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Grammar Vocabulary

Often times, specific subjects have their own language and set of terms and concepts. Within grammar, there are specific terms you should know that relate to rules, examples, and more.

Term Definition

Acronyms are abbreviations for complete phrases, sentences or words. A commonly used acronym is PEMDAS, which is a mathematical acronym for order of operations.


The purpose of a backronym is usually to confer a symbolic meaning upon a word that previously had no such meaning. More specifically, a word is a backronym when people begin with a word and try to figure out an acronym to fit it, as opposed to the acronym emerging from a natural series of words. A good example of this would be the "PATRIOT ACT": lawmakers likely began with this phrase, and then worked backwards to make it the name of a law.


A clause always contains a comprehensible thought of some kind, usually consisting of the combination of a noun and a verb. There are, however, different kinds of clauses. One is the independent clause, and another is the dependent clause. The independent clause is a complete sentence, whereas the dependent clause would not be able to stand alone in a grammatically correct way. In any event, the clause can be understood as the basic unit of meaning. 

Complex Sentence

A complex sentence contains an independent clause and at least one dependent clause. An independent clause can stand alone as a sentence and makes a complete thought and a dependent clause can not stand alone, even though it has a subject and a verb.

Compound Sentence

A compound sentence has two independent clauses or sentences. The independent clauses can be joined by a coordinating conjunction (such as "and," "for" and "but") or a semicolon.


Expressing a a condition or implying a condition of dependency through words such as "if" and "then". The conditional shows that one or more requirements must be met, be made, or granted on certain terms, for the second action (in the sentence) to take place.


A conjunction is either an action or an instance of two or more events (or things) occurring at the same point in time or space. Common examples are "and", "but", and "or".  Their basic function is to join words or clauses together.


A contraction is a shortened version of the written and spoken forms of a word, syllable, or word group, created by omission of internal letters and sounds.

Dependent Clause

A dependent clause is a group of words with a subject and a verb. It does not express a complete thought so it is not a sentence and can't stand alone. These ‘clauses include adverb clauses, adjective clauses and noun clauses.


Juxtaposition simply means that one object is placed next to another object. The implication, though, is that there is some kind of meaningful knowledge that can be gleaned from the effect of contrast that is produced by the juxtaposition. For example, one may choose to juxtapose the American healthcare system with the French healthcare system, in order to figure out what America would perhaps be able to do better.  

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