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Grammar & Composition: Most Popular Articles

These articles are the most popular over the last month.
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.
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.
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.
5 Delightful Examples of Descriptive Paragraphs
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >The purpose of
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 the Most Common Suffixes in English?
Understanding the meanings of the common suffixes can help us deduce the meanings of new words that we encounter.
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 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.
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 10 varieties of grammar--and take your pick.
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.
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.
What Are the Consonant Sounds and Letters in...
A consonant is a letter of the alphabet that represents a speech sound produced by a constriction of the speech organs.
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 Is a Compound-Complex Sentence?
A compound-complex sentence is a sentence with two or more independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.
40 Topic Suggestions for an Argumentative Essay...
These 40 statements may be either defended or attacked in an argumentative essay or speech.
What Is an Adverb in English Grammar?
An adverb is the part of speech (or word class) primarily used to modify a verb, adjective, or other adverb.
What Is Sentence Structure in English?
Sentence structure (or syntax) is the arrangement of words, phrases, and clauses in a sentence.
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.
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.
What Is Linguistics?
Enjoy this brief introduction to linguistics and its many subfields.
The Words 'Were,' 'We're,' and 'Where': What's...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" >and where are easily confused because they
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.
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 Compound Sentence?
A compound sentence is a sentence that contains at least two independent clauses.
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 Figures of Speech?
The figures of speech are the various rhetorical uses of language that depart from customary construction, order, or significance.
Introductory Paragraphs: Examples and Guidelines
An introductory paragraph is the opening paragraph in a conventional essay or composition.
What Are Complex Sentences in English Grammar?
A complex sentence is a sentence that contains an independent clause and at least one dependent clause.
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 (If Anything) Is Standard English?
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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.
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 Is the Communication Process and How Does...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition The
Definitions and Examples of the Eight Parts of...
Part of speech is a traditional term for one of the eight categories into which words are classified according to their functions in sentences.
50 of the Most Commonly Used Contractions in...
In this table you'll find 50 of the most frequently used contractions in English.
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.
50 Quick Writing Prompts
If you're stuck for something to write about, use these hints, snippets, cues, and clues to prod your memory and get started.
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.
200 Homonyms, Homophones, and Homographs
These charts list some of the most common homonyms, homophones, and homographs in English.
10 Types of Nouns: A Starter Kit
Let's consider 10 conventional types of nouns--or more precisely, some of the different ways of grouping nouns in terms of their forms, functions, and meanings.
A List of Common Subordinating Conjunctions...
A subordinating conjunction is a conjunction (a connecting word or phrase) that introduces a dependent clause, joining it to a main 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.
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 Is Expository Writing?
Expository writing is a pedagogical term for any form of writing that conveys information and explains ideas: exposition.
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 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.
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.
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.
What Is Free Variation in Phonetics?
Free variation is an alternative pronunciation of a word that doesn't affect the word's meaning.
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 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.
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.
Revision Checklist for Paragraphs and Essays
This checklist should serve as a helpful guide when it comes time to revise your writing.
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 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 Are Homonyms?
Homonyms are two or more words that have the same sound or spelling but differ in meaning.
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 gerund
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.
How to Organize a Descriptive Paragraph
Here's a basic three-step model you can follow when organizing a descriptive paragraph.
What Is Discourse Analysis?
Discourse analysis is the study of the ways in which language is used in texts and contexts.
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 Diphthongs?
In phonetics, a diphthong is a vowel in which there is a noticeable sound change within the same syllable.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Prepositions...
A preposition shows the relationship between other words in a sentence. Here are brief answers to some common questions about prepositions and prepositional phrases.
Top 12 Logical Fallacies
For those who need a little refresher, here are 12 of the most common informal logical fallacies.
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 Pronouns in English Grammar?
A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun, noun phrase, or noun clause.
What Are the Different Types of Third-Person...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >Definition In
How to Write an Effective Narrative Essay
This assignment will give you practice in composing a narrative essay based on personal experience--sometimes called a personal statement.
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.
Observations on the Nature of Language
Language is a human system of communication that uses arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, or written symbols.
What Are Noun Phrases in English Grammar?
A noun phrase (NP) is a word group with a noun or pronoun as its head.
Is This an Interrogative Sentence?
An interrogative sentence is a sentence that asks a question.
50 Examples of Blended Words
A blend is a word formed by merging the sounds and meanings of two or more other words.
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.
Process Analysis in Composition: Guidelines and...
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.
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.
A List of 100 Irregular Plural Nouns in English
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" > There are no
Is This a Rhetorical Question?
A rhetorical question is a question asked merely for effect with no answer expected.
What Is an Adverbial Clause?
An adverb (or adverbial) clause is a dependent clause used as an adverb within a sentence to indicate time, place, condition, contrast, concession, reason, purpose, or result.
What Is Linguistic Register?
A register is one of the many styles or varieties of language determined by such factors as social occasion, purpose, and audience.
How to Compose a Classification Essay
This article will show you how to develop and organize a five-paragraph classification essay.
What Are Present and Past Participles in...
A participle is a verbal that functions as an adjective.
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.
Observations on Morphology, the Study of Word...
Morphology is the branch of linguistics (and one of the major components of grammar) that studies word structures, especially in terms of morphemes.
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
30 Writing Topics: Persuasion
Any one of these 30 issues may serve as the basis for a persuasive essay or speech.
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 Are Conjunctions in English Grammar?
A conjunction is the part of speech that serves to connect words, phrases, clauses, or sentences.
The Essay: Attempts at a Definition of a...
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >"One damned thing
55 Examples of Metaphors--With Definitions
A metaphor is a figure of speech in which an implicit comparison is made between two unlike things that actually have something in common.
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 Helping Verbs in English Grammar?
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.
Examples of Balanced Sentences in English
A balanced sentence is made up of two parts that are roughly equal in length, importance, and grammatical structure.
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.
Writing Summaries: Guidelines and Examples
A summary is a shortened version of a text that highlights its key points.
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 Is the Difference Between Descriptive and...
Question: What Is the Difference Between Descriptive and Prescriptive Grammar?
Word Stories: The Surprising Origins of...
The study of word histories (etymology) can be entertaining and thought-provoking. Find out some of the many ways in which new words have entered (and continue to enter) the English language.
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.
A Brief Introduction to Classical Rhetoric
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" > The word rhetoric
What Is Concord in English Grammar?
Concord is another term for grammatical agreement between two words in a sentence.
Talking Together: An Introduction to Conversati...
This list of 15 key concepts related to the ways we talk with one another will introduce you to the rapidly developing field of conversation analysis. In addition, to show that our conversational habits and quirks have long been of interest to writers, we have included eight classic essays on conversation.
250 Topics for Familiar Essays
If you're stuck for a topic for your next essay, here are 250 suggestions to get you started.
7 Secrets to Success in English 101
English 101 should be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding courses in your college life. But to succeed in anything, it helps to be prepared.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Definition and Examples of Dependent Clauses in...
A dependent 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.
Advice for Writing Effectively on the Job
In almost every profession these days, effective communication is a critical skill--or rather, a combination of critical skills. These 10 articles will show you how to improve those skills.
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.
Personal Letters: Examples and Writing Guidelines
A personal letter is a type of letter (or informal composition) that usually concerns personal matters and is sent from one individual to another.
The Derivations of Words
In morphology, derivation is the process of creating a new word out of an old word, usually by adding a prefix or a suffix.
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.
Definitions and Discussions of Grammar in English
Grammar is the systematic study and description of a 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.
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 Are Predicate Nominatives in English...
Predicate nominative is the traditional term for a noun, pronoun, or other nominal that follows a linking verb.
Why I Love Exclamatory Sentences!
An exclamatory sentence is a sentence that expresses strong feelings by making an exclamation.
What Is Polysemy?
Polysemy is the association of one word with two or more distinct meanings.
What Is Coherence in Composition?
In composition, coherence refers to the logical connections that readers or listeners perceive in a written or oral text.
Begin Your Essay With a Bang
class="no-js" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Article" > itemprop="description" >In "The Writing
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.
13 Ways of Looking at a Metaphor
All of us, every day, speak, write, and think in metaphors. Here are 13 types of metaphors, with links to examples and extended definitions.
Examples of Different Types of Outlines in...
An outline is a plan for--or a summary of--a writing project or speech.
What Are the Articles in English Grammar and...
In grammar, an article is a type of determiner that precedes a noun.
What Are Derivational Morphemes?
In morphology, a derivational morpheme is an affix that's added to a word to create a new word or a new form of a word.
25 Examples of Absolute Phrases in English
An absolute phrase is a group of words that modifies an independent clause as a whole.
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 and Uses of the Passive Voice in English
Passive voice refers to a type of sentence or clause in which the subject receives the verb's action.
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.
Definition and Examples of Communication
Communication is the process of sending and receiving messages through verbal and/or nonverbal means.
The 200 Most Commonly Misspelled Words in English
A list of 200 of the most commonly misspelled words in English.
Examples of Hasty Generalizations
A hasty generalization is a fallacy in which a conclusion is not logically justified by sufficient or unbiased evidence.
Does the English Language Have a Future Tense?
Although there are several ways of expressing future time in English, many contemporary linguists insist that the English language has no future tense.
What Is English Composition?
Definitions, discussions, and examples of written compositions in English.
Affirmative Sentences in English Grammar
Affirmative sentence is a traditional grammatical term for any statement that is positive, not negative.
What Are Inflectional Morphemes?
In English morphology, an inflectional morpheme is a suffix that's added to a word to assign a particular grammatical property to that word.
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 Is the Thesis in an Essay or Speech?
A thesis is the main idea of an essay, report, speech, or research paper, often written as a single declarative sentence.
What Are Hyponyms in English?
In linguistics, a hyponym is a term used to designate a member of a class.
Definition and Examples of Predicates in...
A predicate is one of the two main parts of a sentence or clause, modifying the subject and including the verb, objects, or phrases governed by the verb.
What Are Modal Auxiliaries in English?
A modal (or modal auxiliary) is a verb that combines with another verb to indicate mood or tense.
When Do We Use the Simple Past Tense in English?
The simple past tense is a verb tense indicating action that occurred in the past and which does not extend into the present.
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.
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.
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