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Dictionary of Grammatical Terms

With Abbreviations[1]



[OED: [f. L. ablāt- ppl. stem of aufer-re to carry away; f. ab off, away + fer-re, pa. pple. lāt-um, to bear.] a. To take away, remove.]
A noun, adjective, pronoun or numeral indicating source, agent or means, (and sometimes time or place) of an act or occurrence.
[CD: ...indicating separation, direction away from, sometimes manner or agency ... the object of certain verbs.

Ablative Absolute

abl abs

[CD:an adverbial phrase syntactically independent from the rest of the sentence and contaiing a noun plus a participle, an adjective, or a noun, both in the ablative case.


(1) The stressed syllable of a word; (2) diacritic.



The case of a noun, adjective, pronoun, participle or numeral that indicates that the word is the object of the sentence.
[CD: ...the direct objective of a verb or the object of certain prepositions.



[CD: Indicating that the subject of the sentence is performing or causing the action expressed by the verb. Used of a verb form or voice.]



Describes, qualifies or modifies a substantive



Modifies a verb or adjective or another adverb.

Adverbial clause: A clause that is used the same way as an adverb.



[OED: One of the past tenses of the Greek verb, which takes its name from its denoting a simple past occurrence, with none of the limitations as to completion, continuance, etc., which belong to the other past tenses. It corresponds to the simple past tense in English, as 'he died.']
A term borrowed from Greek grammar, denoting a tense which expresses action, usually past, where the time is indefinite or unimportant
[CD: A form of a verb that, in the indicative mood, expresses past action.]


[CD: To inflect (a verb) in its forms for distinctions such as number, person, voice, mood, and tense.]



A noun, pronoun, adjective or numeral used as the indirect object of the sentence.
[CD: ...marks the recipient oof action and is used with prepositions or other function words corresponding in meaning to English to and for.]


[CD: ...the inflection of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives in categories such as case, number, and gender.]


[OED: Of a word or term: Having the function of naming, denominating, or describing, as an attribute; characterized by denomination..]


A mark placed over, below, across or on either side of a letter to inciate the correct pronunciation of that letter.



A word with no accent pronounced as combined with the previous accented word.



[CD: Of, relating to, or designating a case that expresses possession, measurement or source]


m, f, nut, an, inan

A classification of words according to gender. Masculine, feminine, neuter, animate or inanimate.


A verbal noun, such as the English form ending in '-ing' when used as a noun, e.g., 'We adminred the choir's singing.


[CD: The system of inflections, syntax, and word formation of a language.] Note: Languages come first, grammar is discovered after in what was created, not the reverse ... until such time as a language has fully matured at which point new words come into being in accordance with the rules of this discovered grammar.


A word with the same spelling and pronunciation as another word of the same language but having a different meaning and derivation.


A word with the same pronunciation as another word of the same language but having a different spelling, meaning and derivation.

Indirect Object

ind. obj.

The substantive indicating the person or object to, toward or for whom or which the action takes place.



The addition of endings to the stem of a word to express certain grammatical relationships and functions and aspects. E.g. First Person Singlular, past, future present...
[CD: a. An alternation of the form of a word by adding affixes, as in English dogs from dog, or by changing the form of a base, as in English spoke from speak, that indicates grammatical features such as number, person, mood, or tense. b. The paradigm of a word. c. A pattern of forming paradigms, such as noun inflection or verb inflection.]



A noun, adjective, pronoun or numeral used to indicate the agent or means through or by which the action is performed.



[CD: Of, relating to, or being an element or construction used to ask a question, e.g.: an interrogative adverb; an interrogative particle.]


A character in an alphabetical system of writing, which represents a phoneme or group of phonemes.



A case used to indicate geographical or other physical location

Locative clause: A clause used to indicate the place in, from or to which an action takes place, originates or is directed.
[CD: Of, relating to, or being a grammatical case in certain inflected languages that indicates place in or on which or time at which, as in Latin domi, 'at home'.]



A noun, pronoun, adjective, etc., used when standing alone and without any syntactical context or relationship, or when used as the subject of a sentence.



Indicates or names a person, being, object, or thing.
Proper noun: the name of one specific entity.



Indicates the differentiation between one object singular, or more than one plural.



Indicates number or quantity and relationship as to number and quantity.
cardinals: how many?
ordinals: which one in sequence?
iteratives: How many times?
multiplicatives: How many fold?
partitives: What fraction?



The smallest meaningful unit of speech consisting of one or morephenomes.



[CD: Of, relating to, or being a mood of verbs in some languages, such as Greek, used to express a wish. Designating a statement using a verb in the subjunctive mood to indicate a wish or desire, e.g., 'Had I the means, I would do it.']


[CD: Of, relatingto, or being a verb form or voice used to indicate that the grammatical subject is theobject of the action or the effect of the verb. For example, in the sentence 'They were impressed by his manner.', 'were impressed' is in the passive voice.]


A form of a verb that in some languages, such as English, can function independently as an adjective, as the past participle: 'baked' in 'We had soome baked beans', and is used with an auxiliary verb to indicate tense, aspect, or voice, as the past participle 'baked' in the passive sentence 'The beans were baked too long'.]

Past Tense, Particle, Participle


Past: A tense indicating that the action took place prior to the utterance.


 1st pers
 2nd pers
 3rd pers

Indicates the distinction between the speaker, listener and subject. The first person refers to the speaker, the second person to the person addressed, and the third person to the person, concept or thing spoken of.
see also: number


A single sound-unit of speech represented by a single character or letter of the alphebet or a group of similar sound units using the same base character where slight differences in the production of the sound is indicated by diacritics.


[CD: An affix, such as 'dis-' in 'disbelieve,' put before a word to produce a derivative word or an inflected form.]

Present Participle

[CD: A participle expressing present action, formed in English by the infinitive plus '-ing' and used to express present action in relation to the tiime indicated by the finite verb inits clause, to form progressive tenses with the auxiliary be. and to function as a verbal adjective.]


[CD: Of, relating to, or functioning as a pronoun. Resembling a pronoun, as by specifying a person, place, or thing, while functioning primarily as another part of speech. 'His' in 'his choice' is a pronominal adjective.]



A word replacing a proper name or a noun, or referring to the person, object, idea, etc. designated by a noun.


(n) ...that part of a derived word which is phonetically and semantically the vehicle of the basic meaning.
[CD: Arising from or going to a root or source; basic ... ]


See the preferred: reflexive.
[CD: designating or expressing a grammatical relation in which a verb's subject and an object in the sentence refer to the same person or thing, serving to indicate that the action of the verb is directed back to the subject. E.g. "Gary hurt himself.", "Jane threw a party for herself."

Reflexive — Reflexive Pronoun — Reflexive Verb

A personal pronoun indicating that the object of the action is identical with the agent.
A verb which indicates an action of which the subject or agent and the object are identical.

Stem; thematic morpheme


The Root of a word plus a morpheme that indicates the inflection of a word.



A noun or other word or group of words used as a noun or instead of a noun, in contradistinction to adjectives.
[CD: 1. Expressing or designating existence; for example, the verb 'to be'. 2. Designating a noun or noun equivalent.]


An affix added to the end of a word or stem, serving to form a new word or functining as an inflectional ending, such as '-ness' in 'gentleness,' '-ing' in 'walking,' or '-s' in 'sits'.


A word with the same meaning as another word of the same language.

Transitive Verb

A verb expressing an action which does not end with or is not confined to the agent; transitive verbs are capable of governing [require for completeness] a direct object.
Example: 'The shelf holds three books and a vase of flowers.'


The representation of a sound, phoneme or word or utterance of one language in the conventional symbols of another language or system of writing.



A case used for the form of direct address.
[CD: Relating to or being a grammatical case used in Latin and certain other languages to indicate the person or thing being addressed.]

Verbal Adjective

An adjective that is derived from a verb and that in some constructions, participial phrases for exampke, preserves the verb's syntactic features, such as transitivity and the capability of taking nominal or verbal complements.


[1]Freely adapted from: A Dictionary of Linguistics by Mario A. Pei and Frank Gaynor; and A Practical Grammar of the Pali Language, by Charles Duroiselle

See also: Abbreviations
University of Ottawa: Hypergrammar