Educators should be aware that, with the exception of the Grade 9 English course, 2023 (ENL1W), the 2007 English curriculum for Grade 10 and the 2007 English curriculum for Grades 11–12 remain in effect. All secondary English courses for Grades 10–12 will continue to be based on those documents. All references to Grade 9 that appear in The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 and 10: English, 2007 and The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 11 and 12: English, 2007 have been superseded by The Ontario Curriculum, Grade 9: English, 2023. As of September 2023, this course replaces English, Grade 9, Academic (ENG1D), which expired at the end of the 2022–23 school year. The Applied course (ENG1P – English, Grade 9, Applied) expired at the end of the 2021–22 school year.





The definitions provided in this glossary are specific to the curriculum context in which the terms are used


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academic vocabulary

Words used in academic dialogue and texts. Academic vocabulary is less common in general conversation. Examples include: approach, concept, and distribution. Also called Tier 2 words. (Compare domain-specific words.) See also tiers of vocabulary.

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A morpheme attached to the beginning or end of a base to modify its meaning. Affixes are bound morphemes; they cannot stand alone. Prefixes and suffixes are both affixes. See also prefix, suffix.

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A story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning. Each character or event may be a symbol representing an idea or quality.

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The deliberate repetition of sounds or syllables, especially initial consonants, for stylistic effect. For example, “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers” and “the snake slithers slowly”.

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A brief reference, explicit or implicit, to a place, person, event, or to a part of another text.

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alphabetic knowledge

Knowledge of the letters of the alphabet by name and an understanding of alphabetic order.

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A literary device that involves a comparison of two otherwise unlike things, for the purpose of explanation or clarification.

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The attribution of human characteristics or behaviour to what is not human, such as an animal or object.


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A structural element that forms the foundation of a written word; any unit of a word to which affixes can be added. (e.g., act is the base of acted, action, activity, activate, react). Types of bases include:

  • bound base. A base that requires an affix to form a word (e.g., -ject in inject and project).
  • free base. A base that forms a word on its own (e.g., eat, date, weak).
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An opinion, preference, prejudice, or inclination that limits an individual’s or group’s ability to make fair, objective, or accurate judgements. Bias may occur in any text. Explicit bias refers to attitudes and opinions that are consciously held and conveyed in texts. Implicit bias refers to unconscious attitudes or stereotypes conveyed in texts that may influence an audience’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviour.  

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An aspect of phonemic awareness that involves the ability to combine individual phonemes (sounds) to form words. (Compare segmenting.)

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bound base

See base.


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The use of a capital letter to begin a sentence; to indicate a proper noun, a personal title, an acronym, or an initialism; and to set off important words in titles and headings.

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A group of words containing a subject and a verb that are related to one another. All sentences must contain at least one clause.

  • independent clause. A clause that expresses a complete thought and can stand on its own as a simple sentence.
  • dependent clause. A clause that does not express a complete thought and cannot stand on its own as a sentence. Also called a subordinate clause.
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The underlying logical connectedness of the parts of an oral, written, visual, or multimodal text. A paragraph is coherent if all of its sentences are connected logically so that they are easy to follow. An essay is coherent if its paragraphs are logically connected.

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cohesive ties

Words or phrases, including anaphors, synonyms, conjunctions, and pronouns, used to integrate information within and across sentences and to link and connect ideas in a text. Also called cohesive devices.

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compound word

A word made from two or more words (e.g., sunshine, snowball, football).

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The ability to understand and draw meaning from texts.

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comprehension strategies

A variety of strategies that students use before, during, and after listening, reading, and viewing to construct meaning from texts, including: activating and using background and prior knowledge; making predictions; monitoring comprehension (e.g., visualizing; generating and asking questions; making connections); summarizing; and reflecting on their learning.

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The deliberate repetition of similar consonant sounds for stylistic effect (e.g., stroke/luck).


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decodable text

Text that contains words reflecting grapheme-phoneme correspondences and morphological patterns that have been explicitly and systematically taught to early readers. Decodable texts are used in early reading instruction to practice phonics skills. See also grapheme-phoneme correspondence, morphology, phonics.

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The process of applying phonemic awareness and knowledge of grapheme-phoneme correspondence, including knowledge of letter–sound patterns, to sound out words. (Compare encoding). See also grapheme-phoneme correspondence, phonemic awareness.

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derivational affix

An affix by means of which one word is formed (derived) from another. Adding a derivational affix to a base is one of the most common ways of deriving a new word in English. Most affixes are Greek, Latin, or Anglo-Saxon in origin.

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derivational family

A word family made up of all the words derived from the same base.

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A conversation between two or more characters in a story, or by two actors in a play or film.

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digital media literacy

The skills, strategies, mindsets, dispositions, and social practices that enable people to creatively and critically participate in digitally networked contexts. Digital media literacy includes the ability to combine the multimodal properties of media literacy with the technological capabilities of digital literacy.

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digital text

A text created, stored, and transmitted in a digital form (e.g., web page, social media post, email, computer graphic).

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A combination of two letters representing one sound (e.g., consonant digraphs: ph, sh, ch, etc., and vowel digraphs: ar, ea, ir, er, oa, ue, etc.)


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The making of changes to the content, structure, and wording of drafts to improve the organization of ideas, eliminate awkward phrasing, correct grammatical and spelling errors, and generally ensure that the writing is clear, coherent, and correct. (Compare proofreading.) See also writing process.

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elements of style

Elements and devices used by creators of texts to help create meaning and aesthetically pleasing and distinctive texts. For example, elements of literary style include word choice, sentence structure, and syntax; figurative language; literary devices, rhetorical devices (e.g., repetition, emphasis, dramatic pause); and techniques to add rhythm and sound (e.g., alliteration, onomatopoeia). Elements of visual style include use of colour, line, shape, texture, pattern, and space to achieve harmony, balance, and focus. Elements of style in film include lighting and shooting style. Also called stylistic elements. See also alliteration, figurative language, literary device, onomatopoeia, syntax, word choice.

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elements of text

The characteristic aspects of a particular text form or genre (e.g., the compositional elements of fiction include plot, characters, point of view, setting, style, and theme; audio elements of a film include speech, music, sounds, sound effects, and volume; the elements of an image include colour, composition, line, shape, contrast, repetition, style; cultural elements of texts include the use of cultural symbols, imagery, and motifs, the representation of cultural values, beliefs, and practices, and the historical and social context in which the text was created). See also genres, point of view, style, text form, theme.

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The process of applying knowledge of grapheme-phoneme correspondences (also called letter-sounds patterns) to spell words. (Compare decoding.)

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expressive communication

The process of expressing a message using verbal and/or non-verbal communication. Expressive communication includes writing, speaking, and representing. (Compare receptive communication.) See also representing.


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figurative language

Words or phrases used in a non-literal way to create a desired effect (e.g., metaphors, similes, personification). See also imagery, literary device.

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A device used in film and literature that takes the audience from the present moment in a chronological narrative to a scene in the past.

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FLSZ rule

Spelling rule in which one-syllable words ending with the sound /f/, /l/, /s/, or /z/ double the last letter. For example, puff, spell, hiss, and fizz follow the FLSZ rule. Also called the floss rule.

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The ability to identify words accurately and to read text quickly with ease, pace, automaticity, and expression. As they develop fluency, students read expressively, with proper phrasing and punctuation, and gain more meaning from the text.

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A literary device in which a creator provides an indication of future events in the plot.

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free base

See base.


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The types or categories into which texts are grouped. For example, literary genres include: novel, short story, essay, poetry, and drama. See also conventions.

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A letter or a cluster of letters that represent a phoneme in a word. For example, single letters often represent a phoneme (e.g., c, g, t, p) but digraphs (e.g., sh, ch) are common and three or four letters can also represent a single phoneme occasionally (e.g., <igh> in light or <eigh> in eight). See also phoneme.

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grapheme-phoneme correspondence

The association between a grapheme and its corresponding phoneme. For example, when a student sees the letter d and articulates the sound /d/ (as in dog). Grapheme-phoneme correspondence is also called letter-sound correspondence. See also grapheme, phoneme.

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graphic text


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A literary device in which exaggeration is used deliberately for effect or emphasis (e.g., a flood of tears, piles of money).


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A group of words that, through usage, has taken on a special meaning different from the literal meaning (e.g., Better late than never! or Piece of cake.)

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Descriptions and figures of speech (e.g., metaphors, similes) used by writers to create vivid mental pictures in the mind of the reader. See also figurative language, literary device.

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Indigenous Storywork

A framework, described by Stó:lo scholar Jo-ann Archibald, for understanding the characteristics of Indigenous oral narratives and the process of storytelling. Indigenous Storywork establishes a receptive listening context for holistic meaning-making, bringing storytelling into educational contexts and demonstrating how stories have the power to heal the heart, mind, body, and spirit. Indigenous Storywork is built on the seven principles of respect, responsibility, reciprocity, reverence, holism, interrelatedness, and synergy.

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A conclusion or opinion reached using reasoning and evidence from a text, based on what the creator states and implies in the text and what the reader brings to the text from their prior knowledge and experience.

  • local inference. An inference formed based on an understanding of implied information at the local level of sentences and paragraphs.
  • global inference. An inference based on an understanding of implied information in the whole text (e.g., about the theme of the text). A global inference usually requires the application of the reader’s previous knowledge.
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informational text

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The stress and pitch of spoken language. Intonation is used to communicate information additional to the meaning conveyed by words alone (e.g., a rising intonation at the end of a sentence indicates a question). (Compare tone.)

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A technique using contrast or contradiction for the purposes of humour or emphasis; for example, a statement that has an underlying meaning different from its literal or surface meaning.


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language conventions

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letter-sound correspondence

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The ability to understand and express thoughts or ideas in a given language. Traditional literacy refers to the ability to read and write. See also digital media literacy.

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literary device

A particular pattern of words (e.g., rhyme, parallel structure), figure of speech (e.g., hyperbole, irony, metaphor, personification), or technique (e.g., comparison and contrast, foreshadowing, juxtaposition, analogy) used in literature to produce a specific effect. Also called a stylistic device. See also figurative language, imagery.

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literary text


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The plural of medium. See medium.

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media text

Any work, object, or event that communicates meaning to an audience. Most media texts use words, graphics, sounds, and/or images, in print, oral, visual, or digital form, to communicate information and ideas to their audience. Examples include: advertisement, database, vlog, film, newspaper, magazine, brochure, interview, clothing, song, dance. See also multimodal text.

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The channel or system through which a text is conveyed, determined by the text’s mode(s), purpose, and audience, and including print, audio, visual, audio-visual, and digital means. For example, the medium for a written text might be a handwritten letter or book; the medium for an oral text might be a podcast or video clip. The plural is media. Media for reaching mass audiences include print, radio, television, artifacts, and the internet. See also mode of communication.

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metalinguistic awareness

An individual’s ability to reflect on and evaluate the structure of language objectively. Metalinguistic awareness refers to awareness in the area of phonology, syntax, and pragmatics. It allows individuals to monitor and control their language use, and is a strong predicator of reading development for all children. Multilingual children may experience accelerated development of metalinguistic awareness.

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A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to something to which it is imaginatively but not literally applicable (e.g., heart of gold, night owl).

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Any kind of inaccurate or misleading information. Misinformation can be spread unintentionally by those who believe it to be correct. (Compare disinformation.)

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mode of communication

An element in meaning making that describes the means by which communications are designed and perceived. The six modes of communication are linguistic (reading, writing, speaking, and listening), visual (representing and viewing), aural (sounds and music), gestural (e.g., using body language, facial expressions, gestures), spatial (e.g., using scale, proximity, direction), and multimodal. See also multimodality.

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The smallest unit of meaning within words. A morpheme can be either a prefix, a suffix, or a base. Words are made up of one or more morphemes.


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A character who recounts the events of a novel, narrative poem, play, or film, or a person who delivers a commentary accompanying a text. For example, an omniscient narrator of a story knows what all the characters are thinking and is the all-knowing voice in the story. See also point of view.

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non-verbal communication

Aspects of communication that convey meaning without the use of words or voice (e.g., facial expressions, gestures, body language, eye movement, silence, proximity, touch), and by using objects and pictures in place of words and speech. Gestures and other types of non-verbal communication may have diverse cultural connotations.


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The use of a word having a sound that suggests its meaning (e.g., splash, murmur, buzz, twitter). See also literary devices.

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oral communication

The exchange of information and ideas through speech or the spoken word. It can be face-to-face or by way of a communication device such as a telephone or video conferencing application. Aspects of spoken language include word choice, pronunciation, and fluency, as well as tone, pitch, and pace. Non-verbal communication (e.g., body language) can emphasize spoken words. See also fluency, non-verbal communication.

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oral text

A text that is transmitted orally (e.g., greeting, conversation, question, statement, exclamation, instructions, directions, poem, rhyme, song, rap, story, anecdote, announcement, news broadcast, interview, oral presentation, speech, recitation, debate, report, role play, drama). Oral texts often include prosodic and non-verbal elements to help clarify their meaning.

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orthographic knowledge

Knowledge of how letters represent sounds in spoken language. Orthographic knowledge includes knowledge of the English spelling system and its patterns, including grapheme positions and combinations in a word. See also position-based tendencies.

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The spelling system of a language.


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parts of speech

Categories of words sorted by their grammatical and semantic functions within sentences. English contains the following common parts of speech:

  • noun. A word that refers to people, places, things, and ideas.
  • pronoun. A word that replaces a noun.
  • verb. A word that expresses an action, occurrence, or state of being.
  • adjective. A word that describes a noun or pronoun.
  • adverb. A word that describes a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.
  • preposition. A word that connects nouns, pronouns, and phrases.
  • conjunction. A word or phrase that connects other words, phrases, or sentences, clauses.
  • interjection. A word or phrase that expresses emotion. It has no grammatical connection with the sentence in which it is used.
  • article. A type of adjective used before a noun to indicate whether the identity of the noun is known (definite article) or unknown (indefinite article).
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A figure of speech in which a thing or abstraction is represented as a person or by a figure in human form (e.g., The sun smiled down on us. Or The stairs groaned as we walked on them.) See also figurative language, elements of style.

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A particular attitude towards or way of regarding something.

  • explicit perspective. A perspective in a text is expressed clearly, directly, and unambiguously.
  • implicit perspective. A perspective in a text that is present or implied but expressed indirectly; it may be an attitude or view held subconsciously by the creator.

See also bias.

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persuasive text

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The smallest unit of sound in spoken words.

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phonemic awareness

A subcomponent of phonological awareness. Phonemic awareness refers to the ability to identify and manipulate the smallest unit of sound in spoken words, called a phoneme. See also blending, phoneme, phonological awareness, segmenting.

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The systematic and structured teaching of grapheme-phoneme correspondences and how to use these to decode/read and encode/spell words. See also decoding.

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phonological awareness

The ability to reflect on the sound structure of spoken language, including the ability to identify and produce words that share the same rhyme, hear individual syllables within a word, and break a syllable into its onset and rime. See also phonemic awareness, syllable.


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r-controlled vowel

A vowel that is immediately followed by the letter r. The r controls, or colours, the pronunciation of the vowel, changing it to a sound that is distinct from short or long vowels. For example, the vowel in spot is a short /o/, but the vowel in sport is the r-controlled /ô/.

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receptive communication

The process of receiving and understanding a message conveyed using verbal and/or non-verbal communication. Receptive communication includes reading, listening, and viewing. (Compare expressive communication.) See also viewing.

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The process of communicating visually in various formats (e.g., a chart, diagram, photograph, video). Representing involves students understanding the purposes and audiences for visual texts and applying suitable techniques and conventions as well as a critical understanding of their choices. (Compare viewing.) See also expressive communication.

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The process of making major changes to the content, structure, wording, and elements of style of a draft text to improve the organization of ideas, eliminate awkwardness of expression, correct errors, and generally ensure that the text’s meaning is clear, coherent, and correct. See also editing, proofreading, writing process.

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Words rhyme when they have the same or similar ending sounds; for example, rain rhymes with pain, stain.  


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The use of irony, sarcasm, or other forms of humour to expose or criticize human folly or vice.

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A vowel that is unstressed, toneless, and neutral, occurring in unstressed syllables (e.g., a in about or o in synonym). Schwa sounds are the most common vowel sounds in the English language. They are often transcribed using an upside down e symbol (Ə).

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An aspect of phonemic awareness that involves separating a word into individual sounds (phonemes). (Compare blending.)

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semantic features

Meaning-based properties that capture the similarity of meaning among sets of related words. For example, young, female, and human are semantic features of the word girl. See also word schema.

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sentence forms

English has four main sentence forms:

  • simple. A sentence consisting of one independent clause.
  • compound. A sentence made up of two or more independent clauses joined by a semicolon or coordinating conjunction, usually preceded by a comma.
  • complex. A sentence made up of one independent clause and one or more dependent clauses.
  • compound-complex. A sentence made up of two or more independent clauses and one or more dependent clauses.
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sentence types

English has four main sentence types:

  • declarative. A sentence that makes a statement.
  • imperative. A sentence that makes a request or gives a command or instruction.
  • interrogative. A sentence that asks a question.
  • exclamatory. A sentence that expresses strong emotion or feelings and ends in an exclamation mark.

See also punctuation.

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set for variability

A reader’s ability to adjust for close approximations of pronunciation when reading words, such as by flexing vowel sounds or by adjusting syllable stress and schwa. See also schwa.

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A figure of speech in which two unlike things are compared using the words like or as (e.g., runs like a cheetah and busy as a bee.) See also figurative language.


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A means of communication that uses words, graphics, sounds, and/or images, in print, oral, visual, or digital form, to present information and ideas to an audience. Texts can take multiple forms and include multiple modes such  as an artifact imbued with interwoven meaning(s). See also text form.

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text conventions

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text features

The technical or design aspects of a text that clarify and/or give support to the meaning in the text (e.g., in a written text: title, table of contents, headings, subheadings, lists, bold font, illustrations; in a digital text: hyperlinks, drop-down menus, pop-ups, banners). See also conventions, elements of texts.

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text form

A category or type of text that has certain defining characteristics. The concept of text forms provides a way for readers, listeners, viewers, and creators to think about the purpose of a text and its intended audience. Most texts are of multiple forms (e.g., a comic strip is a visual text that may also be narrative, expository, literary). Text forms include but are not limited to:

  • descriptive. A descriptive text provides an account or representation of a person, object, or event, using descriptive or figurative language.
  • expository. An expository text explains something, providing evidence, or uses a text pattern such as comparison and contrast, or cause and effect. A narrative exposition provides factual background information within a story. Also called an explanatory text.
  • functional. A functional text is any text that is useful in daily life; it usually includes information that helps the reader, listener, or viewer make decisions and complete tasks. 
  • informational. An informational text informs the reader, listener, or viewer about a specific topic. This term is also used to describe any non-literary text.
  • literary. A literary text is a text created to tell a story or to entertain. Its primary purpose is usually aesthetic, but it may also contain political messages or beliefs.
  • narrative. A narrative text tells a story or recounts a series of connected events. A personal narrative is told from the first-person point of view.
  • persuasive. A persuasive text attempts to convince or influence the reader, listener, or viewer to do or believe something. An argument aims to persuade others that an action or idea is right or wrong, using logic and providing evidence.
  • procedural. A procedural text describes procedures or how to do something.
  • report. A report gives an account of something observed, heard, done, or investigated.
  • visual. A visual text is an image, or a text in which images may play a major role.

See also cultural text, digital text, media text, oral text, visual text.

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text patterns

Ways in which content in a text is organized to create a specific effect or convey meaning. Text patterns in writing include time order or chronological order (events presented in time sequence); comparison and contrast (an outline of similarities and differences); cause and effect (an outline of events or actions linked to their consequences); generalization (general statements supported by examples); combined/multiple orders (two or more organizational patterns used together: for example, comparison/contrast and cause/effect).

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The main idea or implicit message that recurs in or pervades a text. (Compare topic.)

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tiers of vocabulary

Vocabulary can be classified into three tiers according to frequency of use, complexity, and meaning.

  • Tier 1 words. Words that frequently occur in spoken language and typically do not have multiple meanings. These words often do not require direct instruction.
  • Tier 2 words. Words that are found more often in written language than in oral language and are useful across many different content areas. These words have high utility for students and should be the focus of explicit vocabulary instruction.
  • Tier 3 words. Words that are generally specific to a particular content area and have less broad utility for students. See also domain-specific words.
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A manner of speaking, writing, or creating that reveals the creator’s attitude towards a subject and/or audience. (Compare intonation.)


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The process of understanding and appreciating visual texts in various formats. Viewing involves analyzing the techniques and conventions of visual texts, and becoming critical viewers of visual media. (Compare representing.) See also receptive communication.

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visual elements

The pictorial, graphic, and aesthetic elements of an image (e.g., colour, composition, line, shape, contrast, repetition, style) or text (e.g., typography, illustration, graphic design).

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visual text

A picture, image, or graphic design (e.g., a drawing, painting, collage, or photograph; a chart or diagram; a graphic design or layout; a film shot; a storyboard; the visual component of a graphic novel, comic strip, cartoon, game, poster, billboard, advertisement, traffic sign). Images may include diverse cultural connotations and symbols, and portray diverse people, cultures, and practices. Also called a graphic text.

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The distinctive style or character of a text arising from how the creator uses various elements and features of a text form or genre to create the mood of the work as a whole (e.g., in a written or spoken text, word choice, sentence structure, imagery, rhythm, sound, tone; in a visual text, use of materials, techniques, themes, and colour palette).

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A speech sound made with the mouth fairly open and the tongue not touching the top of the mouth. Examples include: /ē/ as in “me”, /u/ as in “to”. See also consonant.


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word choice

The careful selection of words to communicate a message or establish a particular voice or writing style. Word choice plays a key role in establishing correctness, clearness, or effectiveness. Also called diction.

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word schema

Knowledge of the meaning of specific words and words in general that can be used to derive the meaning of new words.

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writing process

The process involved in producing a polished piece of writing. The writing process comprises several stages, each of which focuses on specific tasks. The main stages are: planning for writing, drafting, revising, editing, proofreading, and publishing. See also editing, proofreading.

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