Lexis and Structure: Definition, Examples, Questions and Answers

Lexis refers to the total words and phrases of a language. Lexis originates from the Greek term lexis, which means a “word” or “speech.” It’s often confused with lexicon, which is a dictionary or the vocabulary of a language, profession,  people or a subject. Lexis is also called vocabulary and includes boy, pile up, crown, virus, shut up etc..  Structure is the meaningful arrangement of words, phrases, and clauses in a sentence. We present lexis and structure with examples, questions and answers.

The study of lexis and the lexicon, or lexical items (collection of words or phrases in a language) is called lexicology. Lexicology is crucial to grammar. In fact, in grammar, the distinction between syntax and morphology is lexically based.

Lexis and Structure

Aspects of Lexis

There are seven aspects of lexis in grammar.

Name Meaning
Semantics Semantics is the study of the relationship between words, signs,  sentence structures and how we draw meaning from those words. It is used figuratively and literally to produce meaning. Semantics seeks to describe how words are used, and not to suggest how they should be used, and even what decisions we make as a result of our interpretations.

Examples include:

“He became one of those whose record he received in the right hand, and far from left.”

“His mother had a nicer smell than his father.”

First sentence conveys a denotative meaning that he is fortunate, and not unfortunate.

Second sentence conveying a denotative or general meaning that he likes his mother more than his father


Diction Diction simply means the appropriate use of words. Diction can be defined as a style of speaking or writing, determined by the choice of words by a speaker or a writer, which depends on how accurate and appropriate the word is to the context. Depending on the topics at hand, people adjust their diction. Diction involves speaking formally in formal settings or using slang where appropriate

Types of diction: formal diction – formal word choice in formal situations, such as international conference meetings.

Informal diction – informal word choice in talking to friends.

Colloquial diction – word choice for common daily use

Slang diction – word choice newly coined from music or street, it may even be impolite.

Examples of Diction in Literature

“Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed

Your leaves, nor ever bid the spring adieu.”

“adieu” is better in formal settings than “goodbye”

Synonymy A synonym is a word with the same meaning as another in a language. For example, the words begin, start, commence. A synonym can be a  phrase or even a morpheme.
Antonymy a word opposite in meaning to another e.g. bright and dark.
Polysemy Polysemy is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings.. The verb “take” is an example of polysemy — it can mean “eat,” “receive,” or “acquire”, “apprehend”.


Homophones A homophone is a word that is pronounced similarly to another word but differs in meaning to the word. The two words may be spelled the same or differently, such as rose (plant) and rose (past tense of rise), bark (dog) and bark (tree), or differently, or  two, and too, allowed and aloud.
Collocation Collocation means a group of  words that often go together or that are likely to occur together. Crime fighters or early risers are examples of collocation.

There are eight lexical items, which are;

Lexical Item Meaning Example
Noun a word, different from a pronoun, used to identify any of a class of people, places, or things, or to name a particular one of these.


Countryside, Table, Car, Banana,, music, love, English, Yoke, Bisola, Lemu,Woman, Teacher, Mary,  Home, Office, Town,
Pronoun a word that can function as a noun phrase used by itself and refers either to a first person (e,g I), second person  (e.g. you ) or to a third person or something mentioned elsewhere in the discourse (e.g. she, it, this ). Them, We, Us, You, None, several, himself, Yourself, Which, another.
Verb a word used to convey an action, an occurrence, or a state of being. Run, hatch, win, raise, do, go, sleep, grind, sell, read,  e.t.c.
Adjective a word describing an attribute of a noun, such as sweet, red, or technical. Intelligent, funny.


red, quick, happy, and obnoxious, sleeveless, short, fine, harsh, thin
Adverb a word or phrase that  expresses a relation of time, degree, place, manner, cause, etc. by modifying an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group,  

Simultaneously, terribly, beautifully, vividly, then, there, when

Interjection a word or expression that is used in itself as an utterance and expresses an abrupt remark, especially as an aside or interruption.


Ah! Congrats! Alas!Cheers!, Hurray, Wow!
Preposition a word that precedes a noun or pronoun and expressing a relation to another word or element in the clause at, for, in, off, on, over, beside, after
Conjunction A part of speech that links words, phrases, or clauses. But, , although, and, yet, or, , nor, since, unless, while e.t.c.


In English Grammar, a structure is referred to as the organized rules of a language that make a combination of its lexical item in a sentence meaningful in that language.

Simple Sentences

A simple sentence is formed with a subject and a verb, and it may also have an object and modifiers. However, it contains only one independent clause.


He stood



She found books

Here are a few examples:

Compound Sentences

A compound sentence is made with at least two independent clauses which can be combined with a comma and a coordinating conjunction or with a semicolon.

Independent Clause Independent Clause
She completed her academic research,  and he created his reference list.
He altered his files by theme;  then, he shared the reference list.
They studied grammar rules for many hours, but realized they needed more books.

Complex Sentences

A complex sentence is made with at least one independent clause and one dependent clause. The subject, time or elements of independent clauses are referred to in the dependent clause. A dependent clause at the beginning of a sentence is separated with a comma, and an independent clause does not get a comma at the beginning of a word.

Here are a few examples:

This sentence has no comma because it begins with a dependent clause.

Because he rejected his sources as corrupt, it was easier for the opponents to probe him.


Although she liked his writing style, he still needed to work on his grammar.


Note that there is no comma in this sentence because it begins with an independent clause.

Using grammar rules in writing allows students to become a better writer.
They studied reproduction for many hours as the topic were very interesting.


Compound-Complex Sentences

Sentence types can also be combined. A compound-complex sentence contains at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause. It is essential to mind comma usage  in complex-compound sentences, so that the reader can easily follow the intended meaning.

With Mozzarella and coke at hand, they studied statistics for many hours, and they decided that Habib’s research made sense because it was clear, and concise.

Lexis and Structure Questions

In each of questions 1 to 9, select the option that best explains the information conveyed in the sentence. Each question carries.

1) In spite of his humble beginning, Akanji now throws his weight around.

a) Akanji is arrogant despite his simple upbringing.

b) Despite his obvious poverty, Akanji is a proudman.

c) His noble birth notwithstanding, Akanji is a corrupt man.

d) From his poor background, Akanji is now a rich man.

2) Chinyere has always considered her father to be an impassioned man.

a) Her father has no passion.

b) Her father is an emotional man.

c) Her father is a disciplined man.

d) Her father is a very strict man.

3) The committee rebuked Peter for taking issue with his Boss.

a) Olu was cautioned for shouting at his boss.

b) Olu was scolded for acting in collusion with his boss.

c) Olu was reprimanded for arguing with his boss.

d) Olu was blamed for issuing a statement denying his boss.

4) The manager paid us in hard currency.

a) We were paid in new notes.

b) We were paid in foreign currency.

c) We were paid with cash

d) We were with a strong and stable currency.

5) If he went to London, he would see the Queen.

a) He went to London and found the Queen

b) He is a friend of the Queen

c) He did not see the Queen because he did not go to London

d) He is in London but can not see the Queen


6) The bride clings to her mother’s apron strings

a) The bride won’t let go of her mother’s apron

b) The Bride hold her mother apron

c) The bride likes her mother’s apron

d) The bride is easily influenced by her mother

7) He would have won the election if he had prepared very well

a) He did not win the election because he over prepared

b) He did not win the election but he prepared

c) He won the election because he prepared well

d) He did not win the election because he did not prepare

8) Ahmad did at isa’s behest

a) He did it at Isa’s order

b) He told Isa to do it

c) Isa hate that he did it

d) Isa stopped him from doing it

9) The chairman is proud his party is in the van

a) His party is in a leading position

b) His party members entered the van

c) The Chairman is in the van with his party members

d) The chairman likes having party in van


  1. A. Akanji is arrogant despite his simple upbringing.
  2. B. Her father is an emotional man.
  3. C. Olu was reprimanded for arguing with his boss.
  4. D. We were paid in a strong and stable currency.
  5. C. He did not see the Queen because he did not go to London
  6. D. The bride is under the control of the mother
  7. D. He did not win the election because he did not prepare
  8. A. He did it at Isa’s order
  9. A. His party is in a leading position

Q1 I shall find time for my … when I get … with this difficult assignment.

a) Past-time / over

b) Pass – time/over

c) Passtime/through

d) Passtime/through

Answer: D

Q2 Agbo says he is not afraid of …

a) anybody

b) nothing

c) nobody

d) no one

Answer: A

Q3 It is … responsibility to look after their parents in old age.

a) theirs’

b) their

c) theirs

d) Their’s

Answer: B

Q4 One needs to exemplify or … the aspect of the subject being discussed

a) Supply

b) Declare

c) Satisfy

d) demonstrate

Answer: D

Q5 …. his illness, Muhammad could not come to school.

a) With reference to

b) Referring to

c) Owing to

d) Due to

Answer: D

Q6) After so many trials, the experiment …

a) paid up

b) paid for

c) paid out

d) paid off

Answer: D

Q7 People dislike Mariam because she is ….

  1. Trickful
  2. Trickish
  3. Tricky
  4. a tricker

Answer: C

Q8 The reporter said that the Honourable Speaker …. impeached

a) is to be

b) might have been

c) may have being

d) will have been

Answer: B

Q9 Actually, he forgot the one to ….. the job was given.

a) Whom

b) Who

c) Whomever

c) whoever

Answer: A

Q10 You may not have heard the last word on the matter ….

a) may you have

b) haven’t you

c) have you

d) mayn’t have you?

Answer: C

Q11 All God’s prophets were given the great … to preach salvation to people.

a) commision

b) commition

c) commission

d) commission

Answer: D

Q12 Each of the houses … a new look

a) have got

b) Have

c) Has

d) were given

Answer: C

Q13 The minister addressed the workers to boost their …..

a) Morale

b) Morality

c) Mural

d) Moral

Answer: A

Q14 He isn’t coming home, is he? …. he isn’t

a) Yes

b) No

c) Why

d) Now

Answer: B

Q15 The city … as a federal capital only ….. the last twenty years.

a) has existed/for

b) existed/over

c) was existing/from

d) is existing/in

Answer: A

The constant practice of Lexis and structure would give you an edge in any examination because it is one of the most common areas in English language that candidates or students are tested on.

The lexis and structure questions and answers as well as the examples cited above are essential for testing your knowledge on the subject matter. It would do you a whole lot of good to pay attention to them if you must pass your exam and have deep knowledge on Lexis and structure.

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