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Fix the sentence

This game requires ESL students to change, mend and form proper sentences.


What is learnt?
Punctuation, Syntax, Using computers in English, Clause coordination.

Sentences and sentence formation

My new shirt has shrunk

then rewrite the sentence four times this way:

New my shirt has shrunk(word 1 goes into second position) My shirt new has shrunk (word 2 goes into third position) My new has shirt shrunk (word 3 goes into fourth position) My new shirt shrunk has (word 4 goes into fifth position)


How the game is played:

  1. Put the sentence up on the board with the four rewrites.
  2. Put the students into teams of three, with team A facing team B and team C facing team D etc.

    The task of each team of three is to try and make the rewritten sentences grammatically correct with as few changes as possible. (The change can be altering words morphologically, adding in new words as well as altering punctuation. Students are not allowed to delete words.) The teams facing each other are in competition with one another and with all the teams in the room. Give them a time-limit of five minutes per sentence.

  3. Explain the scoring system:

    • one point off for each morphological change
    • one point off for each word added
    • one point off for each change in punctuation
    • three points off if the sentence proposed is bad English
  4. The aim of the game is to run up the lowest possible negative score. Each team keeps their own score. They appeal to you over the correctness of their new sentences if challenged by the team opposite. Here possible rewrites of My shirt new has shrunk:
    My shirt, when new has shrunk.
    If a team writes number 1 or 2 above, they have introduced two changes (a new word and changed punctuation) and so get two negative points. If a team writes number 3 above, they have introduced three changes and so get three negative points.
    Having usedMy shirt new has shrunkto show the class how the game works, ask them to move onto My new has shirt shrunk. Remind them of the five-minute time-limit. They tackle the last two rewrites.
    At the end of the game ask the teams to shout out any sentences where they are not sure about the grammar. Put them up on the board and give a judgement on each of them. With this information in hand ask the teams to add up their scores so that a winner and runner-up emerge.


Acknowledgments: Thanks to Graham.J.B. for submitting this game to us.

02.01.2007. 07:25


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