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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.
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.
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 Are the Most Common English Prefixes?
Understanding the meanings of the common prefixes can help us deduce the meanings of new words. This table defines and illustrates 35 common prefixes.
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 Are Figures of Speech?
The figures of speech are the various rhetorical uses of language that depart from customary construction, order, or significance.
The Basic Parts and Structures of English...
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 Are Simple Sentences in English Grammar?
A simple sentence is a sentence with only one independent clause.
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 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.
What Is an Adverb?
An adverb is the part of speech (or word class) primarily used to modify a verb, adjective, or other adverb.
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 the Subordinating Conjunctions in...
A conjunction that introduces a dependent clause.
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.
5 Delightful Examples of Descriptive Paragraphs
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The purpose of
What Is a Compound-Complex Sentence?
A compound-complex sentence is a sentence with two or more independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.
What Are Verbs in English and How Do We Use Them?
A verb is the part of speech (or word class) that describes an action or occurrence or indicates a state of being.
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 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 Is a Noun in English Grammar?
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 Is the Communication Process and How Does...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: The
What Is a Compound Sentence?
A compound sentence is a sentence that contains at least two independent clauses.
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.
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.
What Are Complex Sentences in English Grammar?
A complex sentence is a sentence that contains an independent clause and at least one dependent clause.
50 Examples of Blended Words
A blend is a word formed by merging the sounds and meanings of two or more other words.
What Are Diphthongs?
In phonetics, a diphthong is a vowel in which there is a noticeable sound change within the same syllable.
What Are Modal Auxiliaries in English?
A modal (or modal auxiliary) is a verb that combines with another verb to indicate mood or tense.
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.
How Do You Form the Present-Perfect in English...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Once you understand
Suffixes in English Grammar
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 Are Conjunctions in English Grammar?
A conjunction is the part of speech that serves to connect words, phrases, clauses, or sentences.
What Are the Parts of Speech?
One way to begin studying basic sentence structures is to consider the parts of speech. Learn the names and basic functions of these sentence parts.
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 Pronouns in English Grammar?
A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun, noun phrase, or noun clause.
A List of 100 Irregular Plural Nouns in English
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" > There are no
Prefixes in English Grammar
A prefix is a letter or group of letters attached to the beginning of a word that partly indicates its meaning.
What Are Mass Nouns in English?
A mass noun (also known as a noncount noun) is a noun that names things that cannot be counted.
50 of the Most Commonly Used Contractions in...
In this table you'll find 50 of the most frequently used contractions in English.
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 Homonyms?
Homonyms are two or more words that have the same sound or spelling but differ in meaning.
What Is a Metaphor?
We speak and write and think in metaphors every day. They can't be avoided: metaphors are baked into our language. Here are some examples.
What Are Coordinating Conjunctions in English?
A coordinating conjunction is a conjunction that joins two similarly constructed and/or syntactically equal words or phrases or clauses.
Is This an Interrogative Sentence?
An interrogative sentence is a sentence that asks a question.
40 Topic Suggestions for an Argumentative Essay...
These thirty statements may be either defended or attacked in an argumentative essay or speech.
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 the Difference Between Hanged and Hung?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >For centuries,
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 the Rules of Subject-Verb Agreement in...
Subject-verb agreement is the correspondence of a verb with its subject in person and number.
250 Topics for Familiar Essays
If you're stuck for a topic for your next essay, here are 250 suggestions to get you started.
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.
Examples of Different Types of Outlines in...
An outline is a plan for--or a summary of--a writing project or speech.
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 Is a Gerund in English Grammar?
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
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.
Homophone Corner: Threw, Through, and Thru
The commonly confused words threw, through, and thru: definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
What's So Common About Common Nouns in English?
A common noun is a noun that's not the name of any particular person, place, or thing.
What Are Context Clues (and What Are They Good...
A context clue is information that appears near a word or phrase and offers direct or indirect suggestions about its meaning.
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.
200 Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs
These charts list some of the most common homonyms, homophones, and homographs in English.
I Love Exclamatory Sentences!
An exclamatory sentence is a sentence that expresses strong feelings by making an exclamation.
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'll learn how to identify and use subjects, verbs, and objects--which together form the basic sentence unit.
How Many Different Kinds of Grammar Are There?
So you think you know grammar? That's all well and good, but which type of grammar do you know? Consider these ten varieties of grammar--and take your pick.
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 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 Are the Articles in English Grammar and...
In grammar, an article is a type of determiner that precedes a noun.
Definitions and Discussions of Grammar in English
Grammar is the systematic study and description of a language.
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.
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).
Objective Case in English Grammar
Objective case refers to the function of a pronoun when it is the direct or indirect object of a verb or verbal, the object of a preposition, or the subject of an infinitive.
Past Participles in English Grammar
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 Collective Nouns in English (and How...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
What Is Expository Writing?
Expository writing is a pedagogical term for any form of writing that conveys information and explains ideas: exposition.
Introductory Paragraphs: Examples and Guidelines
An introductory paragraph is the opening paragraph in a conventional essay or composition.
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.
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 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 Noun Phrases in English Grammar?
A noun phrase (NP) is a word group with a noun or pronoun as its head.
99 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.
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 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 Is Linguistic Register?
A register is one of many styles or varieties of language determined by such factors as social occasion, purpose, and audience.
Types of Word Formation in English
In linguistics, word-formation refers to the ways in which new words are made on the basis of other words or morphemes.
What Are Compound Nouns in English?
A compound noun is made up of two or more nouns that function as a single noun.
Definition and Examples of Communication
Communication is the process of sending and receiving messages through verbal and/or nonverbal means.
What Are Regular Verbs in English?
A regular verb is a verb that forms its past tense and past participle by adding -d or -ed to the base form.
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.
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 Predicate Nominatives in English...
Predicate nominative is the traditional term for a noun, pronoun, or other nominal that follows a linking verb.
What Are Adverbs of Emphasis?
An adverb of emphasis is an intensifier used to give added force or a greater degree of certainty to another word in a sentence or to the sentence as a whole.
What Is Concord in English Grammar?
Concord is another term for grammatical agreement between two words in a sentence.
25 Grammatical Terms That We Should Have...
If you're in the mood to brush up on your grammar, this page is for you: brief definitions and examples of 25 of the most common grammatical terms.
What Is English Composition?
Definitions, discussions, and examples of written compositions in English.
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 Syntax?
Syntax is (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.
Affirmative Sentences in English Grammar
Affirmative sentence is a traditional grammatical term for any statement that is positive, not negative.
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.
Intensive Pronouns in English Grammar
An intensive pronoun is a pronoun that serves to emphasize its antecedent.
grammatical error
A term used in prescriptive grammar for an instance of faulty, unconventional, or controversial usage.
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.
A Definition of Simile With 40 Examples
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition: A
What Is Affixation (And How Can You Use it to...
In linguistics, affixation is the process of adding a morpheme (or affix) to a word to create either (a) a different form of that word, or (b) a new word with a different meaning.
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.
Is This a Rhetorical Question?
A rhetorical question is a question asked merely for effect with no answer expected.
What Is Intonation in English Speech?
In linguistics, intonation is the use of changing vocal pitch to convey grammatical information or personal attitude.
What Is the Difference Between Descriptive and...
Question: What Is the Difference Between Descriptive and Prescriptive Grammar?
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.
Definition and Examples of Oxymorons in English
An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which incongruous or seemingly contradictory terms appear side by side.
Personal Pronouns in English Grammar
A personal pronoun is a pronoun that refers to a particular person, group, or thing.
Are There Rules for Writing Paragraphs?
A paragraph is a group of closely related sentences that develop a central idea.
Definition and Examples of Irony
Irony is the use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning.
What Is Pragmatics?
Pragmatics is concerned with the use of language in social contexts and the ways in which people produce and comprehend meanings through language.
What Should You Include in Meeting Minutes?
Minutes are the official written record of a meeting.
The 200 Most Commonly Misspelled Words in English
A list of 200 of the most commonly misspelled words in English.
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.
Using Dashes Alone or in Pairs
The dash is a mark of punctuation used to set off a word or phrase after an independent clause or to set off a parenthetical remark.
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.
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.
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.
What Are Function Words in English Grammar?
A function word is a word that expresses a grammatical or structural relationship with other words in a sentence.
What Are the Characteristics of Academic Writing?
Academic writing refers to the forms of expository prose used by university students and researchers to convey a body of information about a particular subject.
What Is an Adverbial Clause?
A dependent clause used as an adverb within a sentence.
Writing Summaries: Guidelines and Examples
A summary is a shortened version of a text that highlights its key points.
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 Present and Past Participles in...
A participle is a verbal that functions as an adjective.
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.
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.
What Is Code Switching?
Code switching is the practice of moving back and forth between two languages or between two dialects or registers of the same language.
What Is Narration in Composition and Speech?
In writing or speech, narration is the process of giving an account of a sequence of events, real or imagined.
7 Secrets to Success in English 101
Welcome to English 101--sometimes called freshman English or college composition. It should be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding courses in your college life. But to succeed in anything, it helps to be prepared.
How Should I Write the Abbreviation for 'United...
There's more than one correct way to write the abbreviation for United States.
What Does Stress Mean in Language Studies?
In phonetics, stress is the degree of emphasis given a sound or syllable in speech.
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.
What Is an Adjective?
An adjective is the part of speech that modifies a noun or a pronoun.
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 Is Colloquial Language?
Colloquial is the characteristic style of writing that seeks the effect of informal spoken language as distinct from formal or literary English.
Homophone Corner: Fair and Fare
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The words fair
100 Common Grammatical Terms
This collection provides a quick review of the basic terminology used in the study of traditional English grammar.
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.
What Is a Determiner in English Grammar?
A determiner is a word or a group of words that introduces a noun.
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 Are Modifiers in English Grammar?
A modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that functions as an adjective or adverb to limit or qualify the meaning of another word or word group.
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's the Difference Between Implicit and...
The commonly confused adjectives explicit and implicit: definitions, examples, and practice exercises.
What Are the Principal Parts of Verbs in English?
The three forms of a verb: base form, past tense form, and past participle.
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.
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