Grammar Glossary for Parents

Please find below a glossary of the terminology that children are expected to know by the end of Year 6.

As you can see it does get rather technical, so please do not worry about coming to ask for further clarification if required. 

Active Voice

When the subject of the sentence is doing something the verb is active.

e.g. the police caught the thief



A word that describes a noun

e.g. the cat is very happy



A word that describes a verb, an adjective or another adverb

e.g. the cat is extremely small / the cat moved stealthily


Ambiguity means to have more than one meaning – e.g. "I know a man with a dog who has fleas" it is unclear - ambiguous - whether it is the man or the dog who has fleas. It is the syntax not the meaning of the words which is unclear.



A word opposite in meaning to another, e.g. hot/cold, fast/slow



Brackets are used to enclose an aside or to add information or ideas which are not essential. You should be able to remove the brackets and their contents and be left with a sentence which makes sense e.g. The shoes (made of patent leather) were all scuffed and dirty.


Bullet Points
Capitalise the start of every bullet point

Be consistent, information next to bullet points should either be written in full sentences or in fragments but not a mixture of both.



A clause is a building block for sentences. It helps to develop and expand the sentence as necessary.A clause can be a sentence in its own right (main clause), but can also be just a part of the sentence.



Cohesion is the term used to describe the grammatical means by which sentences and paragraphed are linked and relationships between them established. In English, the principal means of establishing cohesion are through the use of pronouns, determiners and conjunctions.



The colon has two main uses. 

1)       To introduce an idea that is an explanation or continuation of the one that comes before the colon, e.g. Africa is facing a terrifying problem: perpetual drought. The colon can be considered as a gateway inviting the reader to go on.

2)       The second main use of the colon is to introduce a list. You need to take care; many people assume that a colon always precedes a list. This is not the case. Again it is important to remember that the clause that precedes the colon must make complete sense on its own. 
E.g. The potion contained some exotic ingredients: snails' eyes, bats' tongues and garlic.


Conditional tense

What could/would happen



A word that joins a group of words   e.g. and / or



The letters: b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z



The single dash is normally a feature of informal English and is used, especially in narrative, to create suspense or to indicate that what follows is an afterthought or something to be emphasised.

e.g. There is was again, that creak on the staircase. Pamela sat upright in
bed, eyes wide open in the darkness. Just Marmalade her cat, she
thought – or was it?


Definite article



Indefinite article

A or an


Demonstrative Adjective

This, that, these, those



A determiner is used to modify a noun. It indicates reference to something specific or something of a particular type. There are different types of determiners: articles (a, an, the), demonstratives (this, that, these and those), possessives (my, your, his, her, its, our, your, their, mine, his, hers, yours, ours) and quantifiers (some, any, few, little, more, much, many, each, every, both, all, enough, half, little, whole, less etc).


Direct Speech

Direct speech where the exact words spoken are put into speech marks.



An ellipsis (plural: ellipses) is a punctuation mark consisting of three dots. Ellipses can express hesitation, changes of mood, suspense, or thoughts trailing off. Writers also use ellipses to indicate a pause.


Fronted Adverbial

A fronted adverbial goes at the beginning of a sentence. It describes the verb in the sentence. It describes where, when or how. E.g As soon as he could, Tom jumped off the train. 


Future tense

What will happen in the future



Hyphens are used to make new words out of two existing words or parts of words.

It’s worth noting that, nowadays, the hyphens in many words are just missed out. Head-ache is now headache, and city-centre is now city centre.



The basic form of the verb, as it is found in the dictionary (nothing has been added or taken away).

e.g. to drink / to sleep


Imperative verb

A bossy verb, used in instructions/directions

e.g. Take that road.


Inverted commas

Inverted commas can be single - ‘x’ - or double - ‘’x‘’. 

They are also known as quotation marks, speech marks, or quote marks.


Irregular verb

Verbs that don’t follow a set pattern of rules.

e.g. take becomes took rather than ‘taked’


Main clause

A sentence that functions independently

e.g. I’ll feed the dog.


Modal verb

Modal verbs are used to express ideas such as possibility, intention, obligation and necessity.




A naming word (person, place or thing)

e.g. giraffe / telephone


The subject of a sentence‏‎ does something to an object. The object is the thing or person which is affected by the subject and the verb‏‎. E.g. Patricia ate the cake.

The subject of this sentence is Patricia. She is the 'star actor'. The verb is ate and this tells us what she does. The object of the sentence is the cake.



Parenthesis is the addition of extra information to an already formed sentence. A parenthesis can be separated from the sentence with dashes, commas or brackets, and these are known as parentheses.

When the parenthesis is removed from the sentence, it should still be grammatically correct. So, to make sure that you have included a parenthesis correctly, reread the sentence to see if it makes sense without it. If it does, then you have successfully added a parenthesis.


Passive Voice

When the object of the sentence is having something done to it, the verb is passive.

e.g. the thief was caught by the police


Past tense

Says what happened in the past



More than one thing



Pronouns are short words like 'it', 'she', 'he', 'you', 'we', 'they', 'us', 'them'. They are used instead of names.


Personal pronoun

Refers to people

e.g. I / you / he / she / we / you / they


Possessive adjective

Indicates possession

e.g. mine / yours / his


Possessive pronoun

Mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs are the possessivepronouns used to substitute a noun and to show possession or ownership.



Prefixes are groups of letters that can be placed before a word to modify its meaning.

e.g: impossible (the prefix im- modifies the meaning to produce a negative sense)



A word that gives information, such as time, location or direction

E.g on, at, between


Present tense

What is happening now



A word that replaces a noun

e.g he / she / it                                                        


Reflexive pronoun

Myself / yourself / himself


Relative clause

An important type of subordinate clause is the RELATIVE CLAUSE. Here are some examples:

The man [who lives beside us] is ill
The video [which you recommended] was terrific

Relative clauses are generally introduced by a relative pronoun, such as who, or which.


Relative pronoun

Relative pronouns, such as That, Who, Which, Whose and Whom can be used to introduce clauses in sentences:

The woman who interviewed me was very friendly.

I can't stand dogs that bark loudly.


The semicolon (;) has only one major use. It is used to join two complete sentences into a single written sentence when all of the following conditions are met:

(1) The two sentences are felt to be too closely related to be separated by a full stop;

(2) There is no connecting word which would require a comma, such as and or but;

(3) The special conditions requiring a colon are absent.



One thing



The person doing the action

e.g. the monkey eats banana


Subordinate clause

A part of the sentence that is dependent upon another part

e.g. I’ll feed the dog [main clause] when he barks [subordinate clause]!



Synonyms are words with the same or nearly the same meaning as another word in the language. E.g. pupil and student.



An action word



The letters: a, e, i, o, u


Word family

Groups of words that follow the same spelling pattern or root word.

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