The semicolon

The semicolon is a really powerful punctuation mark. If you get it right you will impress those reading your work as well as being able to express your ideas and opinions in a more subtle way.

The semicolon is pretty easy to figure out once it has been explained. Here are a couple of situations where the semicolon is used

In lists where the items themselves have commas.

The semicolon is used to clarify a complicated list containing many items, many of which contain commas themselves. Have a look at this example:

School dinner for today is a choice between fish, chips, peas, sausage, egg, beans, sauté potatoes, beef pie, mashed potatoes, mushy peas, gravy, pasta, garlic bread, salad.

You can probably work out what each individual option is if you sit down and think about it but using semicolons to separate the choices does the job really well: Continue reading “The semicolon”

Collective Nouns: Posters/Worksheet

Are your children able to match the animals, places and objects to their collective nouns?  This free set of twenty posters from shows the collective nouns for various groups of animals, places and things will help them on their way.

Use them posters on a classroom display board, as part of whole class teaching activities or for group discussions! As an activity, children make their own posters based on other collective nouns?

Download the poster from teaching

To accompany the posters there is a printable collective nouns activity. Simply download this printable resource, cut out the word labels, jumble them up and ask your children to match them together.

They could also try to find other collective nouns and add these to the collection.

Download the worksheet from teaching

Full Stops

A full stop is used to show that you have come to the end of a sentence. We use sentences all the time. It can be difficult, however, to define one exactly.

In its simplest form a sentence is a group of words that can stand on its own and make sense. A sentence must have a subject and a verb. A sentence always begins with a capital letter and always ends with a full stop. In its simplest form a sentence might look like these:

The dog barked.
The dog barked at the postman.

‘dog’ is the subject of the verb ‘barked’ and ‘postman’ is the object. Each of these starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop.

Full stops are also used to show that you have shortened or abbreviated words. There are two types of abbreviations that use full stops…

Continue reading “Full Stops”

Comparatives and Superlatives

Adjectives and adverbs ending in -er or modified by the word more compare two items and ate known as comparative.

Adjectives or adverbs ending in -est or modified by the word most compare three or more items and are known as superlative.

Normally, -er and -est are added to one-syllable words.
-er and -est are added to two-syllable words unless the new word sounds awkward.

Correct: Everest is taller than Annapurna.
Incorrect: Everest is the taller of the three peaks.
(Three or more requires superlative.)

Correct: Annapurna is the tallest of the three peaks.

Correct: fairer prettier handsomestAwkward: famousest readier
Correct: most famous more ready

Use the modifiers more or most with all root words longer than two syllables as well as with Continue reading “Comparatives and Superlatives”

Noun Explorer – interactive

This activity offers the opportunity to select a noun from a group of five different words. On screen a group of five fishes is each labelled with a different word. The cursor appears in the shape of a worm which can be fed to any of the fish. If the fish selected has a noun as its label then it dances a summersault and the score is increased by one. Wrong guesses are greeted with a silencing of the bubbles soundtrack, a cross next to the selected fish and an increase in the ‘wrong’ total.

An interesting way to use this game might be to have it on an interactive whiteboard in front of the whole class and to consider each of the words in turn. Pupils could be asked to identify which word is the noun and to indicate why they have rejected the alternatives.

This is a Flash based activity and as such may not work on some tablet computers and hand held devices.

Noun Explorer by Sheppard Software

The Subjunctive Mood

If you are a student of Spanish, the subjunctive mood is something you will have to contend with on a grand scale. In English, however, most people will go through life blissfully aware of its existence. Even people who use the subjunctive without most likely do so without realising it…

A verb is in the subjunctive mood when it expresses a condition which is doubtful or not factual. It is most often found in a clause beginning with the word if.

It is also found in clauses following a verb that expresses a doubt, a wish, regret, request, demand, or proposal.These are verbs typically followed by clauses that take the subjunctive:

ask, demand, determine, insist, move, order, pray, prefer, recommend, regret, request, require, suggest, and wish.

In English there is no difference between the subjunctive and normal, or indicative, form of the verb except for the present tense third person singular and for the verb to be.

The subjunctive for the present tense third person singular drops the -s or -es so that it looks and sounds like the present tense for everything else.

The subjunctive mood of the verb to be is be in the present tense and were in the past tense, regardless of what the subject is.

Here are a few examples: Continue reading “The Subjunctive Mood”

Singular and plural nouns…

There are a number of different rules when it comes to making nouns plural…

A noun that refers to a SINGLE object or person is SINGULAR in number. A noun which refers to MORE THAN one object or person is said to be PLURAL in number. The The plurals of nouns can be formed in a number of different ways.

1. A plural is most often formed by simply adding an ‘s’ at the end of the singular form of the noun:

eg. boy: boys, dog: dogs, tree: trees, etc.

This also works for nouns ending in ‘y’ but only where the letter before the ‘y’ is a vowel.

eg: boy: boys, day: days, turkey: turkeys, tray: trays.

2. If a noun ends in ‘s’,’sh’,’ch’or ‘x’, the plural is formed by adding ‘es’.

Eg: boxes, churches, thrushespasses, etc.

3. If the noun ends in ‘y’ and the letter before the ‘y’ is a consonant then the plural is formed by changing the ‘y’ to an ‘i’ and adding’es’.

eg: berry: berries, cherry: cherries, bunny: bunnies, factory: factories, etc.

4. Sometimes, but not always, nouns that end in ‘f’ make their plurals by changing the ‘f’ to a ‘v’ then adding ‘-es’.

eg: leaf: leaves, loaf: loaves, half: halves, thief: thieves.

Continue reading “Singular and plural nouns…”

What’s the Correct Order for Multiple Adjectives?

When you list several adjectives in a row, there is a specific order in which they need to be written or spoken. Native speakers of English tend to put them in the correct order naturally so if it feels right it probably is right. In any case, it’s unlikely that this will hit a SPAG test any time soon.

I include this information for interest and because many, if not most, people will be unaware of the existence of any formal list of the order in which adjectives should appear when in a list before a noun. It doesn’t always ring true, either; the list says that observations/opinions should come before size but a native speaker might sometimes reverse this if it sounded better:

‘My dog has beautiful, big eyes,’


My dog has big, beautiful eyes,’

– you decide…

If you’re learning English, you’ll have to contend with memorising the order and it sometimes sounding awkward to a native speaker. For what it’s worth, here’s the list: Continue reading “What’s the Correct Order for Multiple Adjectives?”

Adjectives: definition and use…

An adjective is a kind of word, its job is to give us more information about a noun.

Adjectives describe nouns by giving information about its size, shape, age, colour, origin or material. In its simplest form an adjective can be found in a simple statement such as:

The soup is hot.
The glass was dirty

‘Soup’ and ‘glass’ are both nouns; ‘hot’ and ‘dirty’ are the adjectives which describe those nouns, increasing the information that we have about each of them. Within the context of a written passage an adjective will usually be found immediately before a noun.

In the sentence below  the nouns are ‘dog’ and ‘street’ The words that give us extra information about these nouns are ‘old and ‘dusty’ these words are adjectives.

The old dog walked down the dusty street.

We can, of course, use more than one adjective to describe a noun; when we do this, the adjectives are separated by commas. The commas go between the adjectives. Note there is no comma between the last adjective in the list and the following noun.

The old, brown dog walked down the dark, dusty street.

Why use adjectives?

Well, if you look at this cynically and clinically, using adjectives moves the standard of a pupil’s written work from Level 2 into the Level 3 camp. However, the use of adjectives also enables the writer to begin to affect the way the reader feels about the characters and events unfolding in the text.

The happy, smiling children watched as the warm sun rose over the green, rolling hills.

… can be  placed in apparent danger by simply substituting more evocative, ominous adjectives for the ones in the original sentence. This has the effect of creating tension – perhaps makes the reader wonder what might be about to happen…

The cold, shivering children watched as the feeble sun rose over the dark, ominous hills.

Pupils should be encouraged to use adjectives as the first step towards developing style…

Calculation Balance

An excellent site for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division practice. Good for learning your times tables. Also it is a useful tool for teachers to demonstrate balancing simple equations.

Pupils are offered a number of screens with a pair of scales. In one of the pans is a sum or equation. The pupil’s task is to adjust the value in the other pan to make the scales balance.

Includes activities with number bonds, times tables, division facts, sums as words in a variety of different ranges of numbers – within 10, within 20 and tables/division facts in 2x, 3x,4x, 5x and up to 10×10.

This activity is Flash based and is great for desktop computers and interactive whiteboards but may nor work on some mobile devices and tablets

Calculation Balance by

The Adjective Detective
…all about adjectives

An interactive resource explaining adjectives, their function and use. The first section explains the use of adjectives and they placement both before a noun and after a noun using a ‘helper’ verb.

It goes on to further explain both comparative and superlative adjectives, the way they are formed and their use.

There is also an interactive quiz and a game for students to play in which adjectives need to be identified to progress through the game. This is a Flash based resource suitable for use on desk top computers and thus interactive whiteboards; it may not be suitable for use on all hand held devices or tablets.

Adjective Detective by the University of Manchester

Writing Instructions

This excellent activity for 7-9 year olds presents four opportunities for pupils to write/create a set of simple instructions. Pupils can choose from the multiple choice sentences to write their own instructions for simple tasks such as making a sandwich and putting up a tent.

This scaffolding activity can help pupils to see how they need to think carefully when writing instructions. Feedback is instant and explains wrong choices and guides pupils towards creating a piece of instructional text that would produce a successful result.

It would be useful to have a range of similar simple instruction writing activities prepared as a follow on activity. This would be great for working through as a discussion activity on an IWB but as it is Flash based activity and as such may not work on certain tablets and other hand held devices.

Writing Instructions by


Writing Fiction – planning a story

This is a bank of writing prompts and planners designed to help pupils with the writing of fiction. They are free to download for printing and come mainly in PDF or MS Word file formats.

They are ideal for helping with the teaching the basics of fiction writing as part of the Key Stage 2 English Curriculum.  They could also be used to teach and/or promote the use of paragraphing and story development.

The variety of different styles of planners makes it most likely that there will be one that can be adapted for any purpose. Worth a look.

Writing Fiction by


Collective Nouns

A collective noun is a slightly different kind of noun, its job is to give a single name to a group of people, places objects or ideas:
audience, band, choir, class, crowd, herd, flock, herd, bunch, range, crew, flotilla,

Here are some examples used in sentences:
The flotilla sailed into the harbour.
Dad threw the bunch of keys on the table
The audience clapped for a long time at the end of the show

A flotilla is one group of ships sailing as one unit into the harbour.
The keys were on a ring and landed together on the table.
The audience is a group of people acting together as one.

So are collective nouns singular or plural?

Hmm, the problem is that they can be either. though perhaps this is not with pursuing with primary age students it is a well for teachers to know the ins and outs so here we go…

Continue reading “Collective Nouns”

Place Value Charts

Place Value ChartsA brilliant resource for learning or teaching place value. Excellent for teachers and pupils alike. Suitable for use on an interactive whiteboard or desktops. Different levels of difficulty which include decimals.

Place value or hundreds, tens and units can be a difficult concept for children. The value of each digit in a number depends on its place or position.

This resource can help children understand how numbers are made up. They can test their knowledge in the practise mode where children have to make a number delivered in either digits or words. The interactive whiteboard mode is an invaluable teaching aid.

Place Value Charts by

SPAG Placemat…

SATs Companion has designed a unique Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG) placemat.This is in the form of a ‘tube system’ connecting all the main strands.

This can be used as a poster in your classroom and/or as a revision aid for your pupils. It is also featured as a free resource on the TES resources website.

Whether for planning, revision or just to make sure you have all the bases covered, this in an interesting resource. Download it in the best quality here:

Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPAG) placemat by