Words on Writing: T

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A verb attribute that locates the action in time: past (Bob shoveled), present (Bob shovels), future (Bob will shovel). Verb-tense variations, with their sundry participles and auxiliaries, require the use of words like pluperfect, which I leave to you to sort out.

Compare aspect, mood, voice. See also auxiliary.

they, singular

SeeĀ singularĀ they.


SeeĀ voice.

topic sentence

A sentence that summarizes a paragraphā€™s main idea.Ā Not every paragraph has a topic sentence. Those that do typically start with it. Sometimes, for dramatic effect, a paragraph builds to a topic sentence at the end. (For examples of this type of topic sentence, see the chapter “The Last Word” inĀ Word Up!)


SeeĀ infinitive.

transitive and intransitive verbs

These two verb types are best defined side-by-side.

Transitive verb:Ā AĀ verb that has a direct object; the verbĀ transfers action to a noun (transĀ = ā€œacrossā€). For example, inĀ The mail carrier bought some fur-lined boots, the verbĀ boughtĀ is a transitive verb, andĀ bootsĀ is its direct object (the noun to which it transfers action).

Intransitive verb:Ā AĀ verb thatĀ has no direct object. InĀ The mail fell onto the ground, the verbĀ fellĀ is intransitive;Ā groundĀ is not a direct object of the verb but an object of the prepositionĀ onto.

Some verbs can play either a transitive or an intransitive role. The verbĀ fell, for example, is intransitive in The mail fell onto the groundĀ (no direct object) and transitive inĀ The mail carrier is going to fell that treeĀ (direct object =Ā tree).

A-Z page

This is not a list of all words about writingā€”youā€™d be scrolling all day. These definitions evolved while I was writingĀ Word Up!Ā I enjoyed what I learned and wanted to share it.

Get the full glossary and more in the book:Ā Word Up! How to Write Powerful Sentences and Paragraphs (And Everything You Build from Them)

Last modified: December 14, 2012

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