Use Plays to Teach Grammar in a Fun and Effective Way!

Idioms for Aliens
Use Plays to Teach Grammar in a Fun and Effective Way!
Ed Butts
Excerpted, with permission from

Idioms for Aliens.jpgEnglish grammar can be a challenging subject for both native English speakers and ESL students. But using grammar plays that students act out inserts fun into learning while simultaneously helping children understand the rules of grammar. Try this one in your classroom today. Depending on the needs and abilities of your students, it can work in grades three through ten.

 No Pronouns at the Party

Characters: Bob (or any other name) and Ms. Snob     

(Bob has a list of pronouns to be invited to a party, but Ms. Snob reacts in a condescending way to all of them.)             

Bob: Well, the list of pronouns to be invited to the party is complete, Ms. Snob. Ready?            

Ms. Snob: Indeed! Read.         

Bob: The first pronouns to be invited are I, You, She, We…      

Ms. Snob: Personal pronouns?             

Bob: Yes, the most important pronouns!            

Ms. Snob: Oh dear! Much too personal! I, you, me, it! Always dragging antecedents around! Always trying to replace respectable nouns! No, no, no! Won’t do! Won’t do!    

Bob: No personal pronouns?     

Ms. Snob: No. Indeed not!      

Bob: OK. Next on the list are My, Mine, Your, His, Hers…      

Ms. Snob: Too possessive!      

Bob: But Ms. Snob, possessive pronouns are…            

Ms. Snob: Grasping, greedy pronouns! Mine, mine, mine! Quite unacceptable!            

Bob: No possessive pronouns?

Ms. Snob: Of course not!         

Bob: Well, the next pronouns to consider are Who, Whom, Whose…  

Ms. Snob: Oh, Interrogative pronouns! Questions, questions, questions! Nuisances!      

Bob: But, Ms. Snob…              

Ms. Snob: No interrogative pronouns, please. And no beastly relative pronouns!           

Bob: Very well. How about Himself, Herself, Themselves…      

Ms. Snob: Reflexive pronouns? Absolutely out of the question. So self-centered!           

Bob: OK. Strike off reflexive pronouns. Moving down the list to This, That, These, and Those.              

Ms. Snob: Horribly demonstrative! This, that, this, that! Can’t even decide whether to be pronouns or adjectives. Absolutely detestable!    

Bob: Off go the demonstrative pronouns. And finally I have Everybody, Anybody, Somebody, Another, Any…             

Ms. Snob: Indefinite pronouns! Vague, unsubstantial non-entities! The very thought of pronouns of such low caliber is distressing! No! And again, no!              

Bob: Ms. Snob, the list no longer contains any pronouns! And the party depends upon pronouns because conversation depends upon pronouns.

Ms. Snob: Ridiculous! Not true at all.  

Bob: Alright, listen! “Bob wants Ms. Snob to reconsider inviting the pronouns. Bob and Ms. Snob need the pronouns for Bob and Ms. Snob’s party.” Wouldn’t it be easier to say, “I want you to reconsider inviting the pronouns. We need them for our party.”         

Ms. Snob: Indeed? Very well. Invite the pronouns. But all guests must observe Standard English. Correct positions! Proper agreement! No I where there should be me. No he where there should be she. Understood?       

Bob: Understood.         

Ms. Snob: Good. Now, read the list of nouns, please.  

Bob: Aaaaah!