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Grammatical Terms; Knowing to ride the horse
“Grammar, which knows how to control even kings.”
-Molière (French playwright and poet)
As the famous French playwright and poet aptly puts, even the all-powerful monarchs are not above grammar. While nouns and adjectives, active and passive voice, and subordinate clauses are some of the most common grammatical terms you may have come across as a student, things get a bit difficult at the higher levels. If you are a student of language or literature, then the chances are that you have to use terms that go beyond the basic grammar concepts.
Basic grammar terms comprise of those we learn about in middle school and the foundational courses at high school. Moving up the academic ladder, there are a few more grammatical terms that you need to be acquainted with. And this blog aims at helping you do just that. Read on to find out why it is important to brush up on your grammar from time to time and learn all about some of the essential grammatical terms for your upcoming literary papers.
Definition of grammatical terms
Imagine trying to build a house of wood, but you don't know how to use nails or glue. How will you be able to build the house successfully? Even if you somehow manage to raise a structure, it falling to pieces will be a matter of time.
English grammar terms are like nails and glue for your assignments and essays. The language falls through without proper use of grammatical terms. And definitions will always come in handy when you want to use grammar well in your essays and assignments. When you know about the foundational concepts, it becomes easier for you to spot the terms in your assignments and essays.
Since correct grammar is essential to mastering English, it is best that you learn all about the definitions of grammatical terms in the language. More than 50% of recruiters all over the world say that they are more likely to reject an application if it contains poor grammar. So, learning grammar is not just about answering, “Which of these terms is defined as the repetition of a grammatical structure in poetry?” precisely. Accurate grammatical skills will take you places when the time comes to step out of the academic realm and into the job scenario.
List of grammar terms you need to know
When referring back to a word or phrase used previously in text or conversation, we use an anaphoric. Pronouns in English usually take in the anaphoric form. Anaphoric terms thus depict words and phrases that have been referred to in the text before. The singular noun or pronouns of undetermined gender can take on anaphoric forms. Abstract concepts such as time can also be explained using anaphoric terms.
Here are a few examples to help you understand everything about the use of anaphoric terms.
- When somebody forms a government, they immediately come under a lot of public scrutiny.
Anaphoric term: they (to signify “somebody who forms a government”)
- We grew up amidst a lot of chaos. At that time, riots were rife, and we lived in constant fear.
Anaphoric term: at that time (to signify the chaotic time)
The antecedent is what the anaphoric refers back to. A pronoun or any other pro-form signifies the antecedent in a text or conversation. The relative pronoun or other corresponding words refer to the antecedent.
Here are a few examples that will help you understand what antecedents are and their usage in a sentence.
- Michael really enjoys skiing. His parents took him to Aspen for the holidays.
Antecedent: Michael (later signified through the anaphoric term ‘his’)
- The townspeople were pretty kind to Jeremiah on Thanksgiving. He had not expected them to be so friendly at that time.
Antecedent: Jeremiah (later signified through the anaphoric term ‘he’) and Thanksgiving (later signified through the anaphoric term “at that time”)
Appositions are clusters of grammatical units (like nouns or noun phrases) in a sentence that refer to the same person or thing. They have the same role in a sentence, and have similar functions in a conversation or text.
Here are a few examples to help you understand the concept better.
- His brother, the minister, presided over the ceremony.
Apposition: his brother and the minister (both signify the subject of the sentence and refer to the same person)
- Harriet came into the sleepy Oxford town on her horse-drawn wagon.
Apposition: Oxford town (both the terms signify the same place, i.e. the city of Oxford)
- Copular Verb
Also called a copula, this one links the subject of the sentence with a complement. The copula helps the sentence give away more information about the subject. English denotes the verb forms of ‘be’ as the main copular verb. But it can also take on other forms like ‘seem’ and ‘remain’.
Here are a few examples of copular verbs in English.
- Terrence is an established baker in Groverfield.
Copular verb: is (helps to provide more information about Terrence, the subject and links him to the complement “established baker”)
- The contents of the letter remain a mystery till date.
Copular verb: remain (links the subject ‘letter’ to the complement ‘mystery’, helping one get more information on the former)
- Dative Case
Inflected languages usually have extensive uses of the dative case. Old English was an inflected language and thus had a clear dative case. However, it fell out of use with time. Middle English also has a few uses of the dative case. English, in the modern day, however, makes very little use of the dative case and usually reflect a merged dative and accusative forms. Dative cases indicate nouns and pronouns as well as their modifying adjectives that function as the indirect object or a verb.
Here are a few examples of the dative case that can help you grasp the matter better.
- I am sure of lending him my jacket in the snow.
Dative case: her
- He was to show her around the museum in the after-hours.
Dative case: her
Grammatical terms that take on different forms according to number, gender, or tense are called inflections. Languages that use various forms of the root word in different contexts according to the number, gender, and tense are called inflected languages. While Old English had plenty of inflected forms depending on case, gender and number for nouns, and person, number, mood, and tense for verbs, modern-day English has a lesser amount of inflections. With the use of auxiliary and modal verbs and propositions, the use of inflection became rarer. However, some inflections are still used in English to differentiate between the many forms of grammatical terms.
Here are a few examples to help you understand inflections better.
- Inflections of gender: he/ she
- Inflections of tense: swim/ swam
- Inflections for number: kite/kites
The smallest unit of a language that cannot be broken down into smaller parts is called a morpheme. Words in English sometimes consist of prefixes, stems, suffixes, and combining forms. They can also be made up of a single morpheme as well.
Here are a few examples of morphemes.
- Single-morpheme words: over, know, can, has
- Multi-morpheme words: mishandlings (prefix: mis, stem: handle, suffixes: ing and s, each a morpheme by itself)
When two or more words are used to express a meaning that can also be conveyed in a single word, we use periphrasis. Periphrastic words sometimes replace those which could have described using an inflection or inflected forms of the word.
Here are a few examples of periphrastic words.
- Periphrastic phrase: take a look (used for ‘look’) and have a bath (used for ‘bathe’)
- Periphrastic phrase: He did agree. (used for ‘agreed’)
Pleonasm is the use of more words in clause or phrase than necessary to express the meaning. It is sometimes used to establish something emphatically or with clarity, but is mostly seen as a fault in style.
Here are a few examples of pleonasm that can help you understand the concept better.
- I saw it with my own eyes!
Pleonasm: seeing with one’s own eyes (when ‘seeing’ would have sufficed)
- You can enter in the kitchen through the door at the back.
Pleonasm: enter in (when ‘enter’ would have sufficed) and door at the back (when ‘backdoor’ would have sufficed)
Another one borrowed from the inflected Old English, the genitive case signifies possession, close relationships and similar concepts. Pronouns and determiners in Modern English present the genitive cases. The use of the apostrophe to demarcate possession is a classic example of the genitive case. Genitive cases in Modern English usually take on the possessive slant.
Here are a few examples of genitive cases in modern-day English.
- Pete was looking for Rachel’s sweater the other day.
Genitive case: Rachel’s (used to denote possession)
- Riley has a master’s in psychology.
Genitive case: master’s (used to denote the level and possession)
Languages that use inflection have the vocative case to signify a person being addressed or invoked. Noun phrases, pronouns and nouns itself can take on the form of a vocative case in English. Terms of addressing, when specifically invoking someone, are thus the vocative case in English.
Here are a few examples to help you understand the vocative case better.
- Come in, girl, and take a seat.
Vocative case: girl
- Dear God, please watch over my friend.
Vocative case: God
Now that you know all about the essential grammatical terms, you can rock the next literary essay or assignment with ease. You can bookmark this blog for future reference whenever you need to have a quick glance over the definitions and examples of important grammatical terms. From dative case to inflection, learn them by heart so you can identify them in a flash the next time you read or write a literary paper. If all else fails, you can always fall back on the stable assistance of online assignment writers with the finest credentials. Good luck with those literary assignments!
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