Item & Stimulus

Writing task criterion 5


Language Conventions
Year 7 Q: 41

Item Descriptor

Students develop a wide range of more precise language choices

Statements of Learning for English (p. 18)

Students have the opportunity to draw on their knowledge of texts and language to use adjectives, adverbs and prepositional phrases to elaborate ideas.


Skill Focus: Developing descriptive language (adverbs and adverbial phrases)


Using adverbs and adverbial phrases to create more effective descriptions

Activities to support the strategy


Details about the action in a story are provided by adverbs and adverbial phrases that tell more about how and where action takes place. Provide students with text from a suitable reader. As a class, identify the verbs and adverbs in the sentences. Discuss how the adverbs provide more information for the reader about the action taking place.

Provide students with simple sentences, e.g.

He opened the door.
My brother and I hid.
I rushed.

Ask: What words or phrases could we add that tell more about how?

He opened the door quietly.
My brother and I hid
I rushed

Ask: What phrases could we add that tell about where the action occurs?

He opened the door of the study quietly.
My brother and I hid nervously
under our beds.
I rushed frantically
out onto the verandah.


Divide students into pairs to complete the following task. Get students to create 3 effective sentences that use adverbs. They swap the sentence with their partner who then has to identify and underline the adverbs in the sentences.


Activity one

Click on the link below to view the Super Stories learning object. This multimedia resource focuses specifically on using effective verbs and adverbs. Students are required to assume the role of editor at Super Stories Incorporated. They must read a first draft of a horror story and then select more effective verbs and adverbs to make the text more engaging.


Super Stories: The Abandoned House

Learning objects provide opportunities for multimodal learning and are specifically designed to engage and motivate students. The Le@rning Federation (TLF) have developed over 2000 learning objects and 3500 digital resources which are now freely available to NSW government teachers through the TaLe portal.

Activity two

Changing verbs and adverbs can also change character traits which in turn will impact on the manner in which a character reacts to the action of a narrative.

Cautiously, I pushed against the massive iron gate. It was firmly locked. Trembling with fear, I realised that nobody was coming to pick me up.
Too embarrassed to knock or draw attention to myself, I walked out tentatively into the Shanghai streets. Surely if I tried hard enough,
I would remember the way home.

Engage students in identifying verbs/verb groups, adverbs, adverbial phrases/clauses, and have them suggest words to substitute for some of the verbs and adverbials, which would change the narrator's character and hence the manner in which she would react to the situation.

Boldly, I pushed against the massive iron gate. It was firmly locked.
Tingling with excitement, I realised that nobody was coming to pick me up. Confidently I walked out into the Shanghai streets.
With a sense of excitement, I decided I would make my own way home.

Students independently rework the complication of a personal narrative to change the main character's personality (as above) which will, in turn, change the story line of that narrative. The resulting changes may be presented in a 'choose your own character type' narrative format.



Jointly revise what noun/noun groups, verb/verb groups and adverbial phrases are and identify examples of each in a familiar text.

In pairs match some adverbial phrases to sentence beginnings and do simple illustrations for each. For example:

Jointly discuss which question each adverbial phrase answers: Where? When? Why? How? With whom?

Record adverbial phrases on the following chart and, as a class, brainstorm more adverbial phrases.

Discuss the two types of adverbial phrases – those beginning with a preposition and those using the infinitive. Underline the prepositions in the phrases listed.

In pairs, use a text written previously and extend the description by adding adverbial phrases. Rewrite the text as a cloze passage with the prepositions at the beginning of adverbial phrases missing. Swap with another pair and fill the gaps.

Jointly write five possible adverbial phrases for a simple sentence, (one for each question). For example:

The lady walked to work  

– past the shop (where?)


– early in the morning (when?)


– to save petrol (why?)


– as quickly as she could (how?)


– with her neighbour (with whom?)


Activity one

In small groups, prepare sentences for a game. Each sentence must include an adverbial phrase and each group must compose at least one sentence for each question (Where? When? Why? How? With whom?) Play class game:

  • groups take turns to read a sentence and other groups try to identify and write down the adverbial phrase and which question it answers. Each correct response scores a point. The team with the most points wins.

Activity two

In small groups, develop a 'choose your own story' for others by first writing several simple sentences for a story. Record these down the left side of a page and then write four or five adverbial phrases as choices on the right side answering each of the questions. For example:

When satisfied that each option works well swap the 'choose a story' with another group to read, then swap again. For example:

  • Discuss how the adverbial phrases added a lot more detail to an otherwise very simple story.
  • Also look at how more than one adverbial phrase can be added to give even more information, e.g. The dog ran down the road in a zigzag pattern after the gun went off.
  • Have a competition for pairs to write the longest/most detailed sentence by using adverbial phrases. Give a simple sentence to begin with.

Activity three

Jointly edit an information report written previously. Add more detail by including adverbial phrases, identifying which question each one answers.

  • In pairs, continue to add information including detail (adverbial phrases).
  • Use the information to independently write a report including adverbial phrases to give greater detail.