Teaching about phrases

Why is it important for teachers to know how to teach phrases?

The National Curriculum for English and the Framework for Teaching English: Years 7-9 both refer to specific areas of understanding that pupils should develop.

The National Curriculum for English at Key Stages 3 and 4 has the following requirements:

Writing: Language Structure

Pupils should be taught the principles of sentence grammar …

They should be taught the structure of phrases and clauses and how they can be combined to make complex sentences.

The Key Stage 3 National Strategy: Framework for teaching English: Years 7, 8 and 9 contains the following objectives:

Sentence construction and punctuation

Year 7

Pupils should be taught to:

  • expand nouns and noun phrases, e.g. by using a prepositional phrase.

KS3 pupils’ strengths and weaknesses in this area


  • building simple phrases in their everyday speech;
  • applying a wide range of different patterns in these simple phrases;
  • applying these patterns accurately.

Need to develop:

  • their ability to combine familiar patterns to make more complex phrases;
  • full control over some patterns which are needed for adult literacy.

More precisely:

Most KS3 pupils know individual patterns such as these:

big dog

angry dog

really big dog

dog that I saw

but may have difficulty in combining them to produce a complex phrase:

… that really big, angry dog that I saw …

or be unable to use patterns found mainly in adult writing such as:

It was so cold a day that no-one went out.

Those who wanted to …

The poor need support …


Comments are closed.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.