Grammatical terms

This page contains definitions, in some cases simplified, of grammatical terms mentioned in this course.

accusative

The grammatical case indicating the direct object of a verb; the focus of the action of the verb.

acronym

A pronounceable name made up of a series of initial letters or parts of words. For example, SSEES - School of Slavonic and East European Studies.

adjective

A word identifying an attribute of a noun or pronoun.

adverb

A word describing the time, place or manner of an action denoted by a verb.

agreement

A relationship between words which have the same grammatical form or corresponding forms.

animate noun

A noun denoting a living thing.

apostrophe

A punctuation mark ('). In Ukrainian it either denotes that the sounds on either side should be pronounced separately or reflects a historical change in the form of the word.

article

In some languages, a word which denotes whether reference is being made to a specific or a non-specific noun or phrase. In English: "the" and "a". There are no articles in Ukrainian.

aspect

The temporal nature of the activity described by a verb, in terms of such features as continuity, repetition or completedness.

case

The form of a noun, pronoun or adjective indicating its grammatical function (relationship to other words) in a sentence.

closed syllable

A syllable ending in a consonant.

cognate

A word having the same origin as a corresponding word in another language, often (but not always) with the same meaning.

comparative

See 'degree'.

compound adjective

An adjective formed by combining two or more words.

conditional mood

The form of a verb which expresses hypothetical meaning (what would happen).

conjugation

The way a verb changes its endings according to who or what is performing the action; a group of verbs which has similar endings.

consonant

Speech sound made by partially or completely blocking the flow of breath; letter denoting such a sound.

dative

The grammatical case indicating an indirect object of a verb, e.g. giving, showing, telling to (someone or something).

declension

A set or group of nouns, pronouns or adjectives with similar case endings.

degree

Any of the forms of an adjective or adverb used to indicate relative amounts or intensities: positive (e.g. big), comparative (bigger), superlative (biggest).

direct object

A person, thing or abstract concept directly affected by the action of the verb in a sentence. See also 'indirect object'.

epenthetic sound

An extra sound inserted into a word.

feminine

The gender of words denoting either females of species, or things and abstract concepts which are grammatically "female".

gender

Classification of words as masculine, feminine or neuter.

genitive

The grammatical case indicating possession; "of"; "-'s".

gerund

A verbal adverb.

hard

Not palatalised.

imperfective

The aspect of a verb indicating that the action described has not been completed.

impersonal verb

A verb without a subject (e.g. It is raining).

inanimate noun

A noun denoting an object or abstract concept (as opposed to a living thing).

indirect object

A person, thing or abstract concept to or for whom something is shown, given, told, etc. See also 'direct object'.

infinitive

The basic form of a verb, not indicating any grammatical category such as tense or number, e.g. 'to read'; the form in which verbs are usually presented in dictionaries.

inflected language

A language (such as Ukrainian) in which words are modified, or inflected, e.g. by using different endings, to express grammatical functions such as case, gender, tense, etc.

instrumental

The grammatical case denoting "by means of", "through the agency of", "with".

interrogative particle

A word (or phrase) which changes a statement into a question without imparting any additional meaning to the statement.

iotated vowel

A vowel with a "y" sound preceding it, e.g. "ya", "ye", "yo", "yu".

labial consonant

A consonant whose sound is made using one or both lips.

loan word

A word introduced into a language from another language.

locative

The grammatical case indicating the place where someone or something is or happens.

masculine

The gender of words denoting either males of species, or things and abstract concepts which are grammatically "male".

mass noun

A noun to which the concept of singular and plural does not apply, e.g. water, furniture.

neuter

The gender of words denoting inanimate objects, or abstract concepts which are grammatically neither "male" nor "female".

nominative

The grammatical case indicating the subject of the sentence; "doer" of the action.

noun

A word denoting the name of a person, thing, place or abstract concept.

number

The grammatical category indicating variation in the form of words according to whether one (singular) or more (plural) persons or things are involved.

object

The person, thing or abstract concept acted on by a verb or preposition; see 'direct object' and 'indirect object'.

orthographic

Relating to spelling.

paradigm

The set of different cases of a word.

partitive

A word referring to a part or quantity (e.g. some, piece).

perfective

The aspect of a verb indicating that the action described has been completed.

person

The noun or pronoun which is the subject of a verb, e.g. I, you, he/she/it, we, you, they.

personal pronoun

A pronoun which takes the place of the name of a person, thing or abstract concept (he, she, it, etc)

plural

Denotes the form of a word indicating that more than one person or thing is involved. See also 'singular'.

positive

See 'degree'.

prefix

A meaningful element added to the beginning of a word to make a more complex word.

preposition

A word or group of words used before a noun or pronoun to show its relationship to other words (to, by, with, etc).

pronoun

A word that takes the place of a noun (he, hers, those, etc).

reflexive verb

A verb denoting an action done to oneself, on one's own, or mutually by people to each other.

singular

Denotes the form of a word indicating that one person or thing is involved. See also 'plural'.

soft sign

A letter which softens (or palatalises) the consonant which comes before it.

stem

The basic element of a word to which additional elements (e.g. endings) are added to generate different forms of the word.

subject

A word or phrase representing the person or thing performing the action of the verb in a sentence; the "doer" of the action.

superlative

See 'degree'.

syllable

A basic unit of pronunciation forming part of a word (or sometimes a word in its own right).

tense

The form of a verb indicating the time (past, present or future) at which the action takes place.

transliteration

The process of converting text written in one writing system into another writing system by matching the letters used in the two systems.

verb

A word that expresses an action, event or state of being.

vocative

The grammatical case used when calling, greeting or addressing someone.

vowel

Speech sound made without obstructing the flow of breath; letter denoting such a sound.

zero ending

In the declension of a noun, where the stem of the noun is followed by different endings corresponding to different cases, the absence of an ending for a particular case is referred to as a 'zero ending'.

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Part of the collection of resources at UkrainianLanguage.org.uk
© 2007 Marta Jenkala