How to teach grammar from scratch?

Teaching anything in English beyond the alphabet requires imparting some knowledge of grammar.

Can you deny this fact?

This knowledge of grammar is intrinsically wired in the native speaker. A child born in New York city would know how to describe his likes and dislikes in understandable English by the time he is five. But can you say the same for a five-year-old student from a country like India that has English as its second language (ESL)? For these non native English students, an explicit grammatical foundation is essential; something which the native speakers have developed through their surroundings without much conscious efforts on thier side.

And in the wide open sea of grammar there are way too many things to cover individually. Moreover, there grammatical concepts never exist as can-be-teach-in-isolation entities. They are all interrelated. Anyone who has studied grammar to any extent can easily relate to this.

So then what is the order in which the various grammatical concepts should be taught to the ESL students? For e.g. should verbs be followed by adjective or vice versa. Of all the complex grammatical concepts that exist, Which terms should the ESL teachers choose for his/her order?
And most importantly, from which concepts should the ESL teacher start his/her grammar lessons when his/her students probably don't know how to speak, read or write sentences at all?

These are the question that we answer in this post.

More specifically the rest of this post provides a template that can be used by ESL teachers to teach their students grammar from almost scratch. This template can be considered as your grammar lab. There is a lot of scope of customization for you, the teacher, to do based on your students requirement but still you limit yourself to certain restrictions in order to achieve the desired output.

Starting Tip

Create situations that the student can relate to. . . 

Some of the sentences that will be shown in this post will become more relatable if a context is given to the student. For e.g. for the sentence - those chocolates will be delicious- if the teacher tells the student that the chocolates being talked about are from going to come from say Pune, then this sentence would make much more sense. Ensuring that the sentences are grounded in space and time as far as possible will help the student relate much better to it. So many of the sentences which will be discussed would benefit from prepositional phrases which ground them in space and time (e.g. in the fridge, at 9 pm, after the film etc)

We are not going to teach a grammatical concept in its entirety at one place. E.g. Basic Verbs will be introduced in one place and then while covering phrases and clauses students will learn more about verbs also. This will become clear as you read through the content.  

We are only going to deal with active sentences in this series. And through active sentences you will get a good canvas to introduce the various grammatical terms along with some of their most common usage. These terms, once introduced, can then be further explored to understand more complex applications.

We are going to encapsulate the grammatical concepts into sentence tables. These tables, as you will shortly realize, assimilate together different grammatical concepts based on their application in actual sentence formation. For e.g. reflexive pronouns are taught with prepositional phrases to make the student understand prepositional phrase more elaborately. This approach has significantly helped my students significantly increase their retention capacity. This is all because with the help of tables, all the abstract grammatical concepts like adverbs, noun clauses etc are channelized into concrete sentences, making it much easier for students to understand and retain the abstract grammatical concepts. Furthermore, with sentence formation being the driving force, the grammar which will be taught using this approach becomes ‘practicable’ i.e. the student would be able to apply this grammar knowledge to form new sentences that he/she would use in his/her daily conversations.

“Create a story like sentence sequence - Involve a set of characters and only make sentences around their life using the various grammatical constructs. Just name the actors in the very beginning and then let them form their characters as different sentences are constructed about them and around them.” - this was the message that I gave myself before beginning any new teaching assignments. This approach will help students realize what more sentences they can come up with, about themselves, based on the ones they have learnt so far. This process will be gradual, but is bound to be very effective for the students.

​In short, In this post we will :

1. Deal with only active (not passive) sentences and introduce the various grammatical terms along with some of their most common usage, which should help the student try his/her hand at more complex sentence applications

2. Encapsulate the grammatical concepts into sentence tables. (Sentence formation and practical use prioritized.)

3. Create a story-like sentence sequence - Involve a set of characters and only make sentences around their life using the various grammatical constructs introduced through the tables

Essential Tools

You must understand how to identify noun, verbs and adjectives. This will help you clarify your students grammatical queries quite easily. Use these tests  to identify if a word/phrase/clause is acting as a noun, verbs or an adjectives.

As for another very important yet often concept: ‘adverb’, there are no fixed questions that can determine if a word/phrase/clause is an adverb. This is all because adverbs are the most flexible of the 8 parts of speech  found in grammar. They can come in anywhere in a sentence (beginning, end, after verb, before verb - just about any place you can think of). But still it is still  possible in most situations to determine if something is an adverb. To find out more, click here.

Note: Anything which is highlighted in Blue or purple depicts a word or phrase that does not strictly fall into the present column category e.g. a noun with an adjective like 'big pencil' can used in place of the pure noun 'pencil' and in this case the adjective 'big' would be highlighted in blue.

​Student Prequisite

The students must understand basic alphabets and how to form simple words before they can be taught anything related to grammar.




ALL SET!! HERE
WE GO. . . 

1) NOUNS

Nouns (common, proper, collective etc all kind as seen here- dont go too hard on abstract nouns at the moment.), possessive adjectives (my, her, his etc) + noun, PERSONAL PRONOUNS (I, you, we, he, she, they, it), possessive pronouns (hers, theirs, mine, hers etc), subject complement (simple noun phrases and pronouns as subject complements), articles, subject (simple noun phrases and pronouns as subject).

To understand determiners , click here.

To understand the difference between a pronoun and a determiner , click here. I feel that this difference is too subtle for the students to understand initially. And there is no harm in avoiding it and letting the students directly make phrases with determiners and pronouns (like Andrew’s car, That plant etc) as per the intuition which they develop getting more exposure to the language.

The aim here is to enable the student to form collection of words through which he can identify an object. Here we are only concerned with identifying objects by their names, by their ‘pointed’ location (i.e. this/that/these/those), and their ownership (e.g. my bag, her bag, my father’s bag, Lily’s pet etc). When we mention something’s ownership we are using nothing but possessive nouns.

Most of the objects that people talk about in their daily conversations are about ‘specific’ objects such as ‘her bag looks quite expensive’, ‘That (pointing at something) is beautiful’ and ‘Those shoes are very well polished’. Hence this object identification skill will definitely become an handy tool for your students.

You must avoid prepositions in this set. Using prepositional phrase to identify objects will be dealt with in Set 4.

You should give the students a basic overview about how to use articles - When to use an instead of a the or a etc. The Student must also be taught the basic rules of when to use am/is/are  possessive pronouns (mine, hers, theirs etc) and possesive adjectives . All of these rules are elementary yet may be unfamiliar to your non-EFL student. So you might as well revise them with your student.

The structure for the table is:

Noun (sometimes with modifiers like my/this/that/Andrew’s etc) + linking verb (only am, is and are) + noun (sometimes with modifiers like my/this/that etc)

Subjects (Noun phrases/ Pronoun)

Linking verbs

Subject complement

I

am

Lily

You

are

the reader

He

is

Andrew

Andrew's friend, Mathew's

is

my brother

She

is

Lily's friend

Her name

is

Carla

These

are

Lily's crayons

Lily's father

is

a physiotherapist (ask your students to name more professions)

Those

are

her father's tools

That

is

a leg massager

This

is

Andrew's notebook

This notebook

is

mine

Those felt pens

are

Andrew's

It

is

that pen (which pen?- maybe some pen which the student had lost)

That dress

is

hers

NOTE:  After this table note that noun phrases will be assumed to include pronouns as well. So pronouns will not be explicitly mentioned until required.

2) ADJECTIVES

Adjectives (all adjectives other than interrogative adjectives), linking verbs other than is/am/are , adjective phrases : as + <adjective> + as (as good as, as big as, as smart as), <adjective> + than (bigger than, more expensive than), noun adjunct and compound nouns

First, explain how to use adjectives attributively (i.e. adjective(s) + noun e.g. My younger sister, my sister etc). Then, explain how to use adjectives predicatively (i.e. noun phrase + linking verb + adjective). See this quick demo. We will use adjectives attributively to say something more about the nouns e.g. the beautiful car, the healthy baby, the blue sky.

Noun Adjuncts

Another way to modify nouns is through noun adjuncts. In the tables for this set, we will encounter noun adjuncts, which are nothing but words, added before nouns, that act as adjectives. With the help of adjuncts, compound nouns like 5 week’s vacation (5 weeks’ is a noun (again a compound noun to be exact) acting like an adjective for vacation) are formed.

Possessive nouns, seen in the last set, are a type of noun adjuncts. With a basic understanding of noun adjuncts, your students will be able to create more complex noun phrases than the ones done in the last set. With adjuncts, our noun phrases will include compound nouns like ‘school bus’, ‘table lamp’, ‘wrist watch’. I personally feel that there is no need to jump into details of formation of these kind of compound nouns to teach students to make them because we use noun adjuncts most of the time without actually knowing about them i.e. we usually use a complex looking noun like ‘Mr Wilson’s car park’ without breaking it down into exact noun and its modifiers. It is certainly quite complex to understand the noun adjuncts, their types and how to use them. As the students get more familiar with english, they would understand better how to form compound nouns (like ‘My pink umbrella’, ‘the large dollar store’, ‘Maternity leave’ etc) on their own.

For a quick study of noun adjuncts, click here .

To explore more about noun adjuncts and compound nouns explore these wiki links: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noun_adjunct and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_compound#Compound_nouns

Now, explain the comparative and superlative adjective and finally wrap it up by explaining these 2 commonly found contrsucts 1) more/less than 2) as <adjective> as see and similar comparison phrases.

Something extra: Clarify the difference between between and an adjective and a determiner here.

With the introduction of adjectives, we have completed a large section of noun phrases. Now our noun phrases cover nouns modified by:

  • Articles: a dog, the dog

  • Possessive nouns: Aunt Audrey's dog, the neighbor's dog, the police officer's dog

  • Possessive adjectives: our dog, her dog, their dog

  • Determiners: this bag, those toys, that dog, these spoons

  • Adjectives: blue sky, the big dog, the spotted dog

  • And of course a combination of the above structures: can also be used to modify nouns e.g. that red dog, her blue shirt, the purple patch etc

The structure for this table is:

Noun phrases (modified with the above mentioned entities) + linking verb (‘am, is, are’ and others like smell, feel, seems etc see here) + Adjective or Noun phrases (modified with the above mentioned entities)

Subjects (Noun phrases/ Pronoun)

Linking verbs

Noun phrases or Adjectives

That tall girl (determiner + adjective + noun)

is

my friend

Andrew's feet

smelt

unpleasant

The tall girl ('the' is again a determiner)

is

Lily's friend

That

is

Andrew's favourite chocolate

Andrew's homemade chocolate

does not look

tasty

The red ball

is

Lily's

Lily's ball

is

red

The weather

seems

pleasant

This ball

is

bigger than a ball

Lily's ball

is

as big as Andrew's ball

Andrew's height

is not

more than Lily's height

Andrew's feet

are

bigger than Lily's feet

Lily's chocolates

are not

as delicious as Andrew's chocolates

Three weeks' imprisonment (noun adjunct: three week)

is

worse than 5 years' holidays

3) LOCATION (ADVERB OF PLACE)

Adverb of place in the form of single words like here, there etc and in the form of simple prepositional phrases in space (preposition + modifier + noun) like under the desk, below my purse, over that table etc (see here), and indefinite pronouns (somebody, someone, no one). I believe that this should be a nice place to introduce indefinite pronouns. After all, You can always say ‘somebody is there’, ’Nobody is here’ etc.

This is the first time when are dealing with prepositional phrases. We are introducing the prepositional phrases in their simplest form, as adverb of place. After this set, with the help of these prepositional phrases, your students would be capable of defining the position of a person/object with respect to her surrounding e.g. Her bag is in the cupboard, She is in the classroom etc.

Remember that, in this set, we are not concerned about what the people/objects in question are doing. We are only concerned about where they are at the moment.

The structure for this table is:

Noun phrases (what we have seen so far) + linking verb + adverb of place

Subjects (Noun phrases)

Linking verbs

Subject complement

Lily's flower pots

are

there

Her fruit basket

is

under the desk

Andrew's dog, Coco

is

in the garden

Carla's bag

is

behind the fridge

Lily's father's shop

is

besides the butcher shop

My dirty laundry bags

are

on top of Lily's bag

Lily

is

in the classroom

Andrew

is

here

Someone

is

there

Nobody

is

in the playground

4) VERBS

Action verbs and stative verbs that take a direct object (Include all tenses including perfect tenses), prepositional phrases of time, adverbs of time, manner, degree and frequency, auxiliary verbs, verb phrases.

First of all let's talk about adverbs. Adverbs exist in lots of different forms and even clauses and phrases can act as adverbs. But in this set, we are only concerned about words acting as different types of adverbs. Here is a quick overview.

This is the first time we introduce the time element in our sentences. Time element is usually done either using simple adverbs like usually, sometimes, yesterday, today, tonight, last night(For more information, click here and here.) or in the form of prepositional phrases (limited to preposition + noun) e.g. in the night, after the film, between the match, since 5 pm. Some of the time phrases point at a specific time (e.g. at 5pm see this) and others point at time durations (e.g. since last year, after 6pm, from monday to friday see this). Here is a  quick list of common prepositions used in time expressions.

Sometimes time can be presented as a mix of both the categories e.g. everyday at 5pm (adverb of time + pp of time), after dinner usually (pp of time + adverb of time) etc. You should not really force very strict grammatical boundaries on how to represent time and time durations. Just let your students come up with time expression and you convert that into English using whatever phrases (most of them will be covered by above categories) you can think off.

The aim of this set is to introduce the student with all the tenses at one go. So far, as you might have noticed, we only dealt with the simple present tense. Now is the time to explode into all the tenses at once.

Why all the tenses at once? Wouldn't it be overwhelming for the student? Yes, it will be overwhelming initially but once everything in the table is explained end to end then the students should have much better clarity about the tenses. This is because I have found, while teaching my primary school students, that the best way to introduce tenses is by contrasting one tense with another. In isolation, the perfect and progressive tenses are difficult to understand but when they are given the context of other tenses then it becomes much easier. So I strongly advise you to first explain the famous ‘12 - tense’ table (something like here and here) to the students and then proceed with this set’s table.

Modal auxiliaries like would, should, can could must also be taught along with the tenses for e.g. the student must be taught how ‘would play’, ‘should play’, ‘can play’ and ‘will play’ differ in tense and meaning.To get a good idea about auxiliaries look at this link.

The different forms that verb take in different tenses (and along with different auxiliaries) are also called verb phrases. Read this short text  to get a adequate overview of verb phrases.

With his set done, students will understand how to describe an action/event in time and space. Describing when and where for events and actions makes these entities more relatable. Hence, It is always better to develop in the students’ the habit of adding a temporal and spacial phrase at the end of their sentences. For e.g. It is better to say ‘I play hockey in my neighbourhood garden at 5 pm everyday’ then to simply say ‘I play hockey’.

Addition of time frame to a sentence has an additional benefit. It makes the students use the correct tense in their sentence. That is why a special column for mentioning time and space has been added to this set’s table. This column will be removed from future tables owing to space constraints, but you should encourage the students to provide where and when details in their sentences as far as possible.

Here is a quick reference for creating spatial and temporal prepositional phrases . Although you can can use gerunds and clauses also to make pps of time but for this set ensure that prepositional phrases of time follow the pattern of preposition + modifier + noun, pronoun (like we did for pps of space)

Pro Tip

If the teacher feels that certain clauses must be added for making some of the tenses more meaningful than he/she must do so without hesitation. This is particularly helpful for past perfect continuous and future perfect continuous when 2 events have to be talked about to convey the meaning correctly. Click here and here, for more information.

New tools in our toolbox : More subjects, action and stative verbs, object

Expert Tip

Highlighting the full object i.e. the object plus its modifiers make more sense than identifying the core object grammatically. - Because with the modified object its easier to identify the object in its complete sense with the usual adjectives and articles e.g. I play with a red ball - Play with what?: ball - Which ball?: The red ball.

Subjects (Noun phrases)

Verbs

Object (object + it's modifier is bolded)

Expressions of place and time

Andrew and I

live

<no object>

in Srilanka

Our family

has been living

<no object>

in Srilanka for the last 10 years

Sometimes, Andrew

plays

cricket

after dinner

Lily's

really enjoys

the annual school carnival

<nothing>

Her friend

had

a fish

last night

Andrew's dog, Coco

wants

extra biscuits

All the time

Nobody

creates

so much of noise

at work usually

Everybody

is having

his dinner

Now

Andrew's father

brought

a new pencil box

last week

Lily

plays

Baseball

everyday at 5 pm (adverb of time + pp of time)

Somebody

would sing

<no object>

at your get together

Their family

had been

<no object>

to France

I

have not seen

such beautiful flowers

since last spring

They

would have been finishing

their work

by then ('then' represents some future event which is already known to the speaker)

Lily's friend Carla​

can play (has the ability to play)

the cello

very well

We

must be/stay

silent

at this moment

5) PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES

What's in here : PPs, Reflexive pronouns, and phrasal verbs

Prepositional phrases are nothing but Preposition + Modifier(s) + Noun, Pronoun, Gerund, or Clause. Modifiers, here, usually add more information to the noun, pronoun, gerund and clause that follows them, and so they need not be taught separately.

Prepositional phrases are used as either adjectives or adverbs. Till now we have dealt with prepositional phrases that represent time and space, and acted as adverbs. Now we will learn that prepositional phrases can act as adjectives and subject complement (actually acting as adverbs only) as well. A common application of prepositional phrase as adjective is when they help in identifying objects. Yes we are talking about the same object identification which we learnt in set 1. In this set also we are going to deal with prepositional phrases having the structure: Preposition + Modifier(s) + noun, pronoun. We will deal with clause and gerund based PPs in later sets.

Phrasal verbs (like gave up, looked ) will also be seen in the table. Whenever the verb column contains a prepositional phrase then we are dealing with a phrasal verb instead of a simple verb phrase. For understanding Phrasal verbs see this.

Pro Tip

Now is the time to add as many PPs in a sentence as you like. Till now we did not have more than 2 pps i.e. one for representing simple space and another for representing time). Now you can add as many prepositional phrases together as need be to suitably convey the meaning. For e.g. I was with my friend, Randeep, in his house at 5 pm yesterday (3 pps in a single sentence). PPs will also be cascaded into each other to form more complex phrases like: I am walking on the road with trees (‘with trees’ is a pp that modifies the noun ‘road’, which is part of another pp ‘on the road’)

Subjects (Noun phrases- simple noun combinations modified by PPs)

Verbs

Phrases(object + it's modifier (in blue))

Lily's grandmother

is

from Colombo

The girl with the blue umbrella

is

lily's friend from Bangalore

The puppy inside that dog house

belonged

to Andrew until last year

The lady in blue dress

is

a teacher of primary english in Andrew's school

The moles on Lily's face

have only been

below her lips since birth

A boy with shabby trousers

is

there in the lab now for his practicals

The chicken eggs in Lily's mother's grocery shop

are

not very large in size 

Andrew's weight

seems

high for a child

They

might have played

cricket with Andrew yesterday evening

Except for Lily, the whole class

would be practising

the dance moves on folk songs

Andrew's school teacher

met

my parents last week regarding my poor performance in term exams

I

gave up (phrasal verb)

my personal ambitions for my family's wellbeing

Lily

looked at

her tired hands after yesterday's Math class

My friend from Lucknow, Radha

might give

a speech about gender equality during her annual day celebrations

Colombo

is

the capital of Sri Lanka

Lily

looked

at herself in the mirror after playing for hours

6) PHRASES

Gerund phrases, participle phrases (along with naked participles as well), infinitive phrases and prepositional phrases with gerunds, complements: Adjective complement, Subject complement, Object complement, and Verb complement.

To understand adjective complements comprehensively see this. Also see this to understand what kind of adjectives are usually followed by to + infinitive (infinitives as adjective)

Some verbs are followed by gerunds - some by infinitives and some can be followed be both gerund and infinitive. To get a general idea about this see this video.

These 2 youtube videos (here and here)  provide exhaustive list of possible grammatical forms which gerund and infinitive phrases can take. Not: in the video on gerunds there is a mistake - What should have been a participle phrase acting as an adjective has been mentioned as a gerund; Find out which sentence in the video ahs this mistake for yourself :P).

Extra Sources

For participles read, this and this.

For gerunds that take a possessive pronouns read this.

NOTE : The infinitive Phrases also change with different tenses see this and this.

Infinitives without ‘to’ => http://www.ef.com/english-resources/english-grammar/infinitive/

Most commonly used phrases are infinitive, gerund, participle, noun and verb. Verb phrases are already covered.

And noun phrases we have been building up from the very first set. In this set also we will introduce new noun phrases  by including :

  • participles as adjectives (e.g. the barking dog, the sleeping Carla etc)

  • participle phrases as adjective (e.g. the dog barking on the street, the man sleeping on the bed etc.)

  • Infinitives as adjectives (e.g. the child to teach, the cake to prepare)

Noun phrases will culminate in what is called as a noun phrase, which will be part of the next set.

So for this set our main concerns is to cover infinitive, gerund and participle phrases.

Object complements: “An object complement follows and modifies or refers to direct object. It can be a noun or adjective or any word acting as a noun or adjective.” See link.

Indirect object: “The indirect object identifies to or for whom or what the action of the verb is performed. Indirect objects are rare and only certain verbs called ditranstive verbs  can take indirect objects.To understand more about indirect objects see this.

The difference between indirect object and object complement is in terms of meaning rather than grammar. Read this Quora answer  and watch this video to better understand the difference.

Subjects (Noun phrases- simple noun combinations modified by PPs)

Verbs

Phrases(object + it's modifier)

Lily

gave

Andrew left-over chocolates (Andrew = indirect object, left-over chocolates = direct object)

She

gave

Left-over chocolates to Andrew (Andrew is indirect object wrapped in a pp)

Andrew

made

Lily happy (happy is a adjective acting as an object complement)

Andrew's 

Their class teacher Mr.Srinivasan

loves

painting sunsets with his children

Mr. Srinivasan

wanted

to create an online homework collaboration platform for themselves last month

To do the right thing

is

not always easy

It

is

not always easy to do the right thing  (infinitive as object complement)

It

is

difficult for us to not critisize other people

Her job

is

to assist my school's principal

They

want

me to wait for her everyday (infinitive as object complement)

She

helped

me clean the floor of my kitchen (infinitive phrase without 'to' s object complement)

We

must study hard

to learn something new

The player to watch for in today's cricket match

is

Kulsekara

I

love

to participate in street marches to raise awareness about girl child education

Exercising

is

beneficial for your health

My new class teacher

does not tolerate​

whining amongst students at all

My new class teacher

does not tolerate

whining students at all (participle= whining, actingas an adjective for noun students)

My task for the day

is

making cartoons to publicize my coming house party (making=gerund acting as subject complement and not progressive verb)

The re​fugee Olympic gold medalist from Greece

was

only interested in arranging 2 square meals a day for his family just a few months back

Lily

had found

her roommate Alice eating the last of the leftover pizza (participle phrase acting as object complement_

Held in the alps, Lily's skiing trip

had​

a lot of new faces as compared to last year's trip

​Playing in the field, Nina

bruised

her arms and legs

I

don't like​

your playing around in the open fields during peak summer hours (your - pronoun before a gerund, see this

They

appreciate

my encouraging the employees to take up responsibility for their actions

Lily cousin, Caarla's singing

is always

very clear and melodious

​Andrew's anger

gave

Lily a further reason to complain ('a' further reason to complain (a noun phrase) is the object complement for the object : 'Lily'

Andrew​

resented​

Lily being smarter than he was (a gerund phrase acting as an object complement for the object: Lily)

7) CLAUSES

Relative clause, subordinate clauses, noun clause, prepositions with clause as their subject, and noun phrases.

For information about each of the clauses mentioned above, see this. For noun clause and there various applications see this. In this link, you will find 9 applications of noun clauses in a sentence. Only a few are covered/explicitly mentioned in the table; rest all have to be taught, if the teacher finds the need to do so, from the link itself.

Nouns modified by clauses are also noun phrases. We will see these in the coming table. Examples of noun phrases are ‘I who ate all the ice-cream’, ‘the dog that chases cats’ etc. For more information on noun phrases see this.

Prepositions which introduce clauses (e.g. after I finished the match, on whomever you identify as the culprit) and those which introduce noun phrases with clause as their object (e.g. of the match which was payed by her) are also part of the prepositional phrase category. These 2 categories will be seen in the table.

You will also find new examples of complements wherein clauses will act as adjective, subject, object and verb complements.

A lot of clauses start with ‘wh’ sounding words like where, what, why, when etc, and they are together called the Wh-clauses. To get a deeper understanding of these clauses and their various applications, you must visit this.

The clauses in the table will have adjectival and adverbial meanings - This has to be explained by the teacher.

We will be using the clause table to introduce the conjunctions. Simple uses of several conjunctions is a something which students will be familiar with already like simple uses of and, but to connect small word etc. But these same conjunctions are also used to introduce complex clauses. See this link  to understand how major a role conjunctions play in clause creation.

Clause Reduction

Unfortunately, most of the clauses, when used in real life sentences are used in their reduced format. So students must be introduced with the reduced form of clauses along with the clause introduction.

Every clause category has a different style of reduction. Here is a link that you can go through to get concrete examples to teach your students how reduction can be done. Also see ‘Whiz-deletion’ .

Reduced adverbial clauses can be introduced after teaching the clause table since they are much more commonly used than the full adverbial clauses. To understand reduction in adverb clauses see this.

Here is a quick snapshot of clause reduction:

OK. That's ANOTHER way to reduce adverbial clauses.

... while he is incompetent ... >>> while being incompetent ...

... when a person drives drunk ... >>> when driving drunk ...

... after she went to the bank ... >>> after going to the bank ...

There's nothing special about the verb to be in this pattern; it just becomes being, like drives becomes driving, and went becomes going.

Subjects (Noun phrases/Noun clauses)

Verbs (including Linking verbs)

After verb column (there is no need to put rigid category here)

The man who lives besides Paul's house (noun phrase with clause as object)

is

a civil engineer by profession

The topper of Lily's class, Andrew, who also plays the piano beautifully,

had become

very short tempered

Lily, whose big brown eyes were filled with tears

offered

an apology to Andrew for her mistake, and he did not accept the apology

After playing Kabbadi, Lily

had

a little snack

After Lily played Kabbadi, she

had

a little snack

Lily

had

a little snack after playing Kabaddi

Lily

was

angry because Andrew had spoiled her latest sketch

The girl whose latest sketch was spoiled

was

Lily

What Andrew broke yesterday

was

Lily's watch

Lily

did not like

what happened to the watch (noun clause)

Because the weather is pleasant, Andrew

will play

in the open today

The weather being nice, Andrew (shortened phrase to replace because clause)

will play

in the open today

to learn something new

Andrew and Lily

do not know

what to do with their free time available to them today

Andrew and Lily, when they are angry at each other,

stop

talking to each other altogether

Lily

insisted

that Andrew compensates for his mistakes by gifting her a new pastel set (noun clause)

There

is

a lot of debate going on in the school about who should become the Captain of Andrew's basketball team (participle phrase, about (preposition) + wh-clause (object of preposition) = just a prepositional phrase)

What Lily said (noun clause)

made

Andrew angry

Whoever ate Andrew's lunch (noun phrase)

was going

to be in trouble (infinitive phrase to + be)

The first place

will be

whoever swims the farthest in an hour, (noun phrase as a subject complement)

Lily's mother​

was

angry that someone dented his new car. (noun phrase as adjective complements)

Lily

thinks

that Andrew is angry (noun clause acting as a verb equivalent)

Andrew's school

announced

the winner whoever wrote the essay on noun clauses (noun clause as object complement)

Lily

calls

her friends whatever she likes

Things to explore after this....

Adverbial and adjectival use of different phrases and clause

Look through all the different types of phrases and clauses that we have dealt with so far and find out where they have been adjectively and where they acted as adverbs. For adverbial use start here: clauses phrases. For adjectival use, start here: clauses, phrases .

Idiomatic Construction 

Let your students get familiarised with certain popular idiomatic expressions and they may be able to answer why questions like why certain prepositions are used with certain verbs (like beware of, and not beware in) etc. For idioms you may start here. Idioms are also related to phrases verbs and many phrasal verbs are part of an idiomatic expression. See this.

Parallel Structures

Now you have the tools to teach students.Whenever you come up with a new complex sentence see if you can break it up into smaller fragments with each fragment falling under one of the the tables which we have learnt so far. If those fragments don’t fall under any of the existing tables, then try to add something to the existing tables to make these fragments fall. IF this approach also does not work then bang you have a new table idea. Now is the time to create your own table.

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