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Finite Verb or Verbal? The Noun Test (Ex # 1): from
Stories of Robin Hood Told to the Children
by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
Analysis Key

Note: These sentences all involve verbals that function as objects of prepositions simply because that function is the most frequently found in texts. Technically, they are gerunds.)
     I probably could have found some that function as subjects, if I had had more time to look for them. Note that if students always begin their analysis of a sentence by placing the prepositional phrases in parentheses, these verbals should automatically be eliminated from consideration as finite verbs.
 
1. He wandered on {for some time} {without meeting any one}. |

2. *You* Ask the King (IO) [DO of "Ask" if he will honour you (DO) {by coming} {to supper}. |

3. {Instead of giving him any help [#1]} the King had been angry (PA) {with him}. |

4. {Without saying a word [#2]} she drew her sword (DO) and prepared to fight [#3]. |

5. Other people used still to come [#4] {into Nottingham} {with tales} {of having

met Robin [#5]}. |


Notes
1. If they use their unconscious understanding of sentence structure, most students will include "him any help" within this phrase. At this point in instruction, the objective is to eliminate "giving" as a finite verb, so I would also simply accept "Instead of giving" as the prepositional phrase. Technically, "him" is the indirect object and "help" is the direct object of "giving."
2. "Word" is the direct object of "saying."
3. At this level of instruction, I would accept "prepared to fight" as the finite verb. If, on the other hand, students have already studied the "To" test, you might expect them to identify "to fight" as a verb that functions as the direct object of "prepared," even though they may not be able to identify it as an infinitive.
4. Although most grammarians will consider "to fight" (in sentence four) as a direct object, they will consider "to come" as part of the finite verb. The distinction is one of meaning -- "used to come" means "often came," and thus "used to" is seen as an auxiliary verb. This distinction is not easy for some students to follow, which is why I would, at this KISS level, also accept "prepared to fight" as the finite verb.
5. "Robin" is the direct object of "having met."