Topic: Function

These resources cover different grammatical functions that apply to elements of clauses, such as Subject and Direct Object. Understanding how clauses are formed and how constituents work together is important in developing both close reading and effective writing skills.

Subject-Verb Agreement

In this lesson, students select the correct verb to compose an acceptable sentence.

Goals

  • Practise composing sentences with appropriate Subject-Verb agreement.
  • Identify acceptable patterns in Standard English.

Lesson Plan

The teacher explains that today, we will select the correct verb on the smart board, to construct acceptable sentences.

Subject-Verb Agreement: 'Be' verbs

Telephones
are
is
am
really weird.

Agents or non-agents?

In each of these examples the Subject is highlighted. For each one, decide whether or not the Subject identifies an agent (or more than one agent) who carries out an action.

Direct Object or Subject Complement?

Is the highlighted Complement a Direct Object or a Subject Complement?

Identify the Adverbials

Find the Adverbials in a range of examples

Identify the Adverbials in each example (there is only one in each sentence). To select a sequence of words, click on the first and last words.

Identify the Indirect Object

Find the Indirect Object in a range of examples

Identify the Indirect Object in each of the following clauses. Click on the word (or words) that comprise the Indirect Object of each clause to select or deselect them.

Identify the Object

Find the Object in a range of examples

Identify the Object in each of the following clauses. Click on the first and last words of the Object of each clause to select or deselect them.

Identify the Object Complement

Find the Object Complement in a range of examples

Identify the Object Complement in each of the following examples. Click on the word (or words) that comprise the start and end of the Object Complement. (You can click again if you want to change your mind and deselect something.)

Identify the Subject Complement

Find the Subject Complement in a range of examples

 

Identify the Subject Complement in each of the following examples. Click on the words that mark the start and end of the Subject Complement.

Identify the Subjects

Find the Subject in a range of examples

Identify the Subject in each of the following clauses. Click on the word (or words) that comprise the Subject of each clause to select or deselect them.

Object Complement or Subject Complement?

Is the highlighted Complement a Subject Complement or Object Complement?

Y6 GPaS Test: Identify the Objects

Find the Object in a range of examples

Identify the Object in each of the following examples. Click on the word (or words) that comprise the Object to select or deselect them.

Y6 GPaS Test: Identify the Subjects

Find the Subject in a range of examples

Identify the Subject in each of the following examples. Click on the word (or words) that comprise the Subject to select or deselect them.

Y6 GPaS Test: Subject-Verb agreement

Decide whether the example displays correct or incorrect Subject-Verb agreement:

Adverbial

Subjects, Direct Objects and Indirect Objects are typically noun phrases  (and sometimes clauses) which identify participants in the situation described by the main verb – they answer ‘who’ or ‘what’ questions.

Adverbials are rather different. Consider the highlighted phrases in the examples below:

Adverbial: Used as linking device

Adverbials typically modify verbs or clauses, but they can also be useful as linking devices to connect clauses to the content of the preceding text. Here are some examples of Adverbials that have this function. Remember that Adverbials can appear in different shapes: as adverbs (or adverb phrases), as prepositional phrases, as (shortened) clauses, or as set phrases.

Listing

Direct Object

Consider the examples below. What do the highlighted phrases add to the meanings?

  • He stroked the dog. [W2F-018 #175]
  • They carried mugs of beer. [W2F-018 #140]

These phrases tell us who or what is being 'verbed', i.e. who is undergoing the action denoted by the verbs, in these situations: the dog is stroked, the mugs of beer are carried. Without these phrases, our examples would be incomplete.

Grammatical functions in the clause

The description of word classes, phrases, and clauses in terms of their structure is part of the study of form. We now turn to the study of grammar from the perspective of function: this notion refers to what words, phrases and clauses do as units of language.

Indirect Object

Consider the following example. Here we have two noun phrases which follow the Predicator (the verb).

  • I’ll give [you] [the school’s number]. [W2F-020 #192]

Can you see how they build up the meaning of the clause? Both noun phrases refer to participants in the situation of ‘giving’, but the participants have different roles.

Object Complement

Consider the highlighted phrases in the following examples. How do they contribute to the clauses?

  • She found the maths incredibly hard. [S1A-054#137]
  • I found the changeover a trying time. [W2B-012#101]

These phrases describe the thing picked out by the Direct Object. The maths is described as incredibly hard (for her). The changeover is described as a trying time (for me).

Subject

The Subject of a sentence is often defined as the phrase identifying the agent that carries out the action denoted by the verb. All the examples below involve actions (fleeingsniffingwriting) carried out by the individuals referred to by the highlighted phrases, and for this reason we identify these phrases as Subjects.

Subject Complement

Consider the highlighted phrases in the examples below.

  • The rice is marvellous. [S1A-022 #262]
  • He was a really nice guy. [S1A-006 #21]

Each of the highlighted phrases adds information about the person or thing picked out by the Subject. Marvellous attributes a property to the rice, and a really nice guy does the same for he.

These phrases have different forms but the same function.

English Grammar for Teachers

This short 3 minute film, produced by UCL Life Learning, introduces the English Grammar for Teachers course for school teachers.

For more information about the course and to book a place, go to the English Grammar for Teachers page on the UCL Life Learning website.

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