18 Glossary

Grammar and Punctuation


An adjective is a word that describes a noun. It tells you something about the noun.


An adverb is a word that usually describes a verb or further modifies (describes) an adjective. It tells you how something is done or describes the words that are already describing the noun. It may also tell you when or where something happened.


An earlier word, phrase, or clause to which another word (especially a following relative pronoun) refers back


A specific kind of reversal of phrasing


A punctuation mark that is used with a noun to show possession or to indicate where a letter has been left out to form a contraction


An article is used to introduce a noun.


A colon is used to introduce lists, quotes, examples, and explanations. You can also use a colon after the greeting in business letters and memos.


The comma can indicate a pause in a sentence or a separation of things in a list. Commas indicate grammatical structure and relationship between clauses, phrases, etc. Their presence or absence is integral to meaning, and their placement can drastically change what the sentence means.

Complex Sentence

When you join dependent and independent clauses together, you create complex sentences

Compound Sentence

Consists of two simple sentences joined together by a coordinating conjunction


A conjunction joins two words, phrases, or sentences together.


A word or group of words resulting from shortening an original form

Coordinating Conjunction

There are seven coordinating conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so

Correlative Conjunctions

Correlative conjunctions include the following constructs: both…and, either…or, just as…so, neither…nor, not…but, not only…but also, whether…or

Dangling Modifiers

A dangling modifier modifies the subject of a sentence, but the placement of the modifier makes it seem as though it modifies another noun in the sentence. Other times, a dangling modifier actually modifies someone or something other than the subject of the sentence, but the wording makes it appear as though the dangling modifier modifies the subject.


A punctuation mark used to set off information in a sentence for emphasis

Dependent Clause

A dependent clause on its own is just part of a sentence or fragment. It must be joined to an independent clause for it to make sense to the reader.

Direct Quotation

An exact account of what someone said or wrote

Exclamation Mark

Used at the end of an exclamatory sentence, indicating that the sentence is an exclamation, or at the end of an imperative sentence to indicate a command.


A set of actual or presumed prescriptive notions about correct use of a language


A hyphen is used to combine words that work together to form a single description.

Independent Clause

An independent clause, in addition to containing a subject and verb, expresses a complete thought and can stand alone as a simple sentence.

Indirect Quotation

An indirect quotation is a restatement of what someone said or wrote and does not use the person’s exact words


An interjection is an unusual kind of word, because it often stands alone. Interjections are words that express emotion or surprise, and they are usually followed by exclamation marks.

Misplaced Modifier

A phrase or clause placed awkwardly in a sentence so that it appears to modify or refer to an unintended word


A noun is a naming word. It names a person, place, thing, idea, living creature, quality, or action.


The use of successive verbal constructions in poetry or prose that correspond (match) in grammatical structure, sound, metre, meaning, etc.


Punctuation marks that are always used in pairs and contain material that is secondary to the meaning of a sentence

Parts of Speech

The basic types of words that English has (e.g., nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.)


A very common punctuation mark that indicates the end of a declarative sentence or at the end of an imperative sentence.


A preposition usually comes before a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase. It joins the noun to some other part of the sentence.


A pronoun is used instead of a noun, to avoid repeating the noun.


The marks such as period, comma, and parentheses, used in writing to separate sentences and their elements and to clarify meaning

Question Mark

A question mark is used at the end of an interrogative sentence, indicating that the sentence is a question.

Quotation Marks

Quotation marks set off a group of words from the rest of the text and are used to indicate direct quotations or to indicate a title. Sometimes quotation marks indicate that a word or phrase is being used sarcastically. Quotation marks always appear in pairs.


A punctuation mark indicating a pause, typically between two main clauses, that is more pronounced than that indicated by a comma.


A verb is a word that describes an action (doing something) or a state (being something).

Writing Workplace Documents


The part of the document that contains the main content or messaging.

Buffer Statement

A gentle but professional statement that sets the tone of your letter.


An attempt to persuade or motivate the reader to do something in particular

Concluding Sentence

The concluding sentence is the last sentence in the paragraph that reminds the reader of the main point by restating it in different words.


The conclusion is the final sentence that summarizes the main point.

Controlling Idea

When the topic sentence combines a main idea with the writer’s personal attitude or opinion, it is called the controlling idea.

Direct Message

A direct message gets to the point immediately within the document.


Electronic Mail, a frequently used medium for business communication.


An acronym that stands for Format, Audience, Style, Tone; used as a tool to stay mindful of key elements of writing common business documents.

Fax Cover Sheet

The first page of any document sent by fax machine containing vital information about document contents, sender, receiver, date, number of pages, etc.


The way in which something is arranged or set out

Goodwill Statement

An assertive but professional statement that demonstrates care about ongoing positive relationship


The unofficial, informal communication network within an organization is often referred to as the grapevine, and it is characterized by rumour, gossip, and innuendo.

Indirect Message

An indirect message sandwiches the key point (often bad news) between other information (positive or neutral detail) so as to “soften the blow” of an undesirable communication.


A printed heading on stationery, stating a person or organization’s name and address


A written, typed, or printed communication, (traditionally) sent in an envelope by post or messenger

Main Idea

The governing theme of a topic sentence


Short for memorandum, which is a written message in business or diplomacy


A distinct section of a piece of writing, usually dealing with a single theme and indicated by a new line, indentation, or numbering

Progress Report

A one- to two-page report about accomplishments/challenges that is used to give management an update on the status of a project at timed intervals or on completion of key stages.

Recommendation Report

A recommendation report is used to help management make decisions by identifying a solution to a problem, or suggesting a course of action.

Short Report

A report up to four pages in length

Summary Report

A summary report focuses on the facts, leaving it to management to decide on a course of action.

Supporting Sentence

Supporting sentences occur within the body of a paragraph and help explain, prove, or enhance the topic sentence

Topic Sentence

A topic sentence is often the first sentence of a paragraph that expresses a main idea combined with the writer’s attitude about the subject.


A transition is a connecting word that describes a relationship between ideas.

Revising Workplace Documents

Copy Edit

Corrections and revisions made at the sentence level, including grammar, style, and punctuation errors


Book or online resource that provides definitions and proper spelling of words

Essay Structure

Essay structure includes an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

A useful tool for on-screen editing available in most word processors that allows the writer to type search terms into a box to easily find and/or replace selected words or phrases.

Five W’s and one H

Asking if you’ve covered who, what, when, where, why, and how as a way to ensure information in a document is complete

Grammar Check

A tool available in most word processors to check your document for grammar errors

House Style

An organization’s own in-house style guide

Inverted Pyramid Structure (News)

A type of writing structure commonly used in news reports that puts all the important information (five W’s and one H) within the first one or two paragraphs.

Proofreader’s Marks

Using marked symbols to explain what changes need to be made and where in a document being edited or proofread.


Final stage of the three-step revision process that seeks to catch any remaining errors within the body of the document while scanning the document as a whole for accuracy and correctness


Making incremental improvements to drafts of your writing


Throwing out your old draft and starting fresh with an all-new one

Spell Check

A tool available in most word processors to check your document for spelling errors

Story Structure

A classic structure that includes a beginning, a middle, and an end

Structural Edit

The start of the three-step editing process that ensures that the ideas in the body of your document make sense and flow logically at the paragraph level.

Style Guide

A manual or sheet detailing writing conventions of a particular publisher, publication, etc., to ensure consistency across written deliverables.


A book or online resource that supplies synonyms, related words, and antonyms as a tool to improve and diversify vocabulary

Track Changes

A popular on-screen editing tool in Microsoft Word

Ethical Guidelines for Writing

Access to Information

Permission and/or ability to see and use information, records, and other potentially sensitive documents in a workplace context

Codes of Conduct

Found within many organizations, codes of conduct give guidelines for ethical or proper behaviour


Giving a lot of information clearly and in a few words in a way that’s brief but comprehensive


Copyright is the exclusive and assignable legal right given to the originator for a fixed number of years to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material.


The showing of politeness in one’s attitude and behaviour toward others

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share; the organization has released several copyright licenses known as Creative Commons licenses free of charge to the public.


Moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity

Intellectual Property

Intangible property that is the result of creativity, such as patents, copyrights, etc.


The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own


The competence or skill expected of a professional

Records Management

The professional practice of managing the records of an organization throughout their life cycle, from the time they are created to their eventual disposal. This includes identifying, classifying, storing, securing, retrieving, tracking and destroying, or permanently preserving records. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Records_management)


A book or document used to provide evidence in research

Tummy Test

A reflective self-check of one’s own feelings about whether or not an action is considered ethical

Writing Respectfully

The aim to balance courtesy, professionalism, and conciseness when writing business documents

Information Literacy


Source citation format developed by the American Psychological Association

Boolean Operator

The use of words like AND, NOT, and OR (and possibly the asterisk and parentheses) to filter search results from an online search engine.


The quality of being trusted and believed in


A structured set of data held in a computer, especially one that is accessible in various ways


One of three classical rhetorical proofs; focuses on credibility


Expert skill or knowledge in a particular field

Filter Results

A way to narrow down search results, especially in Google, by selecting types like image, map, or news article

General Purpose

The central idea of your writing, normally contained in the thesis statement


One of three classical rhetorical proofs; focuses on logic

Online Search

Use of search engines or online databases to research information on the Internet

Organizing Principle

The order in which you choose to present or organize information or messages, such as alphabetical or chronological


An outline is a framework that organizes main ideas and subordinate ideas in a hierarchical series.


One of three classical rhetorical proofs; focuses on passion or enthusiasm

Reliable Source

A source that is consistently good in quality or performance; able to be trusted

Search Engine

A program that searches for and identifies items in a database that correspond to keywords or characters specified by the user, used especially for finding particular sites on the World Wide Web.

Search Result

The outcoming results or information from using a search engine, which may need to be filtered.

Search Term

Words or terminology as a way to obtain useful search results from a database or search engine

Specific Purpose

The specific, usually tangible result you want to achieve with your business writing


The quality of being logically or factually sound; soundness or cogency


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