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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.
50 Topic Suggestions for a Narrative Paragraph,...
At least one of these 50 topic suggestions should remind you of a particular incident that you can recount in a clearly organized narrative essay.
What Is a Preposition?
A preposition is a word that indicates the relationship between a noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence.
What Are Figures of Speech?
The figures of speech are the various rhetorical uses of language that depart from customary construction, order, or significance.
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 an Argumentative Essay...
These thirty statements may be either defended or attacked in an argumentative essay or speech.
Five Examples of Descriptive Paragraphs
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The purpose of
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 Some of the Most Common English...
Understanding the meanings of the common suffixes can help us deduce the meanings of new words that we encounter.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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 the Consonants in English?
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.
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 the Most Commonly Used Contractions in...
In the table below you'll find some of the most frequently used contractions in English.
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 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.
40 Topic Suggestions for a Descriptive...
Descriptive writing calls for close attention to details. To help you get started, here are some topic suggestions for a descriptive paragraph or essay.
Introductory Paragraphs: Examples and Guidelines
An introductory paragraph is the opening paragraph in a conventional essay or composition.
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 Is Expository Writing?
A pedagogical term for any form of writing that conveys information and explains ideas: exposition.
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 Compound Sentence?
A sentence that contains at least two independent clauses.
What Is a Figure of Speech?
(1) In common usage, the opposite of a literal expression. (2) In rhetoric, a type of figurative language that departs from conventional order or significance.
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 Compound-Complex Sentence?
A sentence with two or more independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.
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 Are Conjunctions in English Grammar?
A conjunction is the part of speech that serves to connect words, phrases, clauses, or sentences.
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 Simple Sentences in English Grammar?
A simple sentence is a sentence with only one independent clause.
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 Are the Subordinating Conjunctions in...
A conjunction that introduces a dependent clause.
40 Topic Suggestions for a Comparison and...
These 40 topic suggestions for a comparison and contrast essay should serve as starting points to help you discover some fresh ideas on your own.
What Are Homonyms?
Two or more words that have the same sound or spelling but differ in meaning.
What Are Complex Sentences in English Grammar?
A complex sentence is a sentence that contains an independent clause and at least one dependent clause.
What Are Diphthongs?
In phonetics, a diphthong is a vowel in which there is a noticeable sound change within the same syllable.
Examples of 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).
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 Suffixes in English?
A suffix is 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 a Gerund in English Grammar?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
What Are the Different Types of Third-Person...
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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.
A Definition of Simile With 40 Examples
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
What Are Pronouns in English Grammar?
A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun, noun phrase, or noun clause.
Is This a Rhetorical Question?
A rhetorical question is a question asked merely for effect with no answer expected.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 the Communication Process and How Does...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: The
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.
A List of 100 Irregular Plural Nouns in English
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Most English nouns
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 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.
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 Participles in...
A verbal that functions as an adjective.
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 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.
50 Topic Suggestions for an Essay Developed by...
These 50 prompts are meant to help you discover a topic for an essay or speech developed by process analysis.
Definition and Examples of Irony
Irony is the use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning.
40 Topic Suggestions for an Essay or Speech...
If you're asked by your instructor to compose an essay or speech developed with examples, these 40 topic suggestions should help you get started.
What Is the Difference Between Descriptive and...
Question: What Is the Difference Between Descriptive and Prescriptive Grammar?
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.
Is This an Interrogative Sentence?
An interrogative sentence is a sentence that asks a question.
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 tell apart.
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.
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.
Organizational Strategies: Spatial Order
In composition, spatial order is a method of organization in which details are presented as they are (or were) located in space.
What Is Narrative Writing?
A narrative is an account of a sequence of events, usually in chronological order.
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.
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 Is an Adjective?
An adjective is the part of speech that modifies a noun or a pronoun.
250 Topics for Familiar Essays
If you're stuck for a topic for your next essay, here are 250 suggestions to get you started.
Writing Summaries: Guidelines and Examples
A summary is a shortened version of a text that highlights its key points.
99 Examples of Metaphors for Love
As this rich collection of 99 metaphors demonstrates, love has been compared to everything from a jewel and a fevered dream to a snowmobile and an exploding cigar. Alongside quotations from Plato, Ovid, and Shakespeare you'll find fresh figures from the likes of Tom Robbins, Eminem, and Rita Mae Brown.
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.
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 Is an Independent Clause in English?
An independent clause is a group of words made up of a subject and a predicate.
What Are Noun Phrases in English Grammar?
A noun phrase (NP) is a word group with a noun or pronoun as its head.
Ample Examples of Assonance in English
Assonance is the repetition of identical or similar vowel sounds in neighboring words.
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.
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.
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.
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.
60 Writing Suggestions for an Extended...
Abstract and controversial ideas can be clarified through extended definitions. These 60 concepts can be defined in various ways and from different points of view.
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.
What's So Common About Common Nouns in English?
A noun that's not the name of any particular person, place, or thing.
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 Varieties of Repetition in Rhetoric
In rhetoric, repetition is an instance of using a word, phrase, or clause more than once in a short passage. Here you'll find examples of 14 varieties.
All About Alliteration (and How to Use It)
Alliteration is the repetition of an initial consonant sound.
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.
What Is Figurative Language?
Figurative language is language in which figures of speech (such as metaphors, similes, and hyperbole) freely occur.
Definition and Examples of Paradox
A paradox is a figure of speech in which a statement appears to contradict itself.
What Are the Articles in English Grammar and...
In grammar, an article is a type of determiner that precedes a noun.
What Are Prepositional Phrases?
Acting like adjectives and adverbs, prepositional phrases add meaning to the nouns and verbs in a sentence.
What Is Metonymy?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
Grammar Basics: What is a Kernel Sentence?
In transformational grammar, a kernel sentence is a simple declarative construction with only one verb.
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'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 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 Homophones?
Homophones are two or more words that are pronounced the same but differ in meaning, origin, and often spelling.
Composing With Cumulative Sentences
A cumulative sentence is a main clause followed by a series of subordinate constructions that gather details about a person, place, event, or idea.
Are There Rules for Writing Paragraphs?
A paragraph is a group of closely related sentences that develop a central idea.
What Are Modal Auxiliaries in English?
A modal is a verb that combines with another verb to indicate mood or tense.
Examples of Adjective Clauses in English
An adjective clause is a dependent clause used as an adjective within a sentence.
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.
Organizational Strategies: Chronological Order
In composition, chronological order is a method of organization in which actions or events are presented as they occur (or occurred) in time.
Examples and Uses of the Passive Voice in English
A type of sentence or clause in which the subject receives the verb's action.
What's an Adjective Phrase in English Grammar?
A word group with an adjective as its head. This adjective may be accompanied by modifiers, determiners, or qualifiers.
What Are Coordinating Conjunctions in English?
A conjunction that joins two similarly constructed and/or syntactically equal words or phrases or clauses.
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.
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 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 Are Exclamatory Sentences?
An exclamatory sentence is a sentence that expresses strong feelings by making an exclamation.
What Are Consonant Clusters in English?
A consonant cluster is a group of two or more consonant sounds that come before, after, or between vowels.
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.
600 Commonly Confused Words in English
In our Glossary of Usage you'll find more than 300 sets of commonly confused words--with links to definitions, examples, usage notes, and exercises.
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 we'll consider some of the more common functions of verbs.
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 Is an Adverbial Clause?
A dependent clause used as an adverb within 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 Are Adverb(ial) Phrases in English?
An adverb phrase is a word group with an adverb as its head.
These Examples of Litotes Aren't So Bad
Litotes is a figure of speech consisting of an understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite.
Definitions and Discussions of Grammar in English
Grammar is the systematic study and description of a language.
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 Is a Rhetorical Situation?
A rhetorical situation is the context of a rhetorical act, made up of a rhetor, an issue, and an audience.
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.
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 Parallel Structures in Writing?
Two or more words, phrases, or clauses that are similar in length and grammatical form.
What Are the Different Points of View in...
The perspective from which a speaker or writer recounts a narrative or presents information.
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 Are the Basic Rules of Punctuation?
Understanding the principles behind the marks of punctuation should help us use the marks consistently in our own writing
What Are Direct Quotations?
A direct quotation is a report of the exact words of an author or speaker.
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.
300 Classic Essays and Speeches
From the works of Francis Bacon to those of Martin Luther King, Jr.: more than 300 of the greatest essays and speeches composed by British and American authors.
What Is English Composition?
Definitions, discussions, and examples of written compositions in English.
What Is Situational Irony?
An occasion in which the outcome is significantly different from what was expected or considered appropriate.
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.
Definition and Examples of the Figure of Speech...
Synecdoche is a figure of speech is which a part is used to represent the whole or the whole for a part.
What Is Concord in English Grammar?
A concord is another term for grammatical agreement between two words in a sentence.
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.
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 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.
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