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Grammar & Composition: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
What Are the Top 20 Figures of Speech?
Though there are hundreds of figures of speech, here we'll focus on just 20 of the most common figures.
13 Engaging Ways to Begin an Essay
A good introduction lets readers know what your essay is about and encourages them to keep reading. Here are 13 opening strategies accompanied by examples from a wide range of professional writers.
400 Topic Suggestions for Essays and Speeches
Coming up with a good topic can be one of the hardest parts of composing a paragraph or essay. These 400 topic suggestions should make that job a little easier.
100 Awfully Good Oxymorons
Oxymorons are often found in literature, but as shown by this list of 100 awfully good examples, they are also part of our everyday speech.
5 Delightful Examples of Descriptive Paragraphs
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The purpose of
What Is an Adverb?
An adverb is the part of speech (or word class) primarily used to modify a verb, adjective, or other adverb.
The Basic Parts and Structures of English...
One of the keys to good writing is understanding the countless ways in which these basic sentence structures can be combined and arranged.
50 Topic Suggestions for a Narrative Paragraph,...
At least one of these 50 topic suggestions should remind you of a particular incident that you can recount in a clearly organized narrative essay.
Tell Me What Imperative Sentences Are
An imperative sentence gives advice or instructions or expresses a request or command. Read these examples of imperative sentences.
What Are Some of the Most Common English...
Understanding the meanings of the common suffixes can help us deduce the meanings of new words that we encounter.
Were, We're, and Where: What's the Difference?
Here are some commonly confused words in the English language. Here's an explanation of their differences, along with examples.
What Are Figures of Speech?
The figures of speech are the various rhetorical uses of language that depart from customary construction, order, or significance.
What Are the Consonants in English?
A consonant is a speech sound that's not a vowel; a letter of the alphabet that represents a speech sound produced by a constriction of the speech organs.
What Is a Preposition?
A preposition is a word that indicates the relationship between a noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence.
What Are Clauses in English Grammar?
A clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a predicate. A clause is either independent or dependent.
How to Write a Professional Email
Email remains one of the most common forms of written communication in the business world--and the most commonly abused. Follow these 10 tips to keep your messages clear, concise, professional, and polite.
10 Timeless Writing Tips
In this installment of Writers on Writing, we turn to 10 authors from the 19th century for some timeless writing advice.
40 Topic Suggestions for an Argumentative Essay...
These thirty statements may be either defended or attacked in an argumentative essay or speech.
What Is a Noun?
A noun is traditionally defined as the part of speech (or word class) that names or identifies a person, place, thing, quality, or activity.
What Is a Thesis Statement?
A thesis statement is a sentence in an essay, report, or speech that identifies the main idea and/or central purpose of the text.
What Is a Metaphor?
We speak and write and think in metaphors every day. They can't be avoided: metaphors are baked into our language. Here are some examples.
What Is Expository Writing?
Expository writing is a pedagogical term for any form of writing that conveys information and explains ideas: exposition.
What Are Verbs in English and How Do We Use Them?
A verb is the part of speech (or word class) that describes an action or occurrence or indicates a state of being.
What Are the Most Common English Prefixes?
Understanding the meanings of the common prefixes can help us to deduce the meanings of new words that we encounter. The table on this page defines and illustrates 35 common prefixes.
What Are the Most Commonly Used Contractions in...
In the table below you'll find some of the most frequently used contractions in English.
What Is a Compound Sentence?
A compound sentence is a sentence that contains at least two independent clauses.
40 Topic Suggestions for a Descriptive...
Descriptive writing calls for close attention to details. To help you get started, here are some topic suggestions for a descriptive paragraph or essay.
What Are Present and Past Participial Phrases...
A participial phrase is a word group consisting of a present or past participle and any modifiers, objects, and complements.
What Are Complex Sentences in English Grammar?
A complex sentence is a sentence that contains an independent clause and at least one dependent clause.
Definition and Examples of Metaphors in English
A metaphor is a figure of speech in which an implicit comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have something in common.
How Do You Form the Present-Perfect in English...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Once you understand
Is This a Rhetorical Question?
A rhetorical question is a question asked merely for effect with no answer expected.
Examples of Noun Clauses in English Grammar
A noun clause is a dependent clause that functions as a noun (that is, as a subject, object, or complement).
What Are Simple Sentences in English Grammar?
A simple sentence is a sentence with only one independent clause.
20 Handy Figures of Speech That We Never Heard...
Let's take a look at 20 uncommon words for some fairly common figures of speech.
What Is a Compound-Complex Sentence?
A compound-complex sentence is a sentence with two or more independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.
Definitions and Examples of the Eight Parts of...
A traditional term for the categories into which words are classified according to their functions in sentences.
What Are the Eight Parts of Speech?
One way to begin studying basic sentence structures is to identify the parts of speech. Here you will learn the names and basic functions of these sentence parts.
What Are Declarative Sentences?
A declarative sentence is a sentence in the form of a statement (in contrast to a command, a question, or an exclamation).
Examples of Prepositional Phrases in English...
A prepositional phrase is a group of words made up of a preposition, its object, and any of the object's modifiers.
What Is the Communication Process and How Does...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: The
99 Metaphors for Love
As this rich collection of 99 metaphors demonstrates, love has been compared to everything from a jewel and a fevered dream to a snowmobile and an exploding cigar.
Ways of Correcting Run-on Sentences
In prescriptive grammar, a run-on sentence is two independent clauses that have been run together without a conjunction or punctuation mark between them.
200 Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs
These charts list some of the most common homonyms, homophones, and homographs in English.
What Are the Different Types of Third-Person...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: The
40 Topic Suggestions for a Comparison and...
These 40 topic suggestions for a comparison and contrast essay should serve as starting points to help you discover some fresh ideas on your own.
What Are Conjunctions in English Grammar?
A conjunction is the part of speech that serves to connect words, phrases, clauses, or sentences.
How Do You Define a Sentence?
A sentence is the largest independent unit of grammar: it begins with a capital letter and ends with a period, question mark, or exclamation point.
The 200 Most Commonly Misspelled Words in English
A list of 200 of the most commonly misspelled words in English.
What Is Linguistic Register?
A register is one of many styles or varieties of language determined by such factors as social occasion, purpose, and audience.
Observations on the Nature of Language
Language is a human system of communication that uses arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, or written symbols.
What Are the Subordinating Conjunctions in...
A conjunction that introduces a dependent clause.
What Are Diphthongs?
In phonetics, a diphthong is a vowel in which there is a noticeable sound change within the same syllable.
100 Common Grammatical Terms
This collection provides a quick review of the basic terminology used in the study of traditional English grammar.
Suffixes in English Grammar
A suffix is a letter or group of letters added to the end of a word or root, serving to form a new word or functioning as an inflectional ending.
What Are Appositives in English Grammar?
An appositive is a noun, noun phrase, or series of nouns placed next to another word or phrase to identify or rename it.
What Are Vowels and Vowel Sounds in English?
A vowel is a letter of the alphabet (a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y) that represents a speech sound created by the relatively free passage of breath through the larynx and oral cavity.
What Are Pronouns in English Grammar?
A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun, noun phrase, or noun clause.
50 Topic Suggestions for an Essay Developed by...
These 50 prompts are meant to help you discover a topic for an essay or speech developed by process analysis.
What Is an Adverbial Clause?
A dependent clause used as an adverb within a sentence.
Introductory Paragraphs: Examples and Guidelines
An introductory paragraph is the opening paragraph in a conventional essay or composition.
What Is Syntax?
Syntax is (1) the study of the rules that govern the ways words combine to form phrases, clauses, and sentences; (2) the arrangement of words in a sentence.
What Are Homonyms?
Homonyms are two or more words that have the same sound or spelling but differ in meaning.
What Are Noun Phrases in English Grammar?
A noun phrase (NP) is a word group with a noun or pronoun as its head.
What Is the Difference Between Descriptive and...
Question: What Is the Difference Between Descriptive and Prescriptive Grammar?
600 Commonly Confused Words in English
In our Glossary of Usage you'll find more than 300 sets of commonly confused words--with links to definitions, examples, usage notes, and exercises.
What Are Subordinate Clauses in English Grammar?
A subordinate clause is a group of words that has both a subject and a verb but (unlike an independent clause) cannot stand alone as a sentence.
Subjects, Verbs, and Objects: The Basic Parts...
Here you'll learn how to identify and use subjects, verbs, and objects--which together form the basic sentence unit.
40 Topic Suggestions for a Cause-and-Effect...
Some of the following topic suggestions emphasize causes; others focus on effects. But keep in mind that these two approaches are closely related and not always easy to tell apart.
What Is a Gerund in English Grammar?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
A List of 100 Irregular Plural Nouns in English
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" > There are no
40 Topic Suggestions for an Essay or Speech...
If you're asked by your instructor to compose an essay or speech developed with examples, these 40 topic suggestions should help you get started.
What Are the Articles in English Grammar and...
In grammar, an article is a type of determiner that precedes a noun.
A Definition of Simile With 40 Examples
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
What Is Pragmatics?
Pragmatics is concerned with the use of language in social contexts and the ways in which people produce and comprehend meanings through language.
What Is Grammar?
The more we are aware of how grammar works, the more we can monitor the meaning and effectiveness of the way we and others use language.
Definitions and Discussions of Grammar in English
Grammar is the systematic study and description of a language.
What Is English Composition?
Definitions, discussions, and examples of written compositions in English.
Is This an Interrogative Sentence?
An interrogative sentence is a sentence that asks a question.
What Are Predicates in English Grammar?
A predicate is one of the two main parts of a sentence or clause, modifying the subject and including the verb, objects, or phrases governed by the verb.
What Is Concord in English Grammar?
A concord is another term for grammatical agreement between two words in a sentence.
What Are the Marks of Punctuation?
Punctuation is the set of marks used to regulate texts and clarify their meanings, principally by separating or linking words, phrases, and clauses.
Prefixes in English Grammar
A prefix is a letter or group of letters attached to the beginning of a word that partly indicates its meaning.
Definition and Examples of Dependent Clauses in...
A dependent clause is a group of words that has both a subject and a verb but (unlike an independent clause) cannot stand alone as a sentence.
300 Classic Essays and Speeches
From the works of Francis Bacon to those of Martin Luther King, Jr.: more than 300 of the greatest essays and speeches composed by British and American authors.
What Are Predicate Nominatives in English...
Predicate nominative is the traditional term for a noun, pronoun, or other nominal that follows a linking verb.
Knit Wits, Going Pottie, and Just Falafs: Shop...
Jest for the pun of it, here are the shamelessly punny names of cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants found throughout the English-speaking world. Page 3.
What Is Figurative Language?
Figurative language is language in which figures of speech (such as metaphors, similes, and hyperbole) freely occur.
What Are Auxiliary (or Helping) Verbs in...
An auxiliary is a verb that determines the mood, tense, or aspect of another verb in a verb phrase.
What Is Narrative Writing?
A narrative is an account of a sequence of events, usually in chronological order.
A List of 30 Common Word Roots in English
Expand your vocabulary by studying this list of 30 of the most common Greek and Latin root words.
250 Topics for Familiar Essays
If you're stuck for a topic for your next essay, here are 250 suggestions to get you started.
Affirmative Sentences in English Grammar
Affirmative sentence is a traditional grammatical term for any statement that is positive, not negative.
How to Find the Predicate in a Sentence
A predicate is one of the two main parts of a sentence. Here we'll use examples to show you some of the different types of predicates.
What Is Code Switching?
Code switching is the practice of moving back and forth between two languages or between two dialects or registers of the same language.
How Many Different Kinds of Grammar Are There?
So you think you know grammar? That's all well and good, but which type of grammar do you know? Consider these ten varieties of grammar--and take your pick.
Examples of Effective Topic Sentences
A topic sentence is a sentence, sometimes at the beginning of a paragraph, that states or suggests the main idea (or topic) of a passage.
What Are Morphemes in English?
A morpheme is a meaningful linguistic unit (a word or a word element) that cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts.
Examples of Adjective Clauses in English
An adjective clause is a dependent clause used as an adjective within a sentence.
What's So Common About Common Nouns in English?
A noun that's not the name of any particular person, place, or thing.
What Is Intonation in English Speech?
In linguistics, the use of changing vocal pitch to convey grammatical information or personal attitude.
How to Use Apostrophes Correctly
The apostrophe may be the simplest and yet most frequently misused mark of punctuation in English. Here we'll review six guidelines for using the mark correctly.
Writing Summaries: Guidelines and Examples
A summary is a shortened version of a text that highlights its key points.
What's the Difference Between Hanged and Hung?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >For centuries,
Examples of Alliteration in Prose and Poetry
Alliteration is the repetition of an initial consonant sound.
How Many Types of Verbs Are There in English?
Generally, it makes more sense to define a verb by what it does rather than by what it is. Here we'll consider some of the more common functions of verbs.
What Is an Independent Clause in English?
An independent clause is a group of words made up of a subject and a predicate.
What Is Verb Tense in English Grammar?
In grammar, tense is the time of a verb's action or state of being, such as present or past. future.
What Are Present and Past Participles in...
A participle is a verbal that functions as an adjective.
25 Examples of Absolute Phrases in English
A group of words that modifies an independent clause as a whole.
What Is an Adjective?
An adjective is the part of speech that modifies a noun or a pronoun.
What Are Consonant Clusters in English?
A consonant cluster is a group of two or more consonant sounds that come before, after, or between vowels.
What Are Helping Verbs in English?
A helping verb (or auxiliary) is a verb that comes before the main verb in a sentence. Together the helping verb and the main verb form a verb phrase.
inflectional morpheme (words and word parts)
In English morphology, a suffix that's added to a word to assign a particular grammatical property to that word.
What Are the Parts of Speech?
One way to begin studying basic sentence structures is to consider the parts of speech. Learn the names and basic functions of these sentence parts.
What Are the Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement in...
Subject-verb agreement is the correspondence of a verb with its subject in person and number.
What Is Situational Irony?
An occasion in which the outcome is significantly different from what was expected or considered appropriate.
What Is Polysemy?
Polysemy is the association of one word with two or more distinct meanings.
Examples of Cause and Effect in Paragraphs and...
Cause and effect is a method of paragraph or essay development in which a writer analyzes the reasons for (and/or the consequences of) an action, event or decision.
What Is the Difference Between Fair and Fare?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The adjective
Are There Rules for Writing Paragraphs?
A paragraph is a group of closely related sentences that develop a central idea.
I Love Exclamatory Sentences!
An exclamatory sentence is a sentence that expresses strong feelings by making an exclamation.
Examples and Uses of the Passive Voice in English
Passive voice refers to a type of sentence or clause in which the subject receives the verb's action.
What Are Modifiers in English Grammar?
A modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that functions as an adjective or adverb to limit or qualify the meaning of another word or word group.
Definition and Examples of Oxymorons in English
An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which incongruous or seemingly contradictory terms appear side by side.
What Are Some Examples of Subjects in English...
In grammar, the subject is the part of a sentence or clause that commonly indicates (a) what it is about, or (b) who or what performs the action.
What Are Prepositional Phrases?
Acting like adjectives and adverbs, prepositional phrases add meaning to the nouns and verbs in a sentence.
What Is the Figure of Speech Known as Apostrophe?
Apostrophe is a rhetorical term for breaking off discourse to address some absent person or thing.
Examples of Faulty Parallelism in English Grammar
In traditional grammar, faulty parallelism is a construction in which two or more parts of a sentence are equivalent in meaning but not grammatically similar in form.
What Are Homophones?
Homophones are two or more words that are pronounced the same but differ in meaning, origin, and often spelling.
Past Participles in English Grammar
The past participle is the third principal part of a verb, created by adding -ed, -d, or -t to the base form of a regular verb.
What Is Discourse Analysis?
Discourse analysis is the study of the ways in which language is used in texts and contexts.
10 Quick Tips to Improve Your Writing
Whether we're composing a blog or a business letter, an email or an essay, we should aim to respond clearly and directly to our readers' needs and interests.
What Are Adverb(ial) Phrases in English?
An adverb phrase is a word group with an adverb as its head.
What Is Affixation (And How Can You Use it to...
In linguistics, affixation is the process of adding a morpheme (or affix) to a word to create either (a) a different form of that word, or (b) a new word with a different meaning.
Definition and Examples of Rhetorical Analysis
Rhetorical analysis is a form of criticism that employs the principles of rhetoric to examine the interactions between a text, an author, and an audience.
Observations on Morphology, the Study of Word...
Morphology is the branch of linguistics (and one of the major components of grammar) that studies word structures, especially in terms of morphemes.
Definition and Examples of Communication
Communication is the process of sending and receiving messages through verbal or nonverbal means.
Organizational Strategies: Chronological Order
In composition, chronological order is a method of organization in which actions or events are presented as they occur (or occurred) in time.
What Is Parallel Structure in Writing?
Parallel structure involves two or more words, phrases, or clauses that are similar in length and grammatical form.
What Is a Thesis in an Essay?
The main idea of an essay, report, speech, or research paper, often written as a single declarative sentence.
assimilation (phonetics)
A general term in phonetics for the process by which a speech sound becomes similar or identical to a neighboring sound.
What Are Direct Quotations?
A direct quotation is a report of the exact words of an author or speaker.
Ample Examples of Assonance in English
Assonance is the repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds in neighboring words.
What Are the Functions of the Present Tense in...
In English grammar, the present is a verb tense that expresses action in the present time, indicates habitual actions, or expresses general truths.
What Are Contractions in English?
A contraction is a shortened form of a word or group of words, with the missing letters usually marked by an apostrophe.
What Is a Biography?
A biography is the story of a person's life, written by another.
What's So Proper About Proper Nouns in English?
A proper noun is a noun belonging to the class of words used as names for unique individuals, events, or places.
When to Use Capital Letters
Be guided (but not enslaved) by these 18 rules for capitalization in English.
Don't Confuse the Words Threw, Through, and Thru
These three words have similar but different meanings that need to be addressed for proper usage. Includes examples and practice.

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