AG1 are (aux/copula) with plural subject noun phrase

Intervention outline

Using plural ‘diamond’

You will need:

  • SHAPE CODING app and/or 5 large, individual SC shapes: oval, cloud,  semicircle, rectangle, diamond.
  • If no app, symbols / text for target diamond words:  is/are present tense diamonds/present time triangles.    
  • Range of small objects, toys, figures – make sure you have duplicates of some for plurals.
  • Small pictures or flashcards of people  – singular and plural and places e.g. bridge, park, wood.
  • Tokens and 2 slotted (correct / incorrect) posting box.
  • Colouring sheet, e.g. animals, fruit, shapes.


App settings:  Turn on plural nouns and plural present tense diamonds.

Machine generated alternative text:




Intervention steps:


First, assess awareness of target structure using grammatical judgement task. Present child with a series of sentences, some containing a correct copula/auxiliary and some not, e.g. The boy are tired. The men are running. The girl is on the table. The ladies is in the car. Child posts token into the posting box to indicate if they think the sentence is grammatically accurate or not. If < 80% focus on grammatical judgement as well as use throughout intervention. This will support self-monitoring/correction skills.



For Steps 1-3, you could use these PowerPoint slides


  1. Teach rule: Introduce Subject (oval) copula (diamond) Adjective (cloud) SHAPE CODING template: e.g.

the car is blue


  1. Recap shapes and sentence for The car is blue.  Ask questions, e.g.: “What is blue?” or “What is the car like?” (Here, the target response ‘blue’). Discuss how the oval is what you are talking about and  the fluffy shape tells us what the oval shape is like. Check the student understands this.

Write blue in the cloud and place the car in the oval.


  1. Explain that the word in the diamond shape must match the word in the oval. Add is and say the sentence together. Use a single red line under car and single blue line under is.


  2. Add another blue car into the oval. Say: “Now we have two blue cars we so need another red line under car to show more than one. Now the number of red lines doesn’t match the number of blue lines so we need to change the diamond word to match.” Flip over / swap in the diamond with are and two blue lines.


the cars are blue


Repeat with other subjects/colour combinations. Repeat with other subjects and adjectives.

Give explicit feedback on errors, e.g. “I heard you say: ‘the cars is blue’.
You told me there is more than one car but forgot to switch to a more than one diamond word. What should it be?” Use coding to show this change and say the corrected sentence with child.


Try drag and drop exercises here


  1. Repeat steps 1a-c using Subject (oval) copula (diamond) Prepositional Phrase (semi-circle) SHAPE CODING template:


car is table


the cars are on the table


Ask child to hide singular and plural objects, e.g. cars around room and ask them to give you directions to find them, e.g. The car is / cars are behind the computer or place small figures onto different backgrounds and ask child to describe where they are, e.g. The boy is/children are in the wood.

Try drag and drop exercises see  here


  1. : Teach plural aux

Repeat steps 1a-c using Subject (oval) auxiliary (diamond) Verb Phrase (hexagon) SHAPE CODING template:


the car is


the cars are rollin


Act out some actions with figures or toys or show pictures. Show again how to switch the diamond to ‘are’ with plural nouns. Give explicit feedback on errors using coding to support.


Try drag and drop exercises see here


Use a combination of regular and irregular plurals, e.g. cats/geese/boys/children to ensure child doesn’t only apply the rule to nouns that have plural s.


  1. Reducing shapes: use fewer and fewer shapes/lines, but then bring back to check responses.


  1.  Monitoring: SLT start to make “errors”, get student to spot and correct them:
    1. Using shape templates as an aid (see here)
    2. Without the templates
    3. Error detection/correction  -written exercise if appropriate


  1. Consolidation:

    • At the end of each session, review plurals covered in previous sessions.
    • Start to mix up sentences to use a range of subjects, copulas, auxiliaries and verbs consecutively.
    • Complete written exercises, if appropriate: mixed singular / plural noun -agreement cloze.


7. Generalisation: Watch video clips and ask the student to create a running commentary. Look at picture books and say:
“What is happening now?”
. NB If you ask: “What are cats doing now?” an acceptable response would be just sleeping. Give prompts that require a full Subject auxiliary ‘Verbing’ sentence.

Additional Resources