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A Paragraph from Cinderella - Notes

     Depending on the experience and skills of the students, there are several ways to work with this exercise. 
     At the simplest level, it can be used as a fill-in-the-blank exercise. (Click here.) This first version of a fill-in-the-blank exercise is very simple in that the students are given a numbered list of the words that were in the prepositional phrases in the original. All the students have to do is to decide which prepositions are appropriate. A more challenging fill-in-the-blank exercise provides the words in a random sequence, so that the students need to decide which words should be used where. (Click here.) The most challenging, of course, is to simply supply the blanks and have students create their own phrases. (Click here.) The most important part of these exercises, especially with the third version, is to have the students discuss their answers.

      Another approach to such an exercise is to give the students the original text (Click here.) and ask them to delete as many phrases as they can without creating nonsense. Here again, the most important part of the exercise is the discussion that follows the students' work. 
      Her godmother only just touched her with her wand, and, at the same instant, her clothes were turned into cloth of gold and silver, all beset with jewels. This done, she gave her a pair of glass slippers, the prettiest in the whole world. Being thus decked out, she got up into her coach; but her godmother, above all things, commanded her not to stay till after midnight, telling her, at the same time, that if she stayed one moment longer, the coach would be a pumpkin again, her horses mice, her coachman a rat, her footmen lizards, and her clothes become just as they were before.
From Andrew Lang's "Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper"
To me, for example, "at the same instant" and "at the same time" could both be dropped without significantly changing the text. The phrase "with her wand" could be dropped without creating nonsense, but the text would lose the magical importance of the wand. "In the whole world" could be replaced by "gave her a pretty pair of glass slippers," but the superlativeness of "prettiest in the whole world" would be lost. Likewise, "above all things" could be dropped, but doing so would reduce the importance of the command not to stay "till after midnight." Finally, that phrase could be replace by "not to stay late," but the text would then lose the importance of the midnight hour. 

     Some grammar workbooks include exercises on how some phrases can be moved. To use this passage in this way, simple give the students the text, and ask them to circle phrases than can be moved and to draw an arrow from the circle to the spot where the phrase can be moved to. For example, "above all things" can be moved to either immediately after "but" or right after "her."

     Finally, of course, one can give students either the original paragraph, or one in which some of the phrases have been deleted, and ask the students to add as many prepositional phrases to the text as they think are appropriate. Here again,  discussion of the students' work is the most important part of the exercise.