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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.
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.
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.
40 Topics for an Argumentative Essay
These thirty statements may be either defended or attacked in an argument essay.
Five Examples of Descriptive Paragraphs
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The purpose of
What Is a Consonant?
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 Are Figures of Speech?
The various rhetorical uses of language that depart from customary construction, order, or significance.
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 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.
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.
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 Is a Complex Sentence?
A complex sentence is a sentence that contains an independent clause and at least one dependent clause.
What Is an Adverb?
An adverb is the part of speech (or word class) primarily used to modify a verb, adjective, or other adverb.
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.
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).
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 Compound Sentence?
A sentence that contains at least two independent clauses.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Is a Compound-Complex Sentence?
A sentence with two or more independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.
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 the Most Commonly Used Contractions in...
In the table below you'll find some of the most frequently used contractions in English.
Is This a Rhetorical Question?
A question asked merely for effect with no answer expected.
What Are Conjunctions in English Grammar?
A conjunction is the part of speech that serves to connect words, phrases, clauses, or sentences.
What Are Simple Sentences in English Grammar?
A sentence with only one independent clause.
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 Is Expository Writing?
A pedagogical term for any form of writing that conveys information and explains ideas: exposition.
What Are the Different Types of Third-Person...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: The
A Definition of Simile With 40 Examples
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
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 Is the Communication Process and How Does...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: The
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.
A List of 100 Irregular Plural Nouns in English
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Most English nouns
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 the Subordinating Conjunctions in...
A conjunction that introduces a dependent clause.
Is This an Interrogative Sentence?
An interrogative sentence is a sentence that asks a question.
What Are Pronouns?
A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun, noun phrase, or noun 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 Helping Verb?
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.
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.
60 Writing Topic Ideas
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.
Writing Summaries: Guidelines and Examples
A summary is a shortened version of a text that highlights its key points.
Definition and Examples of Oxymorons
An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which incongruous or seemingly contradictory terms appear side by side.
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 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.
Definition and Examples of Irony
Irony is the use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning.
What Is a Gerund in English Grammar?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
100 Key Grammatical Terms
Drawn from our extensive Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms, this collection provides a quick review of the basic terminology used in the study of traditional English grammar. For a more detailed examination of the word forms and sentence structures introduced here, click on any of the terms to visit a glossary page, where you will find numerous examples and expanded discussions.
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 Do You Form the Present-Perfect in English...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Once you understand
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 the Figure of Speech Known as Apostrophe?
Apostrophe is a rhetorical term for breaking off discourse to address some absent person or thing.
What Are Parallel Structures in Writing?
Two or more words, phrases, or clauses that are similar in length and grammatical form.
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.
Introductory Paragraphs: Examples and Guidelines
An introductory paragraph is the opening paragraph in a conventional essay or composition.
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 Homonyms?
Two or more words that have the same sound or spelling but differ in meaning.
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's So Common About Common Nouns in English?
A noun that's not the name of any particular person, place, or thing.
What Are Exclamatory Sentences?
An exclamatory sentence is a sentence that expresses strong feelings by making an exclamation.
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.
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.
What Are Diphthongs?
In phonetics, a diphthong is a vowel in which there is a noticeable sound change within the same syllable.
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.
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 Narrative Writing?
A narrative is an account of a sequence of events, usually in chronological order.
Grammar Basics: What Is an Adjective?
An adjective is the part of speech that modifies a noun or a pronoun.
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.
15 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.
200 Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs
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 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).
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.
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.
All About Alliteration (and How to Use It)
Alliteration is the repetition of an initial consonant sound.
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 Situational Irony?
An occasion in which the outcome is significantly different from what was expected or considered appropriate.
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.
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.
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.
What's the Difference Between Hanged and Hung?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >For centuries,
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.
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.
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.
Ample Examples of Assonance in English
Assonance is the repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds in neighboring words.
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.
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 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.
What Is Metonymy?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
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.
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 Noun Phrases in English Grammar?
A noun phrase (NP) is a word group with a noun or pronoun as its head.
What Are Coordinating Conjunctions in English?
A conjunction that joins two similarly constructed and/or syntactically equal words or phrases or clauses.
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 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 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'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.
What Are Prepositional Phrases?
Acting like adjectives and adverbs, prepositional phrases add meaning to the nouns and verbs in a sentence.
Knit Wits, Going Pottie, and Just Falafs: Shop...
Enjoy our collection of punny shop names, from a liquor store named Boo's to a portable-toilet rental service called (get ready) Oui Oui Enterprises.
Practice in Choosing the Best Words: Denotation...
These short exercises will help you select words not only for what they mean according to the dictionary (their denotations) but also for what they imply or suggest (their connotative meanings).
Definition and Examples of Paradox
A paradox is a figure of speech in which a statement appears to contradict itself.
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.
What Are the Different Points of View in...
The perspective from which a speaker or writer recounts a narrative or presents information.
What Is Figurative Language?
Language in which figures of speech (such as metaphors, similes, and hyperbole) freely occur.
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 is Parallelism in English Grammar?
Similarity of structure in a pair or series of related words, phrases, or clauses.
Examples and Uses of the Passive Voice in English
A type of sentence or clause in which the subject receives the verb's action.
22 Great Examples of Personification
Personification is a figure of speech in which an inanimate object or abstraction is endowed with human qualities or abilities.
Sometime, Some time, and Sometimes: What's the...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The adverb sometime
Examples of Different Types of Outlines in...
An outline is a plan for--or a summary of--a writing project or speech.
The Uses of Dialogue in Fiction, Nonfiction,...
(1) A verbal exchange between two or more people. (2) A conversation reported in a drama or narrative.
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 Compound Nouns in English?
A compound noun is made up of two or more nouns that function as a single noun.
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.
Examples of Adjective Clauses in English
An adjective clause is a dependent clause used as an adjective within a sentence.
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.
Examples of Process Analysis in Composition
Process analysis is a method of paragraph or essay development by which a writer explains step by step how something is done or how to do something.
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.
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 Morphemes in English?
A meaningful linguistic unit (a word or a word element) that cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts.
Why Study Grammar?
If you're reading this, it's a safe bet that you know English grammar. But how much do you know about grammar? And why should anybody bother learning?
What Are Relative Pronouns in English?
A pronoun that introduces an adjective clause.
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 the Difference Between Descriptive and...
Question: What Is the Difference Between Descriptive and Prescriptive Grammar?
What Are the Articles in English Grammar and...
In grammar, an article is a type of determiner that precedes a noun.
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.
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.
What Are Present and Past Participles in...
A verbal that functions as an adjective.
What Is Tone in Writing?
Tone is a writer's attitude toward subject, audience, and self.
Examples of Imagery in Writing
Imagery is vivid descriptive language that appeals to one or more of the senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste).
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.
Definition and Examples of Connotations
Connotation refers to the emotional implications and associations that a word may carry.
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.
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.
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.
What Is an Adverbial Clause?
A dependent clause used as an adverb within a sentence.
What Are Some Examples of Antithesis?
In rhetoric, antithesis is the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases.
Examples of Spatial Order in Composition
In composition, a method of organization in which details are presented as they are (or were) located in space.
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