7.1 Glossary - Key language concepts

Understanding words used to describe language and grammar will help you to improve your understanding of English more rapidly. This is a glossary of the most important terms used on this course.

Browse the glossary using this index

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past participle

The form of a verb that occurs in perfect tenses and in non-finite subordinate clauses to show that something has finished or in passive sentences. In the sentences below, the past participle is in italics:

  • I have already eaten.
  • Oil is produced in my country.
  • Built in the 19th century, the Eiffel tower is the most iconic building in France.

preposition phrase

A phrase which starts with a preposition and contains a noun phrase.

preposition phrase
preposition noun phrase
to school
with my computer
for the population of my country
in a few years time


A word used to replace a noun, often to avoid repeating it, e.g. 'he', 'they', 'them' 'it', 'me' etc.

proper noun

A noun which refers to a particular person, place or thing. Proper nouns must be capitalised. Here are some examples:

  • Great Britain, Costa Rica, South Africa, Asia
  • the University of Cambridge, the River Thames, the White House
  • Monday, February