A distinctive way of pronouncing a language, usually associated with a particular country, region, or social class (for example, the American accent is unmistakable).


A word class that describes, identifies or quantifies a noun or a pronoun.

Different types of adjectives include:

  • number or quantity adjectives (for example, ‘twelve’, ‘several’)
  • possessive adjectives (for example, ‘my’, ‘his’)
  • descriptive adjectives (for example, ‘beautiful’, ‘ancient’)
  • comparative adjectives (for example, ‘shorter,’ ‘more difficult’)
  • classifying adjectives (for example, ‘wooden’ (box), ‘passenger’ (vehicle).


A word class that may modify a verb (for example, ‘beautifully’ in ‘she sings beautifully’), an adjective (for example, ‘really’ in ‘he is really interesting’) or another adverb (for example, ‘very’ in ‘she walks very slowly’). In English many adverbs have an -ly ending.


A word or group of words that modifies or contributes additional, but non-essential, information about a sentence or a verb.

Adverbials are classified on the basis of the kind of meaning involved including:

  • time (for example, ‘yesterday’ in ‘I spoke with him yesterday’)
  • duration (for example, ‘for several years’ in ‘they have lived together for several years’)
  • frequency (for example, ‘three times a year’ in ‘the committee meets three times a year’)
  • place (for example, ‘in Brisbane’ in ‘we met in Brisbane’)
  • manner (for example, ‘very aggressively’ in ‘he played very aggressively’)
  • degree (for example, ‘very deeply’ in ‘he loves her very deeply’)
  • reason (for example, ‘because of the price’ in ‘we rejected it because of the price’)
  • purpose (for example, ‘to avoid embarrassing you’ in ‘I stayed away to avoid embarrassing you’)
  • condition (for example, ‘if I can’ in ‘I’ll help you if I can’)
  • concession (for example, ‘although she was unwell’ in ‘she joined in although she was unwell’).

Adverbials usually have the form of:

  • adverb group: a group/phrase includes an adverb as the head word and answers questions such as 'how?' or 'where?' or 'when?' (for example, ‘it ran extremely quickly’, ‘it ran quicker than a cheetah)
  • a prepositional phrase (for example, ‘in the evening’ in ‘she'll be arriving in the evening’)
  • a noun group/phrase (for example, ‘this morning’ in ‘I finished it this morning’)
  • a subordinate clause (for example, ‘because he had an assignment to finish’ in ‘He didn’t go out because he had an assignment to finish’). In some schools of linguistics, such subordinate clauses are treated as dependent on, rather than embedded in, the main clause.


Relates to a sense of beauty or an appreciation of artistic expression. The selection of texts that are recognised as having aesthetic or artistic value is an important focus of the literature strand.


A recurrence of the same consonant sounds at the beginning of words in close succession (for example, ‘ripe, red raspberry’).


A brief hint or reference to a person, event, idea or work of art through a passing comment, where a composer expects a reader to have the knowledge to recognise the allusion and grasp its importance in the text (for example, ‘chocolate was her Achilles’ heel’).


A comparison between one thing and another, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification.


A word opposite in meaning to another (for example, ‘empty’ is an antonym for ‘full’; ‘cold’ is an antonym for ‘hot’).


A punctuation mark used to indicate either possession or omission of letters and numbers.

The two main uses of apostrophes are:

  • apostrophe of possession indicates that a noun owns something (for example, ‘the student’s work’, ‘David’s phone’). Plural nouns that end with -s have an apostrophe added after the -s (for example, ‘the teachers’ staff room’).
  • apostrophe of contraction replaces omitted letters in a word (for example, ‘isn’t’, ‘don’t’, ‘he’s’).


When one noun group/phrase immediately follows another with the same reference, they are said to be in apposition (for example, ‘our neighbour, Mr Grasso ...’, ‘Canberra, the capital of Australia, ...’).


An act of discerning quality and value of literary texts.


Taking a text or a part of a text, like an image, character or technique, from one context and placing it in another. This may be a technique used to give new insights into the original text (for example, a film that appropriates the plot or characters of an earlier novel, or a version of a traditional text given an unconventional perspective as in fairy tales retold in a modern context).


An intended group of readers, listeners or viewers that a writer, designer, filmmaker or speaker is addressing.


A composer or originator of a work (for example, a novel, film, website, speech, essay, autobiography).

base word

A form of a word that conveys the essential meaning. A base word is not derived from or made up of other words and has no prefixes or suffixes (for example, ‘action’, ‘activity’, ‘activate’, ‘react’ are all words built from the base word ‘act’).


Bias occurs in text where a composer presents one perspective, favouring one side in an argument or discussion, often accompanied by a refusal to consider possible merits of alternative points of view.


A process of saying the individual sounds in a word then running them together to make the word. The sounds must be said quickly so the word is clear (for example, sounding out /b/-/i/-/g/ to make ‘big’).

body language

Movements or positions of a body, which express a person's thoughts or feelings.

camera angle

An angle at which a camera is pointed at a subject. Vertical angle can be low, level or high. Horizontal angle can be oblique (side on) or frontal.


A grammatical unit that refers to a happening or state (for example, ‘the netball team won’ [happening], ‘the cartoon is an animation’ [state]).

A clause usually contains a subject and a verb group/phrase (for example, ‘the team [subject] has played [verb group/phrase] a fantastic game’), which may be accompanied by an object or other complements (elements that are closely related to the verb – for example, ‘the match’ in ‘the team lost the match’) and/or adverbials (for example, ‘on a rainy night’ in ‘the team won on a rainy night’).

A clause can be either a ‘main’ clause (also known as an ‘independent’ clause) or ‘subordinate clause’ (also known as a ‘dependent’ clause), depending on its function.

A main clause does not depend on or function within the structure of another clause.

A subordinate clause depends on or functions within the structure of another clause. It may function directly within the structure of a larger clause, or indirectly by being contained within a noun group/phrase.

In these examples square brackets have been used to indicate a subordinate clause:

  • I took my umbrella [because it was raining].
  • [When I am studying Shakespeare], my time is limited.
  • The man [who came to dinner] is my brother.


Grammatical or lexical relationships that bind different parts of a text together and give it unity. Cohesion is achieved through:

  • various devices such as connectives, ellipses and word associations (sometimes called ‘lexical cohesion’). These associations include synonyms, antonyms (for example, ‘study / laze about’, ‘ugly/beautiful’), repetition (for example, ‘work, work, work – that’s all we do!’) and collocation (for example, ‘friend’ and ‘pal’ in, ‘My friend did me a big favour last week. She’s been a real pal.’).


Words that commonly occur in close association with one another (for example, ‘blonde’ goes with ‘hair’, ‘butter’ is ‘rancid’ not ‘rotten’, ‘salt and pepper’ not ‘pepper and salt’. Collocation can also refer to word sets that create cohesion by building associations between words (for example, beach, sun, waves, sand).

colon (:)

A punctuation mark used to separate a general statement from one or more statements that provide additional information, explanation or illustration. Statements that follow a colon do not have to be complete sentences.

complex sentence

A sentence with one or more subordinate clauses. In the following examples, the subordinate clauses are indicated by square brackets:

  • I took my umbrella [because it was raining].
  • [Because I am studying for an exam], my time is limited.
  • The man [who came to dinner] is my brother.

compound sentence

A sentence with two or more main clauses of equal grammatical status, usually marked by a coordinating conjunction such as ‘and’, ‘but’ or ‘or’. In the following examples below, the main clauses are indicated by square brackets:

  • [Jill came home this morning] [but she didn't stay long].h
  • [Kim is an actor], [Pat is a teacher], [and Sam is an architect].

comprehension strategy

A set of processes used by readers to make meaning from texts. Key comprehension strategies include:

  • activating and using prior knowledge
  • identifying literal information explicitly stated in the text
  • making inferences based on information in the text and their own prior knowledge
  • predicting likely future events in a text
  • visualising by creating mental images of elements in a text summarising and organising information from a text
  • integrating ideas and information in texts
  • critically reflecting on content, structure, language and images used to construct meaning in a text.

concepts about print

Concepts about how English print works. They include information about where to start reading and how a print travels from left to right across a page. Concepts about print are essential for beginning reading.


A word that joins other words, phrases or clauses together in logical relationships such as addition, time, cause or comparison. There are two types of conjunctions: coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions.

Coordinating conjunctions are words that link words, groups/phrases and clauses in such a way that the elements have equal grammatical status. They include conjunctions such as ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘but’:

  • Mum and Dad are here. (joining words)
  • We visited some of our friends, but not all of them. (joining noun groups/phrases)
  • Did he miss the train or is it just late? (joining clauses)

Subordinating conjunctions introduce certain kinds of subordinate clauses. They include conjunctions such as ‘after’, ‘when’, ‘because’, ‘if’ and ‘that’:

  • When the meeting ended, we went home. (time)
  • That was because it was raining. (reason)
  • I'll do it if you pay me. (condition)
  • I know that he is ill. (declarative)
  • I wonder whether/if she’s right. (interrogative)


Words that link paragraphs and sentences in logical relationships of time, cause and effect, comparison or addition. Connectives relate ideas to one another and help to show the logic of the information. Connectives are important resources for creating cohesion in texts. The logical relationships can be grouped as follows:

  • temporal – to indicate time or sequence ideas (for example, ‘first’, ‘second’, ‘next’)
  • causal – to show cause and effect (for example, ‘because’, ‘for’ , ‘so’)
  • additive – to add information (for example, ‘also’, ‘besides’, ‘furthermore’)
  • comparative – to compare (for example, ‘rather’, ‘alternatively’)
  • conditional/concessive – to make conditions or concession (for example, ‘yet’, ‘although’)
  • clarifying – for example, ‘in fact’, ‘for example’.


All letters of the alphabet that are not vowels. The 21 consonants in the alphabet are b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z.

consonant blend

A group of two or three consonants that are all pronounced individually (for example, /b/ and /l/ in the word ‘black’; /g/and /r/ in the word ‘green’).

consonant cluster

Groups of two or more consonants that can occur at the beginning, middle, or end of a word (for example, /sp/ in the word ‘spot’; /nt/ in the word ‘bent’).


An environment in which a text is responded to or created. Context can include general social, historical and cultural conditions in which a text is responded to and created (context of culture) or specific features of its immediate environment (context of situation). The term is also used to refer to wording surrounding an unfamiliar word, which a reader or listener uses to understand its meaning.


An accepted language practice that has developed over time and is generally used and understood (for example, use of punctuation).

coordinating conjunctions

Words that link words, groups/phrases and clauses in such a way that the elements have equal grammatical status. They include conjunctions such as ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘but’:

  • Mum and Dad are here. (joining words)
  • We visited some of our friends, but not all of them. (joining noun groups/phrases)
  • Did he miss the train or is it just late? (joining clauses)


Develop and/or produce spoken, written or multimodal texts in print or digital forms.


Decodable texts are texts that can be read using decoding skills a student has acquired. Decodable text is usually associated with beginning readers.


A process of working out a meaning of words in a text. In decoding, readers draw on contextual, vocabulary, grammatical and phonic knowledge. Readers who decode effectively combine these forms of knowledge fluently and automatically, and self-correct using meaning to recognise when they make an error.


A way that particular elements are selected and used in a process of text construction for particular purposes. These elements might be linguistic (words), visual (images), audio (sounds), gestural (body language), spatial (arrangement on the page, screen or 3D), and multimodal (a combination of more than one).


A form of a language distinguished by features of vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation particular to a region or social group.

digital text

An audio, visual or multimodal text produced through digital or electronic technology, which may be interactive and include animations and/or hyperlinks. Examples of digital texts include DVDs, websites, e-literature.


Two letters that represent a single sound:

  • vowel digraphs have two vowels (for example, ‘oo’, ‘ea’)
  • consonant digraphs have two consonants (for example, ‘sh’, ‘th’)
  • vowel/consonant digraphs have one vowel and one consonant (for example, ‘er’, ‘ow’).


An electronic publication of literature using multimedia capabilities of digital technologies to create interactive and possibly non-linear texts, through combining written text, movement, visual, audio and spatial elements. E-literature may include hypertext fiction, computer art installations, kinetic poetry and collaborative writing projects, allowing readers to contribute to a work. It also includes texts where print meanings are enhanced through digital images and/or sound, as well as literature that is reconstituted from print texts (for example, online versions of The Little Prince or Alice in Wonderland).


Types of ellipses include:

  • an omission of words that repeat what has gone before. The repetition is not necessary because the meaning is understood (for example, ‘The project will be innovative. To be involved will be exciting.’ – ‘in the project’ is ellipsed in the second sentence).
  • where a word such as ‘one’ is substituted for a noun group/phrase, as in ‘There are lots of apples in the bowl and you can take two big ones’ (substitution).
  • a cohesive resource that binds text together and is commonly used in dialogue for speed of response and economy of effort (for example, [do you] ‘Want a drink?’ / ‘Thanks, I would.’ [like a drink]).
  • a use of three dots. This form of punctuation (also known as points of ellipsis) can be used to indicate such things as surprise or suspense in a narrative text or to indicate that there is more to come in an on-screen menu.

etymological knowledge

Knowledge of the origins and development of a form and meanings of words and how meanings and forms have changed over time.

evaluative language

Positive or negative language that judges the worth of something. It includes language to express feelings and opinions, to make judgments about aspects of people such as their behaviour, and to assess quality of objects such as literary works. Evaluations can be made explicit (for example, through the use of adjectives as in: ‘she’s a lovely girl’, ‘he’s an awful man’, or ‘how wonderful!’), however, they can be left implicit (for example, ‘he dropped the ball when he was tackled’, or ‘Mary put her arm round the child while she wept’).

figurative language

Word groups/phrases used in a way that differ from the expected or everyday usage. They are used in a non-literal way for particular effect (for example: simile – ‘white as a sheet’; metaphor – ‘all the world’s a stage’; personification – ‘the wind grabbed at my clothes’).


A way in which elements in a still or moving image are arranged to create a specific interpretation of a whole. Strong framing creates a sense of enclosure around elements while weak framing creates a sense of openness.

function and class

How one grammatical unit relates to another is its function. For example, in the clause ‘the meeting started late’, ‘the meeting’ is the subject. This describes its relation to ta verb (and a clause). However, in the clause ‘they started the meeting late’, the same words (‘the meeting’) stand in a different relation to the verb: they are functioning as its object.

A class is a set of grammatical units that are alike in a language system, such as noun, verb, adjective and corresponding groups/phrases: noun group/phrase, verb group/phrase, adjective group/phrase.’ For example, to say that ‘the meeting’ is a noun group/phrase is to say that it is the same kind of unit as ‘a book’, ‘that car’, ‘my uncle’.


How texts are grouped depending on their social purpose (for example, to recount, to describe, to persuade, to narrate). In literary theory, the term is often used to distinguish texts on the basis of their subject matter (for example, detective fiction, romance fiction , science fiction, fantasy fiction), or their form and structure (for example poetry, novels, short stories).


A description of a language as a system. In describing a language, attention is paid to both structure (form) and meaning (function) at the level of a word, a sentence and a text.


A letter or group of letters that spell a phoneme in a word (for example, /f/ in the word ‘fog’; /ph/ in the word ‘photo’).

graphophonic knowledge

A knowledge of how letters in printed English relate to the sounds of the language.


The terms group and phrase are used by different schools of linguistics to refer to units intermediate between a clause and a word. In the English curriculum, group/phrase is used to recognise these different usages. For example, the units enclosed in brackets in the following sentence are examples of a group/phrase: ‘(the carnival) (had made) (the two little girls with the red shirts) (very tired)’.

In the example, ‘the carnival’ and ‘the two little girls with the red shirts’ are called noun groups/phrases because they have a noun (‘carnival’ and ‘girls’) as their major element; similarly, ‘had made’ is a verb group/phrase and ‘very tired’ an adjective group/phrase.


A production of legible, correctly formed letters by hand or with the assistance of writing tools, for example, pencil grip or assistive technology.

high-frequency words

The most common words used in written English text. They are sometimes called ‘irregular words’ or ‘sight words’. Many common or high-frequency words in English cannot be decoded using sound–letter correspondence because they do not use regular or common letter patterns. These words need to be learnt by sight (for example, ‘come’, ‘was’, ‘were’, ‘one’, ‘they’, ‘watch’, ‘many’).


A word identical in pronunciation with another but different in meaning (for example, ‘bear’ and ‘bare’, ‘air’ and ‘heir’).

hybrid text

A composite text resulting from a mixing of elements from different sources or genres (for example, ‘infotainment’). Email is an example of a hybrid text, combining the immediacy of talk and the expectation of a reply with the permanence of print.

idiomatic expression

A group of (more or less) fixed words having a meaning not deducible from individual words. Idioms are typically informal expressions used by particular social groups and need to be explained as one unit (for example, ‘I am over the moon’, ‘on thin ice’, ‘a fish out of water’, ‘fed up to the back teeth’).


A use of figurative language to represent objects, actions and ideas in such a way that they appeal to the senses of the reader or viewer.


Associations or connections between one text and other texts. Intertextual references can be more or less explicit and self-conscious. They can take the form of direct quotation, parody, allusion or structural borrowing.


Placement of two or more ideas, characters, actions, settings, phrases, or words side by side for a particular purpose (for example, to highlight contrast or for rhetorical effect).

language features

Features of language that support meaning (for example, sentence structure, noun group/phrase, vocabulary, punctuation, figurative language). Choices in language features and text structures together define a type of text and shape its meaning. These choices vary according to the purpose of a text, its subject matter, audience and mode or medium of production.

language patterns

An arrangement of identifiable repeated or corresponding elements in a text. These include patterns of repetition or similarity (for example, a repeated use of verbs at the beginning of each step in a recipe, or a repetition of a chorus after each verse in a song). The patterns may alternate (for example, a call and response pattern of some games, or a to-and-fro of a dialogue). Other patterns may contrast (for example, opposing viewpoints in a discussion, or contrasting patterns of imagery in a poem). Language patterns of a text contribute to the distinctive nature of its overall organisation and shape its meaning.


A spatial arrangement of print and graphics on a page or screen including size of font, positioning of illustrations, inclusion of captions, labels, headings, bullet points, borders and text boxes.

lexical cohesion

A use of word associations to create links in texts. Links can be made through the use of repetition of words, synonyms, antonyms and words that are related such as by class and subclass.


To use the sense of hearing as well as a range of active behaviours to comprehend information received through gesture, body language and other sensory systems.

media texts

Spoken, print, graphic or electronic communications with a public audience. They often involve numerous people in their construction and are usually shaped by a technology used in their production. Media texts studied in English can be found in newspapers, magazines and on television, film, radio, computer software and the internet.


A resource used in the production of texts, including tools and materials used (for example, digital text and a computer, writing and a pen or a typewriter).


Vocabulary used to discuss language conventions and use (for example, language used to talk about grammatical terms such as ‘sentence’, 'clause’, 'conjunction').


A use of the name of one thing or attribute of something to represent something larger or related (for example, using a word ‘Crown’ to represent a monarch of a country; referring to a place for an event, as in ‘Chernobyl’ when referring to changed attitudes to nuclear power, or a time for an event, as in ‘9/11’ when referring to changed global relations).


An area of meaning having to do with possibility, probability, obligation and permission. In the following examples, the modal meanings are expressed by the auxiliary verbs ‘must’ and ‘may’:

  • Sue may have written the note. (possibility)
  • Sue must have written the note. (probability)
  • You must postpone the meeting. (obligation)
  • You may postpone the meeting. (permission)

Modality can also be expressed by several different kinds of words:

  • adverbs (for example, ‘possibly’, ‘necessarily’, ‘certainly’, ‘perhaps’)
  • adjectives (for example, ‘possible’, ‘probable’, ‘likely’, ‘necessary’)
  • nouns (for example, ‘possibility’, ‘necessity’, ‘obligation’)
  • modal verbs (for example, ‘permit’, ‘oblige’).


Various processes of communication – listening, speaking, reading/viewing and writing/creating. Modes are also used to refer to the semiotic (meaning making) resources associated with these communicative processes, such as sound, print, image and gesture.


A long speech or discourse given by a single character in a story, movie, play or by a performer.


The smallest meaningful or grammatical unit in a language. Morphemes are not necessarily the same as words. The word ‘cat’ has one morpheme, while the word ‘cats’ has two morphemes: ‘cat’ for the animal and ‘s’ to indicate that there is more than one. Similarly, ‘like’ has one morpheme, while ‘dislike’ has two: ‘like’ to describe appreciation and ‘dis’ to indicate the opposite. Morphemes are very useful in helping students work out how to read and spell words.

morphemic knowledge

A knowledge of morphemes, morphemic processes and different forms and combinations of morphemes (for example, the word ‘unfriendly’ is formed from the stem ‘friend’, the adjective-forming suffix ‘-ly’ and the negative prefix ‘un-’).

multimodal text

A combination of two or more communication modes (for example, print, image and spoken text, as in film or computer presentations).


A story of events or experiences, real or imagined. In literary theory, narrative includes a story (what is narrated) and a discourse (how it is narrated).

narrative point of view

The ways in which a narrator may be related to a story. For example, a narrator might take a role of first or third person, having full knowledge or restricted in knowledge of events, reliable or unreliable in interpretation of what happens.


A newly created word or expression. This can occur in a number of ways, for example, an existing word used in a new way (deadly') and through abbreviations (for example, 'HIV').


A process for forming nouns from verbs (for example, ‘reaction’ from ‘react’ or ‘departure’ from ‘depart’) or adjectives (for example, ‘length’ from ‘long’, ‘eagerness’ from ‘eager’). Nominalisation is also a process for forming noun groups/phrases from clauses (for example, ‘their destruction of the city’ from ‘they destroyed the city’). Nominalisation is a way of making a text more compact and is often a feature of texts that contain abstract ideas and concepts.

non-verbal cues

Behaviours, other than words, that transmit meaning (for example, body language, inflexion, eye contact, posture).


A word class that includes all words denoting physical objects such as ‘man’, ‘woman’, ‘boy’, ‘girl’, ‘diamond’, ‘car’, ‘window’ etc. These are called ‘concrete nouns’. ‘Abstract nouns’ express intangibles such as ‘democracy’, ‘courage’, ‘success’, ‘fact’, ‘idea’. The most important grammatical property of nouns concerns their function. A noun group/phrase, which contains a noun as its major element, can function as:

  • subject (for example, ‘(the sun) was shining’)
  • object (for example, ‘I'd like (an apple)’)
  • a part of a prepositional phrase (for example, ‘they arrived (on time)’).

Most nouns can be marked for plural (for example, ‘dog’–‘dogs’, ‘woman’–‘women’), and for possessive (for example, ‘dog’–‘dog’s’, ‘woman’–‘woman's’.

There are three major grammatical types of nouns: common nouns, proper nouns and pronouns.

  • common nouns include words such as ‘hat’, ‘phone’, ‘pollution’ that do not name a particular person, place, thing, quality and so on. They can be concrete or abstract nouns.
  • proper nouns include words such as ‘Australia’, ‘Mary Smith’, ‘October’, which serve as the names of particular persons, places, days/months and festivals. They usually occur without a determiner, such as ‘the’.

noun group

Consists of a noun as a major element, alone or accompanied by one or more modifiers. A noun functioning as a major element may be a common noun, proper noun or pronoun. Expressions belonging to a range of classes may function as modifiers:

Those that precede the main noun include:

  • determiners (for example, ‘the car’, ‘a disaster’, ‘some people’, ‘many mistakes’)
  • possessive noun groups/phrases and pronouns (for example, ‘the old man's house’, ‘Kim's behaviour’, ‘my father’)
  • numerals (for example, ‘two days’, ‘thirty casualties’, ‘a hundred students’)
  • adjectives (for example, ‘grave danger’, ‘a nice day’, ‘some new ideas’, ‘poor Tom’)
  • nouns (for example, ‘the unemployment rate’, ‘a tax problem’, ‘a Qantas pilot’)

Those that follow the main noun usually belong to one or other of the following classes:

  • prepositional phrases (for example, ‘a pot of tea’, ‘the way to Adelaide’, ‘work in progress’)
  • subordinate clauses (for example, ‘the woman who wrote it’, ‘people living near the coast’).

objective language

A language that is fact-based, measurable and observable, verifiable and unbiased. It does not include a speaker or writer’s point of view, interpretation or judgement.


Separate phonemes in a syllable can normally be broken into two parts. An onset is the initial consonant (for example, in ‘cat’ the onset is /c/); or consonant blend (for example, in ‘shop’ the onset is /sh/). Word families can be constructed using common onsets such as /t/ in ‘top’, ‘town’.


A description of an inanimate object as though it were a person or living thing (for example, ‘the last chance he had, just walked out the door’).


The smallest unit of sound in a word (for example, the word ‘is’ has two phonemes: /i/ and /s/; the word ‘ship’ has three phonemes: /sh/, /i/, /p/).

phoneme deletion

Involves forming a different word by removing a phoneme (for example, take the /t/ away from the word ‘train’ to make a new word ‘rain’).

phoneme substitution

Involves students manipulating spoken words by substituting certain phonemes for others (for example, changing the /r/ in the word ‘rat’ to /b/ to make new word ‘bat’.) Phoneme substitution can occur with middle and final phonemes (for example, changing the /a/ in ‘cat’ to /o/ to make new word ‘cot’.

phonemic awareness

An ability to hear, identify and manipulate separate, individual phonemes in words.


The term used to refer to the ability to identify the relationships between letters and sounds when reading and spelling.

phonological awareness

A broad concept that relates to the sounds of spoken language. It includes understandings about words, rhyme, syllables and onset and rime. NOTE: the term ‘sound’ relates to a sound we make when we say a letter or word, not to a letter in print. A letter may have more than one sound, such as the letter ‘a’ in ‘was’, ‘can’ or ‘father’, and a sound can be represented by more than one letter such as the sound /k/ in ‘cat’ and ‘walk’. The word ‘ship’ had three sounds /sh/, /i/, /p/, but has four letters ‘s’, ‘h’, ‘i’, ‘p’. Teachers should use the terms ‘sound’ and ‘letter’ accurately to help students clearly distinguish between the two items.

phonological knowledge

Information about the sounds of language and letter–sound relationships when comprehending a text (for example, single sounds, blends).


A group of words often beginning with a preposition but without a subject and verb combination (for example, ‘on the river’; ‘with brown eyes’).

poetic devices

Particular patterns and techniques of language used in poems to create particular effects.

point of view

Refers to the viewpoint of an author, audience or characters in a text. Narrative point of view refers to the ways a narrator may be related to a story. A narrator, for example, might take a role of first or third person, omniscient or restricted in knowledge of events, reliable or unreliable in interpretation of what happens.


A possessive shows ownership, generally marked by an apostrophe followed by the suffix 's’ (for example, `woman's’, `Anne's’). The main exception is that in plural nouns ending in `-(e)s’ the possessive is marked by the apostrophe alone. With proper nouns ending in `-s’, there is variation between the regular possessive form and one marked by the apostrophe alone: compare `James's’ and `James’. The regular form is always acceptable but a variant form without the second `s’ is sometimes found (for example, `James’s house’ or `James’ house). The irregular form is often found with names of religious, classical or literary persons (for example, `Moses' life’, `Sophocles' ideas’, `Dickens' novel).

predictable text

A text that is easily navigated and read by beginning readers because they contain highly regular features such as familiar subject matter, a high degree of repetition, consistent placement of text and illustrations, simple sentences, familiar vocabulary and a small number of sight words.


An informed presumption about something that might happen. Predicting at the text level can include working out what a text might contain by looking at the cover, or working out what might happen next in a narrative. Predicting at the sentence level is identifying what word is likely to come next in a sentence.


A meaningful element (morpheme) added to the beginning of a word to change its meaning (for example, ‘un’ to ‘happy’ to make ‘unhappy’).


A word class that usually describes the relationship between words in a sentence. Prepositions can indicate:

  • space (for example, ‘below’, ‘in’, ‘on’, ‘to’, ‘under’. 'She sat on the table.')
  • time (for example, ‘after’, ‘before’, ‘since’. 'Í will go to the beach after lunch.')
  • those that do not relate to space and time (for example, ‘of’, ‘besides’, ‘except’, ‘despite’, ’He ate all the beans except the purple ones').

Prepositions usually combine with a noun group/phrase to form a prepositional phrase (for example, ‘in the office’, ‘besides these two articles’).

prepositional phrase

Typically consists of a preposition followed by a noun group/phrase. Prepositional phrases occur with a range of functions, including:

  • adverbial in clause structure (for example, ‘on the train’ in ‘we met on the train’)
  • modifier in noun group/phrase structure (for example, ‘with two children’ in ‘a couple with two children’)
  • modifier in adjective group/phrase structure (for example, ‘on golf’ in ‘keen on golf’).


A word that takes a place of a noun (for example, I, me, he, she, herself, you, it, that, they, few, many, who, whoever, someone, everybody, and many others).

There are different types of pronouns:

  • personal pronouns represent specific people or things (for example, I, he, she, it, they, we, you, me him, her, them). Example of personal pronoun use: David and Max (proper nouns) went to school. They went to school. Personal pronouns can also be objective (for example, David kicked the ball to Max. David kicked the ball to him.)
  • demonstrative pronouns represent a thing or things (for example, this, these, that, those). Example of demonstrative pronoun use: ‘Who owns these?’
  • possessive pronouns to refer to the belonging of one thing or person to another person or thing (for example, mine, hers, his, ours, yours, theirs). Examples of possessive pronoun use: ‘Max looked for the book. He could not find his own book but he did find yours.’
  • reflexive pronouns refer back to the subject of a sentence or clause. Reflexive pronouns end in ‘-self’ (singular) or ‘-selves’ (plural) (for example, myself,yourself,himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves themselves). Example of possessive pronoun use: ‘David looked at himself in the mirror.’
  • reciprocal pronouns refer to two subjects acting in the same way toward each other. There must be two or more subjects involved and they must be doing the same thing (for example, each other, one another). Example of reciprocal pronoun use: David and Max like each other.
  • relative pronouns introduce a relative clause. They are called relative because they relate to the words that they modify. There are five relative pronouns: who, whom, whose, which,that. Example of relative pronoun use: ‘The car, which was in the garage, was damaged.’
  • interrogative pronouns represent things that we do not know and are asking the questions about (for example, who, whom, whose, which, what). Some interrogative pronouns can also function as relative pronouns. Examples of interrogative pronoun use: ‘Who told David?’ ‘Which of these would David like?’
  • indefinite pronouns do not refer to any specific person, thing or amount (for example, all, another, anybody, anyone, anything, each, everybody, everyone, everything, many, nobody, none, one, several, some, somebody, someone). Example of relative pronoun use: ‘Have you taken anything from the cupboard?’

pronoun reference

A clear reference from a pronoun to a noun (for example, ‘Mary lost her phone’).


Humorous use of a word to bring out more than one meaning; a play on words.


To process words, symbols or actions to derive and/or construct meaning. Reading includes interpreting, critically analysing and reflecting upon the meaning of a wide range of written and visual, print and non-print texts.


A word, a phrase or a full sentence or a poetical line repeated to emphasise its significance. Repetition is a rhetorical device.

return sweep

The way English print travels from left to right and then returns to the left of a page for the next and each subsequent line.

rhetorical devices

Use of language that is intended to have an effect on an audience such as evoking an emotion or persuading an audience (for example, metaphors, repetition, rhetorical questions).

rhetorical question

A question that is asked to provoke thought rather than require an answer.


Separate phonemes in a syllable can normally be broken into two parts. The rime is a vowel and any subsequent consonants (for example, in the word ‘cat’ the rime is /at/). Word families can be constructed using common rimes such as /at/ in ‘cat’, ‘pat’.


A strategy of emphasis, highlighting what is important in a text. In images, salience is created through strategies like placement of an item in the foreground, size and contrast in tone or colour. In writing, salience can occur through placing what is important at the beginning or at the end of a sentence or paragraph or through devices such as underlining or italics.


Exposing and criticising the shortcomings or behaviour of an individual or a society in a text, using techniques such as exaggeration, humour, ridicule and irony.


When reading, moving eyes quickly down a page, seeking specific words and phrases. Scanning is also used when a reader first finds a resource to determine whether it will answer their questions.


Recognising and separating out phonemes in a word. Students may say each sound as they tap it out. Stretching (for example, mmmaaannn) is an example of segmenting. When segmenting words, there is a pause between each phoneme (for example, /m/-/a/-/n/ is an example of segmenting).

semantic knowledge/information

information related to meanings used when reading. Semantic information includes a reader’s own prior knowledge and the meanings embedded in a text. Readers use semantic information to assist in decoding and to derive meanings from a text.

semicolon (;)

a punctuation convention used to join clauses that could stand alone as sentences. In this way, clauses that have a close relationship with one another may be linked together in a single sentence.


In writing, a sentence is marked by punctuation, but in speech the boundaries between sentences are not always so clear.

There are different types of sentences:

  • simple sentence – has a form of a single clause (for example, ‘David walked to the shops.’ or ‘Take a seat.’)
  • compound sentence – has two or more main clauses of equal grammatical status, usually marked by a coordinating conjunction such as ‘and’, ‘but’ or ‘or’. In the following examples below, the main clauses are indicated by square brackets
    • [Jill came home this morning] [but she didn't stay long].
    • [Kim is an actor], [Pat is a teacher], [and Sam is an architect].
  • complex sentence – has one or more subordinate clauses. In the following examples, subordinate clauses are indicated by square brackets:
    • I took my umbrella [because it was raining].
    • [Because I am reading Shakespeare], my time is limited.
    • The man [who came to dinner] is my brother.

silent letter

A letter that is in the written form of a word but is not pronounced in the spoken form (for example, ‘t’ in the word ‘listen’ or ‘k’ in the word ‘knew’).

simple sentence

Has a form of a single clause (for example, ‘David walked to the shops.’ or ‘Take a seat.’).

sound devices

Resources used by poets to convey and reinforce the meaning or experience of poetry through the skillful use of sound (for example, alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhythm, rhyme).

sound effect

Any sound, other than speech or music, used to create an effect in a text.

sound-letter correspondence

The relationship of spoken sounds of English to letters of the alphabet or to letter clusters.


Convey meaning and communicate with purpose. Some students participate in speaking activities using communication systems and assistive technologies to communicate wants and needs, and to comment about the world.


A slip of the tongue where the initial sounds of a pair of words are transposed (for example, well-boiled icicle for well-oiled bicycle).

Standard Australian English

The variety of spoken and written English language in Australia used in more formal settings such as for official or public purposes, and recorded in dictionaries, style guides and grammars. While it is always dynamic and evolving, it is recognised as the ‘common language’ of Australians.


When a person or thing is judged to be the same as all others of its type. Stereotypes are usually formulaic and oversimplified.

stylistic features

The ways in which aspects of texts (such as words, sentences, images) are arranged and how they affect meaning. Style can distinguish the work of individual authors (for example, Jennings’s stories, Lawson’s poems), as well as the work of a particular period (for example, Elizabethan drama, nineteenth-century novels). Examples of stylistic features are narrative viewpoint, structure of stanzas, juxtaposition.


A function in the structure of a clause usually filled by a noun group/phrase (for example, ‘The dog [subject] was barking’). The normal position of the subject is before the verb group/phrase, but in most kinds of interrogatives (questions) it follows the first auxiliary verb (for example, ‘Was the dog barking?’, ‘Why was the dog barking?’).

In main clauses the subject is an obligatory element, except in imperative (command) clauses (for example, ‘Be very tactful’) and in casual style (for example, ‘Want some?’).

Most personal pronouns have a different form when they are the subject of a main clause (for example, I caught the ball. She has the answer etc.), than when they are the object (for example, Max threw the ball to me; Max told me the answer) Similarly ‘Give it to Mary and me’ is correct, not ‘Give it to Mary and I.’).

In the present tense, and the past tense with the verb ‘be’, the verb agrees with the subject in person and number (for example, ‘Her son lives with her’ ‘Her sons live with her’).

Subject matter refers to the topic or theme under consideration.

subjective language

Use of language which reflects the perspective, opinions, interpretations, points of view, emotions and judgment of the writer or speaker.

subordinating conjunction

Subordinating conjunctions introduce certain kinds of subordinate clauses. They include conjunctions such as ‘after’, ‘when’, ‘because’, ‘if’ and ‘that’.

Examples of different types of subordinating conjunctions:

  • ‘When the meeting ended we went home.’ (time)
  • ‘That was because it was raining.’ (reason)
  • ‘I'll do it if you pay me.’ (condition)
  • ‘I know that he is ill.’ (declarative)
  • ‘I wonder whether/if she’s right?’ (interrogative)


A meaningful element added to the end of a word to change its meaning (for example, to show its tense : ‘-ed’ in ‘passed’). Common suffixes are ‘-ing’; ‘-ed’; ‘-ness’; ‘-less’; ‘-able’).


The process of dividing words into syllables.


A unit of sound within a word (for example, ‘bat’ has one syllable; ‘bat-ting has two syllables).


A word having nearly the same meaning as another (for example, synonyms for ‘old’ would be ‘aged’, ‘venerable’, ‘antiquated’).


The ways in which sentences are formed from words, group/phrases and clauses. In some education settings, the terms ‘syntax’ and ‘grammar’ are used interchangeably.


A grammatical category marked by a verb in which the situation described in the clause is located in time (for example, present tense ‘has’ in ‘Sarah has a headache’ locates the situation in present time, while past tense ‘had’ in ‘Sarah had a headache’ locates it in past time.)

However, the relation between grammatical tense and (semantic) time is not always as simple as this. For example, present tense is typically used to talk about:

  • present states, as in ‘He lives in Darwin’
  • actions that happen regularly in the present, as in ‘He watches television every night’
  • ‘timeless’ happenings, as in informative texts such as ‘Bears hibernate in winter’
  • references to future events, as in ‘The match starts tomorrow’ where the tense is present but the time future. Likewise in ‘I thought the match started tomorrow’ where the subordinate clause ‘the match started tomorrow’ has past tense but refers to future time.


A means for communication. Their forms and conventions have developed to help us communicate effectively with a variety of audiences for a range of purposes. Texts can be written, spoken or multimodal and in print or digital/online forms. Multimodal texts combine language with other systems for communication, such as print text, visual images, sounh1rack and spoken word as in film or computer presentation media.

text navigation

A way readers move through text. Readers generally read novels in a linear fashion from the beginning to the end; readers of nonfiction books often use the contents page and index and move between chapters according to the information sought. Readers often read digital texts more flexibly, according to interest and purpose, using hyperlinks to move between pages and digital objects, such as videos or animations, making quick judgments about relevance of material.

text processing strategies

Strategies readers use to decode a text. These involve drawing on contextual, semantic, grammatical and phonic knowledge in systematic ways to work out what a text says. They include predicting, recognising words and working out unknown words, monitoring the reading, identifying and correcting errors, reading on and rereading.

text structure

A way in which information is organised in different types of texts (for example, chapter headings, subheadings, tables of contents, indexes and glossaries, overviews, introductory and concluding paragraphs, sequencing, topic sentences, taxonomies, cause and effect). Choices in text structures and language features together define a text type and shape its meaning.


Refers to the main idea or message of a text.

Grammatical theme indicates importance both within a clause and across a text. In a clause the theme comes in first position and indicates what the sentence is about. Theme is important at different levels of text organisation. A topic sentence serves as a theme for the points raised in a paragraph. A pattern of themes contributes to the method of development for the text as a whole.

types of texts

Classifications according to the particular purposes they are designed to achieve. These purposes influence the characteristic features the texts employ. In general, in the Australian Curriculum: English, texts can be classified as belonging to one of three types: imaginative, informative or persuasive, although it is acknowledged that these distinctions are neither static nor watertight and particular texts can belong to more than one category.

Imaginative texts – their primary purpose is to entertain through their imaginative use of literary elements. They are recognised for their form, style and artistic or aesthetic value. These texts include novels, traditional tales, poetry, stories, plays, fiction for young adults and children including picture books and multimodal texts such as film.

Informative texts – their primary purpose is to provide information. They include texts that are culturally important in society and are valued for their informative content, as a store of knowledge and for their value as part of everyday life. These texts include explanations and descriptions of natural phenomena, recounts of events, instructions and directions, rules and laws and news bulletins.

Persuasive texts – their primary purpose is to put forward a point of view and persuade a reader, viewer or listener. They form a significant part of modern communication in both print and digital environments. They include advertising, debates, arguments, discussions, polemics and influential essays and articles.


A word class that describes a kind of situation such as a happening (for example, ‘climbed’ in ‘she climbed the ladder’) or a state (for example, ‘is’ in ‘a koala is an Australian mammal’).

  • verbs are essential to clause structure: all clauses contain a verb, except in certain types of ellipsis (for example, ‘Sue lives in Sydney, her parents, in Melbourne’, where there is ellipsis of ‘live’ in the second clause).
  • virtually all verbs have contrasting past and present tense forms. Some are signalled by inflections such as ‘-s’ and ‘-ed’. For example:
    • walk/walks (present tense)
    • walked (past tense).
  • other verbs have irregular forms that signal a change in tense. For example:
    • present – ‘am/is/are’ and past – ‘was/’were’
  • present participle ‘being’ and past participle ‘been’.

Auxiliary verbs and modal verbs are two types of verbs:

  • auxiliary verbs are also referred to as ‘helping’ verbs. They precede the main verb – for example, ‘draw’ (main verb) ‘has drawn’ (auxiliary verb assisting)
  • modal verbs express a degree of probability (for example, ‘I might come home’) or a degree of obligation (for example ‘You must give it to me’, ‘You are not permitted to smoke in here’).

verb groups

Consists of a main verb, alone or preceded by one or more auxiliary or modal verbs as modifiers.

Verb groups/phrases:

  • create tense, as in ‘He [was happy]’, ‘She [is working] at home’, ‘I [have seen] him before’
  • express modality using modal verbs such as ‘can’, ‘may’, ‘must’, ‘will’, ‘shall’ and so on, as in ‘You [must be] mad’, ‘He [will have arrived] by now’, ‘She [may know] them’
  • create passive voice, as in ‘A photo [was taken]’


Observe with purpose, understanding and critical awareness. Some students participate in viewing activities by listening to an adult or peer describing the visual features of text, diagrams, pictures and multimedia.

visual features

Visual components of a text include placement, salience, framing, representation of action or reaction, shot size, social distance and camera angle.

visual language choices

Choices that contribute to the meaning of an image or the visual components of a multimodal text and are selected from a range of visual features like placement, salience, framing, representation of action or reaction, shot size, social distance and camera angle.

vocal effects

A speaker selects and uses particular vocal qualities including volume, tone, pitch, pace and fluency to engage and impact upon their audience.


Voice, in a grammatical sense, applies to verbs. Voice expresses the relationship of the subject to the action. Voice can be active or passive. Active voice places the subject before the verb so the subject does the action (for example, Max drew the picture). Passive voice places the receiver of the action before the verb (for example, The picture was drawn by Max).

Voice, in a literary sense, is the distinct personality of a piece of writing. The writer's voice is the individual writing style of the composer, created through the way they use and combine various writing features including syntax, punctuation, vocabulary choices, character development and dialogue (for example, a scientific explanation may be written in ‘expert voice’).


Letters of the alphabet (a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y) that represents a speech sound created by the relatively free passage of breath through the larynx and oral cavity. Letters that are not vowels are consonants.

vowel digraphs

Two successive vowels that represent a single phoneme (for example, /ai/ in the word ‘rain’; /ea/in the word ‘beach’; /ee/ in the word ‘free’).


A single distinct element of speech or writing that communicates meaning.

word association

A spontaneous connection and production of words in response to a given word.

word play

A literary technique based on the meanings and ambiguities of words where the words are used primarily for the purpose of intended effect or amusement. Word play is often based on homophones, puns and idioms (for example, ‘A will is a dead giveaway.’ ‘Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.’).


Plan, compose, edit and publish texts in print or digital forms. Writing usually involves activities using pencils, pens, word processors; and/or using drawings, models, photos to represent text; and/or using a scribe to record responses or produce recorded responses.