Year 4 Grammar

Discover Year 4 grammar standards

In Year 4, grammar becomes more complex with further rules for children to learn. They need to be able to follow these rules to ensure their writing is accurate in expressing their ideas, and contains sufficient grammatical variety to retain the reader's interest.

As always with young children, it's important to break down each skill so that they can practise in manageable chunks. To help you navigate Year 4 grammar, we’ve compiled the following information and tips so that you can help your child achieve these standards!

Year 4 grammar covers:

  • Use of relative adverbs
  • Use of relative pronouns
  • Use of modal auxiliary verbs
  • Mastering sentence structure
  • Use of progressive verb tenses
  • Use of adjectives in the correct order
  • Use of prepositions and prepositional phrases

Relative Pronouns

Pronouns can be used in the place of nouns to avoid repetition and provide a short way to refer to someone or something that has already been introduced in a sentence.

These are some of the most commonly used pronouns:

  • she
  • her
  • hers
  • he
  • him
  • his
  • we
  • you

Relative pronouns are used to introduce parts of a sentence (known as clauses) that are connected to the person or thing they refer to. The clauses the relative pronouns introduce are named relative clauses. There are only five relative pronouns:

  • who
  • whose
  • whom
  • which
  • that


  • The Night Zookeeper who arrived in the zoo yesterday will meet everyone today.
  • The animal whose den was destroyed felt very sad.
  • Doctor Florence whom I saw last week is very gentle.
  • The orb, which had rolled out of Will’s hands, was cracked.
  • The cave that Will found looked very messy.

Practice Tip

Challenge your child to complete quizzes, like the one pictured below, on Night Zookeeper that test their knowledge and understanding of relative pronouns.

Relative pronouns quiz on, displayed on laptop screen.

Relative Adverbs

Relative adverbs introduce clauses that tell us more about the where, when, or why in a sentence. There are three relative adverbs:

  • when
  • where
  • why


  • Will last saw Grudge a year ago when he travelled to the Mountain in the Sky.
  • The Campfire of Creativity where the animals gathered to tell stories was near.
  • Will explained the reason why the animals must work together.

Progressive Verb Tenses

Progressive verb tenses describe actions that are ongoing. They are formed by adding the suffix -ing to a verb.

Practice Tip

On Night Zookeeper, quizzes like the below give children the opportunity to practice identifying which progressive tense a sentence uses.

Progressive tense challenge on, displayed on laptop screen.

Modal Auxiliary Verbs

Modal auxiliary verbs are used to express the possibility of future actions. They are sometimes known as helper verbs because they help a verb by adding additional meaning. There are ten modal verbs:

  • can
  • could
  • may
  • might
  • must
  • ought
  • will
  • would
  • shall
  • should


  • Sam can go to Igloo City tonight.
  • Will may have been wrong about the Voids.
  • Riya must sing at the Night Zoo concert.

Ordering Adjectives

When describing a noun using a number of adjectives, the adjectives should be in a particular order to help the sentence make sense. Most native English speakers learn this intrinsically when they begin to form sentences as young children.

Here is the order ruling:

Determiner Opinion Size Shape Condition Age Colour Pattern Origin Material Purpose Noun

That comfortable large rectangular dusty old red striped American wooden bedroom chair

Practice Tip

Sea Lion Sentences is a fun Night Zookeeper game that helps children to learn and practise the correct order of adjectives within a sentence.

Ordering adjectives challenge on, displayed on laptop screen.


A preposition is a word that connects a noun with the rest of a sentence. Prepositions show how the noun and the rest of the sentence are connected. These parts of a sentence are often connected in time (during, after) or space (under, over). These are some examples of prepositions:

  • at
  • during
  • in
  • on
  • after
  • before
  • to
  • over
  • under
  • with
  • by
  • of


  • Maji went exploring with Riya.
  • After the picnic, Will, Sam, and Riya were full.
  • Will was given the orb by Grandma Rivers.

Practice Tip

Children can familiarise themselves with prepositions using the Night Zookeeper Star Search game.

Preposition word search challenge on, displayed on laptop screen.

Prepositional Phrases

A prepositional phrase is a group of words that begins with a preposition and ends with the object of the preposition. They tell you more about a noun or a verb within a sentence. They often tell you where or when action is taking place.


Will found the cat hiding under the table.

  • preposition - under
  • object - table
  • prepositional phrase - under the table

How Night Zookeeper can help

Night Zookeeper logo, displayed on tablet screen.

Night Zookeeper is a gamified English program that focuses on helping children develop their reading and writing skills in a fantastically fun way!

Our reading & writing program provides many ways for your child to develop key grammar skills, including interactive lessons, word games, and grammar challenges. Night Zookeeper includes an adjustable difficulty level feature, to allow children to learn at their own pace, so if you feel that your child needs a little extra practice, we’ve got you covered - sign up today to get a FREE 7-day trial!

Related articles

  • Grammar (overview)
  • Grammar Resources
  • Primary English Curriculum
  • Year 4 Writing
  • Year 4 Reading
  • Year 4 Spelling
  • Year 4 Punctuation
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