Jane Andrews is a Teaching and Learning Adviser for English at Herts for Learning

Don’t worry you is reading it correctly; it isn’t a typo.  It’s the title of a book that Marylyn Brocklehurst of the Norfolk Children’s Book Centre introduced me to and, I yam delighted.

Standing amongst a wisdom of teachers, queuing for a well-earned cup of tea, a colleague and I had a little titter. The author allows us to be privy to a conversation between a donkey and a yam – yes, a yam and gives us a little lesson on the verb ‘to be’.  You can see where that joke is going and by the end of the book you feel the yam’s pain. We even found ourselves agreeing with the conclusion that there are times in life that ‘good grammar don’t matter’.

I have often heard a definition that verbs are ‘action; and ‘being’ words. Imagine explaining ‘being words’ to a class of 5 year olds.  With the requirement to use the terms ‘clause’ and ‘verb’ in Y1 and teaching the past progressive in Y2, that’s exactly what we need to grapple with.  I wouldn’t recommend the ‘being word’ route though.  See Martin Galway’s enlightening blog Do-be-do-be-do or why the simplest of verbs can be trickiest to explain for some insight into this tricky task.

Let’s return to the donkey and the yam. The yam is increasingly annoyed at the donkey’s enunciation and grammar – “NO! I am not a donkey! And it’s not “you is”! It’s “you are!” You are, you are, you are!’ To which the donkey replies “that’s not like any hee-haw I ever heard!”  The final lesson illuminates more than an understanding of how the verb is conjugated, with its unintended consequences.  Try a cross textual link …. think Tadpole’s Promise ……

Oh dear, I do hope I haven’t ruined the end for you!