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PSLE English | Synthesis Revision: 7 Tricky Sentence Structures

Happy post-National Day! We hope that everyone had a great time celebrating Singapore’s birthday yesterday. It is definitely time for our children who are taking the PSLE to go full steam ahead with no more public holidays from now until the big P! We have had readers requesting for various topics to be covered on our blog to help prepare them for the upcoming exam and to start, we are going to look at the must-know sentence structures for sentence synthesis.

Here are 7 tricky structures that have stumbled children during their synthesis revision. How many of these do you already know?

Try and see if you can answer the questions picked from various school papers before you look at the answers below. We have provided some tips on answering and on the common errors for some of these questions. Here we go!

1. *No sooner had… than..
Synthesis Revision

MGS 2015 Prelims

Ans: No sooner had the police left the scene than trouble started brewing again.

Tip/ Common Errors: “No sooner had…” is used to show two events that happened almost immediately after each other.
1. “than” and not “then” should be used to show the comparison of these two events taking place after each other.

2. Remember to change the verb form to the -en/-ed past participle to agree with “had” e.g. had eaten, had gone, had become.

2. It is only… that…


It is only... that...

Tao Nan School 2014 Prelims

Ans: It is only after the national anthem is sung that the awards will be presented.

Tip/ Common errors: using “when” as a connector in the answer.

3. Had she (past participle verb)…, she would (not) have…


Had she (past participle verb)…, she would (not) have...

Maris Stella High School (Primary) 2014 Prelims

Ans: Had Mary attended the party, she would have met her idol.

Tip/ Common errors: Had = If in this type of questions.

Remember to change the verb form to the -en/-ed past participle to agree with “had” e.g. had eaten, had gone, had become.

4. Having (past participle verb )… 

Having (past participle verb )… 


SCGS 2013 Prelims

Ans: Having run too fast during the race, Victor fell and sprained his ankle.

Tip/ Common Errors: “Having” has a similar meaning to after.

Remember to change the verb form to the -en/-ed past participle to agree with “having” e.g. having eaten.

5. In order to/ To (base verb)… ,


In order to/ To (base verb)... ,

Pei Chun Public School 2015 Prelims

AnsIn order to deliver medical supplies to the villagers easily, a road must be built.

Tip/ Common errors: “In order to” = With the aim to. 

A verb in the base form (no -s, no -ed, no -ing) must be used after “to” e.g. In order to deliver

6. No matter…

No matter…

Rosyth School 2013 Prelims

Ans: No matter how hard Aziz’s friends tried to persuade him, he did not want to go to the party.

Tip/ Common errors: “No matter” = Regardless of.

It is used to show emphasis of something. Hence, words like “very” in the above example must be omitted in the answer.

Other pronouns that can follow “No matter” can be “where”, “when” and “what. These are the few that are commonly tested e.g. No matter where you are, I will deliver the parcel to you.

7. … provided that…

... provided that...

NYPS 2014 Prelims

Ans: Karen is allowed to use the computer provided that she fulfils the conditions set by her parents.

Tip/ Common errors: “provided that” = if or only if.

Similar to using “if” and “unless”, we omit words like “must” that shows obligation since the connector already expresses a condition that must be fulfilled.

How many did you manage to answer correctly? I hope that you have a clearer idea on how to answer the types of questions above after this post and it will help you with your synthesis revision. In the upcoming Part 2 of synthesis revision, we will look at types of sentence structures that require a change in the word forms to nouns e.g. Much to his annoyance, the children had dirtied carpet again.

Stay tuned!



Synthesis Revision

Synthesis Skill-wers

1. 30 over bite-sized video lessons! (On Golden Rules for synthesis and focused question types)

2. Unique strategies to tackle a wide range of synthesis question types e.g. Active/Passive voice, Direct/Indirect Speech, No sooner had… than…, Not only… but also etc.

3. Topical worksheets accompanying each video consisting of at least 5 questions + A bonus 20-question quiz upon completion of course! (over 150 practice questions in total)


Are you a Wooden, Bronze, Silver or Golden Skill-wer?


Try the Synthesis and Transformation Quiz consisting of 5 questions and determine your skill level.


Become a Golden Skill-wer today!


Synthesis Revision

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With her passion to create relevant and easy-to-understand materials for the lil’ ones, Mrs Lily Chew works alongside her team of teachers to design the Lil’ but Mighty curriculum. Constantly looking at best educational practices and thinking of ways to improve the curriculum, Mrs Chew finds pure joy in unlocking creative and different ways of helping each child achieve his or her personal best.

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