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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.
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
A List of Standard Contractions in English
In the table below you'll find some of the most frequently used contractions in English.
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 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.
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 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.
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 an Adverb?
An adverb is the part of speech (or word class) primarily used to modify a verb, adjective, or other adverb.
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.
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's a Conjunction in English?
A conjunction is the part of speech that serves to connect words, phrases, clauses, or sentences.
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 Are Rhetorical Questions?
A question asked merely for effect with no answer expected.
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.
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 Clauses?
A group of words that contains a subject and a predicate. A clause is either independent or dependent.
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.
morpheme
A meaningful linguistic unit (a word or a word element) that cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts.
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.
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.
Don't Confuse These Commonly Used Words
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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
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Five Examples of Descriptive Paragraphs
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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 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 Is Expository Writing?
A pedagogical term for any form of writing that conveys information and explains ideas: exposition.
Hanged and Hung
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >For centuries,
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.
What Is a Simile?
: A figure of speech in which two fundamentally unlike things are explicitly compared, usually in a phrase
What Are the Figures of Speech?
The various rhetorical uses of language that depart from customary construction, order, or significance.
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 Are Declarative Sentences?
A sentence in the form of a statement (in contrast to a command, a question, or an exclamation).
What Are Imperative Sentences?
An imperative sentence is a sentence that gives advice or instructions or that expresses a request or command.
What Is the Definition of a 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.
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.
language
Language is a human system of communication that uses arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, or written symbols.
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.
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 Pronouns?
A word that takes the place of a noun, noun phrase, or noun clause.
What Is a Complex Sentence?
A complex sentence is a sentence that contains an independent clause and at least one dependent clause.
What Is Metonymy?
: A figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely
What Is a Compound Sentence?
A sentence that contains at least two independent clauses.
point of view
The perspective from which a speaker or writer recounts a narrative or presents information.
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.
What Are the Most Common English Suffixes?
Understanding the meanings of the common suffixes can help us to deduce the meanings of new words that we encounter.
morphology
The branch of linguistics (and one of the major components of grammar) that studies word structures, especially in terms of morphemes.
How the Communication Process Works
: The exchange of information (a message ) between two or more people. These are many different models
What's the Difference Between the Words...
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How Do You Form the Present-Perfect in English...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Once you understand
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.
What Are Homonyms?
Two or more words that have the same sound or spelling but differ in meaning.
tense
In grammar, tense is the time of a verb's action or state of being, such as present or past. future.
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 a Gerund?
: A traditional grammatical term for a verbal that ends in -ing and functions as a noun . Adjective:
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.
syllogism
In logic, a syllogism is a form of deductive reasoning consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion.
All About Alliteration (and How to Use It)
Alliteration is the repetition of an initial consonant sound.
Definitions and Examples of the Parts of Speech
A traditional term for the categories into which words are classified according to their functions in sentences.
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.
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.
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.
noun clause
A noun clause is a dependent clause that functions as a noun (that is, as a subject, object, or complement).
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.
30 Writing Topics: Persuasion
Any one of these 30 issues may serve as the basis for a persuasive essay or speech.
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 Are Prepositional Phrases?
Acting like adjectives and adverbs, prepositional phrases add meaning to the nouns and verbs in a sentence.
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.
phrase
A small group of related words within a sentence or a clause.
diphthong
In phonetics, a vowel in which there is a noticeable sound change within the same syllable.
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.
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.
The 100 Most Important Words in English
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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.
What Is Grammar?
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Fair and Fare
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What Is a Paradox?
A figure of speech in which a statement appears to contradict itself.
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 Is Onomatopoeia?
The use of words that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to.
What Is a Compound-Complex Sentence?
A sentence with two or more independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.
adverb(ial) clause
A dependent clause used as an adverb within a sentence.
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.
appositive
An appositive is a noun, noun phrase, or series of nouns placed next to another word or phrase to identify or rename it.
present tense
A verb tense that expresses action in the present time, indicates habitual actions, or expresses general truths.
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.
500 Commonly Confused Words in English
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >"Advice" or "advise"?
What Is an Antithesis?
In rhetoric, the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas in balanced phrases.
adjective
An adjective is the part of speech that modifies a noun or a pronoun.
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.
What Is a Simple Sentence?
A sentence with only one independent clause.
What is the Figure of Speech Known as Apostrophe?
A rhetorical term for breaking off discourse to address some absent person or thing.
200 Punny Shop Names That Will Make You Smile
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.
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.
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.
What Are Interrogative Sentences?
An interrogative sentence is a sentence that asks a question.
noun phrase (NP)
A noun phrase (NP) is a word group with a noun or pronoun as its head.
assonance
The repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds in neighboring words.
What is Code Switching?
The practice of moving back and forth between two languages or between two dialects or registers of the same language.
Do You Know the Difference Between Rack and...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >As verbs, rack
What Is Schwa?
The most common vowel sound in English, represented as ə in the International Phonetic Alphabet.
What Is a Postscript?
A postscript is a brief message appended to the end of a letter (following the signature) or other text.
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.
grammar
The systematic study and description of a language.
participle
A verbal that functions as an adjective.
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.
participial phrase
A participial phrase is a word group consisting of a present or past participle and any modifiers, objects, and complements.
independent clause
A group of words made up of a subject and a predicate.
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 Is Hyperbole and How Is It Used?
A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect; an extravagant statement.
summary
A shortened version of a text that highlights its key points.
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.
What Is an 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.
What Is the Difference Between Descriptive and...
: What Is the Difference Between Descriptive and Prescriptive Grammar? : In our Glossary of Grammatical
What Is a Syllable?
One or more letters representing a unit of spoken language consisting of a single uninterrupted sound.
What Are Exclamatory Sentences?
An exclamatory sentence is a sentence that expresses strong feelings by making an exclamation.
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.
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.
What Are Examples of Personification?
A figure of speech in which an inanimate object or abstraction is endowed with human qualities or abilities.
adjective clause
A dependent clause used as an adjective within a sentence.
Threw, Through, and Thru
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Threw is the simple
subordinating conjunction
A conjunction that introduces a dependent clause.
What Is Critical Thinking?
The process of independently analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information as a guide to behavior and beliefs.
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.
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.
asyndeton
: A rhetorical term for a writing style that omits conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses (the
coherence
The logical connections that readers or listeners perceive in a written or oral text.
imagery
Imagery is vivid descriptive language that appeals to one or more of the senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste).
prefix
A letter or group of letters attached to the beginning of a word that partly indicates its meaning.
What's a Phoneme?
The smallest sound unit in a language that is capable of conveying a distinct meaning.
inflectional morpheme
In English morphology, a suffix that's added to a word to assign a particular grammatical property to that word.
pun
A play on words, sometimes on different senses of the same word and sometimes on the similar sense or sound of different words.
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.
101 Terms to You Need to Know Before Taking the...
On these two pages you'll find brief definitions of 101 grammatical, literary, and rhetorical terms that have appeared on the multiple-choice and essay portions of the AP English Language and Composition exam. For examples and more detailed explanations of the terms, follow the links to the expanded entries in our Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms.
passive voice
A type of sentence or clause in which the subject receives the verb's action.
adverb phrase
A word group with an adverb as its head. This adverb may be accompanied by modifiers or qualifiers.
What is Word Formation?
In linguistics, the ways in which new words are made on the basis of other words or morphemes.
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.
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.
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.
free morpheme
A morpheme (or word element) that can stand alone as a word. See also: Bound Morpheme.
auxiliary verb
A verb that determines the mood, tense, or aspect of another verb in a verb phrase.
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.
Definition and Examples of Discourse Analysis
The study of the ways in which language is used in texts and contexts.
précis
A brief summary of a book, article, speech, or other text.

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