The Power of Verbs

Summarising, rather than analysing, is one of the chief pitfalls of Leaving Certificate students. Overused signal verbs such as says and relates, fail to inject the kind of interpretive power that other, purposefully selected verbs can. Let verbs carry the tone of your message; leave out the amateurish adjectives and adverbs.

Here are some alternative signal verbs to consider:

  • suggests
  • hints
  • intimates
  • implies
  • questions
  • sheds light
  • clarifies
  • masks
  • notes
  • observes
  • asserts
  • concedes
  • qualifies
  • affirms
  • criticises
  • admonishes
  • challenges
  • debates
  • berates
  • trivialises
  • denigrates
  • vilifies
  • demonises
  • disparages
  • ridicules
  • mocks
  • points out
  • acknowledges
  • minimises
  • dismisses
  • demonstrates
  • underscores
  • flatters
  • praises
  • exaggerates
  • exposes
  • articulates
  • explores
  • establishes
  • evokes
  • induces

Here are some verbs to describe the structure of a text:

  • opens
  • begins
  • adds
  • connects
  • juxtaposes
  • draws a parallel between
  • foreshadows
  • uses an analogy
  • turns to
  • shifts to
  • transitions to
  • concludes
  • finishes
  • closes
  • ends

And now some verbs to describe various rhetorical modes:

  • compares
  • contrasts
  • classifies
  • defines
  • narrates
  • describes
  • argues
  • persuades
  • explains
  • defines
  • exemplifies
  • illustrates
  • summarises

6A1 Competition Time!

Post a comment below using any of the above verbs (correctly!) and relating to any aspect of our LC course and there will be a prize for you on Monday 9th January 2012.


General Vision and Viewpoint

Here are some questions to ask yourself while revising General Vision and Viewpoint. Make notes on each of our three texts as you are looking at each question.


Is the text optimistic or pessimistic?

Is the text compassionate or dispassionate?

Does the text support or condemn certain actions / values / characters? What is its moral stance?

Is the text timebound or does it have relevance today?

What is your attitude to the characters and the dilemmas they face?

What vision of family life is embodied in the text?

What is the nature of the key relationships in the text?

How would you describe the treatment of women in the text?

What is the religious vision of the text? (Christian? Religious vision absent?)

Is its vision of life tragic or hopeful?

What is the vision of human nature in the text?

Is the author’s presentation of society positive or negative?

Is the author’s presentation of society accurate?

What serious or philosphical questions about life and morality are examined by the author?

What life experiences does the protagonist endure which help or hinder his development as a person?

What is your personal response to the general vision and viewpoint of the text?

Remember to incorporate quality linking sentences into your notes. Practice makes perfect!!


Literary Genre

One of the Modes of Comparison for 2012 is Literary Genre. Be sure you have a clear understanding of what this mode entails. Here are some aspects of Literary Genre to bear in mind as you are revising.


Why choose one genre over another?

Why did the author choose to publish in one particular genre over another? Why is ‘How Many Miles to Babylon?’ a novel? Would it make any difference if it was a play or poem? Why is ‘Inside I’m Dancing’ a film? What limitations and restrictions does this genre place on the text? What freedom does this genre allow? Why did Shakespeare choose to write the story of ‘Hamlet’ as a play? What is particularly dramatic about this story? What conventions do we associate with a novel / film / play? In what ways are they similar and in what ways are they different? What are the expectations of the audience / reader when they encounter this text? Are those expectations fulfilled or is the genre subverted?



Focus on viewpoints, i.e. omniscient, 1st person, 3rd person, how camera shots act as the narrator, the role of the audience, the soundtrack.



Linear? Flashback? Time span?



Use of dialogue to add immediacy. Use of dialect to add colour and realism. Descriptive language. Close-up shots. Stage directions to create character and place. Use of imagery and symbolism.


Titles of the texts

Do the titles bear any particular significance or symbolism?



Key moments. What type of humour is used? What function does humour have in the text?


Character creation

Any pivotal characters? What techniques make you identify with the character?


Tension and suspense

How are tension and suspense created and to what effect? Music? Lighting? Atmosphere?


Non-verbal communication

E.g. dance, music, tableau.


Conclusion of the story

Are all loose ends tied up or is the ending abmiguous?


Make notes about our three texts under these headings. Practice using your linking sentences in these notes. Make your links substantial – using ‘in contrast’ and ‘similarly’ only is not sufficient. If you have any questions or comments on Literary Genre then comment on this post and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

6A1 Christmas Revision

The Christmas holidays provide an excellent opportunity for you to undertake some concrete revision for your Leaving Certificate exams. A small amount of work each day – around 45 minutes per day for English – will reap many rewards. I have tried to cover as much of the course as possible for you to revise, but if there is anything missing we can cover it together in class.

Remember that the mock exams take place around three weeks after we return from the Christmas holidays – this will help to provide some extra motivation!

Here is a list of the topics that you should revise over the holidays:

Paper 1

Be sure that you can recognise and write in each of the five uses of language – language of information, language of argument, language of persuasion, language of argument and aesthetic use of language.

Revise the various type of Question Bs that may arise, such as a letter, review, talk, speech, interview, diary, report and so on.

Paper 2

As your Single Study text, you must be very familiar with all aspects of ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ – character, theme, style, imagery etc.

Know your three Modes of Comparison well – Theme or Issue, General Vision and Viewpoint and Literary Genre.

Ensure that you are very familiar with your three comparative texts – ‘How Many Miles to Babylon?’, ‘Inside I’m Dancing’ and ‘Hamlet’.

Remember that you have studied seven of your eight poets in class. Do not include Kinsella in your revision. We will study him after the mock exams. All others should be revised.

The following is a suggestion as to how you might cover all of this material. Feel free to adjust it according to your needs and your time.

  • Thurs 22nd Dec – Language of Narration – know how to recognise it when you read it and what is required when you are asked to write using this type of language. Practise writing narrative paragraphs.
  • Fri 23rd Dec – the poetry of Philip Larkin – themes, techniques, imagery, key quotes etc. Add to the notes that you have already.
  • Sat 24th Dec – Diary entry and report writing – what are the conventions required for each of these pieces of writing? Can you recognise the language in these formats and can you write one of these? Practice.
  • Mon 26th Dec – Letter writing and reviews
  • Tues 27th Dec – ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ – the major characters – add to the notes you have already made.
  • Wed 28th Dec – ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ – minor characters, style, imagery
  • Thurs 29th Dec – the poetry of Eavan Boland.
  • Fri 30th Dec – language of information and aesthetic use of language – how would you recognise each of these uses of language? With aesthetic use of language, be sure to revise literary techniques.
  • Sat 31st Dec – ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ – themes. Add to your own notes. Be sure you know your quotes. Go over past papers.
  • Sun 1st Jan – talk and speech – practice.
  • Mon 2nd Jan – Literary Genre – what does this mode entail? Examples: use of dialogue, flashback, chronological order, suspense, imagery, conclusion of the story etc.
  • Tues 3rd Jan – Literary Genre – how do the above aspects relate to our three texts? Start planning essays and writing sample paragraphs.
  • Wed 4th Jan – Language of Argument and Language of Persuasion – these two have many similarities and yet are quite distinct. Can you identify the distinctions? Practice writing in both of of these genres of writing.
  • Thurs 5th Jan – General Vision and Viewpoint – what does this mode entail? Examples: outlook on life, moral stance, key relationships, the treatment of women etc.
  • Fri 6th Jan – General Vision and Viewpoint – how do the above aspects relate to our three texts? Start planning essays and writing sample paragraphs.
  • Sat 7th Jan – the poetry of Robert Frost – add to your notes.
  • Sun 8th Jan – the poetry of Adrienne Rich – add to your notes.

Best of luck with all of your revision!



More poems by 1A1

Nero – a Limerick by Oran

The Roman Emperor Nero

Wished to be known as a hero

But you don’t save a town

By burning it down

So Nero as hero got zero!


Football acrostic by Calum

Football fanatic

Over the fence and under the security guard

On my way to the stand

Team Arsenal all the way

Barcelona go back home

And when we score the noise will be immense

Left to right the play goes

Looming over the keeper, Van Persie must score.


Seagull acrostic by Adam

Standing on a fence

Evil bird

Avian thief

Gazing at me from his fence

Ugly creature

Living on a cliff

Landing on the beach.

Past exam questions on Sylvia Plath


‘Plath makes effective use of language to explore her personal experience of suffering and to provide occasional glimpses of the redemptive power of love.’
Discuss this statement, supporting your answer with reference to both the themes and language found in the poetry of Sylvia Plath on your course.



‘Plath’s provocative imagery serves to highlight the intense emotions expressed in her poetry.’ To what extent do you agree or disagree with this assessment of her poetry? Support your answer with suitable reference to the poetry of Sylvia Plath on your course.


‘The poetry of Sylvia Plath is intense, deeply personal and quite disturbing.’ Do you agree with this assessment of her poetry? Write a response, supporting your points with the aid of suitable reference to the poems you have studied.



‘I like (or do not like) to read the poetry of Sylvia Plath.’ Respond to this statement, referring to the poetry of Sylvia Plath on your course.



If you were asked to give a public reading of a small selection of Sylvia Plath’s poems, which ones would you choose to read? Give reasons for your choices supporting them by reference to the poems on your course.


Sample Paper

‘It startles me still . . .’ Discuss Sylvia Plath’s relationship with the world around her. Support your points with reference to the poetry on your course.


Remember that all exam questions, whether explicitly stated or not, call for a Personal Response from you. What is your personal response to the poetry of Sylvia Plath? Did you enjoy studying her poetry? Could you identify with  any of the images or themes she explored or were they all too disturbing? Leave a comment here and remember that the purpose of this task is to learn from each other.


Past exam questions on ‘Macbeth’


‘The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth undergoes significant change during the course of the play.’ Discuss this statement, supporting your answer by suitable reference to the text.


‘Essentially the play ‘Macbeth’ is about power, its uses and abuses.’ Discuss this view of the play, supporting your answer with the aid of suitable reference to the text.



‘Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ invites us to look into the world of a man driven on by ruthless ambition and tortured by regret.’ Write a response to this view of the play ‘Macbeth’, supporting the points you make by reference to the text.


‘The play ‘Macbeth’ has many scenes of compelling drama.’ Choose one scene that you found compelling and say why you found it to be so. Support your answer by reference to the play.



‘We feel very little pity for the central characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play.’ To what extent would you agree with the above view? Support your answer by reference to the play.


‘In Macbeth, Shakespeare presents us with a powerful vision of evil.’ Write your response to the above statement. Textual support may include reference to a particular performance of the play you have seen.



Discuss the course and nature of the resistance to Macbeth’s rule in the play. Support your answer by relevant quotation or reference to the play.


‘Kingship, with all its potential for good or evil, is a major theme of the play ‘Macbeth’.’ Discuss this view, supporting your answer with quotation from or reference to the play.



‘The eternal struggle between good and evil – a struggle in which evil comes very close to victory – is the central them of the play ‘Macbeth’.’ Discuss this view and show how the struggle is illustrated in the imagery of the play. Support your answer by reference or quotation.


‘While there are redeeming features in the character of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is portrayed as a ruthless opportunist whose ambition for her husband supersedes all moral considerations.’ Discuss this view, supporting your answer by reference or quotation.



‘The Banquo Macbeth has killed is not the innocent soldier who met the witches and scorned their prophecies, nor the man who prayed to be delivered from temptation. He is a man whose principles have been deeply compromised.’ Discuss this view, supporting your answer by quotation or reference.


Discuss the way in which the language of the play ‘Macbeth’ contributes to the creation of the atmosphere of evil and violence which pervades the play. Support your answer by relevant quotation or reference.



‘The witches in ‘Macbeth’ are malevolent creatures, who originate deeds of blood and have power over the soul.’ Discuss the role of the witches in the play in the light of this statement. Support your answer with appropriate reference or quotation.


Discuss the way in which light/darkness, violent imagery and unnatural happenings are used in ‘Macbeth’ to create atmosphere. Support your answer with appropriate quotation or reference.



‘Their partnership in guilt, which at the beginning of the play is a strong bond between them, gradually drives Macbeth and his wife apart, until they go down to their separate dooms, isolated and alone.’ Discuss this view, with the aid of suitable quotation or reference.


‘Lady Macbeth is no monster. She is a loyal (though misguided) wife, not without tenderness and not without conscience.’ What do you think of this estimation of Lady Macbeth? Support your answer with relevant quotation or reference.



‘In ‘Macbeth’ Shakespeare does not present Macbeth as a mere villain, but succeeds in arousing some measure of sympathy for him.’ Discuss the character of Macbeth in the light of this statement, supporting your answer by relevant quotation or reference.


‘In ‘Macbeth’ the inner self is conveyed, not through the ideas expressed, nor through the actions performed, but by means of an elaborate pattern of imagery and symbolism.’ Test the truth of this statement by considering any two of the play’s central characters and the images and symbols associated with them. Support your answer by relevant quotation or reference.



‘In the play ‘Macbeth’, Shakespeare had heightened our experience of wickedness and disorder by setting them against a background of goodness and order.’ Discuss this view with the aid of appropriate reference or quotation.


Discuss the view that Lady Macbeth has more in common with the Witches than with Lady Macduff. Support your answer with suitable reference or quotation.


More original poetry by 1A1

As well as The Year in Rap, 1A1 have been busy writing limericks, acrostics, kennings, haikus and even magic spells!

Here are just a few examples. More will follow in the next couple of nights.

Acrostic by Sami

Monday’s the worst,

On Tuesday it’s not too bad,

Ringing everyday, my alarm,

Never enjoy getting up on Wednesday,

I don’t mind Thursdays,

No time to eat on Friday because I

Get up too late.


Football Kenning by David

Wild crowds

Dirty mouths

Very loud

Great sound

Skillful goals

Determined souls

Managers screaming

Stadium heating

Late drama

Sweating like the Sahara!


Spell for Success by Steven

A bit of leather

And an eagle’s feather

A hint of black ink

A bit of dirty water from a sink

A drop of paint

And thoughts of a saint,

A glug of Cadet Coke

A toe of a smart bloke

A piece of clean paper

A hint of water vapour

A big computer RAM

The toenail of a lamb

Einstein’s brain

The computer system of a plane

Drink this for success

The chances of failing will be less!


Pupils of Gormanston Kenning by Seán F

Uncannily cool

Sometimes fool

Cleverly cocky

Lazily stocky

Brilliant school

Crazy pool

Weirdly quiet


A Spell for Taking Over the World by Conor Mc

Head of Obama

Feet of Cantona

Intelligence of Einstein

Power of all-time

Faith of a Holy Man

Powers of Spiderman

Bottle of Lucozade

Jar of Marmalade

Hair of Rooney

Hand of Henri

Snow of Lapland

Pride of Ireland




The Year in Rap – by 1A1

1A1 have been working very hard over the last couple of weeks writing raps about global news events. This work is inspired by who write The Week in Rap each week and also write raps based on other areas of the curriculum. (5A2 really enjoyed the ‘Macbeth’ Rap!).

The task given to 1A1 was to write a rap of between 16 and 20 lines on news events, both global and Irish, that happened during 2011. Here is the finished product:

Group 1 – Sami, David, Sean F., Colm and Azad:

Steve Jobs is in the sky,

Oh how it makes me cry.

Gary Speed is dead,

Gadaffi was shot in the head.

We’ve got no money,

It’s seriously not funny.

Slovakia were denied

As Ireland qualified

For next year’s competition,

We’re a new addition.

The London riots were a shock,

People runnin’ round stealing things from the block.

Mary McAleese has left the Park,

Now Michael D. will brighten the dark!


Group 2 – Oisín, Robbie, Jack and Conor O:

What happened in 2011

While people looked down from heaven?

In Libya war causes people to sadden

Then comes the death of Osama Bin Laden:

That’s the end of the Taliban race,

Then Gadaffi gets shot in the face.

Angry Londoners raid and break

Then a tsunami in Japan, for god’s sake!

In Oslo people were shot –

Thank God the guy was caught!

The weird thing is that the police never came –

They could’ve saved more people – what a shame!


Group 3 – Steven, Calum and Conor Mc:

US troops retreat from Iraq

While they have Bin Laden under attack.

In 2011 came the iPhone 4S,

That brought even more success.

Then came the death of Steve Jobs.

And what’s with all those flash mobs?

Everyone knows what happened in Japan,

And about the riots in Londan.

So ‘Modern Warfare 3’ is brand new –

But everyone says it’s like number 2!

Obama, the US president,

Came to Ireland as a resident.

Then the Irish team reached the Euro tournament –

That  gave the Irish fans a lot of encouragement!

Now the year 2011 is coming to an end,

And the year 2012 is just around the bend!


Group 4 – Oran, Sean W., Adam, Daniel

It all started with a tsunami in Japan –

Many people ran;

A nuclear reactor was almost blown,

And many people lost their homes;

Tectonic plates colliding,

Caused people and places to go sliding.

Bin Laden finally came out of his cave,

Navy seals killed him with the intention to save;

For those poor people he was shot in the head,

But he wasn’t buried – was thrown in the sea instead!

In the summer London riots made it to fame,

And under-education and Facebook took the blame;

Shops were ransacked, cars on fire,

For the police, the situation was dire!

The Irish lads are no longer bad,

They’re in Euro ’12 against Spain (that’s bad!);

Torres is no match for Keane,

They’re sailing off to Poland – living the dream!


Well done lads!! Some great work here!!