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AS and A2 English - VITAL - Terminology

Updated on June 10, 2012

Quick Note

Learn the following words and you should do well in your AS or A2 exam. Remember that there are many very common terminologies that are used like "metaphor" and "similes" but to attain higher marks it's necessary to learn the less common ones (like assonance, idiolect, code switching etc.)

Good Luck!

Accent - the distinctive way a person from a certain region pronounces words.

Active Voice - When the subject of the sentence is directly performing the verb “Pete burst the bubble.”

Adjacency Pair - Dialogue that follows a certain pattern e.g. yes-no-questions, greetings e.g. “hi how are you doing” and “fine thanks, you?”

Alliteration - When two or more words close to each other in a phrase begin with the same sound, e.g. Big Brown Bear.

Allusion - When a text or speaker refers to a saying, idea etc. outside the text or conversation

Anaphoric Reference - When a word, usually a pronoun, refers back to something or someone that has already been mentioned e.g. “Barry can’t come because He’s ill.”

Antithesis - First using one idea and then contrasting it against another (using antonyms) e.g. “It’s just too good from Green, and just too bad for the goalkeeper.”

Antonyms - The opposite meaning of a word. Antonym is the antonym of synonym. Hot is the antonym of cold.

Archaism - Old-fashioned words that aren’t used in modern day English such as ‘Spiffing’ or “fiddlesticks.”

Assimilation - Changes of pronunciation to make saying two words next to each other easier, “our owl” can be pronounced as “are owl” or “arowl” to avoid having to say the two hard vowel sounds between 'our' and 'owl'.

Back-Channelling - Letting the speaker know that you are listening by giving them some sort of affirmation e.g. 'yep' 'uh huh' 'mm' and 'I agree'.

Cataphoric Reference – Referring to something that will occur in the future 'these are the directions' or 'Pete will come at 9'.

Clipping - When shortened words become a word in their own right, such as ‘phone’ or ‘demo’.

Code-switching - Alternating the way you speak depending on the company you are in and your relationship to them.

Cohesion - The linking of ideas that make a conversation make sense, the level of fluidity within a conversation.

Collocation - Words that are always used in conjunction with each other words “done and dusted”.

Comparative- words that compare one thing to another, most commonly ending in ‘-er’ e.g. “better” “faster” “sadder”

Contraction- The shortening of words to make them easier to say or more informal “mustn’t” “can’t” “wouldn’t”

Declarative Sentences- Sentences that make a statement.

Deixis - A meaning of words, that cannot be understood unless given context
e.g. “him” refers to somebody, but without context you do not know who, making it a deictic word.
Other uses: expressing the time or place of an action “here” “now” “that” “there”

Denotation - The literal meaning of a word.

Dialect - Particular Lexis, Grammar, Pronunciation, of a mixture of usually the region of origin and the social background of the speaker.

Dialogue - An exchange of any medium between two or more speakers.

Double Comparative - “more faster” using two comparative words in conjunction with each other.

Double Negative - Using a negative twice “It’s never going to not happen”

Elision - When syllables are slurred together to make them easier to say.

Ellipsis - When part of a grammatical structure is left out without affecting the meaning of a sentence.

Enjambement - When a poem does not use grammar at the end of one of its lines and instead just continues it onto the next line.

Euphemism - A nicer way of saying something that may have been deemed to be harsh or blunt.

Exclamative - An expressive sentence that ends with an exclamation mark!

Exophoric Reference - The technique of referring to something outside of the capability of the viewer to see at that point. E.G. saying "that tree there, it spans miles and sings as the wind rustles it" is using the tree as an exophoric reference, because we cannot see the tree in question.

Feedback - verbal and non-verbal (distinction between back-channelling) signs that a person is listening to a speaker

Filler - Words that fill in prose to prevent silence when in need of time to think, maintaining fluidity of prose. E.g. the excessive use of the word ‘like’ as well as utterances such as “mm”, “hmm”, ”errr” (French).

Fricative - Consonants that require the forcing of air through a restricted passage between the lips or teeth, giving an aggressive sound such as “z” “sh” “s” “th” “j” “f” “v” etc.

Glottal Stop - Changing the pronunciation of a syllable within a word by stopping the flow or air, in order to make it easier to say the word “water -> war-uh”

Hedging - Words of uncertainty “maybe” “probably” “possibly” “perhaps”

Hyperbole - Using exaggeration for effect. “I told you a thousand times!” “I could eat a horse” “I have millions of things to do”

Idiolect - A person’s way of speech brought about by personal experiences and upbringing

Imagery - Describing things so that an image is made inside the audience’s head.

Imperative - An order “do that” “come here”

Implication - Implying something

Interrogatives - Questioning words

Juxtaposition - Positioning words, ideas or images next to each other in a specific way to create an effect.

Lexical Field - The group of words that a word belongs to, “grass” “tree” “river” can all relate to “nature” and so a lexical field of “nature” is said to be in use.

Lexis - Another word for 'vocabulary' that you should use when you wish to say 'vocabulary' in the exam.

Metaphor - Saying something is something else for effect “her eyes were daggers”.

Modal Auxiliary verbs - Words that give more information about the main verb but cannot be a main verb themselves “might” “could”.

Mode - A way of text classification, either written or spoken mode, sometimes a mixture.

Monologue - One person talking for a long time e.g. a speech or narration.

Monosyllabic - Words containing only one syllable “yep” “nah” “might”.

Narrative Voice - The point of view from which the text or story is explained (first, second, third)

Non-Fluency Features - Hesitations, Fillers, repetition, interruption and overlaps.

Non-Verbal Communication - Tone of Voice, Gestures, Facial expression and Body Language.

Onomatopoeia - Words that when said aloud, sound like what they mean. E.G. "crunch" "snap" "bang".

Oxymoron - Seemingly contradictory words used in conjunction with each other to present a new meaning “bittersweet” “pretty ugly” “clearly confused”.

Parenthesis - A synonym for brackets ( )

Personification - The process of giving human qualities to inanimate objects.

Phatic Language - Words or phrases that have developed a social function in place of their serious one “hey how are you doing?” or “hello”

Prosodic Features - Non-verbal aspects of speech like pace, stress, pitch, intonation, volume and pauses.

Received Pronunciation (RP) - (Posh Speak) A traditionally upper class way of speaking, the way in which the Queen is expected to speak. AKA 'Queen's English'

Refrain - Part of a poem that is repeated at intervals, usually at the end of each stanza.

Register - Either an informal or formal register, it is the formality of your speech, commonly alternating between different people.

Similes - A simile is like a metaphor, but not quite.

Superlative - Something that has an adjective associated with it that is the “est” of it’s kind “fastest” “largest” “greatest” or using the word “most”, like in “most recent” “most gargantuan”

Tag Question - I’m explaining what it means, aren’t I? (Asking a question in a way that favours an answer e.g. using "isn't it", "aren't I" or "right?"

You really like me, don't you? Instead of "do you really like me?"
You want to buy this, don't you? Instead of "do you want to buy this?"

Non-Fluency Features - Hesitations, Fillers, repetition, interruption and overlaps

Non-Verbal Communication - Wordless Communication - Gestures, Facial expression and Body Language and Laughing.

Prosodic Features - Non-verbal aspects of speech like pace, stress, pitch, intonation, volume and pauses.


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    • Philanthropy2012 profile image

      DK 5 years ago from London

      Thank you very much! :)

    • yoginijoy profile image

      yoginijoy 5 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      What a great list! I teach a bunch of these items, albeit, I have to do it in Spanish. I am sure you will help a load of people out on their final exams coming up! Interesting topic and quite useful for this time of year!