Grammatical terms glossary

Grammatical terms glossary



Grammatical terms glossary

English Glossary
A word class that may modify a verb (for example, ‘beautifully’ in ‘She sings beautifully’), an adjective (for example ‘really’ in ‘He is really interesting’) or another adverb (for example ‘very’ in ‘She walks very slowly’). In English many adverbs have an –ly ending.
A word or group of words that contributes additional but nonessential information to the larger structure of a clause.
An adverbial can contribute circumstantial information to a clause (for example about place, ‘outside’ in ‘I spoke with him outside’; when or how, ‘quickly’ in ‘She responded quickly’). It can also contribute evaluative interpersonal meaning to a clause (for example ‘frankly’ in ‘Frankly, I don’t care’).
Adverbs, adverb groups, prepositional phrases, nouns and noun groups can function as an adverbial in a clause (for example 'tentatively' in 'They opened the letter tentatively', '...on the beach' in 'The dog was running on the beach’. An alternative term for ‘adverbial’ is adjunct’.
Relates to a sense of beauty or an appreciation of artistic expression. The selection of texts that are recognised as having aesthetic or artistic value is an important focus of the literature strand.
The recurrence of the same consonant sounds at the beginning of words in close succession, for example ripe, red raspberry.
When one noun group immediately follows another with the same reference, they are said to be in apposition, for example 'our neighbour, Mr Grasso...', 'Canberra, the capital of Australia, ...'
The act of discerning quality and value of literary texts.
The intended group of readers, listeners or viewers that the writer, designer, filmmaker or speaker is addressing.
The composer or originator of a work (for example a novel, film, website, speech, essay, autobiography).
Camera angle
The angle at which the camera is pointed at the subject. Vertical angle can be low, level or high. Horizontal angle can be oblique (side on) or frontal.
A clause creates a message through the combination of a subject (the element being identified for comment) and its predicate (the comment about the subject which contains a verb), for example ‘I (subject) shall eat my dinner (predicate).’
There are different kinds of clauses. The clause that is essential to any sentence is an independent (or main) clause.
Compound and complex sentences contain more than one clause.
A clause that provides additional information to the main clause but cannot stand alone is a dependent (or subordinate) clause. For example:

  • 'When the sun goes down (dependent), I shall eat my dinner (main).'
  • ‘My time is limited (main) because I am reading Shakespeare.’ (dependent)

An embedded clause occurs within the structure of another clause often as a qualifier to a noun group, for example:

  • ‘The man who came to dinner (embedded) is my brother.’

Grammatical or lexical relationships that bind different parts of a text together and give it unity. Cohesion is achieved through various devices such as connectives, ellipses and word associations (sometimes called lexical cohesion). These associations include synonyms, antonyms (words opposite in meaning, for example ‘study/laze about’, ‘ugly/beautiful’), repetition (‘work, work, work – that’s all we do!’), word sets (for example class-sub-class or part-whole sets), and collocation (using words that go with each other, for example ‘friend’ and ‘pal’ in, ‘My friend did me a big favour last week. She’s been a real pal.’)
Those words that commonly occur in close association with one another (for example ‘blonde’ goes with ‘hair’, butter is ‘rancid’ not ‘rotten’, ‘salt and pepper’ not ‘pepper and salt’).
A punctuation convention used to separate a general statement from one or more statements that provide additional information, explanation or illustration. The statements that follow the colon do not have to be complete sentences.
Complex sentence
Contains an independent (or main) clause and one or more dependent (or subordinate) clauses. The dependent clause is joined to the independent clause through subordinating conjunctions like ‘when’, ‘while’, and ‘before’. A complex sentence will not make sense without an independent clause. In the following example, the dependent clause is underlined and the conjunction is in bold: ‘When the sun came out, we all went outside.’
Compound sentence
A sentence consisting of two or more independent (main) clauses joined by coordinating conjunctions like ‘and’, ‘or’ ‘but’ and ‘so’. Each clause is coordinated or linked so as to give each one equal status as a message. In the following example, the coordinating conjunction is underlined and verbs are highlighted: ‘The sun emerged and we all went outside’.
Comprehension strategies
Strategies and processes used by readers to make meaning from texts. Key comprehension strategies include:

  • activating and using prior knowledge
  • identifying literal information explicitly stated in the text
  • making inferences based on information in the text and their own prior knowledge
  • predicting likely future events in a text
  • visualising by creating mental images of elements in a text
  • summarising and organising information from a text
  • integrating ideas and information in texts
  • critically reflecting on content, structure, language and images used to construct meaning in a text.

Concepts about print
Concepts about how English print works. They include information about where to start reading and how the print travels from left to right across the page. Concepts about print are essential for beginning reading.
A word that joins other words, phrases or clauses together in logical relationships such as addition, time, cause or comparison. There are two major types of conjunctions for linking messages: coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions.

  • coordinating conjunctions are words that link words, phrases and clauses in such a way that the elements have equal status in meaning. They include conjunctions like ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘but’:
  • ‘Mum and dad are here’ (joining words)
  • ‘We visited some of our friends but not all of them’ (joining noun groups)
  • ‘Did I fall asleep and miss my dinner?’ (joining clauses)
  • subordinating conjunctions introduce certain kinds of dependent clauses;
  • ‘that’ simply marks declaratives, for example ‘I know that he is ill’
  • ‘whether’ (or ‘if’ in the sense in which it is equivalent to whether) marks interrogatives, ‘I wonder whether/if she's right’
  • ‘while’, ‘after’, ‘when’, ‘because’, ‘if’ (in the conditional sense) serve to mark the kind of dependent clause it introduces: for example one of time, reason, condition, ‘We went home after/when the meeting ended’, ‘They stayed in because it was raining’, ‘I'll do it if you pay me’

Words which link paragraphs and sentences in logical relationships of time, cause and effect, comparison or addition. Connectives relate ideas to one another and help to show the logic of the information. Connectives are important resources for creating cohesion in texts. The logical relationships can be grouped as follows:

  • temporal – to indicate time or sequence ideas (for example ‘first’, ‘second’, ‘next’)
  • causal – to show cause and effect (for example ‘because’, ‘for’ , ‘s o’)
  • additive – to add information (for example ‘also’, ‘besides’, ‘furthermore’)
  • comparative – for example ‘rather’, ‘alternatively’
  • conditional/concessive – to make conditions or concession (for example ‘yet’, ‘although’)
  • clarifying – for example ‘in fact’, ‘for example’

The environment in which a text is responded to or created. Context can include the general social, historical and cultural conditions in which a text is responded to and created (the context of culture) or the specific features of its immediate environment (context of situation). The term is also used to refer to the wording surrounding an unfamiliar word that a reader or listener uses to understand its meaning.
An accepted language practice that has developed over time and is generally used and understood, for example use of punctuation.
Coordinating conjunctions
Words that link phrases and clauses in such a way that the elements have equal status in meaning. They include conjunctions like ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘either/neither’, ‘but’, ‘so’ and ‘then’.
Develop and/or produce spoken, written or multimodal texts in print or digital forms.
Creating refers to the development and/or production of spoken, written or multimodal texts in print or digital forms.
The process of working out the meaning of words in a text. In decoding, readers draw on contextual, vocabulary, grammatical and phonic knowledge. Readers who decode effectively combine these forms of knowledge fluently and automatically, using meaning to recognise when they make an error, and self-correct.
Dependent clause
A clause that cannot make complete sense on its own. It needs to be combined with an independent clause to form a complete sentence. The dependent clause can be introduced by a finite verb like ‘goes’ in the following sentence: 'When the sun goes down, I shall eat my dinner.' But it can also be introduced by non-finite verbs, as in ‘going’ in the following sentence: ‘From 1966 to 2001 the total population decreased, going from 11,800 down to 11,077’.
The way particular elements are selected and used in the process of text construction for particular purposes. These elements might be linguistic (words); visual (images); audio (sounds); gestural (body language); spatial (arrangement on the page, screen or 3D), and multimodal (a combination of more than one).
Digital texts
Audio, visual or multimodal texts produced through digital or electronic technology which may be interactive and include animations and/or hyperlinks. Examples of digital texts include DVDs, websites, e-literature.
Two letters that represent a single sound. Vowel digraphs are two vowels (‘oo’, ‘ea’). Consonant digraphs have two consonants (‘s h’, ‘th’). Vowel/consonant digraphs have one vowel and one consonant (‘er’, ‘ow’).
The electronic publication of literature using the multimedia capabilities of digital technologies to create interactive and possibly non-linear texts, through combining written text, movement, visual, audio and spatial elements. It may include hypertext fiction, computer art installations, kinetic poetry and collaborative writing projects allowing readers to contribute to a work. E-literature also includes texts where print meanings are enhanced through digital images and/or sound and literature that is reconstituted from print texts (for example online versions of The Little Prince or Alice in Wonderland).

  • The omission of words that repeat what has gone before; these terms are simply understood (for example ‘The project will be innovative. To be involved will be exciting.’ ‒ ‘in the project’ is ellipsed in the second sentence).
  • Through a related resource called substitution, a word like ‘one’ is substituted for a noun or noun group as in ‘There are lots of apples in the bowl. Can I have one?’ (‘of them’).
  • A cohesive resource that binds text together and is commonly used in dialogue for speed of response and economy of effort, for example (do you) ‘Want a drink?’ / ‘Thanks, I would.’ (like a drink).
  • The use of three dots. This form of punctuation (also known as points of ellipsis) can be used to indicate such things as surprise or suspense in a narrative text or that there is more to come in an on-screen menu.

Etymological knowledge
Knowledge of the origins and development of the form and meanings of words and how the meanings and forms have changed over time.
Evaluative language
Positive or negative language that judges the worth of something. It includes language to express feelings and opinions, to make judgments about aspects of people such as their behaviour, and to assess the quality of objects such as literary works. Evaluations can be made explicit (for example through the use of adjectives as in: ‘She’s a lovely girl’, ‘He’s an awful man’, or ‘How wonderful!’), however, they can be left implicit (for example ‘He dropped the ball when he was tackled’, or ‘Mary put her arm round the child while she wept.’)
Figurative language
Words or phrases used in a way that differs from the expected or everyday usage. They are used in a nonliteral way for particular effect (e.g. simile, metaphor, personification).
The way in which elements in a still or moving image are arranged to create a specific interpretation of the whole. Strong framing creates a sense of enclosure around elements while weak framing creates a sense of openness.
The categories into which texts are grouped. The term has a complex history within literary theory and is often used to distinguish texts on the basis of their subject matter (detective fiction, romance, science fiction, fantasy fiction), form and structure (poetry, novels, short stories).
The language we use and the description of language as a system. In describing language, attention is paid to both structure (form) and meaning (function) at the level of the word, the sentence and the text.
Graphophonic knowledge
The knowledge of how letters in printed English relate to the sounds of the language.
The production of legible, correctly formed letters by hand or with the assistance of writing tools, for example pencil grip or assistive technology.
High frequency sight words
The most common words used in written English text. They are sometimes called ‘irregular words’ or ‘sight words’. Many common or ‘high-frequency’ words in English are not able to be decoded using sound–letter correspondence because they do not use regular or common letter patterns. These words need to be learnt by sight, for example 'come', 'was', 'were', 'one', 'they', 'watch', 'many'.
A word identical in pronunciation with another but different in meaning, for example 'bare' and 'bear', 'air' and 'heir'.
Hybrid texts
Composite texts resulting from a mixing of elements from different sources or genres (for example infotainment). Email is an example of a hybrid text, combining the immediacy of talk and the expectation of a reply with the permanence of print.
Idiomatic expressions
A group of (more or less) fixed words having a meaning not deducible from the individual words. Idioms are typically informal expressions used by particular social groups and need to be explained as one unit (for example ‘I am over the moon’, ‘on thin ice’, ‘a fish out of water’, ‘fed up to the back teeth’).
Independent clause
A clause that makes sense on its own whereas a dependent clause needs to be added to an independent clause for the sentence to make sense.
The associations or connections between one text and other texts. Intertextual references can be more or less explicit and self-conscious. They can take the form of direct quotation, parody, allusion or structural borrowing.
The placement of two or more ideas, characters, actions, settings, phrases, or words side-by-side for a particular purpose for example to highlight contrast or for rhetorical effect.
Language features
The features of language that support meaning, e.g. sentence structure, vocabulary, illustrations, diagrams, graphics, punctuation, figurative language. Choices in language features and text structures together define a type of text and shape its meaning. These choices vary according to the purpose of a text, its subject matter, audience and mode or medium of production.
Language patterns
The arrangement of identifiable repeated or corresponding elements in a text. These include patterns of repetition or similarity (for example the repeated use of verbs at the beginning of each step in a recipe, or the repetition of a chorus after each verse in a song). The patterns may alternate (for example the call and response pattern of some games, or the to and fro of a dialogue). Other patterns may contrast (for example opposing viewpoints in a discussion, or contrasting patterns of imagery in a poem). The language patterns of a text contribute to the distinctive nature of its overall organisation and shape its meaning.
The spatial arrangement of print and graphics on a page or screen including size of font, positioning of illustrations, inclusion of captions, labels, headings, bullet points, borders and text boxes.
Lexical cohesion
The use of word associations to create links in texts. Links can be made through the use of repetition of words, synonyms, antonyms and words that are related such as by class and subclass.
The use of the sense of hearing as well as a range of active behaviours to comprehend information received through gesture, body language and other sensory systems.
Media texts
Spoken, print, graphic or electronic communications with a public audience. They often involve numerous people in their construction and are usually shaped by the technology used in their production. The media texts studied in English can be found in newspapers, magazines and on television, film, radio, computer software and the internet.
The resources used in the production of texts including the tools and materials used (for example digital text and the computer, writing and the pen or the typewriter).
A language used to discuss language conventions and use.
The use of the name of one thing or attribute of something to represent something larger or related (for example using the word 'crown' to represent a monarch of a country; referring to a place for an event as in ‘Chernobyl’ when referring to changed attitudes to nuclear power, or a time for an event as in ‘9/11’ when referring to changed global relations).
Modal verb
A verb that expresses a degree of probability attached by a speaker to a statement (for example `I might come home') or a degree of obligation (for example ‘You must give it to me', `You are not permitted to smoke in here').
Aspects of language that suggest a particular angle on events, a speaker or writer’s assessment of possibility, probability, obligation and conditionality. It is expressed linguistically in choices for modal verbs (for example can, may, must, should), modal adverbs (for example possibly, probably, certainly) and modal nouns (possibility, probability, certainty).
The various processes of communication – listening, speaking, reading/viewing and writing/creating. Modes are also used to refer to the semiotic (meaning making) resources associated with these communicative processes, such as sound, print, image and gesture.
The smallest meaningful or grammatical unit in language. Morphemes are not necessarily the same as words. The word ‘cat’ has one morpheme, while the word ‘cats’ has two morphemes: ‘cat’ for the animal and ‘s’ to indicate that there is more than one. Similarly ‘like’ has one morpheme, while ‘dislike’ has two: ‘like’ to describe appreciation and ‘dis’ to indicate the opposite. Morphemes are very useful in helping students work out how to read and spell words.
Morphemic knowledge
Knowledge of morphemes, morphemic processes and the different forms and combinations of morphemes (for example the word ‘unfriendly’ is formed from the stem ‘friend’, the adjective forming suffix ‘ly’ and the negative prefix ‘un’).
Multimodal text
Combination of two or more communication modes, for example print, image and spoken text as in film or computer presentations.
A story of events or experiences, real or imagined. In literary theory, narrative includes the story (what is narrated) and the discourse (how it is narrated).
Narrative point-of-view
The ways a narrator may be related to the story. For example, the narrator might take the role of first or third person, omniscient or restricted in knowledge of events, reliable or unreliable in interpretation of what happens.
The creation of a new word or expression.
A process for forming nouns from verbs (for example `reaction' from `react' or `departure' from `depart') or adjectives (for example `length' from `long', `eagerness' from `eager').
A process for forming noun phrases from clauses (for example `their destruction of the city' from `they destroyed the city').
Nominalisation is a way of making a text more compact and is often a feature of texts that contain abstract ideas and concepts.
A word class used to represent places, people, ideas and things. Nouns can be made plural (for example dog/dogs) and can be marked for possession (for example dog/dog’s). There are different types of nouns including:

  • abstract noun refers to an idea, state or quality (for example ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, ‘courage’, ‘doubt’, ‘success’ and ‘love’)
  • concrete noun refers to something that has a physical reality. It may be seen, touched, tasted
  • pronoun refers to words like ‘I’, ‘you’, ‘them’, ‘hers’ that are used in place of a noun.

Noun groups
A group of words building on a noun. Noun groups usually consist of an article (‘the’, ‘a’, ‘an’) plus one or more adjectives. They can also include demonstratives (for example ‘this’, ‘those’), possessives (for example ‘my’, ‘Ann's’), quantifiers (for example ‘two’, ‘several’), or classifiers (for example ‘wooden’) before the head noun. These are called pre-modifiers after the noun, phrases and clauses act as post-modifiers following the head noun (for example ‘the girl with the red shirt who was playing soccer’).
Onset and rime
The separate sounds in a syllable or in a one syllable word. In ‘cat’ the onset is /c/and the rime is /at/, in shop the onset is /sh/ and the rime is /op/. Word families can be constructed using common onsets such as /t/ in top, town, tar, tap, or common rimes such as /at/ in cat, pat, sat, rat. These are very useful for teaching spelling.
The description of an inanimate object as though it were a person or living thing.
The smallest unit of sound in a word. The word ‘i s’ has two phonemes /i/ and /s/. The word ‘ship’ has three phonemes /sh/, /i/, /p/.
The term used to refer to the ability to identify the relationships between letters and sounds when reading and spelling.
Phonological awareness
A broad concept that relates to the sounds of spoken language. It includes understandings about words, rhyme, syllables and onset and rime. NOTE: the term ‘sound’ relates to the sound we make when we say a letter or word, not to the letter in print. A letter may have more than one sound, such as the letter ‘a’ in ‘was’, ‘can’ or ‘father’, and a sound can be represented by more than one letter such as the sound /k/ in ‘cat’ and ‘walk’. The word ‘ship’ had three sounds /sh/, /i/, /p/, but has four letters ‘s’, ‘h’, ‘i’, ‘p’. Teachers should use the terms ‘sound’ and ‘letter’ accurately to help students clearly distinguish between the two items.
Phonological knowledge
Information about the sounds of language and letter-sound relationships (when comprehending a text), for example single sounds, blends.
A unit intermediate between clause and word consisting of a head word alone or accompanied by one or more dependents. The class of a phrase is determined by the head: a phrase with a noun as head is a noun phrase (e.g. men or the men who died), one with a verb as head is a verb phrase (e.g. went or had gone), and so on.
Poetic devices
Particular patterns and techniques of language used in poems to create particular effects.
Point of view

  • Refers to the viewpoint of an author, audience or characters in a text.
  • Narrative point of view refers to the ways a narrator may be related to the story. The narrator, for example, might take the role of first or third person, omniscient or restricted in knowledge of events, reliable or unreliable in interpretation of what happens.

Predictable text
Texts that are easily navigated and read by beginning readers because they contain highly regular features such as familiar subject matter, a high degree of repetition, consistent placement of text and illustrations, simple sentences, familiar vocabulary and a small number of sight words.
An informed presumption about something that might happen. Predicting at the text level can include working out what a text might contain by looking at the cover, or working out what might happen next in a narrative. Predicting at the sentence level is identifying what word is likely to come next in a sentence.
A prefix is a meaningful element added to the beginning of a word to change its meaning.
Prepositional phrases
Prepositions are positional words, for example:’ below ‘, ‘for’, ‘down’, ‘above’, ‘to’, ‘near’, ‘under, ’since’, ‘between’, ‘with’, ‘before’, ‘after’, ‘into’, ‘from’, ‘beside’, ‘without’, ‘out’, ‘during’, ‘past’, ‘over’, ‘until’, ‘through’, ‘off’, ‘on’, ‘across’, ‘by’, ‘in’, ‘around.’ Prepositional phrases are units of meaning within a clause that contain a preposition, for example ’She ran into the garden’, ‘He is available from nine o’clock’.
Humorous use of a word to bring out more than one meaning; a play on words.
To process words, symbols or actions to derive and/or construct meaning. Reading includes interpreting, critically analysing and reflecting upon the meaning of a wide range of written and visual, print and non-print texts.
Return sweep
The way English print travels from left to right and then returns to the left of the page for the next and each subsequent line.
Rhetorical question
A question that is asked to provoke thought rather than require an answer.
Rime and onset
The separate sounds in a syllable or in a one-syllable word. In ‘cat’ the onset is /c/and the rime is /at/, in shop the onset is /sh/ and the rime is /op/. Word families can be constructed using common onsets such as /t/ in top, town, tar, tap, or common rimes such as /at/ in cat, pat, sat, rat. These are very useful for teaching spelling.
A strategy of emphasis, highlighting what is important in a text. In images, salience is created through strategies like placement of an item in the foreground, size and contrast in tone or colour. In writing, salience can occur through placing what is important at the beginning or at the end of a sentence or paragraph or through devices such as underlining or italics.
When reading, moving the eyes quickly down the page seeking specific words and phrases. Scanning is also used when a reader first finds a resource to determine whether it will answer their questions.
Semantic knowledge/information
Information related to meanings used when reading. Semantic information includes a reader’s own prior knowledge and the meanings embedded in a text. Readers use semantic information to assist in decoding and to derive meanings from a text.
Join clauses that could stand alone as sentences. In this way clauses that have a close relationship with one another may be linked together in a single sentence.
A unit of written language consisting of one or more clauses that are grammatically linked. A written sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark. There are different types of sentences:

  • simple sentence – has the form of a single independent clause (for example ‘Mary is beautiful.’ ‘The ground shook.’ ‘Take a seat.’)
  • compound sentence – contains two or more clauses that are coordinated or linked in such a way as to give each clause equal status. In the following example ‘and’ is the coordinating conjunction: ‘We went to the movies and bought an ice cream.’
  • complex sentence – contains an independent (or main) clause and one or more dependent (or subordinate) clauses. The dependent clause is joined to the independent clause through subordinating conjunctions like ‘when’, ‘while’ and ‘before’ as in the following examples: ‘We all went outside when the sun came out,’ and ‘Because I am reading Shakespeare, my time is limited.’

Simple sentence
Contains one clause and expresses a complete thought. It has a subject and a verb and may also have an object or complement.
Sound effect
Any sound, other than speech or music, used to create an effect in a text.
Sound/letter correspondence
The relationship of spoken sounds of English to letters of the alphabet or to letter clusters.
Convey meaning and communicate with purpose. Some students participate in speaking activities using communication systems and assistive technologies to communicate wants, and needs, and to comment about the world.
A slip of the tongue where the initial sounds of a pair of words are transposed.
Standard Australian English
The variety of spoken and written English language in Australia used in more formal settings such as for official or public purposes, and recorded in dictionaries, style guides and grammars. While it is always dynamic and evolving, it is recognised as the ‘common language’ of Australians.
When a person or thing is judged to be the same as all others of its type. Stereotypes are usually formulaic and oversimplified.
Stylistic features
The ways aspects of texts (such as words, sentences, images) are arranged and how they affect meaning. Style can distinguish the work of individual authors (for example Jennings’ stories, Lawson’s poems) as well as the work of a particular period (for example Elizabethan drama, nineteenth century novels). Examples of stylistic features are narrative viewpoint, structure of stanzas, juxtaposition.
An element in the structure of a clause, usually filled by a noun group, that is enacting the verb, for example ‘the dog (subject) was barking’. The normal position of the subject is before the verb group, but in most kinds of interrogative it follows the first auxiliary verb, for example ‘Was the dog barking?’, ‘Why was the dog barking?’
In independent clauses the subject is an obligatory element except in imperative clauses and casual style, for example ‘There will be no milk left’.
Most personal pronouns have a different form when the subject of a finite clause (I, he, she, etc.) than when the object (me, him, her), for example ‘She won the race’, not ‘Her won the race’. In the present tense, and the past tense with the verb ‘be’, the verb agrees with the subject in person and number, for example ‘Her son lives with her’ and ‘Her sons live with her’

  • subject matter refers to the topic or theme under consideration.

Subordinating conjunction
Links a dependent clause to an independent (main) clause in a sentence. Examples include conjunctions like ‘when’ in the sentence: ‘When I went to Sydney, I met my aunt’; ‘while’ in ‘While waiting for my dinner, I fell asleep and ‘although’ in 'Although I left my coat behind in the car, I continued on my way.'
A meaningful element added to the end of a word to change its meaning.
The process of dividing words into syllables.
A single unit of pronunciation.
The ways words, phrases and clauses are structured in sentences. In some schools of linguistics, syntax and grammar are used interchangeably.
A verb form that locates the event described by the verb in time (for example ‘Sarah laughs’ is present tense, ‘Sarah laughed’ is past tense).
The means for communication. Their forms and conventions have developed to help us communicate effectively with a variety of audiences for a range of purposes. Texts can be written, spoken or multimodal and in print or digital/online forms. Multimodal texts combine language with other systems for communication, such as print text, visual images, soundtrack and spoken word as in film or computer presentation media.
Text navigation
The way readers move through text. Readers generally read novels in a linear fashion from the beginning to the end; readers of nonfiction books often use the contents page and index and move between chapters according to the information sought. Readers often read digital texts more flexibly, according to interest and purpose, using hyperlinks to move between pages and digital objects, such as videos or animations, making quick judgments about relevance of material.
Text processing strategies
Strategies readers use to decode a text. These involve drawing on contextual, semantic, grammatical and phonic knowledge in systematic ways to work out what a text says. They include predicting, recognising words and working out unknown words, monitoring the reading, identifying and correcting errors, reading on and re-reading.
Text structure
The ways information is organised in different types of texts for example, chapter headings, sub headings, table of contents, indexes and glossaries, overviews, introductory and concluding paragraphs, sequencing, topic sentences, taxonomies, cause and effect. Choices in text structures and language features together define a text type and shape its meaning. See language features.

  • refers to the main idea or message of a text, or
  • grammatical theme indicates importance both within a clause and across a text . In a clause the theme comes in first position and indicates what the sentence is about. Theme is important at different levels of text organisation. The topic sentence serves as the theme for the points raised in a paragraph. A pattern of themes contributes to the method of development for the text as a whole.

Types of texts
Classifications according to the particular purposes they are designed to achieve. These purposes influence the characteristic features the texts employ. In general, in the Australian Curriculum: English, texts can be classified as belonging to one of three types: imaginative, informative or persuasive, although it is acknowledged that these distinctions are neither static nor watertight and particular texts can belong to more than one category.
Imaginative texts – texts whose primary purpose is to entertain through their imaginative use of literary elements. They are recognised for their form, style and artistic or aesthetic value. These texts include novels, traditional tales, poetry, stories, plays, fiction for young adults and children including picture books and multimodal texts such as film.
Informative texts – texts whose primary purpose is to provide information. They include texts which are culturally important in society and are valued for their informative content, as a store of knowledge and for their value as part of everyday life. These texts include explanations and descriptions of natural phenomena, recounts of events, instructions and directions, rules and laws and news bulletins.
Persuasive texts – whose primary purpose is to put forward a point of view and persuade a reader, viewer or listener. They form a significant part of modern communication in both print and digital environments. They include advertising, debates, arguments, discussions, polemics and influential essays and articles.
Tell us what kind of situation is described in a clause – in particular, whether it is a happening or a state – but they often need other elements to locate the situation in time, to indicate polarity (positive or negative), aspect (whether the situation is completed or not) or modality (the assessment of the speaker about the situation)

  • doing for example ‘She climbed the ladder’
  • being for example ‘The koala is an Australian mammal’
  • having for example ‘the house has several rooms’
  • thinking for  example ‘She believes in her work’
  • saying for example ‘The prime minister spoke to the media’

Verbs are essential to clause structure and change their form according to tense (present tense or past tense), to person (first, second or third) and number (singular and plural).
Verb groups
Groups of words that are centred on a verb and consist of one or more verbs. The main verb in a verb group often needs auxiliary (or helping) verbs to indicate features like time (past or present), polarity (positive or negative), aspect (whether the action is completed or not) and modality (the assessment of the speaker about the action). All the following verbs contribute to the meaning of the verb group as a whole: ‘the girl played soccer’, ‘the girl was playing/had been playing soccer’, ‘the girl was not playing soccer’, ‘the girl could have been playing soccer’.
Observe with purpose, understanding and critical awareness. Some students use oral, written or multimodal forms to respond to a range of text types. Other students participate in viewing activities by listening to an adult or peer describing the visual features of text, diagrams, pictures and multimedia.
Visual features
Visual components of a text such as placement, salience, framing, representation of action or reaction, shot size, social distance and camera angle.
Visual language choices
Choices that contribute to the meaning of an image or the visual components of a multimodal text and are selected from a range of visual features like placement, salience, framing, representation of action or reaction, shot size, social distance and camera angle.
In English grammar voice is used to describe the contrast between such pairs of clauses as ‘The dog bit me’ (active voice) and ‘I was bitten by the dog’ (passive voice). Active and passive clauses differ in the way participant roles are associated with grammatical functions.
In clauses expressing actions, like the above examples, the subject of the active (the dog) has the role of actor, and the object (me) the role of patient, whereas in the passive the subject (I) has the role of patient and the object of the preposition by (the dog) the role of actor.
In clauses that describe situations other than actions, such as ‘Everyone admired the minister’ and ‘The minister was admired by everyone’, the same grammatical difference is found, so that the object of the active (the minister) corresponds to the subject of the passive, and the subject of the active (everyone) corresponds to the object of the preposition ‘by’.
In the literary sense, it can be used to refer to the nature of the voice projected in a text by an author (for example ‘authorial voice’ in a literary text or ‘expert voice’ in an exposition).
Plan, compose, edit and publish texts in print or digital forms. Writing usually involves activities using pencils, pens, word processors; and/or using drawings, models, photos to represent text; and/or using a scribe to record responses or produce recorded responses.



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Grammatical terms glossary


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Grammatical terms glossary



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Grammatical terms glossary