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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.
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.
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.
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.
What Are Figures of Speech?
The various rhetorical uses of language that depart from customary construction, order, or significance.
What Are the Basic Sentence Structures?
One of the keys to good writing is understanding the countless ways in which these basic sentence structures can be combined and arranged.
What Are Declarative Sentences?
A sentence in the form of a statement (in contrast to a command, a question, or an exclamation).
Definition and Examples of Prepositions in...
A preposition is a word that indicates the relationship between a noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence.
What Is a Noun?
Traditionally defined as the part of speech (or word class) that names or identifies a person, place, thing, quality, or activity.
What Is a Figure of Speech?
(1) In common usage, the opposite of a literal expression. (2) In rhetoric, a type of figurative language (such as metaphor, irony, understatement, or anaphora) that departs from conventional order or significance.
What Is a Consonant?
A speech sound that's not a vowel; a letter of the alphabet that represents a speech sound produced by a partial or complete obstruction of the air stream by a constriction of the speech organs.
What Is an Adverb?
An adverb is the part of speech (or word class) primarily used to modify a verb, adjective, or other adverb.
40 Topics for an Argumentative Essay
These thirty statements may be either defended or attacked in an argument essay.
50 Writing Topics for a Narrative Essay or Speech
At least one of these 50 topic suggestions should remind you of a particular incident that you can relate in a clearly organized narrative essay.
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.
Tell Me What Imperative Sentences Are!
An imperative sentence is a sentence that gives advice or instructions or that expresses a request or command.
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 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.
Definition and Examples of Metaphors in English
A figure of speech in which an implicit comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have something in common.
What Are Verbs in English and How Do You Use...
A verb is the part of speech (or word class) that describes an action or occurrence or indicates a state of being.
What Are Some of the Most Common English...
Understanding the meanings of the common suffixes can help us to deduce the meanings of new words that we encounter.
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's a Conjunction in English?
A conjunction is the part of speech that serves to connect words, phrases, clauses, or sentences.
Is This a Rhetorical Question?
A question asked merely for effect with no answer expected.
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 Is the Communication Process and How Does...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: The
Five Examples of Descriptive Paragraphs
These five paragraphs--three by students, two by professional writers--respond to the guidelines in the project
What Is a Complex Sentence?
A complex sentence is a sentence that contains an independent clause and at least one dependent clause.
What Are Pronouns?
A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun, noun phrase, or noun clause.
Examples of Prepositional Phrases in English...
A prepositional phrase in English grammar is a group of words made up of a preposition, its object, and any of the object's modifiers.
What Are Simple Sentences in English Grammar?
A sentence with only one independent 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 Is a Compound Sentence?
A sentence that contains at least two independent clauses.
Punctuating Sentences With Colons
The colon is a mark of punctuation (:) used after a statement that introduces a quotation, an explanation, an example, or a series.
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 a Metaphor?
Some metaphors are so common that we may not even notice that they are metaphors. Take the familiar metaphor of life as a journey, for example.
What Is a Thesis Statement?
A sentence in an essay, report, or speech that identifies the main idea and/or central purpose of the text.
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 Are the Most Commonly Used Contractions in...
In the table below you'll find some of the most frequently used contractions in English.
What Are Interrogative Sentences?
An interrogative sentence is a sentence that asks a question.
A Definition of Simile With 40 Examples
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
What Are Homonyms?
Two or more words that have the same sound or spelling but differ in meaning.
What Is a Compound-Complex Sentence?
A sentence with two or more independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.
What's the Difference Between Hanged and Hung?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >For centuries,
What Is Syntax?
(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 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 Is Expository Writing?
A pedagogical term for any form of writing that conveys information and explains ideas: exposition.
How Do You Form the Present-Perfect in English...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Once you understand
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.
250 Topics for Familiar Essays
If you're stuck for a topic for your next essay, here are 250 suggestions to get you started.
What Are Exclamatory Sentences?
An exclamatory sentence is a sentence that expresses strong feelings by making an exclamation.
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, by identifying 10 types of verbs, we'll briefly consider some of their more common functions as well.
What Is a Gerund?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
What Is the Definition of Irony?
The use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning; a statement or situation where the meaning is contradicted by the appearance or presentation of the idea.
What's an Oxymoron?
An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which incongruous or seemingly contradictory terms appear side by side.
A List of 100 Irregular Plural Nouns in English
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Most English nouns
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.
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.
Descriptive Writing: 40 Topic Ideas
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 the 8 Parts of Speech in English?
One way to begin studying basic sentence structures is to consider the parts of speech. Here you will learn the names and basic functions of these sentence parts.
What Are Suffixes in English?
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.
Grammar Basics: What Is an Adjective?
An adjective is the part of speech that modifies a noun or a pronoun.
What's the Difference Between Homonyms and...
Homonyms, homophones, and homographs are words that are easily confused because they look alike or sound alike (or both) but have different meanings. These charts--which list some of the most common homonyms, homophones, and homographs--should help you recognize the differences between many commonly confused words.
What Is Metonymy?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
What Is a Syllogism in Logic?
In logic, a syllogism is a form of deductive reasoning consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion.
What Are Periodic Sentences in English Grammar?
A long and frequently involved sentence, marked by suspended syntax, in which the sense is not completed until the final word--usually with an emphatic climax.
All About Alliteration (and How to Use It)
Alliteration is the repetition of an initial consonant sound.
What Are the Subordinating Conjunctions in...
A conjunction that introduces a dependent clause.
Sometime, Some time, and Sometimes: What's the...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The adverb sometime
What Are Diphthongs?
In phonetics, a diphthong is a vowel in which there is a noticeable sound change within the same syllable.
Which Words in a Title Should Be Capitalized?
Style guides disagree on which words to capitalize in a title (of a book, article, essay, movie, song, or video game). Here's a basic guide to the two most common methods: sentence case and title case.
Subjects, Verbs, and Objects: The Basic Parts...
Here you will learn how to identify and use subjects, verbs, and objects--which together form the basic sentence unit.
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.
What Are 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 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.
200 Punny Shop Names That Will Make You Smile
A liquor store named Boo's, a clothing shop named Knit Wit, and a portable-toilet rental service in Chicago named (get ready) Oui Oui Enterprises. Go ahead--roll your eyes and groan: these are the shamelessly punny (and often funny) names of shops and restaurants on the main streets and high streets of the English-speaking world.
What Are the Different Types of Third-Person...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: The
How to Find the Subject of a Sentence
A subject is one of the two main parts of a sentence. Here we'll use examples to show you some of the different types of subjects.
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.
What Are Some Examples of Subjects in English...
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 Is the Oxford (or Serial) Comma?
The Oxford (or serial) comma is the comma that precedes the conjunction before the final item in a list of three or more items:
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.
Definition and Examples of Communication
The process of sending and receiving messages through verbal or nonverbal means--speech (oral communication), writing (written communication), signs, signals, or behavior.
What Is an Independent Clause in English?
A group of words made up of a subject and a predicate.
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.
A Guide to Understanding Prefixes in the...
A letter or group of letters attached to the beginning of a word that partly indicates its meaning.
What Is a Helping Verb?
A verb that comes before the main verb in a sentence. Together the helping verb and the main verb form a verb phrase.
What Is an Allegory?
Allegory is the rhetorical strategy of extending a metaphor through an entire narrative so that objects, persons, and actions in the text are equated with meanings that lie outside the text.
What's So Common About Common Nouns in English?
A noun that's not the name of any particular person, place, or thing.
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 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 Is Narrative Writing?
A narrative is an account of a sequence of events, usually in chronological order.
What Are Some Examples of Assonance in English?
The repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds in neighboring words.
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 Are Auxiliary (or Helping) Verbs in...
A verb that determines the mood, tense, or aspect of another verb in a verb phrase.
What Are Compound Nouns? A Definition and...
Two or more nouns combined to form a single noun.
What Are the Different Points of View in...
The perspective from which a speaker or writer recounts a narrative or presents information.
What Are the Basic Rules of Punctuation?
Understanding the principles behind the common marks of punctuation should strengthen our understanding of grammar and help us use the marks consistently in our own writing. Here we'll review the conventional uses of punctuation in American English.
What Is a Determiner in English Grammar?
A word or a group of words that introduces a noun.
7 Secrets to Success in English 101
Welcome to English 101--sometimes called freshman English or college composition. It should be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding courses in your college life. But to succeed in anything, it helps to be prepared.
What Is a Paradox?
A paradox is a figure of speech in which a statement appears to contradict itself.
Writing Summaries: Guidelines and Examples
A summary is a shortened version of a text that highlights its key points.
autobiography
An account of a person's life written or otherwise recorded by that person.
Definition and Examples of Anaphora in Rhetoric
Anaphora is a rhetorical term for the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses or verses.
What Are Noun Phrases in English Grammar?
A noun phrase (NP) is a word group with a noun or pronoun as its head.
Make Your Writing Grow With Cumulative Sentences
An independent clause followed by a series of subordinate constructions that gather details about a person, place, event, or idea.
40 Interesting Topics for a Paragraph, Essay,...
If you're asked by your writing instructor to compose a paragraph or essay developed with examples, these 40 topic suggestions should help you get started.
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.
Colons, Semicolons, and Dashes: What's the...
No intestinal jokes here, please. We're talking about three much-abused marks of punctuation: semicolons, colons, and dashes.
Examples and Uses of the Passive Voice in English
A type of sentence or clause in which the subject receives the verb's action.
40 Topic Suggestions for a Compare-And-Contrast...
To write an effective comparison and contrast, keep in mind that your subjects should be logically comparable and your composition should have a clear purpose. The 40 topic suggestions listed here are offered as starting points to help you discover some fresh ideas on your own.
What Is an Adverbial Clause?
A dependent clause used as an adverb within a sentence.
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's So Proper About Proper Nouns in English?
A noun belonging to the class of words used as names for unique individuals, events, or places.
19 Awesome Examples of Hyperbole
Hyperbole is a figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect; an extravagant statement.
What Are the Denotations of Words?
The direct or dictionary meaning of a word, in contrast to its figurative or associated meanings.
What Is Word Formation?
In linguistics, the ways in which new words are made on the basis of other words or morphemes.
What Is a Context Clue?
A context clue is information (such as a definition, synonym, antonym, or example) that appears near a word or phrase and offers direct or indirect suggestions about its meaning.
What Are the Articles in English Grammar and...
In grammar, an article is a type of determiner that precedes a noun.
What Is Diction?
(1) Choice and use of words in speech or writing. (2) A way of speaking, usually assessed in terms of prevailing standards of pronunciation and elocution.
What Is Antithesis in Writing?
In rhetoric, the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases.
What Is Situational Irony?
An occasion in which the outcome is significantly different from what was expected or considered appropriate.
What Are Homophones?
Homophones are two or more words that are pronounced the same but differ in meaning, origin, and often spelling.
What Is the Difference Between Fair and Fare?
'Fair' and 'Fare' are homophones which are easily (and frequently) confused for each other. Learn the differences and proper usage here.
Crash, Bang, Pop, Buzz: Some Smashing Examples...
Onomatopoeia refers to words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to.
Introductory Paragraphs: Examples and Guidelines
An introductory paragraph is the opening paragraph in a conventional essay or composition.
What Are Coordinating Conjunctions in English?
A conjunction that joins two similarly constructed and/or syntactically equal words or phrases or clauses.
Definition and Examples of Dependent Clauses in...
A group of words that has both a subject and a verb but (unlike an independent clause) cannot stand alone as a sentence.
What Are Collective Nouns and How Are They Used...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
What Are Modal Auxiliaries in English?
A modal is a verb that combines with another verb to indicate mood or tense.
What Are the Different Types of Phrases in...
A small group of related words within a sentence or a clause.
What Are Predicate Nominatives in English...
Predicate nominative is the traditional term for a noun, pronoun, or other nominal that follows a linking verb. The contemporary term for a predicate nominative is subject complement.
What Is Intonation in English Speech?
In linguistics, the use of changing vocal pitch to convey grammatical information or personal attitude.
What Are Regular Verbs in English?
A regular verb is a verb that forms its past tense and past participle by adding -d or -ed to the base form.
When to Use Capital Letters
Be guided (but not enslaved) by these 18 rules for capitalization in English.
The 100 Most Important Words in English
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >First off, a few
process analysis (composition)
A method of paragraph or essay development by which a writer explains step by step how something is done or how to do something.
When Should You Use Past Tense (Simple Past)?
A verb tense (the second principal part of a verb) indicating action that occurred in the past and which does not extend into the present.
How Is the Future Expressed in English Grammar?
In grammar, the future is a verb tense (or form) indicating action that has not yet begun.
What Are Some Uses and Examples of the...
The second-person point of view is the use of the imperative mood and the pronouns you, your, and yours to address a reader or listener directly. Learn more here.
14 Types of Repetition in Rhetoric
In linguistics and rhetoric, repetition is an instance of using a word, phrase, or clause more than once in a short passage--dwelling on a point.
What Are the Personal Pronouns in English?
A personal pronoun is a pronoun that refers to a particular person, group, or thing.
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.
synecdoche (figure of speech)
A figure of speech is which a part is used to represent the whole or the whole for a part.
run-on sentence
In prescriptive grammar, two independent clauses that have been run together without an appropriate conjunction and/or mark of punctuation between them.
Examples of Adjective Clauses in English
An adjective clause is a dependent clause used as an adjective within a sentence.
What Are Prepositional Phrases?
Acting like adjectives and adverbs, prepositional phrases add meaning to the nouns and verbs in a sentence.
ellipsis (grammar and rhetoric)
In grammar and rhetoric, ellipsis is the omission of one or more words, which must be supplied by the listener or reader.
Observations on Morphology, the Study of Word...
The branch of linguistics (and one of the major components of grammar) that studies word structures, especially in terms of morphemes.
Why Are Collocations Called the Wheel of...
A collocation is a familiar grouping of words, especially words that habitually appear together and thereby convey meaning by association.
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