Target Structures

by , under Features

What are target structures?

Adverbs of frequency

Optimal second language pedagogy involves a repeating exchange of meaningful messages with a focus on target structures. By “exchange,” I mean that teachers should provide learners with opportunities to create sentences, paragraphs, stories, essays, blog posts, articles or reports that are meaningful to the learner.

Learners should express those messages to someone, not as an empty display. That means learners should express those messages to other learners, their teachers, or with the online world.

Repetition is important to help the language stick. There should be multiple opportunities to express those messages to different interlocutors, in different modes, and in different contexts.

Each time the message is expressed, it should contain specific and appropriate target vocabulary, target grammar structures, or target multi-word formulas.

The pedagogical reasons are simple. Learners often avoid error by avoiding complexity. Teachers must requires target structures taught in their lessons so that the student incorporates those new structures into their messages.

The second reason is based on the production effect. In the future, when the learner encounters a real-life situation requiring the construction a similar meaningful message, those same target structures that were practiced and produced should activate in the learner’s memory and become available for use instantly and effortlessly. In this way, creative automaticity is ensured.

It is easy to use the Virtual Writing Tutor’s target structure checker.

Click the Check Target Structure Checker button

Step 1

Use the Target Structure Checker

Step 2

Select if you want to your search to case-sensitive or if you want all derivations and conjugations of the base forms listed

Step 3

Review your target structure checker results


Target structures to use with the Target Structure tool

Here are a variety of lists of target structures to use with the grammar checker.

Adverbs of frequency

every day, always, almost always, usually, normally, generally, often, frequently, sometimes, occasionally, seldom, hardly ever, rarely, almost never, never


wasn’t, weren’t, didn’t, don’t, doesn’t, isn’t, aren’t, not

Past negatives

wasn’t, weren’t, didn’t, not

Common prepositions

in, on, at, to, by, for, beside, behind, between, next to, in front of


a bit, a little bit, a tiny bit, hardly, a little, barely, only just, somewhat, kind of, sort of, not so much, mildly, to some extent, simply, all but, pretty, relatively, rather, fairly, slightly, almost, nearly

Target structures for the Actively Engaged at College / on the Job

old, have been, every day, always, almost always, usually, normally, generally, often, frequently, sometimes, occasionally, seldom, hardly ever, rarely, almost never, never, dream, wasn’t, weren’t, didn’t, not, when, while, if, punched, kissed

Vocabulary from the Actively Engaged Online listenings

foot in the door, abolish, alienation, background check, bias, come in handy, compensation package, cursory, dead-end job, deter, drawback, dread, drudgery, flirtation, fulfillment, getting sucked up in, hinder, HR, in-depth, income, ins-and-outs, intern, internship, invaluable, lack of, learn the ropes, leave of absence, leg work, maddening, misconduct, more often than not, mortgage, office politics, OJT, on-the-job-training, overtime, overwhelm, pension, perpetrator, premium wage, pull off, purpose, put aside, recipient, retirement, set aside, sexual harassment, straight A’s, test drive, the drive of work, thoroughly, though, thoughtful, time management, trainee, undermine, vacant position, wage, withholding, worthwhile

295 most common past tense verbs

accepted, achieved, added, admitted, affected, afforded, agreed, aimed, allowed, answered, appeared, applied, arrived, asked, attacked, avoided, based, was, were, became, began, believed, belonged, broke, built, burned, bought, brought, called, caused, changed, charged, checked, chose, claimed, cleaned, cleared, climbed, closed, collected, came, committed, compared, complained, completed, concerned, confirmed, connected, considered, contacted, contained, continued, contributed, controlled, cooked, copied, correct, cost, could, counted, covered, created, cut, damaged, danced, decided, delivered, demanded, denied, depended, described, designed, destroyed, developed, did, disappeared, discovered, discussed, divided, drew, dressed, drank, drove, dropped, ate, enabled, encouraged, ended, enjoyed, examined, existed, expected, experienced, explained, expressed, extended, fell, fastened, fought, filled, found, finished, flew, folded, followed, forced, forgot, forgave, formed, founded, gained, gave, went, grew, handled, happened, hated, had, heard, helped, hid, hit, held, hoped, hurt, identified, imagined, improved, included, increased, indicated, influenced, informed, intended, introduced, invited, involved, joined, jumped, kept, kicked, killed, knocked, lasted, laughed, laid, led, lent, liked, limited, linked, listened, lived, looked, lost, loved, made, managed, marked, mattered, might, meant, measured, met, mentioned, minded, missed, moved, had, needed, noticed, obtained, offered, opened, ordered, ought, owned, passed, paid, performed, picked, placed, planned, played, pointed, preferred, prepared, presented, pressed, prevented, produced, promised, protected, proved, provided, published, pulled, pushed, raised, reached, read-red, realized, received, recognized, recorded, reduced, referred, reflected, refused, regarded, related, released, remained, remembered, removed, repeated, replaced, replied, reported, represented, required, rested, resulted, returned, revealed, rang, rolled, ran, saved, said, saw, seemed, sold, sent, separated, served, set, settled, shook, should, shared, shot, shouted, showed, sang, sat, slept, smiled, sorted, sounded, spoke, started, stated, stayed, stuck, stopped, studied, succeeded, suffered, suggested, suited, supplied, supported, supposed, survived, took, talked, taught, told, tested, thanked, thought, touched, trained, traveled, travelled, treated, tried, turned, understood, used, visited, voted, waited, walked, wanted, warned, washed, watched, wore, willed, won, wished, wondered, worked, wrote

Transition words

indeed, further, as well, either, not only, also, moreover, what is more, as a matter of fact, in all honesty, and, furthermore, in addition, besides, to tell the truth, or, in fact, actually, to say nothing of, too, let alone, much less, additionally, nor, alternatively, on the other hand, not to mention, such as, particularly, including, as an illustration, for example, in particular, for one thing, to illustrate, for instance, especially, notably, by way of example, speaking about, considering, regarding, with regards to, as for, concerning, the fact that, on the subject of, similarly, in the same way, by the same token, in a like manner, equally, likewise, that is to say, namely, specifically, thus, that is to say, I mean, to put it another way, in other words, but, by way of contrast, while, on the other hand, however, yet, whereas, in contrast, when in fact, conversely, still, even more, above all, indeed, more importantly, besides, but even so, nevertheless, even though, on the other hand, admittedly, however, nonetheless, despite this, notwithstanding, albeit, still, although, in spite of, regardless, yet, though, granted, be that as it may, either way, whichever happens, in either event, in any case, at any rate, in either case, whatever happens, all the same, in any event, at least, rather, instead, for the simple reason that, being that, for, in view of the fact, inasmuch as, because of the fact, seeing that, as, owing to the fact, due to the fact that, in that since, for as much as, on the condition that, granted that, if, provided that, in case, in the event that, as/so long as, unless given that, granting that, providing that, even if, only if, as a result, consequently, hence, for this reason, thus, because of this, in consequence, so that, accordingly, as a consequence, so much so, so, therefore, for the purpose of, in the hope that, for fear that, so that, with this intention, to the end that, in order to, lest, with this in mind, in order that, so as to, under those circumstances, then, in that case, if not, that being the case, if so, otherwise, in the first place, initially, to start with, first of all, thirdly, to begin with, at first, for a start, secondly, subsequently, previously, eventually, next, before, afterwards, after, then, to conclude, as a final point, eventually, at last, last but not least, in the end, finally, lastly, to change the topic incidentally, by the way, to get back to the point, to resume anyhow, anyway, at any rate, to return to the subject, as was previously stated, so, consequently, in summary, all in all, to make a long story short, thus, as I have said, to sum up, overall, as has been mentioned, then, to summarize, to be brief, briefly, given these points, in all, on the whole, therefore, as has been noted, hence, in conclusion, in a word, to put it briefly, in sum, altogether, in short

Alternatives for the word “said”

spat, sighed, blubbered, stammered, blurted, mused, lied, panted, added, frowned, whispered, spat, stammered, sighed, sneered, seethed, frowned, shouted, demanded, insisted, screamed

Thesis action verbs in the present tense

accentuate, accept, access, account, adapt, address, advance, affirm, agree, allege, alter, amplify, analyze, argue, arrange, ascribe, assert, assign, associate, assume, attain, attempt, attest, attribute, augment, authorize, bestow, bolster, broaden, build, carry, cause, censure, challenge, characterize, claim, clarify, coach, compare, complicate, conceal, conceive, conclude, condemn, condense, configure, confirm, conflate, conflict, conjecture, connect, connote, consider, construct, contend, contradict, contrast, contribute, convey, counteract, craft, create, criticize, critique, deconstruct, defend, defy, demonstrate, denote, denounce, depict, deride, descend, describe, detach, detect, diagnose, direct, disclose, discuss, disguise, dismantle, dismiss, display, disprove, dispute, distinguish, divulge, document, dramatize, echo, elaborate, elevate, elucidate, embody, emphasize, enable, enforce, engage, enlighten, entertain, epitomize, establish, evaluate, evince, evoke, examine, exemplify, exhibit, exist, expand, explain, explicate, explore, expose, expound, express, fail, fashion, feature, focus, foreshadow, form, frame, generate, grasp, guide, heighten, highlight, hint, identify, illuminate, illustrate, implies, imply, includes, indicate, infers, inform, informs, initiate, insinuate, insist, instigate, instruct, intends, intensify, interpret, interrogate, invent, investigate, ironize, isolate, justify, juxtaposes, link, maintain, manifest, manipulate, mediate, misconceive, multiply, navigate, necessitate, negate, negotiate, renegotiate, obscure, obstruct, offer, oppose, organize, perceive, persuade, portray, posit, position, predict, present, prioritize, probe, problematize, produce, profess, pronounce, propose, prove, provide, question, radicalize, rationalize, recall, recognize, reconfigure, reconstruct, refer, reflect, reinforce, remain, render, renounce, represent, respond, reveal, review, scrutinize, shape, shroud, signal, signify, simulate, situate, specify, study, succeed, suggest, support, sustain, transform, treat, trigger, uncover, underscore, unmask, validate, veil, verify, warp, witness, work, accentuates, accepts, accesses, accounts, adapts, addresses, advances, affirms, agrees, alleges, alters, amplifies, analyzes, argues, arranges, ascribes, asserts, assigns, associates, assumes, attains, attempts, attests, attributes, augments, authorizes, bestows, bolsters, broadens, builds, carries, causes, censures, challenges, characterizes, claims, clarifies, coaches, compares, complicates, conceals, conceives, concludes, condemns, condenses, configures, confirms, conflates, conflicts, conjectures, connects, connotes, considers, constructs, contends, contradicts, contrasts, contributes, conveys, counteracts, crafts, creates, criticizes, critiques, deconstructs, defends, defies, demonstrates, denotes, denounces, depicts, derides, descends, describes, detaches, detects, diagnoses, directs, discloses, discusses, disguises, dismantles, dismisses, displays, disproves, disputes, distinguishes, divulges, documents, dramatizes, echoes, echos, elaborates, elevates, elucidates, embodies, emphasizes, enables, enforces, engages, enlightens, entertains, epitomizes, establishes, evaluates, evinces, evokes, examines, exemplifies, exhibits, exists, expands, explains, explicates, explores, exposes, expounds, expresses, fails, fashions, features, focuses, focusses, foreshadows, forms, frames, generates, grasps, guides, heightens, highlights, hints, identifies, illuminates, illustrates, implies, implies, includes, indicates, infers, informs, informs, initiates, insinuates, insists, instigates, instructs, intends, intensifies, interprets, interrogates, invents, investigates, isolates, justifies, juxtaposes, links, maintains, manifests, manipulates, mediates, misconceives, multiplies, navigates, necessitates, negates, negotiates, renegotiates, obscures, obstructs, offers, opposes, organizes, perceives, persuades, portrays, posits, positions, predicts, presents, prioritizes, probes, problematizes, produces, professes, pronounces, proposes, proves, provides, questions, radicalizes, rationalizes, recalls, recognizes, reconfigures, reconstructs, refers, reflects, reinforces, remains, renders, renounces, represents, responds, reveals, reviews, scrutinizes, shapes, shrouds, signals, signifies, simulates, situates, specifies, studies, succeeds, suggests, supports, sustains, transforms, treats, triggers, uncovers, underscores, unmasks, validates, veils, verifies, warps, witnesses, works

Thesis action verbs in the past tense

accentuated, accepted, accessed, accounted, adapted, addressed, advanced, affirmed, agreed, alleged, altered, amplified, analyzed, argued, arranged, ascribed, asserted, assigned, associated, assumed, attained, attempted, attested, attributed, augmented, authorized, bestowed, bolstered, broadened, builded, carried, caused, censured, challenged, characterized, claimed, clarified, coached, compared, complicated, concealed, conceived, concluded, condemned, condensed, configured, confirmed, conflated, conflicted, conjectured, connected, connoted, considered, constructed, contended, contradicted, contrasted, contributed, conveyed, counteracted, crafted, created, criticized, critiqued, deconstructed, defended, defied, demonstrated, denoted, denounced, depicted, derided, descended, described, detached, detected, diagnosed, directed, disclosed, discussed, disguised, dismantled, dismissed, displayed, disproved, disputed, distinguished, divulged, documented, dramatized, echoed, elaborated, elevated, elucidated, embodied, emphasized, enabled, enforced, engaged, enlightened, entertained, epitomized, established, evaluated, evinced, evoked, examined, exemplified, exhibited, existed, expanded, explained, explicated, explored, exposed, expounded, expressed, failed, fashioned, featured, focused, foreshadowed, formed, framed, generated, grasped, guided, heightened, highlighted, hinted, identified, illuminated, illustrated, implied, implied, included, indicated, inferred, informed, informed, initiated, insinuated, insisted, instigated, instructed, intendsed, intensified, interpreted, interrogated, invented, investigated, ironized, isolated, justified, juxtaposed, linked, maintained, manifested, manipulated, mediated, misconceived, multiplied, navigated, necessitated, negated, negotiated, renegotiated, obscured, obstructed, offered, opposed, organized, perceived, persuaded, portrayed, posited, positioned, predicted, presented, prioritized, probed, problematized, produced, professed, pronounced, proposed, proved, provided, questioned, radicalized, rationalized, recalled, recognized, reconfigured, reconstructed, refered, reflected, reinforced, remained, rendered, renounced, represented, responded, revealed, reviewed, scrutinized, shaped, shrouded, signaled, signified, simulated, situated, specified, studied, succeeded, suggested, supported, sustained, transformed, treated, triggered, uncovered, underscored, unmasked, validated, veiled, verified, warped, witnessed, worked

Business vocabulary

accelerated benefits, account, accountant, accounting, actuary, administrator, agent, agreement, amortization, amount, annual report, appointment, asset, associate, auditor, average, balance sheet, banking, bankrupt, bankruptcy, benchmarking, benefits, bill of, lading, bond, bookkeeping, brand, break even, broker, budget, business, business analyst , business card, business law, business plan , business proposal, calculation, calculator, capital, capitalize, cash dispenser, cash flow, chain store, civil servant, clear, my desk, cold call, commodity , communication process, company, competitors, competitors, consumer, contract, contractor, cooperative, core, corner office , corporation, cost, credit, credit account, cubicle, currency, currency, customer, damage, deadline, debt, deduction (taxation), deficit, deposit, depreciation, derivative, development, direct investment, discount, distribution, dividend, division, down payment, downsizing, economy, economy , economy of scale , efficient, employee, end-user , entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, equities, evolution, exchange rate, exhaustion, expenditure, expenditure-based budget, exponent, export, facility, factory, fee, fee, file, finance, finance charges , financial, financial accounting, financial analyst, financial, analyst, financial assistance, firm, framework, franchise, freight, fund, gain, gainful employment, general journal, get the axe, goodwill, gross, headhunter , headquarters, image, import, incentive, income tax, income taxes, income taxes, insurance, integral, interest, inventory, investment , investment funds, investor, invoice, joint venture, label, labor standards, launch, lay-offs, leadership, legal tender, lend, let someone go, leverage, liabilities, liabilities, liability, linear function, loan, logarithmic, loss , lucrative, mail order, management, management, management strategy, manager, market, market economy, market research, marketing, maximizing, meeting, meeting agenda, microeconomics, microfinance, money, mortgage, mortgagee, motivate, mutual fund, negotiation, night deposit box, offer, office, office automation, operating budget, opportunity, organization, overdraft, partner, patent, pay, pay a bill, pay back, payment, point of sale, president, pressure, price, price analysis , prime rate , probability, product, product development, production, profit, profitable, project management, promotion, proxy, publicity, purchase, purchase order, purchaser, range, rate of change, real estate , record of tax, refund, representative, request, retail, retail sale, retailer, round, safety deposit box, salary, sale, sales figures, secretary, seller, senior executives, service, share, share, shareholder, shareholder, software package, speculator, spreadsheet, staff, standard, statement, statistic, statistics, stock exchange, stockbroker, store, strategy, subscription, subtraction, sum, superintendent , supplier, supply, survey, tax, tax accounting, tax levies, tax system, team, team based organization, tbo, technology, teller, tender, terms of sale, the amount, to compete, trade, trader, trainee, transaction, transaction, treasurer, trend, trust, underwriter, union, upgrade, value, vault, venture, viral marketing, warranty, waybill, wholesale, withdraw, withdrawal, workload, workshop, year plan, yield

Chart, Graph, and Diagram Vocabulary

above, according to, apparent, are compared, are presented, bar graph, below, can be seen, chart, climbed, comparable, compares, considerable, considerably, decline, decrease, demonstrates, detailed, details, difference, dipped, diving sharply, downward, dramatic, dropped off, evident, falls, fell, fluctuation, fluctuations, gap, gradual, graph, greater, grew, grows, high, higher, highlighted, highlights, highs, histogram, illustrated, illustrates, increase, indicates, jump, leads, led, level, leveled, levelled, leveling, levelling, levels, lists, low, lower, lows, moderate, narrowed, note, number, observe, peak, peaks, period, photo, pie chart, pinpoints, plummeted, presents, proves, rapid climb, rates of, reports, reveals, remained, remains, rise, rises, rose, shown, shows, significant, slid, slight, steady, summarizes, results, value of, to every, to the left, to the right, total, trend, upward, we can see, widened, widening, widens

Words and phrases for establishing the importance of your topic

a factor in, a vital factor in, an important factor in, the main cause of, the leading cause of, the primary cause of, the major cause of, a common part of, a useful part of, a critical part of, the most widely used, the most commonly discussed, the most well-known, the most well-documented, the most widespread, the most commonly investigated, recognized as being, believed to be, widely considered to be, well known that, generally accepted that, common knowledge that, increasingly becoming, set to become, sure to become, certain to become, undergoing a revolution, generating considerable interest, attracting increasing interest, attracting widespread interest, undergoing a revolution, generating considerable interest, attracting considerable interest, attracting widespread interest, has many uses, has many roles, has many applications, have many uses, have many roles, have many applications, striking feature of, useful feature of, remarkable feature of, the main characteristics of, the principal characteristics of, the fundamental characteristics of, the main characteristic of, the principal characteristic of, the fundamental characteristic of, accounts for, is responsible for, are responsible for