Glossary

A story of events or experiences, real or imagined. In literary theory, narrative includes a story (what is narrated) and a discourse (how it is narrated).

The ways in which a narrator may be related to a story. For example, a narrator might take a role of first or third person, having full knowledge or restricted in knowledge of events, reliable or unreliable in interpretation of what happens.

A newly created word or expression. This can occur in a number of ways, for example, an existing word used in a new way (deadly') and through abbreviations (for example, 'HIV').

A process for forming nouns from verbs (for example, ‘reaction’ from ‘react’ or ‘departure’ from ‘depart’) or adjectives (for example, ‘length’ from ‘long’, ‘eagerness’ from ‘eager’). Nominalisation is also a process for forming noun groups/phrases from clauses (for example, ‘their destruction of the city’ from ‘they destroyed the city’). Nominalisation is a way of making a text more compact and is often a feature of texts that contain abstract ideas and concepts.

Behaviours, other than words, that transmit meaning (for example, body language, inflexion, eye contact, posture).

A word class that includes all words denoting physical objects such as ‘man’, ‘woman’, ‘boy’, ‘girl’, ‘diamond’, ‘car’, ‘window’ etc. These are called ‘concrete nouns’. ‘Abstract nouns’ express intangibles such as ‘democracy’, ‘courage’, ‘success’, ‘fact’, ‘idea’. The most important grammatical property of nouns concerns their function. A noun group/phrase, which contains a noun as its major element, can function as:

  • subject (for example, ‘(the sun) was shining’)
  • object (for example, ‘I'd like (an apple)’)
  • a part of a prepositional phrase (for example, ‘they arrived (on time)’).

Most nouns can be marked for plural (for example, ‘dog’–‘dogs’, ‘woman’–‘women’), and for possessive (for example, ‘dog’–‘dog’s’, ‘woman’–‘woman's’.

There are three major grammatical types of nouns: common nouns, proper nouns and pronouns.

  • common nouns include words such as ‘hat’, ‘phone’, ‘pollution’ that do not name a particular person, place, thing, quality and so on. They can be concrete or abstract nouns.
  • proper nouns include words such as ‘Australia’, ‘Mary Smith’, ‘October’, which serve as the names of particular persons, places, days/months and festivals. They usually occur without a determiner, such as ‘the’.

Consists of a noun as a major element, alone or accompanied by one or more modifiers. A noun functioning as a major element may be a common noun, proper noun or pronoun. Expressions belonging to a range of classes may function as modifiers:

Those that precede the main noun include:

  • determiners (for example, ‘the car’, ‘a disaster’, ‘some people’, ‘many mistakes’)
  • possessive noun groups/phrases and pronouns (for example, ‘the old man's house’, ‘Kim's behaviour’, ‘my father’)
  • numerals (for example, ‘two days’, ‘thirty casualties’, ‘a hundred students’)
  • adjectives (for example, ‘grave danger’, ‘a nice day’, ‘some new ideas’, ‘poor Tom’)
  • nouns (for example, ‘the unemployment rate’, ‘a tax problem’, ‘a Qantas pilot’)

Those that follow the main noun usually belong to one or other of the following classes:

  • prepositional phrases (for example, ‘a pot of tea’, ‘the way to Adelaide’, ‘work in progress’)
  • subordinate clauses (for example, ‘the woman who wrote it’, ‘people living near the coast’).