First of all… What is SPAG???

You mean it’s not a deliciously hot Italian pasta dish?  Afraid not!  It stands for Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar!  Far less exciting!

“Mum I need help with my SPAG homework”

The uttering of these few simple words, results in me taking several deep breaths before going – “Yes dear, of course”!

If those few short words, have not entered your family home and filled you with dread, you are clearly an English teacher, an English graduate, or your kids are either …

1.Too young (just wait – save this blog and come back in a few years or start learning now)


2. Your children were fortunate to have not had to go through the process of SATs to be classed as “secondary ready”.

God Of Obviously Good Literary Explanations

I think I have a reasonable grasp on the English language; I completed ‘A’ levels, went to Uni and teach History! However, what my 10-year-old daughter has to be able to identify for her KS2 SATs, has left me scratching my head, using dictionaries, consulting with the Alexa app and of course the God Of Obviously Good Literary Explanations – Google!  What would we do without it? I laugh and cry along side all the parents at the end of the school day – all commenting that they are secretly Googling the answers to the various grammatical terms, in order to support their children’s understanding. However, whilst Google is a genuine lifesaver; sometimes even once you’ve found the correct term, it can still be super confusing!

330 to 360 million people speak English as their first language

I wonder if all of these can identify what a modal verb is? Whilst I’m definitely not convinced of the need to know all this grammatical terminology, in order for our kids to be successful in their KS2 SATS, they need to know this stuff.  It therefore falls upon us as parents, to support our children in learning a language, that is actually is new to many of us too!

Fear not!

So if the terms, antonym, modal verb, and digraph to name a very small number, make you shudder, fear not! I thought I’d share a few useful terms and examples that I have uncovered on this delightful KS2 SAT journey, to try and save you the various angst that I’ve been through!

I don’t profess to be perfect – I am not the grammar police and I wouldn’t dare attempt to share the numerous terms with you in one go; but in the spirit of trying to support my fellow (struggling to cope with English SPAG) parents, here’s what I hope are 5 useful terms!

5 useful Grammatical terms

1) Antonym

This is a really easy one to remember – it is just two words with opposite meanings!

Such as

  • Hot – Cold
  • heavy – light

Easy right??? Next.

2) Determiner   – (this very nearly terminated my daughter’s homework book)

Uggghhhh! This is one term,  where every explanation is confusing! I hope I’ve done a slightly better job! It basically states that a ‘determiner’ specifies a noun as being known or not known! Confusing right? Examples such as the, a or an, this, those, my, your, some and every.  Still makes no sense? See if the contextual examples help.

  • The school team (known – we know the school team because it’s the school team)
  • A good team (unknown – we don’t know which school team – ‘a’ could mean any number of teams)
  • That person (known – it’s specific to whoever I guess is being pointed at or about to be described)
  • Harry’s dad (We know Harry’s dad!!!)
  • Some children (We don’t know who these are – it’s not specific)

I can see it in context like this – I hope you can too!

3) Digraph

If you’re at the KS2 level with your kids, the Digraph will be old news to you, as reception kids have to know these, to help them to read! But for newbies and to serve as a useful reminder – A digraph is the term given to two letters that make a sound like ‘OW’ as in COW and DOWN or ‘OA’ as in BOAT and COAT.


4) Homophone

One of the reasons why our English language is so confusing!   This is the correct grammatical term for two different words that sound the same when they are spoken out loud, but are spelt differently. Such as their, there, they’re or hear and here! Easy! But they still have to know the term!

5) Modal verb

This is another confusing one! It basically changes the meaning of other verbs. The most obvious Modal verbs are, will, would, can, could, may, might, shall, should, must and ought.

Some examples in context could be…

  • I can work out the answers for my kids SPAG homework.
  • I might be able to work out the answers for my kids SPAG homework
  • Dad, you should help with the SPAG homework.
  • I think we ought to get help for the SPAG homework – GOOGLE????

Until next time my friends, good luck, may the force, Google, Alexa, dictionaries and whatever else helps, be ever at hand on your grammatical SPAG KS2 journey! If you have any advice – please feel free to share your wisdom!

I hope this helps a little, and if not, I hope you’ve had a laugh and a cry along the way with me!

As always; any opinions expressed are my own!  Thanks for reading!

Susie x