The Chilling Guide to Ghoulish Grammar

by Claire Niven


Does English grammar frighten you or are you petrified by different nouns forms? Fear not, this Halloween-inspired guide to grammar will unravel all the mysteries.

Let’s take a terrifying trip through the grammar alphabet, Halloween style. Be afraid, be very afraid!

A is for abhorrent apparitions. This is alliteration (words with the same starting letter that are linked for effect).

B is for broomstick. This is a compound word (a word made up of two or more smaller words to create a new word).

C is for cadavers. And corpses. These are synonyms (words that mean the same).

D is for devils. This is a common noun (a generic name for a person, place or thing, not capitalised). It can also be a proper noun (a name for a specific place or person, capitalised).

E is for eerie. This word starts with two e’s, and it’s called a double vowel.

F is for frighten away and frighten off. There are phrasal verbs (an idiomatic expression consisting of a verb and an adverb or preposition.)

G is for grisly and grizzly. These are homophones (words that are pronounced the same but spelled differently).

H is for hocus-pocus and hair-raising. These need a hyphen (a punctuation mark used to join words and to separate syllables of a single word).

I is for in cold blood. This is an idiom (a figurative phrase not decipherable from the individual words).

J is for jack-o’-lanterns. This is an example of a contraction (a shortened form of words).

K is for killer clown. This is an example of an oxymoron (putting two contradictory words together). Just like …

L is for living dead. Another oxymoron.

M is for moonlight and moonlit. One is a noun (he crept around in the moonlight) and the other is an adjective (a spooky moonlit grave).

N is for nightmare. This is a compound noun (two or more words that come together to form a noun).

Omnipotent.  Omni- is a combining form (a form of word that only appears as part of another word).

P is for pitch-black. This is a collocation (words that occur regularly together).

Q is for quiver with fear or quiver in fear? With and in are prepositions (a common word governing a noun or pronoun).

R is for RIP. This is an abbreviation (a short form of a word or phrase) of rest in peace.

S is for spooktactular. This is a portmanteau (a word which combines two words to make a new one).

T is for twit twoo. This owl sound is onomatopoeia (is a word that sounds like the noise they refer to.)

Unnerving. This is an example of a gerund (a noun formed from a verb which refers to an action, process, or state).

V is for voodoo. After the starting letter, the word becomes a palindrome ( a word that is the same if you read it backwards or forwards).

W is for wearing costumes. Wearing is an example of a gerund (a verb + ing).

Y is for yellow maple leaves. But not for: maple yellow leaves. This follows the royal order of adjectives (a prescribed order to structure a list of adjectives).

X is for The Exorcist. This film will literally scare you to death, which is an example of hyperbole (obviously exagerated language). 

Z is for zombie rules. These are grammar rules that have no grammatical basis, but just refuse to die. Examples include don't start a sentence with but and never split an infinitive.

Good grammar doesn’t need to be horrifying. Contact for more spelling potions to avoid nightmares.