9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[suhb-stuh n-tiv] /ˈsʌb stən tɪv/
noun, Grammar
a noun.
a pronoun or other word or phrase functioning or inflected like a noun.
  1. pertaining to substantives.
  2. used in a sentence like a noun:
    a substantive adjective.
  3. expressing existence:
    “to be” is a substantive verb.
having independent existence; independent.
belonging to the real nature or essential part of a thing; essential.
real or actual.
of considerable amount or quantity.
possessing substance; having practical importance, value, or effect:
substantive issues under discussion.
Law. pertaining to the rules of right which courts are called on to apply, as distinguished from rules of procedure (opposed to adjective).
(of dye colors) attaching directly to the material without the aid of a mordant (opposed to adjective).
Origin of substantive
1350-1400; Middle English < Late Latin substantīvus, equivalent to Latin substant(ia) substance + -īvus -ive
Related forms
substantively, adverb
substantiveness, noun
nonsubstantive, adjective
nonsubstantively, adverb
nonsubstantiveness, noun
unsubstantive, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for substantive
  • The group contends that such models will give programmers substantive real-time feedback as they work.
  • Unfortunately you chose to criticize my style of writing rather than to make a substantive critique of my arguments.
  • They have something substantive to say and they are not afraid to say it in public.
  • Most of them are mere shifts of emphasis, some are marginal tweaks, and a few are either substantive or nonexistent.
  • The writer claims that there is a substantive difference between writing a book and making notes for it.
  • He placed less emphasis on comedy and spent more time on substantive policy issues.
  • No one has ever figured out a way to give it substantive meaning.
  • They still want things, of course, but they've changed in substantive ways.
  • But the substantive policy might lag behind, since there's so much bilateral trade at stake.
  • No one who is not immersed and expert in a field and has become an expert in it is qualified to have a substantive opinion.
British Dictionary definitions for substantive


(grammar) a noun or pronoun used in place of a noun
of, relating to, containing, or being the essential element of a thing
having independent function, resources, or existence
of substantial quantity
solid in foundation or basis
(grammar) denoting, relating to, or standing in place of a noun
(səbˈstæntɪv). relating to the essential legal principles administered by the courts, as opposed to practice and procedure Compare adjective (sense 3)
(səbˈstæntɪv). (of a dye or colour) staining the material directly without use of a mordant
Abbreviation s, sb, subst
Derived Forms
substantival (ˌsʌbstənˈtaɪvəl) adjective
substantivally, adverb
substantively, adverb
substantiveness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Late Latin substantīvus, from Latin substāre to stand beneath; see substance
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for substantive

late 15c., "standing by itself," from Old French substantif, from Late Latin substantivum, neuter of Latin substantivus "of substance or being," from substantia (see substance). The grammatical term (late 14c.) was introduced by the French to denote the noun in contradistinction to the adjective, from Latin nomen substantivum "name or word of substance."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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