Nonsense words and grammar

In this starter activity, students are asked to do two things:

1) Work out the word class of different nonsense words, based on the context in which they appear.

2) Write their own grammatical sentences using their own nonsense words.

Begin by asking students to figure out the word class of each word in the following sentence:

The ravenous students quickly devoured a massive pizza.

The answer is: determiner > adjective > noun > adverb> verb > determiner > adjective > noun

Although determiners aren't necessarily covered at KS1, they are words that introduce nouns, such as the, a, an and this.

Now ask students to work out the word class for each word in this sentence:

The milchy mulchers twongly gribbled a hoddy snib.

The answer is: determiner > adjective > noun > adverb> verb > determiner > adjective > noun

Here then, are two sentences with different words, that follow the same grammatical pattern. But the second sentence uses nonsense words. How did we work out the grammatical category of each word, if they aren't even 'real' words? Let's look at the first nonsense word, which is:


We said that milchy is an adjective. Here are three reasons which explain how we know:

Now, ask your students to do the same for the remaining nonsense words:






Now, you could ask your students to write their own nonsense words and put them into sentences. They should apply what they have learnt about word endings and order.



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