SPAG glossary Child and parent friendly

SPAG glossary Child and parent friendly



SPAG glossary Child and parent friendly

Grammar term



Active voice

When the subject of the verb carries out an action.

David Beckham scored the penalty.


A “describing word”. Adjectives can be used in two main ways:
before a noun, to make the noun’s meaning more specific or
after the verb

The pupils did some really excellent work. (adjective used before a noun.)

Their work was excellent. (adjective used after the verb.)

The bright blue jumper.


Adverbs are sometimes said to describe manner or time. This is often true, but it doesn’t help to distinguish adverbs from other word classes .

The surest way to identify adverbs is by the ways they can be used: they can modify a verb, an adjective, another adverb or even a whole clause.

They are used to describe the verb.

Joshua soon started snoring loudly. [adverbs describing the verb]

That match was really exciting! [adverb modifying the adjective exciting]

We can go out and play soon.


Words which mean the opposite to each other.

The antonym of up is down.
The antonym of tall is short.
The antonym of add is subtract.

Apostrophe     ‘

Apostrophes have two uses:
For contraction or omission – to take the place of missing letters when words are joined together.

For possession – saying something belongs to something or someone.

Contraction/ omission
We’re all going out tomorrow night and we’ll all get something to eat.

I can’t do that today.

Hannah’s mother went to town in her dad’s car.


Are used before the noun. Articles are: An, a, the.

An apple
A bag of crisps
The chair.

Brackets    (       )
Also known as parenthesis.

Punctuation used for additional information or explanation.
The sentence can make sense without the additional information in the brackets.

Jamie's bike was red (which was his favourite colour) and a yellow stripe.

J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone) was written in 1995.

Capital Letters

Capital letters are used to start sentences after a full stop, explanation marl or question mark.

Capital letters are also used to for proper nouns (days of the week, people’s names etc.).
Capital letters are always used for the pro noun I.

On Tuesday, I went to the park that is situated at the bottom of Queens Road in Hanley.


Lucy and Gemma like to each ice-cream, especially when it is warm and sunny in August.


This is broken down into embedded clause, main clause, subordinate clause and relative clause.
Please see relevant section in glossary.

Colon       :

This is used to show more information is coming in the sentences.

It is commonly used to start a list.

Lucinda was stunned: she had never seen a firework display that was so fascinating!

On our school trip, you need to bring: a waterproof coat, wellies, warm jumpers and any medication.

Comma     ,

A comma is used to indicate a pause in the sentence or joining two ideas without using a conjunction.

A comma is also used to separate items in a list.


Commas are also used to indicate clauses.

To join sentences together.
Jasmine went to the park, she loved to play on the swings.

Separate items in a list.
Richard went to the shop and he bought onions, mushrooms and tomatoes.

Commas used to indicate clauses.  (embedded clause.)
Sophia, who was only one, loved to play in the ball pit.


Please see different types of sentences.

Compound word

A compound words is a word made up of at least two root words.



A conjunction links two words, phrases or sentences together. There are two main types of conjunctions:
Co-ordinating conjunction (FANBOYS). These are used when the two joining phrases or sentences are of equal importance.

Subordinating conjunctions are used to introduced a subordinate  clause.

Co-ordinating conjunctions.
Jenny bought a bat and a ball.
Kylie is young but she can kick the ball really hard.




Subordinating conjunctions.
I’m staying inside where it is warm because it is snowing,


Punctuation to show additional information.  Can be used in the same way as brackets.

The woman who was only 25 years old- was the first to win a gold medal for Britain.


These words are used to introduce a noun.

My tabby cat.
Our house.
Some sweets.


A conversation between 2
two or more people.

“Who’s there?” Asked Marvin.
“Doctor,” replied the mysterious man behind the door.
“Doctor Who?” Marvin enquired.
“Exactly……..” came the ominous response.

Direct Speech

When you write down exactly the words that have been spoken and inverted commas have been used to indicate the speech.

“Who’s there?” Asked Marvin.
“Doctor,” replied the mysterious man behind the door.


Punctuation used to show a pause in someone’s speech or thoughts. It is also used to show build tension.

The sight was breath taking……..truly amazing.

Suddenly, the door slammed shut and the eerier noise echoed around the room getting louder and louder

Embedded clause

Embedded means ‘within’. Am embedded clause is another type of subordinate clause. But am embedded clause is dropped into the middle of the sentence and a comma is used at either side of the clause.

Cleo, despite the wind and the rain, searched for the rabbit.


Please see different types of sentences.

Exclamation marks      !

A punctuation mark that is used to show strong feelings or shouting.

Stop that now!

Expanded noun phrase.

This is a phrase made up of a determiner, at least one adjective and a noun.

The yummy, cold ice-cream.
The amazing, outstanding astronaut.,
The tall, blond girl by the wall.
The fluffy tabby cat, curled up on top of the mat by the fire.

First person

When the writer speaks about himself or herself. We use the pro nouns I/WE/ME/US when we are using first person.

My family all went to the park. We all loved it, me especially. I always love going on the slide.

Fronted adverbial phrase

A fronted adverbial phrase goes at the beginning of a sentence. It describes the verb in the sentence. It describes where, when and how.

As soon as the train had left the station, Tom jumped from his seat.

After my tooth fell out, I put it safely under my pillow for the tooth fairy.

Full Stop        .

A punctuation mark that is used at the end of a sentence.

The tabby cat was curled up on the mat.

Future perfect tense

Future perfect tense describes events which will be finished before another action takes place.

We will have baked.
We will have finished packing the suitcases.

Future tense

Writing about what will happen. We usually place ‘will’ in front of verbs when writing in the future tense.

Next week, Emma will be going to Spain. She will have to pack her sun cream as it is very hot.


Words which sounds the same but they are spelt differently and have different meanings.

To, too, two
Their, there, they’re
Where, wear, we’re
Cereal/ serial
Knight/ night

Hyphen       -

Punctuation whish joins two or more words together or adds a prefix to a word.



An idiom is an expression or a ‘saying’ that is not taken literally.
They come from a variety of different sources and regions. They can be heard in everyday conversations.

You look a bit under the weather today.

She’s the apple of his eye.

Inverted Commas

Inverted commas are used to indicate speech. (Used to be called speech marks).

Come back! Shouted the mum.


A character representing one or more of the sounds used in speech. Written words are made up of letters. There are 26 different letters in the English alphabet.

Younger children are taught to identity letters from phonemes (sounds.)
EG. The word ‘cat’ has three letters and three phonemes.
The word ‘catch’ has five letters and three phonemes.

Main Clause

A main clause is a group of words that contains and verb and a subject, it can be called a simple sentence. The most important thing to remember is a mina clause make sense on its own.

Amirah swam fifty lengths.
The classroom was empty
The family went hiking. 


A figure of speech that compares different thins by saying one thing is another.

Her tears were a river flowing down her cheeks.
He is a night owl.


Nouns are somethings called ‘naming words’. Because they are the names of people, places and things/ objects.
Names are split into common nouns – objects and things.
Or proper nouns – People, places, moths of the years, days of the week,

Nouns: cat, dog, table chair, kitchen, bed, t-shirt, park.

Proper nouns: Monday, August, London, Mrs Gibson, Abbey Road, Jill.

Noun phrases

A noun phrases refers to words that work the same way as a noun. A noun  phrase features a noun, a pro nouns and an other modifier.

I want a cute puppy for Christmas.

Object – in a sentence

In a sentcen the object of the sentence is having something donw to it.

He sang to her.
They all love skiing.
Kathy looked at all the people.


Sentences linked together or related thoughts or ideas. Paragraphs make writing easier to understand.
A new paragraph usually means a change on topic, idea, time or place.


Passive voice

When a subject or verb has an action done to them. Often, the subject is not even mention. 

The window was smashed by the man in the mask.

Past tense

Verbs in the past tense are commonly used to talk about the past. Most verbs have the suffix ‘ed’ to form the past tense verb.

Yesterday, I played in the park.
Sarah went to the shop yesterday.

Past perfect tense

Past perfect describes completed events pf the past which happened before another action took place.

We has baked.
We played on the swings.
We ate an ice-cream.


Giving human qualities to animals or objects.

The sun smiles on the world.
The birds sang their beautiful song.
The wind howled.


Means more than one.
A plural noun normally has a suffes ‘s’ or ‘es’. 



A prefix is a group of letters added to the beginning of a word to change the meaning of the word.



These words are used to show and tell you’re the position of objects.

About, above, across, after, against, before, behind, below, near, in, underneath, within.
Tom jumped over the cat.
The monkey is in the tree.

Present perfect tense.

Present perfect tense is used for activities that started in the past but are still true now, or have an effect on what is happening now.

My friend Kashaan has livedin this town for five years.
We have beenbest friends all that time.
His dad says he has takenon the way I speak.

Present tense

Verbs in the present tense are commonly used to talk about things that are happening now.

Her friends are coming to join her.
She can swim.
I am playing in the park.


Words used to stop repeating the noun.

Examples:   I, you, me, he, she, it, you, him, her, mine, yours, his, its, we, they us, them ours, yours, theirs.
I went and hung up my coat.


Punctuation is used within sentences to indicate sentence boundaries.

The dog stopped barking at last.
Where are you going?
Get back here now!
I really want that ice-cream, please.


Please see different types of sentences.

Question marks      ?

A punctuation mark to show a question has been asked.

Can I go to the park please?
What is your name?

Relative clause

A relative clause adds more information to the sentence or can combine two sentences together,  A relative clause is connected to the main clause by using a relative pronoun,

Sarah is eating spaghetti, which is her favourite meal.

The boy, whom you met last week is coming for tea.

My grandad caught the rabbit that had escaped.

Relative pronoun

A relative pronoun joins a relative clause to a mina clause.

Relative pronouns are:

Second person

When the writer speaks to the reader. The word ‘you’ is often places before the verbs.

You are reading a SPAG glossary and I hope you are finding it useful.

Semi colon       ;

Punctuation that can be used instead of a conjunction or to add extra information and tension.

The children came home today; they had been away for a week.


A sentence is a group of words, which are grammatically connected to each other. A sentence makes sense on it own and can be simple, compound or complex. (see below)
The form of the main clause in a sentence is to show whether the sentence is been used as a statement, command, exclamation or question. 

Statement: You are my friend.
Question: Are you my friend?
Command: Be my friend.
Exclamation: What a good friend you are!

Sentence - complex

A complex sentence contains two or more clauses, one man clause and another.

While I am a passionate rugby fan, I prefer the formula one.
When the cake is brown, take it out the oven.

Sentence – compound

Where two simple sentences are joined together using a conjunction.

The monkey sat in the tree and ate his favourite fruit, bananas.

Sentence - simple

A simple sentence has one subject

The monkey sat in the tree.


Compares two or more things together, usually using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’.

As cute as a button.
As thin as a rake.
Last night, I slept like a log.


A word that means just one person or thing.



Please see different types of sentences.

Subject in a sentence

In a sentence, the subject is the person, animal or ting doing or being the verb. This is usually a noun, pronoun or noun phrase.

He sang to her
They all love skiing
Kathy looked at all the people.

Subordinate clause

A subordinate clause simply adds more information to the sentence. The most important thing to remember is a subordinate clause doesn’t make sense on its own.

Despite the wind and rain, Cleo searched for the rabbit.

Emma was eating her favourite sandwich, it was jam.


A suffix is a group of letters iced at the end of a word to change the meaning.



Words which have the same or very similar meaning.

Bad: awful, terrible horrible.
Happy: content, joyful, pleased.
Look: watch, stare, glaze.

Third person

When the writer speaks about something or someone else.
The pronouns: he, she, it, they, him, her, it them are used when writing in the third person.

He walked to the shops because he wanted to taste the new chocolate bar and share it with his family.


Verbs are somethings called ‘doing words’ because many verbs name an action that someone does.

He lives in Birmingham
The teacher wrote a song for the class
He likes chocolate.
I like to play on the swings.
I like to dance to music. 


A word is a unit of grammar made up of a series of letters and has its own meaning.




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SPAG glossary Child and parent friendly


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SPAG glossary Child and parent friendly