Glossary (Version 8.4)

A grammatical category marked by a verb in which the situation described in the clause is located in time (for example, present tense ‘has’ in ‘Sarah has a headache’ locates the situation in present time, while past tense ‘had’ in ‘Sarah had a headache’ locates it in past time.)

However, the relation between grammatical tense and (semantic) time is not always as simple as this. For example, present tense is typically used to talk about:

  • present states, as in ‘He lives in Darwin’
  • actions that happen regularly in the present, as in ‘He watches television every night’
  • ‘timeless’ happenings, as in informative texts such as ‘Bears hibernate in winter’
  • references to future events, as in ‘The match starts tomorrow’ where the tense is present but the time future. Likewise in ‘I thought the match started tomorrow’ where the subordinate clause ‘the match started tomorrow’ has past tense but refers to future time.

A means for communication. Their forms and conventions have developed to help us communicate effectively with a variety of audiences for a range of purposes. Texts can be written, spoken or multimodal and in print or digital/online forms. Multimodal texts combine language with other systems for communication, such as print text, visual images, soundtrack and spoken word as in film or computer presentation media.

A way readers move through text. Readers generally read novels in a linear fashion from the beginning to the end; readers of nonfiction books often use the contents page and index and move between chapters according to the information sought. Readers often read digital texts more flexibly, according to interest and purpose, using hyperlinks to move between pages and digital objects, such as videos or animations, making quick judgments about relevance of material.

Strategies readers use to decode a text. These involve drawing on contextual, semantic, grammatical and phonic knowledge in systematic ways to work out what a text says. They include predicting, recognising words and working out unknown words, monitoring the reading, identifying and correcting errors, reading on and rereading.

A way in which information is organised in different types of texts (for example, chapter headings, subheadings, tables of contents, indexes and glossaries, overviews, introductory and concluding paragraphs, sequencing, topic sentences, taxonomies, cause and effect). Choices in text structures and language features together define a text type and shape its meaning.

Refers to the main idea or message of a text.

Grammatical theme indicates importance both within a clause and across a text. In a clause the theme comes in first position and indicates what the sentence is about. Theme is important at different levels of text organisation. A topic sentence serves as a theme for the points raised in a paragraph. A pattern of themes contributes to the method of development for the text as a whole.

Classifications according to the particular purposes they are designed to achieve. These purposes influence the characteristic features the texts employ. In general, in the Australian Curriculum: English, texts can be classified as belonging to one of three types: imaginative, informative or persuasive, although it is acknowledged that these distinctions are neither static nor watertight and particular texts can belong to more than one category.

Imaginative texts – their primary purpose is to entertain through their imaginative use of literary elements. They are recognised for their form, style and artistic or aesthetic value. These texts include novels, traditional tales, poetry, stories, plays, fiction for young adults and children including picture books and multimodal texts such as film.

Informative texts – their primary purpose is to provide information. They include texts that are culturally important in society and are valued for their informative content, as a store of knowledge and for their value as part of everyday life. These texts include explanations and descriptions of natural phenomena, recounts of events, instructions and directions, rules and laws and news bulletins.

Persuasive texts – their primary purpose is to put forward a point of view and persuade a reader, viewer or listener. They form a significant part of modern communication in both print and digital environments. They include advertising, debates, arguments, discussions, polemics and influential essays and articles.