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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A thing or idea that goes before the verb because it performs the action expressed in the verb. In passive sentences this is reversed and the subject receives the action. In the following examples, the subject is highlighted with italics.


  • My wife enjoys eating fast food.
  • Hot weather really improves my mood.
  • The lack of rain this year is really causing problems in my country


  • My house was built in the 1950s
  • Oil is produced in my country


subordinate clause

A clause that adds information about a main clause. It therefore cannot stand alone without a main clause. These are often introduced with linking words:

subordinate clause main clause
Having completed my Master's in the UK, I decided to try to find a job there. 
Although I have studied hard, I am very nervous about the exam.
In spite of the bad weather, I still went for a jog.
As soon as I finish reading this book, I will find another by the same author.

subordinating conjunction

A linking word which introduces a finite subordinate clause:

subordinating conjunction finite subordinate clause main clause
Even though it has a population of 11 million people, Bogota does not have a train or metro network.
Since it is a public holiday, there won't be too much traffic on the roads.


main clause subordinating conjunctions finite subordinate clause
I need to practice my writing every day so that I get a high score in the exam.
I will return to my country as soon as I finish my university course.