Word order

31st January 2003 at 00:00
I have found that many pupils are knowledgeable about grammatical terms such as verb, adjective and noun and can tell you what they are - for example, "a verb is a doingaction word", but are still unsure about how to use these correctly within sentences. As a former teacher of English as a foreign language I found a simple mnemonic helped improve my foreign students' writing confidence, accuracy and word order. It can also help native English-speakers gain confidence and slot the individual parts of the sentence together. The mnemonic is S subject, A auxiliary (can, do, have) or adverb of frequency (sometimes, often), V verb, O object, M manner or mood (the adverb), P place, T time - SAVOMPT.

This framework can be practised through word cards - for example, take the sentence: "I played football on Saturday." Write each word on a separate card and ask the pupils to sort them into correct word order. Then they can identify the parts of the sentence - what is the verb., and so on. I then expand on this to look at verb tenses - what tense is the sentence in? How do we know that? What would we say in the present tense (I play or I am playing I) and the future (I will play or I am going to play) and so on.

The pupils can then go on to write examples for each other to sort.

Anna Harding, supply teacher in Bristol and Bath

See Writer's Toolkit below right for more tips on sentence structure

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