© Lewis Clarke, Geograph. Licence: CC BY-SA 2.0. Source

A horse and rider head on up a country road near Broadclyst in East Devon.

About this picture …

The photographer tells us that this coyote (canis latrans) in Colorado managed to locate some unfortunate rodent beneath the snow, pounced blindly, and came up with its trophy. ‘Pounce’ is an example of a verb we do not normally used with a direct object. A fox or cat might pounce on a rat, but we would not normally say that it *pounced a rat.

Worksheet No. 10

These Worksheets are based on textbooks written by NL Clay (1905-1991) and used in English schools from the 1920s to the 1960s. They focus on vocabulary, sentence structure, and clear speaking. They are best studied in pairs or small groups, because that allows you to pool ideas and encourages you to speak; but you may of course share your sentences with me.


For each group of words, compose a single sentence that uses at least one of them. They are generated randomly from a list of very common English words.

I. Father. Act. List.

II. Finally. Writer. Your.

III. Commercial. Policy. Nearly.

See more Spinners.


Choose the best word for the noise made by:

IA loose floorboard. IIA pencil on paper. IIITyping at a keyboard. IVTurning a rusty tap. VThe fall of a heavy sack. VIWaves on the shore. VIIConversation. VIIICoins. IXStrong winds. XThe breeze. XIDistant traffic. XIIRain. XIIIBreaking glass. XIVA dropped spoon. XVA siren. XVIA moving chain. XVIIAn electric motor. XVIIIShears. XIXHorseshoes on the road.

Suggested sounds (in A to Z order)

Buzz. Chink. Clack. Clank. Clatter. Clink. Clop. Crash. Creak. Drone. Howl. Hum. Jingle. Lap. Patter. Rattle. Roar. Rumble. Rustle. Scratch. Screech. Sigh. Splash. Squeak. Squeal. Tap. Thud. Tinkle. Wail. Whine. Whirr.


For each of these words, suggest at least two words that seem to be contrary in meaning:

IReasonable. IIRebellious. IIIRefined. IVRelaxed. VRelevant. VIReliable. VIIReligious. VIIIResolute. IXRespectful. XResponsible. XIReticent. XIIReversible.

Suggested opposites (in A to Z order)

Coarse. Disrespectful. Dutiful. Flaky. Garrulous. Hesitant. Immaterial. Irrational. Irrelevant. Irreligious. Irresolute. Irrespensible. Irreversible. Obedient. Permanent. Reckless. Rude. Secular. Talkative. Tense. Unreasonable. Unrefined. Unrelaxed. Unreliable.


Join each group of ideas together to form one sentence. You can add, remove or change any words you like, but try to use at least one present participle.

For example

i. He swept off his hat. He made a courtly bow.

Sweeping off his hat, he made a courtly bow.

ii. He went to answer the door. He left the safe wide open.

→ He went to answer the door, leaving the safe wide open.

II rode slowly. I kept to the edge of the road. II He picked up his coat. He followed her out of the door. III She sipped her tea. She listened to his story. IV She forgot her promise. She told him everything. V He threw her the keys. ‘You drive’ he said. VI He wrapped his coat around his arm. He stepped towards the dog. VII ‘What’s that?’ he whispered. He pointed towards the trees. VIII He ran towards her. He shouted ‘Stop!’. He waved his arms. IX She brushed aside my warnings. She took a deep breath. She pushed the door open. X I knocked at the door. There was no response. I tried the handle. XI He could not escape. He saw it. He gave himself up.


Turn these notes into a short passage of continuous prose.

Country milkmaid. Walking to market. Can of milk on her head. Day-dreaming. Would exchange milk for hundreds of eggs. Would get hundreds of chickens from eggs. Would sell chickens for high price. Would buy expensive ball-gown. Would wear gown to a dance. Would draw many suitors. Would reject them all. Would toss her head ‘like this’. Jerked can from her head. Dream shattered. Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.

See The Country Milkmaid.


Speak each group of words out aloud, making the difference in pronunciation clear.

IBack, black. IIBath, bark. IIIBook, brook. IVChatter, shatter. VCold, colt. VIDip, drip. VIILake, rake. VIIIRub, rob. IXShip, chip. XSide, chide. XITank, thank. XIIThink, Sink. XIIITin, din. XIVToff, trough. XVTub, tab.

Read this short passage out aloud, clearly and without haste.

YOU can take a tub with a rub and a scrub in a two-foot tank of tin,
You can stand and look at the whirling brook and think about jumping in,
You can chatter and shake in the cold black lake, but the kind of bath for me,
Is to take a dip from the side of a ship, in the trough of the rolling sea.

From Katawampus (1895) by Sir Edward Abbott Parry (1863-1943). See the whole poem at Pater’s Bathe.