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

Special | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | ALL



Refers to whether language is formal, informal or neutral (can be used in both formal and informal contexts). Here are some examples:

  • Formal: adhere to the rules
  • Neutral: follow the rules
  • Informal: stick to the rules

relative clause

Relative clauses add extra information about somebody or something we have already mentioned. There are two main kinds. Defining relative clauses identify which particular person or object we are talking about:

  • I do not agree with people who support bull fighting. (we are picking out one group from all people)
  • What happened to the scarf that I gave you? (we are picking out one particular scarf)

Non-defining relative clauses do not pick out a smaller set from a larger set, but just add extra information. they are usually separated with commas:

  • Crime in my country, which has always been high, has actually started to fall in recent years.
  • Our country has seen sustained economic growth recently, which is a great relief.

relative pronoun

a pronoun that introduces a relative clause: that, which, who, whom, whose, where, when and why. The relative pronouns are marked in italics below:

  • The school that I went to closed down last year.
  • Pass me the book whose cover is torn.