Glossary of common language arts terms meaning



Glossary of common language arts terms meaning


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Glossary of common language arts terms meaning




Abstract:                     A summary which presents an overview of an article or a report,                                 and which helps the reader determine whether the article or

                                    report is worth reading in its entirety.


Allegory:                                         A story in which people, things, and actions represent an idea or a generalization about life, and which often has a strong moral lesson.


Alliteration:                                   Repetition of sounds at the beginning of words.


Analyze:                                         Break down information into smaller parts.


Assumption:                                   A statement accepted as true without proof.


Base Word:                                    A word to which affixes can be added to create a related word.  Base

words can stand alone as words by themselves as in the word ground.             (See root.)


Bias:                                              A prejudice, a tilt toward one side.                                                                                                                         

Bibliography:                                A list of written works or sources on a particular subject.


Boolean Operators:                        When using an online database to search for information, Boolean operators or “connectors” such as AND, OR, and NOT, can be used to combine keywords to make a search less general, resulting in more precise results.


Business Writing:                           A mode of writing which includes typical business documents such

as e-mail messages, memos, business letters, summaries, reports, resumes, and proposals.


Classify:                                         Place persons or things together in a group because they are        

alike or similar.


Collaborative Revision:                 Peers revise a document together.


Compare:                                      Use examples to show how things are similar and different, with more

                          emphasis on similarities. 


Comprehension:               Understand what is written, spoken, and/or viewed.


Context Clues:                               Information from the immediate textual setting that helps define a

word or word group.  Writer’s Inc. lists several types of context clues.


Contrast:                                       Use examples to show how things are different in one or

                                                      more important ways.


Conventions:                                 A trait of writing which includes spelling, punctuation, grammar and

usage, sentence structure, paragraphing, and capitalization.           


Creative Writing:                           A mode of writing which is inventive, innovative, and imaginative.


Decoding:                                      Analyzing spoken or graphic symbols of a familiar

                                                      language to determine their intended meaning.


Define:                                           Give a clear, concise meaning for a term.


Describe:                                       Tell how something looks, or give a general impression of it.



Descriptive Writing:                       A mode of writing which uses vivid sensory and memory details to

                                                      bring the subject to life.   


Diary:                                            A written account or description of daily events.  Diaries tell what

happened, whereas journals contain reflections about what happened and express emotions about them. (See journal and learning log).


Discuss:                            Talk or write about an issue from all sides.


Encoding:                                      Changing a message into symbols, such as writing down an oral message.


Evaluate:                                       Make a value judgment.


Evaluative Comprehension:           Understanding fact, opinion, bias, assumptions, and elements of

persuasion, and evaluating the quality and validity of written and spoken material.


Expository Writing:                        A mode of writing which explains or informs.


Fact:                                              A specific statement which can be checked or proven to be



Fluency:                                        In oral reading, the accuracy, rate, and expression of text read aloud.           


Genre:                                           A category used to classify literary works by form, technique, or content.

Genres include tragedy, comedy, epic, lyric, and pastoral.  Genres also include the novel, essay, short story, and poem.


Graphic Organizer:                       Visual representations of relationships which help represent

                                                       important ideas and/or details.


Homograph:                                   A word with the same spelling as another word, but with a different meaning or pronunciation (e.g., the “bow” of a ship vs. “bow” and arrow).


Homonym:                                      One of two or more words that are spelled and pronounced alike but different in meaning (e.g., spruce as in “tree” and spruce as in “neat”).


Homophone:                                   One of two or more words that are pronounced alike but different in meaning or spelling (e.g., to, too and two).


“I” Search Paper:                         A form of research which focuses on firsthand information. After

identifying an interest, the I-Searcher sets out to find information

and answers first through people, and second through print

material.  The “I” Search paper then tells what the author wanted

to know and actually learned.     


Ideas:                                            A trait of writing which presents interesting and vital

                                                      information about a specific subject.                                                                              

Identify:                            Answer who, what, when, where, and why about a subject.


Illustrate:                                       Show a law, a rule, or principle through specific examples

                                                      and instances in writing or with graphic aids.


Inference:                                      A meaning intended or suggested rather than directly



Interpretive Comprehension:         Making reasonable predictions before, during, and after

                                                      reading, drawing inferences necessary for understanding,

                                                      recognizing cause-effect relationships, and summarizing

                                                      and synthesizing information.       


Journal:                                          A continuous series of writings made by a person in response to life experiences or events. Journals are considered to be more reflective than diaries. (See diary and learning log). 


Justify:                                           To explain why a position or point of view is of value or correct, and to

                                                      stress the advantages over the disadvantages.


Learning Log:                                an ongoing record of learning activities, reflections about learning,

questions about learning, notes, etc. kept by a student as a way to track progress through a unit of study. (See diary and journal).



List:                                               To give a number of specific examples, reasons, or causes.


Literacy:                                        Competence in reading, writing, speaking, listening and



Literal Comprehension:                 Recalling, identifying, classifying, and sequencing details,

                                                      facts, and stated main ideas from a variety of written

                                                      materials and interpreting directions.


Literary Elements:                          The parts of a literary work including, but not limited to plot, theme, characterization, setting, mood, and tone.  Refer to district-adopted materials for lists and definition of literary elements by grade level.


Media:                                            Ways of communicating with large numbers of people using

                                                      means such as newspapers, radio, television and the fine arts.


MLA Documentation Style:            A documentation style for research papers created by the

                                                      Modern Language Association of America.


Mode:                                             A word used to describe the purpose of writing.  Writing modes include descriptive, expository, narrative, and persuasive.


Narrative Writing:                         A mode of writing which vividly recreates an incident.


Opinion:                                        A specific statement expressing a personal view.


Organization:                                A trait of writing which puts information together in an orderly manner

                                                      that makes sense to the reader, and engages the reader.


Parallelism:                                    Repeating similar grammatical structures to give writing rhythm and fluency.            


Paraphrase:                                  A type of summary written in the writer’s own words which

                                                      reflects the writer’s interpretation of written or spoken material.


Persuasive Writing:                       A mode of writing which convinces the reader to think the way the

                                                      writer does about a timely and controversial issue.


Précis:                                           A type of summary which keeps the same voice and perspective as

                                                       the original.


Primary Source:                            A source of information which informs directly, not through

                                                      another person’s explanation or interpretation.


Prove:                                            Bring out the truth by providing evidence and facts to back up a point.



Research Paper:                  A carefully planned, researched essay that shares information or

                                                      proves a point centered around a thesis, and which uses a

standardized documentation style and format such as MLA or APA.            


Research Project:               A carefully planned, researched oral and/or visual presentation

                                                      which shares information researched on a specific topic and which

                                                      may include a bibliography of sources.


Research Report:                           A researched paper which shares information on a specific topic

                                                      and which usually includes a bibliography of sources.


Review:                            Reexamine or summarize the major points of a topic, usually in

chronological order, or in decreasing order of importance.



Root:                                              The basic part of a word that usually carries the main component of

meaning.  Affixes are added on to the root to create meaningful words.  Root words generally cannot stand alone as a word.  (See base word.)


Secondary Source:                        A source of information that is not the original, is at least

                                                      once removed from the original, and contains information other

                                                      people have gathered and interpreted.


Sentence Fluency:                         A trait of writing in which the rhythm and flow of carefully

structured language make the writing both easy to understand and pleasurable to read.


Semantics:                                      The meanings of words, phrases, sentences, discourse, and whole texts.


Stereotype:                                    A pattern or form that does not change.


Strategy:                                        A plan for achieving an end.


Style:                                             How an author uses words, phrases, and sentences to form his or

her ideas.  It is also thought of as the qualities and characteristics that distinguish one writer’s work from the work of others.


Summarize:                                    Present the main points in a shortened form.


Summary:                                      A written or oral concise statement of the main points.


Syntax:                                           The order and relationship of words in a sentence.


Technical Writing:                         A clear, concise mode of writing which aims to get work done.

Typical examples are instruction manuals, brochures, pamphlets, and guides.


Text Features:                                 The various ways of organizing text to draw attention to ideas, sections of text and text format.  Text features include titles, headings, sub-headings, italics, bold-faced type and underlining.


Text Structure:                               The various patterns of ideas that are embedded in the organization of a

text.  Common patterns include expository, cause-effect, comparison-contrast, problem-solution, description and sequence (chronological order).


Thesis:                                           A statement of the purpose, intent, or main idea of an essay.


Tone:                                             The writer’s attitude toward his or her subject.


Trace:                                            Present in sequence a series of facts somehow related, in terms of

time, order, or cause-effect                       


Usage:                                           The way in which individuals employ standard and/or non-standard



Visual Literacy:                              The ability to interpret and communicate with respect to visual symbols and the organization of information in media other than print.


Voice:                                            A trait of writing which puts the “writer’s fingerprints on the

page.”  It shows the writer’s personality, individual expressiveness,

and is a way of revealing a writer’s feelings or attitudes toward a subject.


Word Choice:                                A trait of writing in which just the right word or phrase is used to

make meaning clear or to create a particular mood or feeling

within a piece of writing.


Works Cited Page:                         A page which lists in alphabetical order the books and materials

used as references for a research paper.  Only those sources cited

in the body of a research paper are listed on the works-cited page.




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