Topic: Composition

These resources relate to writing skills, including the composition of essays, persuasive pieces, and other types of texts.

Adjectives and meaning

What are other ways of expressing the meanings conveyed by adjectives? In this starter activity, students are asked to replace the adjectives in the given examples with some other means of expressing the general meaning of the sentence.

The Activity page appears in the menu entitled 'This Unit' in the upper right of this page. It can be displayed on a projector or smart board. The slide in the Activity page presents four example sentences with adjectives. Ask the students to do the following:

Adjectives and meaning: Activity

  1. Kyle was sad.
  2. Derrick was so much smaller than Stanley.
  3. He wasn’t entirely sure.
  4. When she saw what was inside the envelope, Lucy was delighted.
  5. It was a big meeting, and Ben felt incredibly nervous.
  6. It was the most expensive meal I'd ever eaten.
  7. The water tasted terrible!

Adverbs in use

Analyse the use of adverbs in three short extracts

Task

Three short extracts are given, with each one using adverbs differently. Take each extract in turn and follow these steps:

Clause types and discourse functions

Analysing declarative, imperative, interrogative and exclamative clauses

In this activity we will look at text examples drawn from our corpus and think about the clause types used within the extracts (for example, declarative, imperative, interrogative or exclamative clauses).

Click on the interactive whiteboard icon (top right) and work through the following slides with students. Read each extract and analyse it by answering the accompanying questions. After each extract, there are some suggestions and pointers.

Clause types in context

Exploring how different clause types help to construct social meaning

The four clause types are a central part of English grammar. An understanding of declarative, imperative, interrogative and exclamative clause types can help students recognise how writers use these structures to create meaning in different ways, and can help them develop a better repertoire of structures in their own writing.

Clause types in context: Activity

You’re visiting a friend’s house. You’re in a cold room and the window is open. What can you say to each of the following to get the window shut?

  1. your friend
  2. your friend’s grandmother
  3. your friend’s annoying little brother

You’re carrying several boxes of DVDs and books. Then you drop one, spilling its contents all over the floor. You need help and there are people around who could be of assistance. What do you say to each of the following?

Expanding headlines

Exploring the grammar of newspaper headlines

Newspaper headlines are often not full sentences, but they are nevertheless quite easy to make sense of. In this starter, students will use their implicit knowledge of grammar to expand newspaper headlines into complete sentences, and then explicitly analyse what they've done. The Activity slide show appears in the menu entitled 'This Unit' in the upper right corner of this page. In the Activity slide show, five example headlines are presented. Students should do the following:

Expanding headlines: Activity

  1. Lorry driver cut free after crash
  2. Pakistani PM guilty of contempt
  3. Calls to block £14bn EU bill
  4. Time called on noisy church bells
  5. Australian billionaire to build Titanic II
  6. Chef throws his heart into helping feed needy
  7. Cops halt doughnut shop robbery

 

Noun phrase competition

Creating longer (expanded) noun phrases

Noun phrases can be of any length, from one word to very many words. This activity is a team competition where students' goal is to score as many points as they can by creating longer and longer noun phrases. As they do this, they will implicitly rely on their knowledge of grammar, and they will begin to see a range of different ways to expand noun phrases.

Passives in use

Investigating the effect of using passives

The slides in the Activity page in the right hand menu contain examples of passives from real writing. Have students do the following:

Passives in use: Activity

Extract A (from a student exam paper on emotion)

Furthermore there is evidence that supports these bodily changes as being essential to an emotional state. This evidence involved testing patients with spine severances. The patients were interviewed and tested in a laboratory and results consistently showed that the higher the spine severance the less patients reported being able to ‘feel’ an emotion.

Politeness and directness

This task is about using verbs and modal verbs in different ways. We all know that people can be direct or indirect in the ways they phrase things. We often use imperative forms to give instructions, but sometimes these might be seen as too direct and blunt. We sometimes soften them with modal verbs, among other tools.

Politeness and directness: Activity

Try to make the following expressions less direct. Compose alternative sentences for each one.

  1. Shut the window.
  2. Tell me your name.
  3. Stop talking.

What changes did you make to render the expressions less direct? 

Now, make the following expressions more direct. Compose an alternative sentence for each example.

Prepositions in instructional writing

Prepositions are particularly important when trying to communicate instructions about time and place.

The Activity page appears in the menu entitled 'This Unit' in the upper right corner of this page. The Activity page contains one slide: an example of instructional writing from our corpus. You can see that quite precise instructions are given as part of a recipe. It is reprinted below with the prepositions highlighted.

Method

Prepositions in instructional writing: Activity

Method

Cut the meat into even-sized cubes, leaving any fat, but removing all gristle.

Process for 10 seconds, scrape the sides. Make sure the meat is thoroughly evenly cut, then turn the meat into a separate bowl.

Add the onion and egg yolk to the bowl and process until the food is pureed, add salt and pepper to the meat.

Relative clauses in composition

In this activity, students will look at examples of sentences and turn them into one sentence that incorporates a relative clause with a relative pronoun. You can review relative clauses and relative pronouns using the Englicious glossary and 'Professional development' pages, found in the 'Content type' menu to the left.

Relative clauses in composition: Activity

  • This is a dance group. This dance group does not exclude people.
  • This is a dance group which does not exclude people

  • The same status was granted to Montenegro. Montenegro’s inhabitants were encouraged to identify with the territory’s historic identity.
  • The same status was granted to Montenegro, whose inhabitants were encouraged to identify with the territory’s historic identity.

Subordinate clauses in sentences

The Activity page appears in the menu entitled 'This Unit' in the upper right corner of this page. The slide in the Activity page can be displayed on a projector or smart board.

On the slide are several subordinate clauses, including finite and nonfinite clauses. Ask your students to compose 10 new sentences, each containing at least one of the subordinate clauses. Encourage them to use more than one subordinate clause in a sentence.

There are some strong grammatical patterns that guide us. For example, compare:

Subordinate clauses in sentences: Activity

Try to construct 10 new sentences, each containing one or more of these subordinate clauses.

Word salads (secondary)

In this resource we’ll look at what grammar is and why we need it. First of all, take a look at the word salads. They can be found in the Activity pages within the menu entitled 'This Unit' in the upper right of this page. The slides show real spoken sentences drawn from our corpus, which have been jumbled up into the wrong order. The students' task is to rearrange the words into an order that makes sense.

Word salads (secondary): Activity 1

Sentence 1

sometimes
her
I
hate

Sentence 2

water
of
can
a
I
glass
have
please

Adverb placement

In this activity, students explore the possibility of placing adverbs in various places within a sentence.

Goals

  • Practise constructing sentences with adverbs.
  • Identify a key trait of adverbs - that they can often be placed at various points in a sentence.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will be building sentences with adverbs.

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Englicious (C) Survey of English Usage, UCL, 2012-15 | Supported by the AHRC and EPSRC. | Cookies