The purpose of this glossary is to help the user better understand and implement the Writing Standard. It is not intended to be a study guide for the AIMS and is not a comprehensive list of all writing terms.
academic discourse primarily expository writing with the intent to demonstrate knowledge within an academic setting [Grade 7]
affix a non-word letter or group of letters attached to a root or stem to change its meaning or function, as the prefix ad- and the suffix –ing in adjoining [Grade 3]
allegory a literary work with two or more levels of meaning: one literal level and one or more symbolic or figurative levels; events, settings, objects, or characters that stand for ideas or qualities beyond themselves [Grade 12]
alliteration the repetition of initial sounds, usually at the beginning of words [Grade 11]
allusion a reference to a well-known work of literature, famous person, or historical event with which the reader is assumed to be familiar [Grade 9]
ambiguity words that are unclear in meaning [Grade 11]
appositive a phrase which renames or describes a noun, set off by commas (e.g., My friend, Melissa, is here., Mr. Martinez, our neighbor, is at the door.) [Grade 7]
aside a statement delivered by an actor to an audience in such a way that other characters on stage are presumed not to hear what is said; the character reveals his or her private thoughts, reactions, or motivations [Grade 12]
assonance the repetition of vowel sounds in stressed syllables or words without repeating consonant sounds [Grade 11]
author study the study of different stories written by one author [Grade 3]
CCVC words words following a consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant pattern [Grade 3]
character foil a character that provides a contrast to another character, thus intensifying the impact of that other character [Grade 12]
characterization the manner in which an author presents a character by using the character’s actions, dialogue, description, or how other characters react to that character [Grade 3]
cliché an overused word or phrase that lacks originality and weakens the thought [Grade 9]
compare to use examples to show how things are similar and different, with the greater emphasis on similarities [Kindergarten]
complex sentence a sentence that contains an independent clause and one or more subordinate clause(s)

[Grade 7]

compound sentence a sentence with two or more independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) or a semicolon [Grade 3]
compound-complex sentence a sentence made up of a compound sentence (two or more independent clauses) and one or more subordinate clauses [Grade 9]
conceit an elaborate and extended metaphor, especially in poetic images [Grade 11]
conflict the problem(s) or struggle(s) between or among opposing forces that trigger(s) the action in literature (e.g., person vs. person, person vs. self,  person vs. nature, person vs. society)

[Grade 4]

consonance the repetition of the final consonant sound within words with different vowel sounds

(e.g., stroke of luck) [Grade 11]

consonant digraph two or more consonant letters representing a single sound (e.g., gn /n/) [Grade 3]
contradictions words or ideas that oppose one another [Grade 11]
contrast to use examples to show how things are different in one or more important ways [Grade 12]
controlling idea the main point or purpose of a piece of writing, often stated in a thesis statement or topic sentence [Grade 6]
CVC words words that have a consonant-vowel-consonant pattern [Grade 1]
CVCC words words that have a consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant pattern [Grade 3]
dialogue the portion of text in which the character(s) speak aloud, usually indicated by quotation marks

[Grade 4]

diphthong a speech sound beginning with one vowel sound and gliding to another vowel sound within the same syllable (e.g., oi in oil) [Grade 3]
direct address the use of commas to offset one person speaking directly to another (e.g., Jesse, I like your story., I think, Sue, that you are right.) [Grade 5]
e.g. (abbreviation for for example) precedes a non-exhaustive list of examples provided as options; other examples may be appropriate but not included (compare to i.e.)
environmental print print and symbols that are found in one’s physical environment (e.g., street and building signs) [Kindergarten]
evidence statements or information that help in making a conclusion or judgment:

  • logical evidence – based on earlier known or well-known information presented in a clear organized pattern
  • empirical evidence- information or facts gained by observation or experiment based on scientific analysis
  • anecdotal evidence – information gained from casual observation, usually presented in a narrative style  [Grade 9]
explanatory essay an essay that describes the reasons and/or factors for a particular situation [Grade 8]
extended metaphor a metaphor that continues throughout a series of sentences with the purpose of expanding or clarifying an idea [Grade 11]
figurative language the use of words to create vivid pictures and ideas in the mind of the reader; not meant to be literally true (e.g., similes, metaphors, idioms, personification) [Grade 3]
flashback an account of a conversation, episode, or event that happened before the beginning of a story, told for the purpose of clarifying something in the present; often interrupts the chronological flow of the story [Grade 11]
foreshadowing writer’s use of hints or clues to indicate events that will occur later in a text [Grade 11]
formal letter a letter that follows a standard business format (e.g., block, semi-block) [Grade 3]
friendly letter an informal letter written to a friend or relative [Kindergarten]
graphic organizer a visual representation of information in an organized manner that is intended to enhance understanding (e.g., Venn diagram, T-graph, word web, KWL chart) [Grade 3]
high-frequency words words often used in spoken and written language [Grade 1]
homonyms words with the same pronunciation but with different meanings, different parts of speech, and usually different spelling [Grade 3]
hyperbole figure of speech in which the truth is exaggerated for emphasis or humor [Grade 9]
hypothesis proposed relationship among observable phenomena or an inferred explanation for those phenomena [Grade 9]   (from Science Standard Articulated by Grade Level Glossary)
i.e. (abbreviation for that is) precedes a specific list of items in which all of the items should be used  (compare to e.g.)
imagery descriptive language used in literature to recreate sensory experiences, enrich writing, and to make the writing more vivid; sensory details [Grade 9]
imitative text writing that mimics another piece [Kindergarten]
genre a category or type of literature based on its style, form, and content (e.g., mystery, adventure, romance, science fiction) [Grade 9]
incongruity lack of agreement, harmony, or conformity [Grade 11]
inference a conclusion derived from facts or premises [Grade 6]
interior monologue writing that indicates the writer’s or a character’s unspoken thoughts [Grade 9]
internal citations information documentation within text [Grade 10]
interrupter parenthetical or nonessential information set off by commas (e.g., We will, however, have to talk later) [Grade 6]
irony using a word or phrase to mean the exact opposite of its literal meaning:

  • dramatic irony – where the reader or the audience sees a character’s mistakes, but the character does not
  • verbal irony – where the writer says one thing and means another
  • irony of situation – where there is a great difference between the purpose of an action and the result   [Grade 11]
irregular plural a plural formed in a manner other than adding –s or –es (e.g., child-children, party-parties, goose-geese) [Grade 4]
KWL chart a chart that shows what the writer knows, wants to learn and has learned [Grade 3]
literal language language that is true to fact, avoiding exaggeration or metaphor [Grade 3]
literary elements elements of literature including plot, setting, theme and characterization [Grade 9]
literature circle a student discussion of a book or story they have read [Grade 3]
main idea the concept, thought, notion, or impression that is of greatest importance or influence:

  • literal – adhering to fact or to the primary meaning or intent
  • implied –a suggested meaning or intent (as opposed to explicit)
  • explicit – fully revealed or expressed without vagueness, implication, or ambiguity; leaving no question as to the meaning or intent  [Grade 1]
metaphor a figure of speech that compares two unlike things in which no word of comparison is used

[Grade 9]

meter the arrangement of words in a rhythmical pattern, with stressed and unstressed syllables [Grade 11]
mood the feeling(s) the text arouses in the reader (e.g., happiness, sadness, sorrow, peacefulness)
narrative a type of fiction or nonfiction that tells a story or series of events [Kindergarten]
onset consonant(s) before the vowel(s) in a syllable, including consonant blends and digraphs (e.g., /s/ in sit, /spl/ in split) [Grade 1]
paradox a statement that seems to be contradictory but that actually presents a truth [Grade 11]
parody a form of literature that intentionally uses a comic effect to mock a literary work or style [Grade 12]
peer review an opportunity for one student to read, review, and comment on another student’s writing

[Grade 3]

personal narrative an expressive piece of writing that relates an event in the writer’s life; it may contain personal comments and observations as well as a description of the event [Grade 9]
personification a figure of speech in which something non-human is given human characteristics or powers [Grade 9]
persuasive techniques devices of persuasion used for the purpose of changing one’s mind, making one take action, or both; usually accomplished by a combination of emotional appeals and logical reasoning  (e.g., bandwagon, peer pressure, circular reasoning, transfer, loaded words, testimonial, false causality, oversimplification, overgeneralization) [Grade 6]
phonetic spelling incorrect spelling of a word as though it were phonetically regular (e.g., fone instead of phone) [Grade 2]
plot the action or sequence of related events that make up a story, consisting of five basic elements:

  • exposition – the opening of a short story up to the point that the conflict is introduced to the reader
  • rising action – the chain of events in which the conflicts intensify
  • climax – the point of highest interest; point at which the reader makes his greatest emotional response; the point in the story in which rising action is about to turn into falling action
  • falling action – takes place after the climax when the action begins to wind down or conflicts begin to lessen
  • resolution – tells how the story conflict is resolved and ties up loose ends from the story

[Grade 3]

plot pyramid a graphic organizer establishing a story’s sequence: introduction, body and conclusion [Grade 6]
point of view the perspective from which the text is written:

  • first person – the narrator is a character who tells the story as he or she experienced, saw, heard, and understood it; identified by the first person pronouns I or we
  • third person omniscient – the narrator is all-knowing, with the ability to see into the minds of more than one character
  • third person limited – the narrator has the ability to see into the mind of only one character

[Grade 9]

prefix a linguistic unit added to the beginning of a word which changes its meaning (i.e., re-, mis-, un-) [Grade 2]
prewriting plan brainstorming ideas to create a writing plan [Grade 3]
primary source an original source that informs directly, not through another person’s explanation or interpretation (e.g., firsthand reports, diaries, letters, journals, original documents) [Grade 9]
prior knowledge knowledge gained from previous experience(s) [Grade 6]
process essay an essay that describes the method by which an event, task, or goal is completed [Grade 6]
proofreading marks marks used when editing a writer’s work [Grade 3]
proper adjective a word, derived from a proper noun, that describes a noun or pronoun and is always capitalized (e.g., Canadian bacon, Irish setter) [Grade 6]
proper noun a noun that names a specific person, place or thing [Grade 2]
r-controlled a vowel whose sound is influenced by an r that directly follows it (e.g., farm, her, first, torn, nurse); the vowel sound is neither long nor short [Grade 3]
reflective personal narrative an expressive piece of writing that relates the writer’s search for meaning through an event in his/her life; it contains personal comments and observations as well as a description of the event [Grade 10]
regular plural a noun that forms its plural by adding -s or -es (e.g., dog-dogs, box-boxes) [Grade 2]
repetition repeating  a word, phrase, sentence, or the like for impact and effect [Grade 11]
resolution the part of a literary piece in which the conflict is resolved [Grade 4]
rhetorical device literary device that is intended to emphasize a point, not to obtain a response [Grade 10]
rhyme identical or very similar recurring final sounds in words within, or more frequently, at the ends of lines of verse [Kindergarten]
rhyme scheme the pattern of rhyme occurring at the end of the lines of poetry within a stanza/poem

[Grade 11]

rhythm a pattern of repeated cadence or accent in speech or text [Grade 3]
rime the vowel(s) and any following consonant(s) in a syllable (e.g., /it/ in sit, /oat in float)

[Grade 1]

rubric a written descriptor of performance containing criteria, guidelines, or standards used to  measure or assess a product [Grade 3]
satire a literary technique that combines a critical attitude with humor, often with the intent of correcting or changing the subject of the satire [Grade 12]
secondary source a source that contains information others have gathered and interpreted; indirect or secondhand information (e.g., newspaper and magazine accounts, encyclopedia articles, research studies, web sites, documentaries) [Grade 9]
setting the time of day or year; historical period, place, situation [Grade 3]
silent e the letter e in a word that is not heard when the word is spoken and often signals a long vowel sound in the preceding vowel [Grade 4]
simile figure of speech comparing two things that are unlike; uses the words like and as (e.g., as strong as an ox, flies like an eagle) [Grade 9]
simple sentence a sentence containing a subject and verb that may also include prepositional phrases [Kindergarten]
soliloquy discourse in which a character speaks his/her thoughts aloud without addressing an audience [Grade 12]
stand-alone text text whose meaning is derived without the benefit of additional support of pictures or graphics

[Grade 1]

story map a graphic organizer that establishes a story’s order:  beginning, middle and end [Grade 3]
style manual a recognized resource for expository and research writing such as MLA, APA, or Chicago

[Grade 9]

suffix a linguistic unit added to the end of a base word which changes the word’s meaning or grammatical function (e.g., -ed, -ly, -ness) [Grade 2]
syllabication the division of words into syllables [Grade 2]
symbol person, place, or thing that represents something beyond itself (e.g., sword can stand for war, a desert might represent loneliness or solitude, a dove as a symbol of peace)
symbolism a literary technique in which an author uses symbols to represent concrete ideas, events, or relationships [Grade 9]
theme the underlying idea or statement that the author is trying to convey [Grade 9]
thesis (or thesis statement) a focus statement that identifies the purpose, intent, or main idea of a piece of expository or research writing [Grade 6]
time-management strategies methods to determine the effort a writer devotes to specific components of the writing process;  strategies to effectively use time in order to meet a deadline [Grade 3]
tone the overall feeling or effect created by a writer’s use of words (e.g., playful, serious, bitter, angry, sarcastic) [Grade 6]
transitional words words and phrases that bridge sentences and paragraphs by showing location, time, comparisons, emphases, summaries/conclusions, additions, or clarifications [Grade 2]
Venn diagram a graphic organizer used to help a writer organize ideas to compare and contrast, composed of two or more overlapping circles [Grade 6]
vowel digraph a spelling pattern using two or more letters to represent a single vowel sound [Grade 4]
web (webbing) a type of graphic organizer used to record ideas [Grade 1]
word family (-ies) words that may have the same root or base sound [Grade 1]
word wall classroom display of high frequency and/or grade level specific words available for student reference [Kindergarten]