Language For Expressing Ideas (EN1 Reflection 2-5)


We use language to express our ideas and communicate what is happening, who/what, how, where and when. in functional grammar "What is happening" is called “processes”, “who/what” is called participants, and “how, where and when” is called “circumstances". When you have all this information in a sentence it is called a "clause".


What we do (action verbs): walk, run, buy, come, work. What we say or (saying verbs): Ask, shout, say, explain, promise, suggest, demand. What we think, feel and perceive (sensing verbs): Realise, believe, decide, like, enjoy, see. How we create links between bits of info (relating verbs): Am, is, turn into, is made of, is called, have, include. How we refer to things that exist (existing verbs): Is, was, are, were

Processes are normally written in green.


Participants are nouns and pronouns and can be both living and non living. The animate or inanimate participant gives an indication of the kind of text we are dealing with. Students should progress throughout their education: from the particular towards the general; from the everyday towards the technical; from the concrete towards the abstract; from the literal towards the metaphorical.

Participants can be in a position of classifying, defining, exemplifying, describing, analysing into parts and naming.

Participants can be a noun, pronoun or noun group. A noun group is a chunk of information, but is describing the same thing. There can be pre-modifiers and post-modifiers; adding information to the noun on both sides.

Adding more information to the noun can help making an image more vivid an is often used in narratives. Using noun groups in writing makes the story more vivid for the reader.

Participants are pointed out in red color in functional grammar


are the additional information about the processes: Where, when, why, how, with, whom etc. Circumstances are normally adverbs/adverb groups or prepositional phrases, but may sometimes take other forms such of noun groups.

Circumstances can be time, place, manner, accompaniment, matter, cause, contingency, role and angle.

Circumstances are pointed out in blue color in functional grammar.

Language for Connecting Ideas

Clauses function to represent different aspects of our experience – What is DONE, SAID, THOUGHT, FELT, PERCEIVED and what simply IS. We can also construct RELATIONSHIPS between these aspects of our experience.

Looking at meaning: Making connections

Adding two clauses together: and. Providing alternatives: or. Making a contrast: but. Speculating: if. Indicating cause and effect: because. Showing relationships of time: when.

Students tend to overuse simple, single clause sentences (e.g.There was this girl. She was in my class. She lived with her mother.) or the opposite – long rambling incoherent ones (e.g. There was this girl and she was in my class and she lived with her mother).

They need to expand their linguistic resources for connecting ideas – creating well-structured coherent sentences. Simple sentences should be used strategically – to create a certain effect for example in a story making a staccato effect or in newspaper articles where they are short, uncluttered, to the point-sentences. Longer sentences are used if a number of closely related ideas need to be brought together. Students need awareness of the different ways in which information can be presented and clauses can be combined.

Procedures need to be straightforward and easy to read such as cooking plan, manuals and instructions. Other text types need lengthy, complex sentences in order to develop a certain line of reasoning or to create connections between ideas in terms of aspects of time, reason, purpose and manner. This can be narratives such as fiction or journalism.


Combining clauses to produce different types of sentences: simple sentences (one independent clause), compound sentences (two independent clauses), complex sentences (an independent and one or more dependent clauses), and compound-complex sentences (a combination of compound and complex clauses).