Preposition? Adverb? Or Part of the Verb?
Welcome to the grammatical equivalent of Dante's
Somewhere I think I still have a letter from
David Crystal, a fairly well-known British linguist, who claimed, in essence,
that it is impossible to teach primary school students to recognize all
the prepositional phrases in any sentence. In some ultimate sense, he may
be correct, but that is, in part, because grammarians themselves cannot
all agree about what is and what is not a prepositional phrase. Is "for
the truth" a prepositional phrase in "Search for the truth"? Or, since
"search for" means "seek," is the "for" part of the verb? Grammarians disagree.
They also like to spend a lot of time discussing such disagreements, and
they bring them into their classrooms. Or, if they do not, they bring in
just their perspective, i.e., "for the truth" is not a prepositional phrase.
The KISS perspective on this set of problems is simple. It simply accepts
more than one explanation. If you want to explain "for the truth" as a
prepositional phrase, that is fine. If you want to consider the "for" as
part of the verb, that is fine also. Students should have the same option.
I want to thank Stephanie McGuirk for collecting and submitting the sentences used in these exercises. The sentences in exercises one and two were written by a fourth grader; those in exercise three, by a sixth grader.
This border is based on a detail from Michelangelo's
"The Last Judgment" in the Cappella Sistina, Vatican.