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 category of text, referring to the type of the text and indicating the purpose of the text. 'Genre' traditionally refers to types of written text, so we can talk about a recipe being a subtype of an instructional genre, or stories being found within a narrative genre. If it is applied to types of spoken text, the term register is often used instead.


See grapheme-phoneme correspondence.


This refers to the property of adjectives (and some adverbs) to express degrees of application of some notion. For example, the property of being warm can be graded, because we can have warmer and warmest (these are comparative and superlative forms, respectively) and also very warm, where the adjective is preceded by an intensifier.


This is a term used in linguistics to recognise that on the one hand there are typical and less typical members of grammatical categories (this is called subsective gradience), and on the other hand that the boundaries between grammatical categories may not be absolutely fixed (this is called intersective gradience).

For example, let’s look at the fuzziness or gradience of the noun category. Cat, table and apple are all deemed to be ‘prototypical’ members of this category. They are physical objects; they take a possessive form; they can be plural or singular, and they can appear after a determiner.

But news and information are more peripheral examples of nouns. The former is always in the plural, and the latter cannot take a plural ending.


The study of word and clause structure. It has two main branches: morphology, concerned with the internal structure of words, and syntax, concerned with how words are combined into sentences.


See ungrammatical.

grammatical form

The structural categories we can assign an element or group of elements to, such as word classes, phrases, and clauses. Form is distinct from the grammatical function that an element or group plays within a larger structure. For example, a group of words with the form of a noun phrase can have different functions in the clause, such as Subject or Direct Object. The term 'form' is also used to refer to the 'shape' or morphology of words.

grammatical function

The part that a word or constituent plays within a larger structure - for example, Subject, Object and Adverbial are functions within the clause. Function is distinct from form, which concerns structural categories such as word classes. Functional elements can be 'filled' by different formal elements - for example, in The boy ate the biscuits, the boy is both a noun phrase (form) and the Subject (function). The same noun phrase can operate as the Object (function) in a different example, such as She told the boy.

grammatical word

A word whose main role is to express grammatical relationships or meanings, e.g. of, and and whether. These words contrast with content words like laugh or chair, which have separate, stateable meaning content. Grammatical words are usually closed-class words. Another term for grammatical word is function word.


A letter, or combination of letters, that corresponds to a single phoneme within a word.

  • The grapheme t in the words ten, bet and ate corresponds to the phoneme /t/.
  • The grapheme ph in the word dolphin corresponds to the phoneme /f/.

grapheme-phoneme correspondence

The links between letters, or combinations of letters (graphemes) and the speech sounds (phonemes) that they represent.

In the English writing system, graphemes may correspond to different phonemes in different words.

  • The grapheme s corresponds to the phoneme /s/ in the word see, but…
  • …it corresponds to the phoneme /z/ in the word easy.

Grice's maxims

Paul Grice (1975) contends that speakers ideally observe the co-operative principle in conversation by adhering to four sets of conversational maxims. These maxims are general principles which underlie an optimally efficient, cooperative use of language. The four categories are:

1 quantity: make your contribution as informative as is required for the current purposes of the exchange - don't say too much or too little

2 quality: try to make your contribution one that is true

3 relation: be relevant

4 manner: be perspicuous - avoid unneccessary obscurity and ambiguity

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