G The seventh letter of the alphabet, /dʒiː/ in the IPA, a consonant, and GOLF in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet. To remember the way to say it, think of the G in GMail.
GENDER In language, this describes whether a noun or a pronoun is masculine, feminine, or neuter. In English, this usually only applies to describing people, but in other languages objects may have a masculine, feminine or neuter gender, and in turn this affects how the noun is formed and how it behaves within a sentence.
GENITIVE Also known as the possessive case (where you'll find the full explanation) and even the saxon genitive.
GERUND This is the –ing form of a verb which is used as a noun or part of a noun phrase, e.g., I enjoy swimming. Playing football in hot weather is very exhausting. It is generally used to describe an activity rather than a place, although there are some –ing words that are neither forms of continuous tenses nor gerunds but are used as normal nouns: The bearings on the front wheels will need replacing.
GLOSSARY This is an alphabetical list of words and phrases, along with their meanings. Theses words, however, are usually special, unusual or technical, and can be found at the end of a book that focuses on a particular subject (such as Typical Errors in English). If, however, we decide to add entries that are made up of words and phrases connected with English, but instead start to include people (e.g. Noah Chomsky, H.W. Fowler) or places (England, Singapore) or institutions (Cambridge & Oxford, Collins, etc) then it becomes an encyclopedia. Compare with dictionary and encyclopedia.
GRAMMAR Most of us think of grammar as using the right ways to organise words in language to make correct sentences such as using the right tenses, punctuation, and so on, but in fact it also refers to a book that tells us the rules (actually, we'll say principles, as there are lots of arguments as regards what are the 'correct' English grammar rules) of how these words and sentences are written or spoken. It can also be used to talk about the study of these principles: We never did grammar at school. If someone follows the 'rules': Her written grammar is terrible. And also to language description: We did functional grammar at school. See also functional grammar, descriptive grammar, prescriptive grammar and pedagogic grammar.
GRAMMATICAL ARTICLES These are words (usually a, an or the, and sometimes some) that are used with a noun or noun phrase to show the reference with that noun to show how definite or indefinite that noun is. See also definite article, indefinite article and determiners.
GRAMMATICAL WORDS These are words that are spelt the same but can fall into more than one grammatical word class such as flies (a verb - 3rd person form) and flies (a noun - more than one particular insect). These words are further split into separate categories: lexical words, function words and inserts.
GREAT VOWEL SHIFT In the history of the English language, the 15th century was an important period as the way English
speakers pronounced their vowels changed. For example, the 'oo' as in food sounded more like 'ow' as in now; in those days people ate fowd. The 'e' /i:/ vowel sound sounded more like how we pronounce the letter 'i' as in 'eye', so in those days dream sounded more like drime: Could I have some crime with my coffee?. Studies have shown (that is, recorded by A.C. Gimson, author of An Introduction to the Pronunciation of English, 1989) the pronunciation of some vowels shifted from
Middle English to Early Modern English and onto present-day English; for example, the present-day name used to be pronounced narm and nirm. The Great Vowel Shift, the impact of which began around London and the south-east, moved steadily across the country, but did have an impact on the way English was pronounced around the country, with differing accents developing in different area of the country - particularly the north - and even some areas being unaffected.
GREENGROCER'S APOSTROPHE This is a term given to the addition of the apostrophe s ('s) to words that are already plural, such as cauliflower's, apple's, and carrot's, although I have seen it used in other places that are not greengrocers - places that sell fruit and vegetables. See page 109. But they are not Standard English even though, historically, they were used often, but those were in the days when we really hadn't set any more or less fixed rules about using them...
H The eighth letter of the alphabet /eɪtʃ/ in the IPA, a consonant, and HOTEL in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet. To remember the way to say it, think of the H in HBO, the American premium cable and satellite television network.
HAIKU This is a short poem, that is usually written about things that are recognizable to the reader, its origins having come from Japan (you can probably guess this from the name. Anyway, the structure of a haiku is a number of words that has a total of seventeen syllables, and are arranged on three lines; the first and last lines have 5 syllables and the middle line has 7 syllables, and the lines rarely rhyme. One example I came up with for this site is Very interesting website, English language, full of typical errors.
HANDWRITING You really should know what this is, but as I have to give a definition of some kind, then here it is: it's your style of writing when using a pen, pencil, crayon, brush, lipstick or anything else that can make a mark and you are able to write something as a result. If you try to join all, most, or many of the letters up when writing (known as joined-up writing) so it enables you to write with flowing strokes of your writing tool, then this is your cursive (your writing style, or your handwriting!).
HASH The meaning we're after here is not about a particular drug (you can look that one up yourself) or a dish of cooked meat and potatoes (usually cooked again) but the mark (#). Although it was particularly common with American English, with itemising lists [instead of saying 1. 2. 3. or 1) 2) 3) it would say #1, #2, #3], it is now used everywhere, mainly thanks to computing. It also known as the number sign and also a pound sign, although this has rarely, if at all, been used in the UK to represent a pound in money or weight, with '£' for money (this cost £660) and 'lb' for the old imperial weight (2lb is approximately 880 grammes). It is now probably best known for its use in social networking sites such as Twitter, but not being read as 'hash' but as 'hashtag'. This is then followed by a word or phrase, so if you see, for example, the '#' symbol before 'mistakes' (#mistakes), you would read it as 'hashtag mistakes'.
HEAD These are usually noun phrases, and are often the central or main element of the clause or sentence: The three little boys with green sweaters.
HEDGES, HEDGING In speaking, we use hedges all all kinds of writing and speaking in order to make softer sentences and statements when we say or write things. When speaking, hedging is an important part of polite conversation, used to make what we say less direct. Examples: I wondered if I could have a word with you? (less direct and more polite than Could I have a word with you?) It could well be that there are other problems we don't know about (less direct than it is because...); Maybe we should talk to him? (less direct than we should); It's kind of difficult to explain (less direct than it’s difficult to explain) Could you just check this for me? We feel he needs more help with his studies. It has been generally agreed that these choices offer the best solutions towards the ongoing negotiations. (This is a more cautious and less personal statement than I/we agree that…) See also direct speech, indirect speech.
HESITATOR These are sounds such as 'erm' and 'um' when people who are speaking are also trying to plan in their minds what they are going to say next. See also dysfluency.
HIGH RISING TERMINAL Also known in conversational English as HRT or rising inflection. This is when someone uses a rising intonation pattern that happens in the final syllable of the spoken sentence. Typical Errors in English (the book) goes into deeper detail on the topic.
HOMOGRAPH These are groups or pairs of words that are spelt the same but have different pronunciations, e.g.: a project/to project (we stress the ‘ject’ in the noun, but ‘pro’ in the verb), a sow/to sow: the noun is pronounced the same way as the ‘ow’ in now, and the verb the same as so. A sow is a female pig, and to sow means to plant [seeds]. Other examples: close /kloʊz/ (to close the door), and /kloʊs/ be close to something/someone); polish /pɒlɪʃ/ (to polish the silver) and /poʊlɪʃ/ (a Polish citizen); I like to read /riːd/ books I have read /red/ before.
HOMONYM These are groups of words that are both homographs and homophones, in that they are written the same as another word, but have a different meaning, e.g.: club (a place to dance, a large stick, the act of going to a dance club, or the act of hitting someone heavily, which I do hope is not the kind of thing you find entertaining); play (what children like to do, something you see at a theatre).
HYPERBOLE A figure of speech in which someone says or writes things that make something sound much more impressive than it really is. Most people regard the speeches give by politicians before an election as pure hyperbole.
HYPHEN Also called a dash. It's this silly little line: (-) (also known as an en dash), or depending how you've used your computer keyboard, it can look like this: (–) (also known as an em dash), as you can see, looking slightly longer. So this little blighter is not only confusing, it does several jobs. First, it can be used instead of a colon (:) – for example. They can be used like – as I've demonstrated here – brackets or commas. I use them a lot – but don't overdo it – as they are a less formal method of presentation, and as you know, my prose is quite informal. Now those line differences are, for some printers, rather important as they have particular uses, The em dash (the longer line) for breaks in sentences and statements that would have appeared in brackets, such as every example give so far. The shorter en dash (-) is used for time spans and differences, such as 6.00pm-8.30pm and UK-Poland relationships. But the trouble with the keyboard is that it defaults to the shorter form, so I'm sorry, printers, for doing most of my stuff wrongly. Unfortunately many publishers do have style guides that are - rightly or wrongly - strict on this sort of thing.
Now, what else? They join prefixes to a root word if they end in a vowel and the root word also begins with the same vowel, for example: co-operation. They join two or more words together, and are particularly useful if you want to use them as an adjective: My do-it-yourself kit. The word can change if you add or leave out the hyphen: thirty odd people (30 strange people) thirty-odd people (more than thirty people, but less than forty). They can join two words to show a combined meaning: His well-being is very important if he wants to live a normal life.
Finally, on what seems to be an awful lot of information on a very silly bit of punctuation, the (-) is also known as a horizontal bar or figure dash, and there are even versions known as two-em (––) and even three-em (–––) but frankly, don't have any kittens over them. See also swung dash. (Hey! Didn't I just say that's enough?)
HYPOTHETICAL CONDITION A term also used to describe the second and third conditionals.