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Grammar & Composition: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
40 Topics for an Argumentative Essay
These thirty statements may be either defended or attacked in an argument essay.
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.
A List of Standard Contractions in English
In the table below you'll find some of the most frequently used contractions in English.
400 Topic Suggestions for Paragraphs, Essays,...
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.
Discover Metaphors in Prose, Poetry, Ads,...
: What Is a Metaphor? Some people think of metaphors as nothing more than the sweet stuff of songs and
40 Topic Suggestions for a Comparison-and-Contr...
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.
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.
What's a Conjunction in English?
A conjunction is the part of speech that serves to connect words, phrases, clauses, or sentences.
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 distinguish.
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 are the Basic Sentence Structures?
One of the keys to good writing is understanding the countless ways in which basic sentence structures can be combined and arranged. Let's begin by identifying those basic sentence structures and considering how to use them effectively.
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.
What Is a Rhetorical Question?
A question asked merely for effect with no answer expected.
What Is an Adverb?
An adverb is the part of speech (or word class) primarily used to modify a verb, adjective, or other adverb.
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.
100 Awfully Good Examples of 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.
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.
Examples of Prepositional Phrases
A prepositional phrase is a group of words made up of a preposition, its object, and any of the object's modifiers.
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 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 Are Clauses?
A group of words that contains a subject and a predicate. A clause is either independent or dependent.
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.
Don't Confuse These Commonly Used Words
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What Is Expository Writing?
A pedagogical term for any form of writing that conveys information and explains ideas: exposition.
"Language Is Not the Frosting, It's the Cake":...
The various rhetorical uses of language that depart from customary construction, order, or significance.
Five Examples of Descriptive Paragraphs
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The purpose of
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.
Capital and Capitol
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Capit al has multiple
When Should You Capitalize Words in a Title?
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.
What are Verbs and How Do You Use Them?
The part of speech (or word class) that describes an action or occurrence or indicates a state of being.
50 Writing Topics: Process Analysis
You'll find that it's not too difficult to develop a paragraph or essay through process analysis if you've chosen a topic that you know quite well. These 50 prompts are meant to help you to discover that topic.
What Is a Predicate?
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 a Simile?
: A figure of speech in which two fundamentally unlike things are explicitly compared, usually in a phrase
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.
homonyms
Two or more words that have the same sound or spelling but differ in meaning.
What Is an Imperative Sentence?
An imperative sentence is a sentence that gives advice or instructions or that expresses a request or command.
What's an Oxymoron?
An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which incongruous or seemingly contradictory terms appear side by side.
morpheme
A meaningful linguistic unit (a word or a word element) that cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts.
What Is a Declarative Sentence?
A sentence in the form of a statement (in contrast to a command, a question, or an exclamation).
What Are Some Common English Suffixes?
Understanding the meanings of the common suffixes can help us to deduce the meanings of new words that we encounter.
predicate
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.
point of view
The perspective from which a speaker or writer recounts a narrative or presents information.
complex sentence
A complex sentence is a sentence that contains an independent clause and at least one dependent clause.
40 Writing Topics: Examples
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.
compound sentence
A sentence that contains at least two independent clauses.
40 Writing Topics: Description
Descriptive writing calls for close attention to details. To help you get started, here are some topic suggestions for a descriptive paragraph or essay.
communication process
: The exchange of information (a message ) between two or more people. These are many different models
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 Are Pronouns?
A word that takes the place of a noun, noun phrase, or noun clause.
language
Language is a human system of communication that uses arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, or written symbols.
What Is Metonymy?
: A figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely
60 Writing Topics: Extended Definition
Abstract and controversial ideas can often be clarified through extended definitions. The 60 concepts listed here can be defined in various ways and from different points of view.
A List of 35 Common Prefixes in English
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.
All About Alliteration (and How to Use It)
Alliteration is the repetition of an initial consonant sound.
Ten Types of Verbs
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.
The Present Perfect: Using "Has" and "Have"...
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morphology
The branch of linguistics (and one of the major components of grammar) that studies word structures, especially in terms of morphemes.
30 Writing Topics: Persuasion
Any one of these 30 issues may serve as the basis for a persuasive essay or speech.
tense
In grammar, tense is the time of a verb's action or state of being, such as present or past. future.
200 Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs (A - B)
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.
compound-complex sentence
A sentence with two or more independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.
pragmatics
A branch of linguistics concerned with the use of language in social contexts and the ways in which people produce and comprehend meanings through language.
parts of speech
A traditional term for the categories into which words are classified according to their functions in sentences.
Sometime, Some time, and Sometimes
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The adverb sometime
What Is a Gerund?
: A traditional grammatical term for a verbal that ends in -ing and functions as a noun . Adjective:
syllogism
In logic, a syllogism is a form of deductive reasoning consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion.
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.
Subjects, Verbs, and Objects
Here you will learn how to identify and use subjects, verbs, and objects--which together form the basic sentence unit.
What Is Onomatopoeia?
The use of words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to.
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.
third-person point of view
: The use of third-person pronouns such as he, she, and they to relate events in a work of fiction or
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.
suffix
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.
Guidelines for Using Semicolons, Colons, and...
No intestinal jokes here, please. We're talking about three much-abused marks of punctuation: semicolons, colons, and dashes.
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.
cause and effect
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 the Parts of Speech?
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.
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.
paradox
A figure of speech in which a statement appears to contradict itself.
phrase
A small group of related words within a sentence or a clause.
Hanged and Hung
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What Are Prepositional Phrases?
Acting like adjectives and adverbs, prepositional phrases add meaning to the nouns and verbs in a sentence.
noun clause
A noun clause is a dependent clause that functions as a noun (that is, as a subject, object, or complement).
simple sentence
A sentence with only one independent clause.
What is the Apostrophe Figure of Speech?
A rhetorical term for breaking off discourse to address some absent person or thing.
appositive
An appositive is a noun, noun phrase, or series of nouns placed next to another word or phrase to identify or rename it.
assonance
The repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds in neighboring words.
The 100 Most Important Words in English
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >First off, a few
Fair and Fare
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The adjective
adverb(ial) clause
A dependent clause used as an adverb within a sentence.
allegory
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.
diphthong
In phonetics, a vowel in which there is a noticeable sound change within the same syllable.
What Is an Antithesis?
In rhetoric, the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases.
vowel
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 Is Grammar?
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participle
A verbal that functions as an adjective.
Store Name Puns: Cafes, Coffee Shops, and...
Jest for the pun of it, here are the shamelessly punny names of cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants found on the main streets and high streets of the English-speaking world. Page 3.
Three Good Reasons Not to Buy an Online Essay
Stop right there. You're not going to do it. You're not going to cheat. You're not going to buy an essay or a term paper online. And here's why.
present tense
A verb tense that expresses action in the present time, indicates habitual actions, or expresses general truths.
Guidelines for Using Capital Letters
The basic guidelines for using capital letters appear simple enough, but things become tricky once we get down to the details. Be guided (but not enslaved) by these 18 rules for capitalization in English.
summary
A shortened version of a text that highlights its key points.
hyperbole
A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect; an extravagant statement.
independent clause
A group of words made up of a subject and a predicate.
What Is 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.
adjective
An adjective is the part of speech that modifies a noun or a pronoun.
interrogative sentence
An interrogative sentence is a sentence that asks a question.
repetition
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.
schwa
The most common vowel sound in English, represented as ə in the International Phonetic Alphabet.
500 Commonly Confused Words in English
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >"Advice" or "advise"?
participial phrase
A participial phrase is a word group consisting of a present or past participle and any modifiers, objects, and complements.
narrative
An account of a sequence of events, usually in chronological order.
What is Parallelism?
Similarity of structure in a pair or series of related words, phrases, or clauses.
subject
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.
personification
A figure of speech in which an inanimate object or abstraction is endowed with human qualities or abilities.
future tense
A verb tense (or form) indicating action that has not yet begun.
prefix
A letter or group of letters attached to the beginning of a word that partly indicates its meaning.
word-formation
In linguistics, the ways in which new words are made on the basis of other words or morphemes.
subordinating conjunction
A conjunction that introduces a dependent clause.
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.
dependent clause
A group of words that has both a subject and a verb but (unlike an independent clause) cannot stand alone as a sentence.
auxiliary verb
A verb that determines the mood, tense, or aspect of another verb in a verb phrase.
adverb phrase
A word group with an adverb as its head. This adverb may be accompanied by modifiers or qualifiers.
Definition and Examples of Discourse Analysis
The study of the ways in which language is used in texts and contexts.
noun phrase (NP)
A noun phrase (NP) is a word group with a noun or pronoun as its head.
code switching
The practice of moving back and forth between two languages or between two dialects or registers of the same language.
What Is Critical Thinking?
The process of independently analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information as a guide to behavior and beliefs.
imagery
Imagery is vivid descriptive language that appeals to one or more of the senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste).
modifier
A word, phrase, or clause that functions as an adjective or adverb to limit or qualify the meaning of another word or word group.
adjective clause
A dependent clause used as an adjective within a sentence.
exclamatory sentence
An exclamatory sentence is a sentence that expresses strong feelings by making an exclamation.
subordinate clause
A group of words that has both a subject and a verb but (unlike an independent clause) cannot stand alone as a sentence.
grammar
The systematic study and description of a language.
asyndeton
: A rhetorical term for a writing style that omits conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses (the
Top Four Spelling Rules
The only fool-proof rule is that all spelling rules in English have exceptions. Nevertheless, many writers find that certain rules help them to remember how to spell particular types of words, especially those formed by adding suffixes (or endings). Here we'll look at the four spelling rules that should be most helpful to you.
collocation
A familiar grouping of words, especially words that habitually appear together and thereby convey meaning by association.
Ten Quick Tips to Improve Your Writing
Whether we're composing a blog or a business letter, an email or an essay, our goal should be to respond clearly and directly to the needs and interests of our readers. These ten tips should help us to improve our writing whenever we set out to inform or persuade.
coherence
The logical connections that readers or listeners perceive in a written or oral text.
description
A rhetorical strategy using sensory details to portray a person, place, or object.
pun
A play on words, sometimes on different senses of the same word and sometimes on the similar sense or sound of different words.
synecdoche
A figure of speech is which a part is used to represent the whole or the whole for a part.
précis
A brief summary of a book, article, speech, or other text.
literature review
The process of reading, analyzing, evaluating, and summarizing scholarly materials about a specific topic.
postscript (P.S.)
A postscript is a brief message appended to the end of a letter (following the signature) or other text.
contraction
A shortened form of a word or group of words, with the missing letters usually marked by an apostrophe.
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.
adjective phrase
A word group with an adjective as its head. This adjective may be accompanied by modifiers, determiners, or qualifiers.
punctuation
Set of marks used to regulate texts and clarify their meanings, principally by separating or linking words, phrases, and clauses.
register
One of many styles or varieties of language determined by such factors as social occasion, purpose, and audience.
What Is the Difference Between Descriptive and...
: What Is the Difference Between Descriptive and Prescriptive Grammar? : In our Glossary of Grammatical
Introduction to the Basic Rules of Punctuation
Understanding the principles behind the common marks of punctuation should strengthen our understanding of grammar and help us to use the marks consistently in our own writing. Here we'll review the conventional uses of punctuation in American English.

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