Glossary: form


The structural categories we can assign an element or group of elements to, such as word classes, phrases, and clauses. Form is distinct from the function that an element or group plays within a larger structure. For example, a group of words with the form of a noun phrase can have different functions in the clause, such as Subject or Direct Object. The term 'form' is also used to refer to the 'shape' or morphology of words.

Nouning verbs

A quick activity looking at how some words can be both nouns and verbs

This is a simple starter activity that will help your students see how some words can function as both nouns and verbs. The activity is designed to be carried out in pairs around the class. One student be the noun and the other will be the verb. Each will need the same word list (which you can download and print below) or you can just use the word list on the screen.

Form and function

A useful distinction in grammar is that of form and function. Grammatical form is concerned with the description of linguistic units in terms of what they are, and grammatical function is concerned with the description of what these linguistic units do. Note that we use capital letters at the beginning of function labels.


Verbs have traditionally been described as ‘doing words’ or ‘action words’. This works well for some verbs, like sprint, chatter, eat. Here are some sentence examples with verbs which describe actions:


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