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Grammar at Home

TheSchoolRun's primary-school grammar glossary offers a complete guide to all the grammatical concepts children are taught in EYFS, KS1 and KS2 English.  Find a few listed below, and more on the link at the bottom of this page.


Abstract noun

An abstract noun is a feeling or concept that you cannot touch, such as happiness or education.


Adverbial phrase

A phrase is a small group of words that does not contain a verb. An adverbial phrase is built around an adverb and the words that surround it, for example: very slowly, as fast as possible.


Active voice

A sentence is written in active voice when the subject of the sentence is performing the action (for example, "The cat chased the mouse.")



An adjective is a word used to describe and give more information about a noun, which could be a person, place or object.



An adverb is a word which modifies a verb, which means that it tells you how, when, where or why something is being done.



Articles are words which tell us whether a noun is general (any noun) or specific. There are three articles: 'the' is a definite article and 'a' and 'an' are indefinite articles.



Clauses are the building blocks of sentences, groups of words that contain a subject and a verb. Clauses can be main or subordinate.


Common noun

common noun describes a class of objects (car, friend, dog); unlike proper nouns it does not have a capital letter (Honda, Jenny, Smudge).


Complex sentence

complex sentence is formed when you join a main clause and a subordinate clause with a connective.


Compound sentence

compound sentence is formed by joining two main clauses with a connective. 


Concrete noun

concrete noun is something you can touch, such as a person, an animal, a place or a thing. Concrete nouns can be common nouns (man, city, film) or proper nouns (Mr Edwards, London, Gone with the Wind). 



conjunction is a type of connective ('connective' is an umbrella term for any word that connects bits of text). Co-ordinating connectives include the words and, but and so; subordinating connectives include the words because, if and until.



connective is a word that joins one part of a text to another. Connectives can be conjunctionsprepositions or adverbs.



determiner is a word that introduces a noun and identifies it in detail. Determiners can be articles (a, an, the), demonstratives (this, that), possessives (your, his), quantifiers (some, many), numbers (six, sixty).



An ellipsis is a punctuation mark, a series of three consecutive dots that can be used to show a pause for effect to increase tension, an unfinished thought, a trail off into silence or that the writer has deliberately missed out a word, sentence, or whole section from a text, without altering its original meaning.


Embedded clause

An embedded clause is a clause used in the middle of another clause. It is usually marked by commas.


Fronted adverbials

Fronted adverbials are words or phrases at the beginning of a sentence, used like adverbs to describe the action that follows.



Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings. Some homophones are pronounced the same way and spelled the same way but have different meanings; others are pronounced the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings.


Imperative verbs

An imperative verb is one that tells someone to do something, so that the sentence it is in becomes an order or command. 


Irregular verbs

While most verbs form their different tenses according to an established "formula", some verbs do not form their tenses in a regular way and are called irregular verbs.


Modal verbs

modal verb is a special type of verb which changes or affects other verbs in a sentence. Modal verbs are used to show the level of possibility, indicate ability, show obligation or give permission.


Multi-clause sentence

multi-clause sentence is another term for a complex sentence.


Noun phrase

A phrase is a small group of words that does not contain a verb. A noun phrase includes one noun as well as words that describe it, for example: the red shoe. 



Parenthesis is a word, phrase, or clause inserted into a sentence to add extra, subordinate or clarifying information. Brackets are also known as parentheses and usually used to show parenthesis.


Passive voice

A sentence is written in passive voice when the subject of the sentence has something done to it by someone or something. For example: "The mouse was being chased by the cat."


Past continuous (or progressive)

The past continuous is the verb tense we use to describe actions that continued for a period of time in the past (I was walking / I was singing).


Past perfect

The past perfect is the verb tense we use to describe actions that were completed by a particular time in the past.


Personal pronoun

personal pronoun is a word which can be used instead of a person, place or thing: I, you, he, she, it, we, they, me, him, her, us and them.


Possessive pronoun

Possessive pronouns are used to show ownership. Some can be used on their own (mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs, whose); others must be used with a noun (my, your, his, her, its, our, their, whose).



prefix is a string of letters that are added to the beginning of a root word, changing its meaning. 



Prepositions are linking words in a sentence. We use prepositions to explain where things are in time or space. 


Present continuous (or progressive)

The present continuous is the verb tense we use to describe actions that continue for a period of time (I am walking / I am singing).


Present perfect

The present perfect is the verb tense we use to describe actions that are completed by the present.



pronoun is a word used to replace a noun. Examples of pronouns are: he, she, it, they. Pronouns can be personal and possessive.


Proper noun

proper noun identifies a particular person, place, or thing (for example, James or Brazil or Monday or Glasgow). Proper nouns always start with a capital letter.


Relative clause

relative clause is a type of subordinate clause that adapts, describes or modifies a noun by using a relative pronoun (who, that or which).


Root word

root word is a basic word with no prefix or suffix added to it. By adding prefixes and suffixes to a root word we can change its meaning.



When a noun is singular, it means there is only one person, place or object. 


Speech marks

Inverted commas (also known as speech marks and quotation marks) are punctuation marks that show us where direct speech starts and ends.



statement is the most common type of sentence. Statements are sentences that express a fact, idea or opinion.



The subject of a sentence is the thing or person who is carrying out the action described by the verb ("The cat chased the mouse."). 



The subjunctive is a verb form used to express things that could or should happen, for example: If I were to go... / I demand that he answer!


Subordinate clause

subordinate clause needs to be attached to a main clause because it cannot make sense on its own, although it contains a subject and a verb.



suffix is a string of letters that go at the end of a word, changing or adding to its meaning. Suffixes can show if a word is a noun, an adjective, an adverb or a verb.



The superlative form of an adjective or adverb is used to compare one person, thing, action or state to all the others in its class. Examples of superlatives: saddest, lightest, most famous, worst, most angrily. The superlative is usually formed by adding the suffix -est.


Time connectives

Time connectives are words or phrases which tell the reader when something is happening. They can also be called temporal connectives.


Verbs and powerful verbs

verb expresses a physical action, a mental action or a state of being. Powerful verbs are descriptive, rich words.


Verb tense

Verb tenses tell us the time when an action took place, in the past, the present or the future.