p4 synthesis and transformation

Synthesis and Transformation – Primary 4 English

English Synthesis and Transformation is not consistently taught and tested in Primary 4 classes and examinations. However, a number of schools do test this component in their Primary 4 English SA2.

During the PSLE Intensive marking days, my P4s and P5s were hard at work preparing for their upcoming SA2. With most of them having completed their Writing and Oral components, our focus was on the Paper 2 components.

I took the time to emphasize on a few Synthesis and Transformation rules that commonly appear in the Primary 4 c. Most schools test just one to 5 synthesis and transformation questions and at just 1 mark each question.

This will change in Primary 5 where Synthesis and Transformation is a whopping 10 marks. To top, it off any slight mistake can mean no mark is given to the question. It is ridiculously easy to lose marks fast in this section of the paper.

Here are 4 common Synthesis and Transformation questions that can be found in the Primary English SA2 papers.

(1) Both..and

Both..and is a correlative conjunction. They come in pairs and must be used in different parts of a sentence.


John likes to cycle. Mary likes to cycle.

Both John and Mary like to cycle.

*WATCH OUT for the subject-verb-agreement here. Both..and refers to two subjects now and thus the plural form of the verb must always be used.

(2) Either..or/ Neither..nor

These two are also correlative conjunctions and must also be used in pairs and in different parts of a sentence.


The teacher was not in the classroom this morning. The students were not in the classroom this morning.

Neither the teacher nor the students were in the classroom this morning.

*WATCH OUT for the subject-verb-agreement here. The verb conjunction depends on the subject closest to the verb or to the blank. In this case, ‘students’ is plural, hence we put ‘were.’

This rule also applies to either..or

(3)  Prefer..to

This is another correlative conjunction.

John likes cycling. He likes playing tennis more.

John prefers playing tennis to cycling.

*WATCH OUT that you put ‘to’ instead of ‘than’.

(4) Reported Speech

Reported speech is reporting to someone what has been said. When changing from Direct Speect to Reported Speech or from Reported Speech tp Direct Speech, you need to watch out for:

  • Tenses
  • Pronouns
  • Time
  • Place


We change present tense to past tense and past tense to present perfect tense.

Example 1:

“I like John,” said Mary. (Direct Speech)
Mary said that she liked John. (Reported Speech).

Example 2:

“I ate all the fruits,” said Shawn. (Direct Speech)
Shawn said that he had eaten all the fruits. (Reported Speech)

*WATCH OUT. If what is being said is a fact, then we do not change the tense.

Modal Verbs

shall =>should
can =>could
may =>might
will =>would
must =>had to


Pronouns refer to words like “she”, “I”, “us” and “them”. In reported speech we need to change the pronoun accordingly. Remember to change ‘we’ to ‘they’ and ‘us’ to ‘them’.

4.3 TIME

We will also need to change time in Reported Speech.

tomorrow =>next day/following day
next =>following
yesterday =>the previous day
last =>previous
today =>that day
ago =>before
now =>than


The place in reported speech also needs to be changed

this =>that
these =>those
here =>there

I hope that you found these few Synthesis and Transformation rules helpful.

Would you like to read more of such posts?