By Jane Austen a novel guide

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By Jane Austen

A novel guide

Practice using contractions

In Emma, Jane Austen writes using what we consider today to be formal English. Instead of using contractions, like “can’t” and “won’t”, she writes using the words cannot and will not. We also see the word “shall,” several times in the book, which is another way of saying “will.” We don’t often say “shall” in American English. Instead of “shall not”, we would say “will not”, or “won’t.”

Part 1 – Finding contractions:

Find the instances of these typically contracted words in Emma.

  1. Pg. 1 ______________________________________________

  2. Pg. 5 ______________________________________________

  3. Pg. 9 _______________________________________________

Part 2 – Replacing contractions:

Look for the full form of the words in the sentences and underline them. Then, rewrite the sentence using the contracted form. There may be more than one full form.

  1. Jin cannot understand why Yi does not want to come. ___________________________________________________________

  2. The Hansen’s are throwing a party, but I will not go.


  1. I shall not look at him unless he speaks to me.


  1. Yoo wishes she could go to the party, but she cannot.


  1. The moon will not rise until 9:00 PM. ___________________________________________________________

Here are some more common contractions:

is not


are not


was not


were not


have not


has not


had not


would not


do not


does not


did not


could not


should not


might not


must not


Part 3 – Creating your own sentences using contractions

Directions: Use the information given to write a sentence using the contracted form of the verb + not. Add your own information in the blank.

  1. Song / could not go / _____


  1. The dog / has not eaten / _____


  1. That movie / is not / _____


  1. _____ / does not want / a cookie


  1. The teacher / was not ______ / with her students.


Building Vocabulary

Fill in the chart for the following vocabulary words from Emma.

Vocabulary Word/Phrase

Sentence from the book

Guess the meaning

Dictionary Definition/Picture




High society

“filled her head”








Prefixes are added to the beginning of a word to change its meaning. Here are some common prefixes and what they mean.

Anti – against dis – not in-, im-, il-, ir – not

Non – not re – again pre – before un – not

Part 1 – Finding Prefixes

Look back through Emma on the page numbers listed to find examples of the above prefixes being used.

  1. P. 4 ___________________ ____________________

  2. P. 5 ___________________

  3. P. 14 ___________________ ____________________

  4. P. 17 ___________________

  5. P. 26 ___________________

  6. P. 28 ___________________

Part 2 – Choosing the correct prefix

In order to make a word mean its opposite, you have to know which prefix to choose. How do you know when to use in-, im-, il-, or ir-?

Use il- before words starting with l
So not legible = illegible. 
*Use ir- before words starting with r
So not relevant = irrelevant 
*Use im- before words starting with m but also in front 
of words starting with p

Use in- for words that begin with any other letter.

Practice: Decide which prefix should go before each word to change its meaning (in-, im-, il-, or ir-). Rewrite the new word.

  1. Literate _________________________

  2. Mobile __________________________

  3. Adequate ________________________

  4. Proper __________________________

  5. rational _________________________

British vs. American English and spelling

Both Jane Austen and her main character, Emma, are British. British spelling and American spelling is sometimes different. Here are some examples of spelling differences in Emma.

British spelling: American spelling:

Neighbours Neighbors

Favourite Favorite

Rumour Rumor

Centre Center

Based on the differences you see above, try to change the words below from their British spelling to their American spelling.

  1. Honour ______________________

  2. Metre _______________________

  3. Theatre ______________________


Go to the Internet and research some words that are completely different in British versus American English. Find at least five different words and write them below. An example has been done for you.

British English American English

Example) queue line

_____________________ _________________________

_____________________ _________________________

_____________________ _________________________

_____________________ _________________________

_____________________ _________________________


On page 12 of Emma, Mr. Elton said he would die if Emma did not marry him. This is an example of what we call hyperbole. Hyperbole is when we exaggerate something in order to make it more effective or to produce a stronger reaction. Is Mr. Elton really going to die if Emma does not marry him? No, but he wants us to know how strongly he feels about her. He means that he will feel terrible if Emma says no.

Here are some examples of common hyperbole in English and their actual meaning:

  • These books weigh a ton. (These books are heavy.)

  • I could sleep for a year. (I could sleep for a long time.)

  • The path went on forever. (The path was very long.)

  • I'm doing a million things right now. (I'm busy.)

Take a look at the hyperbolic sentences below. See if you can discover their actual meaning. Try guessing first; then you may look them up.

  1. I could eat a horse. ______________________________________________

  2. I waited centuries for you. ________________________________________

  3. The whole world was staring at me. ______________________________________

  4. Her smile was a mile wide. _____________________________________________

  5. I don't have two cents to rub together. _____________________________________

  6. Her brain is the size of a pea.____________________________________________

Can you think of any hyperbole from your home language? Write an example below. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Character Chart

Take notes on the following characters as you read Emma.

Character’s Name

Appearance (What do they look like?)

Words/Actions (What do they say and do?)

Personality (How do they act?)

Emma Woodhouse

Harriet Smith

Mr. Knightley

Mr. Elton

Frank Churchill

Miss Bates

Jane Fairfax


A character can experience several types of conflict. A conflict is a problem that the character meets in the book. There is internal conflict (where the character has a problem within them) and external conflict (where they have a problem with another person or thing). Emma experiences much conflict throughout the book.

Do you think Emma has more internal conflict or external conflict? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Give examples from the book to support your choice.


Choose one conflict that Emma had. Below, write down the steps she took to resolve (fix) her conflict.

The conflict I chose is: _____________________________________

The steps taken to resolve the conflict were:

    1. ________________________________________________________________________

    2. ________________________________________________________________________

    3. ________________________________________________________________________

    4. ________________________________________________________________________

    5. ________________________________________________________________________

Extension Activities

  1. Pretend that you are Emma. Write a letter to Harriet Smith apologizing for trying to match her with the wrong men.

  2. Compare the characters of Mr. Elton and Mr. Knightley. What are the differences in their characters?

  3. Emma does some unpleasant things, even though she doesn’t always mean to. Pretend you are Harriet Smith, and you are writing a letter to a friend that defends Emma’s behavior.

  4. Watch the movie version of Emma. Take note of any differences in the plot (story) of the movie and the book.

  5. Emma paints a portrait of Harriet Smith. What do you think Harriet Smith would look like? Draw your own portrait.

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