Let's say a primary school teacher is going to tell a story. But before she starts, she is asking her students to:

form a circle line surrounding her (like this one in the picture)

enter image description here

What is a better way of saying it? I think there's a fixed phrase for it, but I can't get the correct word out.

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    The circle isn't surrounding the teacher. She's just asking them to form a circle that includes her (on the periphery, same as everyone else except the 3/4 people in the foreground, who are sitting outside the circle). Personally, I wouldn't include the word line, but maybe that's just me. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 11 '19 at 18:27

Combining "circle" and "line" in this way is contradictory and unidiomatic. The correct way is simply:

Form a circle around me. (When the speaker wants to be in the middle, within the circle.)

Form a circle with me. (When the speaker wants to be one of the people forming the circle.)

Form a circle in the middle of the room. (The speaker may or may not be involved in the circle.)


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  • Oh this is also excellent. – John Arvin Jan 11 '19 at 18:45
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    You could use "make" instead of "form" if you want it to be more understandable for young children. – retnikt Jan 13 '19 at 8:38

Form a circle around me.

Forget "line".

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  • Oh I see, I was thinking about that, but I'm not sure, I would be misterpreted as "drawing a circle" or something... – John Arvin Jan 11 '19 at 18:12
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    If anything, "a line" might be misinterpreted in that way. But form a circle means "arrange yourselves in a circle" – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jan 11 '19 at 18:14

“Circle around!” or “Circle up!” can be used in the imperative voice to give routine instructions like this. (American English, informal)

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"Form" seems a little abstract for young children. You could describe the specific way in which they form the circle using more familiar words.

In this case they are all sitting, so the teacher could say, "Let's all sit in a circle."

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After the first time I'd just say that "It's story circle time!"

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  • Awkward quoting I guess, it should be -"it's "story circle" time! – John Arvin Jan 13 '19 at 14:05

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