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In media res

In the middle of action

Indefinite article

The word 'a' or 'an' introducing an unspecified noun or the name of a general category.


A space left between the left-hand margin of a line of type or handwriting and the beginning of a sentence or quotation.

Independent clause

A clause that can stand alone as a sentence.


An alphabetical list of subjects treated in a book.

Indirect object

A noun, pronoun, or group of words naming something indirectly affected by the action of a verb.


The simple or dictionary form of a verb.


A change in the form of a word to reflect different grammatical functions of the word in a sentence.


A brief exclamation, often containing only one word.

Interrogative sentence

The kind of sentence that asks a question and uses a question mark.

Intransitive verb

A verb that does not need a direct object to complete its meaning.


The use of words to mean something very different from what they appear on the surface to mean.

Irregular verb

A verb in which the past tense is not formed by adding the usual -ed ending.


Slanted letters that are generally used to emphasize certain words, to indicate that they are in a foreign language, or to set off the title of a literary or artistic work.


A special language belonging exclusively to a group, often a profession.


Words produced in childhood or youth, particularly written or artistic works.

Leading question

An unfair question that is designed to guide the respondent.


A form of humorous five-line verse

Lower-case letters

"small letters"


A kind of poetry, generally short, characterized by a musical use of language.


A humorous confusion of words that sound vaguely similar.


A play or film in which the plot is often sensational, and the characters may display exaggerated emotion.


The comparison of one thing to another without the use of 'like' or 'as'.


The highly organized rhythm characteristic of verse; the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line.


A word of group of words that describes or limits a verb, noun, adjective, or adverb.


In literature, art, or music, a recurring set of words, shapes, colors, or notes.


A title used before a woman's name.


The body of myths belonging to a culture. Traditional stories about gods and heroes.


The recounting of an event or series of events; the act of telling a story.


A person who tells a story; in literature, the voice that an author takes on to tell a story.


An abbreviation for the Latin phrase 'nota bene' meaning "note well." Used to emphasize an important point.

nom de plume

An invented name under which an author writes. French for "pen name"

Nominative case

The grammatical term indicating that a noun or pronoun is the subject of a sentence or clause rather than its object.


A preliminary version of a book, speech, essay, or outline

Dramatis personae

A Latin expression for "cast of characters". It literally means "the persons of the drama"


An article in a newspaper or magazine expressing the opinion of the editor or publisher.


An abbreviation meaning "for example."


A form of poetry that mourns the loss of someone who has died or something that has deteriorated.


A punctuation mark (...) used most often within quotations to indicate that something has been left out.


A long narrative poem written in elevated style, in which heroes of great historical or legendary importance perform valorous deeds.


Any pithy, witty saying or short poem.


A short piece of writing on one subject, usually presenting the author's own views.


Words of praise, often for a dead person, but also a staple in introducing speakers.


An agreeable word or expression substituted for one that is potentially offensive, often having to do with bodily functions, sex, or death.

Exclamation point

A punctuation mark used after an abrupt and emphatic statement or after a command.


A stage direction indicating that two or more actors leave the stage.


Any exclamation or oath, especially one that is obscene or profane.


A false or mistaken idea based on faulty knowledge or reasoning.


Literature that is a work of the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact.


Traditional stories and legends, transmitted orally (rather than in writing) from generation to generation.

Four-letter words

Obscene or very vulgar words of four letters.

Free verse

verse without regular meter or rhyme


A grammatical category indicating the sex, or the lack of sex, of nouns and pronouns.


The kind of type of a work of art, from the French, meaning "kind" or "genus".


A form of a verb that ends in -ing and operates as a noun in a sentence.


The rules for standard use of words. A system for classifying and analyzing the elements of language.


Two words that sound alike and are spelled alike but have different meanings.


Two words that sound alike. This category includes words that are spelled the same.


An exaggerated, extravagant expression.


A punctuation mark used in some compound words. It is also used to divide a word at the end of a line type, and between syllables.

Iambic pentameter

The most common meter in English verse. Consists of a line ten syllables long that is accented on every second beat.


An abbreviation for ibidem, a Latin word meaning "in the same place." Used in footnotes and bibliographies to refer to the source cited in the previous entry.


A common expression or traditional way of saying something.


An abbreviation for id est, a Latin phrase meaning "that is." It indicates that an explanation or paraphrase is about to follow.


The mental pictures created by a piece of writing.


A grammatical category describing verbs that command or request.


A much used expression that has lost its freshness and descriptive power.


The clear connection of ideas in an orderly fashion.


A punctuation mark used to introduce a description, an explanation, or a list.


A drama - play, story, or film - that ends happily for the main character and contains humor to some degree.


A punctuation mark used to indicate pauses and to separate elements within a sentences.


A form of an adjective indicating a greater degree of the quality that the adjective describes.

Complex sentence

A sentence that contains one main clause or independent clause and at least one subordinate clause or dependent clause.

Compound sentence

A sentence that contains at least two independent clauses, often joined by conjunctions.

Compound-complex sentence

A sentence that contains at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.


Economy in writing or speaking.


Another form of the word conciseness.


A word that joins words or groups of words.


The meaning that a word suggests or implies. It includes the emotions or associations that surround a word.


Letters of the alphabet that stand for sounds often made with a closed or partially closed mouth. (B C D F G H J K L M N P Q R S T V W X Z)


A word produced by running two or more words together and leaving out some of the letters or sounds.


The use of grammatical structures to give equal emphasis to two or more words, groups of words, or ideas.


The legal protection given to published works, forbidding anyone but the author from publishing or selling them.


A pair of lines of verse that rhyme.


A punctuation mark used to indicate a sudden break in thought, to set off parenthetical material, or to take the place of such expressions as 'that is' and 'namely'

Dead languages

Languages that are no longer spoken

Declarative sentence

In grammar, the kind of sentence that makes a statement or declares something.

Definite article

The word 'the'; the article that precedes names of specific items.

Demonstrative pronouns

Pronouns that point to specific things: this, that, these, and those


The solution or outcome of the plot of a play or novel.

Dependent clause

A clause that does not stand alone as a sentence but depends on another clause to complete its meaning.

Dewey decimal system

A system used in libraries for the classification of books and other publications.


The choice of words.

Direct object

A noun, pronoun, or group of words serving as the receiving end of an action


A word or expression that has two different meanings.


A shortened form of an expression, usually followed by a period.


A word formed by combinating the beginning letters of a name or phrase or by combining the initial syllables of a series of words.

Active voice

When the verb of a sentence is in this voice, the subject is doing the acting.


An abbreviation used with date, indicating how many years have passed since the birth of Jesus. It stands from anno Domini, a latin phrase meaning "in the year of our Lord."


A part of speech that describes a noun or pronoun. Usually placed just before the words they qualify.


A part of speech that modifies a verb, an adjective, or adverb.


A requirement for parts of a sentence in standard written English; the parts must agree.


A story that has a deeper or more general meaning in addition to its surface meaning. Composed of several symbols or metaphors.


The repetition of the beginning sounds of words


An indirect reference to some piece of knowledge not actually mentioned. Usually come from a body of information that the author presumes the reader will know.


A symbol for 'and' (&)


A comparison of two different things that are alike in some way.


Two words with opposite meanings.


A concise and often witty statement of wisdom or opinion.


A mark used with a noun or pronoun to indicate possession or in a contracion to show where letters have been left out.


In grammar, the words a, an, and the which precede a noun or its modifier.


A literary work about the writer's own life.

Auxiliary verb

A "helping" verb that modifies the main verb.


A simple narrative song, or a narrative poem suitable for singing.


An abbreviation used with dates of events that took place before the birth of Jesus.


An abbreviation meaning "before the Christian era"


A list of the written sources of information on a subject.


The story of someone's life.

Blank Verse

Verse written in iambic pentameter, without rhyme.


Amending a book by removing passages and words deemed obscene or objectionable.


Marks used within quotations to distinguish between the quoter's own words and those of the writer being quoted.

Capital letters

Upper-case letters.


A grammatical category indicating whether nouns and pronouns are functioning as the subject of a sentence or the object of a sentence, or are indicating possession.


An abbreviation meaning "compare".


A person in a literary work.


Roundabout speech or writing


An approach to aesthetics that favors restraint, rationality, and the use of strict forms in literature, painting, architecture, and other arts.


A group of words in a sentence that contains a subject and predicate.

Non Sequitur

A thought that does not logically follow what has just been said.


The part of speech that names a person, place, thing, or idea.


A long, fictional narration in prose.


A fine shade of meaning.


The grammatical category that classifies a noun, pronoun, or verb as singular or plural.


A part of a sentence; a noun, pronoun, or group of words that receives or is affected by the action of a verb.

Objective case

A grammatical term indicating that a noun or pronoun is an object.


A kind of poem devoted to the praise of a person, animal, or thing. Usually in elevated style and often expresses deep feeling.


A rhetorical device in which two seemingly contradictory words are used together for effect.


A statement that seems contradictory or absurd but is actually valid or true or a statement that truly is contradictory and yet follows logically from other statements that do not seem open to objection.


A basic unit of prose. Usually composed of several sentences that together develop one central idea.


A restatement of speech or writing that retains the basic meaning while changing the words. Often clarifies the original statement by putting it into words that are more easily understood.


Punctuation marks used to separate elements in a sentence. ()


In art, music, or literature, a satire that mimics its object.


The verb form that combines with an auxiliary verb to indicate certain tenses.

Parts of a sentence

Classifications of words, phrases, and clauses according to the way they figure in sentences.

Parts of speech

Classifications of words according to their relations to each other and to the things they represent.


A word used in footnotes and similar material to indicate that a word or subject occurs frequently.

Passive voice

One of the two "voices" of verbs when the subject of the sentence is acted on by the verb.


A word of art that celebrates the cultivated enjoyment of the countryside.


A punctuation mark that ends a declarative sentence.

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