English A to Z

Our English A to Z glossary has more than 350 definitions of commonly used English terms used in primary and high school.

On this page

Please wait while page index is generated



A shortened form of a word.

The modern trend is not to use full stops in abbreviations.


  • Mon (Monday)
  • Aug (August)
  • TV (Television)
  • St (Street)
  • Aust (Australia)

Abstract noun

The name of something we can’t see or touch. Often a feeling or emotion, such as sadness, love, wonder, anger, friendship, enthusiasm.


“I value our friendship“.

Find more information about abstract nouns in our English help pages.


An abbreviation of several words by using the first letter of each word in such a way that the abbreviation itself forms a pronounceable word. Often written in capital letters.


  • ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps)
  • NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
  • scuba (self-contained under water breathing apparatus)
  • Qantas (Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services)

Acrostic poem

A type of poetry in which a letter in each line, usually the first letter, forms a word or message relating to the subject.


“Dust and drought
Reddening the sky
Outback dustbowl
Unrelenting thirst
Goading our resolve
Heat and dust
Testing our faith”.

– Anonymous

There are also famous examples, such as Edgar Allan Poe's, An Acrostic, 1829.

Active voice

The active voice occurs when the individual, animal or thing doing the action (the subject) comes before the verb.


“The cat chased the bird”.

Adjectival clause

A group of words that contains a verb and tells more about a noun or pronoun.

An adjectival clause is a dependent clause and often begins with which, who, that, when, and why.


“The elderly man, who was walking past, was carrying a walking stick.”

Adjectival phrase

A group of words that gives more information about a noun and usually begins with a preposition.


“The girl with brown curly hair sat at the front.”


Used to describe someone or something (a noun or a pronoun). It gives more information in a sentence.


  • I have a blue hat.
  • That man is strong.

Find more information about adjectives in our English help pages.


The judge of the debate.


A word that tells us more about a verb. Adverbs tell us how, where, when, to what extent and how often things happen (e.g. quietly, very often, soon).


  • Krista ran quickly
  • Stand here
  • She is most careful
  • Mum cooked very slowly
  • Let’s eat soon.

Find more information about adverbs in our English help pages.

Adverbial clause

A group of words containing a verb that tells more about another verb in the sentence.

An adverbial clause is a dependent clause.

Adverbial clauses often begin with when, where, how, why, after, although, as, because, even though, unless, until, whether, and while.


When the clock chimed, the man checked his watch.

Adverbial phrase

A group of words that gives more information about a verb.

Adverbial phrases often begin with prepositions, for example, ‘after school, when he was finished’.


  • At nine o’clock the girl entered the classroom.
  • She swept the floor with an old broom.
  • Tim spoke to James about his work.


The affirmative team must convince the audience that the statement is true.


If the topic is: ‘that the number of school holidays be increased’, the affirmative must argue for the proposition.


The repetition of the consonant sound at the beginning of words.


  • Penrith Panthers
  • Busy as a bee
  • Best buy
  • Round and round the rugged rocks the ragged rascal ran.

‘Now the news. Night raids on
Five cities. Fires started.
Pressure applied by pincer movement
In threatening thrust. Third Division
Enlarges beachhead. Lucky charm
Saves sniper. Sabotage hinted
In steel-mill stoppage…’

From W.H. Auden’s The Age of Anxiety, in which the poet uses short ‘headline’ phrases to reinforce the theme of anxiety. Text is available under Wikipedia’s Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


  • Human qualities are given to animals. Used in many books, animations and cartoons.
  • It may be easier to accept criticism or acknowledge social issues when human behaviour is represented through non-humans.


  • “What’s up, Doc?” mocked Bugs Bunny.
  • Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland tells of a girl’s adventures in a fantasy world full of anthropomorphic creatures. These include the waistcoat-wearing white rabbit (the rabbit proclaims he is running late) and the Cheshire cat (who engages in riddling conversations). Other examples of anthropomorphism include The Jaguar, by Ted Hughes, and Animal Farm, by George Orwell.


A word or phrase with the opposite meaning to another.


  • hot / cold
  • on / off
  • fast / slow
  • go away / come back
  • light / dark


A punctuation mark used to:

  • indicate ownership and possession (apostrophe denoting ownership).
  • indicate missing letters or numbers in a contraction or abbreviation.


  • The boy‘s hat was left at school.
  • Here are the boy‘s football jerseys.
  • He‘s gone home. It‘s news to me!
  • The 1990s could be written as the 90s.

Apostrophe denoting ownership

To show ownership of a singular noun add (apostrophe) ‘ s after the word.

To show ownership of a plural noun add the (apostrophe) ‘ after the word, or after the ‘s’.

To show ownership of a collective noun add the (apostrophe) ‘ s after the word.

If a singular or collective noun already ends in s just add the (apostrophe) ‘ to the end of the word without an extra “s”. However, the missing “s” is pronounced in spoken texts.


  • Get into mum‘s car.
  • The boy‘s bag was worn.
  • This is the boys’ change room.
  • He is all my pets’ vet.
  • He is the people‘s elected prime minister.
  • This is Chris jumper.
  • My class performance went well.


  • Taking an image (often iconic) and manipulating it for a particular effect.
  • A visual text may be represented in different contexts, or appropriated for different purposes or effects, especially in advertising.


A visual text may be represented in different contexts, or appropriated for different purposes or effects, especially in advertising. Andy Warhol is famous for appropriating images of iconic subjects for his own artwork, for example, Marilyn Monroe face and Campbell’s soup cans.

Art medium

The materials used to create the image.


  • black and white (stark contrast)
  • collage (3 dimensional through texture)
  • computer graphics
  • hand-lettered text
  • monochrome
  • paper type
  • pastels
  • pencil drawings
  • photographs (suggest reality)
  • watercolour or oils
  • woodcuts.


Articles refer to: a, an and the. They come before the noun.

  • a and an are indefinite articles
  • the is the definite article.


  • a bag
  • an apple
  • the end.


The repeated use of internal vowel sounds to create an auditory effect, particularly in poetry.


  • The rain in Spain In falls mainly in the plains.
  • ‘Hear the mellow
    wedding bells’ (The Bells, by Edgar Allan Poe).


  • The overall feeling of the poem created through the poem’s use of language, image and sound.
  • Atmosphere appeals to the emotions and senses of the reader, e.g., tension, danger, squalor.


In Preludes, 1917, T.S. Eliot vividly creates the atmosphere of a lonely and sordid city environment through his choice of words (burnt out, smoky, gusty, grimy withered). The weariness is developed through the run on lines.


The intended group the text is written for or presented to.

Auxiliary verb

A helping verb that always comes before a verb, e.g. is running, am going, were driving, should put, would be, might make


We will go to scouts after dinner tonight.



The area furthest from the viewer, behind the subject, or in the distance. The setting or context of an image.


A form of poetry or verse that tells a story or folk tale, sometimes set to music.

Most ballads have these elements:

  • An abrupt beginning
  • Simple language
  • A story told through dialogue and action
  • A chorus
  • Four-line or six-line stanzas.


'The Man from Snow River' by Banjo Patterson.

Base word

A word that has nothing added at the beginning or the end. It stands on its own and it has a meaning.

New words can be made from base words by adding prefixes and suffixes.


  • Jumped is jump
  • Retirement is retire
  • Entertainment is entertain
  • Teacher is teach.


Presented from a particular opinion or point of view. No other perspective is offered.

Types of bias include personal, cultural, ethnic, religious, gender and political. Bias may be found in advertising and other media texts.


“My baby is the most beautiful baby in the world”.

Blank verse

A poem without rhyming lines and often with a pattern of five iambic feet (rhythm pattern is: da DUM / da DUM / da DUM / da DUM / da DUM).


Tintern Abbey (1798) by William Wordsworth.


To merge sounds together to pronounce a word.

A combination of two or three consonants is called a consonant blend.


  • s-a-t blend together to make ‘sat’
  • b-r blend together to make ‘br’
  • s-t-r blend together to make ‘str’


Punctuation marks ( ) used to enclose words that gives more information about the text.

e.g. “Ella (John’s mother) will organise the drinks for the school community barbecue.” “She is referring to her friend (Emma) again.”

Brackets and parentheses are interchangeable words.


  • Ella (John’s mother) will organise the drinks for the school community barbecue.
  • She is referring to her friend (Emma) again.


To write any ideas, words, memorable parts of texts, etc as soon as you think of them.


Camera point of view

The position of the camera, relative to the action in the visual text (film, photo, cartoon etc).

Camera angles are referred to as low, eye-level, medium, high, top down, oblique, frontal.


A short title that accompanies an illustration, diagram or photo. Usually displayed underneath the item.

A printed explanation or translation of dialogue in film, television or a presentation.

Cause and effect

The relationship between one event to another.

Cause and effect events are connected with words such as because, as a result, due to, is influenced by, is produced by, on account of, caused by.


“The lights were out due to an electrical fault”.

  • Cause: electrical fault
  • Effect: lights out in the street.


A poem with strong rhythm for group recitation. A chant can be called out once, or repeated for effect. Chants are also used in rituals, sport contests and war cries.


“Aussie, Aussie, Aussie,
Oi, oi, oi”.


A person in a fictitious story of any medium, example novel, film, oral tale.


How the character is developed by the writer.


The art of making films.


A type of poem consisting of a five-line pattern around a topic.

The traditional cinquain consists of:

line 1 = 2 syllables
line 2 = 4 syllables
line 3 = 6 syllables
line 4 = 8 syllables
line 5 = 2 syllables.


in my garden
pilfering the insects
demonstrating song and warble


A complete message or thought expressed in words that contain a verb or verb group.


  • The car drove away. (This sentence has one independent clause).
  • The car drove away when the police arrived. (This sentence has an independent clause and an adverbial clause).

Close-up shot

  • Camera shot that shows character’s head and shoulders only.
  • Can show emotion through facial expression.

Collective noun

A noun that refers to things or people as a group.
e.g., crowd, swarm, team


  • a flock of seagulls
  • a school of fish
  • a football team.

Find more information about collective nouns in our English help pages.


A punctuation mark ( : ) used to indicate that more information is to follow.


‘Everything you need for the soccer game is in the back of the car: soccer boots, shin pads and ball.’


Often used deliberately in visual texts for symbolic meaning.


The colour red signifies prosperity in Chinese culture.


A punctuation mark used in a sentence to:

  • separate words, phrases or numbers in a series
  • indicate separate parts where such separation is important to the meaning
  • may indicate a short pause in reading.


  • I like apples, oranges pineapple, strawberries and bananas.
  • The two women, who had just caught a train to the city, were planning a day of shopping.


A sentence that gives an order, instruction, direction or seeks an active response.

Written commands may end with a full stop or exclamation mark.


  • Put the chair over there, please.
  • Don’t touch that heater!


An advertisement on radio, television and the internet.

Common noun

Names common to people and things.

e.g., girl, boy, mum, dad, sister, brother, home, school, church, fence, pencil, computer, phone


‘I have a pencil ready.’

Find more information about nouns in our English help pages.

Comparative adjective

A comparative adjective is used to compare nouns. There are degrees of comparison.

e.g., long, longer, longest


‘I have longer hair than my sister.’

Comparative adverb

An adverb that gives a comparison of how something is being performed.

e.g., better, more, less, faster


‘The small yacht went fast but the super yacht went faster.’

Compare and contrast

  • To consider similarities and differences between (features of) texts.
  • Diagrams are useful for planning texts that require compare and contrast.


Tables and diagrams can be useful in organising ideas and notes for essays requiring comparison and contrast of concepts, texts, features etc.

Complex sentence

Made up of a simple sentence and one or more dependent clauses that contain an incomplete idea.


While Lucy is taking the dog for a walk, she will be getting some exercise.

Simple Sentence: she will be getting some exercise.

Dependent clause: While Lucy is taking the dog for a walk.


How the elements of an image are placed within the text.

Compound sentence

Two or more simple sentences joined together by a conjunction.


Lucy is going to the park and she is taking the dog for a walk.

Compound word

A word consisting of two or more smaller words, e.g. farmyard, bookshelf

Compound words that consist of an adjective and a noun are hyphenated, e.g. short-sighted, full-time, part-time


  • I went to the cupboard
  • I work part-time.


Understanding texts read, listened to or viewed.

Comprehension skills

The skills drawn upon to display an understanding of what is being read.

Key reading comprehension skills include identifying main ideas, sequencing events, describing cause and effect, making inferences, comparing and contrasting and drawing conclusions.

Find more information about comprehension strategies in our English help pages.

Concepts about print

This involves understanding and using conventions and concepts about print.


Reading left to right, knowing letter names and sounds they make, knowing pictures can give clues about the story, recognising capital letters and full stops, knowing the difference between a letter and a word.


  • A summative statement that provides a proposition reached after considering the evidence and arguments.
  • Final paragraph of an essay.
  • A chance to restate thesis and major arguments/evidence.
  • May include a recommendation.

Concrete poetry

  • A poem which creates a visual image on the page; to be viewed rather than read aloud.
  • Also known as shape poetry.


A word that connects things in a sentence or joins sentences, e.g. and, but, while, meanwhile, when, before, finally, likewise, however, similarly, because, so, therefore, consequently, furthermore


  • He brought pencils and rulers.
  • The sky is grey but the sun is shining.


Words that connect, or show the relationship between, ideas, sentences or paragraphs.

Includes conjunctions, but may also include groups of words, e.g. on the other hand, as well.


Any letter other than a vowel and the sounds they make.


b, c, d, f, g, h, j, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, and z.


A syllable, word or group of words that has been shortened by missing internal letters, usually marked by an apostrophe.

e.g., can’t (cannot), she’d (she had or she would), I’ll (I will), we’re (we are), you’ve (you have)


They didn’t remember their hats


The clothing worn by characters in a visual text.


Worthy of belief. Free from bias. From a source of reliable information.



A punctuation mark (–) consisting of a horizontal line.

The dash is used to:

  • give a range
  • show a sudden change of thought in a sentence
  • provide more information in a sentence
  • replace brackets in a sentence.

The dash is similar in appearance to a hyphen (-), but a dash is longer and it is used differently (–).


  • For ages 5 – 6
  • Fred Hollows (1929 – 1993)
  • School Centenary (1912 – 2012)
  • Pages 6 – 9
  • I took Sebastian – the rabbit I bought at the pet shop last week – to school for Show and Tell.


An interactive and representative argument where individuals argue their point of view.

A debate can be informal amongst people or a formal debate with a chairperson that follows a strict framework of rules.


Debates may be formal, as in a parliamentary debate, or informal, as in impromptu arguments involving teams of speakers.

Debating team

A team made up of 2 to 5 members. Four-member teams are common.


Application of knowledge about letter-sound relationships, letter patterns and base words to correctly pronounce or read unknown written words.

Define the topic

Describe the meaning and limits of the topic and words in the topic, according to the point of view of the particular team.


Each team will define the topic in a way that suits their own argument, so each side may have a different definition of the topic.

Definite article (the)

the is placed in front of an noun or adjective that refers to a specific person or thing.


  • I spoke to the player on the field.
  • Lucy received the gold medal in gymnastics.


A direct gaze by a subject in an image at the viewer.


Image of a man staring directly into the camera

Demonstrative pronoun

A word that points out a specific person or thing.


  • this, that, these, those
  • Those shoes need a polish.

Dependent clause

A group of words that contain a verb but is an incomplete idea. It does not make sense by itself or stand alone as a sentence.

A dependent clause is usually attached to an independent clause in a sentence.


While I was waiting for you, I read my book.

Descriptive poetry

Poems which describe a place, a person, a feeling, through the use of imagery and descriptive vocabulary, that appeal to the senses.


A drawing explaining the shape, layout or workings of something.


A diagram showing the world, and facts about the world with the world flags around the border.


Two letters that together represent a single sound.

Diagraphs consist of vowel diagraphs (ee, ea, ai, oa, oo, au, ie, ou, ui) and consonant diagraphs (th, sh, wh, ch, ng, ck, qu).


  • bee
  • sea
  • rain
  • coat
  • with
  • shop


A conversation between two or more persons or characters.

When writing dialogues, speech is inserted within quotation marks. However, no quotation marks are needed when dialogue is written in script form.


“Are you ready for school, dear?” asked mum.

“Yes,” replied John.

Mum: Are you ready for school, dear?

Jim: Yes.

Dictionary skills

The ability to locate and utilise words in a dictionary.

Digital story

A narrative or recount that has been developed using digital media, e.g., slideshow with digital narrator voice over the images.


  • web-based stories
  • interactive stories
  • narrative computer games.

Direct object

The thing that receives the action in a sentence.

Tells what or whom in relation to the verb.


  • I open the door.
  • I burnt the toast!


The supervisor of the actual making of a film or television program.


  • Gives different points of view in order to make an informed decision.
  • To identify issues and provide points for and/or against.


Should cars be banned from the inner city? (A response to this question, with arguments for and against, leading to a conclusion, would be a discussion).

Display advertisement

An advertisement that includes pictorial elements.

Dot point

A punctuation mark used to separate items in a list. Used also for note taking and writing key points from written text.

Listed items can be single words, phrases, sentences or whole paragraphs.


For the fete we require the following items:

  • books
  • cakes
  • plants.

Double-page spread

  • A pair of facing pages of a publication, viewed as a whole.
  • Used to open up new vistas which highlight the main messages.

Dramatic irony

Where the audience or some characters know something that the other characters do not.

Dramatic monologue

  • A poem or speech from a play which presents someone other than the composer addressing an audience.
  • It offers an insight into the feelings of the speaker.


My Last Duchess by Robert Browning (a duke speaking to his messenger), and some speeches in plays such as The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare.



  • To check for errors and understanding.
  • To remove, correct or adapt material in a text because it is too long or inappropriate.


  • The use of sound or light effects in a film.
  • Special effects (SFX) created by computers, props and cameras are used to create illusions in film and other screen content.


A poem which laments the death of someone.


Dylan Thomas’ Elegy.


A punctuation mark (…) that consists of three dots.

An ellipsis is used to indicate:

  • a pause in speech
  • an unfinished thought and open-endedness
  • missing information.


  • According to the magazine article, “the best remedy … is to drink plenty of liquids.”
  • The boy jumped onto his horse and rode across the field.

End rhyme

Words with the same or similar sounds, which occur at the ends of lines. Rhyme helps to:

  • add emphasis to sounds
  • add pace and rhythm
  • bind the poem together
  • please the ear.


A Barred Owl, by Richard Wilbur

The warping night air having
brought the boom
Of an owl’s voice into her
darkened room


The inside covers, back and front, of the book. These are often used by the illustrator to add extra meaning or contrast to the story.


Endpapers often include a map of the story setting, sepia photographs, etc.


A long, narrative poem detailing the adventures and achievements of a hero.

Epics deal with traditions, mythical or historical, of a nation.

Epics can also be written in prose.


  • The Odyssey by Homer following the fall of Troy (800BC)
  • Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory (1100)


An essay is a piece of writing that is used to develop and expand ideas or argument in response to a text, a question, issue or topic.

Essays include supporting evidence. In schools, this kind of writing is usually called a response.

There are different kinds of responses – typical school response (or essay) types include:

  • Discussions
  • Expositions
  • Critical analysis
  • Compare and contrast
  • Reviews.

Find more information about essay writing in our English help pages.

Essay planning

Planning involves brainstorming; mind-mapping; organising notes depending on the question and type of response required.

Etymological knowledge

A form of spelling knowledge that focuses on the origins and meaning of non-phonetic words.

It includes understanding the roots of words and word meanings, origins and history.


  • Alphabet comes from a combination of the first two Greek letters, alpha and beta.
  • Fortnight comes from the Old English feowertieneniht, meaning 14 nights.


The substitution of something more pleasant or agreeable for something that may offend or upset.


She passed away peacefully yesterday.


A sentence that expresses sudden strong feelings such as anger, surprise, alarm, sympathy or happiness.

Exclamations end in an exclamation mark.


It’s a lovely surprise to see you!

Exclamation mark

A punctuation mark (!) used at the end of a written sentence to emphasise the emotion or feeling that is contained in the sentence.

An exclamation mark may be used to strengthen humorous elements in a sentence.


We found a cat asleep in the rubbish bin!


Explains how or why something happens.


  • The life cycle of a butterfly.
  • How gears work.


Gives reasons for a point of view to try and convince others of it.

eg, A team’s argument for a debate, or a letter to the editor.


  • A team’s argument for a debate
  • Letter to the editor

Extended metaphor

A comparison between two things, stating that one thing is another, extended over a large part or whole of a poem.


Throughout his poem, The Tyger, William Blake depicts God’s acts of creation by using the inspiration, strength, skills and courage of a blacksmith. The metaphor is extended through references to fire, furnace, hammer, anvil; and action verbs frame, seize, twist, clasp.

Eye contact

The relationship between the human subject of the text and the viewer through looking.


Factual description

Describes a place or thing using facts. For example, a description of an actual landscape.

Factual recount

Retells events which have already happened in time order. For example, a journal or historical report.

Factual text types

  • A variety of spoken, written and visual texts that present information, ideas or issues to inform, instruct, enlighten or persuade the reader or listener.
  • Examples of factual text types are
    • information books
    • recipes
    • instructions
    • a diagram of the water cycle
    • a debate
    • a documentary on landforms
    • information about the animal kingdom
    • a fitness program.

Figurative language

Words, phrases, symbols, and ideas expressed in such as way as to produce mental images and impressions. Figurative language is not intended to be interpreted in a literal sense.

Figures of speech

Figures of speech use words to create a particular impression or effect, e.g., metaphor, hyperbole.


A movie or motion picture.

Film noir

  • Cinematic term to describe a crime fiction sub-genre popular in mid 20th century film, which featured antiheroes, set in shadowy, urban settings.
  • Often cynical in outlook.

Finite verb

A verb that agrees with the subject of a sentence.


  • I play.
  • He plays.
  • They play the violin.

Flash card

A card with a word written on it that is displayed or ‘flashed’ quickly to support the learning of sight words.


An interruption in the progress of the story to return to a previous event in the action.


Type and size of letters.


  • Times New Roman
  • Verdana
  • Comic Sans MS
  • WildWest
  • Bedrock


The part of the image that appears closest to the viewer.


An event or action that suggests something, often unpleasant, that will happen later in the story.


  • The use of the camera to incorporate aspects of the action in a scene.
  • This provides social distance in a visual text.


Close-up, medium, and long shot

Free verse

  • A poem that does not use traditional rhythm or rhyme.
  • Often sounds like natural speech.
  • It is popular with modern poets as there are no restrictions on expressing their thoughts and emotions.


Thunder rolls,
from booming clouds
Hanging overhead, growling —
like black dogs.
Flashing brilliant white fangs.

Full stop

A punctuation mark (.) used to indicate the end of a sentence that is a statement or command.


  • Maria came into the room.
  • Come into the room, Maria.



The relationship between the human subject of the text and the viewer through looking.


  • The team that agrees with and supports the topic.
  • The affirmative team.


If the topic is: “That the number of school holidays be increased“, the affirmative must argue for the case (argument).


The structural rules that generate meaning within language. Grammar uses sounds, words and symbols in phrases and sentences so that things make sense.


Diagram showing relationships between quantities.

Guided reading

To help develop reading strategies, an instructor helps students who read texts with 90-95% accuracy with guided reading.

A student’s guided reading level is also known as his or her instructional reading level.



A non-rhyming poem with 17 syllables of Japanese origin. The structure is:

  • line 1 – 5 syllables
  • line 2 – 7 syllables
  • line 3 – 5 syllables.


Whitecaps on the bay:
A broken signboard banging
In the April wind.

By Richard Wright (collected in Haiku: This Other World, Arcade Publishing, 1998)


Homonyms (or homographs) are words that are identical in pronunciation and spelling but have different meanings.


  • The dog gave a loud bark.
  • The tree bark was oozing sap.
  • I beat everyone in the race! (verb).
  • That song has a fast beat (noun).


Same as homograph


A word having the same pronunciation as another but different meaning.


  • week and weak
  • I go to school each day.
  • She has a sister too.
  • I have two cats at home.

Find more information about homophones in our English help pages.


  • A statement that is an over-exaggeration.
  • Hyperboles are used to create emphasis or humour.
  • The exaggeration creates an emphasis in order to dramatise the strength of one’s feelings or the importance of something, and make it more vivid.


  • The cook made enough food to feed an army.
  • I am so hungry I could eat a horse!
  • This bag weighs a tonne.
  • Shakespeare’s Hamlet uses hyperbole to declare the extent of his love for Ophelia.
  • Hyperbole is typical of ‘tall tales’.
  • In The Queensland Dog, by W.N.Scott, the narrator from NSW describes how tall the trees are in that state by stating that it takes hours to walk through the hollow logs.


A punctuation mark consisting of a short horizontal line ( - ) used to:

  • join the parts of some compound words (except when both words are nouns), e.g. part-time
  • split parts of words that are at the end of a line.


  • light-blue
  • twentieth-century
  • award-winning
  • high-speed
  • fun-loving.


Iambic pentameter

  • This is the most common metre in English poetry.
  • Each line has five beats, with the stress on every second syllable, ie (da DUM / da DUM / da DUM / da DUM / da DUM).


To swell the gourd,
and plump the hazel shells

(from John Keats' Ode to Autumn)

da dum da dum da dum da dum da
To  swell  the gourd and plump the hazel shells


A small image – usually on a computer screen – that represents something (usually activated by a mouse click).


A popular expression that is not meant to be taken literally.


  • I’ve got a frog in my throat. Means having a husky voice.
  • It’s raining cats and dogs.  Means it’s raining very heavily.


  • Use of language which creates pictures in the mind of the reader and appeals to the senses.
  • These are often figures of speech such as similes, metaphors, personification.
  • Assists the reader to respond to the poem at a deeper level and to experience the ideas and feelings being expressed.


When I awoke,
The tree limbs shone
As white as milk,
As bleached as bone,

As white as wool,
As chalk, as cream,
As white as ghosts
In a white-night dream.

From Snow on the Trees by Jane Yolen.


A command, order or plea.

Indefinite article

A and an are placed before a noun or adjective and refer to one of many and is non-specific.

An usually precedes a noun or adjective that begins with a vowel.


  • This is a good movie!
  • Jan was given an award.

Indefinite pronoun

A word that refers to people or things in a general way.


  • one, someone, anyone, no-one, everyone.
  • Everyone arrived early to the party!

Independent clause

It contains the main idea of the sentence and can stand alone and make sense by itself.

A sentence can also be made up of more than one independent clause.


  • Sally plays the piano.
  • The boy held his father’s hand and he walked across the road.

Indirect object

It tells to whom or for whom the action of the verb is done and who is receiving the direct object.

There must be a direct object to have an indirect object.


  • We will make the lady an offer.
  • Little Red Riding Hood took grandma some cookies.
  • You gave me some water.


The process of drawing a conclusion from clues presented and using background knowledge of the content matter.


He ran out the door with his umbrella. The inference is it is raining or possibly could rain.

Infinitive verb

A verb that has to in front of it.

e.g., to have, to run, to jump, to work


Mum, I am going to run through the grass.

Information report

Classifies, describes and gives factual information about a subject or topic.


How the visual elements involve and position the viewer, through camera angles, colour, gaze, framing.


  • Camera angles
    • front
    • oblique
    • low
    • high
    • top down
    • bird’s eye
  • Colour
    • bright colours
    • attract
    • dark recede
  • Gaze
    • subject has direct eye contact (demand) or none (offer)
  • Framing of shots
    • close up
    • medium
    • long shot.

Internal rhyme

Words with the same or similar sounds, which occur within the same line. Rhyme helps to:

  • add emphasis to sounds
  • add pace and rhythm
  • bind the poem together
  • please the ear.


Internal rhyme is used by Samuel T Coleridge in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

‘In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud‘ or ‘Whiles all the night through fog-smoke white

Interrogative pronoun

A word used to ask a question.


  • who, whose, what, which, whom
  • whom did you see?
  • what did he say?


  • Engages the reader’s interest.
  • Introduces the topic, text(s) and writer’s thesis or ideas.
  • Overview of arguments to be presented.

Invented spelling

The process of encouraging beginning spellers to approximate, or attempt to spell, words by using their knowledge of sounds and letters.

Inverted commas

A form of punctuation (” “) used to denote speech or quotes. Also known as quotation marks.


  • Implies the opposite of what is actually said.
  • Often used to highlight the truth of a situation by using language of different or opposite tendency to express the meaning.


This explanation is as clear as mud!

Irregular verb

A verb (doing word) that changes its form in the past tense.


  • The dog runs for the stick.
    • The dog ran for the stick.
  • I am hungry.
    • I was hungry
  • We sing the song
    • We sang the song

Find more information about verbs in our English help pages.



Placing things side by side or close together, often to emphasise similarity or difference.



  • A variety of words that relate to the main idea of a topic.
  • They can be used to gain access to the meaning of the topic and to assist with internet searches and information gathering.
  • In high school, keywords could be important words in an essay question.


Language of the poem

The choice of words, phrasing and language devices such as alliteration, paradox, onomatopoeia, repetition, puns, assonance etc.


The placement and arrangement of elements in a visual text.


The way light and shadow is used in visual texts.


A limerick is a five line verse with the rhyme scheme of a-a-b-b-a following a strict pattern of syllables:

  • Lines 1, 2 and 3 are made up of seven to 10 syllables and rhyme with each other.
  • Lines 3 and 4 are made up of five to seven syllables and rhyme with each other.
  • Limericks are normally, but not always, light or humorous.


There was an old man
from Peru,
Who dreamed he was
eating his shoe.
He woke in the night,
with a terrible fright,
And found out that it
was quite true.

Linking words (connectives)

Use of linking words between paragraphs assists the reader to follow the line of the argument and binds the essay together.


Useful linking words for adding another point in an exposition are:

  • moreover
  • in addition
  • another
  • similarly
  • also
  • furthermore.

Useful linking words to use when introducing a contrasting point, as in a discussion, are:

  • however
  • in contrast
  • on the other hand
  • although
  • in other respects
  • alternatively
  • nevertheless
  • whereas
  • at a deeper level
  • at the same time.


A set of words or names for things written down one under the other.

Written lists are made to record groups, simplify information or to assist with remembering.

In more complex documents, lists may be recorded using dot points.


  • shopping lists
  • book lists
  • mailing lists


Literacy is the ability to understand and evaluate meaning through reading and writing, listening and speaking, viewing and representing.


Words used and understood according to their defined and explicit meaning.


Pertaining to literature.

Describes a text that evokes in the reader or listener a reflective, imaginative or emotional response.

Literary description

Describes people, characters, places, events and things in an imaginative way.


Character descriptions

Literary recount

Retells events from novels, plays, films and personal experiences to entertain others.


A recount of a traditional story, for example, The Gingerbread Man – A humorous and creatively interpreted recount of an ordinary incident that actually took place.

Literary text types

A variety of spoken, written and visual texts that promote use of imagination, thought or emotional response in the reader or listener.


  • some picture books
  • short stories
  • novels
  • some ballads
  • fairy/folk tales
  • some myths
  • fables
  • legends
  • some song lyrics
  • films
  • DVDs
  • television programs.

An easily recognisable design used by an organisation to represent it.


Underground' sign from the British rail system

Long shot

A camera shot taken at a distance from the object which shows the surroundings.

Long vowel

The vowel sounds that say their letter name in words and include:

  • a as in angel
  • e as in evening
  • i as in ice-cream
  • o as in open
  • u as in unicorn.

Look, say, cover, write, check

A strategy used to support the learning of spelling words. Students who participate in the Premier’s Spelling Challenge use this strategy.


A poem which expresses the personal feelings and thoughts of the poet.


Most poems, except for ballads and epics, are lyrics.

Three common themes include:

  • love
  • lamentation (sadness)
  • nature.


Magnetic whiteboard

An electronic board which teachers can use to reinforce learning, including using magnetic letters and numbers, as well as whiteboard markers.

Main idea

What the sentence, paragraph or whole text is about.


A figure of speech that involves the substitution of a word for another word with a similar sound. The resulting phrase makes no sense and often creates a comic effect.

Malapropism is often used by young children who are experimenting with language.


  • He had to use a fire distinguisher.
  • Michelangelo painted the Sixteenth Chapel.

Marking criteria

  • A set of statements describing the expectations required by the task and how responses will be judged.
  • These vary according to the question set.


In a critical response you may be assessed on how well you:

  • demonstrate understanding of the ideas expressed in the text
  • explain how features of form and language are used to inform the meaning and theme(s) in the text
  • write using appropriate language and terminology.

Medium shot

  • A camera shot between a close-up and long shot showing from waist-up a person standing or a person sitting.
  • Usually used to show conversation and some emotions.


Image of a girl using a laptop


  • A comparison where one thing is said to be something else.
  • This comparison may be extended over part or whole of a poem (extended metaphor).
  • Assists understanding by creating an image.
  • It often appeals to the reader on a personal level as it relates to the reader’s own experiences.


  • The children little are treasures. The moon is a silver medallion.
  • The road was a ribbon of moonlight” is a striking metaphor that opens Alfred Noyes’ poem, The Highwayman.


The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables used to provide rhythm.

Mind map

A diagram used to group words according to main ideas with arrows to link points that are related.


Refers to how the elements in the frame of a visual text or a stage are arranged.

Grammatical term describing words expressing a degree of possibility or necessity.


modal nouns:

  • possibility
  • necessity
  • requirement
  • certainty.

modal verbs:

  • must
  • should
  • could
  • would.

modal adjectives:

  • likely
  • possible
  • certain
  • definite
  • improbable.

modal adverbs:

  • probably
  • certainly
  • possibly
  • definitely.

An adjective that expresses likelihood.


  • definite, possible, and likely
  • What is the probable ending?

An adverb that expresses likelihood, e.g. definitely, clearly, rarely, occasionally


  • I could possibly go
  • perhaps I’ll go
  • definitely
  • clearly
  • rarely
  • occasionally

A noun that expresses likelihood. e.g., necessity, chance, likelihood


There is a possibility I will go.

A verb that expresses likelihood.


  • I might go
  • I could go
  • I must go!
  • I will go!
  • should
  • need to
  • can


A selection of words used by a writer or speaker to express how definite they are about something. Modality can range from uncertainty to certainty.


  • I will get up early in the morning (high modality).
  • I may get up early in the morning (low modality).


  • The general feeling or emotion of the text.
  • The mood created by the language assists the composer to convey his/her attitudes about the subject on an emotional level.


Twilight by Edward Elgar

“Adieu, the years are a
broken song,
And the right grows weak in
the strife with wrong,
The lilies of love have a
crimson stain
And the old days never will
come again.”

The mood is established here by the slow, resigned rhythm of the run-on lines (2 lines begin with “And”); the opening Adieu (good-bye); the reference to “broken”, “strife” and “stain”; “weak”, and the direct lament of the final line. The poem conveys a deep sense of loss on a personal and human level.


The smallest linguistic unit that has meaning.

e.g., unbreakable has three morphemes: un-, a prefix, break, and -able a suffix.


  • Rerun has 2 morphemes – re / run.
  • Overreact has 3 morphemes – over / re / act.

Morphemic knowledge

A form of spelling knowledge that focuses on the meaning of words in its smallest form (morphemes) and how they change when making compound words or using suffixes and prefixes.


  • photo, photograph, photographer
  • use, user, useable, misuse, unusable.

Multisyllabic word

A word that consists of more than one syllable.


banana (ba/na/na)


NSW Foundation Style

The handwriting style taught to students in schools in New South Wales.

The style has one basic set of letter shapes using unjoined letters for young students, and the same letters joined to form cursive writing (running writing) for older students.


  • Tells a story using a series of events that entertains, instructs or gives an emotional response. Usually includes a problem that is addressed.
  • The meaning is conveyed through an unfolding problem, action or event, or the placement of a character or an object in a particular setting.


  • literature
  • songs
  • motion pictures
  • video games
  • theatre
  • musical theatre
  • dance
  • digital story

Narrative poem

A poem that is organized into stanzas and tells a story using narrative elements of orientation, complication, series of events and resolution.


  • The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Robert Browning
  • The Highwayman, Alfred Noyes
  • The Tale of Custard the Dragon, Ogden Nash


The person or character that tells the story.


The negative side must convince the audience that the statement is false.


If the topic is: ‘That the number of school holidays be increased‘, the negative must argue against the proposition (i.e. that the number of school holidays should not be increased).


  • The process of converting verbs and adjectives into nouns.
  • Nominalisation often provides more flexibility, authority, conciseness and distance in analytical texts.



  • examine/examination
  • regulate/regulation


  • busy/business
  • sad/sadness
  • modern/modernity

Non-verbal features

Features of characters that are visual.


  • clothes
  • gestures
  • stance
  • physical features

Note making

Extracting and recording the main ideas of a text in an organised and systematic way.

Can include recording keywords, phrases, sentences.


A word used to represent people, places, things and feelings, e.g. child, children, city, Dubbo, happiness, history.


The children laughed.

Find more information about nouns in our English help pages.

Noun clause

A group of words that contains a verb and acts like a noun in a sentence.

A noun clause is a dependent clause. It does not make sense by itself or stand alone.


  • How he writes depends on how tired he is.
  • I thought that it was a great movie.

Noun group

A group of words telling who or what is involved in the sentence. It may include adjectives and nouns linked together.


  • The tired, cranky toddler had a sleep.
  • The little, black and white, spotted dog ran home.

Noun plural

More than one item.


  • pets
  • boxes
  • babies
  • tomatoes
  • shelves
  • mice
  • women
  • handbags
  • brothers-in-law
  • ideas
  • thoughts
  • feelings

Numbering adjective

A word that describes how many of a person or thing there are.


  • two
  • many
  • there are several girls in the play.



A person, thing or feeling in the sentence that has had something done to it.


  • The mouse nibbled the cheese.
  • The Cheese was nibbled and therefore is the object of this sentence.


Records information gathered and responds to it in a personal way.

Observations do not have a sequence of events.


A long lyric poem that addresses, and often praises, someone or something. It often has a stately quality.


  • Ode to a Nightingale (John Keats) 1819
  • Ode to a Grecian Urn (John Keats)
  • Ode to a Butterfly Lorraine Nisbet 2001.


The way in which a subject in a visual text seems to be looking at something other than directly at the viewer of the text.


The gaze in the image below is an ‘offer’ as the subject is looking at something else in the image.

Close up of woman. Her eyes are looking away from the camera at something to the left of the photographer


  • A word where the pronunciation of the word imitates the sound it makes.
  • Words that echo the sounds that they describe e.g., slap, slosh, hissing.
  • Helps to build a strong sense of the auditory experience.


  • meow
  • buzz
  • drip
  • crackle
  • flutter
  • rustle
  • knock
  • click
  • clack
  • whistle
  • gurgle
  • moan
  • yap

A cacophonous cannonade of thunder,
doesn’t it make you wonder?
blasting buss of blunder,
pitter-patter rain, pouring under,
streets awash like tumult tundra,
lucid lightning flash,
clip-clop heels as people dash
to take cover from the splash,
when grey skies clear
then listen here
in quiet heavens
doth now appear
a rainbow.

William Thomas Dodd's 'Storm'.

Onset and rime

The separate sounds in words, ie the beginning part (onset) and the rest of the word (rime).


  • In the word barkb is the onset and ark is the rime.
  • In stripstr is the onset and is the rime.


A subjective statement or thought about an issue or topic, and is the result of emotion or interpretation of facts. An opinion may be expressed in an exposition supported by an argument. An opinion may display bias.


Children should not use calculators at school.


The team that disagrees with and argues against the topic.


If the topic is: ‘That the number of school holidays be increased’, the opposition must argue against the case (ie that the number of school holidays should not be increased).


  • A figure of speech that deliberately uses two contradictory words next to each other describing two opposing ideas. e.g., extremely average, bitter sweet, gentle giant.
  • Words of opposite meaning are deliberately combined.
  • The contradiction is a surprise tactic to attract the reader’s attention and to think about the underlying truth.


Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind

“O heavy lightness! Serious vanity!
Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold
fire, sick health! ”

From Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.



Moving the camera across a still subject left to right or right to left, or following a moving subject. This may indicate length and create suspense.


A contradiction that at first seems impossible to bring together, but actually proves to be a truth.


A common paradox in literature is gaining insight through loss of vision and blindness, for example, Shakespeare’s King Lear.


A section of writing dealing with a particular idea or topic usually consist of a number of sentences.

Paragraphs begin on a new line and may be indented in handwriting.


Punctuation marks ( ) used to enclose words that gives more information about the text.

Brackets and parentheses are interchangeable words.


  • “Ella (John’s mother) will organise the drinks for the school community barbecue.”
  • “She is referring to her friend (Emma) again.”

Parliamentary debate

A type of formal debate in which the affirmative team is called the government, and the opposing team is the opposition.


  • An imitation of a well-known text which has been written to poke fun at the original, more serious, possibly even pretentious text.
  • Humour comes from the audience comparing both versions of the poem.


The Daffodils by W. Wordsworth (with famous opening lines: I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills…) is a poem that is often parodied by others. For example, Daffodils No More by Gorden J.L. Ramel is a serious parody written to warn about modern problems with the environment.

Passive voice

Passive voice occurs when the object of the sentence is placed before the verb.

Sentences in the passive voice sometimes have the word ‘by’ after the verb.


The bird was chased by was the cat.

Personal pronoun

A word that replaces a noun referring to a person or people in a sentence.


  • I
  • you
  • he
  • she
  • we
  • they
  • me
  • him
  • her
  • them
  • us

Personal response

A personal opinion on a novel, play or film, referring to parts within the passage.


What did you like about that artwork and why? Describe why you do or do not like this story/poem? (Responses to these questions would be described as personal responses).


  • A description that gives human or animal qualities to inanimate objects.
  • Personification is a figure of speech.
  • We as humans can relate more readily to the ‘humanised’ object, which makes the image more powerful.


  • Opportunity knocks.
  • The wind whispered through the trees.
  • Time creeps up on you.
  • In Winter Warfare by Edgell Rickword, cold is depicted as a colonel who has an impact on both his troops and the fields of war.

Persuasive text

  • Text used by an author deliberately to influence an audience to believe, question or act.
  • Persuasive texts include expositions (one sided arguments) and discussions (two sided arguments).
  • Most persuasive texts in English for Years 7-10 require students to argue for and/or against propositions relating to literary, non-fiction, visual, digital and media texts.


  • A letter to council outlining why we need more parks.
  • A community presentation on the pros and cons of development.
  • Advertisements.
  • Protest songs.


The smallest unit of sound in a word.

There are 44 phonemes in Standard Australian English, represented by 26 letters of the alphabet in multiple combinations.


The word dog is made up of three phonemes /d/-/o/-/g/

Phonemic awareness

The ability to hear, say and manipulate sounds in words, and is a sub-skill of phonological awareness.


Phonics involves making the connection between sounds and letters when reading and spelling.

Phonological awareness

A broad concept that not only includes phonemic awareness but also encompasses awareness of things like words, rhyme and syllables.

Phonological knowledge

A form of spelling knowledge that focuses the sounds of language and the relationship between sounds and letters.


A group of words that forms part of a sentence but does not have a finite verb.

A phrase cannot stand on its own.


  • …  at the back of the house
  • … every day
  • Once upon a time …

Picture book

  • A book in which a story is told through both written and visual text.
  • These can appeal on many levels, to readers/viewers of various ages.


Multiple or more than one. Plurals are usually applied to nouns.


  • I have one cat
  • I have many cat s
  • buses
  • babies
  • ideas


A literary text that uses words in imaginative ways to express an idea or describe a subject.

Poetry is often written with the expectation that it will be read aloud, making the language, sound patterns and rhythmic qualities an important part of the meaning.

Some poems may make use of rhyme while others use a free verse form.


  • ballad
  • epic
  • chant
  • rap
  • cinquain
  • haiku
  • limerick
  • acrostic poem
  • shape poem

Poetry analysis

An in-depth exploration of a poem through study of the theme(s) and the poetic techniques.


  • How the viewer is placed in relation to the subject of the visual text.
  • For example, the viewer may be positioned to feel either detached or involved.

Possessive adjective

A word that describes who something belongs to, e.g. my, his, her, Kim’s, the boys’


  • This is our garden.
  • We are meeting the kids’ teachers.
  • my
  • his
  • her
  • Kim’s
  • the boys’

Possessive pronoun

A word that indicates who owns something.


  • This is her handbag
  • my, mine, yours, his, her, hers, ours, theirs, its


A printed picture with text used to inform or persuade.


The group of words that begin with a verb and describe what the subject of the sentence does.


The student brought his homework to the teacher.

  • The student is the subject.
  • Brought his homework to the teacher is the predicate as it describes what the student did.


The word part that is attached to the beginning of a base word to change the meaning of the word.


  • unhappy
  • preview
  • review


A word that starts a phrase. A preposition may refer to place, time, position, manner or reason.


  • I hopped on the bus.
  • I rang the bell at home time.
  • on, with, of, after, before, at, under, over, in, for, from, by.

Procedural recount

Tells how something was made or done.


A recount of a science experiment.


Gives instructions on how to make or do something.


  • recipes
  • how to wash a dog
  • how to conduct a science experiment

Pro forma

A document that outlines the requirements and presentation of information for a particular task. Pro formas are used to support students in writing text types for different audiences and purposes.


A word used in place of a noun.


  • The shopping bag is heavy. It is full of fruit.
  • The dog is slow. He is old.
  • We are going home.
  • That is my hat.
  • it, he, we, they, that, your.


The particular way in which words are sounded.

Proper adjective

A proper noun used as an adjective.


  • Australian student
  • Wednesday play group
  • This is Angela’s cake recipe.

Proper noun

A name of a person, place or title of something. Proper nouns start with a capital letter.


  • I am catching a flight for Alice Springs.
  • Andrew
  • Dr Gupta
  • Blinky Bill
  • Central Station
  • Parliament House
  • The ABC News
  • February


The statement of the debating topic, which often begins with ‘that’.


  • “That there should be more school holidays.”
  • “That the legal drinking age be raised to 21 years.”

Public speaking

The process of speaking to a group of people in a structured and deliberate manner with the intention to inform, influence or entertain.


A clever play on words involving the multiple meanings of an expression, or two expressions that sound similar. A deliberate use of puns can add ambiguity, depth, and irony to a poem as words can have a number of meanings.


  • I need to look for my watch, but I don’t have the time! The food taster gave up his job because he had too much on his plate.
  • “Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York.” From Shakespeare’s Richard Ill.


A commonly understood system of symbols and markers to make meaning from written text.

Punctuation marks

Markers and symbols that indicates the structure and organisation of written language so that it makes sense to the reader. Punctuation marks provide symbolic cues to support intonation and pauses to be observed when reading aloud.


Qualifying words

Words expressing a degree of possibility or necessity.


modal nouns:

  • possibility
  • necessity
  • requirement
  • certainty

modal verbs:

  • must
  • should
  • could
  • would

modal adjectives:

  • likely
  • possible
  • certain
  • definite
  • improbable

modal adverbs:

  • probably
  • certainly
  • possibly
  • definitely


A sentence that asks for information and ends with a question mark (?).

Question mark

A punctuation mark used at the end of a sentence to indicate that a question is being asked.

Quotation marks

  • A punctuation mark that denotes speech, a quotation, a title or draws the reader’s attention to a word that is unusual or emphasised within an unfamiliar context.
  • Inverted commas, quotation marks and speech marks are interchangeable words (synonyms).


  • Quotations from the text can provide strong evidence of techniques or theme.
  • Reference quotes in footnotes and /or bibliography.



Spoken or chanted lyrics performed in time to a rhythmic beat, usually with a heavy use of rhyme. Similes and metaphors are sometimes used in rap lyrics.

Reading path

The movement of a viewer’s gaze around the visual text. This movement can be demonstrated by lines of sight, or vectors.


An argument that tries to directly negate (argue against) the argument of a previous speaker in a debate.


A speaker not only argues his / her own case, but rebuts or refutes the argument(s) put forward by the other team.

Reciprocal pronoun

Words that express a mutual relationship.


  • each other
  • one another

Reflexive pronoun

A word that adds emphasis to someone or something.


  • myself
  • yourself
  • himself
  • herself
  • oneself
  • ourselves
  • itself
  • yourselves
  • themselves


A repeated part of a poem or song. Usually comes either at the end of a stanza or between two stanzas.


A technique to disprove, challenge or counter the other side’s argument.


A speaker not only argues his / her own case, but rebuts or refutes the argument(s) put forward by the other team.

Regular verb

Regular verbs change their form very little and ed is added to the base word in the past tense.

Relative pronoun

A word that refers to people or things in a sentence.


  • who
  • whom
  • which
  • whose
  • that


  • Repetition of words or phrases in a poem.
  • Deliberate repetition of key words can work to persuade, unify the poem, emphasise a point, or depict tedium.


Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor
motion; As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by S. T. Coleridge Coleridge makes extensive use of repetition in this poem to reinforce the tedium of the ship in the doldrums and the unrelenting nature of his crime.

Response text

Any text that involves a personal response to or critical review of another text.


  • Personal opinion about a text with cultural significance.
  • Review of a book, film, poem, website, media text.


Summarises, analyses and assesses the appeal of a novel, play or film, to a broader audience

Rhetorical question

A question which does not require an (often obvious) answer. It is asked for the sake of emphasis or effect. A rhetorical question is a figure of speech.

Rhyme (poetry)

A form of poetry where the words at the end of the line have the same sounding (rhyming) pattern. Rhyme is one of the conventions of some poetry. Rhyming patterns within poems can vary.

Words with the same or similar sounds, which occur at the ends of lines (end rhyme) or within the same line (internal rhyme). Rhyme adds emphasis to sounds, adds pace and rhythm, binds the poem together, and is pleasing to the ear.


The warping night air having
brought the boom,
Of an owl’s voice into her
darkened room

From A Barred Owl, by Richard Wilbur.

Internal rhyme is used by Coleridge in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – “In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud” or “Whiles all the night through fog-smoke white

Rhyming couplets

A poem that often recounts an event. It is written in pairs of lines that rhyme.


End rhyme in A Barred Owl, by Richard Wilbur:

The warping night air having
brought the boom
Of an owl’s voice into her
darkened room,
We tell the wakened child that
all she heard
Was an odd question from a
forest bird,
Asking of us, if rightly listened
“Who cooks for you?” and
then “Who cooks for you?”


The overall pacing and tempo of a poem, most noted when the poem is read aloud. It is produced by the poem’s beat (metre), structure of the sentences, choice of vocabulary and rhyme.

Rhythm sometimes suggests the subject of the poem, for example, fast rhythm of galloping horses or slow movement of an old man. It also develops the mood of the poem, from light-hearted to solemn. The rhythm of free verse sounds more natural.


The warping night air having
brought the boom
Of an owl’s voice into her
darkened room, …

From A Barred Owl, by Richard Wilbur

“In mist or cloud, on mast or
shroud” or ” Whiles all the night
through fog-smoke white

From The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Coleridge


Standard Australian English

The English language skills taught in Australian schools that empowers students’ use of language in a variety of contexts.


Importance given to particular elements.


The size, expression and foreground position of the front statue (in the image below) demands the viewer’s attention first.

Row of statues in crouching positions on a green lawn next to a hedge


Sarcasm is like irony where something is said but something else is meant. It is used, however, to mock, humiliate, hurt or insult. Sarcasm is a figure of speech.


Thanks a lot!” (when the implication is, ‘you have let me down!’).


  • A form of ridicule, often in the guise of comedy.
  • Humorous criticism.
  • The poet, taking on the role of social commentator, may expose our shortcomings; help us to laugh at or address them, or to view them with more seriousness.


Goodwill to Men, Give Us Your Money, by Pam Ayres. As the title suggests, the poet describes Christmas, but also exposes the side of Christmas that is commercialised, wasteful of environmental resources and unsociable.


Degree of purity of colour.


The process that involves moving your eyes quickly up and down a page of text when seeking specific words and phrases. Used, for example, when looking for words in a dictionary or thesaurus.


  • To break up a word into separate sounds.
  • The reverse of blending.
  • Words can be segmented in different ways
    • into syllables
    • onset and rime
    • phonemes.


  • In the word sat, the separate sounds are /s/ – /a/ – /t/
  • For syllables: bobcatbob / cat
  • onset/rime: catc/at
  • phonemes: cat – /c/-/a-/t/


Refers to making meaning from language, and particularly from the meaning of words within their context.


A punctuation mark (;) used to connect two related simple sentences together without a conjunction (joining word).

Semicolons may separate phrases or clauses that already include commas.


  • I was told the grounds would be open; they were closed.
  • I like being here; yet, I prefer to be doing something else.


A group of words which expresses a complete thought, makes sense and stands on its own.

A written sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark.


  • She ran.
  • I have a pet bird and it can talk!


To put into a logical or deliberate order.


The location of the story or image in time and place. Setting is often used symbolically to reveal mood, character, theme.

Shape poem

A poem written in the shape of a topic, also known as concrete poetry.

Shared reading

Occurs when a proficient reader (like a parent or older sibling) reads to another person, or a group, for enjoyment.

This approach is helpful when the reading content is complex and at a higher reading level than the listening audience can read independently.

Short vowel

The short sounds that vowels make and include:

  • a as in apple
  • e as in egg
  • i as in itchy
  • o as in orange
  • u as in umbrella.


Individual view or frame on film.

Sight words

Frequently used words in reading and writing that usually cannot be ‘sounded out’ or follow conventional spelling rules. They have to be learnt by looking at them.


  • come
  • the
  • was


A figure of speech in which direct comparison of two unlike things is made joined by the words as or like.

In poetry, simile assists the reader to build a mental image of the thing being described.


W.B. Yeats in Adam’s Curse uses a simile to compare the labour required of love to the hard work of a poor house worker.

Better go down upon your
And scrub a kitchen pavement,
or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds
of weather…

Simple sentence

A sentence that has one verb, one idea, stands alone and makes sense.

Also known as an independent clause.


Lucy is going to the park.


One of something. Usually applies to a noun.


‘The child was at school.’ The singular nouns are child and school.


A process of reading quickly through text while visually searching for relevant details and main ideas.

People often skim read when they have lots of material to read in a limited amount of time.


A punctuation mark in the form of an oblique line ( / ) also known as an oblique and forward slash.

The slash is used to:

  • indicate ‘or’ – Dear Sir/Madam
  • indicate ‘per’ – km/h
  • abbreviate a word – R/C for reverse cycle,
  • to notate the date – 14/02/2013
  • replace a dash ( – ) when indicating a range, fro example, sizes 6/7.
  • O/S stands for overseas.
  • n/a stands for not applicable.

Social distance

Refers to the meaning of relationships within a text, or between subject and viewer through shot distance.


A poetic speech in a play that is told by a person alone on stage as if there were no audience present, or as if the audience is the speaker’s confidante.


To be or not to be – that is
the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the
mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of
outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a
sea of troubles
And, by opposing, end
them. To die, to sleep…

Shakespeare, Hamlet ca 1600


  • A traditional form of poem which has 14 lines in iambic pentameter.
  • It may be divided into stanzas of varying lengths.
  • There are two main forms of sonnet: Shakespearean and Petrarchan (Italian).


Let me not to the marriage of
true minds (a)
Admit impediments, love is not
love (b)
Which alters when it alteration
finds, (a)
Or bends with the remover to
remove. (b)
O no, it is an ever fixéd mark (c)
That looks on tempests and is
never shaken; (d)
It is the star to every
bark, (c)
Whose worth’s unknown
although his height be taken (d)
Love’s not time’s fool, though
rosy lips and cheeks (e)
Within his bending sickle’s
compass come, (f)
Love alters not with his brief
hours and weeks, (e)
But bears it out even
to the
edge of doom: (f)
If this be error and upon me
proved, (g)
I never writ, nor no man ever
loved. (g)

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116.

Modern sonnets include:

  • Gwen Harwood, Suburban Sonnet
  • John Magee, High Flight
  • Roy Campbell, The Serf.

Sound devices

Language tools that focus on the dramatic effects that the combinations of sounds within words make. Some sounds include those made by using alliteration, onomatopoeia and rhyme in a text.


A member of a debating team.


Speakers are called first, second, third and fourth speakers depending on the order in which they speak. Each speaker has a specific role to play in the debate. The final speaker may not speak directly, but assists the team by making notes for the other members.

Speech marks

A punctuation mark that denotes speech, a quotation, a title or draws the reader’s attention to a word that is unusual or emphasised within an unfamiliar context. Inverted commas, quotation marks and speech marks are interchangeable words (synonyms).

Spelling list

A list of words designed for learning specific aspects of spelling.

A typical spelling list may contain words:

  • using a particular spelling pattern, e.g. nation, examination, vacation attraction, concentration
  • sight words, e.g. through, where, wonder, science, soldiers
  • often misspelt words, e.g. acceptable, believe, amateur, restaurant
  • theme words, e.g. transport, vehicle, bicycle, aeroplane, scooter, minibus.


Words or phrases in which initial letters or syllables are switched. This often happens accidently as ‘slips of the tongue’ or a deliberate play on words. When used deliberately, a spoonerism is a figure of speech.


A group of lines within a poem, similar to a verse in a song. In some poems, stanzas may be of a standard length.

The length of a stanza can vary.

Stanzas provide a structure which may be predictable (helps meaning), contribute to the pace and rhythm of a poem and emphasise a stage in the poem (like a paragraph in prose).


Stanza may share a rhyme scheme or a fixed number of lines, e.g. a couplet (2 rhyming lines with the same number of stressed syllables)

True wit is nature to advantage
What oft was thought, but
ne’er so well express’d./

Quote by Alexander Pope.


A sentence that supplies information and usually ends in a full stop.


Lucy is going to the park.


A graphic organiser, such as a series of illustrations or images, to outline a multimedia presentation.

Commonly used for the initial draft of a comic strip, as well as for planning film, animation and video productions.

Structure of a poem

How a poem is organised through stanzas, placement and length of lines, number of syllables per line, etc.

Structure of a text

How a text is structured depends on the type of text, purpose, audience and context in which it is written.


The person, place or thing the sentence is about.


‘The girl threw the ball.’ The sentence is about the girl. The subject is the girl The rest of the sentence describes what she did.

Subject of a poem

This is what the poem is about, at least at the literal level.


The word part that is attached to the end of the base word (root word) to change the meaning of the word.


  • homeless
  • friendship
  • happiness

Superlative adjective

A word that gives the greatest degree of comparison.


  • This is the longest film ever!
  • Goldilocks found Baby Bear’s bed most comfortable.
  • tall, taller, tallest; old, older, oldest; long, longer, longest; small, smaller, smallest.

Superlative adverb

An adverb that indicates a comparison to the greatest degree (between three or more things).


  • ate most
  • spoke least
  • ran fastest


A unit of sound within a word.

Every syllable must have a vowel (or a y acting as a vowel).


  • The word cat has one syllable.
  • The word bobcat has two syllables – bob / cat.


A document outlining a course of study.

The Department of Education and Communities has syllabi for each curriculum area that outline outcomes to be achieved in each key learning area.


  • A word or concrete object that represents something else, especially an object representing something that is abstract.
  • Colours and animals are common symbols.
  • A symbol adds a deeper meaning to an object, e.g., a crown represents royalty.
  • Universal or striking symbols aim to increase awareness or deepen understanding.


Collection of 6 common symbols: smiley face, skull and cross bones, dove with olive branch, peace sign, recycling symbol (three green arrows forming an infinite triangle), and a royal crown.


Words with the same or similar meaning.


Relates to grammatical patterns and the ways in which sentences are structured.Syntax is often described in terms of its elements as subject, verb and object.



Information arranged in rows and columns.

Diagrams that can be useful for organising ideas and notes for essays requiring comparison and contrast of concepts, texts, features, etc.

Tense in verbs

Refers to time the action (verb) is taking place in a sentence. Verbs can be in the present, past or future tense.


Any written, spoken and/or visual communication involving language. Texts can be grouped as literary text types and factual text types.

Text types

A variety of spoken, written and visual texts for different purposes and audiences.

The intended audience influences the language used within different text types.

Guides are available to support students when writing particular text types.


The underlying thought, idea or message, presented through the words and imagery of a poem or literary text.

Theme words

A list of words that may contain words from various topics studied at school, or relevant to particular learning areas.

Thesaurus skills

The ability to locate and utilise words in a thesaurus to find words with similar meaning (synonyms).


Writer’s opinion or position on an issue.


A line which shows events arranged along it in chronological order.


  • The tone is the attitude towards subject or audience implied in any literary work.
  • The tone of a poem is the attitude of a poet towards his/her subject implied in the poem. It may be ironic, admiring, sarcastic, sad, happy, resigned, despairing, bitter, humorous, angry, reflective, urgent, etc.


In The Pasture, by Robert Frost, the poet’s tone is both assuring and inviting in the following stanza:

I’m going out to clean the
pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the
leaves away
(And wait to watch the water
clear, I may):
I shan’t be gone long – You
come too.

Topic sentence

  • A sentence which contains the main idea of the paragraph.
  • It mainly appears at the beginning of the paragraph.

Topic talk

An oral presentation given to an audience on a specific topic which may be spontaneous, planned or rehearsed.


Venn diagram

Venn diagrams can be useful in organising ideas and notes for essays requiring comparison and contrast of concepts, texts, features etc.


Three equal size circles half overlapping. Each circle has a name: Knowledge, Strategy, and Creativity. IN the segment where all three circles are overlapping is the word 'Success'. This area where all circles overlap is label ed 'success' and is considered to made up equally of all three concepts (knowledge, Strategy, and Creativity)


Lines, real or implied, which direct a viewer’s attention to a focal point in a visual text.


Some vectors are invisible (as in a glance between people), but others are real, and draw the viewer’s eye directly, as in the train tracks in the image below.

Two sets of train tracks veering off to the left in parallel


A doing or action word.

A word that tells what is happening or what is.


  • running
  • dance
  • is
  • am
  • are
  • was
  • were

Verb group

A group of words built up around one or more verbs.


  • I have been practising the piano.
  • The plane took off.
  • He huffed and puffed.


  • Poem of five three-line stanzas concluding with a stanza of four lines.
  • They contain only two rhyme sounds, e.g. ay, ill.


There is nothing more to say.
Through broken walls and gray
The winds blow bleak and shrill.
They are all gone away.
|Nor is there one to-day
To speak them good or ill:
There is nothing more to say.
Why is it then we stray
Around the sunken sill?
They are all gone away,
And our
poor fancy-play
For them is wasted skill:
There is nothing more to say.
There is ruin and decay
In the House on the Hill:
They are all gone away,
There is nothing more to say.

Edwin Arlington Robinson, 1894

Visual knowledge

A form of spelling knowledge that focuses on how words look and includes:

  • Recalling and comparing the appearance of words, particularly those which they have seen or learnt before or those which are commonly used
  • Recognising what letters look like and how to write them
  • Recognising that letters can be grouped in particular ways.

Visual literacy

Visual literacy is the ability to interpret, and make meaning from information presented in the form of an image.

Visual representation

  • The way an image is selectively constructed and presented to an audience.
  • It shows what is happening.

Visual text

  • A text that uses images or graphics to make meaning.
  • Visual texts have been carefully constructed by their composers to shape meaning and to affect and influence the viewer.


  • Choice of words is important to composing texts.
  • Use precise words.
  • Find synonyms for common or overused words to avoid repetition.
  • Choose words suitable to your audience.

Voice over

A voice that speaks over the top of visual (action) on screen, such as in a commercial, film or animation.


A vowel is any letter other than a consonant, ie the letters: a, e, i, o, u.

Vowels can make short and long sounds.


Web pages

A page of information that is available on the internet.

Word families

The study of groups of words that end the same way.



The camera moves in or out without a cut.

Return to top of page Back to top