Glossary of Terms

​Spelling, Punctuation & Grammar - Glossary of Terms

This is a basic list of definitions and examples of terms used in spelling, punctuation and grammar.

​Term Definition​ Example​
​Adjective ​A describing word that is added to nouns to describe what kind, colour, size, which one or how many. ​The big, hairy, brown dog was taking a nap on the leather sofa.
​Adverb ​A describing word that is added to verbs to tell us where, when, how, in what way or to what extent an action is performed. ​* Stacy carefully coloured in her art poster.
* The bus arrived late.
Antonym A word that means the opposite to another word.​ * ​Hot is an antonym of cold.
Fast and quick are antonyms of slow.


These are used to show missing letters and to show possession.​ ​* It is becomes it's.
* The dog chewed up Lenny's slippers.
​Article The words the, a or an which go before a noun.​ cat ran across the road in front of car.
​Brackets These are used to separate extra information in a sentence.​ ​Jacob (in class 2B) had the main role in the school play.
​Capital letter ​These are used at the start of a sentence and for proper nouns.  'I' is always written with a capital letter. There was a party at Mat's house on Saturday.
Clause A part of a sentence that has a verb and someone doing the action.​ Mark plays football every Sunday.
Colon These are used to introduce some lists and to join sentences.​ ​I need to get the following for the birthday party: balloons, a cake, candles, party hats and a card.
Comma These are used to separate items in a list, separate extra information and to join clauses.​ ​* Fred bought a pair of shoes, a cap, two pairs of socks and a magazine.
* Ryan's brother, who is a year older than him, is always late.
* When the summer holiday is over, we will be starting secondary school.
Compound Word ​When two words are put together to form a new word with a new meaning.

​"Lady" and "bird" together makes "ladybird".

"Cup" and "board" together makes "cupboard".

Connective A word or words used to link two clauses or sentences.​ ​I baked some cupcakes today and they tasted delicious.
​Contraction When two words are joined together with an apostrophe to make a new word.​ ​'Do not' can be contracted to 'Don't'.
​Dash These are used to separate extra information in a sentence.​ ​Best friends ‒ Jo and Kev ‒ loved building model cars.
Direct speech The actual words that are said by someone.​ ​John shouted, "Wait for me!"
Ellipses These can be used to add suspense, leave a sentence hanging or to show an interruption in speech.​ * Shelly turned the handle of the front door and it creaked open slowly...
* ​"Er...I was hoping you could me out?"
​Exclamation mark These are used to show strong feelings and for some commands.​ * ​The trapeze act at the circus was amazing!
* Be quiet!
Full stop These are used to show the end of a sentence.​ ​I went to dance class yesterday.  We are performing at a gala next week.
​Homophone   ​Words that sound the same but have a different meaning. ​* Greg went to the park today.
* I want a piece of cake too.
* There were two squirrels in the tree.
​Hyphen ​These are used to join two words together to make a single unit or one meaning. ​Isla bought some free-range eggs at the market.
Inverted commas These are used to show direct speech.​ ​"It's time to tidy up," said Miss Dale.
Main clause The important part of a sentence that would make sense on its own.​ Catherine played the piano until her fingers ached.
Noun A "naming" word that names a person, place or thing.​ Kerry went to the cinema on Tuesday to watch the new Disney film.
​Phrase ​A small part of a sentence that usually does not have a verb in it. ​Selina watched a film at the cinema.
​Plural More that one of something.​ ​There were lots of birds in the sky.
​Prefix Letters than can be put in front of a word to change its meaning.​ ​Andy was unhappy that he had to miss the football match this week.
​Preposition A word that tells you how things are related.​ ​Poppy roasted some marshmallows over the campfire.
​Pronoun A word that can be used instead of a noun.​ ​Liam finished his homework quickly as it was due tomorrow.
Question mark These are used at the end of a question.​ ​What is your favourite food?
Reported speech This is what someone has said but not in their own words.​ Sam told me that he went to Blackpool last week.
Semi-colon These are used to separate lists of longer things and to join sentences.​ ​In school today, class 3 had literacy hour; played rounders; went on a nature walk; and made a poster.
Subordinate clause The less important part of a sentence which would not make sense on its own.​ ​The dog chased after the ball until it was out of breath.
​Suffix ​Letters that can be put after a word to change its meaning. ​Mr Trussel marked class 7T's homework carefully.
Synonym A word with the same or a similar meaning to another word.​ Glad, cheerful, delighted and pleased are all synonyms of happy.
​Verb A doing or being word.​ * ​Hannah was looking out of the window.
* Danny is happy that it's finally the weekend.

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