The Englicious Glossary includes the new National Curriculum glossary terms, which are shown against a white background. However, there's much more to be found here:

  • we have added many entries that we feel are important, but cannot be found in the NC Glossary (e.g. connective), and
  • in many cases we have added information to the (often very brief) NC entries that need further explanation (e.g. clause and phrase).

Please note that in line with our practice throughout the site, we use capital letters for function terms such as Subject, Direct Object, Indirect Object, Modifier, etc. Although this convention is not followed in the documentation published by the Department for Education we have also done so in the text that forms part of the National Curriculum Glossary.

Tip: Within our units and resources, Glossary items appear highlighted within the text. When you hover over them, or click on them in the Slideshow, a popup is generated.


A feature of spoken language used to cover a pause or break in speech. For example, many speakers say uh, uhm, or er, and so on to fill pauses in speech. Fillers can be observed and studied in corpora.


Finite verbs are verbs that carry tense and (with the exception of imperative clauses) have a Subject.

Every sentence typically has at least one verb which is either past or present tense. Such verbs are called ‘finite’. The imperative verb in a command is also finite.

  • Lizzie does the dishes every day. [present tense]
  • Even Hana did the dishes yesterday. [past tense]
  • Do the dishes, Naser! [imperative]

Verbs that are not finite, such as participles or infinitives, cannot stand on their own: they are linked to another verb in the sentence.

Not finite verbs:

  • I have done them. [combined with the finite verb have]
  • I will do them. [combined with the finite verb will]
  • I want to do them! [combined with the finite verb want]

Note that the term finite is applied to a verb to indicate that it carries tense, and also applied to a clause or sentence that contains a finite verb.


A term used to describe whereby a particular linguistic feature 'stands out' or is ‘highlighted’. Foregrounding can be achieved via any part of the language system: phonology, lexis, grammar, semantics, etc. It is done by creating patterns (known as parallelism) or breaking away from established patterns (known as deviation).


See grammatical form.

fronted adverbial

See fronting.


A word or phrase that normally comes after the verb may be moved before the verb: when this happens, we say it has been ‘fronted’. For example, a fronted adverbial is an adverbial which has been moved before the verb. When writing fronted phrases, we often follow them with a comma.

  • Before we begin, make sure you’ve got a pencil. [Without fronting: Make sure you’ve got a pencil before we begin.]
  • The day after tomorrow, I’m visiting my granddad. [Without fronting: I’m visiting my granddad the day after tomorrow.]


See grammatical function.

function word

Another term for grammatical word.


Future time can be expressed in many different ways in English, but English does not have a future tense.

Reference to future time can be marked in a number of different ways in English. All these ways involve the use of a present tense verb. See also tense. Unlike many other languages (such as French, Spanish or Italian), English has no distinct ‘future tense’ form of the verb comparable with its present and past tenses.

  • He will leave tomorrow. [present-tense will followed by infinitive leave]
  • He may leave tomorrow. [present-tense may followed by infinitive leave]
  • He leaves tomorrow. [present-tense leaves]
  • He is going to leave tomorrow. [present tense is followed by going to plus the infinitive leave]
Englicious (C) Survey of English Usage, UCL, 2012-21 | Supported by the AHRC and EPSRC. | Privacy | Cookies