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Compact Oxford English Dictionary for Students

Jargon-buster

adjective
a word, such as heavy, beautiful, or strong, that is used to describe a noun.

adverb
a word, such as very, really, or slowly, that is used to give more information about an adjective, verb, or other adverb.

clause
a group of words that contains a verb and usually other components and forms part of a sentence:

I went to the bank and drew out some money.
[clause] [clause]

See also main clause, subordinate clause, relative clause, conditional clause.

compound
a word made up of two or more existing words, such as earring, left-handed, or credit card.

conditional clause
a clause which usually begins with if or unless and describes something that is possible, probable, or hypothetical:

If it looks like rain, make a shelter out of a plastic sheet.
[conditional clause] [main clause]

conjunction
a word that is used to link other words or parts of sentences, such as and, but, or if.

defining relative clause
another term for restrictive relative clause.

determiner
a word that comes before a noun to show how the noun is being used, such as the, a, and every.

infinitive
the basic, unchanged form of a verb, which usually occurs with the word 'to', as in 'to go', 'to ask', 'to be'.

main clause
a clause that forms part of a longer sentence, but makes sense on its own:

I went to a restaurant and treated myself to lunch.
[main clause] [main clause]

negative
a word or phrase stating that something is not the case, such as never, nothing, or not.

non-restrictive (or non-defining) relative clause
a clause which gives extra information that could be left out without affecting the structure or meaning of the sentence. It is normally introduced by which, who, or whose (but never that), and should have a comma before it:

she held out her hand, which Rob shook.
[main clause] [non-restrictive relative clause]

A non-restrictive relative clause should also be followed by a comma if it is in the middle of a sentence:

Bill, who had fallen asleep, suddenly roused himself.
  [non-restrictive relative clause]  

noun
a word that refers to a person, place, or thing, such as book, Susan, England, or electricity.

object
the person or thing affected by a verb:

    She took the boys out for a pizza.
    Joe left the band (or was fired).

participle
The past participle is the form of a verb which is used to form certain past tenses (e.g. looked in I have looked) and sometimes as an adjective (e.g. lost in lost property).

The present participle is the form of a verb, ending in -ing, which is used to form tenses describing something that is still happening (e.g. I'm thinking), nouns (e.g. good thinking), and adjectives (e.g. running water).

phrasal verb
a phrase consisting of a verb plus an adverb or a preposition which together have a particular meaning (e.g. catch on, stick around).

phrase
a group of words within a sentence that forms part of a clause:

I went to the bank and drew out some money.
[phrase] [phrase] [phrase] [phrase]

plural
the form of a noun that is used to refer to more than one person or thing, such as books or churches.

possessive
a determiner showing that someone or something belongs to someone or something else, such as my, their, his, our, etc.

prefix
a letter or group of letters placed at the beginning of a word to change its meaning, such as un- (unable) or pre- (predominant).

preposition
a word that is used with a noun or pronoun to show place, time, or method:

Roadworks on the M3 slowed traffic to a crawl.
She ran across the street.
The restaurant is open during the day.

pronoun
a word, such as he, we, hers, us, you, or they, that is used instead of a noun to indicate someone or something that has already been mentioned, especially to avoid repeating the noun again.

Kate was tired so she went to bed.
Don't let it happen again.

relative clause
a clause which is connected to a main clause by a word such as which, that, whom, whose, when, where or who:

I first saw her in Paris, where I lived in the early nineties
[main clause] [relative clause]

See also restrictive relative clause, non-restrictive relative clause.

restrictive (or defining) relative clause
a clause which gives essential information about a noun that comes before it. It can be introduced by that, which, who, or whose and does not normally have a comma before it:

she held out the hand which was hurt
she held out the hand that was hurt.
[main clause] [restrictive relative clause]

You can also leave out that or which in some restrictive relative clauses:

It reminded him of the house that he used to live in.
It reminded him of the house he used to live in.

sentence
a group of words that makes complete sense, contains a main verb, and begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop, question mark, or exclamation mark:

I drew some money from the bank.
What's wrong with her?

subject
the person or thing that causes the action of the verb:

The restaurant was packed out.
Jack went to see Natasha.

subjunctive
a special form (or mood) of a verb that expresses a wish, a possibility, or a hypothetical situation instead of a fact. In the sentences below, the verbs wait and were are in the subjunctive; the ordinary forms (called the indicative) would be waits and was.

It was suggested he wait till the next morning.

Subjunctives are often used after if, as if, as though, and unless:

If I were taller, I would have been a model.

subordinate clause
a clause which depends on a main clause for its meaning. Together with a main clause, a subordinate clause or clauses form part of a longer sentence. There are two main types of subordinate clause: the relative clause and the conditional clause.

suffix
a letter or group of letters placed at the end of a word to change its meaning, such as -able (breakable) or -ful (helpful).

verb
a word that describes an action or state:

There are no easy answers.
The ham had a smoky flavour.
Three years went past.
She ran the last few yards.

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