulaic structure (Thanks. Great party!).

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Auxiliary verbs that mark contrasts in attitude such as obligation, possibilty and predicition (can, may, must, will,shall).

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Woooow...that's very long..must've took u ages!

Zoe Alford


Thanks :) yeah it did and it's not even finished yet! But hopefully it will be useful for everyone's revision :)

Zoe Alford


Thanks :) yeah it did and it's not even finished yet! But hopefully it will be useful for everyone's revision :)

dani h


Fantastic, thank you! 



Good, Good!

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