English - Swapped Words and Types of Nouns

Swapped Words

Look at the sentence below and decide which two words have been swapped. The sentence should make complete sense.
I dropped the foot onto my ball.

This sort of question should be straightforward enough and there are few extra tips to give. You are presented with a sentence which doesn't quite make sense and have to (usually) underline the two words which need to be swapped with each other to return it to a sensible sentence. Of course, the correct answer will be:
I dropped the ball onto my foot.

Sometimes the sentences are a bit longer, for example this one:
In the afternoon I talked the dog for a walk and saw the woman who I had took to yesterday.

The careful reader, or those familiar with English, will immediately spot the two words that are misplaced are 'talked' and 'took'. However, a lot of children, under time pressure, read what they think is there rather than what is actually on the page. Encourage your child to read steadily (not slowly, just at a sensible pace) and picture what is happening as the sentence progresses. If they are still unable to cope with this sort of question at a reasonable pace then I would ask whether they are up to taking a 11+ English test as this is about as easy as the questions will get!

Types of Nouns

Look at the following sentences and decide whether the underlined words are examples of common, mass, proper, abstract or collective nouns.

The boy put some oil into the engine.
He was full of remorse as he was reprimanded for chasing the flock of sheep.
Happiness, Sarah decided, was worth striving for.

Earlier in the walkthroughs we explored the different parts of speech and nouns were referred to as 'people, places, things and concepts.' Now we need to break down the different types of nouns and provide names for each. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, if you believe in the need to name everything that you study) the latest government initiative is to be more grammar-oriented in primary school so this is the sort of thing that may get covered in class. However, not all teachers are comfortable with the differences between types of nouns so here is a crash course to help your child.

  • Common nouns are things.
  • Proper nouns are the names of places, people or things which require a capital letter.
  • Collective nouns are words which name a group of things.
  • Abstract nouns are concepts or ideas - things which cannot be seen or touched.
  • Mass nouns are those which cannot be separated by using 'a' / 'an' or pluralised.

Let's analyse the sentences in the question.

'Boy' is a common noun as it doesn't need a capital letter (unless it starts a sentence) and it is a tangible thing. 'Oil', on the other hand, is a mass noun - it cannot be separated or pluralised. We refer to putting 'some oil' into an engine rather than 'an oil' or 'several oils'.

In the second sentence, 'remorse' is an abstract noun as it is a concept. It has no physical form but is a noun, as we can put 'the' in front of it. Meanwhile, 'flock' covers a group of sheep so is a collective noun.

Finally, 'happiness' is another abstract noun as it is an idea rather than a visible thing and 'Sarah', needing as it does a capital letter, is a proper noun.

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