Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Illustrative Sentence


An illustrative sentence is an example that clarifies the usage of a particular sense of a lexeme.


An illustrative sentence will help you

  • clarify the meaning of a lexeme
  • use a word in the correct grammatical context, and
  • gain insight into the culture and literary style of the language.

A good illustrative sentence meets the following criteria:

  • It clarifies the meaning of the lexeme.
    • It illustrates the meaning as defined in the sense.
    • It contains characteristic elements that reinforce and constrain the meaning, such as
      • attribute
      • behavior or action
      • usage
      • position or location, and
      • material composition.
  • See: How to test an illustrative sentence for specificificity
  • It is easy to understand.
    • It is simple in construction (up to about 10 words).
    • It is clear in its references.
  • It is accurate.
    • It is accurate in grammar.
    • It is consistent.
    • It is accurate in its information about the culture.
    • It is true to the value system of the culture.
  • It is practical.
    • It is useable by a language learner in daily life.


Useful sources
  • Literary publications written by respected speakers of the local language that are

    • traditional, but not archaic (unless you are illustrating an archaic word or a specific style), or
    • in the modern vernacular
  • Texts of stories and conversations
  • Elicited material that a language associate has obtained or provided
See Also: 

Glossary Hierarchy