Learning the Parts of Speech, Verbs and More

Here’s an example of the way I’d approach teaching grammar to a year 4 student in a Charlotte Mason education.   By now, they have several years of reading thousands of pages of well written literature, and using copywork to practice writing well written sentences under their belts.  Many of these things they will probably have picked up naturally along the way, but in year 4 we begin a more focused approach to teach them some of the mechanics, some of the formal terms for grammar.  We use their reading and copywork, along with a handful of specific definitions.  You can get a formal grammar workbook, but it’s really not necessary.  You can work along the lines laid out below, a little at a time, small bites in regular servings over time, and they should pick it up quickly.
A sentence is a group of words containing a complete thought or idea. It must have at least two parts- the thing the sentence is about (subject) and either what that subject does, or what it is (Predicate). In these simple sentences, the predicate is an action word, or a verb. Identify the subject and verbs of these sentences:

1. The frog croaks.
2. The frogs croak.
3. The swallow twitters.
4. The swallows twitter.
5. The lamb bleats.
6. The lambs bleat.
7. The rooster crows.
8. The roosters crow.
9 The brook babbles.
10. The brooks babble.

The girl runs.

The girls run.

The girl is happy.

The girls are happy.

The room is clean.

The rooms are clean.

Over several days, take a few minutes a day to look at some sentences from your daily reading or copywork and identify the subjects (what the sentence is about) and the predicate (what the subject of the sentence does, or is)

Other things to notice:
Each of these sentences is really part of a pair.  What difference can you find between the first and second sentences in the pair?

The word frog means more than one-it may be two or hundreds. Would it sound tight to say ‘Frogs leaps?’

Find the difference between the sentences in each of the other pairs.

When the verb tells what one thing does how does it end?

What do we do to change most nouns to mean more than one?

This is called pluralization.  Plural means more than one.  Frog is a singular form, because it means only one.  The plural form of frog is frogs.

Write five sentences of you own,  each telling what one thing does, and then change them into plural form to tell what two or more things do.

Work on the above items just a few minutes each day. Always try to show examples in their regular reading of what your students are learning in grammar. Don’t overdo it, but in daily copywork and dictation ask them to identify any plural forms of a word, or what they would need to change in their sentence if the form of a word changed from single to plural or vice versa.  Ask them to find the subject and the predicate of a sentence, or to find the nouns and verbs in a sentence.  Again, this should be brief, but steady.  A few minutes three or four times a week for several weeks will accomplish more than two hours a day once a month.

If you need more work on pluralizing, here are a few more sentences:

I. The wind blows.

2. The winds blow.

3. The bough bends.

4. The boughs bend.

5. The bud swell;

6. The buds swell.

7. The squirrel leaps.

8. The squirrels leap.


—Find the difference between the first and the second sentence in each pair. Notice that these verbs ending in s all tell what one thing does; not what it did in the past or will do in some time to come.

— How would you change these sentences to show the action happened in the past?

–How would you change these sentences to show the action is going to happen in the future?
The wind blew. The winds blew. The wind will blow. The winds will blow.

Look at these four sentence; and see whether the verb adds when it tells what one thing did or will do. When a verb tells what one thing does, how does it end ? How can a name be made to mean mere than one ?

Write five sentences each telling what one thing does, and then change them to tell what two or more things do.


You could take a few days to work on homonyms for words like bough (bow) and blew (blue).  They will come up again, so you needn’t feel like you must master them today.

More exercises:

1. The wind is blowing.

2. The winds are blowing.

3. The bough is bending.

4. The boughs are bending.

5. The bud is swelling.

6. The buds are swelling.

7. The squirrel is leaping.

8. The squirrels are leaping.


—What differences do you find between the first sentence and the second?

Examine each of the other three pairs of sentences, and tell what you discover.

When you use is, do you speak of one or more than one?

When do you use are?

Again- take a few minutes on a regular basis, over time, to point out examples of the usage of these ‘to be’ verbs in your students’ other reading and regular copywork.  Much of this will probably already be familiar to them, you are giving them formal terms for what they already know, and directing them to observe the mechanics of writing a little more closely than they have hitherto.

Questions and Statements:  Sentences that end in a period are statements.  Sentences that end with a question mark are questions- if you did not already know, these marks are called punctuation marks.

Is the wind blowing ?

Are the winds blowing ?

What are the differences between these two sentences?  How may each of the other first six sentences be changed to questions?

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