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FrontPage > Glossary


The idea of this glossary is to provide a quick reference AND a cross-reference between different terms used for the same thing. Scroll through or press CTRL/F to search the page. THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS


verb form

Kunz: all forms, finite and non-finite, that can fill a V position: the base form , the -ing form and the participle; also, x-v (do), x-v (does), x-v (did), which actually fill two positions.  

McLellan: base form, past, past participle, -ing, -s


one of 20 first auxiliary verbs. Note: ought, need and dare are #21-23; also semi-modals gonna, hafta, gotta, wanna, sposta, and a few more


have, has, had, do, does, did, am, is, are, was, were, can, could, will, would, shall, should, ought to, must, might, may (as sung to Jingle Bells)

McLellan: a group of twenty-one words in the English language that regularly shift position back and forth (in an "X" formation) when a sentence is changed from its statement form to its yes/no question form (or from its yes/no questions form to its statement. (Same list as Lydon)

Note: usually spelled x-word; also xword, X-word, X-Word.

X-word grammar McLellan: "X-word grammar" is the name of a sentence-level editing method based on locating x-words and using yes/no questions to identify sentence parts (fragments, trunks, subject, verbs, etc.) and sentence patterns (simple, compound, complex and compound-complex)
linker Kunz:
transitional words and phrases like therefore, however, in fact, for example...

a position at the front and end of a sentence for adverbial information modifying the trunk.

McLellan: a single word (e.g., yesterday) or a group of words, usually a prepositional phrase, that can be put at the beginning or the end of the sentence and tell about time, place, cause, or manner in which something occurred. If longer than two or three words the require a comma after. Important because front shifters can get in the way of making a sensible yes/no question.

ties Kunz:
obligatory connections among grammatical elements: number, person, tense, etc.
chunk Kunz:
in reading, word groups that are usually construction types; units for reading aloud and/or comprehension
run on sentence  McLellan: Two trunks put together without any punctuation between them.
comma splice  McLellan: Two or more trunks put together with only commas. 

Kunz: Subject + Predicate. The shortest trunk is two words. She understands.

McLellan: A statement that can be changed into a sensible yes/no question.

Example: Ann went home. Did Ann go home?


McLellan: A sentence that cannot be changed into a sensible yes/no question.

Example: Because hotels are so expensive. Are because hotels so expensive ?

coordinating conjunction

McLellan: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so

(Also known by the mnemonic "fanboys")


see coordinating conjunction


McLellan: BE + the past participle of any transitive verb; often followed by a by-phrase Example: The letter was mailed by Sue.

subject/verb inversions

McLellan: as found in sentences beginning with a Where phrase or There is/are, or Here is/are. Example: Here is the book. (the book is the subject.) To the left is the dining room. (to the left is the where phrase; the dining room is the subject.) There are too many spices in this recipe. (too many spices is the subject.) 


McLellan: 1. a base-form verb with to (infinitive) 2. an -ing verb form without any x-word (gerund) 3. a past participle without any x-word. Verbals act as nouns or adjectives in a sentence.  Example: To read easily is my goal. Swimming builds endurance. Rosita, recovered from the flu, went back to work yesterday.


McLellan: a sentence that begins with base-form and has no visible subject. Example: Look for an x-word.


McLellan: a word that shows the position of one word in relation to another. 

prepositional phrase

McLellan: a preposition placed before a noun or pronoun: PREPOSITION + MIDDLE-POSITION WORDS + NOUN OR PRONOUN. Any word that is part of a prepositional phrase will not be the subject of the sentence, so ss should cross out any prepositional phrases when they are looking for the subject of a sentence.


McLellan: anything following the verb in a simple sentence.

villain word

McLellan: subordinating conjunctions or relative pronouns. They are villains because they make the trunks they introduce dependent fragments. Example: Because it has started to rain. LIST

compound sentence

two or more simple sentences (trunks) that can be joined by 1) a period, 2) a comma and a coordinating conjunction, or 3) a semicolon. Example: Mary flunked her algebra test, so she is upset today. Mary flunked her algebra test; she is upset today. 4) a conjunctive adverb or transitional phrase LIST with a semicolon in front of it and a comma after it. Example: Mary flunked her algebra test; as a result, she is upset today.

simple sentence

McLellan: a trunk 


Kunz: see The Seven Sentence Patterns

McLellan: four types: Simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex

complex sentence McLellan: a trunk and one or more fragments punctuated as follows: After Mary flunked her algebra test, she was upset. Mary, who flunked her algebra test, is upset today. Mary was upset when she flunked her algebra test today.
compound-complex sentence McLellan: contains two or more trunks and one or more fragments. See complex sentence for punctuation except you will need to use a semicolon with a conjunction to separate trunks when your sentence contains other internal commas. Example: When Mary flunked her algebra test, she was upset; but she decided to take the test again at a later date.



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