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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.
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 Figures of Speech?
The various rhetorical uses of language that depart from customary construction, order, or significance.
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.
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.
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 Noun?
Traditionally defined as the part of speech (or word class) that names or identifies a person, place, thing, quality, or activity.
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.
40 Topics for an Argumentative Essay
These thirty statements may be either defended or attacked in an argument essay.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Is an Adverb?
An adverb is the part of speech (or word class) primarily used to modify a verb, adjective, or other adverb.
Is This a Rhetorical Question?
A question asked merely for effect with no answer expected.
What Are Declarative Sentences?
A sentence in the form of a statement (in contrast to a command, a question, or an exclamation).
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 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.
colon (punctuation)
The colon is a mark of punctuation (:) used after a statement that introduces a quotation, an explanation, an example, or a series.
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's a Conjunction in English?
A conjunction is the part of speech that serves to connect words, phrases, clauses, or sentences.
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:
What Are Pronouns?
A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun, noun phrase, or noun clause.
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.
Tell Me What Imperative Sentences Are!
An imperative sentence is a sentence that gives advice or instructions or that expresses a request or command.
What Is the Communication Process and How Does...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: The
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.
A Definition of Simile With 40 Examples
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
How Do You Form the Present-Perfect in English...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Once you understand
Five Examples of Descriptive Paragraphs
These five paragraphs--three by students, two by professional writers--respond to the guidelines in the project
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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's an Oxymoron?
An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which incongruous or seemingly contradictory terms appear side by side.
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.
What Is a Context Clue?
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 Diphthongs?
In phonetics, a diphthong is a vowel in which there is a noticeable sound change within the same syllable.
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.
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.
What Are Simple Sentences in English Grammar?
A sentence with only one independent clause.
Sometime, Some time, and Sometimes: What's the...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The adverb sometime
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.
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 Gerund?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
What Is a Complex Sentence?
A complex sentence is a sentence that contains an independent clause and at least one dependent clause.
What is the Figure of Speech Known as Apostrophe?
A rhetorical term for breaking off discourse to address some absent person or thing.
What's the Difference Between Hanged and Hung?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >For centuries,
What Is a Compound Sentence?
A sentence that contains at least two independent clauses.
What Is the Difference Between the Words...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Capit al has multiple
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Collective Nouns and How Are They Used...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
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 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 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 Is Expository Writing?
A pedagogical term for any form of writing that conveys information and explains ideas: exposition.
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 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.
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.
Basics of Grammar: What Is an Adjective?
An adjective is the part of speech that modifies a noun or a pronoun.
What Are Interrogative Sentences?
An interrogative sentence is a sentence that asks a question.
What Are Some Examples of Blend Words?
A blend is a word formed by merging the sounds and meanings of two or more other words.
subject-verb agreement
Subject-verb agreement is the correspondence of a verb with its subject in person and number.
What Are Homophones?
Homophones are two or more words that are pronounced the same but differ in meaning, origin, and often spelling.
What Are Exclamatory Sentences?
An exclamatory sentence is a sentence that expresses strong feelings by making an exclamation.
What's So Common About Common Nouns in English?
A noun that's not the name of any particular person, place, or thing.
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 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 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.
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.
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 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 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'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.
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.
A List of 100 Irregular Plural Nouns in English
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Most English nouns
Crash, Bang, Pop, Buzz: Some Smashing Examples...
Onomatopoeia refers to words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to.
What Is Word Formation?
In linguistics, the ways in which new words are made on the basis of other words or morphemes.
The 100 Most Important Words in English
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >First off, a few
What Are Some Examples of Assonance in English?
The repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds in neighboring words.
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 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 Metonymy?
: A figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely
personal pronoun
A pronoun that refers to a particular person, group, or thing.
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 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.
What is a "split infinitive" and what's wrong...
The so-called. Grammar & Composition.
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 Coordinating Conjunctions in English?
A conjunction that joins two similarly constructed and/or syntactically equal words or phrases or clauses.
What Is Hyperbole and How Is It Used?
A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect; an extravagant statement.
What Are the Different Types of Phrases in...
A small group of related words within a sentence or a clause.
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 Is Intonation in English Speech?
In linguistics, the use of changing vocal pitch to convey grammatical information or personal attitude.
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.
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 an Abstract Noun?
A noun that names an idea, event, quality, or concept.
What Is a Paradox?
A figure of speech in which a statement appears to contradict itself.
pragmatics (language)
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.
What Are the Marks of Punctuation?
Set of marks used to regulate texts and clarify their meanings, principally by separating or linking words, phrases, and clauses.
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.
What Are Morphemes in English?
A meaningful linguistic unit (a word or a word element) that cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts.
What Are Compound Nouns? A Definition and...
Two or more nouns combined to form a single noun.
What Are Auxiliary (or Helping) Verbs in...
A verb that determines the mood, tense, or aspect of another verb in a verb phrase.
regular verb (English grammar)
A verb that forms its past tense and past participle by adding
What's the Difference Between Lets and Let's?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > (with an apostrophe) is the contracted
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.
200 Most Commonly Misspelled Words in English
A list of 200 of the most commonly misspelled words in English.
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.
50 Writing Topic Ideas for 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.
mass noun (noncount noun)
A noun that names things that cannot be counted. A mass noun (also known as a noncount noun) is used only in the singular.
What Are Cause-and-Effect Examples in...
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 Present and Past Participles in...
A verbal that functions as an adjective.
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.
ordinal number
A number that indicates position or order in relation to other numbers: first, second, third, and so on.
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.
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.
modal (auxiliary)
A verb that combines with another verb to indicate mood or tense.
What Is an Adverbial Clause?
A dependent clause used as an adverb within a sentence.
What Is an Independent Clause in English?
A group of words made up of a subject and a predicate.
When to Use Capital Letters
Be guided (but not enslaved) by these 18 rules for capitalization in English.
article (grammar)
In grammar, a type of determiner that precedes a noun.
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 Are Relative Pronouns in English?
A pronoun that introduces an adjective clause.
What Are Past Participles in English?
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's the Difference Between Principal and...
What is the difference between. Grammar & Composition.
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.
What Is Narrative Writing and When Is It Used?
An account of a sequence of events, usually in chronological order.
What Is Antithesis in Writing?
In rhetoric, the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases.
What Is the Process of Compounding in Language?
Compounding is the process of combining two words to create a new word (commonly a noun, verb, or adjective).
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.
22 Great Examples of Personification
A figure of speech in which an inanimate object or abstraction is endowed with human qualities or abilities.
A group of words that begins with a capital letter and ends with a period, question mark, or exclamation point but is grammatically incomplete.
What Is a Postscript?
A postscript is a brief message appended to the end of a letter (following the signature) or other text.
collocation (words)
A familiar grouping of words, especially words that habitually appear together and thereby convey meaning by association.
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 10 tips should help us to improve our writing whenever we set out to inform or persuade.
What Is Linguistic Register?
One of many styles or varieties of language determined by such factors as social occasion, purpose, and audience.
Examples of Adjective Clauses in English
An adjective clause is a dependent clause used as an adjective within a sentence.
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