What are Sequence Words?

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  • 0:00 Sequence Words
  • 0:47 Beginning, Middle, & End
  • 1:40 Identifying Sequence Words
  • 2:51 Practice With Sequence Words
  • 3:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lindsy Frazer

Dr. Frazer has taught several college level Science courses and has a master's degree in Human Biology and a PhD in Library and Information Science.

When we hear the phrase 'once upon a time,' we know a story is about to start. ~'Once upon a time~' is a great example of sequence words. Learn what sequence words are and how to use them, and see more examples of sequence words in this lesson.

Sequence Words

'Boy, I had a long, hard day. I burnt my dinner. There was no milk for my cereal. After work, my car wouldn't start, so I had to walk all the way home. I was late to work. When I woke up I was still very tired.'

This story of a bad day is hard to follow and understand because the events are out of order. Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and sequence words help the reader understand the order of events that are taking place.

Sequence words are like signals or signs. They help you identify when an event or story starts, when a new event is taking place, and when a story ends. They help organize stories, so they aren't confusing like the story about the bad day.

Beginning, Middle, & End

You've probably heard, read, and used many sequence words before. These words look different depending on where they are in a story. If you were going to tell someone about your day from the beginning, how would you start? You would probably say something like, 'First, I woke up' or 'Today, I went to school.' 'First' and 'today' are great examples of sequence words found at the beginning of a story. These words are signals that tell you a story is starting.

'Then', 'later', 'after' and 'suddenly' are sequence words that might be found in the middle of a story. They signal that a new event is being described.

What word might you use to let someone know you are about to describe the last event of your whole day? It might be the word 'finally.' 'Finally, I hopped into bed and turned out the lights.' 'Finally' is an example of a sequence word that marks the end of a story.

Identifying Sequence Words

Read the following short story. How do the sequence words, in orange, help you follow the action?

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After reading this story, think about how the sequence words tell about the beginning, middle, and end of the story. Sequence words also help with comprehension of the text. The sequence words in this story help organize Patty's story and tell the reader the exact order of events during Patty's treasure hunt.

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