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Writing Glossary

Glossary of Words and Phrases Related to Academic Writing

About this glossary
This writing glossary contains more than 600 headwords. It contains entries of use to students and teachers of academic writing. As well as definitions, many entries contain examples from authentic texts and links to further information elsewhere on this site. There are also many cross-references to facilitate rapid consultation of unfamiliar writing terms. The glossary is fully searchable.


abbreviation
noun COUNTABLE A shortened form of a word or a phrase. Abbreviations, especially acronyms, are common in reports written for specialists (scientists, economists, etc.). If the text is written for non-specialists, the abbreviations should be written out in full where they are first mentioned in the text. Compare with acronyms.
abstract
noun COUNTABLE A very short form of an article or other text, giving only the most essential information.
abstract
adjective Existing as a thought or feeling rather than as a something concrete, material, tangible. "When asked about media coverage of climate change, 39% claimed that media reporting overall was too abstract, with excessive focus on the future rather than the issues of today.” (Biddlestone and Linden 2021)
Common collocates for this word:

abstract

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ideas
concepts
nouns
terms
principles
form
thought
theory
quality
notion



abstraction
noun The consideration of the qualities and characteristics of an entity rather than its physical properties.
abstract noun
noun phrase COUNTABLE A noun which references a state, idea, action, process, or quality rather than something concrete or tangible. Examples: truth, happiness, growth, frequency. Abstract nouns are usually uncountable but may have countable uses, e.g friendships. Compare with concrete noun. See more about abstract nouns on the abstract nouns page.
academic integrity
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE Being honest and truthful about your work. Academic integrity includes a) not plagiarising, b) citing your sources correctly, c) presenting only work which is your own, d) collaborating with others only within the limits of your institution’s guidelines, e) not cheating in exams, f) not passing off texts generated by AI (e.g. CHatGPT) as your own, g) not submitting work which has been previously submitted. More information about academic integrity is available on the plagiarism faqs page.
Common collocates for this word:

academic

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programs
calendar
freedom
performance
research
institutions
standards
excellence
support
community



Academic Word List
noun phrase A list of words presumed to be more commonly used in academic writing than other types of discourse. It was developed by Averil Coxhead and you can see the reference to her original article in the bibliography. You can see other word lists useful for academic writing on the Vocabulary Page. You can also practice using collocations of words from this list on the Collocation Game Page.
acknowledgement
noun COUNTABLE Recognition of a source of information by stating its origin in a correctly formatted citation. See also attribution.
acknowledgement
noun COUNTABLE A statement of appreciation of help given. 
  Common collocates for this word:

acknowledgement

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proper    
grateful    
written    
public    
appropriate    
due    
full    
positive    
formal    
explicit    



acronym
noun COUNTABLE An abbreviation of a series of words (usually a noun phrase) consisting of the first letter of each word in the phrase. UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; ASEAN: Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Compare with abbreviation.
active
adjective GRAMMAR Describes a verb when the subject of the sentence performs the action. In the sentence, "The boy is washing the dog.”, "The boy” is the subject and performs the action. "is washing” is a verb in the active voice. Compare with the passive. See the passives page and the passive examples pages.
activity verbs
noun phrase COUNTABLE SEMANTICS Activity verbs are verbs which describe actions or events when the subject has the role of agent. Examples are: accompany, acquire, add, advance, apply, arrange, beat, behave, borrow, bring, burn, buy, carry, check, clean, climb, combine, come, control, cover, defend, deliver, dig, divide, earn, encounter, engage, exercise, expand, explore, extend, fix, follow, form, hang, give, go, join, leave, lie, make, move, obtain, open, produce, provide, pull, reach, receive, reduce, repeat, run, save, share, show, take, throw, use, visit, work. Activity verbs may be transitive or intransitive. "Rivers carry the dissolved minerals into the sea" (Dutkiewicz et al. 2022). (transitive) ; "Loggers cut trees, load them onto trucks and bring them to mills" (Law 2021). (transitive - "Loggers" is the subject of all three verbs) ; "Even the air moves with us as the Earth spins" (Loon 2020). (both intransitive and both used in a non-volitional sense).
addition
noun A textual element (sentence, paragraph, section) which adds further information about an argument. These elements are often introduced with adverbials such as "In addition”, "Furthermore” etc. See how adverbials are managed on the adverbials page.
adjectival
noun phrase adjective GRAMMAR The adjective form or the noun 'adjective'. The term 'adjectival phrase' is sometimes used to describe noun postmodifiers such as as prepositional phrases . "Adjectival' is also sometimes used as a a noun to indicate anything which might be used as an adjective (such as premodifying nouns and even determiners such as demonstrative or possessive pronouns).
adjective
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word which provides more information about the noun to which it is attached (either preceding the noun or with a copula verb). See also attributive adjective, predicative adjective, participial adjective, proper adjective, comparative, and superlative. Adjectives are divided sematically into descriptors and classifiers. See also the adjectives page.
adjective clause
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Another name for a relative clause. They are sometimes called adjective clauses because, like adjectives, they describe or identify a noun phrase.
adjective complement
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adjective complement is the post-modification of an adjective phrase of which there are five types: 1) a prepositional phrase; 2) an infinitive clause; 3) a that clause; 4) an ing-clause; 5) a wh-clause.
  1. Prepositional phrases:
    • Sneezes are powerful for a reason! (Sorg 2021)
    • This is even true of living beings. (McCormick 2020)
  2. Infinitive clauses:
    • However, it is very difficult to achieve nuclear fusion on Earth. (Wu 2021)
    • Without substantial and rapid change, Australia’s list of extinct mammal species is almost certain to grow. (Ritchie 2022)
  3. That-clauses:
    • Euthyphro is so sure that he knows the difference between right and wrong that he is bringing his own father to trial. (Traphagan and Kaag 2023)
    • Putting the lists side-by-side, it’s no longer so obvious that wild animal lives are, on balance, bad ones. (Browning and Veit 2023)
  4. Ing-clauses:
    • She was an amazing teacher and writer skilled at making difficult concepts easy to understand. (Galligan 2019)
    • Hundreds of thousands of teachers are busy working to move their face-to-face lessons online. (Lee 2020)
  5. wh-clauses:
    • We’re not sure whether baby dinosaurs had skulls that grew like this. (Syme 2019)
    • So that’s how new languages are formed, but to be honest, linguists aren’t sure why languages change in the first place. (Flynn 2021)
See also the adjective complements page.
adjective phrase
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adjective phrase consists of a head (an adjective) and optionally pre-modification in the form of an adverb and/or post-modification in the form of an adjective complement.
advantages and disadvantages
noun phrase COUNTABLE A text organisation pattern in which an item or items are described in terms of their advantages and disadvantages. See the advantages and disadvantages page to see how this in managed in an authentic text.
adverb
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word which provides more information about a verb, adjective or adverb to which it is attached. In this case it is a modifier. Otherwise, if the adverb functions as an element of a clause it is an adverbial.
adverb forms
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Many adverbs end in -ly and this is the form most people think of when adverbs are mentioned but there are four main categories of adverbs:
  1. Simple adverbs
    • These are single words not derived from affixes or compounds. Examples are; here, quite, rather, too, very, well.
    • "Worrying is quite common – some people worry more than others because it can be something they’re born with." (Grové 2019) (modifier, modifying the adjective 'common')
    • "Trees can die suddenly or quite slowly." (Stevens-Rumann 2023) (modifier, modifying the adverb 'slowly')
    • "The newly-discovered insects appear rather underwhelming, preserved as small brown fragments of wing cases." (McDonald and McNamara 2020) (modifier, modifying the adjective 'underwhelming')
    • "This spot is actually a cyclone, similar to hurricanes and cyclones here on Earth." (Kedziora-Chudczer 2022) (adverbial of place)
  2. Compound adverbs
    • Words made by combining two or more words into one, such as anyway, nowhere, somewhat, somewhere.
    • "Negative blood types are somewhat rare." (Helms 2019) (modifier, modifying the adjective 'rare')
    • "Between the creation and destruction of ocean plates, sediments collect on the sea floor and provide an archive of Earth’s history, the evolution of climate and life that is available nowhere else." (OConnell 2019) (post-modifier, modifying the adjective 'available')
  3. Suffix -ly adverbs
    • Words made by modifying an adjective with the suffix -ly, such as rapid-rapidly, exact-exactly, evident-evidently.
    • "The mimic octopus is particularly clever." (Spencer and Papastamatiou 2022) (modifier, modifying the adjective 'clever')
    • "Luckily glasses can easily fix the problem." (Mackey, Lee, and Wee 2021) (1. adverbial, 2. modifier, modifying the verb 'fix')
    • "It breaks down very slowly into lead." (Skromne 2022) (1. modifier; 'very' modifies 'slowly', 2. post-modifier, 'slowly' modifying the verb 'breaks down')
  4. Fixed phrases
    • Words in a phrase which never changes, such as at last, of course, in addition, in other words, for example, even so, etc. These are almost exclusively adverbials.
    • "For example, is Japanese more difficult than English?" (Sorace 2023)
    • "In fact, air’s mostly made of nitrogen." (Lynch 2020)
    • "At the time, that was seen as an improvement." (Stewart and Yohe 2022)
adverb complement of a preposition
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adverb may act as a complement of a preposition. These are usually prepositions of time time or place.
  • "Until now, we had only ever found one example of such preserved crystals in a fossil." (McDonald and McNamara 2020)
  • "Since then there has been an ever increasing assault on dark." (Stevens 2015)
  • "The lunar-mangrove cycle is clearly visible from above." (Saintilan 2022)
adverb: other uses
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Adverbs are mainly used to modify adjectives, verbs and other adverbs but they also modify such elements as noun phrases, prepositional phrases, particles and numerals.
  • "Of course the situation is complicated and there’s more than just personality at play when it comes to seabird breeding success." (McCully 2023) ('just' modifies a noun phrase)
  • "It would probably take a chemist about a year to make one compound and there are 6,903 two-atom compounds in theory." (Addicoat 2023) ('about' is an approximator and modifies the noun phrase 'a year' )
  • "There are estimated to be nearly 8 million species of animals living today, making up the majority of Earth’s documented biodiversity and inhabiting almost all of its environments." (Anderson 2023) ('almost' modifies the noun phrase 'all of its environments')
  • "That stops water from running directly into our eyes." (Phelps and Moro 2021) (the adverb 'directly' modifies the prepositional phrase 'into our eyes' )
  • "So the next time you see a plant growing straight, take notice of whether light is directly above it." (Montgomery 2022) (the adverb 'directly' modifies the prepositional phrase 'above it' )
  • "Nations are trying to keep the temperature rise well under 2℃." (Doddridge 2022) (the adverb 'well' modifies the prepositional phrase 'under 2℃' )
  • "Take the example below, from a recent academic paper -– a genre that has traditionally been perceived as formal." (Brezina 2021) (the adverb 'below' post-modifies the noun phrase 'the example' )

adverbial
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adverb phrase used to provide circumstantial information about a clause, to indicate the writer’s stance, or to link units of discourse by indicating their relationship.
Examples:
Circumstance Adverbials
  • "And because there is only one winter each year, then you know how many years old the tree is" (Syme 2019). (reason)
  • "Then we lower the sides of this bowl-shaped force field by decreasing the electric current that runs through the wire" (McCormick 2020). (means)
  • "Having rounded the southern tip of Africa, and following a westerly course, the sailors observed the Sun as being on their right hand side, above the northern horizon." (Dorrian and Whittaker 2020). (means)
  • "Through stories passed down from generation to generation for hundreds or even thousands of years, these mythological creatures have become legends" (Little 2023). (means)
  • "Through stories passed down from generation to generation for hundreds or even thousands of years, these mythological creatures have become legends" (Little 2023). (time)
  • "To make a viable seed, pollen from one part of the flower must fertilize the ovules in another part of the flower" (Harkess 2021). (purpose)
  • "To make a viable seed, pollen from one part of the flower must fertilize the ovules in another part of the flower" (Harkess 2021). (location)
Stance adverbials
  • "While we think of perfect vision in humans as being 20/20, typical vision in dogs is probably closer to 20/75" (Dreschel 2020). (doubt, uncertainty)
  • "That means astronomers will have the chance to study these rings – and one day, hopefully, we’ll be able to answer all of your questions and more." (Kuhn 2020). (attitude)
  • "But according to culinary scientists, they contain flavor compounds that taste even better when eaten together" (Miller 2019). (source of knowledge or information)
  • "Based on the fossil evidence we have, single-celled microbes appeared on Earth before larger cellular life like plants and animals." (Noll 2023). (limitation) (ed-clause)
Linking adverbials
See how linking adverbials are managed on the linking adverbials page.
adverbial particle
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A group of words which are often attached to verbs to create multi-word verbs with new meanings. They are also used to create extended prepositional phrases. Examples: about, across, along, around, aside, away, back, by, down, in, off, on, over, past, round, under, up. To create a multi-word verb (phrasal verb): sit down, stand up. To create an extended prepositional phrase: up in the sky, down in the dumps.
adverb phrase
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A phrase containing an adverb as the head. This may be the only word in the phrase but it may also be modified by words, phrases and clauses. Most adverb modifiers express degree. Adverb phrases are not the same as adverbials.
  • "It seems our universe started very small and has been expanding ever since." (Lam 2020) ('since' is the head and 'ever' is the modifier; both are adverbs)
  • "The flashes of energy from the pulsar go past very fast and very often, so we know it is spinning incredibly fast." (Nicholson 2019) (3 examples here: 'fast' and 'often' are headwords, and 'very' and 'incredibly are modifiers; all are adverbs)
  • "Trees can die suddenly or quite slowly." (Stevens-Rumann 2023) ('suddenly' is a one word adverb phrase so 'suddenly' is the headword; 'slowly' is the headword in the adverb phrase 'quite slowly' and 'quite' is the modifier; all are adverbs)
  • "The newly-discovered insects appear rather underwhelming, preserved as small brown fragments of wing cases." (McDonald and McNamara 2020) ('rather' is the headword in a one word adverb phrase. It functions as a modifier, modifying the adjective 'underwhelming')
  • "Cartilage breaks down much more quickly than teeth or bones do, so it rarely gets fossilized." (Naylor 2022) ('quickly' is the headword in the adverb phrase 'more quickly than teeth or bones do'; 'more' is an adverb premodifier of 'quickly', and 'than teeth or bones do' is a post modifying comparative clause)
adverb phrase roles
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Adverb phrases may perform the following syntactic roles:
  1. Modifier of an adjective or other adverb
    • "Oxygen is like food for fires – it makes them burn really bright." (Nolan 2019)
    • "They are truly amazing animals." (Cannell 2021)
  2. Adverbial
    • "This happens frequently during thunderstorms." (Sokol 2020)
  3. Noun phrase modification
    • "So why was my flight to Hawaii, from east to west, so much longer than my flight home?" (Bailey 2021)
  4. Complement of a Preposition
    • "We now know that all plants have the fundamental mechanism that, up until now, only legumes have used to allow interactions with beneficial bacteria." (Oldroyd 2023)
  5. Premodifier in a Prepositional Phrase
    • "It doesn’t really look exactly like this diagram but you get the idea." (Blakers 2019)
affix
noun COUNTABLE MORPHOLOGY A group of letters attached to the beginning or end of a word which changes the meaning or form of that word. See also prefix and suffix.
agent
noun COUNTABLE SEMANTICS A subject which has the role of initiator in a sentence. The verb following the subject must be transitive. For example, "Teachers encourage kids to strengthen the skills they have and help them gain new ones as they advance from grade to grade" (Negussie 2022). "Teachers" is the subject (an agent) and "teach" is a transitive verb.
agentless passive
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A passive with no agent (i.e the subject in the active equivalent). Also know as the short passive. The agentless (or short) passive is the commonest use of the passive in academic texts. See the passive for examples. See also the passives page and the passive examples pages.
allegory
noun COUNTABLE FIGURE OF SPEECH A literary work in which the story represents particular qualities, ideals or moralities.
alliteration
noun FIGURE OF SPEECH The repetition of consonants for its effect, especially used in poetry (and occasionally in newspaper headlines, football chants and children’s nicknames). Not used in serious non fiction writing.
allusion
noun COUNTABLE FIGURE OF SPEECH An indirect reference to something outside the text (e.g. another text, a person, a well known story).
ambiguity
noun COUNTABLE Uncertainty about meaning or reference because of the way a phrase or sentence is structured. Adjective: ambiguous
Common collocates for this word:

ambiguity

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moral    
lexical    
sexual    
syntactic    
inherent    
possible    
deliberate    
considerable    
potential    
semantic    


anachronism
noun COUNTABLE A reference to something which cannot really happen because it is in the wrong time in historical sequence. Adjective: anachronistic.
analogy
noun COUNTABLE FIGURE OF SPEECH The use of a comparison between things which share some similar features in order to make an explanation clearer.
Common collocates for this word:

analogy

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close    
good    
simple    
historical    
striking    
interesting    
obvious    
useful    
direct    
illuminating    



analyse
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To critically examine and describe the details of a topic, argument, proposition, etc. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
analysis
noun The process of breaking apart an entity (idea, topic, object …) into its component parts in order to better understand and be able to describe it. Plural: analyses.
Common collocates for this word:

analysis

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statistical    
detailed    
quantitative    
comparative    
critical    
careful    
strategic    
systematic    
structural    
scientific    



anaphora
noun UNCOUNTABLE The use of a word or phrase to refer to something mentioned earlier in a text. Anaphoric devices help to create cohesion in a text. See examples on the Reference Page and compare with cataphora, which is much less common. Adjective: anaphoric. Adverb: anaphorically.
animate noun
noun phrase COUNTABLE A noun which refers to anything alive (people, animals, fish..). Antonym: inanimate
annual
noun A publication which is issued once a year.
annual
adjective Happening once a year.
Common collocates for this word:

annual

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report
conference
event
income
sales
leave
review
budget
results
growth



anonymous
adjective Describes a source for which no author is known.
Common collocates for this word:

anonymous

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author
reader
comments
members
posting
letter
donor
search
reviewer
sources



antecedent
noun The thing, already mentioned in a text, which is being referred to.
antithesis
noun COUNTABLE FIGURE OF SPEECH Words or ideas which are in contrast because they are opposites. Plural: antitheses.
antonym
noun COUNTABLE SENSE RELATION A word which has the opposite meaning to another word. Not usually used with gradable words. See also synonym.
APA style
noun phrase STYLE The official guide to style concerning citations, referencing, grammar, formatting and more, as prescribed by the American Psychological Association. Read the APA guide on the APA site.
aphorism
noun COUNTABLE FIGURE OF SPEECH A short sentence containing some important, interesting or provocative thought or observation.
apostrophe
noun COUNTABLE PUNCTUATION A punctuation mark () used to indicate possession or the omission of a letter or letters. Fred’s work wasn’t submitted on time. See the Apostrophe Page.
appendix
noun An additional section of a text placed towards the end in which extra information such as diagrams, tables, survey results may be placed for consultation.
apposition
noun UNCOUNTABLE Placed next to. Noun phrases are often used to provide more information about, or explanation of, a noun phrase immediately preceding it. See examples on the appositive noun page.
approximation
noun COUNTABLE Giving a number which is not precise but is rounded up or down to a more memorable whole number often accompanied by a suitable approximator. This is especially important when describing data or graphical information. See the approximation page.
approximator
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word often used in hedging to indicate that something (quantity, time, degree, frequency) is not precise. Examples: approximately, roughly, often, around, somewhat. See Adjectives and Adverbs of approximation.
archaism
noun COUNTABLE FIGURE OF SPEECH The use of a word or phrase or construction which is no longer in current use. Archaisms should not be used unless for special (e.g. humorous) effect.
argue
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To give reasons and evidence to support a point of view. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
argument
noun A statement used with reasoning and, usually, evidence to show that something is true. 
Common collocates for this word:

argument

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oral    
invalid    
strong    
similar    
good    
closing    
convincing    
logical    
legal    
valid    



argumentative thesis statement
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A thesis statement which makes a claim, in opposition to others' claims, which will be supported by evidence.
article
noun GRAMMAR the word "the” (definite article) or "a(n)” (indefinite article).
article
noun A piece of writing on a particular subject written for publication in a journal, magazine or newspaper.
aspect
noun A grammatical category describing how a verb treats time (whether it is in progress, completed, momentary, etc.). In English there are two categories of aspect: progressive or non-progressive (ongoing or finished) and perfect or non-perfect (expressing a relationship between the past and the present or not). See also tense.
aspectual verbs
noun phrase COUNTABLE SEMANTICS Aspectual verbs are used to indicate a stage in a process. The particular stage or point in the process is usually contained in a complement clause after the verb phrase. Examples of these verbs are begin, cease, complete, continue, end, finish, keep, start, stop. "When water freezes, its molecules begin clustering together" (Lavrentovich 2022). ; "This process continues today in villages where lots of people are deaf" (Futrell 2022). ; "Other electrons just keep running around in the atoms" (Abbas 2019). ; "In fact, studies have found that by the time we turn 33, most of us have stopped listening to new music" (McAndrew 2019).
assertion
noun COUNTABLE A strong statement of a writer's belief or opinion. Assertions not supported by evidence, reasoned argument or respected authority have little value.
assessment
noun COUNTABLE The process of determining the value of something according to certain criteria. Student academic texts are normally assessed by using pre-established criteria in the form of descriptors or rubrics. See also criterion referenced tests and norm referenced tests.
Common collocates for this word:

assessment

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environmental    
performance    
formative    
summative    
initial    
accurate    
comprehensive    
psychological    
accurate    
preliminary    



assignment
noun A task required by an authority (usually an instructor) to be completed according to given criteria before a certain date (the deadline).
Common collocates for this word:

assignment

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homework    
writing    
reading    
work    
class    
teaching    
group    
weekend    
research    
project    




attribute
verb To state who wrote the information or quotation.
attribution
noun A statement about who the author of a work is considered to be. See also acknowledgement.
attributive adjective
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adjective which is used before a noun. Most adjectives can be used both attributively (before a noun) and predicatively (after a verb). See also predicative adjective. See also the attributive adjectives page.
audience
noun COUNTABLE The person or people you as a writer expect will read your text. Consideration of your audience is important because it will (or at least should) influence how you write in terms of lexis (e.g. specialist or non specialist), grammatical complexity, style and tone. You also need to take into account age, expected background knowledge, cultural sensitivities, and formatting and publishing conventions.
authentic text
noun phrase COUNTABLE A text written by someone writing about matters in their own specialist area for other specialists or for the general public, but not for English teaching purposes. It is very difficult to use authentic texts for teaching purposes for students at with a low level of competence in English, but for students who are studying at a higher level (for EAP purposes) we believe that the use of authentic texts is advisable, not least in order to avoid the stilted English sometimes found in texts written specifically for teaching purposes.
authenticity
noun UNCOUNTABLE ASSESSMENT The extent to which a given language test corresponds to the features of normal language use.
author
noun COUNTABLE The writer of (an article, a report, a book, etc.). The author may be a group of people if they write on behalf of an organisation (a corporate author).
author
verb TRANSITIVE FORMAL To write (an article, a report, a book, etc.).
authoritative
adjective Reliable, accurate and respected as a source of information, instruction, or advice. Authority in this sense derives from respected qualifications, proven mastery, long experience and (especially in academic circles) widely cited publications.
Common collocates for this word:

authoritative

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source
information
text
guide
book
statement
reference
interpretation
study
answer



authority
noun COUNTABLE A respected expert on a particular subject matter. Adjective: authoritative.
auxiliary verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Verbs which have an auxiliary (helping) function rather than a main verb function. They may be the primary verbs, be, have or do, or the modal verbs can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will, would. "Today most people do not get enough sleep". The verb do, which in this case is acting as an auxiliary, along with the word not gives us the negative of the main verb get. "What is the earliest event that you can remember?" In this sentence can is a modal auxiliary. Finite auxiliary verbs may function as operators.
backshift
verb GRAMMAR The movement from present to past tense in reported speech. Direct speech: “Why are they talking to me like I’m a child?” the listener might think. “I understand them just fine.” (Wade 2022) ; Reported speech: The listener wondered why they were talking to her like a child since she understood them just fine. In reported speech 'are' and 'understand' are backshifted to 'were' and 'understood' (and the pronouns have changed).
BALEAP
noun (acronym) UNCOUNTABLE The British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes. Consult the BALEAP site for more information.
bare infinitive
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An infinitive which lacks the infinitive particle 'to'. These occur with the verb patterns verb + bare infinitive clause (with verbs like dare, let, help) and verb + noun phrase + bare infinitive clause (with verbs like have, feel, see, help, watch). Verb + bare infinitive: "Our genes also help explain how smart we are" (Mackey, Lee, and Wee 2021). ; Verb + NP + bare infinitive: "Good sleep helps you look and feel refreshed" (McMakin 2021).
base form
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR The form of a verb as it is presented in a dictionary without any verb endings.
biannual
adjective Occurring twice in one year. Compare with biennial.
Common collocates for this word:

biannual

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meeting
conference
report
basis
meetings
publication
journal
event
review
survey



biannual
noun COUNTABLE A journal or other publication which is published twice a year. See also biennial.
bias
noun STYLE The tendency to adopt a particular stance or to support a point of view, in an unfair way. Academic writing needs to be objective and balanced. See also bias-free language.
bias-free language
noun phrase STYLE Language which is free of prejudice towards others especially regarding questions of race, gender, age, ethnic identity, sexual orientation, and so on. The APA style guide has advice on avoiding biased language.
bibliography
noun COUNTABLE A list of sources referenced in your text, or consulted during the preparation of your text and relevant to your topic. A List of References normally contains only works cited in your text, whereas a bibliography may be more wide-ranging.
biennial
noun COUNTABLE A journal or other publication which is published once every two years. See also biannual.
binomial phrase
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A phrase containing two words in the same grammatical category (noun - noun, verb - verb etc.) coordinated by "and" or "or". See examples of binomial phrases here.
biography
noun COUNTABLE An account of someone’s life and works.
block quote
noun phrase A quotation formatted by placing it in a separate indented paragraph. A block quote is used without quotation marks where the quotation is longer than 40 words instead of inserting it in line with quotation marks. See examples on the Quotations Page.
brackets
noun PUNCTUATION Punctuation marks ( ) or [ ] (square brackets) used to enclose and separate a short portion of text. Also known as parentheses. See examples of how they are used on the Parentheses Page and the Square Brackets Page.
brainstorm
verb To gather possible ideas (usually in a group) by thinking freely about a topic with a view to evaluating these ideas later. See how you can brainstorm to get ideas and sources together on the brainstorming page.
capitalization
noun UNCOUNTABLE STYLE The use of a capital (uppercase) letter at the beginning of a word. Capitalization is used for proper nouns, proper adjectives, the first letter of sentences, days of the week, months of the year, the 'I' (first person pronoun) and in a few other cases. See the capitalization page.
cardinal number
noun phrase A number used for counting or calculation. Seven Samurai. Seven plus one equals eight. See also ordinal number.
cataphora
noun The use of a word or phrase to refer to something mentioned later in a text. Compare with anaphora, which is much more common. Adjective: cataphoric. Adverb: cataphorically.
cause
noun Something (usually an action) which provokes an event or a result (an effect).
Common collocates for this word:

cause

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probable    
root    
leading    
major    
first    
main    
primary    
underlying    
real    
    



cause and effect
noun phrase A common organisation pattern in which causes and their effects are analysed or used in support of the writer’s arguments. See how cause and effect is used in a real text on the cause and effect page.
causative verbs
noun phrase COUNTABLE SEMANTICS Verbs of causation or facilitation are verbs used to indicate the rise of a new state of affairs. These verbs are often followed by a direct object in the form of a complex noun phrase, or by a complement clause. Examples of these verbs are affect, allow, assist, cause, enable, ensure, force, guarantee, help, influence, let, permit, prevent, require. "It is very hard to show whether these changes in education actually cause the differences seen in the chart" (verb + complex noun phrase) (Teal 2016). ; "Your modern digital smart TV has an interface that allows you to control all the functions" (Weitzen 2022). (verb + complement clause); "An optimal quantity and quality of sleep enables us to have more energy and better wellbeing" (Sahakian et al. 2022). (verb + complement clause);
CEFR
noun (acronym) ACRONYM The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages is a tool for describing language ability on a 7 point scale. Learn more about the Common European Framework of Reference here.
central adjective
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adjective which has certain important characteristics of an adjective. Adjectives which do not have all these characteristics are known as peripheral adjectives.
The most important characteristic of a central adjective is that it can be used in both attributive and predicative roles.
Attributive
  • As new discoveries are made, ideas can change. (Behles 2021)
  • These electrons each carry a small electric charge. (Blakers 2019)
  • Your teeth are an important part of your body. (Pirotta 2022)
Predicative
  • Lessons from the past Pandemics are not new. (Clendenin 2020)
  • Visiting a modern petrochemical plant makes you feel incredibly small. (Bauer and Nielsen 2021)
  • The type of food we give to our pets is equally important. (Alexander 2023)
Central adjectives are also descriptors (rather than classifiers) and they are also gradable, meaning that they can be inflected to show degrees of comparison (high, higher, highest), and they can be modified by adverbs of degree (extremely low, particularly important). See also the adjective characteristics page.
central determiner
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Central determiners (so-called because they take their place between predeterminers and postdeterminers) are articles, demonstrative determiners, and possessive determiners. Examples: a, the, these, those, my, your, their.
chronology
noun The order of events in time. Adjective: chronological. See also sequence.
citation
noun COUNTABLE Words spoken or written by another person, the source of which is declared. Often "citation” is taken to mean the correctly formatted source of the quotation or paraphrase. See how to cite on the citation page.
cite
verb To write words spoken or written by another person and to formally declare the source. There are strict rules about how the source of a quotation or paraphrase should be formatted. See how to cite on the in-text citations page.
claim
noun COUNTABLE A statement of the writer’s belief. In writing, claims need evidence. The reader needs to know why an assertion made by the writer should be believable.
Common collocates for this word:

claim

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main    
strong    
legitimate    
valid    
major    
prior    
original    
central    
minor    
dubious    



clarify
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To make something clearer by simplifying or using examples or analogies. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
clarity
noun UNCOUNTABLE SEMANTICS The clear expression of meaning through the choice of precise and specific words and appropriate syntax. Where possible choose concrete words rather than abstract ones and specific ones over general terms. Use short simple syntactical structures rather than complex ones.
classification
noun COUNTABLE The act of grouping elements into various classes according to their characteristics. See how classification is used in a real text on the classification page.
classifier
noun COUNTABLE SEMANTICS An adjective used mainly in writing which has a classifying function. Classifiers are normally non-gradable. There are three types: relational, topical and affiliative. Examples are:
  • Relational: basic, common, different, final, general, higher, individual, main, major, same, similar, single, specific, total, various, whole;
  • Topical: economic, human, local, natural, normal, physical, political, public, social;
  • Affiliative: American, Chinese, European.
Relational and topical classiers are most important in academic writing. See the noun premodifier page for more examples. See also descriptor and the classifier page.
classify
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To arrange items mentioned in the task description into groups according some some given or useful criteria. Used as an instruction word. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
clause
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A group of words containing a subject and a finite verb. A clause may form a sentence or part or a sentence. It is highest level of grammatical structure below the sentence. A clause may function as a noun, adjective or adverb. A clause is not the same as a phrase.
Common collocates for this word:

clause

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main    
subordinate    
relative    
dependent    
adverbial    
independent    
conditional    
adjectival    
finite    
    



clausal ellipsis
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE COHESIVE DEVICES The omission of a phrase, a clause, part of a clause or even longer parts of a text which is recoverable from the previous text.
"For young kids, dual-tasking is possible. However, some studies suggest that it can be a little more difficult for younger kids compared with older kids. Why? " (Wilson 2019). Why what?You have to look across two sentences to complete this question. The full question is "Why can dual tasking be a little more difficult for younger kids compared to older kids?" Often you do not notice clausal ellipsis. Your mind usually fills in the missing words automatically. This example shows the use of a wh-word in the place of "This reason for this is .....". See also the ellipsis page.
clausal substitution
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE COHESIVE DEVICES The substitution of a clause by "so" or "not".
  1. "One way to do that is to split atoms, the basic building blocks of all matter in the universe. Do so controllably and you can produce a steady flow of energy." (Wu 2021). The word "so" in the second sentence substitutes for " split atoms" in the first.
  2. "Hence we could be in for several weeks or even years of major volcanic unrest from the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano. For the sake of the people of Tonga I hope not." (Cronin 2022). The word "not" substitutes for "I hope we are not in for several weeks or even years of major volcanic unrest" in the previous sentence.
See also the substitution page.
cliché
noun COUNTABLE FIGURE OF SPEECH A phrase which has become fixed and is overused. Everyone uses clichés. They are unavoidable. However, it is good practice not to overuse them run your writing otherwise your text becomes stale and boring.
closed class word
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Words which belong to closed classes such as article, conjunction and preposition. No new words can be admitted to these classes. By contrast open class words belong to open classes to which new words may be added. Closed class words are also known as function words.
cognate
noun COUNTABLE ETYMOLOGY A word in one language which is similar in form and meaning to that of another language because both words have similar roots.
coherence
noun UNCOUNTABLE Coherence is concerned with the way a text seems to have a connected and logical flow. Unlike cohesion, coherence is not a feature of the text itself; it is the reader who decides how coherent a text is based on his or her perception of the logical flow of the arguments in the text.
cohesion
noun UNCOUNTABLE Cohesion is a feature of the text itself and concerns the way in which certain grammatical items (such as pronouns) and words can connect a sentence to previous (and, sometimes, later) ones. Cohesion is not coherence but cohesive ties contribute to the coherence of a text by providing the reader with pointers to the connections in the text.
cohesive
adjective Connected, tied together. Cohesive text is text which has the quality of being a unified whole because of the connections (cohesive ties) within the text itself.
collective noun
noun phrase COUNTABLE A noun which represents a group of things, animals or people. Examples: pack, flock, herd, shoal, tribe, gang, mob. "Gang" and "mob" have negative connotations.
colligation
noun UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR The tendency for a particular word to occupy a particular grammatical category and pattern. Compare with collocation.
collocate
noun A word which is commonly associated with or found in proximity to another word. "sweet", "strong", "milky" are all common collocates of the word "tea". You can see a list of common collocates of the word "comparison" a few words below in this glossary.
collocate
verb To place a word in proximity to another word. "sweet", "strong", "milky" collocate well with the word "tea".
collocation
noun COUNTABLE COHESIVE DEVICES The tendency of a particular word or phrase to be found in the proximity of another. See the examples on the Collocation and Noun Modification page.
colon
noun COUNTABLE PUNCTUATION A punctuation mark (:) used as a stop, often to introduce an example or clarification of the information in the text preceding the colon See the Colon Page
comma
noun COUNTABLE PUNCTUATION A punctuation mark (,) which separates one part of a sentence from another. Commas are used to separate items in a list and to separate clauses. See the Comma Page
comma splice
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An error in a sentence where a comma is used to incorrectly join two independent clauses. Original (correctly punctuated) sentence: "After all, planetary orbits aren’t all the same; they’re randomly oriented" (Margot 2021). Comma splice: "After all, planetary orbits aren’t all the same, they’re randomly oriented." See also run-on sentence.
command word
noun phrase COUNTABLE A verb used in the description of a writing task to define what is required in the task. Example verbs are analyse, discuss, evaluate, identify, outline, summarise. Also known as task verbs or instruction words. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
comment
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To state your opinion about something mentioned in the task description, supported by evidence, examples or analogies. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
common noun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A noun which refers to a class of entities as opposed to a proper noun (which refers to a single entity). Common nouns are not capitalized and are by far the largest category of nouns. Common nouns may be countable or uncountable (unlike proper nouns). House, table, paper, tree, train are all examples of common nouns.
communication verbs
noun phrase COUNTABLE SEMANTICS Communication verbs are verbs which describe communication in speaking or in writing. Examples are: admit, announce, answer, argue, ask, call, claim, deny, describe, discuss, encourage, explain, express, insist, mention, note, offer, propose, publish, quote, reply, report, say, sign, sing, speak, state, suggest, teach, talk, tell, warn, write. "They were asked to memorise both lists" (Noreen 2015). ; "Astronomers have discussed the Moon illusion for centuries, and there are some facts they all agree on" (Laycock 2022). ; Einstein had figured out how to explain gravity within the Universe using maths" (Webb 2023).
comparative
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR The form of a word (adjective or adverb) used to make comparisons. Also known as the comparative degree. The comparative is formed with the suffix -er or with the word more. Most common gradable adjectives use -er; hot → hotter. Longer adjectives usually use more; beautiful → more beautiful. See also superlative and the comparative and superlative page.
compare
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To examine similarities and differences of something specified in a task description. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
compare and contrast
noun phrase COUNTABLE A text organisation pattern in which an item or items are described in terms of their similarities and differences. See the compare and contrast page to see how this in managed in an authentic text.
comparison
noun COUNTABLE A textual element (sentence, paragraph, section) in which similarities and differences are examined. See how comparison is used in a real text on the comparison/contrast page 1 or comparison/contrast page 2
Common collocates for this word:

comparison

shading image

direct    
interesting    
detailed    
simple    
systematic    
statistical    
fair    
appropriate    
good    
useful    



complement
noun COUNTABLE A complement is a word, phrase or clause which completes another element. Any element can take a complement. Complements add further information to the elements they complement.
  • Noun: representation of a human cell
  • Verb: drink lots of water
  • Adjective: important for refreshing the mind and body
  • Preposition: under these conditions
The word complement is also used to refer to other elements in the sentence such a subject complement or object complement, now usually referred to as subject predicative and object predicative.
See also subject predicative, object predicative, adjective complement, noun complement clause, adverb complement of a preposition, subject-verb-complement clause, subject-verb-object-complement clause.
complementizer
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A subordinator which introduces a complement clause. Three of them (that, if and whether) have little intrinsic meaning. Others are wh-words introducing a complement clause, and the infinitive particle to.
complex preposition
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A preposition consisting of two or more words. These complex prepositions may consist of as many as four words.
  1. Two word prepositions normally end in a simple one-word preposition. Examples are: such as, except for because of, regardless of, depending on, according to, together with ...
    • "Students are taught to look to the URL of more authoritative sites — such as .gov or .edu — as a good hint at the factual basis of an assertion." (Pearson 2021)
    • "Most relevant dietary guidelines encourage the consumption of low-fat dairy foods, except for in very young children." (Mellor 2023)
  2. Three word prepositions normally consist of a simple preposition + noun + simple preposition. Examples are: as well as, in exchange for, by means of, in spite of, by reference to, in addition to, in accordance with, in comparison with ...
    • "Lack of concern is far higher in the US (12%) as well as in Sweden (9%), Greta Thunberg’s home country." (Painter and Andı 2020)
    • "Every year, teens are asked about their general happiness, in addition to how they spend their time." (Twenge 2018)
  3. Four word prepositions are similar to three word prepositions except that they include an article and usually end in 'of'. Examples are: as a result of, for the sake of, in the case of, on the part of, with the exception of ...
    • "Inuit observations have identified several important environmental changes in the Arctic as a result of climate change, and their knowledge about bowhead whale behaviour helped researchers revise their survey methods to improve population size estimates." (Popp 2018)
    • "In the post-second world war period, western Europe (with the exception of Spain) broke free of totalitarianism and literacy began to increase, but dubbing remained. " (Pollard 2021)
complex sentence
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A sentence which contains one or more dependent clauses in addition to the main (independent) clause. Complex sentence: "When glutamate hits our tongues, it tells our brains to get excited" (Miller 2019). (dependent clause + main clause)
complex subordinator
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A subordinator consisting of more than one word, which introduces an adverbial clause. Most of these end in 'as' or 'that'. Examples are: as far as, as soon as, as long as, on condition that, provided that, except that, in order that, so that, such that, as if, even though, in case.
  • "Supporters have unearthed old recipes which list [local vegetable varieties] as ingredients in order that earlier culinary uses can be revived." (Keech et al. 2022) (purpose adverbial)
  • "Smuggling will continue as long as the demand and need to reach a place of safety and protection is there." (Jones and McMahon 2016) (time or contingency adverbial)
  • "It’s easier for small regions to reach 100% renewable electricity, provided that they trade electricity with their neighbours." (Diesendorf 2016) (condition adverbial)
complex transitive verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A verb which requires a direct object and an object complement (also known as an object predicative) in the form of a noun phrase or adjective, by an obligatory adverbial (including a prepositional object). In the sentence "Some kinds of light make you more alert and more awake.", "you" is the object, and "more alert and more awake" is the object complement (an adjective phrase). See also monotransitive and ditransitive.
composition
noun COUNTABLE A short essay written by a student as an exercise in writing.
compound
noun COUNTABLE LEXIS A compound is a structure made of two or more elements. Many words in English are compounds. For example, compound nouns, compound adjectives, and compound adverbs. Compound verbs occur in some languages but are rare in English. Compounds can be made of many different combinations of categories. For example, compound nouns may be noun-noun or noun adjective; compound adjectives may be adjective-adjective, noun-adjective, adverb-adjective or noun-participle. There are many others.
  • Compound Noun: You can think of space-time like the fabric of the Universe. (noun-noun) (Webb 2023)
  • Compound Adjective: Most school-aged kids need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep. (noun-participle) (McMakin 2021)
Compare with derivation.
compound adverb
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adverb composed two or more words. Examples are: somewhere, nowhere, anywhere, somehow, anyway, everywhere. See the examples under adverb forms.
compound adjective
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Compound adjectives (or adjectival compounds) are useful in academic writing because, like noun compounds, they pack a lot of information into a short space, avoiding complex modification like relative clauses. There are many forms:
  1. Adverb + adjective
    • "The lithosphere consists of all of the crust and part of the mantle, down as far as the partially-molten asthenosphere." (Duffy and McLaren 2021)
  2. Adverb + ed-participle
    • "The newly-discovered insects appear rather underwhelming, preserved as small brown fragments of wing cases." (McDonald and McNamara 2020)
    • "It might sound complicated, but the way the cell works to make electricity is actually pretty simple: a chemical reaction takes place, which moves tiny, negatively-charged particles called “electrons” around to create an electric current." (Clarke 2019)
    • "This has led to the evolution of a plethora of sexually-selected male traits in the animal kingdom, and some very choosy females." (Gentle 2023)
    • "Emergency personnel are often required to make quick, well-informed decisions under extreme stress and with limited resources." (May and Robinson 2023)
    • "Many well-known hybrids, such as mules (horse and donkey), ligers (male lion and female tiger) and tigons (male tiger and female lion), are a result of human intervention." (Boyd 2023)
    • "The so-called “weak equivalence principle” in the theory of general relativity states that the motion of bodies in a gravitational field is independent of their composition." (Bertsche 2023)
  3. Adverb + ing-participle
    • "And during the same month in Norway, three scientists were arrested for protesting the nation’s slow-moving climate policy." (Tormos-Aponte and Frickel 2023)
    • "Slow-moving plate boundary faults take longer to reach a critical state. Along some faults, hundreds or even thousands of years can pass between large earthquakes." (Toro 2023)
  4. Adjective + ed-participle
    • "Our study showed they represent a long-isolated population, highly distinct from the southern rinkhals populations." (Barlow, Major, and Wüster 2023)
    • "However, the binocular fields of species like mallards and pink-eared ducks are much narrower." (Martin and Cantlay 2023)
  5. Adjective + ing-participle
    • " Impressions of strange-looking organisms, called the Ediacara Biota, were discovered in the 1950s in rocks and have been dated to around 574–539 million years ago (the Ediacaran Period)." (Anderson 2023)
    • "The most pungent-smelling male ring-tailed lemurs attract the most females." (Gentle 2023)
  6. Noun + adjective
    • "We tested rocks from geological eras older than the Ediaracan period (635 million years ago) to work out which ones had the clay-rich composition necessary to fossilise the first animals." (Anderson 2023)
    • "Our ancestors collected and spread nightsoil (human faeces) on fields to fertilise them and battled over lands covered in nutrient-rich bird guano." (Oldroyd 2023)
    • "The 20th century experts thought the appearance of humans had coincided with the formation of an ice-free corridor between two immense ice sheets straddling what’s now Canada and the northern US."(Bennett and Reynolds 2023)
  7. Noun + ed-particle
    • "These human-led practices may have boosted food production but they have also made crops lazy." (Oldroyd 2023)
    • "The most pungent-smelling male ring-tailed lemurs attract the most females." (Gentle 2023)
    • "Male stalk-eyed flies choose females based on the distance between their eyes, and find wider eyespans more attractive." (Gentle 2023)
    • "The cardboard exterior gives way to a white polystyrene clamshell, cloistering a pearly sphere-shaped, water-filled bag." (Beach 2023)
  8. Noun + ing-particle
    • "Our cereal crops have the same ancient genetic pathway as legumes do, which allow them to engage with nitrogen-fixing bacteria." (Oldroyd 2023)
    • "Tool-using apes who walked upright would have posed a serious threat to the snakes, and the evolution of spitting in African cobras roughly coincides with when hominins split from chimpanzees and bonobos 7 million years ago." (Barlow, Major, and Wüster 2023)
    • "These bacteria are similar to the oxygen-producing microbes in the ocean that form the basis of all ocean food webs, and help maintain the ocean cycle." (Beach 2023)
    • "They can only be seen with more sophisticated, electron-scanning microscopy." (Najlah 2023)
  9. Adjective + noun
    • "The nearest modern snake that often has four fangs is the boomslang (Disopholidus typus) from the sub-Saharan African savannas, now only found more than 400 miles (650km) south of present-day Egypt." (Winder and Wüster 2023)
    • "This has the potential to benefit smallholder farmers in low-income countries who lack access to fertilisers, and could also provide much needed reductions of agriculture’s pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. " (Oldroyd 2023)
    • "In the UK, working-age men spend around half as much time on domestic unpaid work as working-age women." (Hertog and Shi 2023)
    • "In the best-case scenario for the future, the rise of domestic automation could address gender inequality in domestic work by increasing the time available for women to carry out paid work and leisure." (Hertog and Shi 2023)
    • "We ultimately selected the field of high-power laser-matter interaction. " (Svanberg 2023) (laser-matter is noun + noun; nouns also act as noun premodifiers)
    • "Both sides are motivated by a concern for the long-term health and respectability of consciousness science." (Goff 2023)
  10. Noun + suffix (unclear whether this is noun + preposition or noun + suffix)
    • "Reports of older and more simple animal-like fossils have been published." (Anderson 2023)
    • "For example, sponge-like fossils from the Mackenzie Mountains, Canada are around 800 million years old." (Anderson 2023)
    • "The fine black dust and small coal-like rocks shimmering in the capsule are beautiful – and somewhat unassuming." (King 2023)
compound noun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A noun phrase constructed with a noun and another noun (or nouns), a verb, or an adjective. Table lamp (noun + noun), gunfire (noun + verb), current affairs (adjective + noun)
compound sentence
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A compound sentence contains two or more independent (main) clauses. Compound sentence with three independent clauses: "Cheese is fatty, meat toppings tend to be rich, and the sauce is sweet" (Miller 2019).
concession
noun COUNTABLE ARGUMENTATION Acceptance that an argument proposed by another may be correct. Verb: concede. Concede is sometimes used in a signal phrase when referencing an argument which another writer has conceded.
concision
noun UNCOUNTABLE SEMANTICS The use of the fewest possible words necessary to express the desired meaning. This does not mean that all sentences should be short; some ideas require longer structures in order to express an idea clearly. But, usually, shorter sentences help with readability. Adjective: concise.
conclusion
noun COUNTABLE The end of a piece of writing contained in a separate paragraph or paragraphs, usually consisting of a summary of the main points and any necessary remarks or recommendations
concord
noun UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR Agreement between the subject and the verb (singular or plural). This is something to check when you are reviewing. A grammar checker should flag this. If the subject is singular e.g. "the cat", the verb must match - "the cat is hungry"; if the subject is plural e.g. "the cats", the verb must match - "the cats are hungry".
concrete
adjective Having substance, clarity and definition.
Common collocates for this word:

concrete

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terms
evidence
proposals
examples
form
expression
action
proof
noun
results



concrete noun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A noun which references something physical rather than something abstract like ideas, qualities, processes, etc. Examples: bicycle, brick, knife, skyscraper. Compare with abstract noun.
conjunction
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word which connects words, phrases and clauses. Now usually referred to as coordinators or subordinators, according to their function. Examples: COORDINATORS: and, but, or, nor.... SUBORDINATORS: after, since, as, although, because, if....
connotation
noun COUNTABLE PRAGMATICS The additional or incidental meanings, associations or references which a word, phrase or sentence might have in addition to its obvious core meaning. We think of words and phrases as having one or a very few meanings which we can define reasonably well. But in fact these words and phrases live in a cloud of associated references, meanings and ideas which may invoke different things to different people depending on their background knowledge, culture, sex etc. As writers we also choose our words (sometimes perhaps subconsciously) to evoke particular connotations. See also denotation.
construct validity
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE ASSESSMENT May refer to (a) the extent to which a test conforms to the (linguistic) theory on which it is based, or (b) the extent to which a test measures what it is intended to measure. See also criterion referenced test.
contact clause
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR A relative clause with the relativizer omitted. See also the relative clauses page.
content validity
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE ASSESSMENT The extent to which a test satisfactorily measures the knowledge, skills or ability which it is designed to test. See also criterion referenced test.
content word
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Words which refer to things, state, actions or qualities; they are nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. These words convey meaning even when used alone, unlike function words, which have little meaning on their own. Function words have grammatical uses. Examples are articles, conjunctions and prepositions. Content words are also open class words.
content words
noun phrase COUNTABLE TASK DESCRIPTION Words used in the description of a writing task which give the topic of the task. See the task analysis page.
context
noun COUNTABLE The text which surrounds a word, phrase or sentence and which influences the meaning of those elements
Common collocates for this word:

context

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different    
historical    
political    
wide    
social    
particular    
specific    
appropriate    
cultural    
    



contraction
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR The short form of a phrase where missing letters are indicated by an apostrophe. Example: do not - don't. Used in speech and informal writing. You shouldn't normally use contractions in academic writing.
contrast
noun A textual element (sentence, paragraph, section) in which differences are examined. See how contrast is used in a real text on the comparison-contrast page 1 or comparison-contrast page 2
Common collocates for this word:

contrast

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marked    
sharp    
stark    
complete    
direct    
strong    
striking    
total    
great    
clear    



contrast
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To highlight differences between two or more things specified in a task description. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
controlling idea
noun phrase COUNTABLE The main idea of a piece of writing (an extended essay or research paper) usually expressed in a thesis statement in an introductory paragraph
converse
noun UNCOUNTABLE SENSE RELATION A type of antonymy where there is a reciprocal rather than an opposite meaning. Examples: give and receive, husband and wife.
coordinator
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word which connects words, phrases and clauses. A coordinator links words, phrases and clauses which have the same syntactic status (they are not subordinate). Also known as coordinating conjunctions. Examples:
COORDINATORS: and, but, or, nor...
  • "In the 1950s, television sets were bulky and the picture was in black and white"(Weitzen 2022).
  • "Some dinosaurs evolved wings and began to fly" (Guijarro-Clarke and Paps 2020).
  • "It’s very brief but it can be very revealing" (Fedrizzi and Malik 2022).
  • "Most modern birds have scaly feet, but none are scaly all over" (Poropat 2020).
SUBORDINATORS: after, since, as, although, because, if...
  • "Some are dangerous because they spread disease, like mosquitoes that can carry malaria" (Gentle 2020).
  • "Light from the Sun is strong in blue, short wavelength light, although it includes all other colors as well" (Stevens 2015).
COORDINATORS with ELLIPSIS
Ellipsis is common with coordinators because coordinators link clauses with similar syntactic structures, so some elements in the second part are often elided.
  • "Studying bones can tell us about movement but not behaviour" (Winder and Shaw 2019).
    Studying bones can tell us about movement but [studying bones can] not [tell us about] behaviour.
  • "They aren’t as strong as primary sources but are still useful" (Britten 2022).
    They aren’t as strong as primary sources but [they] are still useful.
  • "A lack of sleep can also make us more emotional and can contribute to depression" (Krigolson 2023).
    A lack of sleep can also make us more emotional and [it or a lack of sleep] can contribute to depression.
WH-WORDS: who, what, which, where, when, why...
Wh-words also act as clause links but they are also part of one of the linked clauses rather than a separate element joining two separate clauses.
copula
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A verb which links a subject to a complement. The main function of the verb to be is as a copula. Other verbs commonly used as copulas are:   seem, appear, keep, remain, stay, become, grow, turn out, end up, smell, taste.
copyright
noun COUNTABLE The right of a person, persons or legal entity to assert rights of ownership and reproduction of their creative work.
corpus
noun COUNTABLE A collection of texts used to investigate linguistic features. Plural: corpora. Example: The British National Corpus.
correlative coordinator
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A pair of coordinators which express a logical relationship such as addition, alternative, or contrast.
  • "Your already anxious and highly alert brain then processes these signals at both conscious and unconscious levels." (Javanbakht 2023)
  • "Search engine companies, like most online services, make money not only by selling ads, but also by tracking users and selling their data through real-time bidding on it." (Shah 2021)
  • "The most basic types of AI systems are purely reactive, and have the ability neither to form memories nor to use past experiences to inform current decisions."(Hintze 2016)
  • "If humans were in America at the height of the last Ice Age, either the ice posed few barriers to their passage, or humans had been there for much longer." (Bennett and Reynolds 2023)
correlative subordinator
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A subordinator which along with another word in the superordinate clause creates a particular relationship between the clauses. Examples are: as .... as, so .... as, such .... as, so .... (that), such .... (that), more .... than, no sooner .... than, barely, hardly, scarcely .... than, the .... the, whether, if .... or, although .... yet, if .... then, in that case, because .... therefore.
  • "No sooner had the 2016 Olympic Games finished than commentators were lamenting their negative impacts on the host city, Rio de Janeiro." (Garcia 2016) (comparison correlative)
  • "The slower the water evaporates, the larger the crystals will grow." (Ashworth 2023) (proportional correlatives)
countable noun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A noun which can have both singular and plural forms. Examples: COUNTABLE: friend (s), friends (p); biscuit (s), biscuits (p). UNCOUNTABLE (or mass noun): shopping, happiness, peace. See also mass noun.
counter argument
noun phrase An argument against a previously stated argument, statement, or point of view. In stating a case it is important to look at other possible points of view and offer reasons and evidence why these may not be as strong as the case you are making
cover page
noun phrase COUNTABLE A page attached to the front of an essay or report giving information such as the title, date of submission, the author's name and (for school or college) perhaps the course name and instructor's name or information about academic integrity. Normally you would be given a pre-formatted cover page which you just have to complete (and sometimes sign). Also known as a cover sheet.
criterion referenced test
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE ASSESSMENT A test which measures performance according to a pre-established standard or criterion. The examinee's score is related to this criterion and not to that of other examinees. See also norm referenced test.
critique
noun A detailed evaluation or criticism of a piece of writing - both of the writing itself and on the opinions contained therein. Also used as a verb: to critique.
cross-reference
compound noun A reference in a piece of writing to another reference elsewhere in the same document. Often indicated by "See also", but also by hyperlink in online texts.
dash
noun COUNTABLE PUNCTUATION Dashes () are used to enclose various elements such as dependent clauses and parenthetical material. See the Dash Page.
data
noun UNCOUNTABLE Data consists of a collection of values which give information concerning facts, quantities, qualities, statistics, or other meaningful entities. 'Data' is treated as a mass noun; 'Datum' is sometimes used to describe a single value in a collection of data. Data is often presented in various visual formats in order to make it more accessible, to highlight particular aspects of the data, and sometimes even to mislead. These formats are line graphs, column and bar charts, pie charts, tables, and various other types of infographics. Being able to understand, interpret, and present data given in these formats is an important skill in academic writing.
Common collocates for this word:

data

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raw    
historical    
personal    
experimental    
legal    
technical    
statistical    
available    
scientific    
financial    



deadline
noun COUNTABLE The time and date before which something must be completed. Don't miss a deadline unless you have a valid excuse. Careful planning helps you not to get stressed about completing work and submitting it on time. Missing a deadline may mean you work is not accepted or there may be grading penalties.
Common collocates for this word:

deadline

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application    
registration    
submission    
filing    
legal    
entry    
final    
extended    
proposal    
!missed    



declarative clause
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Declarative clauses are the main type of independent clauses used in academic writing. They are are statements and have a subject verb (SV...) structure. "Summer thunderstorms are the perfect example" (SVPs). "Scientists investigate in many different ways" (SVA).
deduction
noun COUNTABLE A process of logical reasoning from known facts such that we can be certain that the conclusion is true. Verb: deduce. See also inference. Deduction is a form of inference.
Common collocates for this word:

deduction

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logical    
valid    
brilliant    
simple    
intelligent    
rational    
accurate    
informed    
reasonable    
natural    



define
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To clearly state the precise meaning of something specified in a task description. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
definition
noun COUNTABLE A statement of the meaning of a word or phrase. These statements may specify conditions for the thing defined to belong to a particular set or class. The definition may also include examples of the term's use. Definitions are important in academic writing because of the need to be precise about what we are discussing. Since we are using words to define other words, writing a satisfactory definition can be tricky. It is import to avoid circularity. It is also important that the definition is not too broad or too narrow. They should be useful to your intended audience; an expert audience may not need them unless you are using a term in a particular specialized way. A definition is usually structured in the following way:
  1. The word or phrase to be defined;
  2. The class, set, species, group, etc. to which it belongs (this may be a very general shell noun);
  3. The characteristics which separate it from other members of the same group.
For example: "The Blood Brain Barrier [1] is a system of cells and membranes [2] that form tight junctions to prevent harmful agents that circulate in the bloodstream from entering the brain [3]" (Sample and Davidson 2015).
degree complements of adjectives
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Gradable adjectives are often followed by complements in the form of comparative phrases or clauses. This helps to make a comparison more obvious or gives other information such as a result or a reason.
  1. comparative adjective + than + phrase/clause
    • "But gills and lungs are more similar than you might think." (Brown 2021) (clause)
    • "Telescopes are not inherently better at looking into space than binoculars ." (Laycock 2019) (phrase)
    • "Nuclear fusion, the process that powers the Sun, is also much more efficient than chemical fuel." (Impey 2021) (phrase)
    • "Called rod cells because of their shape, they function better in low light than cone cells do." (Dreschel 2020) (clause)
    • "Manufacturers stopped making those models because the need to recharge their batteries after short distances rendered those vehicles less convenient than those powered by fossil fuels." (Stewart and Yohe 2022) (clause)
    • "It is safer and less expensive than having volcanologists on the ground near the volcano being studied, particularly if it is erupting or in a very remote area." (Skilling 2020) (clause)
    • "That’s because minimum temperatures in October are now about 1℃ warmer than they were in 1910." (Doddridge 2022) (clause)
    • "Yes, astronomers' telescopes, with their gigantic lenses and sturdy support systems, are more powerful than binoculars you can carry." (Laycock 2019) (clause)
    • "But more importantly, the discovery indicates that these fossils may be much more common than we previously thought." (McDonald and McNamara 2020) (clause)
  2. as + adjective + as + phrase/clause
    • "They’re as distinct as human fingerprints." (Cushing 2020) (phrase)
    • "That’s the part that’s as hot as the surface of the Sun. (Huang 2023) (phrase)
  3. so + adjective + that-clause
    • "This zoo was so large that 300 people were employed to take care of the animals." (Renner 2022)
    • "Black holes are regions in space where gravity is so strong that even light cannot escape." (Loon 2021)
    • "Second, they’re the lightest synthetic polymers produced at large scale; their density is so low that they float." (Beckman 2018)
    • "Seeds are so good at helping plants to spread their young that most plant species on Earth today use seeds." (Lundgren 2019)
  4. too + adjective + to-clause
    • "Although it’s too late to find dino-DNA, scientists recently found something almost as intriguing." (Ausich 2021)
    • "And all the dwarf planets are too small to hold the inner heat that remains from the solar system’s formation." (Peroomian 2022)
  5. adjective + enough + to-clause
    • "Imagine trying to travel somewhere hot enough to melt rock, what would that do to you?" (Crerar 2022)
    • "In the upper parts of clouds, the temperature is cold enough to make ice crystals, which eventually get heavy enough to fall – and melt into rain on their way to the ground." (Boomgard-Zagrodnik and McMurdie 2021)
See also the degree complements page.
degree complements of adverbs
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Degree complements of adverbs answer questions such as 'how much?', 'to what extent?', 'to what effect?'
  1. comparative adverb + than + phrase/clause
    • "During light sleep you will be woken more easily than during deep sleep." (Zajamsek and Micic 2020) (phrase)
    • "Cartilage breaks down much more quickly than teeth or bones do, so it rarely gets fossilized." (Naylor 2022) (clause)
    • "This is why astronauts – who are moving very fast in space – age a tiny bit more slowly than people on Earth." (Borunda 2021) (phrase)
    • "Steam boilers can burn fuel more thoroughly than a standard internal combustion engine, leading to cleaner exhaust that is mostly water and carbon dioxide." (Stewart and Yohe 2022) (phrase)
  2. as + adverb + as + phrase/clause
    • "Not only can dogs see fewer colors than we do, they probably don’t see as clearly as we do either."(Dreschel 2020) (clause)
    • "After about 20 minutes, your rods will be doing their best and you will see as well as possible “in the dark.”" (Fairchild 2019) (phrase)
    • "They do not do it as well as bees, but they are definitely important for some plants such as the Blunt-leaf orchid." (Oliver 2022) (phrase)
    • "Some sneezes can be so powerful they expel mucous droplets as forcefully as 100 miles per hour!" (Sorg 2021) (phrase)
    • "The crust is made up of huge blocks of rock that move around the Earth’s surface very slowly – as slowly as your fingernails grow." (Tostevin 2019) (clause)
  3. so + adverb + that-clause
    • "Sloths live in tropical forests in South and Central America, and they actually move so slowly that algae grows on their fur." (Witt and Ryan 2021)
    • "Superconductors carry electricity much better than existing materials, so well that they may someday be used to build super high-speed trains." (McCormick 2020)
  4. too + adverb + to-clause
    • "Instead, think of electrons like a swarm of bees or birds, where the individual motions are too fast to track, but you still see the shape of the overall swarm."(Barlow 2017)
    • "It is almost as if we have seen feral pigeons too often to appreciate their rainbow throat feathers and cute, plump bodies." (Portugal 2022)
    • "In the longer term someone may find a suitable catalyst to accelerate the natural geochemical weathering processes that already remove CO2 from the air (but much too slowly to cope with man-made emissions)." (Shepherd 2015)
  5. adverb + enough + to-clause
    • "But so far, tech solutions haven’t scaled up fast enough to solve climate change." (Little and MacDonald 2021)
    • "So how does such a brightly colored animal stay concealed well enough to hunt successfully?" (Cushing 2020)
deixis
noun UNCOUNTABLE PRAGMATICS Deixis refers to the way in which we identify references and their referents in context, especially references to place, time and persons. When we read or use a word like "this", "that", or "those" we know that these are pointers to something in the text and that we can retrieve that information. Even the word "the" is a deictic. It tells us that there is something specific that we can find within the text or in the world at large. Personal pronouns (I, you, he, she, it....), demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these, those), place adverbs (here, there), and time adverbs (now, then...) are the main deictics used in text. See also reference and the reference page.
demonstrate
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To use evidence and/or examples to support and clarify something mentioned in the task description. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
demonstrative
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A subclass of determiners which help to indicate reference to an antecedent in a text. They alway precede a noun and as such are not to be confused with demonstrative pronouns. The demonstratives are this, that, these, those.
demonstrative pronoun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A pronoun which has a pointing function indicating a reference to be found elsewhere in the text. Demonstrative pronouns include this, that, these, those.
  • "On Earth you would make concrete from gravel or sand, cement and water. We have none of those things on the Moon, but what we do have is lunar dust and sulphur. These can be melted and mixed together" (Whittaker 2021).
  • "There were never more than a few white tigers in the wild. The last one was spotted more than 60 years ago. That makes sense in terms of evolution" (Cushing 2020).
denominal adjective
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adjective which is derived from a noun by means of a suffix.
  • -al: personal information
  • -an: urban development
  • -ar: solar power
  • -ic: strategic planning
  • -ly: scholarly journals
Many of these adjective are nongradable and usually attributive rather than predicative.
denotation
noun COUNTABLE PRAGMATICS The core meaning of a word or phrase; the part of the meaning of a word or phrase which connects it to something we understand in the real world or in an imagined or fictional one. The word tree has a central meaning and we can all immediately visualise a physical tree when we read this word. But this word is used in many ways (tree of life, evolutionary tree, etc.) and it has many and varied connotations depending on the context. See also connotation.
dependent clause
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A clause which cannot stand alone as a separate sentence and only has sense when attached to a main clause. Also known as a subordinate clause. Example: "Foods turn brown and crispy when we cook them because of two chemical reactions" (Miller 2019).. Foods turn brown and crispy when we cook them is the main clause and can stand alone as a sentence. because of two chemical reactions is a (non-finite) dependent clause and cannot stand alone as a sentence. It "depends" on the main clause, in this case providing a reason.
derivation
noun COUNTABLE or UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR A change in the class or meaning of a word by adding a prefix or a suffix. Examples:
  • Prefixes: "dis" to signal the opposite (agree - disagree); "pre" to signal before (view - preview);
  • Suffixes: "ly" to change class - adjective to adverb (clear - clearly); "tion" to change class - verb to noun (associate - association).
derived adjective
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adjective which is derived from a verb (deverbal adjective), a noun (denominal adjective) or another adjective by means of affixes.
  • deverbal: attractive features
  • denominal: dramatic changes
  • adjective: illegible handwriting
describe
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To give a clear account of something mentioned in the task description in such a way that a reader might have a clear understanding of what is described. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
descriptor
noun COUNTABLE SEMANTICS An adjective which has a particular describing function. Descriptors are normally gradable. There are four types: size/amount, time, colour and evaluative. Examples are:
  • Size/Amount: great, high, large, long, low, small;
  • Time: new, old, young;
  • Colour: black, red, white, …..
  • Evaluative: best, good, important, right, special.
See also classifier, the descriptors and the noun premodifier pages for more examples.
determiner
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A determiner is a word which is used with a noun and which limits the reference of the noun in a particular way. The following are categories of determiners: 1) articles (a book, the book I began to read yesterday); 2) demonstratives (this book, that book over there); 3) possessives (my book, her book); 4) quantifiers (some books, many books); 5) numerals (one book, fifteen chapters).
deverbal adjective
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adjective which is derived from a verb by means of a suffix.
  • -ive: active participation
  • -ant: significant difference
  • -ic: specific requirements
  • -ible: reversible process
  • -able: acceptable level
  • -ent: sufficient time
deverbal noun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A noun which is derived from a verb. These occur in 1) verb + noun combinations and 2) where an ing-participle is used as a noun.
  1. "That is, people understand how to make use of stuff in ways that are not captured in language-use statistics." (Glenberg and Jones 2023) The deverbal noun "use" can be used as a verb and replace "make use of": "That is, people understand how to use stuff in ways that are not captured in language-use statistics."
  2. "The twisting makes the fibres rub together and grip to each other." (Hegh and Usman 2022)
diction
noun UNCOUNTABLE LEXIS/STYLE The choice of words writers use in order to convey their ideas effectively and establish a personal style. Diction involves the concepts of meaning (denotation and connotation), clarity, concision, avoidance of ambiguity and the skilful use of figures of speech such as idiom, simile, allusion and metaphor.
diminisher
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adverb which reduces the effect of a gradable adjective. Examples are: less, quite, rather, slightly, somewhat. Also known as downtoners. They are often used as hedges.
  • "Negative blood types are somewhat rare"(Helms 2019)
  • "Often, they’re quite near the surface, and usually, they’re embedded in sedimentary rock." (Ausich 2021)
  • "This means that rain is actually very slightly acidic (but not enough to do you any harm)." (Little 2019) (In this example the diminisher is itself modified by the intensifier 'very' so the rain is even less acidic than 'slightly'.)
direct object
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A direct object is the "thing" which is directly affected by a transitive verb. It may be a noun, noun phrase, nominal clause, and ing-clause, a to-cause, or a pronoun. Objects can be:
  1. Nouns or noun phrases:
    • Solar panels on this roof create energy. (Abbas 2019)
    • A recent study has verified this effect. (Stevens 2015)
  2. Nominal clauses:
    • This explains why we can look similar to our parents. (Atkin-Smith and Poon 2020)
    • But it’s much harder to calculate how deep it is. (OConnell 2019)
  3. Ing-clauses:
    • I can remember being a baby. (Justice, Conway, and Akhtar 2018)
    • First, the wood starts getting hotter. (Nolan 2019)
  4. To-clauses:
    • The last theory requires us to think about a type of science called quantum mechanics. (Smart 2022)
See also indirect object.
discipline
noun COUNTABLE An area of study.
discourse
noun UNCOUNTABLE Written or spoken communication.
Common collocates for this word:

discourse

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spoken    
political    
written    
everyday    
medical    
legal    
public    
literary    
ordinary    




discourse analysis
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE The study of how text is used for particular purposes in socio-cultural situations.
discuss
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To write critically about the important details of a topic, argument, proposition, etc. "Critically" means giving considered opinions about various aspects of the topic. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
dissertation
noun COUNTABLE A long text normally written by a student to demonstrate mastery of a particular area of study.
distinguish
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To highlight differences between two things specified in a task description in such a way as to make it clear what characteristics separate and classify these things. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
ditransitive verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A verb which requires a direct object and an indirect object. Example: As the weather becomes a little warmer, too, this gives us that pleasant feeling that summer isn’t too far away. "us" is the indirect object and "that pleasant feeling that summer isn’t too far away" is the direct object. See also monotransitive and complex transitive.
document
noun COUNTABLE A text written for a particular purpose and in a particular format. 
Common collocates for this word:

document

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legal    
original    
relevant    
important    
official    
formal    
written    
confidential    
final    
    



DOI
acronym COUNTABLE A Digital Object Identifier is an alphanumeric digital identifier of an object. A DOI name allows an object, such as a publication, to be to linked to information about that object. See more information at doi.org.
draft
noun COUNTABLE A version of a piece of writing which is not complete or is yet to be reviewed and revised.
Common collocates for this word:

draft

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final    
original    
preliminary    
rough    
revised    
initial    
alternative    
unfinished    
unpublished    
definitive    



dropped quote
noun phrase COUNTABLE A quote which is not introduced or integrated into the flow of the text. You can avoid dropped quotes by introducing them with signal phrases and making sure they are part of the flow and logic of your sentence or paragraph.
dynamic adjective
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Adjectives may be dynamic or stative. Most adjectives are stative (they describe a characteristic which is not expected to change, such as a colour). Dynamic adjectives generally describe characteristics of people (e.g. patient, careful, kind, etc.). The main syntactic difference between static and dynamic adjectives is that static verbs cannot normally be used with with the progressive aspect or the imperative, whereas dynamic adjectives can.
dynamic verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE A verb which denotes something which changes over time. These are processes, events, actions, activities. Here are some examples: "It’s typical – you’re waiting at a bus stop for ages, then three buses come along at once" (Bamford and Mayers 2018). "... we typically perform worse in working memory tests if we have to do another, distracting task" (Völter 2019). "... there are several theories as to why tai chi may improve brain health" (Nyman 2020). "Its ingredients become brown while cooking in the oven" (Miller 2019). The verbs come along, perform, become, and improve are all dynamic in these sentences. See also static verbs.
ed-clause
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A particle clause (past participle) often used as a post-modifying clause of a noun phrase, and as part of an adverbial.
edit
verb To review and revise a piece of writing before final submission.
edition
noun COUNTABLE 1. one of a series of publications issued at regular intervals; 2. a single publication which may be republished with additions and/or alterations. 
Common collocates for this word:

edition

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new    
revised    
current    
recent    
previous    
original    
updated    
final    
expanded    
illustrated    



editor
noun COUNTABLE Someone who reviews and revises a text.
effect
noun The result of a particular action or initiating cause. 
Common collocates for this word:

effect

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adverse    
significant    
profound    
beneficial    
positive    
devastating    
damaging    
important    
powerful    
    



elaborate
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To provide further information about some aspect of item(s) mentioned in the task description. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. This would normally be a secondary instruction in a task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
ellipsis
noun UNCOUNTABLE A cohesive device, similar to substitution, where an element is omitted because it can be retrieved from the context of the text. There are three types: nominal ellipsis, verbal ellipsis, and clausal ellipsis. See more about ellipsis on the ellipsis page.
ellipsis
noun UNCOUNTABLE The omission of a part of a sentence usually indicted by ellipsis points " . . . ". There should be three ellipsis points and there should be a space before and after each one.
embedding
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR The insertion of one phrase or clause inside of another (also known as nesting). Embeddings are common in complex noun phrases. See the noun phrase examples page.
empty subject
noun phrase COUNTABLE The pronoun "it" is used in some sentences (often concerned with time, weather and distance) as an empty (or dummy) subject. In these sentences "it" does not refer to anything - there is no referent to be found in the text. Examples: It's a long way to Tipperary. It's time to go. Contrast with "it" in the following text: "Earth’s spin is important for life. It causes day and night. It’s also important for ocean tides" (Laycock 2023). Here, "it" is referential: it refers to Earth’s spin.
Empty "it" is often used in academic writing in sentences with the structure: It seems/appears + that complement clause. "It appears that the psychological profiles of firstborns may have been over-generalised" (Sabolova 2020). This structure has two features which are useful in academic writing: 1) 'seems' or 'appears' introduces a hedging feature, and 2) like the passive voice, it avoids the use of first person pronouns thus introducing a (perhaps spurious) appearance of impersonal objectivity.
See also expletive and existential there.
end note
noun COUNTABLE A note containing further information or explanations added to the end of a chapter, section or article.
end-focus
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR Known (given) information or information recoverable from preceding text tends to be placed at the beginning of a clause whereas newer information is normally presented later, often at the very end of a clause (where in speech it may be stressed). This principle of highlighting new information by placing it at the end of a clause in known as end-focus. This principle may be overruled where long complex structure are better placed at the end of sentence. See end-weight.
endophoric reference
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE COHESIVE DEVICES Cohesive reference to something within a text. Endophoric reference is by far the most common type of reference and there are two types: anaphoric (pointing backwards in the text) and cataphoric (pointing forwards in the text). The outside skin of a cell is called the plasma membrane. It is made mainly of molecules called fats. ""It" points back (anaphorically) to "he outside skin of a cell" in the previous sentence. See also exophoric reference and the cohesion page.
end-weight
noun UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR The strong tendency in English to place longer, more complex structures towards the end of a sentence. Consider this sentence: "But it is not yet known if tai chi is better for improving these aspects over other types of exercise and mindful activities" (Nyman 2020). The weightier part of the sentence is at the end. We could rewrite this as "Whether tai chi is better for improving these aspects over other types of exercise and mindful activities is not yet known. In this case we have to hold a more complex structure in memory before we get to the shorter "not yet known" bit. It seems harder to process.
enumerate
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To provide a numbered list of item(s) requested in the task description. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
enumeration
noun UNCOUNTABLE The ordered listing of items in a text. See how enumeration is used in a real text on the enumeration page.
epigram
noun COUNTABLE A very short piece of text saying much in a few words.
ergative verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A verb which can be used both transitively and intransitively. Example: "Technology will no doubt improve over the next 500 years, too" (Little and MacDonald 2021). The verb improve is intransitive
"This will certainly improve sleep, and may reduce risk of later disease" (Stevens 2015). The verb improve is transitive.
essay
noun COUNTABLE A piece of writing on a particular topic often written by students as a demonstration of their writing ability or their knowledge of a particular area of study.
Common collocates for this word:

essay

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short    
critical    
original    
personal    
famous    
persuasive    
long    
brief    
final    
historical    



euphemism
noun COUNTABLE FIGURE OF SPEECH A word or phrase used to substitute for an unpleasant, taboo, or offensive one.
evaluate
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To state your opinion about the value of the arguments, proposals, propositions etc. Your opinions should be supported by evidence and/or reasoned argument. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
eventive subject
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE SEMANTICS An eventive subject is a subject which identifies an event. For example, "The way we do this is pretty cool" (Archibald 2021). "The way we do this" is the subject and it is clearly an event.
evidence
noun UNCOUNTABLE Information presented as support for the truth of an argument. 
Common collocates for this word:

evidence

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empirical    
new    
clear    
sufficient    
direct    
scientific    
strong    
conclusive    
ample    
hard    



exclamation mark
noun phrase COUNTABLE PUNCTUATION An exclamation mark (!) is used to emphasise or draw attention to something. See the Exclamation Mark Page.
exclamative
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Exclamatives consist of a how or what phrase, a subject and (often) a predicate. Exclamatives have the function of expressing surprise and are not common in academic wrtiting.
  • "What an interesting question!"
  • "How confusing!"
existence verbs
noun phrase COUNTABLE SEMANTICS Verbs of existence (or relationship) are verbs used to indicate a state or relationship which connects two entities. Examples of these verbs are the copular verbs be, seem, and appear. Other are concern, constitute, contain, define, deserve, exist, illustrate, imply, include, indicate, involve, lack, live, matter, owe, own possess, reflect, relate, remain, represent, reveal, sound, stay, suit, tend, vary. "That might seem strange, but don’t worry, it will all make sense soon" (Barton 2020). (copular verb) ; "For example, seeds contain a food source to help the new plant grow" (Lundgren 2019). (relationship) ; "This group includes species of wasps, flies, beetles and worms" (Ritchie 2022). (relationship) ; "Impact crater studies didn’t really exist until about 60 years ago" (Gibson 2021). (state of existence); "Other methods for pushing a spacecraft involve using electric or magnetic forces" (Impey 2021). (relationship). ; "We lived in small, nomadic bands, hunting and gathering" (Longrich 2020). (state of existence).
existential there
noun phrase COUNTABLE FUNCTION WORD A device for introducing new information in the subject position of a sentence. Usually only given (already mentioned or shared information) is placed in the subject position of a sentence but occasionally the subject is new information and it may be contained in a long clause which might seem clumsy at the beginning of a sentence. In this case the word "there" is used as an empty subject followed (usually by the verb "be") and then the new information. In the sentence "There's a reason why pizza is so popular.", the real subject is "a reason why pizza is so popular", and we could put this in the subject position and say "A reason why pizza is so popular exists." This is not too difficult to process but if we have a much longer subject it gets more difficult: "There are a number of other specific conditions that may also be associated with abnormal brain wiring" (Barker 2017). " To start the sentence with "a number of other specific conditions that may also be associated with abnormal brain wiring" as the subject would be inelegant to say the least. Here are some more examples: "There are three basic strategies for dealing with vinegar syndrome:..." (Ahmad 2020). "... there are several theories as to why tai chi may improve brain health" (Nyman 2020). "In the early 1990s, there was significant excitement in the field about the possibility of recovering DNA from dinosaurs" (Götherström and Dalén 2022). "Finally, there’s a discussion to be had about how specialists in different disciplines should work together" (Prendergast 2022).
exophoric reference
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE COHESIVE DEVICES Non-cohesive reference to something outside a text. Exophoric reference is not simply the name of something; it is a signal that the referent may be found in the context of a situation outside of the text. Because of this it is difficult to give a suitable textual example. Most examples of exophoric reference take place in the context of conversations. See also endophoric reference.
explain
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To give clear reasons for something requested in the task description. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
expletive
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word such as "it" or "there" which takes the syntactic place of another. Example: "There was no possibility of taking a walk that day." (Charlotte Bronte). See also empty subject and existential there.
exposition
noun COUNTABLE Text (in an essay, report or research paper) written to present information in a clear, measured, logical and well argued style.
expository
adjective Used to describe non-fiction writing which is explanatory or descriptive rather than persuasive. Compare with persuasive.
Common collocates for this word:

expository

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writing
text
prose
essay
style
lecture
purposes
articles
discourse
passages



external causer
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE SEMANTICS An external causer is a subject which is the inanimate external cause of an event or condition. For example, "All kinds of factors influence the way people talk, including regional variations, age, ethnicity, education level and technology.." (Britt-Smith 2021). "All kinds of factors" is the subject and it clearly identifies a cause.
extract
noun COUNTABLE A short section of writing taken from another document.
extraposed subject
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A subject placed towards the end of a sentence rather than at the beginning with a 'dummy subject', it, taking its place at the beginning. Example: "It's hard being a student in a large class." The more normal SVC construction would be: "Being a student in a large class is hard". It would be easy to assume evolution works by continuously adding features to organisms, constantly increasing their complexity" (Guijarro-Clarke and Paps 2020). The more normal SVC construction would be: "To assume evolution works by continuously adding features to organisms, constantly increasing their complexity would be easy". The first version obeys the principle of end-weight.
extraposition
noun UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR The use of "it" in the subject position of a sentence to refer to a displaced (extraposed) clause (finite or non-finite). Example: "It would be easy to assume evolution works by continuously adding features to organisms, constantly increasing their complexity" (Guijarro-Clarke and Paps 2020). To turn this around and put the clause back in the subject position would result in "To assume that evolution works by continuously adding features to organisms, constantly increasing their complexity would be easy".
face validity
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE ASSESSMENT The extent to which stakeholders in a test (examinees themselves, educational institutions, etc.) perceive the test to be acceptable in that it tests what it is supposed to test.  
feedback
noun UNCOUNTABLE Information provided by a reviewer or examiner on the value of a piece of writing with suggestions about how it might be improved. See more on the feedback page.
Common collocates for this word:

feedback

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positive    
negative    
immediate    
useful    
good    
constructive    
valuable    
appropriate    
helpful    
effective    



figure of speech
noun phrase COUNTABLE RHETORICAL DEVICE An expression used to convey a particular meaning but which is not always obvious from the words used. Examples are similes, metaphors, idioms, metonymy and meronymy.
finite clause
noun phrase GRAMMAR A clause which contains a finite verb (one which has a subject and which shows tense) and which can stand as an independent clause See also non finite clause.
finite verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A verb which show a relationship with a subject in person and/or number and shows tense. See also non-finite verb.
flow
noun UNCOUNTABLE "Flow" in academic writing is the sense which the reader gets that there is logical movement through the text, and that because of this the ideas in the text are not difficult to understand or relate to each other. Flow is achieved when the text has a clear organizational structure, paragraphs have topic sentences, supporting sentences relate directly to topic sentences, ideas are logically connected and there is a sense of coherence to the text. At a sentence level flow is enhanced by using simple, precise vocabulary and clear, concise syntax.
focus
noun A clear and well defined idea around which a sentence, paragraph, section, or entire piece or writing is constructed. See also topic and thesis.
Common collocates for this word:

focus

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main    
central    
major    
primary    
principal    
particular    
prime    
important    
specific    
    



footnote
noun COUNTABLE A note containing further information or explanations added to the end of a page.
foreword
noun A short introduction (usually to a book or lengthy article) often written by someone other than the author of the main work, providing preparatory information about the work.
formal words
noun phrase Words which are used in official or technical documents but which may not often be used in everyday speech or writing. Commence (formal) for begin (informal); purchase (formal) for buy (informal)
format
noun COUNTABLE The layout and typography of a text. You should abide by formatting guidelines if they have been stipulated.
formative assessment
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE ASSESSMENT Assessment in various forms designed to give students and teachers feedback on student progress in order to improve learning outcomes. Compare with formative evaluation and summative assessment.
formative evaluation
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT Feedback provided while a course is being developed or taught in order to improve it. Compare with summative evaluation.
formulaic writing
noun phrase Writing which consists mainly of fixed words or phrases and/or clichés. There are many fixed phrases and idioms in English and, used correctly, are perfectly acceptable. But over-use can make a text tedious to read. However, if you are a non-native speaker of English learning to write academic text you may find resources such as the Academic Phrasebank quite useful.
freewriting
noun UNCOUNTABLE To write freely and quickly for a short timed period without regard to format, grammar punctuation etc. in order to generate ideas.
full stop
noun phrase COUNTABLE PUNCTUATION A punctuation mark (.) which marks the end of a sentence. Also known in American English as a period.
function word
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Words which have grammatical uses but which have little meaning on their own. By contrast, content words (lexical words) do convey meaning even when used alone; examples are nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Function words are closed class words. Examples are: adverbial particles, auxiliary verbs, coordinators, correlative coordinators, determiners, existential there, infinitive particle, not, numerals, prepositions, complex prepositions, pronouns, subordinators, complex subordinators, correlative subordinators, wh-words.
future
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR There is no future tense marked by inflection in English. The future is marked by modal or semi-modal verbs ('will', 'going to'). "But even a tough old tree will eventually die" (Stevens-Rumann 2023). "But climate change is going to bring enormous disruption to the plants we rely on" (Bohra and Varshney 2023).
generalization
noun COUNTABLE A statement based on inference or limited facts or evidence which may or may not be true.  

Common collocates for this word:

generalization

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broad    
sweeping    
empirical    
hasty    
inductive    
natural    
simple    
gross    
wide    
rough    



genitive
noun COUNTABLE The form of a noun which indicates possession. In English it is indicated by the genitive marker ’s for a single noun and for a plural noun. Examples: "a doctor’s surgery" (one doctor), "chimpanzees’ working memory" (many chimpanzees), "the Earth’s circumference", "people’s quality of life", "Newton's laws". There are also genitives of time: "yesterday's rain"; genitives of measure: "eight hour's sleep", group genitives: "Marks and Spencer's cafe". Elliptic genitives: "South Korea’s income was more than ten times higher than Ghana’s (Teal 2016)" (Ghana’s income), and independent genitives: "Some disorders specifically associated with the condition include traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and stroke. (Barker 2017)". These are often reduced simply to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s.
genre
noun COUNTABLE STYLE A particular style in any of the arts. In writing, genre refers to a particular type of writing where particular conventions apply such as prose, poetry, a novel, science fiction, comedy, tragedy.
gerund
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A verb ending with the -ing participle but used as a noun. "Reliving and sharing our personal past is part of what makes us human." (Hodgetts 2017)
given (old) / new
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR Information: given refers to old information; something which is recoverable from an earlier part of a text or which is easily understood because it is common knowledge. New information is information which has not been mentioned in the text before. In most sentences given information is presented before new information. See end focus.
glossary
noun COUNTABLE A list of definitions and explanations of words and phrases, such as this one, explaining terms used in a particular content area, arranged alphabetically. This writing glossary contains over 600 headwords. It contains entries of use to students and teachers of academic writing. As well as definitions, most entries contain examples from authentic texts and links to further information elsewhere on this site. There are also many cross-references to facilitate rapid consultation of unfamiliar terminology. The glossary is fully searchable.
gradable
adjective SENSE RELATION Describes words which may have a property to a greater or lesser extent. The property is a characteristic of many adjectives (small, smaller; good, better; important, less important, very young, extemely old ...).
graph
noun COUNTABLE A visual representation of how different series of numbers are related to each other. For example: line graphs, bar or column graphs, pie graphs. Also known as charts.
head (or headword)
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR The head (or headword) is the main word in a phrase. Other parts of a phrase have a modifying or grammatical relationship with the headword. In the phrase "Insects that fly at night" "Insects" is the head (noun) and "that fly at night" is a post-modifying relative clause.
header
noun COUNTABLE Text (such as a chapter or section title) placed in the top of every page in a text.
heading
noun COUNTABLE The title of a section of text. A heading should be as short and informative as possible.
headword
noun COUNTABLE LEXICOGRAPHY The headword is the word found at the beginning of an entry in a glossary or a dictionary. It is the word which is explained or defined in the glossary or dictionary entry.
hedge
verb To avoid absolute commitment to an argument or thesis by using words or grammar which introduce an element of doubt or tentativeness : See how hedging is managed on the hedging page.
hedging
noun UNCOUNTABLE The avoidance of absolute commitment to an argument or thesis by using words or grammar which introduce an element of doubt or tentativeness. This technique may also be used not because you have doubts about your argument but because it may be easier for your reader to accept your ideas if they are expressed less forcefully. See how hedging is managed on the hedging page.
hierarchy
noun COUNTABLE A system in which items are arranged according to their importance. Classification is related to hierarchy but they are not the same: a classification may or may not be hierarchical. How importance is decided and whether hierarchies arise naturally or are a human invention is debatable. "Hierarchies are everywhere. It is often argued that they are a social construct, invented to allow certain people (such as white men) to have power over others. But not everyone agrees." (Gonçalves 2018)
homograph
noun COUNTABLE A word which has the same spelling as another and which may have the same or a different sound, but which has a different meaning. Same spelling and same sound but different meaning: "A can of soup." "Can you open this for me, please?".
homonym
noun COUNTABLE A word which is spelt the same as another or sounds the same as another, but has a different meaning. Same spelling and same sound but different meaning: "A can of soup." "Can you open this for me, please?" Same sound, different spelling but different meaning: "Have you seen a Polar bear?" "He can bend a steel bar with his bare hands." (True homonyms have the same spelling - so only the the first example is a true homonym; the second example is a homophone.) You need to be careful about the spelling of homophones when you proofread.
homophone
noun COUNTABLE A word which sounds the same as another, but has a different meaning or a different spelling or both. Same sound, different spelling and different meaning: "There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza" "We have beautiful images of Jupiter which show striped, stormy clouds covering the whole planet" (Kedziora-Chudczer 2022). You need to be careful about the spelling of these words when you proofread.
honorific
noun COUNTABLE A formal title for a person which indicates respect, regard, rank or courtesy. Examples are Mr., Miss, Mrs, Ms., Doctor, Professor, Captain, Coach. These and "Sir" or "Ma'am" may replace the whole name when the person is directly addressed.
hook
noun COUNTABLE A sentence in an introductory paragraph used to raise interest in the topic. Mainly for student essays; not much used in serious academic writing.
hyperbole
noun UNCOUNTABLE The use of exaggeration to emphasise or draw attention to a topic or an argument. Hyperbole is sometimes used in some types of persuasive writing but not in expository writing. Also known as overstatement.
hyperlink
noun COUNTABLE A link in an online document which takes the reader to point in the same document or to another document, or a specific place in another document. Hyperlinks are sometimes used in the place of references.
hypernym
noun COUNTABLE SENSE RELATION A word which is at a higher level of generality than another. Example: a flower is a hypernym of rose. Similarly, a rose is a hyponym (the opposite of hypernym) of flower. Hypernyms are often used when we want to use a more general word to refer back to something more specific mentioned earlier in a text. Hyponyms are often used when we give examples: "The intense industrial processes [ …] strip away many beneficial nutrients such as fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals" (Hoffman 2022). "Nutrients" is the more general category (hypernym) and "fibre", "vitamins", "minerals" and "phytochemicals" are the more specific hyponyms.
hyphen
noun COUNTABLE A short line which connects two parts of a compound word. Self-help, eye-opener; See the Hyphen Page.
hyponym
noun COUNTABLE SENSE RELATION A word which is at a lower level of generality than another. Example: a rose is a hyponym of flower. Similarly, a flower is a hypernym (the opposite of hyponym) of rose. Hyponyms are often used when we give examples: "The intense industrial processes [ …] strip away many beneficial nutrients such as fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals" (Hoffman 2022). "Nutrients" is the more general category (hypernym) and "fibre", "vitamins", "minerals" and "phytochemicals" are the more specific hyponyms.
hypothesis
noun COUNTABLE An idea which is open to testing and which can be refuted through demonstration or experiment. 
Common collocates for this word:

hypothesis

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null    
working    
specific    
alternative    
original    
correct    
interesting    
reasonable    
simple    
testable    



identifier
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A member of the subclass of determiners used with nouns and which limit the reference of the nouns in some way. There are three types of identifiers: articles (a and the), possessives (my, you his...), and demonstratives (this, that, these, those)
identify
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To find, locate in whatever the task description asks you to locate and comment on it. Your opinions should be supported by evidence and/or reasoned argument. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. "Identify" is usually followed by a further instruction word (e.g Identify and explain.. ). See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
idiom
noun COUNTABLE FIGURE OF SPEECH A fixed phrase in which normal rules of grammar may be broken and whose meaning may not be obvious from the words themselves. Apart from idiomatic expressions like semi-modals, idioms are rarely used in academic or technical writing. If English is not your native language you should be wary of using idiomatic forms in your text as they may sound odd.
idiomatic
adjective Describing language which is accepted as current usage, and is grammatically acceptable.
Common collocates for this word:

idiomatic

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expression
phrase
usage
language
sense
construction
form
sentence
writing
prose



idiomatic
adjective Describing words or phrases which consist of or contain an idiom.
illustrate
verb INSTRUCTION WORD Use evidence, examples, analogies or (where appropriate) graphics to support and clarify something mentioned in the task description. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions
imperative
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A sentence or clause which does not have an obvious subject and which has the force of a command or very strong recommendation. These structures are not common in academic writing.
  • "Don't try this at home!"
  • "Try not to scratch!"
  • "Wash them with soap and water!"
See also imperative particle.
imperative particle
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR This is also know as the first person imperative. It is the use of "Let's" (or Let us, Let me) to form an imperative, usually with the force of a strong suggestion rather than command. The implied subject is "us" (or "me").
  • "Let’s find out why."
  • "Let’s take a closer look."
  • "Let’s look at how this is done."
  • "Let’s use eye colour as an example."
  • "Let me explain."
implication
noun COUNTABLE or UNCOUNTABLE A suggestion or idea which is not explicitly stated in a text but which a reader might easily infer. Verb: to imply. Imply is sometimes used in a signal phrase when referencing an argument of another writer.
indefinite pronoun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An indefinite pronoun substitutes for a noun and indicates an indefinite quantity of the 'thing' or 'people' to which it refers, or something which the writer doesn't wish to specify more precisely. Indefinite pronouns include few, many, all, some, everything, anything, nothing, something, everyone, everybody, someone, somebody, anyone, anybody, any, nobody, no one, none, nothing.
  • "Everyone was then tested to see if they could remember what they had typed" (Noreen 2015).
  • "In the morning, think of something you are looking forward to that day and let the Sun or bright lights into your room to let your brain know it is time to be alert" (McMakin 2021).
indent
noun COUNTABLE A short space at the beginning of a line or section of text. Indents are used to indicate the beginning of a new paragraph and block quotations.
independent clause
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A clause which contains a finite verb, can stand alone, and is not part of a larger structure. Independent clauses can be simple (only one clause), complex (an independent clause with one or more dependent clauses, or compound (coordinated dependent clauses). Simple: "Pizza is one of the world’s most popular foods". Complex: "When glutamate hits our tongues, it tells our brains to get excited". Compound: "Cheese is fatty, meat toppings tend to be rich, and the sauce is sweet" (Miller 2019).
index
noun COUNTABLE A list of items contained in a text ordered alphabetically for ease of reference.
indirect object
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An indirect object is the "thing" which is indirectly affected by a ditransitive verb. It may be a noun, noun phrase, nominal clause or a pronoun. See also direct object.
inference
noun COUNTABLE A process of logical reasoning from assumed facts or opinions such we can be reasonably sure, but not certain, that the conclusion is true. Verb: infer. Inference includes deduction.
Common collocates for this word:

inference

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statistical    
inductive    
logical    
reasonable    
natural    
scientific    
valid    
deductive    
obvious    
legitimate    



infinitive clause
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Infinitive clauses are non-finite to-clauses. The infinitive verb is normally preceded by the marker "to". They are used in a variety of ways; as subject, subject predicative, extraposed subject, direct object, object predicative, as a noun phrase modifier, as an adverbial, and as an adjective complement. Direct object: "we need to worry about what’s happening on the largest island in the world" (Bamber 2020). Subject predicative: "One way around this problem is to see how the ice sheet responded to changes in climate in the past" (Bamber 2020). Adverbial: "To understand how film might degrade over long periods of time, scientists perform experiments on film at high temperatures and relative humidity" (Ahmad 2020). Extraposed subject: "It would be easy to assume evolution works by continuously adding features to organisms." (Guijarro-Clarke and Paps 2020).
infinitive particle (infinitive marker)
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR The word "to" used to introduce the infinitive form of lexical verbs. Examples: "I just called to say I love you" (Wonder 1984). It is also used in the complex infinitive markers "in order to" and "so as to", introducing adverbial clauses of purpose, and in phrases such as "have to", "used to" and "ought to". "We have to concentrate in order to learn how to read music, and we have to try and memorise which piano key plays which note" (Power 2021). A few verbs may be followed by verbs without the infinitive marker. This is known as a bare infinitive.
infix
noun COUNTABLE MORPHOLOGY An affix located inside a word stem. There are no true infixes in English but they do occur in some languages such as Arabic and Tagalog.
inflection
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A suffix added to a lexical word to indicate particular meanings. Examples:
  • Nouns: "s" to signal a plural (car - cars); "'s" or "s'"to signal a genitive (friend's - friends');
  • Verbs: "s" to signal third person present indicative (give - gives); "d" or "ed" to signal regular past tense or past participle (listen - listened); "ing" to signal ing-participle (listen - listening);
  • Adjectives: "er" to signal comparative (sweet - sweeter); "est" to signal superlative (sweet - sweetest);
  • Adverbs: "er" to signal comparative (fast - faster); "est" to signal superlative (fast - fastest).
ing-clause
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A participle clause (present participle) used as a noun phrase modifier, subject, direct object, adverbial, extraposed subject, subject predicative, and as part of an adjective phrase.
inherent adjective
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An inherent adjective is one which directly describes the reference of a noun. Where an adjective describes the referent of a noun indirectly (often where the adjective is used in a very broad sense), it is known as a non-inherent adjective. In the phrase "friendly people", the adjective "friendly" is inherent. In the phrase "friendly atmosphere", or (much worse) "friendly fire", the adjective "friendly" is non-inherent.
insert
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A class of words which are not part of a syntactic structure and which carry parenthetical information of varying types. They occur mainly, but not exclusively, in conversation Inserts may be greetings, interjections, discourse markers, response elicitors, responses, hesitators, thanks, the politeness marker "please", apologies, and expletives.
instruction word
noun phrase COUNTABLE A verb used in the description of a writing task to define what is required in the task. Example verbs are analyse, discuss, evaluate, identify, outline, summarise. Also known as command verbs or task words. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
instrument
noun COUNTABLE SEMANTICS A subject which is the means by which an agent performed an action in a sentence. The agent may not be present in these sentences but is normally recoverable from the context. For example, "A recent study has verified this effect" (Stevens 2015). "A recent study" has the role of instrument; the agent was the person or group who conducted the study.
intensifier
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Intensifiers are adverbs which amplify (in fact they are sometimes called amplifiers) or increase the intensity of an adjective. Examples are: very, extremely, more, too, significantly, entirely, fully, highly, strongly. Examples: "Those who had been told their work would be saved were significantly poorer at remembering the information" (Noreen 2015). "..psychological research suggests that memories occurring below the age of three are highly unusual – and indeed, highly improbable" (Justice, Conway, and Akhtar 2018). "But we are increasingly learning that this model is far too simplistic" (Milks 2020).
intensifying adjective
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adjective which has either a strengthening or a weakening effect on the noun it modifies. These adjectives are normally non-gradable. There are three main types:
  1. Emphasizers: Normally only attributable;
  2. Amplifiers: express a high degree or put something at the top of a range;
  3. Downtowners: have a weakening effect.
  1. Emphasizers: clear, certain, definite, outright, plain, pure, real, sheer, simple, sure;
  2. Amplifiers: absolute, complete, entire, extreme, great, perfect, strong, total, utter;
  3. Downtowners: feeble, slight.
intensive verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A verb which takes a single complement. This complement functions as a predicative - it provides information about the subject. The most common intensive verbs are copulas such as the verb "to be". Example: "The relationship between science and truth is complicated" (Parke 2022).
interrogative clause
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Interrogative clauses occur mainly in conversation rather than in academic writing. There are three types: wh-questions, yes/no questions and alternative questions. Only wh-questions occur with any frequency in academic writing. "So how did humans evolve, and where will evolution take us in the future?" (Simons 2021). "how" and "where" introduce wh- interrogative clauses.
interrogative pronoun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A pronoun which substitutes for nouns, adjectives and adverbs in questions. interrogative pronouns include who, what, which, how, when, where, and why:
  • "What happens next?"
  • "How do fish sleep?"
  • "Who invented video games?"
intransitive
adjective GRAMMAR This refers to verbs which do not take an object or a predicative complement.
introduction
noun A paragraph at the beginning of a piece of writing which gives the main idea of the work. See more about introductions on the essay planning page.
introduction
noun A section at the beginning of a book or other lengthy piece of writing providing the main idea for the work, background information and other essential details helpful to the reader.
irony
noun UNCOUNTABLE FIGURE OF SPEECH The use of words which imply the opposite of what is meant. Rare in academic writing.
irregular verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE Verbs which do not form their past tense or the past participle in a regular way (by adding -ed to the base form of the verb). Unfortunately for learners of English many common lexical verbs and all primary verbs (be, have, do) are irregular. You can consult list of irregular verbs here.
it (non-referential)
noun UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR The pronoun 'it' is sometimes used non-referentially in three cases:
  1. Empty Subject
    • "It’s dark, windy, and cold." (Younger 2019) (There is nothing to put in the subject position, so the empty subject 'it' is used)
  2. Anticipatory Subject or Object
    • "It seems our universe started very small and has been expanding ever since." (Lam 2020) (extraposed that clause: '[that] our universe started very small and has been expanding ever since'. )
    • "It turns out vesicles can perform many of the same functions as cell membranes." (Jordan 2019) (extraposed that clause: '[that] vesicles can perform many of the same functions as cell membranes.')
    • "It requires careful listening to pinpoint the lemming’s quiet movements in the snow." (Job 2021) (extraposed to clause: 'to pinpoint the lemming’s quiet movements in the snow'.)
    • "It is important to think about what else they’re getting with their coffee, however." (Temple 2020) (extraposed to clause: 'to think about what else they’re getting with their coffee')
  3. Cleft Construction
    • "It is the person who tells the dog it is safe to cross the road – not the other way around." (Nottle 2019) (cleft: focused element; 'the person' )
    • "It was only in 2015 that a big long-term study showed that fingerprints are stable over a person’s lifetime." (Leupen 2020) (cleft: focused element; 'in 2015' )
italics
noun Slanting typeface used to separate a piece of text from its surroundings for emphasis or to distinguish it for some other purpose (usually contrast).
it-cleft
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A means of bringing information into quick focus in a sentence by using the word "It" + a form of the verb "be" + the element to be brought into focus + a dependent clause (usually a relative clause). For example: "It was a logical next step that he took tools from molecular biology, garnered from his expertise in medical science, to better understand human prehistory" (Götherström and Dalén 2022). See also wh-cleft.
iteration
noun COUNTABLE The process of repeating something a number of times.
Common collocates for this word:

iteration

shading image

each    
first    
next    
second    
every    
previous    
current    
last    
latest    
final    



iterative
adjective Describing something which is repeated a number of times: 
Common collocates for this word:

iterative

shading image

process
method
procedure
development
solution
approach
design
scheme
refinement
improvement



jargon
noun UNCOUNTABLE Specialised words or phrases used by a particular group (scientists, tradespeople, professional groups etc. ) which may be difficult for those outside of that group to understand.
journal
noun COUNTABLE A specialised periodical for those involved in a particular discipline to publish their work.
justify
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To give reasons and/or evidence why something specified in a task description should be considered acceptable. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
language typology
noun phrase COUNTABLE The classification of languages according to their syntactic structures. English is an SVO language (Subject, Verb, Object). This is not the most common structure, which is SOV (e.g. Japanese, Turkish).
lexeme
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A grouping of words which have the same root, the same central meaning, and which would be described under one heading in a dictionary. The group may contain only one word. All the inflected forms of a verb (e.g. go, goes, went, gone, going) are considered to be one lexeme. Also idioms and compound nouns are considered to be individual lexemes as they have one core meaning.
lexical cohesion
noun phrase LEXIS Cohesion in text created by reiteration (repetition) of words or phrases. This repetition might be of the same words, synonyms, superordinate terms or general (shell) nouns. See: anaphoric nouns and lexical chains.
lexical density
noun phrase COUNTABLE The proportion of words in a text consisting of lexical words compared to function words or inserts. Academic or news texts have a higher lexical density than other texts. Conversation has the lowest lexical density.
lexical field
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR See lexical set.
lexical set
noun phrase COUNTABLE COHESION A grouping of words which have similar or related meanings arranged to show the similarities and differences between the various words in the set. Also known as lexical fields, semantic fields or semantic domains. See also the lexical chains page.
lexical verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Lexical verbs only have a main verb function. This is by far the largest class of verbs. Also known as a full verb. In the following sentence all the highlighted words are lexical words: "So if you want to study effectively with music, you want to reduce how distracting music can be, and increase the level to which the music keeps you in a good mood" (Byron 2019). The verb be is a primary verb and can is a modal verb.
lexical word
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Lexical words are the main components of any text. They are what gives a text its meaning. They are open class words and the main classes are nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Compare with function words.
lexis
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE The whole set of words used in any particular language.
limiting words
noun phrase COUNTABLE TASK DESCRIPTION Words used in the description of a writing task which place restrictions on what you should write. See the task analysis page.
linking words
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A general term for words and phrases which make connections between phrases, clauses, sentences and paragraphs. There are many types of linking words. They include coordinators, subordinators, relativizers, adverbials, pronouns, and shell nouns.
literature
noun UNCOUNTABLE Texts which deal with a particular discipline.
literature review
noun phrase COUNTABLE A survey of the pertinent writings in a particular discipline often conducted as a part of a dissertation or thesis.
local subject
noun COUNTABLE SEMANTICS A local subject is a subject which identifies location. For example, "Solar panels on this roof create energy" (Abbas 2019). "Solar panels on this roof" is the subject and it stipulates a location "on this roof".
logical fallacy
noun phrase An argument which is based on unsound reasoning and can be proved to be false. There and many types of logical fallacies and you can see a list of common fallacies here.
long passive
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A passive construction which includes an agent (normally a by-phrase). See the passives page and the passive examples pages.
lowercase
noun UNCOUNTABLE STYLE Letters or words which are not capitalized. Most words are written in lowercase. Capitalisation in English is reserved for special purposes such as the first word of a sentence or proper nouns. See also uppercase.
main clause
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A clause which can stand alone as a separate sentence, unlike a dependent clause which only has sense when attached to a main clause. Example: "Foods turn brown and crispy when we cook them because of two chemical reactions" (Miller 2019).. Foods turn brown and crispy when we cook them is the main clause and can stand alone as a sentence. because of two chemical reactions is a (non-finite) dependent clause and cannot stand alone as a sentence. It "depends" on the main clause, in this case providing a reason.
manual
noun COUNTABLE A text which provides instruction on the use of a machine or system.
manuscript
noun COUNTABLE The original written work submitted for examination or publication.
margin
noun COUNTABLE The space between the edge of the page and the text. If you have been given formatting guidelines make sue that you abide by them. If not, use standard formatting rules (e.g. 1 inch margins as stipulated by ASA style).
mass noun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Nouns which are not countable. These nouns do not usually have a plural form and do not normally follow an indefinite article. Examples: advice, clothing, feedback, help, luck, poetry, steam, weather. Many nouns may be both mass nouns and countable nouns depending on the context: belief, cheese, wine.
mechanics
noun UNCOUNTABLE Conventions regarding formatting including punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and referencing style. This is something to check at a later stage once the main drafting and revising has been completed.
mental verbs
noun phrase COUNTABLE SEMANTICS Mental verbs are verbs which have to do with mental, cognitive and emotional states and activities, as well as perception. Examples are: agree, assume, bear, believe, calculate, care, choose, compare, consider, decide, determine, discover, doubt, enjoy, examine, expect, face, feel, find, forget, hate, identify, imagine, intend, know, learn, love, mean, mind, miss, notice, plan, prefer, prove, read, realise, recall, recognise, regard, see, solve, study, suffer, taste, think, understand, want, wish, worry. "We know that the Earth takes 365 days and just under six hours to go around the Sun" (Parish 2022). (cognitive state); "But I believe there are some simpler reasons for older people’s aversion to newer music" (McAndrew 2019). (cognitive state) ; "As scientists, we think that understanding how lights attract moths can help us understand why insects are declining" (Linares and Barber 2019). (cognitive states); "Ocean scientists like me study the sea floor because it helps us understand how Earth functions" (OConnell 2019). (study: cognitive activity, understand: cognitive state); "It seems humans throughout history have preferred to use our right hand instead of our left"(Barton and Todorovic 2021) (prefer: attitudinal state).
meronymy
noun UNCOUNTABLE RHETORICAL DEVICE The relationship between a part and the whole. A room is part of a building. So room is a meronym of building.
metalanguage
noun The words and phrases used to describe features of text.
metaphor
noun COUNTABLE RHETORICAL DEVICE The use of the name of one concept to describe another. Whereas a simile describes a concept as being like another, a metaphor describes a concept in terms of another. Many commonly used metaphors are almost clichés. For example: "get into hot water”, "split hairs”, "food for thought”.
metonymy
noun UNCOUNTABLE RHETORICAL DEVICE The use of a word (usually a simple one) to represent a a larger concept. For example the use of the word "tongue" to mean "language". Metonymy is not the same as meronymy.
modal verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR There are nine central modal verbs: can, could, will, would, may, must, shall, should, might. They are used to express 'mood' such as permission, possibility, obligation, doubt, ability, advisability and necessity. Possibility: "Music can put us in a better mood". Doubt: "You may have heard of the Mozart effect". Advisability: "Should you concentrate on eating less meat?"  Ability (or lack of): "In another survey of 6000 people, the same study found that 71% of people could not remember their children’s phone numbers and 57% could not remember their work phone number" (Noreen 2015). Modals are also useful in hedging and expressing stance.
modal noun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A stance noun which controls a complement and which often express modality such as a state, quality or condition. Examples of modal nouns are: possibility, doubt, assumption, tendency, belief, suggestion, problem. These modal nouns are often used as hedging devices.
modification
noun UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word or phrase which gives further information about another word or phrase and placed either before the head or after the head. Modification may be used in various phrases including noun phrases, verb phrases, adjective phrases See the Introduction to Noun Phrases page.
modifier
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word, phrase or clause which give more information about another word or phrase. Modifiers placed before the headword are premodifiers. Those placed after the headword are postmodifiers (sometimes called qualifiers). Modifiers are used mainly in noun phrases, adjective phrases, and adverb phrases.
monotransitive verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A verb which takes only a direct object realised by a noun phrase. Example: William Shakespeare wrote plays in the 1600s that are still read today. "William Shakespeare" is the subject, wrote is the monotransitive verb, and "plays" is the direct object. See also ditransitive and complex transitive.
mood
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Mood is an indicator of the attitude of the speaker or the subject of a clause. Various meanings indicated by mood are created by the use of different modals such as duty, obligation, or advisability with "should", possibility with "can", speculation with "may" or "must have" and so on. Another use of the word "mood" relates to sentences or clauses. - whether they are declarative, interrogative or imperative. Examples: Possibility - "Music can put us in a better mood" (Byron 2019). Speculation - "Historical films may be decaying much faster than we thought thanks to ‘vinegar syndrome’" (Ahmad 2020). Recommendation - "A good start is ensuring that the temperature and ventilation in your bedroom is good – it should be cool and airy" (Sahakian et al. 2022).
morpheme
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR The smallest part of a word which has meaning. A word may consist of just one morpheme (e.g. "say", "cut", "free", "it"). But most words consist of more than one (e.g. "rewrite", "fairness", "studied"). "Rewrite" contains a derivational prefix ("re" meaning "again"); "fairness" contains a derivational suffix ("ness" creating a noun from an adjective); "studied" contains an inflectional suffix ("ed" creating the past tense of a verb).
morphology
noun UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR The study of the structure of words. Most function words (the, at, which...) consist of just one morpheme. Although many lexical words consist of only one morpheme, most are more complex. This complexity derives from compounding (particularly to make compound nouns), inflection, and derivation.
multi-word verb construction
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR These are idiomatic constructions and include:
  1. verb + prepositional phrases
    • We took into consideration the fact that unreliable supply imposes indirect costs on people. (Olówósejéjé 2020)
  2. verb + verb combinations
    • Water will flow where it can, and cities just have to adjust and make do with what they can get. (Herculano-Houzel 2023)
  3. verb + noun combinations
    • The authorities should take note of this result. (Comerford 2020)
See the multi-word verbs page.
neologism
noun COUNTABLE A newly invented word or a new meaning given to an old word, which has come into accepted use.
nominal
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A noun, noun phrase or any word or phrase which is used as a noun, such as adjectives and complement clauses, and which can occupy any place where you might expect to find a noun (such as subject, object, complement, etc.) .
nominalization
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR The formation of nouns from other parts of speech especially from verb to noun (describe - description, compare - comparison) and also from an adjective (aware - awareness, effective - effectiveness) . Nominalization is important in academic writing (especially for scientific and technical texts) because it allows the text to be more concise and permits the discussion of processes and relationships between them without mentioning the participants in the process. See (Bloor and Bloor 2004). You can see many examples of nominalization on the suffix page.
nominal ellipsis
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE COHESIVE DEVICES The substitution of the head of a noun phrase by nothing. The missing noun phrase can always be recovered from the preceding text - either in the same sentence or an earlier one.
  1. "Why do we prefer one hand over another?" (Barton and Todorovic 2021). The word "another" is incomplete. Another what? Obviously "another hand" "hand" is the head of a noun phrase in the first part of the sentence so we can recover it from there in the second part. This is nominal ellipsis.
  2. "When one domino gets knocked down, it knocks down another and another" (Taylor 2020). The word "another" is obviously part of a noun phrase "another domino" but with a missing headword which we can recover from the first part of ther sentence.
  3. "The bird at the point of the V, in the front of the flock, gets no advantage from drafting. It is working much harder than the others. When it gets too tired, it drops back and another takes the lead " (Langen 2020). The word "another" is part of a noun phrase "another bird" but with a missing headword. To find this headword we have to trace the pronouns "it" back two sentences to the "The bird at the point of the V".
See also the ellipsis page.
nominal substitution
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE COHESIVE DEVICES The substitution of the head of a noun phrase by the word one or ones, or the substitution of a whole noun phrase by the words the same.
  1. "The story of how babies learn to talk is a fascinating one" (Lam-Cassettari 2019). The word "one" substitutes for "story" in the noun phrase "The story of how babies learn to talk".
  2. "After the asteroid struck Earth long ago, all birds with teeth went extinct. But many of the toothless ones kept living" (Lituma 2023). The word "ones" substitutes for "birds" in the previous sentence.
  3. "First, we must make keys secret by making a very large number of possible keys, so that the right one is hard to guess or build. It’s the same for passwords" (Craver 2022). The word "the same" substitutes for "we must make keys secret by making a very large number of possible keys, so that the right one is hard to guess or build" - almost all of the previous sentence. The first sentence refers to physical keys and the second refers to software keys.
See more on the substitution page.
norm referenced test
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE ASSESSMENT A test which measures performance of an examinee in relation to that of other examinees rather than to a particular standard or criterion. criterion referenced test.
not (negation)
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR The function of the word 'not' is to negate a clause. It may also be used to limit a quantifier or to negate an adjective or adverb phrase.
  1. Clause negation
    • "You are not entitled to your opinion. You are only entitled to what you can argue for." (Stokes 2012)
    • "The phases of the Moon do not exactly coincide with the solar calendar." (Heineman 2020)
  2. Quantifier restriction
    • "The particles of matter that make up an atom are not all the same." (Helms 2022)
  3. Adverb phrase negation
    • "High inflation is often, but not always, accompanied by high wage growth." (Li 2022)
non-finite clause
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A clause which contains a non-finite verb (one which has no subject and which does not show tense) and which cannot stand as an independent clause. There are three types of non-finite clause: infinitive clauses, ing-clauses, and ed-clauses. See also finite clause.
non-finite verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A verb form which does not show tense and does not show a relationship with a subject in person and/or number. In the phrase "...if you want to study effectively.." to study is non-finite and want is finite. See also finite verb.
noun
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word which refers to a "thing”; this "thing” could be an object, a person, a process, a concept, an event.
noun complement clause
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A clause which complements a head noun. It is a dependent clause and without it the main clause would not be complete. There are three types of noun complement clauses: that-clauses, to-clauses and wh-interrogative clauses. The first two are the most common. That-clause: "There is no evidence that some languages make you smarter" (Sorace 2023). To-clause: "A capacity is an ability to do something" (Baron 2021). Wh-interrogative clause: "We can use this knowledge of how DNA copies itself to read a person’s DNA" (Lorch 2022).
noun phrase
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A noun phrase consists of a head (a noun, an indefinite pronoun or demonstrative pronoun) and optionally a determiner, pre-modification (e.g. adjectives) and/or post-modification.
  • "In summers now, the waters around Tasmania are close to the fish’s limit."(Doddridge 2022) (determiner, head, postmodifier [prepositional phrase])
  • "One important pattern-making process involves the way diffusing chemicals react with one another." (Lavrentovich 2022) (determiner premodifier, head)
  • "This question gets right at the heart of a big issue for brain scientists ". (Nikolova 2019) (determiner premodifier, head , postmodifier [prepositional phrase]; this noun phrase itself is the complement of a preposition)
numeral
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Numerals are a closed set of numbers (cardinals and ordinals) which although the set is closed can be assembled to produce a limitless list of forms. They are normally found as heads or determiners in noun phrases.
  1. Cardinals
    • "Iron (20%), aluminium (14%) and copper (7%) are the three most common metals by weight in your average smartphone." (Hudson-Edwards and Byrne 2018) (postdeterminer)
    • "Five hundred years isn’t very long in terms of geology." (Little and MacDonald 2021) (determiner)
    • One of the things that make up the atom is called an “electron”. (Abbas 2019) (noun phrase head)
  2. Ordinals
    • "The first modern electronic digital computer was called the Atanasoff–Berry computer, or ABC." (Jacobson 2019) (postdeterminer)
    • "The first is called caramelization, which happens when the sugars in a food become brown." (noun phrase head)
    • "Pakistan is experiencing the most devastating and widespread floods in its history, with the country’s climate minister saying waters have reached across a third of the nation." (Clarke, Otto, and Harrington 2022) (noun phrase)
    • "First, scientists freeze molecules to a temperature much colder than snow or ice." (Helms 2022) (adverbial)
object
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An object is the "thing" which is affected by a transitive verb. It may be a noun, noun phrase, noun clause or a pronoun. An object may be direct or indirect. See also subject.
object complement
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An object complement (or object predicative) is the complement which is linked to the object in a sentence. It is usually a noun phrase or an adjective phrase. In the sentence "Some kinds of light make you more alert and more awake.", "you" is the object, and "more alert and more awake" is the object complement (an adjective phrase).
object predicative
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An object predicative complements an object and occurs with complex transitive verbs. It may be a noun phrase or an adjective phrase. An object predicative has the same reference as the object (the object and the object predicative refer to the same thing) and is usually found immediately after the direct object.
Examples:
  1. ([verb] object object predicative)
    • "If a plant is being eaten by insects, it can produce a set of chemicals to [make] its leaves less tasty" (Ashton 2022).
    • "Which means anyone who uses the scientific method can and should [consider] themselves a scientist" (Lorch 2023).
  2. With some verbs (e.g. consider, treat, regard) the object predicative may be preceded by "as":
    • We are so used to [considering] insects [as] pests that it is tempting to think that, in a world with fewer of them, agriculture might prosper as never before " (Reynolds 2023).
See also subject predicative.
objective
adjective Based on established facts, strong evidence and widely accepted premise rather than personal opinions or points of view. Noun: objectivity. Compare with subjective.
Common collocates for this word:

objective

shading image

reality
criteria
truth
evidence
analysis
data
information
assessment
knowledge
measures



occurrence verbs
noun phrase COUNTABLE SEMANTICS Verbs of occurrence are verbs used to indicate events which occur without the indication of any explicit actor. Examples of these verbs are arise, become, change, develop, die, disappear, emerge, fall, flow, grow, happen, increase, last, occur, rise, shine, sink. "If the weather isn’t cold enough, they don’t grow and develop normally" (Bohra and Varshney 2023). ; "You’ll probably become distracted at some point during your study" (Munro 2020). ; "The first one happened about 2 billion years ago and lasted about 300 million years" (Su 2022).
open class word
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Words which belong to open classes such as noun, verb, adjective, and adverb. New words can be, and often are, admitted to these classes. By contrast closed class words belong to closed classes to which new words are not added. Open class words are also known as content words.
operator
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR The operator is only found in finite clauses. It is a required element of independent interrogative clauses and clauses negated by 'not'. Examples:
  1. First auxiliary in a verb phrase
    • "A penguin’s flippers can’t bend." (Cannell 2021)
    • "There are other ways water can get inside wood." (Nolan 2019)
    • "Are you moving towards your goal or do you need to change direction?" (Munro 2020)
  2. Use of the auxiliary do
    • "Why do teachers make us read old stories?" (Gruner 2019)
    • "And some birds don’t sing at all" (Steadman 2019)
  3. Use of the copular verb be
    • "Sometimes they are successful." (Addicoat 2023)
    • "They’re as distinct as human fingerprints."(Cushing 2020)
    • "Are they jagged and angular, or smooth and round?" (Montgomery 2019)
  4. The transitive use of have
    • "They have less mass, too." (Peroomian 2022)
ordinal number
noun phrase A number used for placing items in order. Seventh day of the week. See also cardinal number.
organisation pattern
noun phrase COUNTABLE Text structures commonly used in expository writing. Also known as patterns of organisation or text structures. Examples include: enumeration, sequence, compare and contrast, cause and effect, problem and solution, advantages and disadvantages, classification.
outline
noun COUNTABLE A concise description of the main points of an event, plan, process, design, etc. An outline of an essay or report provides the main points and main supporting details to be discussed in the text.
Common collocates for this word:

outline

shading image

brief    
broad    
general    
basic    
vague    
rough    
bare    
clear    
historical    
    



outline
verb To describe the main points of an event, plan, process, design, etc.
outline
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To describe the main points about an argument, topic, proposition, etc. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
pagination
noun UNCOUNTABLE The way in which a text is organised into pages.
paradigmatic relationship
noun phrase LEXIS Relationships between words or groups of words in terms of how we classify them into hierarchies (subordinate and superordinate), sense relations and lexical sets. See also syntagmatic relationships.
paradox
noun COUNTABLE FIGURE OF SPEECH A statement which seems to be contradictory but which may be insightful.
paragraph
noun COUNTABLE A unit of text which usually contains one main idea. A paragraph may be as short as one sentence but it is usually longer, containing a topic sentence and other sentences which provide supporting detail or evidence. A paragraph always begins on a new line and the first word may be indented.
Common collocates for this word:

paragraph

shading image

previous    
new    
final    
preceding    
following    
short    
introductory    
single    
concluding    
brief    



parallelism
noun COUNTABLE FIGURE OF SPEECH Repetition or mirroring of a style or structure.
paraphrase
noun COUNTABLE Text rewritten in different words or phrasing in order to simplify or summarise the original text. See more about paraphrasing on the paraphrasing page.
Common collocates for this word:

paraphrase

shading image

close    
loose    
rough    
good    
brief    
accurate    
simple    
long    
short    
acceptable    



paraphrase
verb To rewrite text in different words or phrasing in order to simplify or summarise the original text.
parataxis
noun UNCOUNTABLE FIGURE OF SPEECH Words, phrases, clauses or sentences of a similar type and value which are set next to one another, sometimes connected by coordinating conjunctions such as "and" and sometimes by commas or semi-colons. Adjective: paratactical. Often used in academic texts (separated by commas or semicolons) where lists are commonly found. Example: "Well, what sorts of animals do you typically imagine when you think about apex predators? Great white sharks, polar bears, killer whales, crocodiles, African lions, anacondas … perhaps a wedge-tailed eagle?" (Ritchie 2022).
parentheses
plural noun Punctuation marks ( ) used to enclose and separate a short portion of text. Also known as brackets in British English; See the Parentheses Page
parenthesis
noun COUNTABLE Information added to a sentence to provide further explanation and which is enclosed in bracket, commas or dashes. A parenthesis may take the form of an appositive noun phrase but also other grammatical constructions. A parenthesis is also known as a parenthetical.
parentheticals
noun COUNTABLE Parentheticals are words, phrases or clauses which give extra information but which are not part of the flow of the main clause. They are marked by commas, dashes, or parentheses. Parentheticals may be simple noun phrases, noun phrases in apposition, or stance adverbials : "In the Book of Genesis, Jubal – a descendant of Adam – is identified as the father of the harp and flute." (Dallman 2022)
parody
noun Comic imitation achieved through exaggeration.
parse
verb To break down a sentence into its separate grammatical categories.
participial adjective
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adjective which is derived from a verb by using the -ed and -ing participle forms. Many examples of both forms can be used as attributive and predicative adjectives but the attribute use is more common. Some, but not all, of these participial adjectives have the attributes of normal adjectives (whether they are gradable and whether they can be used as attributive or predicative adjectives). Common examples of ing- adjectives are boring, corresponding, existing, following, increasing, leading, misleading, missing, ongoing, promising, remaining, underlying. Common examples of ed- adjectives are advanced, bored, complicated, determined, educated, interested, limited, unexpected.
  • "Sometimes, your brain just can’t do two complicated things at once." (Wilson 2019) (-ed, attributive, gradable)
  • "The relationship between science and truth is complicated." (Parke 2022) (-ed, predicative, gradable)
  • "One promising way to get something moving very fast is to use a solar sail." (Impey 2021) (-ing, attributive, gradable)
  • "But cloud seeding isn’t as simple as it sounds, and it might not be as promising as people wish." (Cotton 2022) (-ing, predicative, gradable)
  • "Scientists formulate ideas or hypotheses using existing knowledge and information." (Lituma 2023) (-ing, attributive, not predicative, ungradable)
  • "The Beatles may have written dozens of songs that were never released because he and John Lennon would forget the songs the following morning." (Noreen 2015) (-ing, attributive, not predicative, ungradable)
  • "Existing household robots, such as robotic vacuum cleaners, floor mops and lawn mowers, have outnumbered all other types of robot in terms of units sold from as early as 2010." (Hertog and Shi 2023) (-ing participial, attributive, ungradable )
  • "In Japan, the difference in time spent on domestic tasks is much more striking, with Japanese men spending just a fifth of the time spent by women on domestic tasks." (Hertog and Shi 2023) (-ing participial, predicative, gradable )
  • "A cooking robot would need to know not only about everyone’s food preferences, but also allergies, intolerances and underlying health conditions." (Hertog and Shi 2023) (1. -ing participial, attributive, ungradable; 2. -ing participial, predicative, ungradable)
  • "[Collective memory] ultimately explains how people’s shared recollections are formed within the social groups they belong to." (Ezenwa 2023) (-ed participial, attributive, ungradable)
  • "The ongoing violent conflicts between farmers and nomadic Fulani herders in Nigeria [ ] are shaped by differing narratives of the past." (Ezenwa 2023) (Both -ing participial, attributive, ungradable)
  • "All plants require 17 nutrients for life. Nitrogen, phosphate and potassium are the most important ones. A limited supply of any one of these stunts the plant’s growth." (Oldroyd 2023) ( -ed participial, attributive, gradable)
  • "There are several complicated processes involved in transferring the ability to fix nitrogen to cereals, which include developing the function to recognise beneficial bacteria." (Oldroyd 2023) ( -ed participial, attributive, gradable)
  • "Genetically modified (GM) crops may be controversial, but similar processes happen naturally with wild plants." (Pereira, Dunning, and Raimondeau 2023) ( -ed participial, attributive, gradable)
  • "This is a bit misleading though, as reality is more complicated." (Pereira, Dunning, and Raimondeau 2023) (1. -ing participial, predicative, gradable; 2. -ed participial, predicative, gradable)
  • "For example, many of the horizontally transferred genes detected in grasses offer disease resistance, stress tolerance and increased energy production." (Pereira, Dunning, and Raimondeau 2023) (1. -ed participial, attributive, ungradable; 2. -ed participial, attributive, gradable)
  • "But we still don’t know how genes are moving between distantly related species. " (Pereira, Dunning, and Raimondeau 2023) (-ed participial, attributive, ungradable)
participle
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A non-finite verb form used as an adjective and also to form the perfect and progressive aspect and the passive voice. The present participle (-ing participle) is formed by adding -ing to the verb root (challenging task, distracting noise). The past participle (-ed participle) is formed by adding -ed to the verb root, except in the case of irregular verbs (selected text, broken window). See more about participles used as noun premodifiers on the noun premodification page.
participle clause
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A clause introduce by a participle (present or past). They may function as the subject or object of a sentence and in postmodification of a noun phrase. See ed-clauses, ing-clauses, and examples on the ed-clause page and the ing-clause page.
particle
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word which normally has little or no meaning except when combined with another. The word particle is often taken to mean an adverbial particle but there are other particles such as the negator 'not' and the infinitive marker 'to' which have little meaning when taken out of context. An adverbial particle is not the same as a preposition. A preposition is more part of a prepositional phrase whereas a particle is more connected to the verb, and the verb-particle combination often has a particular meaning which is not always obvious from a consideration of the individual words.
  1. "Social media took off somewhat later, in the second half of the first decade of this century." (During 2022) ('took off' means 'increased sharply'; off is a particle - it belongs with the verb 'take' creating a new meaning)
  2. "Currently, 53 World Heritage properties are on the in-danger list; others were taken off the list once concerns were addressed." (Day, Heron, and Hughes 2021) ('off' is a preposition and part of the prepositional phrase 'off the list'. )
particle shift
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A particle in a phrasal verb (e.g. get up, carry out, go on) may move to a position after the direct object noun phrase. This is known as a particle shift. Examples: "[Play-based learning] can also set your child up for success in the 21st century by teaching them relevant skills" (Morrissey, Rouse, and Robertson 2018). The phrasal verb is set up and the particle up has been shifted; it could be written as "[Play-based learning] can also set up your child for success...". If the direct object is a pronoun then a particle shift must be used: "Teaching kids about maths using money can set them up for financial security" (Attard 2017).
passive
adjective GRAMMAR Passive describes a verb when the subject of the sentence is the sufferer of the action rather than the performer. In the sentence, "The dog is being washed by the boy.”, "The dog” is the subject and suffers the action. "is being washed” is a verb in the passive voice. There are two types of passive constructions: the long passive where the agent is mentioned (usually with a by-phrase), and the short passive where the agent is omitted.
  1. Long passive
    • "The ENIAC patent was thrown out by a judge in 1973." (Jacobson 2019) ('was thrown out' is the passive construction and 'by a judge' describes the agent; compare with the active: A judge threw out the ENIAC patent in 1973)
    • "The rings around Saturn were discovered by an astronomer called Galileo Galilei nearly 400 years ago." (Kuhn 2020) ('were discovered' is the passive construction and 'by an astronomer called Galileo Galilei' describes the agent; compare with the active: An astronomer called Galileo Galilei discovered the rings around Saturn nearly 400 years ago.)
  2. Short passive
    • "They were asked to memorise both lists." (Noreen 2015) ('were asked' is the passive construction and no agent is mentioned; compare with the active: [Somebody] asked them to memorise both lists.)
    • "The last one was spotted more than 60 years ago." (Cushing 2020) ('was spotted' is the passive construction and no agent is mentioned; compare with the active: [Somebody] spotted the last one more than 60 years ago.)
There are two types of passive constructions: Finite Constructions and Non-finite Constructions
Compare with active. See the passives page and the passive examples pages.
passive: finite constructions
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR These constructions take a finite verb (there is a subject and the verb shows tense). There are four types:
  1. Short passive with a stative verb
    • "For a very long time, Saturn was thought to be the only planet in our solar system with rings." (Kuhn 2020) ('was thought' is the passive construction; 'think' is a stative verb and it is a short passive because no agent is mentioned)
    • "That same century, scientists identified carbon dioxide’s potential to increase global temperatures, which at the time was considered a possible benefit to the planet." (Weatherhead 2021) ('was considered' is the passive construction; 'consider' is a stative verb and it is a short passive because no agent is mentioned)
  2. Short passive with a dynamic verb
    • "Everything changed when electric lighting was invented in the latter part of the 19th century." (Stevens 2015) ('was invented' is the passive construction; 'invent' is a dynamic verb and it is a short passive because no agent is mentioned)
    • "An enormous amount of heat was produced during those collisions, enough to melt the whole Earth." (Huang 2023) ('was produced' is the passive construction; 'produce' is a dynamic verb and it is a short passive because no agent is mentioned)
  3. Long passives
    • "This would be like how the International Space Station was built: pieces were taken into space and then [were] put together by astronauts aboard the space shuttle." (Whittaker 2021) ('were taken' and '[were] put' are both passive constructions; the agent is 'astronauts')
    • "This is because the Himalayas were built by the collision of two large continents composed of rocks with lower than average density." (Duffy and McLaren 2021) ('were built' is the passive construction; the agent is 'the collision of two large continents composed of rocks with lower than average density')
  4. Get passives
    • "For example, most adults do not get told when to go to bed at night!" (Mackey, Lee, and Wee 2021) ('get told' is the passive construction; )
    • "This way, authors get paid for their writing, but the publisher also profits from book sales." (Farina 2022) ('get paid' is the passive construction)
See the passives page and the passive examples pages.
passive: non-finite constructions
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR These constructions take a non-finite verb. There are four main types:
  1. Noun postmodifier, short passive
    • "Most of the pilots involved in the incident were trainees." (Satterley 2020) ('involved' is the passive noun postmodifier; it is a short passive because no agent is mentioned)
    • "In a study published last year, the participants were presented with two files that each contained a list of words."(Noreen 2015) ('published' is the passive noun postmodifier; it is a short passive because no agent is mentioned)
  2. Noun postmodifier, long passive
    • "All along, cars powered by internal combustion engines – the kind most in use today – were competing with steam cars and winning the technology war." (Stewart and Yohe 2022) ('powered' is the passive noun postmodifier; it is a long passive and the agent is 'internal combustion engines')
    • "It was not a sea of lava fuelled by countless volcanoes, although they certainly existed." (Jordan 2019) ('fuelled' is the passive noun postmodifier; it is a long passive and the agent is 'countless volcanoes')
  3. Infinitive clause complement of a verb
    • "Before we can make wool into fabric, it needs to be spun into yarn." (Hegh and Usman 2022) ('to be spun' is the infinitive clause complement of the verb 'needs' ; it is a short passive')
    • "There are two funky exceptions: Uranus appears to have been tipped over on its side." (Laycock 2023) ('to have been tipped over' is the infinitive clause complement of the verb 'appears' ; it is a short passive')
    • "How to answer this question will need to be figured out by a future scientist." (Singal 2021) ('to be figured out' is the infinitive clause complement of the verb 'need' ; it is a long passive and the agent is 'a future scientist')
    • "The AI chatbot ChatGPT produces content that can appear to have been created by a human." (Sekhon, Ozcan, and Ozcan 2023) ('to have been created' is the infinitive clause complement of the verb 'appear' ; it is a long passive and the agent is 'a human')
    • "The term Global South appears to have been first used in 1969 by political activist Carl Oglesby." (Heine 2023) ('to have been [first] used' is the infinitive clause complement of the verb 'appears' ; it is a long passive and the agent is 'political activist Carl Oglesby')
  4. Ed-clause complement of a verb
    • "[ ] fish may have had key features 'removed', such as the bills of billfish or fins of sharks, or whole parts missing, e.g. heads." (Proctor, O’Neill, and White 2018) ('removed' is the ed-clause complement of a verb 'may have had' ; it is a short passive because no agent id mentioned)
See more examples on the non-finite passive constructions page.
past participle
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR The past participle (or ed-participle) is an inflected form of a verb which is used in the perfect aspect, the passive voice, and as participial adjectives. It is formed by adding -ed to the base form of regular verbs but in various ways in irregular verbs. Perfect Aspect: "Scientists have invented other methods to see molecules, too" (Helms 2022). (regular verb) ; Passive voice: "Tropical corals have now been found happily growing near Sydney" (Doddridge 2022). (irregular verb) ; Participial adjective: "Sometimes, your brain just can’t do two complicated things at once" (Wilson 2019).
past tense
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR tense is a grammatical category which marks time (past, present or future). In English, only verbs in past and the present are inflected (and only for the third person in the present). The past tense for regular verbs is marked by the suffix -ed; for irregular verbs see the irregular verbs page. The past tense is used for events which happened in the past, and in reported speech.
  • "The first one happened about 2 billion years ago and lasted about 300 million years" (Su 2022). ('happened' and 'lasted') ;
  • "The students in my study reported that print was aesthetically more enjoyable, saying things such as 'I like the smell of paper' or that reading in print is 'real reading.' " (Baron 2016). ('was' is backshifted from the present tense to the past in reported speech).
peer
noun COUNTABLE A person of similar status in terms of age, experience, or qualifications.
peer review
noun phrase A review of a text (usually a draft at an advanced stage of preparation) undertaken by people in your peer group. For professionals this means people of similar or higher standing in your discipline; for students it means fellow students in your area of study.
perfect
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An aspect which shows a connection between the past and the present, or between the past and a later time in the past. It is constructed with the auxiliary verb have and the past participle. Present perfect: "Rather than worrying about what we have lost, perhaps we need to focus on what we have gained" (Noreen). (The loss and the gain happened in the past but they remain a loss or a gain in the present). Past perfect: "A few centuries later, there had been a lot of progress." (Dorrian and Whittaker 2020). (Here the connection is between two things in the past, one later than the other).
perfect aspect
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A grammatical category which indicates events or states which lead up to a particular point in time. "For example, researchers have shown that different blood types respond differently to diseases." (Helms 2019)
(In many cases the particular point in time is understood to be the present, in the sense that the result, or effect continues to be valid, as in this example.) See more examples under perfect.
period
noun COUNTABLE AMERICAN USAGE .The closing dot at the end of a sentence, also known as a full stop.
periodical
noun COUNTABLE A publication which is issued at regular intervals (weekly, monthly, quarterly).
peripheral adjective
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adjective which does not have all the central characteristics of central adjectives - attributive and predicative roles, inflected forms for comparison, descriptor roles, and gradability.
To qualify as an adjective a word must have either an attributive or predicative use or both. If it has attributive and/or predicative uses but lacks any of the others, it is a peripheral adjective. The following are all examples of peripheral adjectives:
  • Scientists investigate in many different ways. (Parke 2022) : no inflected form, not descriptive (it's a classifier)
  • Earth’s spin is important for life. (Laycock 2023) : no inflected form
  • What we saw was an utter tragedy. (Pratchett and Hughes 2020) : no predicative use, no inflected form, not descriptive, not gradable
Adjectives with superlative or absolute meanings (utter, infinite, perfect, unique, absolute, true, false ...) are considered non-gradable and are not normally used with comparative or superlative forms. See also the adjective characteristics page.
personal pronoun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word which refers to people or things (usually anaphorically). I, me, you, he, him, she, her, it, we, us, they, them.
"it" is generally used for personal reference while "they" and "them" may be used for both personal and non-personal reference.
  • "He looked up at me sheepishly" (Sekeres 2022).
  • "They also help us recognise familiar faces" (Phelps and Moro 2021).
persuasive
adjective Making you believe something to be true. It was a compelling and persuasive argument for the urgency of ratifying the treaty. Compare with expository.
Common collocates for this word:

persuasive

shading image

evidence
essay
argument
power
writing
speech
case
communication
manner
techniques



phonology
noun UNCOUNTABLE The study of the sounds of a language. 
phrasal verb
noun phrase GRAMMAR A multi-word lexical verb consisting of a verb + adverbial particle. They may be transitive or intransitive. Examples: come on, get up, find out, go on, carry out, point out . There are hundreds of these in English and many of them have somewhat idiomatic meanings which are difficult to guess from their individual words. They are less used in academic texts than in conversation. See the phrasal verbs page.
phrasal-prepositional verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A verb composed of a lexical verb, adverbial particle and a preposition.
NP + verb + particle + preposition + NP:
  • Creativity is often defined as the ability to come up with new and useful ideas. (Beaty 2018)
NP + verb + NP + particle + preposition + NP:
  • What is new is keeping your vehicle’s software up to date, just as you do with your phone and computer. (Jacobson 2023)
See the phrasal-prepositional verbs page.
phrase
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A phrase is a group of words below the level of a clause. Phrases may consist of only the headword, with no modifiers. There are 5 main types of phrase in English: the noun phrase, the verb phrase, the adverb phrase, the adjective phrase and the prepositional phrase. Two other types of phrases are genitive phrases and numeral phrases (phrases dealing with numbers, decimals, fractions, percentages, dates, mathematical expressions and so on).
phrase coordination
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR Phrases may be linked with coordinating conjunctions. Remember a phrase may consist of only the headword.
  1. Noun Phrases
    • "Primates and apes also enjoy a good chuckle." (Barker 2017)
    • "Park guards and conservation groups are working to protect this iconic animal, the largest of all the big cats." (Cushing 2020)
  2. Verb Phrases
    • "The brain reorganises and recharges itself during sleep." (Sahakian et al. 2022)
    • "These activities all produce or require heat." (McCormick 2020)
  3. Adjective Phrases
    • "So grown-up life can be stressful and busy." (Hope 2023)
    • "Are they jagged and angular, or smooth and round?" (Montgomery 2019) (complex example)
  4. Adverb Phrases
    • "Our fast brain helps us to answer questions like these quickly and easily.(Power 2021)
    • "Research has also suggested it could help to improve how well you feel physically and mentally.(Nyman 2020)
  5. Prepositional Phrases
    • "Starlings are closer to their side neighbors than those in front or behind." (Langen 2022) (the prepositions are coordinated)
    • "People from Indianapolis use English differently than people from Alaska or Georgia." (Britt-Smith 2021) (the complement is coordinated)
    • "You can’t see an individual molecule with your eyes or even a microscope." (Helms 2022) (the complement is coordinated)
plagiarism
noun UNCOUNTABLE Taking other people's work and using it as if it were your own without acknowledging the source of this work. See more about plagiarism and how to avoid it.
polysemy
noun UNCOUNTABLE SENSE RELATION The characteristic of words having more than one meaning. Many words are polysemous. Light is (as a noun) a) the brightness that is part of the electromagnetic spectrum; b) a device for producing light; c) a flame; (as an adjective) a) not dark; b) not heavy; (as a verb) to set fire to; to make bright; etc.
possession
noun COUNTABLE SEMANTICS/GRAMMAR Possession in English is signalled in various ways: Using possessive pronouns, using a genitive marked with an apostrophe, and using the 'of ' construction. The 'of ' construction is more likely to occur with inanimate concrete nouns, abstract impersonal nouns, and plural nouns.
  • Geese fly by day or night, depending on factors like weather conditions or brightness of the moon. (Langen 2020)
  • The RNA genomes of the viruses are about 80% identical. (Roossinck 2020)
possessive
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A subclass of identifier a member of which limits the reference to an antecedent in some way. They alway precede a noun. The possessives are my, your, his, her, its, our, their.
possessive pronoun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR The pronouns indicate belonging. What is belonged is recoverable from (usually) preceding context. The possessive pronouns are mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs.
  • "Just the way airport workers who signal to pilots wear specialized earmuffs while they are on the tarmac to protect their hearing from damage caused by noisy jet planes, musicians and concertgoers can wear earplugs. I carry mine – which can cut out up to 21 decibels of noise – everywhere, attached to my keychain" (Stucky 2022). [my earplugs]
  • "Elephants have bigger brains, but their bodies are even bigger than ours" (Simons 2021). [our brains].
postdeterminer
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Determiners which are placed after the any central determiner (the, these, her, their etc.). They are cardinal numbers, ordinal numbers, quantifying determiners and semi-determiners. Examples: the two experiments, the first place, a few studies, the next time.
postmodification
noun UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word or phrase which gives further information about another word or phrase and placed after the head. Postmodification may be used in various phrases including noun phrases, verb phrases, adjective phrases See the noun postmodification page.
postposed adjective
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adjective which follows the noun phrase it modifies instead of preceding it. There are two main categories (fixed expressions is another but examples of these are very rare):
  1. After indefinite pronoun headwords
    • "To be clear — there’s nothing wrong with being left-handed!" (Barton and Todorovic 2021)
    • "A brain freeze is a short, intense pain behind the forehead and temples that occurs after eating something cold too fast." (Anderson-Sieg 2020)
    • "We may learn something new from these images." (Kedziora-Chudczer 2022)
    • "When they blow the whistle, referees are alerting others that something bad is happening." (Archambeault and Webber 2019)
    • "Most of them wake up not knowing they did anything unusual until someone tells them." (Agostini 2019)
    • "We use our slow thinking when we have to do something difficult, like our homework." (Power 2021)
    • "In the first step, Statistics Canada collects over one million price quotes on virtually anything purchasable in the country." (Li 2022)
    • "For example, vultures and storks can barely produce any sound – let alone something musical enough that we would call it a song." (Steadman 2019)
    • "No matter what form it takes, money ultimately helps make the trading of goods and services go more smoothly for everyone involved." (Mehkari 2022)
  2. Adjectives commonly postposed
    • "Diagnosing this power is a matter of pressing urgency for anyone concerned with the politics of climate change today." (Baldwin 2022)
    • "The molecular processes involved are simple enough that they might coincidentally generate a pattern." (Lavrentovich 2022)
    • "If I don’t interfere with the kettle or the hob, there is only one outcome possible: the water will start boiling." (Moravec 2022)
See also the postposed adjectives page.
predeterminer
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A small group of determiners containing the words both, all and half, plus multipliers and fractions like double, once, twice, one third of. They are called predeterminers because they are often placed before determiners as in "all the lonely people" (all is a predeterminer and the is a determiner).
predicate
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A predicate is the part of the sentence which says something about the subject. It usually consists of a verb and any complements (objects, predicatives, or adverbials).
predicative
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A predicative is the part of a sentence which normally follows a copula and provide information about the subject, or occasionally the object. See also subject predicative and object predicative. It is also used as a noun. See predicative adjective.
predicative adjective
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adjective which is used after a verb.
Predicative adjectives may be subject predicatives or object predicatives. Subject predicatives are the complements of copular verbs; the subject predicative describes the subject. Object predicatives follow a direct object and describe that object. Many predicative adjectives are part of complements such as an infinitive (to-) clause, a that clause or a prepositional phrase. These are pointed out in the examples below.
  1. Subject Predicatives
    • "There’s a reason why pizza is so popular." (Miller 2019) ('is' is the copular verb and 'popular' is the subject predicative describing 'pizza'.)
    • "However, it won’t be easy." (Oldroyd 2023) ('it' is the subject and 'easy' is the subject predicative. Without more context we don't know what 'it' is but you can find out by consulting the article.)
    • "However, pollen grains are really small, typically about 0.005 millimetres in diameter, so you need lots of them." (Bennett and Reynolds 2023)
    • "It’s quite right that they raised this issue." (Bennett and Reynolds 2023) (In this case 'right' is complemented by a that-clause.)
    • "Today’s world is vastly different, as we carry comparison machines around with us in the form of mobile phones." (Walker 2023)
    • "[ ] I believe these symbiotic microbial relationships are still relevant to how we should or could be producing our food today." (Oldroyd 2023) (In this case 'relevant' is complemented by a to-clause.)
    • "These discoveries are vital to developing cereals that can fix nitrogen without our help [ ]." (Oldroyd 2023) (In this case 'vital' is complemented by a to-clause.)
    • "While still in early discovery, research suggests it may be possible to grow crops without huge amounts of chemical fertilizer in the future. " (Oldroyd 2023) (In this case 'possible' is complemented by a to-clause.)
  2. Object Predicatives
    • "Over 75% of participants consider it good or very good." (Rosell-Aguilar 2018) ('it' is the object and 'good or very good' (coordinated binomial phrase) is the object predicative)
    • "Carbon is the key ingredient in the organic compounds that make biology possible. " (King 2023) ('biology' is the object and 'possible' is the object predicative.)
    • "We tested rocks from geological eras older than the Ediaracan period (635 million years ago) to work out which ones had the clay-rich composition necessary to fossilise the first animals." (Anderson 2023) (In this case 'necessary' is complemented by a to-clause.)
    • " But in lonely older adults, brain regions important for cognitive processing and emotional regulation are actually smaller in volume." (Kramer 2023) (In this case 'important' is complemented by a prepositional phrase)
    • "In the best-case scenario for the future, the rise of domestic automation could address gender inequality in domestic work by increasing the time available for women to carry out paid work and leisure." (Hertog and Shi 2023) (In this case 'important' is complemented by a prepositional phrase.)
Most adjectives can be used both attributively (before a noun) and predicatively (after a verb). See also attributive adjective and the attributive adjectives page.
predictive validity
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE ASSESSMENT Refers to a test whose validity is based on the extent to which it can predict future performance. An aptitude test presumes to have good predictive validity.
preface
noun COUNTABLE An introduction to a long text (usually a book) outlining the purpose and scope of the contents.
prefix
noun COUNTABLE MORPHOLOGY A group of letters placed at the beginning of a word which changes the meaning or form of that word. Derivational prefixes are used to form new nouns and new verbs. See a list of prefixes and their meanings on the prefix page. See also suffix.
preliminary
adjective Describing something which is in the early stages of preparation.
Common collocates for this word:

preliminary

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results
report
examination
draft
study
data
analysis
findings
work
investigation



premise
noun COUNTABLE A presupposed idea or statement (which may or may not be true) upon which an argument is based. A premise is the foundation upon which a reasoned argument is based. As readers we tend to accept a premise as a given but as critical readers we need to examine premises very carefully - the foundations may be shaky. As writers we should make sure our premises can withstand critical scrutiny.
Common collocates for this word:

premise

shading image

major    
minor    
fundamental    
first    
false    
underlying    
central    
simple    
original    
main    



premodification
noun UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word or phrase which gives further information about another word or phrase and placed before the head. Premodification may be used in various phrases including noun phrases, verb phrases, adjective phrases See the noun premodification page.   
preposition
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word used to link nouns, pronouns and gerunds to other words or phrases. A preposition and its complement is a prepositional phrase. Prepositions are used to show various meanings, such as place: "Having rounded the southern tip of Africa, and following a westerly course, the sailors observed the Sun as being on their right hand side, above the northern horizon" (Dorrian and Whittaker 2020), and time: at night, in the middle of the night, in the last decade or two, during the day.
prepositional object
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Objects consisting of a noun phrase or nominal clause normally placed after a prepositional verb (deal with, look at, depend on, consist of, contribute to, lead to, come from, etc.).
  • "We know wood comes from trees" (Nolan 2019).
  • "Studies also show that chronic exposure to noise can affect your sleep and hearing and contribute to health problems like heart disease " (Walker 2022).
prepositional phrase
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A phrase consisting of a preposition and a complement (usually a noun phrase), often used as a post-modifier of a noun phrase. See examples on the prepositional phrase page.
prepositional verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Verbs composed of a lexical verb and a preposition and which take a prepositional object . The prepositional verb may be immediately followed by a preposition, or in some cases the verb and preposition may be separated by a noun phrase.
  • "Let’s use eye colour as an example" (Abbatangelo 2023).
In passive constructions what was the object in the active is moved to a subject position. (This is common in academic texts.):
  • "Additionally, many modern stories are based on older stories." (Gruner 2019).
    Active: Writers base many modern stories on older stories.
  • "We also know that intense emotions are associated with stronger memories and preferences" (McAndrew 2019).
    Active: We also know that we associate intense emotions with stronger memories and preferences.
With a prepositional verb, the preposition belongs more to the verb than the noun; the verb and the preposition form one lexical entity, and a change in the preposition would change the whole meaning of the verb + preposition or render it meaningless.
See examples on the prepositional verbs page. See also the subject-verb-prepositional object pattern.
preprint
noun COUNTABLE A preliminary version of a research paper intended for publication, put into circulation, but which has not yet been submitted for peer review. Most preprints are given a DOI, which establishes the ownership of the work and enables the work to be cited.
present tense
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR tense is a grammatical category which marks time (past, present or future). In English, only verbs in past and the present are inflected. The present tense for regular verbs is marked only for the third person singular with the addition of the suffix -s or -es. "This suggests that other factors contribute to the harms caused by ultra-processed foods" (Hoffman 2022). The present tense is sometimes used in adverbials which refer to the future: "There is a lot of training a guide dog will do before they are taught familiar places" (Nottle 2019).
primary source
noun phrase GRAMMAR A source of information which was an original creation (e.g. a research paper, historical manuscript, or original artifact). See information on primary and secondary sources on the research page.
primary verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR There are three primary verbs: be, have, and do. They function both as main verbs (like lexical verbs) and auxiliary verbs. The following three sentences are all examples of the use of primary verbs as main verbs: "Pizza is one of the world’s most popular foods". "Pizza has all of these components". "Pääbo did his PhD in medical science at Uppsala University in Sweden". The following sentence is an example of the use of a primary verb as an auxiliary verb "Today most people do not get enough sleep".
problem/solution
noun An organisation pattern usually at least a paragraph long which examines possible solutions to a particular problem. See how problem/solution is used in a real text on the problem-solution page.
proceedings
noun Articles, reviews or reports of discussions, conferences, experiments, surveys … conducted by a professional body.
process
noun COUNTABLE A series of steps taken in a given order in order to achieve a particular outcome. Students are sometimes asked to describe a process either to evaluate their understanding of a particular process or to test their ability to write a description involving enumeration and/or sequence. Writing itself is a complex process.
Common collocates for this word:

process

shading image

continuous    
complex    
educational    
slow    
evolutionary    
historical    
creative    
gradual    
simple    
lengthy    



pro-form
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Function words or phrases which (like pronouns) are used to avoid repetition in a sentence or previous part of a text. "So" replaces clauses or verb complements. "Do" and "do so" are pro-predicates. Examples: "Most people know that Mount Everest is the tallest mountain but I want to know for how long it has been the tallest, and for how long in the future it will remain so" (Power 2021). "Scientists have yet to effectively demonstrate controllable nuclear fusion that produces more energy than it consumes, but they are working hard to do so" (Wu 2021).
progressive aspect
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A grammatical category which indicates that the action is, was, or will be in progress, developing or not complete (also known as continuous). Present progressive (continuous): Do you listen to music while you’re studying? Past progressive (continuous): "..deep down at the bottom of the ocean, something was beginning to happen …".
prompt
noun COUNTABLE ASSESSMENT a description of a task. Essay prompts may include
  • a topic;
  • background information about the topic;
  • text or quotes for comment or criticism;
  • visuals (graphs, charts, tables or illustrations);
  • task verbs (describe, discuss, explain, etc);
  • limiting words (placing restrictions on what you should write about);
  • style or formatting requirements;
  • audience (to whom is the text addressed?);
  • a word limit.
See also the task analysis page.
pronoun
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word which takes the place of a noun which has previously been mentioned in a text or which stands for something general or unknown. Pronouns (e.g. he, she, they, I, theirs, who, anyone ….) are important for avoiding repetition in a text and for creating cohesion. Pronouns are classified thus.
pronoun agreement
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Possessives and pronouns must agree with the words they refer to. They must agree by number and gender. "One female will lay her eggs and bring her offspring food, raising them until adulthood" (Zehnder 2020). her because it refers to "one female"; them because it refers to "offspring", which is plural. "And that’s why each of us has a unique appearance and personality" (Mackey, Lee, and Wee 2021). each is singular (each one) so we need a singular verb form has.
proofreading
noun The act of reviewing a document carefully in order to locate and correct errors. See the proofreading page for more information.
proper adjective
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adjective which is capitalized because they are derived from proper nouns. For example: an Italian town, a Chinese calendar.
proper noun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A noun denoting a particular (often well known) entity such a place, person or thing. A proper noun is spelt with a capital letter. Examples are: Baghdad, Beethoven, Betelgeuse, Boeing, Beyoncé, Bolivia, Botticelli.
proposal
noun COUNTABLE A written request, containing a detailed plan, to proceed with a research project.
Common collocates for this word:

proposal

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detailed    
specific    
revised    
alternative    
formal    
serious    
amended    
interesting    
simple    
written    



proposition
noun COUNTABLE An opinion, an idea, a suggestion, or a thesis which you intend to defend with evidence, argument and examples in your writing.
prose
noun The normal form of language (written or spoken) used from day to day.
provenance
noun UNCOUNTABLE Where something comes from, origin, source. Provenance is mainly concerned with the chronology of ownership in oder to establish authenticity. In the case of information sources is it also concerned with authority and reliability.
publication
noun COUNTABLE Writing which is made available to the general public.
publish
verb To make a piece of writing (report, journal article, book...) available to the general public.
punctuation
noun UNCOUNTABLE Marks which divide phrases, clauses and sentences and provide information about the particular status of a portion of a text (e.g. that it is a question or a quotation). See the Punctuation Page.
quantifier
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A type of determiner indicating indefinite quantity. Quantifiers include few, many, several, some, a lot of.
  • "Nearly all animals sleep." (Brown 2019)
  • "Honey bees and bumblebees are both social bee species." (Zehnder 2020)
  • "These electrons each carry a small electric charge." (Blakers 2019)
  • "Plants provide almost every calorie of food we eat." (Bohra and Varshney 2023)
  • "There are many different types of biting flies." (Oliver 2022)
  • "This may occur because much music contains language in the form of lyrics that readers try to process." (Vasilev 2019)
  • "Scientists investigate in many different ways." (Parke 2022) ('much' and 'many' are most often found in negative sentences)
  • "And some birds don’t sing at all." (Steadman 2019)
  • "An adult brain contains some 80 billion neurons." (Fedrizzi and Malik 2022) (This is a different use of 'some'; it is an approximating adverb.)
  • "Firstly, crocodile bodies use very little energy." (Lee 2021)
  • "Let’s shed a little light on the matter." (Clarke 2019)
  • (note the difference between 'little' and 'a little'; 'a little' means 'some, but not much' whereas 'little' means 'a suprisingly small amount')
  • "Very few animals can extract food they can’t see."(Kaplan 2019)
  • "It would do one rotation in a just a few Earth days." (Nicholson 2019) (note the difference between 'few' and 'a few'; 'a few' means 'some, but not many' whereas 'few' means 'a suprisingly small number')
  • "Do you have any other symptoms accompanying the headache?" (Yates 2021)
  • "The penguin may move its tail up when it wants to turn in either direction." (Cannell 2021)
  • "It turns out that neither of these concerns was valid." (Temple 2020)
  • "Murmurations have no leader and follow no plan." (Langen 2022)
question mark
noun phrase COUNTABLE PUNCTUATION A punctuation mark: (?) placed at the end of a sentence to denote that a question is being asked. See the Question Mark Page.
questionnaire
noun A carefully constructed list of questions written in order to gather information in a systematic and reliable way from a selected group of interviewees.
quotation
noun COUNTABLE The actual words written or spoken and reported in a text - a quotation is enclosed in quotation marks (parentheses) and should be normally be accompanied by a citation. See how quotations are formatted on the citation page.
quotation marks
noun phrase PUNCTUATION Punctuation marks (" ") which enclose a quotation to show that these words were written by someone other than the author of the text (although an author may also quote his or her previous work). See the Quotation Mark Page.
quote
noun COUNTABLE The actual words written or spoken and reported in a text - a quote is enclosed in quotation marks (parentheses) and should be normally be accompanied by a citation. Also used as a VERB - to quote - to use words from another text and enclose them in quotation marks. See how quotes are formatted on the citation page.
readability
noun UNCOUNTABLE A measure of how easily a text may be read and understood. Readability depends on many factors including grammatical complexity, sentence length, and lexical density. Also, what may be a readable text for one person might not be for another because of factors such as background knowledge, the reader's interest in the subject matter, genre, non-textual features and so on.
rebuttal
noun COUNTABLE A form of counter-argument. A rebuttal does not necessarily provide evidence and reasoning to disprove an argument. It is merely a statement that you don't accept the argument and is therefore an inferior form of refutation :
Common collocates for this word:

rebuttal

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detailed    
convincing    
effective    
direct    
good    
strong    
devastating    
lengthy    
excellent    
brief    



recipient
noun UNCOUNTABLE SEMANTICS In a sentence a recipient is a subject which experiences a particular a state or action. For example, "Dogs and people hear about the same at low frequencies of sound (around 20Hz)." (Fernandez and Hazel 2020). "Dogs and people" is the subject. They are both recipient of the same experience. This meaning is usually associated with stative verbs.
reciprocal pronoun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Pronouns which refer to more than one referent and which indicate a mutual relationship between them. There are only two reciprocal pronouns: "each other" and "one another".
"each other" usually indicates reciprocity between two entities , whereas "one another" implies reciprocity among many.
  • "One of the things that make up the atom is called an “electron”. Electrons have many jobs. Some electrons help the atoms hold onto each other" (Abbas 2019).
  • "The internet is a global collection of computers that know how to send messages to one another. " (Martin 2023).
redundant
adjective Describing a word or phrase which is unnecessary because it, or a word or phrase similar in meaning, has already been used. Noun: redundancy. Occasionally you may need to repeat a word or its synonym for emphasis or some other reason, but otherwise redundancy is best avoided. Redundancy is not the same as reiteration.
reference
noun COUNTABLE COHESION A pointer to an item located at another (usually previous) point in a text. Reference can be backward pointing (anaphoric reference), forward pointing (cataphoric reference), or pointing to something outside of the text (exophoric). See more about reference on the referencing page.
reference
noun CITATION A pointer to the source of information, normally formatted in a specific way in order that the reader may locate the source easily. See how to cite on the citation page.
reference chain
noun phrase COUNTABLE COHESION Chains of reference are sequences of noun phrases (including pronouns) which refer to the same thing. These chains occur often in academic and news texts. They help understanding of a text by avoiding unnecessary repetition of a referent and by helping to create coherence in the text. Chains of reference are created using repeated nouns or synonyms, words found in the same lexical set, superordinate terms, general (shell) nouns, pronouns, and even ellipsis. See the lexical chains page.
referencing software
noun phrase Software to help you keep track of your references during research, to format citations and to create a properly formatted bibliography. See examples of referencing software on the research page.
referencing style
noun phrase Formatting rules for references, citations, and bibliographies according to particular styles such as APA, Chigaco, MLA or Harvard. This site uses APA. Always check which style your institution uses. People get very upset if you use the wrong style.
reflexive pronoun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Pronouns which refer, or give emphasis, to the referent of a preceding noun phrase. They are: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves. Reference: "The brain reorganises and recharges itself during sleep" (Sahakian et al. 2022). Emphasis: "The brain itself is made up of both grey and white tissue" (Hodgetts 2017).
refutation
noun COUNTABLE A form of counter-argument. A refutation needs to provide evidence and reasoning to disprove an argument (proposition). A counter-argument which does not provide evidence and reasoning does not disprove an argument and is merely a rebuttal, not a refutation. VERB: refute.
register
noun COUNTABLE LEXIS The type of language (vocabulary, grammar, style) you are expected to use in a particular situation with particular people for a particular purpose. There are constraints over the particular words, grammar, and mode of address you may use with a particular audience in a particular situation. You don't use the same type of language when addressing a respected person or someone in authority as you do with your friends (however respected they may be). This applies both to speech and writing.
reiteration
noun COUNTABLE COHESION A form of lexical cohesion involving the repetition of word or phrase, or the use of a synonym or shell noun to refer back to something earlier in the text. See the lexical chains page.
relative adverb
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An adverb which acts as a relativizer. They occur in relative clauses which provide information about place, time, and reason. These adverbs are where, when and why.
  1. Where
    • "These must then be moved to the part of the plant where they are needed." (Ashton 2022)
    • "Crocodiles also lived in places where losing green plants didn’t make a big difference." (Lee 2021)
    • "The current practice where the minister grants concessions is discriminatory." (Bansah 2022) ('where' is often used in academic texts to refer to a particular situation or concept rather than a physical place)
  2. When
    • "Any scientist will recognise the “aha!” moment when this particle is created." (Fedrizzi and Malik 2022)
    • "The fossilised pollen, leaves and minerals that date back to the time when the sediment was deposited can reveal how the landscape’s elevation changed over time." (Duffy and McLaren 2021)
  3. Why
    • "There’s a reason why pizza is so popular." (Miller 2019)
    • "It’s also the reason why you probably prefer using a particular foot when kicking a ball." (Barton and Todorovic 2021)
See also the examples on the Relative Clauses page.
relative clause
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A clause which provides information about a preceding noun and which cannot exist on its own. See examples on the Relative Clauses page.
relative pronoun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Pronouns which substitute for nouns in relative clauses and act as the head of the relative clause. They are: who, which, that, whom, whose. Also known as a relativizers, they point back to the noun they modify. See examples on the Relative Clauses page.
relativizer
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A relative pronoun or relative adverb connecting a noun or noun phrase to a relative clause.
reliability
noun UNCOUNTABLE ASSESSMENT The extent to which a test gives consistent results when taken in different circumstances and is assessed by different raters. Reliability may be affected by the subject matter of the test (for a writing test), the training and experience of the raters and many other factors.
report
noun COUNTABLE A written account of a study, piece of research, survey or experiment, including the methodology used, results obtained, and conclusions reached.
reprint
noun COUNTABLE A publication which has been printed again, perhaps with corrections but with no revisions. Compare with edition, which may have updates and revisions.
research
noun COUNTABLE The process of finding information by conducting experiments, surveys, literature reviews or any other systematic means. See more about researching on the research page.
Common collocates for this word:

research

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social    
medical    
scientific    
substantive    
historical    
basic    
current    
educational    
empirical    
clinical    



research paper
noun phrase A lengthy report giving details of research conducted.
rhetoric
noun UNCOUNTABLE Speech or writing intended to persuade.
Common collocates for this word:

rhetoric

shading image

political    
classical    
mere    
empty    
campaign    
revolutionary    
public    
official    
populist    
traditional    



rhetorical question
noun phrase COUNTABLE A question which does not require an answer (the answer being obvious, and the question being asked merely to make a particular point, or to introduce an explanation or argument) See Rhetorical Questions.
root
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR The minimal form of any word to which affixes or other words may be added to modify the meaning - also known as the base form. Examples: semi (prefix) + final (root) = semifinal; bath (root) + room (root) = bathroom.
rubric
noun COUNTABLE A tool used for assessment, setting expectation standards for a task, or for providing focused feedback to students on completion of a task. See more about rubrics.
run-on sentence
noun phrase COUNTABLE A sentence where uncoordinated independent clauses are not properly separated by a semicolon. Original sentence: "After all, planetary orbits aren’t all the same; they’re randomly oriented" (Margot 2021). Run-on sentence: After all, planetary orbits aren’t all the same they’re randomly oriented." If we use a comma instead of a semicolon we have a 'comma fault' also known as a 'comma splice': "After all, planetary orbits aren’t all the same, they’re randomly oriented." See The Semicolon.
scan
verb To read though a text quickly looking for specific information. Compare with skim.
search engine
noun phrase COUNTABLE Software used for locating specific information on the World Wide Web. See how to search in the research page.
search string
noun phrase The combination of search words and operators used in a search engine to help you find the resources you need. You can save a lot of time by learning how to use the right parameters in a search engine. See more in formation on the research page.
search term
noun phrase COUNTABLE The words (and possibly boolean symbols) used to conduct a search using a search engine. See how to search on the research page.
secondary source
noun phrase COUNTABLE A source of information which makes use of, refers to, or comments on other sources (primary or secondary). See information on primary and secondary sources on the research page.
semantics
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE SEMANTICS Semantics in linguistics is the study of meaning. This can refer to the meanings of single words, phrases, sentences or entire paragraphs. Lexical semantics is concerned with word meaning and this is the most common usage of the term.
semicolon
noun COUNTABLE PUNCTUATION A punctuation mark (;) mainly used to separate independent clauses. See the Semicolon Page
semi-determiner
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A small class of words which act like determiners but whose main function is referential; specifically, anaphoric reference of a noun. This group consists of: same, other, former, latter, last, next, certain, and such.
  • "Whether the Haikouichthys was the first fish or not remains controversial. There are very few other fishlike fossils from the same time period." (Skromne 2022) (the same time period refers back to the time period of the Haikouichthys mentioned in the previous sentence, and elsewhere in the text.)
  • "Whether the Haikouichthys was the first fish or not remains controversial. There are very few other fishlike fossils from the same time period. " (Skromne 2022) (other has the opposite meaning to same. In this case it refers to fossils which are NOT Haikouichthys.)
  • "Reporting is not espionage – but history shows that journalists doing the former get accused of the latter " (Kovarik 2023) (former refers to 'reporting')
  • "Reporting is not espionage – but history shows that journalists doing the former get accused of the latter " (Kovarik 2023) (latter refers to 'espionage')
  • "The last theory requires us to think about a type of science called quantum mechanics." (Smart 2022) (The last theory is the last in a list of theories outlined in the text. Previous theories were introduced by 'One popular theory ..' and 'Another theory ..' so this is the last of three theories.)
  • "The school subject we call grammar is the next step." (Britt-Smith 2021) (the next step refers to one in a series of steps - in this case steps on the road to learning grammar - 'next' and 'last' are pointers to places in a series)
  • "A battery is a device that can make electricity, with the reaction of certain chemicals." (Clarke 2019) ('certain' means particular but not precisely specified. certain is used with indefinite noun phrases.)
  • "Without such controls, it is hard for researchers to draw accurate conclusions." (Nyman 2020) )such is a pointer to something particular normally recoverable from the previous text. In this case it was randomised control groups. such is used with indefinite noun phrases.)
semi-modal
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR idiomatic phrases which have similar functions to modals. They have various meanings and, unlike modals, may be marked for tense. They are 'be going to', 'be supposed to', 'had better', 'have got to', 'have to', 'need to'.
  • "As babies get older, they learn from these patterns to predict what’s going to happen next" (Nikolova 2019).
  • "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off" (Caine 1969).
  • "That is to say, if we want the machine to be intelligent then it had better be capable of making mistakes" (Fedrizzi and Malik 2022).
  • "This is why people without eyelashes have to blink much more often" (Moro and Stromberga 2020).
  • "First, we need to go back 180 million years" (Gentle 2020).
sense relation
noun phrase COUNTABLE The relationship between words due to various categories of meaning, rather than grammar. These include synonymy, antonymy, hyponymy, polysemy, meronymy, converse, and gradable.
sentence
noun COUNTABLE A sentence is a group of words (containing clauses and phrases) beginning with a capital letter and ending in a full stop (period).
sentence fragment
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Non-clausal material consisting either of a single word or a group of words which does not form a clause. Sometimes found as an error in essays by inexperienced writers but sometimes used deliberately for effect. Not much used in academic writing but sometimes found in answers to semi-rhetorical questions (one where the answers is immediately supplied - also known as hypophora): Is accurate referencing important? Obviously.
sentence types
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR There are four main types of sentences in English: declaratives, interrogatives, imperatives, and exclamatives.
sequence
noun COUNTABLE A series of items one after another, usually ordered in a particular way (alphabetically, numerically, chronologically, etc.). "[respiration] involves a remarkable sequence of processes that beautifully convey the wonder of these biological nanomachines.” (McFadden and Al-Khalili 2016) See how sequence (enumeration) is used in a text on the enumeration page.
Common collocates for this word:

sequence

shading image


logical    
chronological    
short    
random    
infinite    
correct    
particular    
long    
causal    
alphabetical    



sequence of

shading image

    events
    steps
    operations
    actions
    numbers
    images
    activities
    instructions
    words
    elements



shell noun
noun phrase COUNTABLE Shell nouns are a special class of abstract nouns whose meaning is found in the surrounding text rather than within the word itself. See more about shell nouns on the Abstract Noun page.
short passive
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A passive construction which does not include an agent (normally a by-phrase). See the passives page and the passive examples page.
signal phrase
noun phrase COUNTABLE A phrase used to introduce a quotation or a paraphrase. See more about signal phrases on the citation page.
simile
noun COUNTABLE FIGURE OF SPEECH An expression used as a comparison using the words like or as. "Cheese and tomato sauce are like a perfect marriage" (Miller 2019). Compare with metaphor.
skim
verb To read quickly in order to get a general sense of the main ideas of a text. Compare with scan.
source
noun COUNTABLE Where something came from or originated. Even stable molecules can, however, be ripped apart if they are provided with sufficient energy. One possible source of that energy is more heat, which speeds up molecular motion. (McFadden and Al-Khalili 2016 p71)
I wish to express my thanks also to all those authors and publishers whose works have been quoted. The sources of these quotations have been separately acknowledged in the Notes and Bibliography. (Hoggart, 2009). See also primary source and secondary source.
Common collocates for this word:

source

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main    
major    
important    
useful    
valuable    
possible    
reliable    
potential    
primary    
authoritative    



source evaluation
noun phrase Sources of information need to be reliable and they need to suit your needs so you must evaluate them carefully before you use them. There are a few factors you need to consider when evaluating a source. Read about them on the research page.
spacing
noun COUNTABLE The number of lines left between lines of text and the space which separates graphics from text. The normal requirement for most academic writing is double spacing (an extra empty line between each line of text), but you should consult your college or organisation for their formatting requirements.
species noun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A noun which refers to category or type. Species nouns are followed by an of-phrase and they are common in academic writing because of their classifying function. Common examples are: class, kind, make, sort, species, type. They combine with both countable and uncountable nouns.
  • "This sort of movement is what triggers earthquakes and volcanic eruptions." (Huang 2023)
  • "And we need water to do all sorts of really important things." (Dorssen, Ball, and Rigby 2021)
  • "Others are dangerous because they have deadly venom, like some kinds of snakes."(Gentle 2020)
  • "Only humans and some of our ancestors evolved this kind of symbolic communication." (Bogin 2022)
  • "Your brain recognizes many scents when different types of odors enter your nose." (Lemons, Kenney, and Lin 2020)
  • "Sad is a type of depression that often occurs in the autumn and winter." (Buscha 2023)
  • "There are about 300 species of octopus, and they’re found in every ocean in the world, even in the frigid waters around Antarctica." (Spencer and Papastamatiou 2022) ('Species' is normally used with plants and animals but it can also be used with non-living things.)
stance
noun UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR Stance means the writer's opinion, approach, or position on a topic, including feelings, critiques or assessments. Stance may be expressed grammatically or lexically. Grammatically, stance is often expressed through adverbials or complement clauses. Lexically, it can be expressed through verbs (agree, disagree, doubt, disapprove, love …) or through adjectives (expressing approval, disapproval, admiration, disdain, scepticism, etc.). Stance is one aspect of hedging.
state
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To clearly write what is requested in the task description. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
stative adjective
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Adjectives may be dynamic or stative. Most adjectives are stative (they describe a characteristic which is not expected to change, such as a colour). Dynamic adjectives generally describe characteristics of people (e.g. patient, careful, kind, etc.). The main syntactic difference between static and dynamic adjectives is that static verbs cannot normally be used with with the progressive aspect or the imperative, whereas dynamic adjectives can.
stative verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE A verb which denotes something which does not change over time. In academic texts stative verbs in the present tense are used to indicate things which are normally true. Here are some examples: "Pizza is one of the world’s most popular foods" (Miller 2019). "So, our personal memories contain different types of information" (Hodgetts 2017). "Today, we know the size and distance to the moon accurately by a variety of means..." (Dorrian and Whittaker 2020). "But our study provides evidence that chimpanzees possess similar working memory abilities to humans" (Völter 2019). The verbs is, contain, know, provides are all stative. See also dynamic verbs.
stem
noun COUNTABLE MORPHOLOGY The part of a word to which an affix or another word may be added. The word usual is the stem of the word unusual, and unusual is the stem of unusually. The words bath and room are both stems of the compound noun bathroom.
style
noun COUNTABLE A mode of presentation either in terms of formatting or in terms of how language is used to communicate your ideas.
style guide
noun phrase COUNTABLE A guide for writers outlining required or suggested conventions to be followed (in terms of formatting, language use, referencing, etc.) when writing for a particular journal or institution.
style manual
noun phrase COUNTABLE A set of rules governing the style of academic writing including grammar, referencing, citations, bias-free language. Examples of style manuals are APA, Chicago, MLA or Harvard.
subject
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A noun phrase (a person or a thing) or a nominal clause normally placed before a verb phrase and which acts as the performer of the verb. Subjects can be:
  1. Nouns or noun phrases:
    • Bats sleep upside down. (McMakin 2021)
    • All animals need to sleep.(McMakin 2021)
  2. Nominal clauses:
    • Why this happens is a bit of a mystery. (Langen 2020)
    • What octopuses eat depends on what species they are and where they live. (Spencer and Papastamatiou 2022)
  3. Ing-clauses:
    • Protecting existing forests makes sense. (Holl 2021)
    • Being an Australian native mammal is perilous. (Ritchie 2022)
  4. To-clauses:
    • To make something go twice as fast takes four times the energy. (Impey 2021)
  5. Pronouns:
    • It is there to protect you.
    • This is not an accident.
    These pronouns refer to something which can only be recovered from the context - normally something previously mentioned in the text. Similarly, definite noun phrase referents can only be found elsewhere in the text:
    • This process is called nuclear fission. (Wu 2021)
A subject may also be a dummy, or empty subject:
  • It's cold today.
Note that in all the above cases the subject precedes the verb phrase. This is true for all sentences except interrogative clauses. In these cases the subject is placed after the operator:
  • Is chocolate delicious?
  • Where do they live?
The only exception to this rule is if the subject is a wh-word:
  • Who is paying for this?
Subjects may also be classified by their semantic roles: see agent, instrument, external causer, recipient, eventive, local, and temporal, See also object.
subject
noun COUNTABLE An area of study in a school, college or university.
subject complement
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A subject complement is also known as a subject predicative. The complement (or predicative) has the same referent as the subject and is connected to it by a copular verb. See also the subject - verb - subject predicative page.
subject predicative
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A subject predicative complements a subject. It may be a noun phrase, an adjective phrase, or an ing-clause. A subject predicative has the same reference as the subject (the subject and the subject predicative refer to the same thing), or it provides information about the subject. Subject predicatives only follow copular verbs. They are sometimes referred to as subject complements.
Example 1 - Noun phrase
In the sentence "Pizza is one of the world’s most popular foods.", "Pizza" is the subject, "is" is the copula, and "one of the world’s most popular foods" is the subject predicative. "Pizza" and "one of the world’s most popular foods" have the same referent. They refer to the same thing.

Example 2 - Adjective phrase
In the sentence "These wings then gradually became more powerful and covered in feathers and were eventually used to fly." (Wills 2020), "These wings" is the subject, "became" is the copula, and "more powerful and covered in feathers" is the subject predicative. "more powerful and covered in feathers" is an adjective phrase describing what eventually happened to the subject "These wings".

Example 3 - Ing-clause
In the sentence "The problem is getting a truly optimal source for data." , "The problem" is the subject, "is" is the copula, and "getting a truly optimal source for data" is the subject predicative. "getting a truly optimal source for data" is an ing-clause phrase identifying "The problem".
See also object predicative.
subject-verb agreement (concord)
noun phrase GRAMMAR Subject-verb agreement (or concord) refers to the fact that, apart from the verb to be, lexical verbs only change their form in the present tense when the subject is in the third person singular (he, she, it, or a third person noun phrase).

subject – verb (SV) pattern
noun phrase COUNTABLE CLAUSE PATTERN An SV (subject – verb phrase) clause contains a subject and an intransitive verb (also know as a one-place verb). There are not many purely intransitive verbs and even those which are intransitive may take an optional adverbial.

Examples (subject verb):
  • "As temperatures rise and sea ice disappears, emperors will face new challenges" (Younger 2019). (SV, no adverbial. Note that "emperors" refers to emperor penguins)
  • "In Australia, giant kangaroos and wombats disappeared 46,000 years ago" (Longrich 2020). (SV, plus adverbial - "46,000 years ago".)
  • "Until 1916 there had been many theories to try and explain what gravity was and why it exists" (Webb 2023). (SV, no adverbial.)
  • "Words exist because of meaning." (Davis 2023). (SV, plus adverbial - "because of meaning".)
Although the above examples show the structure with and without adverbials, most intransitive verbs are used with adverbials of one kind or another.
Common verbs used in this pattern are: appear, arrive, begin, continue, die, disappear, emerge, exist, fall, float, go, happen, laugh, listen, live, occur, rise, sit, sleep, smile, start, stop, think, vanish, wait.
See more examples on the subject – verb pattern page.

subject – verb – adverbial (SVA) pattern
noun phrase COUNTABLE CLAUSE PATTERN An SVA (subject – verb phrase – adverbial) clause contains a subject, an intransitive verb, and an obligatory adverbial. The adverbial is obligatory because without it either the sentence does not make sense, or the sentence has another (possibly implausible) meaning.
  • "This means that one day on Earth lasts 24 hours" (Loon 2022). (Without the adverbial "24 hours", the sentence makes no sense.)
  • "When people sleep we close our eyes and lie motionless for a long time" (Brown 2019). (Without the adverbial "motionless for a long time", the sentence has a different, improbable, meaning.)
  • "We’re all different right? Some people look different. And some people think differently" (Simner 2021). (SVA x2: without the adverbials the sentences have a different meaning.)
See more examples on the subject – verb – adverbial pattern page.

subject – verb – complement clause(SV + CC) pattern
noun phrase COUNTABLE CLAUSE PATTERN An SV + CC (subject – verb – complement clause) clause contains a subject, a monotransitive verb, and a complement clause. The complement clause can be a that clause, a wh-clause, an infinitive clause, or an ing-clause. Sometimes the complement may be interpreted as the object in an (SVOd) pattern.
  1. SV + that-clause complement
    • "Scientists now know that it takes thousands of species to support human life" (Langen 2022).
    • "Scientists think that genes may play a role, but no one knows exactly how at this point" (Fabiano 2021).
    • "You have probably eaten some food that went bad, and you might find that you hate that food now" (Lemons, Kenney, and Lin 2020)
    • "Herodotus claimed that Africa was surrounded almost entirely by sea" (Dorrian and Whittaker 2020).
    • "Stephen Hawking famously warned that AI will eventually take over and replace mankind" (Fedrizzi and Malik 2022).
    • "Previous studies showed that chimpanzees have excellent short-term and long-term memory abilities" (Völter 2019).
    • "But Einstein suggested that gravity was the bending of something called space-time" (Webb 2023).

  2. SV + wh-clause complement
    • "This explains why we can look similar to our parents" (Atkin-Smith and Poon 2020).
    • "But it takes a lot of energy for your brain to see what’s going on around you, based on the messages it gets from your eyes." (Nikolova 2019).
    • "To understand why this happens, let’s see what we can learn from other bodies in space" (Laycock 2023).
    • "You might wonder what a normal amount of sleep is or if you are getting enough sleep" (Krigolson 2023).
    • "Most parents can begin to tell which hand their kid prefers by around two years of age" (Barton and Todorovic 2021).
    • "To be able to start answering the question, we need to understand what mosquitoes are" (Oliver 2022).

  3. SV + to-clause complement
    • "Any business can claim to be a news organization" (Watson 2023).
    • "But parents and caregivers should offer to talk with them to get a sense of what they know about the situation" (Scharrer and Martins 2022).
    • "This year conditions promise to be perfect, making it the ideal opportunity for some autumnal meteor observation" (Horner and Hill 2022).
    • "We often think about what young people can expect to gain from university, or what universities contribute to society" (Evans 2017).
    • "Young children often forget to carry out their intentions and this is not due to bad behaviour." (Mahy 2019).
    • "Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Put a jug of tap water in the fridge and remember to top it up" (Lopes, Power, and Crabtree 2020).

  4. SV + ing-clause complement
    • "It takes years for apple tree saplings planted today to begin bearing saleable fruit" (Bohra and Varshney 2023).
    • "Since we don’t have the answers yet, we keep exploring and testing different theories " (Kuhn 2020).
    • "It took Europeans another 800 years to finally start making paper" (Law 2021).
    • "The only way to avoid making things worse is to stop setting carbon on fire"(Denning 2022).
    • "Do you remember going to the doctor and getting a needle in your arm?" (Koirala 2019).
    • "The authors argue that such projectile points were used for hunting large animals" (Marti-Cardona and Torres-Batlló 2021).
See also the subject – verb – object – complement clause (SVO + CC) pattern.
See more examples on the subject – verb – complement clause pattern page.


subject – verb – direct object (SVOd) pattern
noun phrase COUNTABLE CLAUSE PATTERN An SVOd (subject – verb phrase – direct object) clause contains a subject, an monotransitive verb, and a direct object. The direct object often describes the thing which is affected by the verb.

subject verb direct object
  • "Plants need food to survive" (Ashton 2022).
  • "Our eyes don’t turn off in the dark, but instead they create very weak internal signals that mimic light" (Schmid 2021).
See more examples on the subject – verb – direct object pattern page.

subject – verb – direct object – adverbial (SVOdA)
noun phrase COUNTABLE CLAUSE PATTERN An SVO dA (subject – verb – direct object – obligatory adverbial) clause contains a subject, a transitive verb, a direct object and an obligatory adverbial.

Usually the adverbial in these sentences is concerned with location and it cannot be removed (hence the obligatory) or moved elsewhere in the sentence - otherwise the sentence would be incomplete or not make sense.

subject verb direct object adverbial
  • "These receptor cells then send a signal to your brain" (Lemons, Kenney, and Lin 2020).
  • "Nasa is also planning new missions to take astronauts to the Moon" (Whittaker 2021).
  • "This is why we place telescopes on the tops of mountains; there’s less atmosphere above us!" (Rogerson 2021).
See more examples on the subject – verb – direct object – adverbial pattern page.


subject – verb – direct object – object predicative (SVOdPo)
noun phrase COUNTABLE CLAUSE PATTERN A subject – verb phrase – direct object – object predicative (SVO dPo) clause contains a subject, a complex transitive verb, a direct object, and an object predicative.

The object predicative may be a noun phrase, an adjective phrase, or (rarely) a wh-clause.

subject verb direct object object predicative
  • "If a gas is not too hot, we can also call it vapour" (Bosi 2021).
  • "Physicists find this theory interesting, as it could explain why we haven’t found certain things that, scientifically, we would expect to see in our universe" (Smart 2022)
  • "It can also help to keep your study space tidy and remove any items that could distract you, like your mobile phone" (Munro 2020).
See more examples on the subject – verb – direct object object predicative pattern page.


subject – verb – direct object – prepositional object (SVOd Op)
noun phrase COUNTABLE CLAUSE PATTERN An SVOd Po (subject – verb phrase – direct object – prepositional object) clause contains a subject, a ditransitive prepositional verb, a direct object and a prepositional object.

subject prepositional verb direct object prepositional object
  • "Scientists can drive these instruments to locations near the tornado, but stop at a safe distance" (Houser 2022).
  • "You can find octopuses at different depths too" (Spencer and Papastamatiou 2022).
See more examples on the subject – verb – direct object – prepositional object pattern page.


subject – verb – indirect object – direct object (SVOi Od) pattern
noun phrase COUNTABLE CLAUSE PATTERN An SVOi Od (subject – verb phrase – indirect object – direct object) clause contains a subject, a ditransitive verb, an indirect object and a direct object. The direct object is usually a noun but may be a pronoun or a nominal such as a wh-clause or a that-clause.

subject ditransitive verb indirect object direct object
  • "A genetic mutation in Bengal tigers gives them their milky white fur" (Cushing 2020).
  • "So it is possible that the lack of technology made The Beatles better songwriters" (Noreen 2015).
  • "To be a good friend for our animals, we should give them the freedom to choose their own activities, and that will show us what they like" (Starling 2021).
    (Two examples in this sentence. In the second one the direct object is a wh-clause.)
See more examples on the subject – verb – indirect object – direct object pattern page.


subject – verb – object – complement clause (SVO + CC) pattern
noun phrase COUNTABLE CLAUSE PATTERN An SVO + CC (subject – verb – noun phrase – complement clause) clause contains a subject, a monotransitive verb, a noun phrase and a complement clause. The complement clause can be a that clause, a wh-clause, an infinitive clause, or an ing-clause.
  1. SVO + that-clause complement
    • "Animals show us that there are many places to make a home" (Wishart 2020). (SVOd + CC)
    • " In some states you are asked to notify the public health unit that you’ve tested positive" (Yates 2022). (SVOd + CC)

  2. SVO + wh-clause complement
    • "The mix of colors in beach sand tells you what kinds of rocks produced it" (Montgomery 2019). (SVOi + CC)
    • "To be a good friend for our animals, we should give them the freedom to choose their own activities, and that will show us what they like" (Starling 2021). (SVOi + CC)

  3. SVO + to-clause complement
    • "For instance, one study asked participants to do either one task or two tasks at the same time" (Vasilev 2019). (SVOd + CC)
    • "Urge your university to divest from fossil fuels, use renewable energy and commit to achieving net zero emissions – soon" (Mocatta and White 2020). (SVOd + CC)

  4. SVO + ing-clause complement
    • "We can see life evolving all around us" (Graves 2019).
    • "The next time you see an ant crawling up a wall, look closely and you might witness some of these fascinating features at work" (Cassill 2022). (SVOd + CC)
See also the subject – verb – complement clause (SV + CC) pattern.
See more examples on the subject – verb – noun – phrase complement clause pattern page.


subject – verb – prepositional object (SVOp) pattern
noun phrase COUNTABLE CLAUSE PATTERN An SVOp (subject – verb phrase – prepositional object) clause contains a subject, a prepositional verb, and a prepositional object. With a prepositional verb, the preposition belongs more to the verb than the noun; the verb and the preposition form one lexical entity, and a change in the preposition would change the whole meaning of the verb + preposition or render it meaningless.
  1. subject prepositional verb prepositional object
    • "If we come across a new virus … our immune cells can’t recognise it straight away" (Quinn and Mehta 2020).
      Many prepositional verbs can be replaced be a single lexical verb, as in this case: "come across" = "discover"
    • "One big scientific study looked at 168 different groups of people, from small communities that gather and hunt their own food, to bigger and busier cities" (Cushing 2020).

  2. subject prepositional verb noun phrase prepositional object
  3. (the verb and its preposition are separated by a noun phrase)
    • "During the 2011 to 2012 financial year, London’s universities contributed a total of £5.8 billion to the city and supported 145,921 jobs (directly and indirectly) across all skill levels." (Addie 2017).
    • "The US plastic recycling industry has asked congress for a US$1 billion (£800 million) bailout [ … ] (Stringfellow, Williams, and Roberts 2020).
See more examples on the subject – verb – prepositional object pattern page.


subject – verb – subject predicative (SVPs) pattern
noun phrase COUNTABLE CLAUSE PATTERN An SVPs (subject – verb phrase – subject predicative) clause contains a subject, a copular verb, and a subject predicative. The subject predicative may describe the subject, describe a change in the subject, or identify or define the subject.

subject verb subject predicative
  1. Description of Subject
    • "The mimic octopus is particularly clever." (Spencer and Papastamatiou 2022). (subject predicative is an adjective phrase)
    • "The atmosphere was mostly nitrogen, carbon dioxide and no oxygen" (Jordan 2019). (subject predicative is a noun phrase)

  2. Description of Change in Subject
    • "These wings then gradually became more powerful and covered in feathers and were eventually used to fly" (Wills 2020). (subject predicative is an adjective phrase)
    • "But as people used more and more paper, rags grew scarce" (Law 2021). (subject predicative is an adjective phrase)

  3. Definition and Identification
    • "Gelotophobia is an intense fear of being laughed at" (Barker 2017). (Definition: subject predicative is a noun phrase)
    • "In the late 1700s, Englishman William Addis was the first to sell toothbrushes on a large scale." (Cotter 2019). (Identification: subject predicative is a noun phrase)

See more examples on the subject – verb – subject predicative pattern page.

subjective
adjective Based on personal opinions or points of view rather than established facts. Compare with objective.
subordinate
adjective Being at a lower level, in a lower class, or of a lower status. Antonym: superordinate.
subordinator
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word which connects words, phrases and clauses. A subordinator links words, phrases and clauses which have a different syntactic status. Also known as subordinating conjunctions. Subordinators introduce dependent clauses. Examples: SUBORDINATORS: after, since, although, if, as, than, that, whether,....
substitution
noun COHESIVE DEVICES The replacement of one item with another. There are three types: nominal substitution, verbal substitution, and clausal substitution. See more about substitution on the substitution page.
subtext
noun Meanings or ideas which are not explicitly written in a text but which can be inferred from the choice a the writer's words. Academic text should be clear, formal, objective, and unbiased. Subtext has its place in advertising, opinion pieces, film and creative writing, but not in serious academic writing.
suffix
noun COUNTABLE MORPHOLOGY A group of letters placed at the end of a word which changes the meaning or grammatical form of that word. Derivational suffixes are used to form new adjectives, nouns, and a few verbs. Inflectional suffixes are used to signal relationships which have a more grammatical meaning rather than a semantic one. See a list of suffixes on the suffixes page. See also prefix.
summarise
verb To write a reduced version of a text containing only the most essential points.
summarise
verb INSTRUCTION WORD To give an account of the main points about whatever is mentioned a the task description. Used as an instruction word in a writing task description. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions.
summary
noun COUNTABLE A reduced version of a text containing only the most essential points.
Common collocates for this word:

summary

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brief    
short    
concise    
detailed    
excellent    
quick    
accurate    
final    
simple    
general    



See also the Summaries page.
summative assessment
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE ASSESSMENT A final assessment of some kind (final examination, coursework submission etc) at the completion of a course or study to assess student and course outcomes and for external accountability. Compare with formative assessment and summative evaluation. Summative evaluation (more concerned with the effectiveness of the course itself) and summative assessment (more concerned with student outcomes) are sometimes used interchangeably.
summative evaluation
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT Feedback provided once a course is finished in order to improve it for future use. Compare with formative evaluation.
superlative
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR The form of a word (adjective or adverb) used to the greatest or the least of some factor (quantity, quality, intensity..). Also known as the superlative degree. The superlative is formed with the suffix -est or with the word most. Most common gradable adjectives use -est; hot → hottest. Longer adjectives usually use most; beautiful → most beautiful. See also comparative and the comparative and superlative page..
superordinate
adjective Being at a higher or more general level than something else. In vocabulary, a superordinate term is one which represents a group whose members are subordinate terms. The word "animal" is a superordinate term for many different subordinate members: lions, elephants, tardigrades, etc.
survey
noun COUNTABLE A systematic method of gathering and evaluating information, often by means of a questionnaire.
Common collocates for this word:

survey

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national    
recent    
online    
economic    
annual    
population    
customer    
general    
brief    
comprehensive    



syllogism
noun COUNTABLE LOGICAL REASONING A form of deductive reasoning where two premises lead to a more specific conclusion. All trees are plants. This is an oak tree. Therefore an oak tree is a plant.
synecdoche
noun UNCOUNTABLE RHETORICAL DEVICE The reference to something by the mention of a part rather than the whole. "The title of the television series “Suits,” in which formal clothes represent scheming lawyers, nicely illustrates the idea. When people say “wheels” for cars, “boots on the ground” for occupying soldiers or “Ol’ Blue Eyes” for Frank Sinatra, they’re using synecdoche" (Murphy 2019). See also metaphor and metonymy.
synonym
noun COUNTABLE SENSE RELATION A word which has the same meaning and use as another. True synonyms are rare because words with similar meanings are usually used in slightly different contexts and may have different collocations. See also antonym.
synopsis
noun COUNTABLE plural: synopses A brief summary of a book, film, article, episode or plot.
syntagmatic relationship
noun phrase LEXIS/GRAMMAR The syntactic relationship and collocational constraints a word has with others in a sentence. Words combine in restricted ways. For example, syntactically, nouns may be modified with an adjective or another noun, and different types of verbs occur in particular structures. Words are also constrained by the type of words with which they may collocate. We talk of strong, weak, hot... tea, but not musical tea, even though it would be grammatically acceptable. All of these are syntagmatic relationships. See also paradigmatic relationships.
syntax
noun UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR The rules which govern how words combine to form sentences.
synthesis
noun COUNTABLE The combination of separate entities to form a new coherent unit.
taboo words
noun phrase COUNTABLE Words whose use, because of social constraints based on profanity or religion, is considered unacceptable. Whether a word or phrase is considered taboo is culture based so you should bear this in mind this when you consider your audience. Taboo words or phrases are some avoided using euphemisms. Unless you are specifically writing about taboo words, consider not using them at all.
task analysis
noun phrase COUNTABLE A careful examination of the exact requirements of a writing task. Understanding task instructions is key to gaining a good grade for any task you submit especially in an examination when you have limited time for writing. A task description often uses task words (to tell you what to do), content words (to tell you what to write about) and limiting words (to tell you what not to include). There may be other instructions such as considerations about audience and length. For more information and examples see the task analysis page.
task word
noun phrase COUNTABLE TASK DESCRIPTION A verb used in the description of a writing task to define what you need to do in that task. Example verbs are analyse, discuss, evaluate, identify, outline, summarise. Also known as command verbs or instruction words. See the task analysis page for more information about understanding task instructions and the task verbs page for a dictionary of task verbs.
tautology
noun COUNTABLE FIGURE OF SPEECH Using different words to say the same thing twice.
temporal subject
noun UNCOUNTABLE SEMANTICS A temporal subject is a subject related to time. For example, "January and February were added and the new calendar year lasted 355 days." (Parish 2022). "January and February" is the subject and it clearly identifies a time.
tense
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A grammatical category concerning verbs which deals with the time an event takes place (past, present, or future). See also aspect. Note that there is actually no future tense in English. Future tense can be expressed in a number of ways such as with the modal auxiliary "will" or the semi-modal "going to", but there is no future tense inflection in English.
term
noun COUNTABLE A word or phrase used to describe something in a particular specialist area.
Common collocates for this word:

term

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search    
technical    
generic    
legal    
descriptive    
medical    
specific    
correct    
modern    
pejorative    



text
noun COUNTABLE Words written or spoken for a particular audience and a particular purpose. Anything containing words in which meaning can be found can be a text. A text can be any length, from a one word warning sign to a lengthy book.
Common collocates for this word:

text

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literary    
original    
main    
final    
written    
plain    
introductory    
authoritative    
descriptive    
    



text pattern
noun phrase COUNTABLE A text pattern is a particular organisation of clauses and sentences usually in the form of a paragraph or series of paragraphs which has a particular rhetorical purpose. That purpose may be to narrate, compare, express an opinion, classify, describe possible solutions to a problem, and so on. They are also known as writing patterns or patterns of organisation. Recognising text patterns helps with reading comprehension, and understanding their structure helps you to organise your thoughts and express your ideas more clearly. You can read more on the text patterns page.
that-clause
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A finite dependent clause consisting of the word "that" and a finite clause. It is used as a complement of adjective phrases, verb phrases, and noun phrases. Example: "But it is clear that something associated with education is having very different effects in the two countries" (Teal 2016). This is an adjective, "clear", with a post-predicate that-clause.
theme
noun COUNTABLE The main idea of a text.
theme
noun COUNTABLE The main focus of meaning in a sentence. Often what occurs initially in the sentence is the theme and it often coincides with the subject of the sentence. In this case the theme in an active declarative is said to be unmarked. Sentences (or clauses) can be rearranged so that the theme becomes marked. This marking draws attention to the theme because it is an unusual construction.
theorise
noun To construct a coherent set of ideas, principles rules or conventions concerning a particular area of study which help in understanding and explaining it
theory
noun A coherent set of ideas, principles rules or conventions concerning a particular area of study which help in understanding and explaining it.
Common collocates for this word:

theory

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general    
political    
economic    
classical    
evolutionary    
literary    
quantum    
game    
traditional    
    



thesaurus
noun A book which supplies lists of synonyms, antonyms and words with similar or related meaning. The most famous thesaurus, by Peter Mark Roget, was first published in 1852. It remains a useful reference source. You can view or download the original text of Roget's Thesaurus here.
thesis
noun COUNTABLE The topic of an essay or report, often including the writer’s opinion on the topic.
thesis
noun COUNTABLE An extended piece of writing on a researched topic intended for discussion or presented for examination.
thesis
noun COUNTABLE An idea or proposal put forward for discussion and defence.
thesis statement
noun phrase COUNTABLE A statement, of one or two sentences, giving information about the topic and perhaps the author's stance in the introduction to an essay or report. Read more about thesis statements.
title
noun COUNTABLE The name (often descriptive) of a piece of writing.
to-clause
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A post-modifying to-infinitive clause providing extra information about a preceding noun phrase, or a noun complement to-clause. To-clauses are also complements of verbs and adjectives. See examples of post-modifying to-clauses on the to-clause page.
tone
noun UNCOUNTABLE The stance or emotional charge of the speaker or writer. In speaking, tone is signalled both by the quality of the speaker’s voice and the choice of words; in writing tone is carried only by writer’s choice of words and perhaps grammatical structures. In social media exchanges it may be signalled by the use of capital letters, exaggerated use of punctuation and the use of non lexical signs such as emojis. None of this has any place in academic communication, which should always be measured and straightforward.
Common collocates for this word:

tone

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casual    
neutral    
positive    
subdued    
negative    
cool    
formal    
natural    
disapproving    
ironic    



topic
noun COUNTABLE The subject matter of a paragraph, section, essay, report, etc.
Common collocates for this word:

topic

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particular    
main    
new    
important    
major    
specific    
given    
chosen    
hot    
    



topic sentence
noun phrase A sentence which provides the controlling idea (the subject matter) of a paragraph, section, or an entire piece of writing. You can see how a topic sentence is used on the main idea page.
transition
noun COUNTABLE A change from one topic to another. Transition adverbials (such as "now”, "meanwhile”, "incidentally”) are sometimes used to signal transition from one topic to another. See how transition is managed on the adverbials page.
transitive
adjective Describing a clause in which the verb requires a direct object.
transitive verb
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A verb which requires an object. "But our study provides evidence that chimpanzees possess similar working memory abilities to humans." (Völter 2019). In this sentence both provides and possess are transitive verbs. See also ditransitive and complex transitive.
typo
noun A typographical error
uncountable noun
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A noun which does not have a plural form. UNCOUNTABLE: shopping, happiness, peace, information, equipment, honesty.
unity
noun UNCOUNTABLE A sense of focus and coherence in a paragraph achieved when every sentence in the paragraph is related to the topic.
unpublished
adjective Describes a piece of writing which has not been made public. Many texts (reports, dissertations, theses...) written for internal or examination or assessment purposes are not published.
uppercase
noun UNCOUNTABLE STYLE Letters or words which are written in CAPITALS. : Where words are written entirely in UPPERCASE this is known as 'All caps'. All caps is normally used only for certain titles, particularly in newspapers. See also lowercase.
usage
noun The way language is normally written or spoken by a particular community
Common collocates for this word:

usage

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common    
current    
everyday    
modern    
normal    
ordinary    
popular    
technical    
scientific    
    



valency
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR An indication of the number of grammatical items to which a a verb may connect.
  • a one-place verb connects only to a subject (therefore intransitive)
  • a two-place verb connects to a subject and another element (e.g. a direct object, therefore transitive)
  • a three-place verb connects to a subject and another two elements, (e.g. a direct object and an indirect object, therefore ditransitive)
Verbs may have more than one valency, depending on their use.

validity
noun UNCOUNTABLE ASSESSMENT The extent to which a test measures what it is designed to measure. See also construct validity, content validity, predictive validity, face validity.
verb
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A word used to describe actions, states or events - verb phrases are essential parts of almost all English clauses.
verb classification: lexical - multi-word verbs
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE Verbs may be divided into the two categories of lexical verbs and multi-word verbs. Lexical verbs (full verbs) are single word verbs. Multi-word verbs include phrasal verbs, prepositional verbs, and phrasal-prepositional verbs. See the multi-word verbs page.
verb classification: main categories
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE The main categories of verbs are lexical verbs, primary verbs, and modal verbs. Verbs are also classified by their roles in the verb phrase - as the main verb or as an auxiliary verb. Lexical verbs (go, say, find ...) only function as main verbs. Primary verbs (there are only three: be, have, do) function as both main verbs and auxiliary verbs. Modal verbs (can, must, might ..) only function as auxiliary verbs.
verb classification: semantic domains
noun phrase SEMANTICS Lexical verbs are sometimes classified semantically - by their meaning. Many verbs are used with more than one meaning, so this classification is not a rigid one; some verbs may fall into more than one category. There are seven broad categories: activity verbs, aspectual verbs, causative verbs, communication verbs, existence verbs, mental verbs, occurrence verbs.
verb classification: valency patterns
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE Verbs may be categorised by their valency (an indication of the number of grammatical items to which a verb may connect). The main valency patterns are one-place (combining only with a subject), two-place (combining with a subject and another element), and three-place (combining only with a subject two other elements).
verb phrase
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Part of a sentence containing one lexical verb or primary verb as the head of the phrase and possibly as many as four auxiliary verbs, as well as the word not. A verb phrase may consist of just one lexical or primary verb: "Most foods contain at least some sugar". A verb phrase may also have one or more auxiliary verbs: "Historical films may be decaying much faster than we thought". may and be are auxiliary verbs in this sentence.
verbal ellipsis
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE COHESIVE DEVICES The omission of a lexical verb from a verb phrase. The verb is recoverable from the previous text.
  1. "That computer would pass it along in the right direction as soon as it could." (Martin 2023). The word "could" is an incomplete verb phrase. The lexical verb is missing. But we can recover it from the verb phrase in the first part of the sentence: "would pass". The complete verb phrase in the second part would be "could pass (it)". This is verbal ellipsis.
See also the ellipsis page.
verbal substitution
noun phrase UNCOUNTABLE COHESIVE DEVICES The substitution of a lexical verb by a form of the lexical verb "do". "Your brain remembers how to drive a car because it’s something you’ve done many times before" (Cleo 2023). "done" substitutes for the verb "drive" (you have driven a car many times before). See more on the substitution page.
voice
noun UNCOUNTABLE GRAMMAR The relationship between a verb and any associated noun phrase, and the resulting emphasis caused by this. This usually means the distinction between the active voice and the passive voice. The passive voice is often used when the writer does not wish or is not able to name the agent. For example: "A lot of claims have been made about the benefits of tai chi." (Nyman 2020). In this case it may not be possible or easy to name those who made the claims or there may be too many to name. So the passive voice is more convenient.
volume
noun COUNTABLE A set of issues of a journal.
volume
noun COUNTABLE One book in a set.
washback
noun UNCOUNTABLE ASSESSMENT The effect a test or examination has on a curriculum or on teaching methodology. Washback may be positive or negative depending on the quality of the test and how it is perceived by teachers and students.
wh-clause
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A clause which begins with a wh-word (who, what, which, where, when, why, how, whether, whatever, whichever ) and acts either as a dependent interrogative clause or a nominal relative clause. Examples:
Dependent Interrogative Clauses
  • "How do you know whether your school is a “good” one?" (Riddle 2023)
  • "Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel to outer space – and then keep going?" (Singal 2021)
Nominal Relative Clauses
  • "The trail of digital data you leave – both online and offline – is what makes you especially valuable." (Ashley 2019)
  • "The different colours blend into each other, and it is difficult to tell where one colour ends and another begins." (Rawlings 2022)
  • "What the equation seems to say is that energy equals mass times some number." (Baron 2021)
wh-cleft
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR A means of bringing information into quick focus in a sentence by using a clause containing the point of focus introduced by a "wh word " + a form of the verb "be" + the focused information (usually a phrase, an infinitive clause or a finite nominal clause). For example: "What we have added was the discovery that AI can help find these heat-resilient corals" (Elagali et al. 2022). See also it-cleft.
wh-word
noun COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Wh-words include who, what, which, where, when, why, whose, how, whether, whatever, whichever, and that. Examples: wh-words act as:
  1. Interrogative Clause Markers
    • What is spacetime?
    • Why does the Earth spin?
    • Where did life come from?
  2. Relativizers
    • "This is the branch of physics which studies heat and energy" (Fitchett 2021).
    • Other apes who walked upright came later in the Stone Age (Pagel 2022).
  3. Complementizers
    • "Nobody knows where human evolution will lead" (Simons 2021).
    • "News literacy involves understanding how news filters into the public domain" (Ashley 2019).
  4. Adverbial Clause Links
    • "And whenever these flaws happen, they can have long-term effects on how we’ll recall that memory in the future" (Nash 2018).
    • "More recently it has spawned the system of GPS global positioning satellites that can give us a readout on our locations wherever we are" (Mowery 2019).
word class
noun phrase COUNTABLE GRAMMAR Words are divided into three main classes: lexical words, function words and inserts.
  • Lexical words are members of open classes; the four main classes are nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs;
  • Function words are members of closed classes. Their function is to indicate relationships between words, phrases or clauses, or to show how words phrases or clauses should be understood. Examples of function words are; determiners, prepositions, coordinators, subordinators, auxiliary verbs, wh-words;
  • Inserts are mainly used in spoken language and there are various categories such as interjections, greetings, discourse markers, expletives and so on.
wordiness
noun UNCOUNTABLE STYLE The use of more words than necessary. Adjective: wordy.