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Adverbs
What are adverbs?
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Adverbs are words that tell us more about verbs....they add information to
the verb.
(A verb is a 'doing' word or a 'being' word, e.g. 'walk', 'feel')

Using adverbs makes your sentences more interesting.

Any verb you use can have an adverb added.

The girl smiled nervously.


The boy grinned sheepishly.
The light shone feebly.

We use adverbs:

• to say how something happens


'The family walk (how?) quickly.'
• to say where or when something happens
'I met him (when?) yesterday.'
• to say how often something happens
'She gets the bus (how often?) daily.'
• to make the meaning of an adjective, adverb or verb stronger or
weaker
'Dave eats (degree?) more slowly than his wife.'

Adverbs are often created from adjectives (describing words that tell you
more about nouns) by adding 'ly' to the end of the adjective.
e.g. slow becomes slowly
'Joe is a slow person. He walks slowly.'

Certain words change when they become adverbs. If an adjective ends in a


'y' you need to change the 'y' to an 'i' before adding 'ly'.
Happy becomes happily
Heavy becomes heavily
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Position of adverbs

There are three places in the sentence where adverbs can come.

At the beginning of a sentence:


'Suddenly I had earache.'
'Recently I had earache.'

In the middle of a sentence:


'I suddenly had earache.'
'I recently had earache.'

At the end of a sentence:


'I had earache suddenly.'
'I had earache recently.'

How do you know where the adverb goes?


Most kinds of adverbs can go in 'mid-position' (before the verb) in a
sentence:
'I'm usually working at weekends.'
'I never said I liked you.'

Other adverbs may fit more comfortably at the beginning or end of a


sentence:
'Yesterday I went to the skate park.'
'I went to the skate park yesterday.'

The best way to know if the order is right is to say the sentence to yourself.
Does it sound right?
'She often is late.'
'She is often late.' This sounds better.
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Spotting adverbs

Adverbs are quite complicated. You cannot tell by the look of a word that
it is an adverb. You can recognise it as an adverb only by the work it does
in a sentence.
A word may be an adverb in one sentence and a different part of speech in
another sentence.

• The job went well. Here well describes the verb 'went', so it is an
adverb.
• The well was drained by morning. Here well names something, so it
is a noun.
• The well water tasted disgusting. Here well is being used to name a
type of 'water', so it is not describing a verb. It is not an adverb here.

'-ly' on the end of a word is a good clue that it's an adverb. Many adverbs
are made by adding '-ly' to the end of adjectives
E.g. 'careful' (adjective) becomes 'carefully' (adverb)
Sunita is very careful with her money. She spends her money carefully.

However, lots of other adverbs are irregular

BEWARE! Some words ending in '-ly' are never used as adverbs


E.g. 'friendly', 'lovely', 'lonely'

Also, look out for adverbs that have the same form as adjectives.
'Hard' and 'early' are both adjectives (used to describe people, places and
things) AND adverbs (used to tell us more about the verb):

• It's still early. (adjective)


• We arrived early. (adverb)
• He works very hard. (adverb)
• He's a hard man to know. (adjective)

Other adverbs with the same form as adjectives are fast, high, low, late
and long.
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More about spotting adverbs

Adverbial phrases
Adverbial phrases are small strings of words that do the same job as
single-word adverbs:
'I'll see him on Saturday.'
'She's in the kitchen.'
''The thief ran down the road.'
'The mobile phones rang all at once.'

Other places to find adverbs...


An adverb may also be used to describe another adverb or an adjective.

'The weekend passed very quickly.'

• quickly describes the verb passed: quickly is an adverb.


• very describes the adverb quickly: very is also an adverb.

'That seemed an extremely interesting plan.'

• interesting describes the noun plan: interesting is an adjective.


• extremely describes the adjective interesting: extremely is an adverb.

Adverbs can also qualify (describe) whole sentences:

'Hopefully the shoes will fit.'


'The dress, unfortunately, was ruined.'
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Adverbs - degrees of comparison

Adverbs are often used to make the meaning of a verb or other adverb
stronger or weaker. This is known as 'degrees of comparison'.

What are they?


The positive degree is the simple form of the adverb : slowly, early.
e.g. 'He walked slowly.'

The comparative degree is used to compare two actions : slower, more


slowly, earlier.
e.g. 'Sarah walked more slowly than Ben.'

The superlative comparison is used to compare three or more : slowest,


earliest.
e.g. 'We all take our time, but I walk the slowest of all.'

How do you make them?


Adverbs of one syllable usually form the comparative by adding - er and
form the superlative by adding - est
'hard' (positive) - 'harder' (comparative) - 'hardest' (superlative)

Adverbs of two syllables or more generally form the comparative by


adding more and the superlative by adding most.
'quickly' (positive) - 'more quickly' (comparative) - 'most quickly'
(superlative)

Watch out! Examples of exceptions


badly: worse (comparative) - worst (superlative).
well: better (comparative) - best (superlative).
far: farther (comparative) - farthest (superlative).
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'Adverbs' tutor notes

The 'Adverbs' topic area aims to help learners to recognise and use
adverbs.

How does this tie in with the curriculums?

• England
RS/L1.1 - Learners need to understand the use of adverbs and
adverbial phrases.
• Wales
As England.
• Northern Ireland
As England.
• Scotland
See www.aloscotland.com for details of the Scottish curriculum.

In the Skillswise module you'll find:

Adverbs factsheets
There are five factsheets for this module, each on 'print-out-and-keep'
sheets. You'll find curriculum references on the top, right-hand corner of
the factsheets.

• Factsheet 1 - What are adverbs


• Factsheet 2 - Position of adverbs
• Factsheet 3 - How to spot an adverb
• Factsheet 4 - More about spotting adverbs
• Factsheet 5 - Degrees of comparison

Adverbs worksheets
Six printable worksheets give the learner opportunities to identify adverbs,
their purpose, degree of comparison and position in a sentence. They also
give the learner the opportunity to select and use appropriate adverbs.
You'll find curriculum references in the top right-hand corner of the
worksheets. They are printable resources to carry on the work learners
have done online.

• Worksheet 1 - Find the adverbs


• Worksheet 2 - What are these adverbs doing
• Worksheet 3 - Using adverbs to compare
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• Worksheet 4 - Positioning adverbs


• Worksheet 5 - Fill in the gaps
• Worksheet 6 - Changing meaning

Technical help:

If you are new to the web, why not try the BBC WebWise online course,
Becoming WebWise? It's free, you can do it in your own time from any
computer and it will take you through everything you need to know to use
the web successfully in your teaching.
Find out more about WebWise.

You can find out more about the technical requirements for Skillswise in
our Help - Technical Information section.

Taking it further:

With Skillswise
For adverbs practice, don't forget to visit 'Instructions' and 'Types of text'

With the web


Here are a few suggestions of other places where you might find resources
that you can use to help you with adverbs.

• English language centre, University of Victoria, Canada


In-depth review of adverbs with an exercise at the end.
• Activities for ESL Students
This site offers a good quiz that compares adjectives and adverbs.

Internet Grammar of English


This site was created for university undergraduates, but their adverbs
section is very good and offers a series of exercises at the end of their
factsheet. Words quiz
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Apostrophes
Apostrophes factsheet

Apostrophes have two uses:

1. Apostrophes show you that some letters have been taken out of a
word to shorten it.
Do not becomes don't.
I will becomes I'll.
Could have becomes could've.
The apostrophe goes where the letters have been removed.
You use apostrophes this way in informal writing. You should not
shorten words when you are writing formal letters.
NOTE - sometimes words are shortened in an irregular way. The
apostrophe, however, is still used to show where letters are missing.
E.G: Will not becomes won't.

2. Apostrophes show you that something belongs to something else.


To show belonging you add 's
The cat's tail - says that the tail belongs to the cat.
The car's lights - says that the lights belong to the car.
Tony's hair - says that the hair belongs to Tony.

Usually the apostrophe goes before the s.


If the owner already ends in s then the apostrophe goes after the s
that is already there. You just need to add an apostrophe. Eg:

The dogs' bowls - says that the bowls belong to some dogs.
The boys' coats - says that the coats belong to some boys.
The cars' wheels - says that the wheels belong to some cars.

Watch out for plurals that don't end in s. Words like men and
children don't end in s, but they are talking about lots of people.
These words use 's to show possession. E.G:

The men's hats - says that the hats belong to the men.
The women's house - says that the house belongs to the women.
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'Apostrophes' tutor notes

The aim of the apostrophes topic area is to help learners revise the use of
apostrophes to show where letters are missing in informal writing and to
demonstrate that one thing belongs to something else.

How does this tie in with the curriculums?

• England
Rs/L1.2 - Understand that grammatical clues can be used to make
sense of individual words and of complete sentences.
Know and use the term 'apostrophe'. Understand the function of the
omissive apostrophe to indicate contracted word style.
• Wales
As England.
• Northern Ireland
As England.
• Scotland
See www.aloscotland.com for details of the Scottish curriculum.

In the Skillswise module you'll find:

Apostrophes factsheet
The facts about apostrophes, with examples, on one 'print-out-and-keep'
sheet.

Apostrophes games
There are two games in this section, both of which have a similar structure.
Both games require some level of familiarity with a keyboard, as answers
have to be typed in. If you don't get all the answers right, your friend gets
gunged.
Please also note that students have to click the cursor into the text box
before they can type the answer. Ideally, the cursor would appear
automatically in the text box, but unfortunately this isn't possible in Flash
version 4 (the software that is the spec for further education).

TOP TIP! To see the game completely full screen, press the F11 key on
the keyboard. This takes away the distraction of the top browser bar. To
bring the browser bar back, just press F11 again!
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Apostrophes activity - 'Cutting a Dash'


We are sorry but we have had to remove the BBC Radio 4 programme
about apostrophes, 'Cutting a dash', from this website. This is because of
changes in copyright. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Apostrophes quiz
The learner can choose their level. Level A is the easiest, level C the
hardest.
Students can print out a certificate if they score 50% or more in the quiz.
This will appear as a link on the results page - click on the link and the
certificate will appear in a new window. Once printed students can write
their name on the certificate.

Apostrophes worksheets
There are two worksheets in this section. They are meant to be printable
resources to carry on the work learners have done online. The two
worksheets are based on sports stories, where students have to decide
where to put the apostrophes.

Technical help:

To get the most out of this topic area you need the following 'plug-ins':

• Flash
The game in this topic section uses Flash. This is free to download
and should only take a few minutes. You can follow the BBC
WebWise instructions to download it to your machine.
Find out more.

If you don't have Flash the same learning points are covered in the quiz
and in the worksheets and factsheets.
If you are new to the web, why not try the BBC WebWise online course,
Becoming WebWise? It's free, you can do it in your own time from any
computer and it will take you through everything you need to know to use
the web successfully in your teaching.
Get WebWise.

You can find out more about the technical requirements for Skillswise in
our Help - Technical Information section.

Taking it further:
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With Skillswise:
Don't forget to check out the Skillswise Lesson plans and Teaching
inspirations areas for more ideas about teaching apostrophes.

On the web:
Here's a few suggestions of other places on the web that you might find
useful resources that you can adapt for teaching apostrophes.

• Live chat
Print out some interviews with celebrities at BBC Live Chat as texts
that you could use to highlight the apostrophes that indicate a letter
(or letters) have been omitted.
• BBC News
Print out a news story from BBC News, then ask learners to rewrite
the story using apostrophes so it reads less formally.
• Home for abused apostrophes
Pictures of real-life examples of cruelly misused apostrophes.

Personal pronouns

What are personal pronouns?

A noun is a word that is person, place or thing.


e.g. Brian, the car, the dog, Sunita, London
A pronoun is a word that can be used in place of a noun.
A personal pronoun is used in place of a noun that is a person or a thing.

Personal pronouns for people = I, you, he, she, we, they


me, you, him, her, us, them
Personal pronouns for things = it, they, them

Why use a personal pronoun?


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Personal pronouns are useful because you don't have to repeat words.
They can be used to talk about something or someone that you have
already talked about.
e.g. Elizabeth put the coat on because Elizabeth was cold.
This would be better written as:
Elizabeth put the coat on because she was cold.
The word she is a personal pronoun and means 'Elizabeth' in this sentence.
This makes the sentence shorter and more interesting, as you don't have to
repeat 'Elizabeth'.

There are two types of personal pronouns:

• Subject pronouns are the 'who' or 'what' the sentence is about:


I, you, he, she, it, we, they are all subject pronouns
• Object pronouns are the 'who' or what' acted upon:
me, you, him, her, it, us, them are all object pronouns

e.g. Elizabeth put the coat on.


In this sentence 'Elizabeth' is the subject and 'the coat' is the object.
Elizabeth is doing the action (putting on) and the coat is the thing that is
'done to' (it is the thing that she puts on).
If you wanted to repeat this information later you could say:
She put it on.

Problems with personal pronouns

Remember that personal pronouns are small words that you can use to
replace a person or thing, when you have already talked about them.
e.g. Barry loves Nathalie. He (Barry) is always buying her (Nathalie)
presents.

Singular or plural?
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• The singular (talking about 1 thing) personal pronouns are:


I / me . he / him . she / her . it . you
• The plural (talking about more than 1) personal pronouns are:
we / us . they / them . you

Singular personal pronouns are used to replace singular nouns (one person
or thing).
Plural personal pronouns are used to replace plural nouns (many people or
things).
NOTE - 'You' can be used to replace one person or many people, it is both
singular and plural.

Should it be 'I' or 'me'?

These personal pronouns are often used in the wrong place. Think about
whether the personal pronoun is the subject or the object.
Is it 'I' doing something or 'me' being acted upon?
e.g. John and I are going there.
Please give the money to me.

A good trick for working out which one to use is to say the sentence to
yourself with the other person taken out.
e.g. John and I are going to the cinema.
Take out 'John' and what do you get? You get 'I am going to the cinema' -
which is right. If you said 'Me are going to the cinema' you can hear that it
is wrong.
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'Personal pronouns' tutor notes

The aim of the 'personal pronouns' topic area is to revise the rules and the
uses of the personal pronouns I / me / you / it / he / him / she / her / we /
us / they / them.

N.B. This module deals with personal pronouns - not possessive pronouns.
You may feel that some of the work in this module stretches into Level 2.
The majority of work on pronouns does take place at Level 2 of the
curriculum, but Level 1 specifies that learners should 'understand the term
pronoun'.

How does this tie in with the curriculums?

• England
Rs/L1.1 - 'Use implicit and explicit grammatical knowledge ... to
predict meaning, try out plausible meanings and to read and check
for sense.'
'Understand the term pronoun.'
Ws/L1.2 - 'Use correct grammar - write grammatically correct
sentences...'
• Wales
As England.
• Northern Ireland
As England.
• Scotland
See www.aloscotland.com for details of the Scottish curriculum.

In the Skillswise module you'll find:

Personal pronouns game


There are 3 levels of game. At level 1 learners have to identify the personal
pronoun within a given sentence and type it into a text box. At level 2
learners have to choose the best personal pronoun to fill the gap. At level
3, the hardest level, learners are asked to re-type a sentence using personal
pronouns where they make sense.
On each level, if a learner gets the right answer they are given the chance
to dig for treasure on the treasure map, to build up points.
It is possible to play each level of this game over and over again, as
sentences are randomly pulled in from a large selection and the treasure
map will randomly generate, so that the treasure is always in different
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places. Please note, however, that the treasure map and score start afresh
each time the game is closed or a new level is started.

A note on level 3 of the game -


There is only one right answer for each re-typed sentence. A sentence will
only be marked as correct if it is entirely correct, i.e. the spelling and
punctuation are correct aswell as the use of personal pronouns. Feedback,
however, will give an indication of what the mistake was (use of pronouns
or spelling). Answers can be entered entirely in capital letters (so if caps
lock is accidentally on it's not a problem), but if answers are typed in lower
case then the learner must make the correct use of capital letters.

As with all our games, we recommend that you take a look at the 'How to
play' demonstration on the flash game, before introducing your students to
the game. You can find this on the bottom, black bar when you open the
game.
Please let us know what you think about this game.

Personal pronouns quiz


The learner can choose their level. Level A is the easiest and level C the
hardest. All 3 levels deal with putting the right personal pronoun into the
gap in the sentence.
Students can print out a certificate if they score 50% or more in the quiz.
This will appear as a link on the results page - click on the link and the
certificate will appear in a new window. Once printed students can write
their name on the certificate.

Personal pronouns factsheets


The facts about using personal pronouns, with examples. In this case there
are two printable sheets - 'What are personal pronouns' and 'Problems with
personal pronouns'.

Personal pronouns worksheets


There are three worksheets in this section. The first involves filling gaps in
short telephone messages, the second involves filling gaps in a longer
piece of text (a postcard) and the third offers a blank template for learners
to write their own postcard.
If you have a great worksheet for personal pronouns at level 1 - tell us
about it and we might add it to the site!

Technical help:
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To get the most out of this topic area you need the following 'plug-ins':

• Flash
The game in this topic section uses Flash. This is free to download
and should only take a few minutes. You can follow the BBC
WebWise instructions to download it to your machine.
Find out more.

If you don't have Flash the same learning points are covered in the quiz
and in the worksheets and factsheets.
If you are new to the web, why not try the BBC WebWise online course,
Becoming WebWise? It's free, you can do it in your own time from any
computer and it will take you through everything you need to know to use
the web successfully in your teaching.
Get WebWise.

You can find out more about the technical requirements for Skillswise in
our Help - Technical Information section.

Taking it further:

With Skillswise:
Don't forget to check out the Skillswise Lesson plans and Teaching
inspirations areas for more ideas about teaching personal pronouns.

On the web:
Here's a few suggestions of other places on the web that you might find
useful resources that you can adapt for teaching personal pronouns.

• Object / subject worksheet


This is a free worksheet from the Longman 'Spectrum' series that is
available in PDF format (so you will need the free Adobe Acrobat
Reader software to be able to access it). It asks learners to pair up
subject and object pronouns and then to re-write sentences that have
been mixed up.
Go down to Unit 7 and click on the 'Object Pronouns' link.
You will need the free Adobe Acrobat software to view this,
• British Council game
The British Council has a site with games and activities for people
who are learning English as a foreign language. This includes a 'drag
and drop' game for pronouns. The learner has to choose which
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category of pronoun a word comes under - object, subject, possessive


or reflexive ... so it may be a bit high for level 1. It is also very
lacking in feedback, as you don't get a response about whether you
are right or wrong. Might be useful, however, for a student and tutor
to use together.
• Worksheets galore!
13 worksheets from 'edHelper.com' practising both personal and
possessive pronouns. Might be quite useful for early work, as the
pronouns are broken down into pairs (e.g. choosing 'she' or 'her').
This is an American site and you can subscribe for more worksheets
and lesson plans, but the pronoun ones are available for free.
• Teacher Resource Exchange
This is a site set up by the UK government to allow teachers to
exchange lesson ideas, plans and worksheets. This particular resource
is aimed at Key Stage 2, but doesn't feel particularly non-adult. There
are 2 charts showing personal and possessive pronouns and 2
exercises - the first sorting personal and possessive pronouns and the
second identifying pronouns in sentences.
• Interesting discussion point?
On the BBC's H2G2 community pages it seems that personal
pronouns have been causing a bit of a stir! The debate seems to
centre on how using the wrong pronoun can be perceived as being
sexist (are builders always 'he'?) and how some people seem to go to
great lengths never to reveal the gender of their partner. Could this be
a good game for raising awareness of pronouns - talk about someone
you know without ever giving away what sex they are?
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Verb subject agreement

How to make verbs agree with their subjects

1. What are verbs and subjects?


Verbs are action words -
e.g. eat, sleep, talk, walk, do, buy are all verbs
Subjects are the person or thing who are doing the action of the verb -
e.g.I eat; The dog sleeps; George talks a lot; They walk to work.

The subject of a sentence can be singular (one) or plural (many).


e.g. The computer is old. (singular)
The computers are old. (plural)

2. What is verb-subject agreement?


The verb form can change depending on whether the subject is singular or
plural.
e.g. The car park (singular subject) was (verb) full.
The car parks (plural subject) were (verb) full.
In these sentences each of the verbs agrees with its subject. The correct
verb form has been used.

The verb must always agree with its subject. Single subject = single verb,
plural subject = plural verb.

3. How does this work?


In regular verbs:

singular plural
First person I like bananas. We like bananas.
Second person you like bananas. you like bananas.
Third person he / she / it likes bananas. they like bananas.
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She likes to cycle to work.(correct) / She like to cycle to work.(incorrect)


We like swimming. (correct) / We likes swimming. (incorrect)

Helpful hint: 's' is added to the third person singular. This is the way
most regular verbs in the present tense work.

Problems with verb-subject agreement

1. Irregular verbs

Not all verbs work in a regular way (see factsheet 1). Some of the
most common verbs are irregular.
e.g. be, go, do, have
Verbs and subjects must still agree, but you have to learn and
remember the way the irregular ones work.

Note the correct verb form for the third person singular for these
irregular verbs:
'to do' = I do - he / she / it does (NOT do)
'to have' = I have - he / she / it has (NOT have)
'to go' = I go - he / she / it goes (NOT go)

e.g. She does karate on Thursdays. They do lots of sparring.


It has soft fur. They have soft hands.
She goes sailing every month. I go every week.
2. Too many words

Sometimes it's difficult to work out the subject, because there are lots
of words between the subject and the verb

e.g.Steve, who has just returned from Australia, does not intend to go
back.
(Singular subject, 'Steve' = singular verb)
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The children, excited about Father Christmas, went to bed early


without complaining.
(Plural subject, 'children' = plural verb)

The best thing on television last night was EastEnders.


(Singular subject, 'thing' = singular verb)

Problems with plurals in verb-subject agreement

Sometimes the subject (the person or thing doing the action of the verb)
may seem to be plural, because it is a 'collective noun' - a singular (one)
noun that groups together many things or people.
e.g. A swarm of bees = 1 swarm, containing many bees
A pack of cards = 1 pack, containing many cards

This is an area of some debate, but as they are treated as a singular unit,
collective nouns usually take the singular verb form.
e.g. A herd of elephants was charging towards us.
The class is very noisy today.
My football team is doing really well.
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e.g. My colleague and manager were both promoted today.


(Two people = plural subject)
Rupert and Jane are football fans but Colin prefers shopping.
(Two people = plural subject, takes the plural verb 'are'; one person =
singular subject, takes the singular verb 'prefers')

e.g. The bag of shopping was too heavy to carry.


(Bag of shopping = singular subject. Lots of shopping, but there's only one
bag.)

Remember: if you are unsure which verb form to use, look at the
subject carefully. Is the subject singular (one), or plural (many)? A
singular subject requires the singular verb form. A plural subject
requires the plural verb form.
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'Verb subject agreement' tutor notes


The aim of the 'verb subject agreement' topic area is to revise the rules of
making verbs agree with their subjects and to offer plenty of opportunities to
learn by practice.

How does this tie in with the curriculums?


• England
Rs/L1.1 - 'use implicit and explicit grammatical knowledge ... to predict meaning, try
out plausible meanings and to read and check for sense.'
Ws/L1.2 - 'understand that, while writing, a writer needs to keep checking that
singular subjects have a singular verb and that plural subjects have a plural verb'
• Wales
As England.
• Northern Ireland
As England.
• Scotland
See www.aloscotland.com for details of the Scottish curriculum.

In the Skillswise module you'll find:


Verb subject agreement - game
There are 3 levels to this game, getting progressively more difficult. At each
level, learners are given the chance to hunt for treasure after they successfully
complete each task.
At level 1 learners are asked to spot the subject of the sentence. At level 2
learners have to choose which form of the verb best fills the gap in the
sentence (this covers some tense practice as well as verb-subject agreement).
At level 3, the hardest level, learners are given a sentence and asked to re-type
it using the new, given, subject. The sentence must be exactly right, with
correct spelling and punctuation as well as correct verb subject agreement, to
gain the chance to uncover the treasure.
If you have any comments at all on this game, please do get in touch.

Verb subject agreement - quiz


As usual, there are 3 levels of quiz, which get harder as you progress from level
A to level C. At level A learners have to answer 'true' or 'false' to a number of
statements about verbs and subjects. Levels B and C ask learners to decide
which sentence is correct.
You might like to know that all the statements in level A are true. The tutor
writing this material felt that it would be confusing to present students with
statements that weren't true, as verb subject agreement is quite a confusing
area. Let us know if you don't agree!

Students can print out a certificate if they score 50% or more in the quiz. This
will appear as a link on the results page - click on the link and the certificate
will appear in a new window. Once printed students can write their name on the
certificate.
55
Verb subject agreement - factsheets
There are 3 factsheets in this section. They all give hints and tips and examples
to help learners learn the rules of verb subject agreement.
The first factsheet looks at the basic rules. The second looks at some common
things that can cause errors and confusion and the last factsheet looks at some
specific problems to do with working out if something is singular or plural.

Verb subject agreement - worksheets


There are 4 worksheets in this section. The worksheets ask learners to choose
which are the right forms of verbs within a number of sentences, to spot verb-
form errors within an informative piece of text and to change singular verbs
and nouns into plurals.
If you have a great worksheet for practising verb subject agreement - tell us
about it!

Technical help:
To get the most out of this topic area you need the following 'plug-ins':

• Flash
The game in this topic section uses Flash. This is free to download and should only
take a few minutes. You can follow the BBC WebWise instructions to download it to
your machine.
Find out more.

If you don't have Flash the same learning points are covered in the quiz and in
the worksheets and factsheets.
If you are new to the web, why not try the BBC WebWise online course,
Becoming WebWise? It's free, you can do it in your own time from any
computer and it will take you through everything you need to know to use the
web successfully in your teaching.
Get WebWise.

You can find out more about the technical requirements for Skillswise in our
Help - Technical Information section.

Taking it further:
Here's a few suggestions of other places on the web that you might find useful
as resources that you can adapt for teaching verb subject agreement.

• Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University


This American university website offers online guidelines for English language
learning. This particular section of the website gives you several guidelines to help
your subjects and verbs agree.
• Quiz from City University, Hong Kong
This is a 22 question multiple-choice quiz aimed at learners of English as a foreign
language. The learner has to choose the right form of the verb from a drop-down.
They can then mark their own answers at the end.
• Quizzes galore!
Multiple-choice quizzes where learners choose the right form of the verb. Again,
56
they can mark their own answers at the end. This is a US site from Chicago public
schools. The font is still small, but these are probably the best quizzes for level.
Quiz 1 = overview / quiz 2 = 'I' / quiz 3 = 'you' / quiz 4 = 'he' / quiz 5 = 'we' / quiz 6 =
'they' / quiz 7 = various
• Wise-up to verb subject agreement
More background information on the ins and outs of making verbs and subjects
agree. Enjoy!

Adjectives

What are adjectives?


Adjectives are describing words - they tell you more about nouns.
Nouns are 'naming' words, they are a person, place or thing.
Adjectives tell you more about the noun. Using adjectives makes your sentences more
interesting.

The pretty girls laughed.


In this sentence:
'girls' is the noun (it says who's laughing).
'pretty' is the adjective (it says more about the noun).

Here are some more sentences with nouns and adjectives.

• The fat captain ate dinner.


• Sam is blonde and gorgeous.
• Old Hani and I drove up the big hill.

Remember that adjectives tell you about the noun, they describe the noun. Don't confuse
adjectives with adverbs. Adverbs describe the verb, they tell you more about an action -
eg: 'he laughed loudly'.

Remember that adjectives usually come before the noun.


You can use more than one adjective if you need to. Eg:
The tall, bright, beautiful waitress picked up the dark, dirty coffee.

There are rules about the order that you should put adjectives in when you use more than
one, but the best way to know is to say the sentence to yourself. Does it sound right?
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'Adjectives' tutor notes


The aim of the adjectives topic area is to remind learners what adjectives are
and to encourage them to use adjectives to make their sentences more
interesting. This area also reminds learners that adjectives can be used to
make texts positive or negative.

How does this tie in with the curriculums?


• England
Rs/L1.1 - Use implicit and explicit grammatical knowledge along with own
knowledge and experience to predict meaning, try out plausible meanings, and to
read and check for sense.
Rw/L1.2 - Recognise and understand the vocabulary associated with different types
of text.
Wt/L1.4, - Use language suitable for purpose and audience.
• Wales
As England.
• Northern Ireland
As England.
• Scotland
See www.aloscotland.com for details of the Scottish curriculum.

In the Skillswise module you'll find:


Adjectives game
The learner is advised that they've got a new job on a newspaper. The training
programme has three levels - lonely hearts, classifieds and late news editor.
The learner has to make the ads more interesting by picking the best adjective
from a selection. Not every adjective will work everywhere. Sometimes a word
will be refused because it doesn't make sense, sometimes it won't work
grammatically in the sentence (eg: where it would need 'an' and not 'a' before
it).
Don't try and get the student to do all 3 levels at once, this is meant to be a
game that people can come back to and play again and again.
In the 'Lonely hearts' section look out for the secret 'bonus' bit, only available
when the student has amended the adverts of all the people.
The last section, 'Late news editor', specifically practises positive and negative
adjectives.

TOP TIP! To see the game completely full screen, press the F11 key on the
keyboard. This takes away the distraction of the top browser bar. To bring the
browser bar back, just press F11 again!

Adjectives quiz
The learner can choose their level. Level A asks learners to choose the best
adjective for the job, level B deals with identifying the adjective and level C
asks learners to identify positive and negative adjectives.
We have now put in place a system that will allow the student to print out a
certificate if they score 50% or more in the quiz. This will appear as a link on
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the results page - click on the link and the certificate will appear in a new
window. Students can write their name in once the certificate is printed.

Adjectives factsheet
The facts about adjectives, with examples, on one 'print-out-and-keep' sheet.

Adjectives worksheet
Once a student has tried the game, maybe they'd like to write their own
personal advert? Or each member of the class could write an advert for
someone else - then the students have to work out who everyone is. This
worksheet provides a template, plus some suggested adjectives.

Technical help:
To get the most out of this topic area you need the following 'plug-ins':

• Flash
The game in this topic section uses Flash. This is free to download and should only
take a few minutes. You can follow the BBC WebWise instructions to download it to
your machine.
Find out more.

If you don't have Flash the same learning points are covered in the quiz and in
the worksheets and factsheets.
If you are new to the web, why not try the BBC WebWise online course,
Becoming WebWise? It's free, you can do it in your own time from any
computer and it will take you through everything you need to know to use the
web successfully in your teaching.
Get WebWise.

You can find out more about the technical requirements for Skillswise in our
Help - Technical Information section.

Taking it further:
With Skillswise:
Don't forget to check out the Skillswise Lesson plans and Teaching inspirations
areas for more ideas about teaching adjectives.

On the web:
Here's a few suggestions of other places on the web that you might find useful
resources that you can adapt for teaching adjectives.

• UK Adult Basic Skills Resource Centre


A complete, FREE, follow-on lesson plan (complete with great printable resources)
from this excellent basic skills resources site. Sent in by a tutor everything is
mapped to the curriculum, there are links to other resources such as adjectives
games and suggestions for further activities. It would seem that this is the home of
the now renowned lemon sherbet game!
• The science of adjectives
Did you know that the adjectives you choose to include in your lonely heart advert
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reveal an awful lot about you and that in lonely hearts 'the veneer of civilisation is
stripped away and men and women are slaves to their most basic instincts'.
Professor Robin Dunbar of Liverpool University has spent a lot of time studying
lonely hearts adverts and this is his conclusion. On the BBC Science site you can fill
in your own advert and get the benefit of his insight.
The font is small and the language is quite complicated, but it would be a lovely
exercise to adapt.
• EastEnders
Get your students to write a personal ad for their favourite EastEnders character.
Do they think Pauline needs help with her love life? Visit the characters page to
print out summaries of each character.
• Loot
The website for the famous classified ads magazine will let you hunt for cars,
homes and even musical instruments. Choose your category and then browse by
'classification' to find real small ads for use in class. Or if you're feeling adventurous,
set the class a set of criteria and let them search!

Commas

When to use commas


We use commas in two main ways:

1. Commas separate the items in a list.


Sometimes these items are real things.
E.g. I need some pens, pencils, paper and a calculator before I start my class.
I must buy some eggs, milk, sugar and tea.

Sometimes these items are things you do, or places you go.
E.g. Yesterday I went to work, played badminton, went to the pub and then went to
bed.
I'm going to spend my holiday walking on the beach, sleeping in the sun and
reading my book.

BEWARE!
Always make sure you use and to separate the last two items in your list.
Make sure that you don't use a comma before the word and at the end of your list.

Don't use commas where you should use a full-stop. If the words could stand alone
as a proper sentence then you need to put a full-stop or a joining word ('and', 'but'
etc) in and not a comma.
'Yesterday I went to work, I walked the dog, I went shopping and I washed the car.'
This doesn't work as these could all stand alone as proper short sentences. If you
want to write them as a list (for example, to show you were in a hurry, or that you
had a lot to do) take out the 'I'.
'Yesterday I went to work, walked the dog, went shopping and washed the car.'
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2. Commas mark out the less important part of a sentence.
This is a useful way to make your sentences more interesting by adding extra
information.
E.g. The car, which was parked by the light, had a dog in the back seat.
This sentence is about the car and the dog, it's not about where the car was parked.

Tony, his mum's favourite, was given chocolate cake for tea.
This sentence is about Tony eating chocolate cake. We don't need 'his mum's
favourite' for the sentence to make sense, it's extra information.

Rajinda, the youngest in the family, is about to get married.


This sentence is about Rajinda getting married, it's not about her position in the
family.

HOW CAN I CHECK?


A quick way to check this second use of commas is to see if the sentence makes
sense without the words between the commas.
The first sentence -
'The car, which was parked by the light, had a dog in the back seat.'
would become
'The car ____ had a dog in the back seat.'
This sentence makes sense so the commas are in the right places.
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'Commas' tutor notes


The commas topic area aims to help learners revise the use of commas to
separate items in a list and to mark out information in a sentence that is
'extra'.
Related topic areas on Skillswise are:
Making simple sentences
Compound sentences

How does this tie in with the curriculums?


• England
Rs/L1.1 - Use grammatical knowledge to predict meaning and read and check for
sense
Rs/L1.2 - Use punctuation to help understanding.
Ws/L1.1 - Understand that complete sentences should not be strung together with
commas (comma splicing)
Ws/L1.3 - Punctuate sentences correctly and use punctuation so that meaning is
clear. Be clear about where not to use commas.
• Wales
As England.
• Northern Ireland
As England.
• Scotland
See www.aloscotland.com for details of the Scottish curriculum.

In the Skillswise module you'll find:


Commas factsheet
The facts about commas, with examples, on one 'print-out-and-keep' sheet.

Commas game
In this Flash game learners are told that it's their first day at work. Through
activities such as getting their colleagues cups of tea, they have to amend
sentences deciding whether a comma or 'and' is more appropriate. They are
also asked to match the right picture to the sentence, demonstrating that the
meaning of a sentence can be changed by a comma.
After feedback from you we have recently updated this game. When the 'and' is
erased the personal pronoun (normally the 'I') is now taken too, so that you are
left with a list and not with separate proper sentences. Many thanks to
everyone who pointed this out to us.

TOP TIP! To see the game completely full screen, press the F11 key on the
keyboard. This takes away the distraction of the top browser bar. To bring the
browser bar back, just press F11 again!

Commas activity
Unfortunately, because of copyright changes, we have had to take down the
BBC Radio 4 programme 'Cutting a dash', which was all about commas. We
apologise for any inconvenience caused.
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Commas quiz
The learner can choose their level. Level A is the easiest, level C the hardest. At
each level the learner has to choose the sentence that has the commas in the
right place.
Students can print out a certificate if they score 50% or more in the quiz. This
will appear as a link on the results page - click on the link and the certificate
will appear in a new window. Once printed students can write their name on the
certificate.

Commas worksheets
There are 3 worksheets in this section (plus each worksheet has a printable
answer sheet). The worksheets are basically texts (a diary and two informative
pieces) which the students have to add commas to.

Technical help:
To get the most out of this topic area you need the following 'plug-ins':

• Flash
The game in this topic section uses Flash. This is free to download and should only
take a few minutes. You can follow the BBC WebWise instructions to download it to
your machine.
Find out more.

If you don't have Flash the same learning points are covered in the quiz and in
the worksheets and factsheets.
If you are new to the web, why not try the BBC WebWise online course,
Becoming WebWise? It's free, you can do it in your own time from any
computer and it will take you through everything you need to know to use the
web successfully in your teaching.
Get WebWise.

You can find out more about the technical requirements for Skillswise in our
Help - Technical Information section.

Taking it further:
Don't forget to visit Lesson plans and Teaching inspirations for more ideas for
teaching commas.

Here's a few suggestions of other places on the web that you might find useful
resources that you can adapt for teaching commas.

• Recipes
At the BBC Food site tickle your tastebuds by browsing through the recipes. You
could print out recipes with a small number of ingredients and ask learners to write
a shopping list using commas.
• Film reviews
Take a look at the latest film reviews on the BBC Films site. You could print out your
favourite film reviews, create a version without the commas and ask the learners to
read and amend them.
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• More online exercises
There's plenty more information about commas on this site AND 5 online exercises
(all with printable versions). The background information is clear, but is aimed at
university students. The exercises should be accessible to L1 / L2 learners. The
whole thing is brought to you by the Owl Online Writing Lab at Purdue University in
the US.
• Interview with Lynne Truss
Lynne Truss's book about all things punctuation (especially the misplaced comma)
'Eats, Shoots and Leaves' was the surprising best seller of 2003. This Guardian
interview could be usefully adapted for the classroom, or try the BBC News article
and punctuation quiz.

Making sentences
Rules and examples to help you make simple
sentences.
To make a sentence you need three things:
1. A sentence is a group of words that makes sense on its own.

Cheese, car, house, table on Tuesday.


This isn't a sentence - it doesn't make sense.

I parked my car next to my house.


This is a sentence. You can understand what it means. It makes sense on its own.

2. When you are writing you need to use the right sentence punctuation.
Using punctuation will show the person who is reading your writing where the sentences
begin and end.

• A sentence must begin with a capital letter.


• A sentence must end with a full-stop (.), a question mark (?), or an exclamation
mark (!).

BEWARE! Sometimes people confuse the punctuation to use at the end of a sentence.
You can use commas (,), colons (:) or semicolons (;) in your writing, but they should never
be used instead of a full-stop.

3. A sentence also needs two kinds of words in it:

• A sentence must have a VERB (a doing word).


e.g. like, is, cooking, walked, need.
• A sentence must also have a SUBJECT. This is the person, or the thing, that is
doing the verb.
e.g. I, Beppe, Tuesday, dog, you, table, the weather,.

Here are some examples of sentences that show you the verbs and the subjects:
Last week Peggy redecorated the pub.
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Are you hungry yet?
Martin, be quiet.
Tuesday was very rainy and cold.

Other things to know about sentences:


Sentences can be very short, or very long. There is no correct number of words that
should be in a sentence. The length of the sentence depends on what you want to say and
the effect you want to get.
BEWARE! If your sentences go on for many lines, make sure that you haven't really put
several sentences together as one sentence.

It's important to remember that you don't always need to write in sentences. For example,
a shopping list doesn't need sentences, but a job application does.
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'Making sentences' tutor notes


The aim of the 'making sentences' topic area is to revise the basics of how to
structure a simple sentence. The section concentrates on how to identify where
sentences should end and begin in texts and what the key grammatical
elements of a sentence are - i.e. the rules.

Once learners are confident making simple sentences, they can progress to the
'commas' module and / or the putting sentences together' module that
practises using conjunctions to put sentences together.

How does this tie in with the curriculums?


• England
Rs/L1.1 - 'Use implicit and explicit grammatical knowledge ... to predict meaning, try
out plausible meanings and to read and check for sense.'
Rs/L1.2 - 'Use of punctuation to help their understanding.'
'Secure knowledge of end-of-sentence punctuation ... in helping to make sense of
continuous text.'
Ws/L1.1 - 'Write in complete sentences'.
'Learn to recognise sentence boundaries when proof-reading their own writing by
looking for where a new idea or action begins.'
Ws/L1.3 - 'Punctuate sentences correctly and use punctuation so that meaning is
clear.
'Know all the punctuation markers for the beginning and end of sentences, and
know when to use each one.'
NB:Skillswise resources are designed for students at level 1. There is some cross-
over with this module, however, with level 3 - Rs/E3.3 and Ws/E3.3. This arose
because tutors have advised us that even at level 1 students have some problems
with the basics of sentence construction.
• Wales
As England.
• Northern Ireland
As England.
• Scotland
See www.aloscotland.com for details of the Scottish curriculum.

In the Skillswise module you'll find:


Making sentences games
There are 3 games in this module. They look and feel the same, but progress in
complexity. In game 1 the learner must identify whether a line of text is a
sentence or not with a simple 'yes' / 'no' option. In game 2 the learner must
choose the beginning or ending that will make the text on the page into a
sentence. In game 3 the learner is offered a choice of 6 punctuation-free texts
to work on. Each text has an audio reading available and in each text the
learner must mark out the sentences by clicking the mouse where they believe
a capital letter or full-stop should appear.
In each game there is a timer option. Timing is one of the most difficult things
to work out when building a game. If you feel that the game is too fast (or too
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slow!) then do let us know. You can contact us about this and anything to do
with this module here

Making sentences quiz


The learner can choose their level. Level A is the easiest and level C the
hardest. All 3 levels deal with identifying the essential parts of a sentence
(verb, subject etc) and testing the learner's knowledge of the rules of simple
sentence making.
Students can print out a certificate if they score 50% or more in the quiz. This
will appear as a link on the results page - click on the link and the certificate
will appear in a new window. Once printed students can write their name on the
certificate.

Making sentences factsheet


The facts about making simple sentences, with examples, on one 'print-out-
and-keep' sheet.

Making sentences worksheets


There are 5 worksheets in this section. These range from adding the correct
end-of-sentence punctuation to a number of sentences, to spotting whether
sentences are complete or not, to writing sentences for a letter of complaint
from a selection of given words.
If you have more ideas for sentence worksheets tell us about them!

Technical help:
To get the most out of this topic area you need the following 'plug-ins':

• Flash
The game in this topic section uses Flash. This is free to download and should only
take a few minutes. You can follow the BBC WebWise instructions to download it to
your machine.
Find out more.

If you don't have Flash the same learning points are covered in the quiz and in
the worksheets and factsheets.
If you are new to the web, why not try the BBC WebWise online course,
Becoming WebWise? It's free, you can do it in your own time from any
computer and it will take you through everything you need to know to use the
web successfully in your teaching.
Get WebWise.

You can find out more about the technical requirements for Skillswise in our
Help - Technical Information section.

Taking it further:
With Skillswise:
Don't forget to check out the Skillswise Lesson plans and Teaching inspirations
areas for more ideas about teaching sentences.
85
On the web:
Here's a few suggestions of other places on the web that you might find useful
resources that you can adapt for teaching the basics of making sentences.

• Job requirements game


This is a printable resource available online. There are two sets of cards to print out
- the jobs and the skills needed for those jobs. Students choose one of each to
make a sentence. You could use the resource to make simple sentences, but also
to extend work into more complex sentences - e.g.'Pilots must be good at
languages because they travel a lot.'
• Scrambled sentences
As with the link above, there is no information on this site about who has created it,
but the game is quite good. The learner has to 'drag and drop' a selection of words
into the correct order to make the sentence. The sentences seem to all be about
auctions (?) so they are definitely aimed at adults rather than children. The site is a
US site.

Putting sentences together


How to put simple sentences together
Constant use of short sentences can be a bit strange to read.
To make your writing more interesting, you can use two other sorts of longer sentences.
The simplest of these is the compound sentence.

How do I make a compound sentence?

When you have two or more short, independent, simple sentences which are of equal
weight you can join them together using special words called conjunctions.
e.g. 'I hate curry.' is a simple sentence.
'I like Thai food.' is also a simple sentence.
You can put these together to make one, longer and more interesting compound sentence
using a conjunction -
'I hate curry' + but + 'I like Thai food' = 'I hate curry, but I like Thai food.'

• Junctions join two or more roads together, so we use conjunctions to join two or
more short sentences together
• Commas are not conjunctions and they should never be used to join short
sentences together (commas aren't sticky, so you can't use them to stick
information together!).
• These are the most common conjunctions:

and, as, but, or, so

• Try to avoid using the same conjunction over and over again. It is much better to
'mix and match'.
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BEWARE!
The conjunction that you use may change the meaning of your sentence!
Conjunctions don't just stick sentences together, they show the relationship between the
pieces of information.

e.g. Note the slightly different meaning in these sentences:


I walked home. I was tired.
I walked home and I was tired.
I walked home as I was tired.
I walked home but I was tired.
I walked home so I was tired.
I walked home or I was tired.

The final sentence, using or doesn't really make sense. You can't use every conjunction
everywhere - so choose wisely!

Complex sentences
Constant use of short sentences can be a bit strange to read.
To make your writing more interesting, you can use two other sorts of longer sentences.
Factsheet 1 looked at 'compound' sentences. This factsheet looks at 'complex' sentence.

How do I make a complex sentence?

When you make a compound sentence (see factsheet 1) you are joining two or more
simple sentences together with a conjunction. If you took the conjunction away, the
sentences would be complete and they would still make sense.
e.g. 'I hate curry, but I like Thai food.'= 'I hate curry' + but + 'I like Thai food'

This isn't the same for complex sentences. Complex sentences don't just divide into neat,
complete, simple sentences if you take out the conjunctions. In complex sentences the
conjunction is used to join together clauses. A clause is a group of words that contains a
subject and a verb. Some of these clauses might be complete short sentences, but in a
complex sentence at least one of them will depend on the conjunction for its meaning.
In other words, if you take the conjunction away, the sentence won't divide into complete
units that make sense by themselves.

e.g. 'The dinner was burned because she had forgotten it.'
= 'The dinner was burned' + 'because' + 'she had forgotten it.'
This is a complex sentence:

• 'The dinner was burned' = complete, short sentence


• 'because' = conjunction (joining word)
• 'she had forgotten it' = subordinate clause. This doesn't make sense on its own.
What had she forgotten? This is called a 'subordinate clause' because without the
rest of the sentence it doesn't really make sense.

'Although I'm not very good, I really enjoy playing football.'


= 'Although' + 'I'm not very good' + 'I really enjoy playing football.'
Again, this is a complex sentence:
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• 'Although' = conjunction (joining word). Yes, sometimes conjunctions can appear at
the beginning of a sentence!
• 'I'm not very good' = subordinate clause. This doesn't make sense on its own. What
are you not very good at? This is called a 'subordinate clause' because without the
rest of the sentence it doesn't really make sense.
• 'I enjoy playing football' = complete short sentence

BEWARE!
As for compound sentences, commas are not conjunctions and they should never be used
to join short sentences or clauses together (commas aren't sticky, so you can't use them to
stick information together!).
e.g. 'The dinner was burned, she had forgotten it.' = incorrect
'The dinner was burned because she had forgotten it.' = correct

The important joining words


Factsheets 1 and 2 told you about making more interesting sentences by using
compound and complex sentences.
For both of these, you need a good selection of conjunctions, or joining words.

The 'magnificent seven' conjunctions (the most commonly used) are:

and, although, as, because, but, if, or

There are a number of other important conjunctions that you can use.
These can be put into categories of time, place, or agreement.

TIME = before, after, until, since, when, whenever, while

e.g.
We all went home before a fight broke out.
She went to bed after she put the cat out.
There will be no peace until somebody says that they are sorry.
It has not been the same around here since our friends moved away.
They put the television off when the programme had finished.
He washes his new car whenever it gets mucky.
The children go to the crèche while Mum goes to work.

PLACE = where

e.g.
Remember that restaurant where you ate a huge steak.
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AGREEMENT = though, although, whether

e.g.
He could play the violin though he was only five years old.
I would invite you to come in although the place is a mess.
It was a great show whether you wanted to join in or just watch.

Remember!

• Try to avoid using the same conjunction over and over again. It is much better to
'mix and match'.
• The conjunction you use can change the meaning of the sentence. You can't use
every conjunction everywhere - so choose wisely!
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'Putting sentences together' tutor notes


The aim of the 'putting sentences together' topic area is to revise how to put
complete simple sentences together into longer, compound sentences using
conjunctions. Comma splicing is also covered here.
We recommend that students look at the commas and making simple
sentences sections of the site, before tackling this module.

How does this tie in with the curriculums?


• England
Rs/L1.1 - 'Use implicit and explicit grammatical knowledge ... to predict meaning, try
out plausible meanings and to read and check for sense.'
Ws/L1.1 - 'write in complete sentences ...understand that sentences can be joined
with a wider range of conjunctions than 'as', 'and', 'but'. E.g. 'if', 'so', 'while', 'though',
'since', 'when' ...'
'understand that complete sentences should not be strung together with commas
(comma splicing) but should be split into separate sentences or be correctly
joined...'
• Wales
As England.
• Northern Ireland
As England.
• Scotland
See www.aloscotland.com for details of the Scottish curriculum.

In the Skillswise module you'll find:


Putting sentences together - games
There are now 3 games in this section. These games are very similar in
structure to the games in the 'Making simple sentences' module. In game 1
learners simply spot the compound sentence and in game 2 they chose the
correct ending for the compound sentence. Both these games pull in sentences
each time from a 'pot' of 50 sentences, so the game can be played several
times before encountering all the same sentences.
Game 3 is a little different as it practises 'drag and drop', where learners need
quite good mouse control to 'drag' items from a list and 'drop' them into the
correct place in a text. In this game learners can chose from 6 different texts to
drop in commas, conjunctions and full-stops.
Please do tell us what you think of these games.

Putting sentences together - quiz


3 levels of quiz to test compound sentence skills. The learner can choose their
level. Level A asks learners to spot the joining word, level B asks learners to
choose the best joining word to fill the gap and level C asks learners to choose
from joining words, commas and full-stops and concentrates on how different
joining words can effect meaning.
We have now put in place a system that will allow the student to print out a
certificate if they score 50% or more in the quiz. This will appear as a link on
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the results page - click on the link and the certificate will appear in a new
window. Learners can write their name in once the certificate is printed.

Putting sentences together - factsheets


There are two factsheets in this section. They both give hints and tips and
examples for using conjunctions to bring two sentences together into a longer,
compound sentence.
The first factsheet looks at the most common conjunctions (and, although, as,
because, but, if, or). The second looks at some less common conjunctions that
are specified in level 1 of the curriculum (see below for curriculum references).

Putting sentences together - worksheets


There are four printable worksheets with answersheets in this section. The first
looks at the most common conjunctions, numbers two and three look at using
some less common conjunctions and worksheet four deals with comma
splicing.
Worksheets are fairly easy to add, so if you have a good idea for a worksheet
that practises using conjunctions tell us about it!

Technical help:
To get the most out of this topic area you need the following 'plug-ins':

• Flash
The game in this topic section uses Flash. This is free to download and should only
take a few minutes. You can follow the BBC WebWise instructions to download it to
your machine.
Find out more.

If you don't have Flash the same learning points are covered in the quiz and in
the worksheets and factsheets.
If you are new to the web, why not try the BBC WebWise online course,
Becoming WebWise? It's free, you can do it in your own time from any
computer and it will take you through everything you need to know to use the
web successfully in your teaching.
Get WebWise.

You can find out more about the technical requirements for Skillswise in our
Help - Technical Information section.

Taking it further:
With Skillswise:
Don't forget to check out the Skillswise Lesson plans and Teaching inspirations
areas for more ideas about teaching sentences.

On the web:
Here's a few suggestions of other places on the web that you might find useful
resources that you can adapt for teaching compound sentences.
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• BBC Bitesize - Key Stage 3
Exercise designed for Key Stage 3 school pupils, but the context is adult enough to
use with adult students if you print out the page and remove references to 'Key
Stage 3'.
There is another printable worksheet on this Key Stage 3 site which may also be
helpful, covering both compound and complex sentences. Learners have to fill the
gaps in a story from a selection of given conjunctions.
• Conjunctions quiz
This is a French based site designed for EFL students, but it is written entirely in
English and has a large selection of free activities to choose from.
The conjunctions quiz is multiple-choice, with immediate feedback. Learners have
to choose the most appropriate way of linking the sentences / clauses given.
• Another quiz!
Another ESL site, this time created by the Internet TESL journal. Loads of free
activities. The conjunctions quiz practises a lot of the conjunctions covered in this
module, but it might be better used as a printed resource as it isn't actually
interactive!
• Hunt the conjunction
A bizarre little tool that allows you to search for examples of conjunctions in places
like the Bible, Agatha Christie stories and some newspaper and business
publications.
Type a conjunction into the text box that says 'search string', then choose your
'corpus' (e.g. Agatha Christie), then hit the 'search for concordances' button.

Getting the right tense


The simple present
The tense of a verb tells us when the action was done. The action can be done in the
past, present or future.

When do I use the present tense?


There are two types of present tense -

1. Present simple

Use the present simple form of a verb when

• The action takes place now.


e.g. I want you to help me now.
• The action is something that happens regularly.
e.g. I walk the dog everyday.
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• You are describing things that are generally true.
e.g. Train travel is expensive.

NOTE! When it is 'he', 'she' or 'it' doing the action, remember to add 's', 'es' or change
the 'y' to 'ies'.
e.g.

• I like football, we like football, he likes football.


• I always try hard, we always try hard, she always tries hard.
• I watch a lot of films, we watch a lot of films, he watches a lot of films.
• I seem OK, we seem OK, it seems OK.

The continuous present


The tense of a verb tells us when the action was done. The action can be done in the
past, present or future.

When do I use the present tense?


There are two types of present tense -

2. Present continuous

Use the present continuous form of a verb when:

• The action isn't a single action, it is an action that carries on. It is good for
describing what people are doing at a particular moment.
e.g. I am kicking the ball.
He is walking the dog.

The present continuous is made by having am, is or are + the verb + 'ing'.

I am working hard
you are working hard
we
they
he is working hard
she
it
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NOTE! Sometimes you can use the present continuous to talk about the future.
e.g. I am going on holiday on Friday.
This is explained in factsheet 5.

Talking about the past (1)


The tense of a verb tells us when the action was done. The action can be done in the
past, present or future.

When do I use the past tense?


There are many ways of talking about the past in English, but the two main ones are the
simple past and the continuous past.

1. Simple past

Use the simple past form of a verb when you are talking about an action that took place at
a specific point in the past and that is now finished.
e.g. I kicked the ball and scored a goal.
I walked the dog yesterday.
I went to Florida last year.

NOTE! The simple past is formed in different ways for regular and irregular verbs. For
regular verbs there is a rule, but irregular verbs just have to be learned!

e.g. 'I live in London now, but I lived in France for five years' = regular simple past tense
'I normally go to work by bus, but yesterday I went in the car' = irregular simple past tense

Talking about the past (2)


The tense of a verb tells us when the action was done. The action can be done in the
past, present or future.

When do I use the past tense?


There are many ways of talking about the past in English, but the two main ones are the
simple past and the continuous past.

2. Past continuous
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Use the past continuous form of a verb when you want to talk about a long action that
carried on in the past. The continuous past is often used to describe what people were
doing when something else happened.
e.g. I was kicking the ball when Dave broke his arm.
He was walking the dog when I saw George.

The past continuous is made by having was, or were + the verb + 'ing'.

I was working hard


he
she
it
you were working hard
we
they

Talking about the future


The tense of a verb tells us when the action was done. The action can be done in the
past, present or future.

When do I use the future tense?


There are three main ways of talking about the future. You can say:

• I will work late tomorrow. = future tense


• I am working late tomorrow. = present continuous tense
• I am going to work late tomorrow. = 'going to' + verb

1. Future tense
This is made by 'will' or 'shall' + the verb, as in the example above 'I will work late
tomorrow.'
Note that 'will' and 'shall' are often shortened.
e.g.
Autumn will soon be here.
It'll break if you drop it.
What will you do? I don't know what I'll do

2. Present continuous
You can use the present continuous when you are making plans. It's useful to talk about
definite arrangements in the near future, as in the example above 'I am working late
tomorrow.'
e.g.
What time are you leaving tomorrow? I'm leaving at 8 O'clock.
I'm going out tomorrow.
I'm getting a new car next week.
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3. Going to
'Going to' + the verb is also useful to talk about plans. It suggests that something is
decided.
e.g.
What are you going to do this evening?
I'm going to watch a film on TV.
I think it's going to rain.
He's going to play football.
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'Getting the right tense' tutor notes


The aim of the 'getting the right tense' topic area is to revise the formation and
use of the present simple and continuous, the past simple and continuous and
the future tenses.

How does this tie in with the curriculums?


• England
Rs/L1.1 - 'Use implicit and explicit grammatical knowledge ... to predict meaning, try
out plausible meanings and to read and check for sense.'
Ws/L1.2 - 'use correct grammar ...e.g. correct use of tense'
'understand that it is easy to change tense unintentionally while writing and that it is
important to check for the correct tense...'
• Wales
As England.
• Northern Ireland
As England.
• Scotland
See www.aloscotland.com for details of the Scottish curriculum.

In the Skillswise module you'll find:


Getting the right tense - worksheets
There are six printable worksheets (with answersheets where appropriate) in
this section. The first worksheet compares the past and present tense and asks
students to fill the gaps using the past tense. The second worksheet is another
gap-fill, but this time the learner is asked to use the present tense. This
worksheet also asks learners to complete a few sentences using the present
and past tenses about how their life has changed over the past 10 years.
Worksheet 3 looks at 'Annie's holiday' and practises using the present and
future tenses, whilst worksheet 4 asks learners to use the 3 most common
ways of talking about the future to dream about things they would like to do in
the future. In worksheet 5 there is a tenses table where learners have to write
the past, present and future tense of verbs. Worksheet 6 is a letter written to a
potential pen pal. Learners have to select the correct tense of the verbs.
If you have a great worksheet for practising tenses, or if you think we haven't
got it quite right, tell us about it!

Getting the right tense - game


This module uses a version of the 'Treasure Hunt' game for learners to practise
their tenses.
The game has 3 levels. At level 1 learners have to type the word(s) they think
make up the verb in the given sentence into the text box. At level 2 learners
are presented with 4 options to fill a gap in a given sentence and they have to
chose the right one. Each option is in a different tense (and there are
occasional examples of the imperative at this level). Level 3 is the hardest level
and involves learners re-typing a whole sentence in a new, given, tense. At this
level learners must get everything right - the use of the tense, plus all their
spelling and punctuation (although the feedback is quite 'intelligent' and will be
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able to tell a learner whether their error was in the use of the tense or in their
typing). For each level, when a learner is right they are taken to the treasure
map for a chance to uncover all the hidden treasure.

If there is anything about this game you really like or dislike, please do let us
know! Contact us via our feedback page.

Getting the right tense - quiz


3 levels of multiple-choice quiz to test tenses skills. The learner can choose
their level. Level 'A' is the simplest and asks learners to say which tense a verb
is written in (mostly through 'true' and 'false'). At levels 'B' and 'C' the learner
must decide which sentence is correct.
We have now put in place a system that will allow the student to print out a
certificate if they score 50% or more in the quiz. This will appear as a link on
the results page - click on the link and the certificate will appear in a new
window. A student can write their name in once the certificate is printed.

Getting the right tense - factsheets


There are 5 factsheets in this section. The first one looks at the present simple,
the second at the present continuous, the third at talking about the past using
the simple past and the fourth at using the past continuous to talk about the
past. The last factsheet looks at the 3 most common ways of talking about the
future (the future tense, the present continuous and 'going to').
Tenses is quite a complicated area and all of these factsheets are designed to
be revision resources. They give a brief overview of the formation of the tense
and details of where it is appropriate to use it.

Technical help:
To get the most out of this topic area you need the following 'plug-ins':

• Flash
The game in this topic section uses Flash. This is free to download and should only
take a few minutes. You can follow the BBC WebWise instructions to download it to
your machine.
Find out more.

If you don't have Flash the same learning points are covered in the quiz and in
the worksheets and factsheets.
If you are new to the web, why not try the BBC WebWise online course,
Becoming WebWise? It's free, you can do it in your own time from any
computer and it will take you through everything you need to know to use the
web successfully in your teaching.
Get WebWise.

You can find out more about the technical requirements for Skillswise in our
Help - Technical Information section.

Taking it further:
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Here's a few suggestions of other places on the web that you might find useful
resources that you can adapt for teaching tenses.

• BBC Learning English


This is the BBC World Service site that aims to help EFL students improve their
English. Here you can find a past tense quiz and a language bank that includes
answers to tense questions. While you're there, why not delve into the music of the
70's, 80's and 90's in Retro English and use the text and audio descriptions to
practise talking about the past?
• Tutor recommended!
Many thanks to Jo who emailed us to recommend this ESL / EFL English grammar
site, 'Englishpage.com'. It's free, easy to use and has a large number of resources
built around tenses. There's plenty of overview material (with a great 'quick fix' grid
at the bottom of the screen), backed up with interactive exercises.
• Games galore!
This is the British Council website, so it is aimed at students of English as a foreign
language. This page links you to lots of games that practise various tenses. The
games are built in JavaScript, so they should work on most machines (you don't
need the Flash plug-in). Most of them involve using the mouse to 'drag and drop'
and are fairly simple to follow. However, they are not always that legible!
• Lesson plans and ideas
Dave's ESL cafe is a famous resource in ESL circles and you'll find a feast of ideas
here. All the ideas are sent in from ESL teachers from around the world.
• First time in England
Written by a TEFL teacher from Hove, this site is a free resource. It's the story of
two Spanish students coming to England for the first time to attend college. The
story is divided into chapters and is written in simple English. Some chapters have
exercises attached, but otherwise these might be passages that you could print out
and adapt. Chapter 2 looks at the present simple and continuous, Chapter 14 looks
at the irregular simple past.
• Flash games - type in the right tense
Another ESL site, this is part of a project organised by the Internet TESL Journal.
There are quite a few tenses games here, including a very simple but effective
game where learners have to type in the right version of the verb.

Double negatives
What are double negatives?
A double negative happens when you put two negative words together in the same
sentence.
If the two negative words are talking about the same thing, they cancel each other out - so
the message becomes positive. This is confusing and it is a major mistake if you are in a
formal situation (for example, writing a letter or at a job interview).

Examples of negatives:

Negative words Negative verbs


no, not, none doesn't, isn't, wasn't
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no-one, nothing, nowhere wouldn't, couldn't, shouldn't


neither, nobody, never won't, can't, don't

If you combine any two of the above words in the same idea, your sentence will be
positive (the opposite to what you intended).

Negative + negative = positive. So only use one negative word in a sentence when
you want to say that something is negative.
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'Double negatives' tutor notes


Whilst the curriculum talks about the use of negative verbs, in our research
sessions with tutors we found that everyone felt that double negatives were a
real problem for level 1 learners. We have therefore chosen to concentrate our
work on negatives on this area. If you feel differently please let us know.

How does this tie in with the curriculums?


• England
Rs/L1.1 - 'Use implicit and explicit grammatical knowledge ... to predict meaning, try
out plausible meanings and to read and check for sense.'
'Understand the term negative'
Ws/L1.2 - 'Write grammatically correct sentences...'
Wt/L1.3 - 'Present information in a logical sequence, using paragraphs where
appropriate'
Wt/L1.6 - 'Proof-read and revise writing for accuracy and meaning'
• Wales
As England.
• Northern Ireland
As England.
• Scotland
See www.aloscotland.com for details of the Scottish curriculum.

In the Skillswise module you'll find:


Double negatives - factsheet
Print out this single factsheet to find out what a double negative is and how to
avoid using it.

Double negatives - activity


As double negatives are especially a problem in a formal environment, this
interactive flash activity focuses on helping Joanne get a job. There are three
levels to the activity; at level 1 students have to help Joanne fill in the
application form, at level 2 they help with the formal letter and at level 3 the
students have to choose the correct speech bubble to help Joanne at her
interview.

Double negatives - quiz


3 levels of multiple-choice quiz to see if students have grasped the concept of
double negatives. The learner can choose their level. Level 'A' is the simplest
and level 'C' is the most difficult.
We have now put in place a system that will allow the student to print out a
certificate if they score 50% or more in the quiz. This will appear as a link on
the results page - click on the link and the certificate will appear in a new
window. Learners can write their name on the certificate once it is printed out.

Double negatives - worksheets


There are 3 printable worksheets (with answersheets where appropriate) in this
section. In the first worksheet learners re-write sentences that contain a double
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negative. In the second worksheet learners are asked to re-write a newspaper
report and in worksheet 3 the objective is to find the correct sentences that
make up a letter to the bank.
If you have a great worksheet for learning about double negatives, or if you
think we haven't got it quite right, tell us about it!

Technical help:
To get the most out of this topic area you need the following 'plug-ins':

• Flash
The game in this topic section uses Flash. This is free to download and should only
take a few minutes. You can follow the BBC WebWise instructions to download it to
your machine.
Find out more.

If you don't have Flash the same learning points are covered in the quiz and in
the worksheets and factsheets.
If you are new to the web, why not try the BBC WebWise online course,
Becoming WebWise? It's free, you can do it in your own time from any
computer and it will take you through everything you need to know to use the
web successfully in your teaching.
Get WebWise.

You can find out more about the technical requirements for Skillswise in our
Help - Technical Information section.

Taking it further:
With Skillswise:
Don't forget to check out the Skillswise Lesson plans and Teaching inspirations
areas for more ideas about teaching double negatives.

On the web:
Here's a few suggestions of other places on the web that you might find useful
resources that you can adapt for teaching double negatives.

• BBC Learning English


This is the BBC World Service site that aims to help EFL students improve their
English. In the 'Learn it' archive there are answers to lots of grammar questions that
have been sent in by students - including questions on the use of 'no' and 'not' and
the use of 'no' and 'any'.
Within this site you will also find a great section on English for work, which includes
how to handle phone calls and how to get through a job interview.

• Has it always been this way?


Brush up on a little history with this short piece on the evolution of the double
negative from Oxford dictionaries online. It wasn't always a 'no no', as Chaucer and
Shakespeare can testify.
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• Factsheet and exercise
Clearly laid out factsheet with a short exercise from the St Cloud State University in
Minnesota.

• Worksheets
Again these are primary resources, but once you have printed the two worksheets
out you wouldn't really know that. The two sheets are available as web pages or as
PDF documents.
(If you want to access them as PDF files you will need to have the free Adobe
Acrobat software on your machine.)

• Make your own quizzes, worksheets etc


With this nifty - and free - resource you can put together and print out your own
flash cards, quizzes, word lists, wordsearches.... The fun is endless - just make
sure that you send them into our lesson plans area once you have created them!

Instructions
Following and writing instructions (grammar)
When you see instructions on signs, or in recipes or DIY manuals they are usually written
using the imperative.
The imperative is formed by using the verb [the action word] without 'to' or any noun or
pronoun in front of it.
E.G: 'You need to turn left at the Post office' becomes 'Turn left at the post office.'

This type of instruction doesn't say WHO has to follow it.

Here are some examples of instructions written using the imperative:

Sentence Imperative instruction

You should not smoke here = Don't smoke here

You must fix this with glue = Fix this with glue

You must not run = Don't run

You will need 300g of flour = Take 300g of flour

This type of instruction isn't written as a full sentence. Imperative instructions are often
written as a list, you start at the top and you work down. The list may be numbered, or may
have bullet points.

Imperative instructions should never be used when you are writing formally, for example in
a letter to the bank.
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If you see the imperative (E.G: 'Cook for 5 minutes') then you know you are looking at a
set of instructions. You can find imperative instructions all over the place, they may be on a
microwave meal, on a jar of medicine, or on a tin of paint. Look out for them especially on
signs and notices.
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