Glossary: Language Arts and Mathematics

Coming to terms

Being familiar with the basic terminology of language arts and math can go long way to help you become more proficient at these disciplines.



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Language Arts

A
Action verb. One of the three types of verbs (the other two are helping or linking). It describes any verb that expresses an action (e.g. drive, run, walk). For more on this concept, click here.

Active voice. One of the two ways that an action verb can be expressed, based on the way how the verb relates to its subject and object . In active voice constructions, the subject of the verb is also the subject of the sentence or clause. For more on this concept, click here.

Adjective. One of the parts of speech. Its principal job is to describe or limit the meaning of nouns and pronouns . Adjectives generally answer one of three questions: Which one? What kind? How many? For more on this concept, click here.

Adverb. One of the parts of speech. Its principal job is to limit or broaden the meaning of verbs and adjectives . Adverbs generally answer one of three questions: How? When? Where? For more on this concept, click here.

Antecedent. The word (usually a noun or pronoun ) for which a pronoun is being substituted. For example, in the sentence "Mark found his keys," the antecedent of his is Mark. As a general rule, the pronoun must agree with its antecedent in person, number, and gender. For more on this concept, click here.

Antonym. A word that means the direct opposite of another word. For example: big and small. For more on this concept, click here.

Apostrophe. A punctuation mark (') that has two main functions. It can indicate possession in a noun, such as "Lucy's friend" (for more on this concept, click here). It can also be used to to substitute for the missing letters in a contraction, such as "I can't decide" (for more on this concept, click here).

Appositive. A word or phrase (usually set off by commas) that names the noun or pronoun immediately preceding it. For example: Inga, my good friend, will be visiting us next week. For more on this concept, click here.

C
Clause. A group of words that includes a verb and its subject. There are two types of clauses: dependent and independent. For more on this concept, click here.

Collective Noun. A noun whose singular form refers to a group of persons, places, things, or actions (e.g. team, staff, committee, jury). Collective nouns usually require the singular form of a verb (for more on this concept, click here). For more on collective nouns, click here.

Colon. A punctuation mark (:) that serves two major functions: it can introduce a series of related items or ideas, or it can create a pause that gives added emphasis to the word or words that follow. For more on this concept, click here.

Common noun. A noun that refers to nonspecific persons, places, things, or activities (e.g. friend, city, dog, hike). For more on this concept, click here.

Complement. The word or words that complete a thought that has been only partially formed by the subject and verb. Complements can do one of two things: receive the action of the verb or follow a linking verb and refer back to the subject. For more on this concept, click here.

Complex sentence. A sentence that includes at least one dependent clause, in addition to an independent clause. For more on this concept, click here.

Compound sentence. A sentence that consists of at least two independent clauses, usually connected by a conjunction. The two independent clauses in a compound sentence—even when a conjunction is present—are usually separated by one of three punctuation marks: (1) comma; (2) a semicolon; or (3) a colon. For more on this concept, click here.

Conjunction. One of the parts of speech. Its main job is to connect words and phrases within a sentence. For more on this concept, click here.

Consonant. The letters of the English alphabet that are not vowels. Most are pronounced with a slight closing of the vocal tract.

Contraction. A word formed by combining two words, with certain letters of one of the words replaced by an apostrophe. For more on this concept, click here.

D
Dash. A punctuation mark (-) that produces a sharp break between elements in a sentence. For more on this concept, click here.

Dependent clause. A group of words that contains a subject-verb combination, but cannot stand alone as a complete thought. For more on this concept, click here.

Direct object. The word or group of words in a clause that directly receives the action expressed in an action verb and answers the question "who?" or "what?" after the verb. For example: "Susan baked a cake." For more on this concept, click here.

E
Exclamation point. A punctuation mark (!) that comes at the end of a sentence and is used to give added emphasis to a statement. For more on this concept, click here.

F
Future perfect tense. One of the six verb tenses. It expresses an action or helps to express a state-of-being that will be completed in the future but before some other event. For example: "By the time I get to the theater, the movie will have already started." For more on this concept, click here.

Future tense. One of the six verb tenses. It expresses an action or state-of-being that will take place some time in the future. For example: "We will introduce the new ice cream flavor next week." For more on this concept, click here.

G
Gender. A term that is used in connection with pronouns to distinguish words that relate to men (masculine) or women (feminine). For more on this concept, click here.

Gerund. One of the three main types of verbals. It operates as a noun and is formed by adding the suffix -ing to a verb. For example: "Seeing is believing." For more on this concept, click here.

H
Helping verb. A category of verbs whose main function is to join with other verbs to help express an action or state-of-being. Common helping verbs include is, are, were, and have. For more on this concept, click here.

Hyphen. A punctuation mark (-) whose principal job is to join two words together to form a new word. For more on this concept, click here.

I
Imperative mood. One of three moods of verbs. A verb is in the imperative mood when it expresses a command, such as "Sit down." For more on this concept, click here.

Independent clause. A group of related words within a sentence that contains a subject-verb combination and can stand on its own as a complete thought. For more on this concept, click here.

Indicative mood. The most commonly used of the three moods of verbs. A verb is in the indicative mood when it helps express a general statement or a question. For more on this concept, click here.

Indirect object. The word or group of words in a clause that is affected by an action verb, but is not the direct recipient of the action. Indirect objects answer the questions "to whom?" or "for whom?" after the verb. For example: "Susan baked Chris a cake." For more on this concept, click here.

Infinitive. A verbal formed by preceding the root form of the verb with to. For example: "We went to see a movie." For more on this concept, click here.

Irregular verb. Any verb whose principal parts undergo changes that do not follow a set pattern. For more on this concept, click here.

L
Linking verb. A verb- usually a form of to be- that connects the subject to a word that describes the condition or state of being of the subject. For more on this concept, click here.

M
Modifier. A word that describes, clarifies, or limits the meaning of another word in a sentence. The two main types of modifiers are adjectives and adverbs. For more on this concept, click here.

Mood. A term used to distinguish the various types of attitudes behind a statement. There are three moods: indicative, subjunctive, and imperative. For more on this concept, click here.

N
Nonrestrictive clause. A relative clause that adds information to a sentence but is not absolutely essential to the fundamental meaning of the sentence. Nonrestrictive clauses are usually introduced by which and set off from the rest of the sentence by commas. For more on this concept, click here.

Noun. A part of speech that names a person, place, thing, or idea. Nouns can operate in a sentence as the subject, the direct object, the indirect object, or the object of a preposition. For more on this concept, click here.

Number. A term used in connection with nouns, pronouns, and verbs to indicate whether a word represents one thing (singular) or more than one (plural). For more on this concept, click here.

O
Object. The term applied to any word in a sentence that receives the action of a verb or comes at the end of a prepositional phrase. For more on this concept, click here.

Object of a preposition. A noun or pronoun that follows a preposition, thus forming a prepositional phrase. For example: "over the hill" or "with me"

P
Parentheses. Punctuation marks ( ) used to set off groups of words that represent a break in thought from the rest of the sentence. For more on this concept, click here.

Parenthetical clause or phrase. A group of words within a sentence that contributes information that is related to the main idea of the sentence but can be removed without changing the basic meaning of the sentence. Parenthetical clauses or phrases either are enclosed within parentheses or dashes or are separated from the rest of the sentence by commas.

Participial phrase. A group of related words that contains a participle. For example: "Excited by the warm weather, we went to the beach." For more on this concept, click here.

Participle. One of the three kinds of verbals. It is formed by adding -ing or -ed to the root form of the verb, and it operates primarily as an adjective. For more on this concept, click here.

Parts of speech. The various categories into which words are grouped, based on what function they play in a sentence. There are seven main parts of speech: adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, nouns, prepositions, pronouns, and verbs. For more on this concept, click here.

Passive voice. A way of expressing an action verb so that the subject of the verb is the receiver and not the doer of the action. Verbs are in the passive voice when the doer of the action is either unidentified or is the object of the preposition "by." For example: "The plan was adopted by the committee last week." For more on this concept, click here.

Past participle. One of the principal parts of verbs. It is the form used in all of the perfect tenses. Examples of verbs in the past tense include walked, watched, ran, and knew. For more on this concept, click here.

Past perfect tense. One of the six verb tenses. It expresses an action or a state-of-being completed in the past prior to another past action or event in the sentence. For example: "We had planned to see the movie before we heard that it was bad." For more on this concept, click here.

Past Tense. One of the six verb tenses. It expresses an action or a state-of-being completed at a definite time in the past, such as "We baked." For more on this concept, click here.

Perfect tenses. Three of the six verb tenses: present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect. All use some form of the verb have as a helping verb.

Period. A punctuation mark (.) whose main function is to indicate the end of a sentence that expresses a statement or a command. For more on this concept, click here.

Person. A term used in connection with verbs and pronouns. It indicates whether the subject or object of the verb is the speaker (first person), the person being spoken to (second person) or the person, place, or thing being spoken about (third person). For more on this concept, click here.

Personal pronoun. A category of pronouns that refers to people (e.g. I, you, he, she, we, and they). For more on this concept, click here.

Phrase. A group of related words that modifies a noun or verb, but does not contain a subject-verb combination. For more on this concept, click here.

Plural. A term used with nouns, pronouns, and verbs to indicate that more than one person, place, or thing is being referred to. For more on this concept, click here.

Possessive Case. A term used occasionally with nouns, but more often with pronouns, to indicate ownership. The punctuation mark used to indicate possession (except with pronouns) is the apostrophe. For example: "Rick's dog" or "his dog." For more on this concept, click here.

Predicate. One of the two major parts of a sentence. It consists of all the words- and, in particular, the verb- that express what the subject is or is doing. For more on this concept, click here.

Predicate adjective. An adjective complement that follows a linking verb and describes the subject. For example: "The dinner was cold." For more on this concept, click here.

Prefix. A group of letters that is added to the beginning of a word in order to create a new word or to alter a word's meaning. Common prefixes include pre, re, and un. For more on this concept, click here.

Preposition. A part of speech whose main job is to show the relationship between a noun and some other word in the sentence. There are many prepositions, including above, about, among, between, by, with, and without. For more on this concept, click here.

Prepositional phrase. A phrase consisting of a preposition and its object (usually a noun or pronoun). For example: to the beach, after the show, with my friend. For more on this concept, click here.

Present perfect tense. One of the six verb tenses. It expresses an action or state-of-being that has only recently been completed or that is still going on. For example: "We have been working steadily for the past two weeks." For more on this concept, click here.

Present tense. One of the six verb tenses. It expresses an action or a state-of-being that occurs at this moment, in the immediate future, or on an ongoing basis, such as "The game starts in 15 minutes." It is also used for statements that represent general ideas or universal truths. For more on this concept, click here.

Principal parts of verbs. The basic verb forms on which all other verb forms are based. These forms are the present tense, the past tense, and the past participle. For more on this concept, click here.

Pronoun. A part of speech whose function is to take the place of a noun. Common pronouns include: I, me, you, he, him, she, her, it, they, and them. For more on this concept, click here.

Proper noun. One of the two major classes of nouns. A proper noun names a specific person, place, or thing and always begins with a capital letter. For example: Mike, New York, or January. For more on this concept, click here.

Q
Question mark. A punctuation mark (?) used to indicate that a sentence is asking a question. For more on this concept, click here.

Quotation marks. Punctuation marks (" ") used primarily to enclose statements that another person said or wrote and that are being re-stated word for word. For more on this concept, click here.

R
Regular verb. A category of verbs that form their principal parts in the same way: by adding -ed to form both the past and past participle forms.

Relative clause. A dependent clause introduced by any of the three relative pronouns: that, which, or who. For more on this concept, click here.

Restrictive clause. A relative clause that so limits the meaning of the sentence that without the clause the essential meaning of the sentence would be lost. For more on this concept, click here.

S
Semicolon. A punctuation mark (;) that can be used instead of a comma to separate independent clauses in a compound sentence. For more on this concept, click here.

Sentence. A group of words containing a subject-verb combination that can stand on its own as a complete thought. A sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a period, a question mark, or an exclamation point. For more on this concept, click here.

Singular. The term used to distinguish a noun, pronoun, or verb that refers to one person, place, or thing. For more on this concept, click here.

Subject. The word or group of words in a sentence that represent what person, place, thing, or idea the sentence is about. For more on this concept, click here.

Subjunctive. One of the three moods of verbs. A verb is in the subjunctive mood when a statement expresses a wish, a doubt, a fear, or something contrary to fact. For more on this concept, click here.

Suffix. A group of letters that can be added to the end of a word to form either a new word or a variation of the root word. Common suffixes include -able, -ment, -nym, and -tude. For more on this concept, click here.

Synonym. A word close enough in meaning to another word that it can be used in its place. For example: giant and huge. For more on this concept, click here.

Syntax. How words and phrases are arranged in a sentence.

T
Tense. A term used with verbs that denotes the time frame of an action. There are six tenses in English: present, past, future, present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect. For more on this concept, click here.

V
Verb. One of the parts of speech. Its function is to express an action or join with another word to show the state-of-being of the subject. For more on this concept, click here.

Verbal. A word or phrase that is built around a verb but functions as a part of speech other than a verb. The three verbals in English are infinitives, gerunds, and participles.

Vowel. The term used to describe the letters of the English alphabet that are pronounced with the mouth slightly open. The letters are "a," "e," "i," "o," "u," and, sometimes, "y." See also consonants.



Mathematics


A
Addend.  The numbers added together in an addition problem. In the problem 6 + 4 = 10, the addends are 6 and 4.

Algorithm.  A step-by-step procedure for solving a problem.

Analogue time.  Time displayed with an hour hand and a minute hand on a clock face.

Array.  An orderly arrangement of objects into a rectangular configuration (e.g., "take six tiles and arrange two long and three wide to form a rectangle").

Attribute.  A characteristic (e.g., size, shape, color, weight).


C
Combinations.  A selection of objects without regard to order.

Complementary angles.  Two angles whose degree measurements add up to 90 degrees.

Complex numbers. Numbers of the form a + bi, where a and b are real numbers and i equals the square root of -1.

Composite numbers.  Any positive integer exactly divisible by one or more positive integers other than 1 or the number itself.

Congruent.  Geometric figures having exactly the same size and shape.

Conic sections.  Circles, parabolas, ellipses, and hyperbolas which can all be represented by passing a plane through a hollow double cone.

Conjecture.  A statement believed to be true but not proven.

Cosine.  In trigonometry, the cosine of an acute angle is equal to the ratio of the length of the side adjacent to the angle over the length of the hypotenuse.


D
Data points. The individual numbers is a data set. Data set.  A grouping of related numbers that operate as a unit. The points in the set are usually separated by a comma.

Dependent events.  Events that influence each other. If one of the events occurs, it changes the probability of the other event.

Domain.  The set of all the first elements or x-coordinates of a function.


E
Exponential function.  A function defined by y = bx, where b > 0 and x ≠ 1.

Expression.  Two or more mathematical terms separated by an operation.
F
Fibonacci sequence - the sequence of numbers, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, . . . where each number, except the first two, is the sum of the two preceding numbers.

Function.  An operation in algebra where one number is determined by inputting another number into an expression. Formulas are a type of function.

Function machine.  An input/output box (often made with milk cartons, boxes, or drawn on the board) to show one number entering and a different number exiting. Students guess the rule that produced the second number (e.g., enter 3, exit 5, rule: add 2).


H
Histogram.  A bar graph of a frequency distribution.


I
Imaginary number.  Any complex number, a + bi, for which a = 0 and b ≠ 0.

Independent events.  Events that do not influence one another. Each event occurs without changing the probability of the other event.

Integers:  . . . -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, . . .

Intercepts (x & y).  The x (y)-coordinate of the point where a graph intercepts the x (y)- axis.

Inverse operations.  Operations that undo each other (e.g., addition and subtraction are inverse operations; multiplication and division are inverse operations).

Irrational numbers.  Nonterminating, nonrepeating decimals (e.g., square root of 2, pi).


L
Logarithmic functions - logarithmic function with base b is the inverse of the exponential function, and is defined by x = logb y (y > 0, b > 0, b not equal to 1).


M
Manipulatives.  Concrete materials (e.g., buttons, beans, egg and milk cartons, counters, attribute and pattern blocks, interlocking cubes, base-10 blocks, geometric models, geoboards, fractions pieces, rulers, balances, spinners, dot paper) to use in mathematical calculations.

Mean.  In a set of n numbers, the sum of the numbers divided by n.

Median.  the middle number in the set, or the mean of the two middle numbers, when the numbers are arranged in order from least to greatest.

Mode.  A number in a set of data that occurs most often.

Multiple.  A number that is the product of a given integer and another integer (e.g., 6 and 9 are multiples of 3).


N
Natural numbers:  (counting numbers) 1, 2, 3, 4, . . .

Nonstandard measurement.  Measurement determined by the use of nonstandard units like hands, paper clips, beans, cotton balls, etc.

Number sense.  Number sense involves the understanding of number size (relative magnitude), number representations, number operations, referents for quantities and measurements used in everyday situations, etc.


O
Operation: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, etc.

Order of operations.  The rules for evaluating an expression: work first within parentheses; then calculate all powers, from left to right; then do multiplications or divisions, from left to right; then do additions and subtractions, from left to right.

Ordinal.  A number that is used to tell order (e.g., first, fifth).


P
Permutation.  An arrangement of a set of objects in a particular order (the letters a, b, c have the following permutations: abc, acb, bac, bca, cab, cba).

Prime number.  An integer greater than one whose only positive factors are 1 and itself (e.g., 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 . . .).

Probability.  The study and measure of the likelihood of an event happening.

Properties of arithmetic - For all real numbers a, b and c:

    Commutative property:  a + b = b + a and a · b = b · a

    Associative property:  (a + b) + c = a + (b + c) and (a · b) · c = a · (b · c)

    Distributive property:  a(b + c) = (a · b) + (a · c)

    Identity property:  a + 0 = a and a · 1 = a

    Inverse property:  a + (-a) = 0 and a · 1/a = 1

Proportion.  A statement that ratios are equal.


Q
Quadrants.  The four regions formed by the axes in a coordinate plane.

Quadratic equation.  An equation of the form ax2 + bx + c = 0, where a, b and c are real numbers and a is not equal to 0.

Quadratic formula.  If ax2 + bx + c = 0, where a, b and c are real numbers and a is not equal to 0, then


R
Range of a relation.  The set of all the second elements or y-coordinates of a relation is called the range.

Ratio.  The comparison of two quantities by division.

Rational numbers.  Quotients of integers (commonly called fractions - includes both positive and negative numbers).

Real numbers.  The set of all rational and irrational numbers.

Recursive patterns.  Patterns in which each number is found from the previous number by repeating a process (e.g., Fibonacci numbers).

Relation.  A set of one or more pairs of numbers.

Relative magnitude.  The size of an object or number compared to other objects and numbers.


S
Scatter plot.  A dot or point graph of data.

Sequence.  A set of numbers arranged in a pattern.

Sine. The ratio of the length of the leg opposite the angle to the length of the hypotenuse.

Slope of a line.  The ratio of the change in y to the corresponding change in x, represented by the letter m. For any two points (x1, y1) and (x2, y2), the slope is

Supplementary angles.  Two angles whose measures have a sum of 180 degrees.

Supposition.  (Act of supposing) making a statement or assumption without proof.


T
Tangent.  The ratio of the length of the leg opposite the angle of a right triangle to the length of the leg adjacent to the angle.

Transformation.  A motion of a geometric figure (rotation [turn], translation [slide], and reflection [flip]).


W
Whole numbers: - 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, . . .



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