Common Core Standards: Grades 6-12 Rules and Conventions of Language - dummies

Common Core Standards: Grades 6-12 Rules and Conventions of Language

By Jared Myracle

In the Common Core Standards for language for Grades 6-12, students receive guidance on proper usage of grammar and other conventions of the English language. The language standards for each grade level are specific, so you shouldn’t have any problem identifying when certain concepts are taught. This is just a sample of what to expect in each grade.

For a full listing of the standards and the skills and concepts included, visit

Don’t forget to check out Appendix A of the English language arts standards.

Grade 6

In Grade 6, students extend their understanding and use of different types of pronouns, add variety to the structure of sentences used, and extend their familiarity of new and different words. Here’s a sampling of some of the skills and concepts from Grade 6:

  • Understand subjective (identifies the subject of a sentence), objective (identifies the object of a sentence), and possessive (shows a relationship or possession) pronouns.

  • Use punctuation, such as commas and dashes, to separate parts of a sentence.

  • Use resources such as dictionaries to determine the proper pronunciation of words.

  • Anticipate a word’s meaning using available clues and check for accuracy.

  • Tell the difference between a word’s connotative meaning (what it is commonly associated with or thought to infer) and its denotative meaning (the dictionary definition).

At the end of each section of language standards, a final standard indicates that students should use vocabulary words and other phrases that are specific to their grade and subjects. Some of these words vary from location to location, so check with your child’s teacher for a list of important words and phrases for each class.

Grade 7

Students in Grade 7 apply previously and newly learned concepts to write more complex sentences. They also continue to use their skills in discerning the meaning of terms as they incorporate new words into their analysis of texts. Take a look at a few of the skills and concepts addressed in Grade 7:

  • Identify clauses and why they are used in sentences.

  • Avoid dangling modifiers.

  • Use commas with coordinate adjectives (adjectives that modify the same noun in similar ways), such as writing that it has been a “long, tiring day.”

  • Understand the meaning of figures of speech (a word or phrase with a familiar connotative meaning, such as something that makes reference to a well-known piece of literature).

  • Tell the difference between words that have similar meanings but different connotations.

Grade 8

The emphasis in Grade 8 includes using various forms of verbs to vary the style and tone of writing. Students also identify when verbs are used incorrectly, such as a shift in verb tense. Here’s a brief selection of the skills and concepts addressed in Grade 8:

  • Understand the use of verbals, which are verbs that have been altered to form a new word that functions as a different part of speech, such as the subject or direct object. For example, gerunds are verbals that are formed by adding –ing to verbs and that function as nouns. For example, in the statement “Walking is a healthy activity,” the word walking is a gerund.

  • Write using the active and passive voice. Active voice involves the subject carrying out the action described by the verb, such as “The dog ate the bone.” Passive voice occurs when the subject receives the action of the sentence, such as “The bone was eaten by the dog.”

  • Use different moods in writing, including indicative (stating a fact), imperative (stating a request or demand), interrogative (asking a question), conditional (indicating that one thing relies on another), and subjunctive (indicating a hypothetical situation).

  • Continue to use context clues, root words, and other cues to understand the meaning of figurative language, affixes, and other unknown or difficult language.

Grades 9-10

The standards for Grades 9-10 involve adding variety of structure and tone to writing, along with formalizing processes for citing source material. Students also encounter increasingly complex and detailed approaches to understanding and using specific vocabulary, figures of speech, and other types of language. These are some of the expectations:

  • Understand and use parallel structure. This involves using words in the same form, such as saying “Jim likes to read, write, and talk.” A sentence such as “Jim likes to read, write, and talking” is not parallel because the verbs don’t match up.

  • Write using different types of phrases, including adjective phrases (really tall) and adverbial phrases (very fast), and clauses, such as dependent and independent clauses. An independent clause expresses a complete thought using a subject and verb (for example, “Joe ran to his house”), whereas a dependent clause has a subject and verb but does not express a complete thought (for example, “While Joe ran to his house”).

  • Incorporate colons (:) and semicolons (;).

  • Use formal citation guides, such as Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), and Turabian, in writing and editing.

  • Examine how figures of speech, such as oxymorons, are used in writing and what they accomplish.

Grades 11-12

In Grades 11-12, students dive into the details of style and its many nuances. Using what they learned in previous grade levels, students are able to discern the meaning of unknown words using context clues and their prior knowledge about root words, affixes, and figures of speech. Here are a few of the expectations for Grades 11-12:

  • Recognize that matters of convention are subject to time and place, meaning that the “right” or “accepted” way isn’t always the same even though there is presently a standard for writing conventions in the English language.

  • Use hyphens (-) correctly.

  • Use different kinds of syntax (how sentences are written in terms of order and structure) in writing as a means of changing styles.

  • Grasp the meaning of figures of speech, such as hyperbole, in context.