Genre of Argument and Discussion 2


This is Part 2 of the lesson on Argument and Discussion. 

Make sure you have the handout from Part 1

In the first lesson, you looked at how information is organised through discourse structure. In this lesson, you will examine choices of language and register.  

Activity 1

Re-read paragraph 3. Can you find an example of the same word being used in different grammatical roles?

Show the next slide to see the answer. 

What word is used in both sentences? How is it used for a different grammatical form? 

  • There is now more data on any possible dangers of the jab in younger children.
  • Many other countries [...] have jabbed million of under-11s...

'the jab' is a Noun phrase

'have jabbed' is the present perfect (Verb)

How can you tell what the different grammatical forms are? 

  • 'the jab' is a noun because it has a determiner before it (the) and it's part of a preposition phrase 'of the jab'. 
  • 'have jabbed' is in the present perfect because it comes after the Subject (Many other countries), has the auxililary verb 'have' before it, and ends with the -ed inflection. 

This is one example of using the same word in different grammatical forms. It's very common to do this in formal writing, especially through changing verbs and adjectives into nouns. 

  1. What is this technique called? 
  2. Why do we use it in formal writing? 

This process is called nominalisation, and is used in formal writing to: 

  • discuss topics in the abstract (not personal or narrated experiences)
  • avoid repetition 
  • refer back to ideas that have already been explained in detail earlier 

Look again at paragraphs 1 and 2. Can you spot a verb that is later used as a noun?

Here are the examples from line 1 and line 6:

  • In December, Omicron was spreading quickly...
  • Firstly, the spread of the disease has disrupted education...

How can you tell that the first sentence uses 'spread' as a verb, but the second as a noun? 

  • 'the spread' is a noun phrase which also functions as the Subject of the sentence (the spread of the disease) and uses a determiner (the). 
  • 'was spreading' is the Verb: Omicron is the Subject, 'was' is an auxilary verb, and 'spreading' is the past progressive form. The verb is modified by the adverb 'quickly'. 

Remember: 'In December' and 'Firstly' are adverbials that are fronted (placed in front of the Subject). 

Some words, like 'spread' or 'jab' don't change much between noun and verb. They only gain inflectional endings like -ed or -ing. Let's look at some other examples! 

Some words change more between being a noun and a verb. Look at these two examples from lines 2 and 5 of paragraph 1:

  • The government decided healthy young children should be vaccinated.
  • ...on balance, it is the correct decision to make jabs available to 5-11 year olds.

The verb 'decide' becomes 'decided' in the past tense. However, the noun also changes: 'decide' has a suffix added and becomes 'decision'. 

Activity 2

There are many more examples of verbs and adjectives that are nominalised with suffixes. Match the verb or adjective to its noun version and see how suffixes are used to change their role. Click the button to reveal the answer. 

Verb line 10 to noun line 27: Isolate/Isolation

Verb line 6 to noun line 33: has disrupted/disruption

Verb line 20 to noun line 33: Infect/infection

Verb line 2 to noun line 23: Vaccinated/vaccination

Adjective line 11 to noun line 31: Safe/safety

Extension: Can you find two examples of words that are used as adjectives earlier in the text, and then nouns later?

Activity 3

Now let's look at another register feature. What's different about these two sentences?

  • The government is likely to drop isolation rules soon.
  • Isolation rules are likely to be dropped soon.
  1. What information is present in each sentence? 
  2. How is the syntax of each sentence ordered? 

The first sentence is written in the active voice (Subject + Verb + Object). 

  • The government is likely to drop isolation rules soon.

The second is written in the passive voice. The Subject in the active voice is removed in the passive voice version, and the Object is moved to the start of the sentence. This construction is formed by using the verb 'be' plus a past participle. 

  • Isolation rules are likely to be dropped soon.

Like nominalisations, the passive voice is used more in formal texts. Why do you think that is?

The passive voice is used more in formal texts because it: 

  • creates a more neutral tone 
  • can change the order information is presented in 
  • allows the writer to leave out information that would be repeated 
  • can avoid assinging blame or when the Subject is unknown 

Read the text again. How many examples of the passive voice can you find? 

The next slide will give you some hints! 

To find examples of the passive, look for clauses which don't mention who performed the action, and which use the verb 'be' (in whatever tense or aspect!) with a past participle (which normally end with -ed). 

Here are where to find some examples of the passive voice

Paragraph 1, line 2: ...healthy young children should not be vaccinated.

Paragraph 2, line 9-10: ...whole classes or bubbles have been sent home to isolate.

Paragraph 3, line 14-15: ...a hear disease, myocarditis, may be caused by the vaccine...

Paragraph 6, line 31: The safety of the jab has been proved.

Look at these two sentences. The second sentence in the passive voice appears in paragraph 6. Why do you think the author chose the passive voice in this paragraph? Re-read the paragraph and consider where it appears in the overall order.

  • The government has proved the safety of the jab.
  • The safety of the jab has been proved.

Activity 4

Here are some possible reasons why the author chose the passive voice:

  • The sentence appears in the conclusion. The author does not need to explain who proved the safety of the jab since that is already clear from previous sections. 
  • The author does not want the reader to focus on who proved the safety (the government? doctors? researchers?), but instead only on the fact that they are safe. 
  • The shorter sentence has a stronger impact, especially in the conclusion where the author is restating the most important points. 

Activity 5

Now it's time to try writing an article yourself! 

  • Choose an interesting topic: something from your school, personal life, or happening in your local area. 
  • Plan and write the article, using the discourse and register features you've seen in the two lessons. 
  • Use the Writing an Article hand out to help! 
  • Include any other features you've identified during this lesson or think would be useful.
  • When you've finished, share and evaluate with a partner. 


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