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Language: How it Changes Over Time

In this worksheet, students consider the different ways in which language changes over time and some of the new words recently added to our vocabulary.

'Language: How it Changes Over Time' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:  Grammar and Vocabulary

Curriculum subtopic:  Know and Understand Different Forms of Language

Difficulty level:  

down

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

All languages change over time. If we had been alive in Shakespeare's time we would speak a very different version of English from the one we speak today!

 

 

 

There are different ways in which languages change. Sometimes new words are invented, such as shopaholic and internet.

 

At other times existing words take on new or specific meanings. For example, the word mouse still refers to the small animal that likes cheese, but it is now also the name of the device we use to move the cursor around a computer screen.

 

In this worksheet you can look at some of the different ways that English has changed over the centuries.

Many existing words have taken on new meanings in the age of information technology. The two definitions below are both for the same word.

 

general definition: to cut or chop at something with repeated blows

IT-related definition: to gain illegal access to a computer file or network

 

What do you think the word is? Write it in the answer box.

Many existing words have taken on new meanings in the age of information technology. The two definitions below are both for the same word.

 

general definition: a type of infection that causes people to be ill

IT-related definition: a computer program that can spread from one computer to another and cause damage

 

What do you think the word is? Write it in the answer box.

Many existing words have taken on new meanings in the age of information technology. The two definitions below are both for the same word.

 

general definition: to ride the waves on a board

IT-related definition: to spend time looking at different websites on the internet

 

What do you think the word is? Write it in the answer box.

Many existing words have taken on new meanings in the age of information technology. The two definitions below are both for the same word.

 

general definition: to keep a close watch over something

IT-related definition: the part of a computer that contains the screen for displaying information and pictures

 

What do you think the word is? Write it in the answer box.

Another way of adding new words to the language is to use nouns as verbs and vice versa. In the 2012 Olympics there was much talk of athletes 'medalling', meaning that they were winning medals.

 

The following sentence contains a noun being used as a verb. Identify it and write it in the answer box.

 

I've finished reading that magazine so you can bin it.

This sentence also contains a noun being used as a verb. Write it in the answer box.

 

We were in a hurry so we just microwaved a ready meal for our tea.

This time, a verb is being used as a noun. Identify it and write it in the answer box.

 

They want us to finish our project by tomorrow, but I think that's a big ask.

Some new words in the language are in fact the name of the person or company who invented or produced the item that they refer to. For example, the ball-point pen was invented by a Hungarian man called Laszlo Biro, and now we tend to refer to all ball point pens as biros.

 

Which word in the following sentence is actually the name of a company?

 

Dad dusted and hoovered the house before Mum came home from hospital.

For the last two questions you need to read the sentence and decide how the word in bold came into the language.

 

Katie spends a long time on her computer, surfing the web.

An existing word has taken on a new meaning.

A noun is being used as a verb.

A verb is being used as a noun.

It is named after its inventor.

Read the sentence and decide how the word in bold came into the language.

 

I didn't know the answer so I googled it on the internet.

An existing word has taken on a new meaning.

A noun is being used as a verb.

A verb is being used as a noun.

It is named after an inventor or company.

  • Question 1

Many existing words have taken on new meanings in the age of information technology. The two definitions below are both for the same word.

 

general definition: to cut or chop at something with repeated blows

IT-related definition: to gain illegal access to a computer file or network

 

What do you think the word is? Write it in the answer box.

CORRECT ANSWER
hack
  • Question 2

Many existing words have taken on new meanings in the age of information technology. The two definitions below are both for the same word.

 

general definition: a type of infection that causes people to be ill

IT-related definition: a computer program that can spread from one computer to another and cause damage

 

What do you think the word is? Write it in the answer box.

CORRECT ANSWER
virus
  • Question 3

Many existing words have taken on new meanings in the age of information technology. The two definitions below are both for the same word.

 

general definition: to ride the waves on a board

IT-related definition: to spend time looking at different websites on the internet

 

What do you think the word is? Write it in the answer box.

CORRECT ANSWER
surf
  • Question 4

Many existing words have taken on new meanings in the age of information technology. The two definitions below are both for the same word.

 

general definition: to keep a close watch over something

IT-related definition: the part of a computer that contains the screen for displaying information and pictures

 

What do you think the word is? Write it in the answer box.

CORRECT ANSWER
monitor
  • Question 5

Another way of adding new words to the language is to use nouns as verbs and vice versa. In the 2012 Olympics there was much talk of athletes 'medalling', meaning that they were winning medals.

 

The following sentence contains a noun being used as a verb. Identify it and write it in the answer box.

 

I've finished reading that magazine so you can bin it.

CORRECT ANSWER
bin
  • Question 6

This sentence also contains a noun being used as a verb. Write it in the answer box.

 

We were in a hurry so we just microwaved a ready meal for our tea.

CORRECT ANSWER
microwaved
EDDIE SAYS
Strictly speaking the noun 'microwave' is an adjective, as it is really short for 'microwave oven', so the word is used as a noun, a verb and an adjective!
  • Question 7

This time, a verb is being used as a noun. Identify it and write it in the answer box.

 

They want us to finish our project by tomorrow, but I think that's a big ask.

CORRECT ANSWER
ask
EDDIE SAYS
Using the verb 'to ask' as a noun in this way is quite a new development.
  • Question 8

Some new words in the language are in fact the name of the person or company who invented or produced the item that they refer to. For example, the ball-point pen was invented by a Hungarian man called Laszlo Biro, and now we tend to refer to all ball point pens as biros.

 

Which word in the following sentence is actually the name of a company?

 

Dad dusted and hoovered the house before Mum came home from hospital.

CORRECT ANSWER
hoovered
EDDIE SAYS
There are many different brands of vacuum cleaner but the ones produced by the Hoover company were very popular when the product was first invented, so vacuum cleaners in general became known as hoovers and the verb 'to hoover' came into the language.
  • Question 9

For the last two questions you need to read the sentence and decide how the word in bold came into the language.

 

Katie spends a long time on her computer, surfing the web.

CORRECT ANSWER
An existing word has taken on a new meaning.
  • Question 10

Read the sentence and decide how the word in bold came into the language.

 

I didn't know the answer so I googled it on the internet.

CORRECT ANSWER
It is named after an inventor or company.
EDDIE SAYS
There are many different search engines on the internet, but Google is probably the most famous, so the verb 'to google' has come into the language.
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