AG4 Intervention Overview

Using the SHAPE CODING™ System 'Were' With Coordinated NP Subjects

NB use of ‘was’ for the plural copula/auxiliary is acceptable in some dialects, e.g. SE England London/Kent.


Check out / teach present tense plural ‘are ‘ accuracy first and only intervene if culturally valid.


You will need:


  • Two small ovals, one large oval, diamonds (was/were), semicircle, cloud, hexagon.
  • Small toys , action pictures.
  • Red / blue pens.



App settings: Turn on plurals, coordinated nouns in oval and plural past tense diamond.


Machine generated alternative text:



Machine generated alternative text:


Machine generated alternative text:

Intervention steps:


First complete AG4& 5 Steps 1-3 if necessary.


1. Repeat all sentence types from AG4 & 5 with two different subjects in the oval, e.g. The cat and the dog were fluffy. The cat and the dog were/sitting under the table.  You could use these PowerPoint slides.


the table


This time draw a single red line under cat and another under dog. Explain that these ‘add up like a sum’ to more than one so must have a double blue line in the diamond, i.e. ‘were’.


Repeat with multiple examples of a plural noun phrase in the oval, e.g. Mum and Dad  were…


lau hin


For practice you could try drag and drop exercise


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

3. Monitoring: SLT start to make “errors”, get student to spot and correct them.

  1. Using shape templates as an aid
  2. Without the templates.


Complete written error detection exercises as appropriate:  Error Detection past was/were sentences


4. Consolidation:

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



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

Additional Resources