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.


An Object is normally a noun, pronoun or noun phrase that comes straight after the verb, and shows what the verb is acting upon.

  • Year 2 designed puppets. [noun acting as Object]
  • I like that. [pronoun acting as object]
  • Some people suggested a pretty display. [noun phrase acting as Object]

Objects can be turned into the Subject of a passive verb, and cannot be adjectives (contrast with Complement).


  • A display was suggested. [Object of active verb becomes the Subject of the passive verb]
  • *Year 2 designed pretty. [incorrect, because adjectives cannot be objects]

Note that Object is a function label which covers two different types: Direct Object and Indirect Object (and some other units typically selected by verbs). We use the label prepositional Object to indicate the function of a unit that comes after a preposition, typically a noun phrase (e.g. on the stairs, with cheese).

Object Complement

A function label for an element in the clause which typically comes after the Direct Object and describes the person or thing it refers to. E.g. He found the staff very helpful; I consider the project a success. See also Complement and Subject Complement.

objective case

See accusative case.

open class

Term applied to a word class which readily accepts new members. Open classes in English are noun, verb, adjective and adverb. Compare closed class.

open interrogative

A type of interrogative clause introduced by a wh- phrase. Open interrogatives cannot generally be answered with yes or no.
Englicious (C) Survey of English Usage, UCL, 2012-21 | Supported by the AHRC and EPSRC. | Privacy | Cookies