Please Wait...

Glossary of terms

A glossary is a list of explanations of technical terms. If you don't understand some of the technical terms we use to describe language, look at the glossary below for an explanation of that word. If you cannot find a word you are looking for, e-mail us, or look at an online dictionary.

Active voice

We use the active as opposed to the passive voice, when we are as interested in the person who does something as in the thing that is done. We repair cars in our garage is an example of the active voice.


This is a word that describes something or someone, for example, a tall man, strong wind, a huge house.


This is a word that gives more information about a verb or adjective, for example, She ran quickly; I often go out at night; My wife is stunningly beautiful; It's very cold.

Auxiliary verb

These verbs, be, have, do are helping verbs, which are normally used with other verbs to create negatives and questions.



This is a type of test where you have a text with gaps which you must put a word into.


This is where two or more words naturally go with each other, for example, strong wind, heavy rain, sour milk.

Comparative adjective

We use comparative adjectives to compare two or more things. For example, My house is bigger than yours, but yours is more expensive than mine.


Dependent preposition

This is a preposition that always goes with a verb, noun or adjective, for example, I'm relying on you; put your trust in me; I was critical of his methods.


This is a word used before a noun which identifies what the noun refers to. Words like my, her, this, that, what, which, whatever, either, other, another, some, any, both, many, much, every, enough, no et-cetera are determiners.



This means reading intensively to check that a piece of writing is accurate.



This is the ability to be able to talk at normal speed without having to search for words or hesitate.



This is a type of test where there is a gap which you must fill with one of a number of alternatives given.


These are sometimes called 'ing nouns', because they act like nouns, although they look like present participles. For example, I love eating pizza; Hunting is a sport that should be banned.


The gist of an article is the overall idea of it; what it is basically about and the point it makes.



Homophones are words that have the same pronunciation but different spellings and meanings, for example, ate and eightknight, and night



An idiom is a group of words in a certain order that together have a particular meaning. The meaning is not the same as the meanings of each word understood on its own.
For example, To "have bitten off more than you can chew" is an idiom that means you have tried to do something which is too difficult for you.

See our Idiom collection, including meanings in context and originals.


The infinitive is the most basic form of any verb, the part you will find in the dictionary. There are two types of infinitive, the bare infinitive, which is just the verb, and the full infinitive, which has the word to before it.

Interactive communication

This is the ability you should have to communicate your meaning to other people and understand what they mean.


In the speaking part of the exam, the interlocutor is the person who interacts with you, while the examiner takes no part in the conversation.

Intransitive verb

An intransitive verb is a verb that, rather than being followed by the object of a sentence, is followed by, for example, a prepositionReply is an intransitive verb. You can't say, I replied him; you have to use the preposition to. I replied to him.



A joke is something, like a funny story, that is said or done in order to make people laugh. It is often a play with words or provides an unexpected ending.

See our funny jokes collection - including context and meaning.



These are important words that give information about what comes before or after a word, for example, firstly, secondly, lastly, primarily, in conclusion, et-cetera.


Language accuracy

This refers to the ability to communicate accurately grammatically.


Modal verb

Modal verbs are auxiliary verbs that aren't used to make questions and negatives, but instead are used to express ideas such as obligation (You must go home now), ability (I can swim), and permission (You may go to the toilet).

Multiple choice

This is a type of test where you have, for example, a gap with four choices, only one of which is correct.

Multiple matching

This is a type of test where you have, for example, five passages and five people's names. You must decide which person's opinion is contained in which passage.



A noun is a concrete thing, for example, a chair, table or bed, or an abstract term such as love, war and death.



In the sentence, Ann kissed John, Ann is the subject of the sentence, the one doing the kissing, and John is the object of the sentence, the one who receives the kiss.



Paraphrase is the ability to describe something without using the exact word, or to say what someone else said, but without using the exact words that they did.

Passive voice

The passive is formed with the auxiliary verb to be and the past participle of a verb. It's used when the thing you are talking about is more important than the person who is doing it. 'Cars are repaired in this garage' is an example of a passive sentence.

Past modal

Most modal verbs don't have a past form, so they form the past with have + past participle. For example, My plane must have already left.

Past participle

This is the third part of a verb, the past which is used to form perfect tenses and the passive form, for example, I have eaten my dinner; the Prime Minister has been murdered.

Past simple

The past simple is the most common past tense. For example, I ran down the street

Past subjunctive

This is very rarely used, but when it is it looks strange, because If I were you, doesn't seem to be correct, but the verb to be is used in this way in this situation.

Perfect tenses

The presentpast and future perfect are formed with the auxiliary verb to have and the past participle of the main verb. They are tenses that usually refer to two connecting time periods. I have never been to Paris, is an example of the present perfect.

Phrasal verb

This is a combination of a verb and a preposition or adverb that usually have a meaning that can't be understood from each individual word. For example, We've run out of cigarettes.

Possessive adjective

My, your, his, her, its, their, are possessive adjectives. For example, I stole her bracelet.


Prepositions are the words like of, over, on, in, et-cetera, which sometimes give a meaning of place, time or direction, and are sometimes used in a combination with nouns, verbs andadjectives.

Present participle

This is the 'ing' part of a verb, used to make continuous tenses, for example, I was walking in the park yesterday evening.

Present perfect

The present perfect is formed from to have + past participle/to have + been + present participle of the main verb. It is used to talk about an event in the past, usually with some connection or consequence in the present, for example, The taxi has arrived or an event which began in the past and continues in the present, for example, I have been living with my aunt for the past three months.


This word refers to the combination of the sounds of the letters within words, the stressed parts of words and sentences, the way words join each other or change in rapid speech and the rising and falling of the voice during speech.


Relative pronoun

Relative pronouns are used to join two parts of a sentence together. For example, He's the man who stole my car!, There's a dog that lives down the road from me...

Reported speech

This is also known as 'indirect speech' and is a report of what someone said, without actually using the words that were spoken. For example, My mother said she was coming today.


Sby; Sth

On this platform, these words mean somebody and something.


This is a method of speed reading where you quickly look through an article, only looking for one particular thing, for example, a name or date.


A simile is a comparison between something and something else not related to it in any way except for the image it gives you, for example The sun was like a hot red ball.

Simple past

The simple past is the most common past tense. For example, I got up at 7.00am this morning.


This is a method of speed reading where you quickly look through an entire reading passage to get the general meaning or gist of the passage.


This is a small ending you put onto a word that changes its meaning or grammar. For example, He felt helpless as the tiger padded towards him. His detemination saw him through to the end of the race.

Superlative adjective

This is an adjective which describes the most etc., for example, He's the tallest person in the class, or This is the most expensive shirt in the shop


Task achievement

This means being able to do what is asked of you in the speaking part of the exam.


This is a type of question where you are given a sentence and the beginning of another sentence and a word. You've got to complete the second sentence so that it means the same as the first one, using the word given.

Transitive verb

A transitive verb is a verb that is followed directly by an object. The verb love isn't followed by a preposition, but instead by the person or thing that the subject of the sentence loves,I love you. I hit my teacher is another example.


Uncountable noun

Uncountable nouns are simply, nouns that cannot be counted, either because there are too many individual parts of them, for example sugar, milk, beer, or because they are abstract, for example, love, peace, life.



Verbs are words that describe actions, for example, He was walking through the park, or states, for example, this food smells good.


Word class

The word class of a word is whether it is a noun, verb, adjective or adverb, etc


This is the process of forming verbs and adjectives from nouns, or nouns from adjectives, et-cetera. Happiness and happy are both related. Knowing that happiness is the noun of theadjective happy (and that unhappy is the opposite of happy) is an example of wordbuilding.

Rows: 57

Please Wait...