7th Grade Grammar: Key Skills and Concepts

Seventh grade is a pivotal year in language arts. Students in 7th grade incorporate grammar skills from elementary years into more complex language arts concepts in middle and high school. Keep reading for an overview of key skills and concepts in 7th grade grammar based on Common Core state standards in language.

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7th Grade Sentence Structure: Phrases and Clauses

As students learn more sophisticated writing styles, they need to know how to use phrases and clauses. They can use these sentence sections to create different types of sentences, which varies their writing style. Seventh graders can also easily recognize dangling and misplaced modifiers when they understand how phrases and clauses work.

Definitions and Functions of Phrases and Clauses

Understanding more about phrases and clauses helps students express themselves more clearly. They should understand the differences between clauses and phrases.

  • phrase - group of words that have either a subject or a verb; adds more information about a part of a sentence
  • clause - group of words that have both a subject and a verb; forms the basis of a sentence and can be joined together

Seventh graders should also understand how to use the eight different types of phrases to add more information about part of a sentence. They learn how connecting clauses, on the other hand, creates brand-new types of sentences.

Simple, Compound, Complex, and Compound-Complex Sentences

In elementary school, students mainly focus on simple, complete sentences. Middle school adds a bit of complexity to writing style. Seventh graders should be able to connect different types of clauses in the following sentence types:

  • simple sentence - one independent clause (Susan loves cats.)
  • compound sentence - two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction (Susan loves cats, so she owns three.)
  • complex sentence - one independent clause and one dependent clause joined by a subordinating conjunction (Susan loves cats even though she is allergic to them.)
  • compound-complex sentences - at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause (Susan loves cats, so she owns three, even though she is allergic to them.)

Writing in these sentence types allow students to vary their writing style in all types of writing. They require a fundamental understanding of phrases and clauses, which is a key grammar topic for grade 7. Sentence diagramming worksheets can help 7th graders better understand how sentence structure works.

Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers

Separating modifiers from the word they are modifying is a common error for writers of all ages. But once 7th graders understand the function of clauses and phrases, they'll be able to spot these mistakes more easily. They should know how to spot and fix:

  • dangling modifiers - modifier without a word to modify (Expecting rain, my umbrella is helpful.)
  • misplaced modifiers - modifier that is too far from the word it modifies (Expecting rain, my umbrella is helpful, so I brought it.)

Seventh graders who know how to use phrases and clauses in a sentence can quickly recognize and fix modifier errors. This skill helps them with more advanced concepts coming up in eighth grade and beyond. Worksheets on dangling and misplaced modifiers can be helpful to reinforce the concept.

7th Grade Writing Conventions

Seventh graders are expected to use the writing conventions of spelling, capitalization and punctuation that they have learned so far. But the Common Core state standards point out two specific skills that they should master in 7th grade: using commas in lists of coordinate adjectives and expressing one's ideas concisely.

Comma Usage With Coordinate Adjectives

By the end of 7th grade grammar, students should know how to use coordinate adjectives. These groups of adjectives describe the same thing in different ways. Seventh graders need to determine when to add a comma to these groups of words (for example: the happy, loving puppy) and when the adjective describes a compound noun instead (the happy brown puppy).

Concise Word Choice

Seventh grade is the year to cut down wordiness and redundancy. The Common Core state standards require students to choose concise and precise language to communicate their ideas. This is a beneficial skill in both language and writing standards.

Other Key Language Arts Skills for 7th Grade

Now that 7th graders have a strong vocabulary base from elementary school, they can use it in their writing. Seventh graders should focus on using context clues in a sentence to determine the meaning of an unknown word, as well as their knowledge of Greek and Latin affixes and roots. When all else fails, 7th graders can use reference materials to define new vocabulary words.

Greek and Latin Affixes and Roots

Upper elementary students have some experience with Greek and Latin roots, prefixes and suffixes. When they finish 7th grade, they can apply this knowledge when defining unfamiliar words. A strong understanding of Greek and Latin roots and affixes can widely expand middle schoolers' writing, reading and speaking vocabulary.

Using Reference Materials

Hopefully, 7th graders have experience using reference materials like dictionaries and glossaries to look up words. They should sharpen these skills in 7th grade to prepare for complex texts later in secondary school. Luckily, there are many options to give students ready access to reference materials, including yourdictionary.com.

Understanding Allusions

Figures of speech that are based on other written works are important for 7th graders to understand. They can have a much more nuanced reading experience if they recognize and interpret common allusions. The Common Core state standards list the following types of allusions for 7th graders to work on:

  • literary allusions - references to other stories, poems or books (for example, reading "nevermore" as a reference to Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven")
  • biblical allusions - references to stories or characters from the Bible (for example, understanding that a situation described as "David vs. Goliath" can be compared to the Bible story)
  • mythological allusions - references to works of Greek, Roman or other mythology (for example, knowing that a character's "Achilles heel" is a reference to the Greek god Achilles)

The best way to increase a 7th grader's ability to recognize and interpret allusions is to expose them to different types of literature. Once they understand the connection between the allusion and its source material, they will understand the word more.

Synonym/Antonym Relationships

Seventh graders have been learning about opposites since they were preschoolers. They can expand this skill into using synonym/antonym relationships to better define unfamiliar words. For example, knowing that "contentious" is the antonym to "cooperative" can help 7th graders understand each of the words better.

Understanding Analogies

Similar to synonyms and antonyms, word analogies use a student's knowledge of one word to help define another word. These relationships can be comparisons such as similes or metaphors, or more complex relationships such as part-to-whole or cause-and-effect.

Developing Strong Readers and Writers

These grammar skills are integral to 7th graders' ability to use grade-appropriate sentence structure and domain-specific words. Seventh graders who attain these skills will be able to read grade-level text and to write in an understandable way. Check out more tips on teaching grammar to middle school students of all levels. Or, if you're ready to move on to another focus, incorporate these middle school writing strategies in your classroom.

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