Topic: Verb

Verbs are a very important word class, including words for actions (he walked home) and states (she is at home). They can be marked for present or past tense (walks, walked).

Nouning verbs

A quick activity looking at how some words can be both nouns and verbs

This is a simple starter activity that will help your students see how some words can function as both nouns and verbs. The activity is designed to be carried out in pairs around the class. One student be the noun and the other will be the verb. Each will need the same word list (which you can download and print below) or you can just use the word list on the screen.

Politeness and directness

This task is about using verbs and modal verbs in different ways. We all know that people can be direct or indirect in the ways they phrase things. We often use commands to give instructions, but sometimes these might be seen as too direct and blunt. We sometimes soften them with modal verbs, among other tools.

Politeness and directness: Activity

Try to make the following expressions less direct. Compose alternative sentences for each one.

  1. Shut the window.
  2. Tell me your name.
  3. Stop talking.

What changes did you make to render the expressions less direct? 

Now, make the following expressions more direct. Compose an alternative sentence for each example.

Analysing representation in romantic fiction

Lesson plan for Mills and Boon exercise


  • Use linguistic tools to analyse representation in romantic fiction

    Lesson plan

    Gathering the noun phrases and verbs relating to particular topics in a text can be a good first step in analysing the representation of those topics. This lesson uses blurbs from the Mills & Boon website to discuss how those texts represent gender and how that might suit its readers.

    Give students the blurbs and have them read out.

  • Derived nouns and composition

    In this activity we will look at suffixes that can change adjectives and verbs into nouns.

    Derived nouns and composition: Activity 1

    Complete the examples with nouns which are derived from the highlighted adjectives. The first answer is provided for you.

    Anna was late. It annoyed me. → Anna's lateness annoyed me.

    Jeff is shy. I didn’t notice this until the party. → I didn’t notice Jeff’s ___ until the party. I didn’t notice Jeff’s shyness until the party.

    Derived nouns and composition: Activity 2

    Complete the examples with nouns which are derived from the highlighted adjectives. The first answer is provided.

    The peacekeeping forces withdrew. It led to civil war. → The withdrawal of the peacekeeping forces led to civil war.

    Noun endings

    Exploring suffixes and how they affect word class

    In this activity we will look at suffixes which change verbs and adjectives into nouns. This process is a part of derivational morphology

    Subject-Verb Agreement

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


    • 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

    really weird.

    Tense and aspect in fiction

    Exploring the use of tense and aspect in a range of literary texts

    In this activity we will examine some short extracts from novels. The idea is to look at the tense and aspect forms used, and think about how they are used to unfold the action of the story.

    Tense and aspect in fiction: Activity

    It was after supper, and I was reading and smoking at the table. Algie was playing patience and drumming a tattoo with his fingers, and Gus was outside checking on the dogs. Suddenly he burst in. 'Chaps! Outside, quick!'

    The use of tense in sports commentaries

    This activity looks at the use of tense in two descriptions of the same event: a football match. Students are asked to think about why different tenses used, and what kind of role they play in creating the meaning of the text.

    Verb endings

    In this activity we will look at suffixes which change adjectives and nouns into verbs. This process is a part of derivational morphology

    Verb identification

    In this activity, students work through the criteria for identifying verbs.


    • Practise identifying verbs.
    • Recognise linguistic criteria for identifying verbs.
    • Remember the list of verb criteria for use and application later on.

    Lesson Plan

    In this lesson, students move beyond what is called the notional or semantic way of identifying verbs as 'doing words' to explore grammatical ways of identifying verbs. (You can listen to Bas Aarts discuss this.)

    Verb identification: Activity 1

    Which words do you think are verbs?

    Verb identification: Activity 2

    He played cricket with Charlie.

    Is played a verb?

    • Is it a doing word?
    • Can it show tense? Can you say Yesterday, I ____ed, for example?
    • Does it add -s to agree with a Subject like he or she, as in He ___s.
    • Can it take an -ing ending?

    He played cricket with Charlie.

    Is cricket a verb?

    Verb images

    This lesson asks students to think about tense and aspect, what they mean, and how else we can communicate those meanings.


    • Identify verb tense and aspect. 
    • Explain the meaning of verb tense and aspect. 
    • Use multimodal literacy skills to present information from words as pictures. 

    Lesson Plan

    The teacher explains that today, we will be describing some pictures using language, and then drawing some pictures to describe language.

    Verb images: Activity

    The girls are rehearsing a song.

    Several boys were playing football.

    Sally has studied French for three years.

    John has been studying French for one hour.


    Verbs in fiction

    Exploring verb choices in different literary texts

    In this lesson, students identify verbs in fictional extracts and discuss the reasons why authors may have chosen particular verbs in their writing.

    Verbs in fiction: Activity


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