Kiss Grammar Game
The Levels of Play

       Whereas the commercial versions of the game come with only one answer key, these Tech Prep editions are available on the web, and Penn College has graciously provided web space for multiple answer keys. Because of that, an additional level has been added to these editions -- Level 2 provides keys for prepositional phrases plus adjectives, adverbs, and coordinating conjunctions. As a result, what is Level 2 in other versions of the game is here Level 3, etc. As a general rule, the labels, arrows, etc. on the sheets for one level are carried into all following levels. But because the answer keys become congested with labels and arrows, the keys for Level 2 are not.

Level 1 = Prepositional Phrases

     Prepositional phrases are marked off in parentheses {}colored in purple, with a purple arrow going from each phrase to the word it modifies.

Level 2 adds Adjectives, Adverbs, and Coordinating Conjunctions

     Adjectives, adverbs, and coordinating conjunctions are identified, with arrows to the words modified or connected.

Level 3 adds S / V / C slots

    Subjects are underlined once, finite verbs twice, and simple complements (predicate adjectives, predicate nouns, direct objects, and indirect objects). "Simple" means that the complement usually consists of one word. Infinitives, clauses, or other more complex constructions that function as complements are identified at later levels.

Level 4 adds Clauses (Subordinate & Main)

     Subordinate clauses are placed in green brackets [ ]. Arrows lead from adjectival and adverbial clauses to the word each modifies. The functions of noun clauses are labeled in green. A heavy vertical green line is placed at the end of each main clause.

Level 5 adds Verbals

     Gerunds are placed in blue boxes and their function is indicated (DO, PN, etc.). Gerundives are also placed in blue boxes, but an arrow goes from the box to the word modified. Infinitives are placed in blue ovals. If they function as adjectives or adverbs, an arrow leads to the word modified. If they function as nouns, they are labeled.

Level 6 adds 7 additional constructions

     The final connections can all be explained by using one or more of the following seven constructions:

Alternative Answers

      The Answer Keys to the editions of the KISS Grammar Game are based on the grammatical concepts as explained in the KISS approach to English grammar. The objective of the KISS approach, however, is to enable students to consciously understand and explain the structure of any English sentence. As will become apparent to anyone who works with the KISS approach, there are often two or more possible explanations of a particular construction, all of which should be considered acceptable.

     Often a word or phrase can be explained as an adjective to one word or as an adverb to another word. In the sentence She saw him in the store., in the store can be either an adverb to saw or an adjective to him. I would strongly encourage teachers to accept either answer as correct. At this level of specificity, people see (or don't see) the connections differently. If a student "sees" in the store as an adjective to him, but does not "see" it as an adverb to saw, telling that student that he or she is wrong will simply frustrate (and turn off) the student. This problem does not occur with great frequency, and, at times, it may be worth while to have the class discuss -- and even vote on -- the options. Such discussion is worthwhile because it will almost always get into questions of meaning, and it will also enable students to see that the other class members -- not just the teacher -- agree or disagree. [Practicality requires that only one answer be demonstrated in the Answer Keys, but I try to note such alternatives in the Notes to each edition.]

     Sometimes an explanation can be considered acceptable at one level and then revised at a higher level. For example, in the sentence Terri likes to play baseball., likes to play may be considered a finite verb phrase at Level 3 (S/V/C patterns), and then be reviewed as a finite verb (likes) with an infinitive (to play) as its direct object when students get to Level 5 (verbals). When I say "reviewed," I do not mean that students should be forced to view such a construction as a finite verb plus infinitive DO, but rather that, should a student choose to explain it in that way, the answer should be accepted.
     When there are alternative explanations, however, they should be considered as alternatives -- likes to play is either a simple finite verb phrase, OR a finite verb plus an infinitive, not both. Suppose, for example, that a class is playing the game at Level 5, and a student has already identified likes to play as a finite verb. Another student then states that to play is an infinitive, the DO of likes. I would suggest that the teacher respond by saying something such as "That would be acceptable, but to play has already been identified as part of the finite verb phrase. No points." On the other hand, it is possible that only likes will have been identified as the finite verb. In that case, a student could get points for identifying to play as an infinitive, the DO of likes, or a student could get bonus points for identifying to play as an additional part of the finite verb.

     Teachers are, of course, welcome to modify the rules as they see fit. Some teachers may want to accept "there" and "it" as expletives. The "official" KISS explanations do not include them, but I accept them as answers if students have already learned them and are comfortable with them. Suppose, for example, that we were dealing with the sentence There are two people waiting to see you. The "official" explanation is that There is the subject, people is a predicate noun, and waiting is a gerundive modifying people. This explanation enables the KISS approach to eliminate the expletive as a construction. But if a student offers it, I will accept the explanation that There is an expletive, people is the subject, and are waiting is the finite verb.

     Some students are not comfortable with the very possibility of alternative answers -- they want "the RIGHT answer." I point out to them that, in life, there is no RIGHT way to scramble eggs. Any way that gets the task done satisfactorily can be considered right. In analyzing sentences, the task is to understand, and be able to explain and discuss, how words are connected to each other. Because different people see things differently, there will often be more than one right answer. As students come to understand syntax, and as they begin to see that there are more opportunities for them to be right, they become comfortable with the possibility of alternative answers.