Topic: Information structuring

This topic looks at how we can present the same information in different ways, by using different word orders and grammatical patterns. For instance, instead of I can understand that bit, we might change the order and say That bit I can understand to give a different emphasis. Learning about these different patterns helps in understanding the choices made by writers and speakers, and in varying the patterns used in our own writing for effect.

Changing voice

Goals

  • Practise changing voice: from active sentences to passive, and passive sentences to active.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will practise turning actives into passives, and passives into actives.

Activity 1 in the right hand menu presents students with active sentences. Ask students to work individually, in pairs, or in groups and to write down a passive version of the sentence.

Changing voice: Activity 1

Two guards examined the BMW. → The BMW was examined by two guards.

Renoir painted the same road a few months later. → The same road was painted by Renoir a few months later.

His critics were attacking him on all sides. → He was being attacked by his critics on all sides.

Changing voice: Activity 2

The leader of the party is elected by the political party. → The political party elects the leader of the party.

The full costs of their care are met by the NHS. → The NHS meets the full costs of their care.

Information structuring

In this activity, students will be asked to find different ways to express a similar meaning. You may be surprised at just how many different ways you can find! The activity is based on an idea from Max Morenberg’s book Doing Grammar (3rd edition, Oxford University Press, 2002).

Information structuring: Activity

  • Sally was late. It annoyed the boss.

  • Sally was late and it annoyed the boss.
  • It annoyed the boss that Sally was late.
  • Sally’s lateness annoyed the boss.

Preposing

In this exercise you can see what happens when you move elements, particularly Direct Objects, earlier in the clause.

Preposing: Activity

Some things I can remember without writing them down. → I can remember some things without writing them down.

Hardbacks I wouldn’t lend to anyone. → I wouldn't lend hardbacks to anyone.

Sentence generator

What did you and your family do on the holidays? In this activity you will experiment with our special sentence generator which reports on some unusual holiday happenings.

Sentence generator: Activity

Click on each column to scroll up and down, and make different combinations.

Click on the dice at the top of the columns to get a new random ordering of elements.

In slide 2, re-order elements by clicking within a column and dragging to left or right (or by clicking on the arrows at the tops of the columns).

Writing with tense and aspect

This lesson asks students to apply theirr understanding of tense, aspect, and time to structure passages of writing.

Goals

  • Arrange sentences in order based on tense and aspect in the sentences.
  • Practise ordering and re-ordering sentences in various ways using tense and aspect to convey the appropriate order of events.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will arrange a passage of writing and explore expressions of time in English.

Active or passive voice?

Are the following constructions active or passive?

Y6 GPaS Test: Active or passive?

Indicate whether each example is active or passive:

Active and passive

Consider the two sentences below. What is the difference between them?

  1. The council workers cleared the path.
  2. The path was cleared by the council workers.

The same event is taking place in both sentences, but the sentences have been expressed in different ways.

In the first example the focus is on what the council workers did (they cleared the path), whereas in the second example, the focus is on what happened to the path (it was cleared by the council workers).

Active and passive: Creating cohesion

When does a writer or speaker choose to use a passive rather than an active? There can be various reasons. We’ll look here at the effects of using passives in different contexts.

Consider sentence (1). Would it be more natural to follow it with (2) or (3)? Why?

Preposing and postposing

As writers and speakers there are many ways in which we can present information to readers or hearers by using different word orders and sentence patterns to highlight different aspects of meaning. This is often referred to as information structuring.

There are many ways we can highlight information. Here we will look at two important ones:

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