Learning about Verbs, Identifying Subjects, Identifying Clauses


The attached documents are lesson plans and worksheets used in a 7th grade classroom for a series of lessons on verbs, types of verbs, the study of tense, identification of subjects, identification of clauses and clause types. 

After doing these, the teacher related them to writing by focusing on avoiding fragments and run-ons by identifying subjects. And a second connection was on keeping tenses and aspects consistent in writing by exploring the possible and impossible (or less desirable) patterns of verb strings.

Lesson Plan

There are various ways in which they can be tailored to focus on different aspects and to tie in to other study. Importantly, however, one can see how they are interconnected, and how it is difficult to study one without the other. Although these were used in a middle school classroom, variations of them have also been used in high school and college classrooms.

- How to identify auxiliary/helping verbs (and how to distinguish those from main verbs - and why we care) (The doc main and aux verbs is useful background/reference information for teachers.) The doc verbs for sorting is a worksheet that leads students to discover some of the different patterns distinguish main and auxiliary verbs.
- We tend to want to reduce all of the complex tense and aspect combinations into just 'past' and 'present.' The ways we combine various main and auxiliary (including modal) verbs, however, result in quite complex time and time relationships. To begin to see this, the attached timeline and data can be helpful. See the doc verb forms and timeline.
- An easy to test to identify auxiliary verbs (and subjects) is called Subject-Auxiliary Inversion (SAI). (This class renamed it Do-Si (as in the dance step, do-si-do - but you don't make a full circle, just a half one). See the wall chart Do-Si and do wall chart.) Another test for identifying subjects (and auxiliary verbs) is called Tag Questions to help students find subjects. See the doc SAI and Tag Qs, as well as SAI egs and Tag Question egs.

Class Time Needed

Several weeks


General linguistics
Language arts

Grade Level

Grades 6-8
Grades 9-12