The Printable KISS Workbooks The KISS Workbooks Anthology

The KISS Grammar

Tom Swifties Collection

[Go to the “Alternatives to 'Said'” Section]

Tom Swifties are named after a character created by Victor Appleton (Edward L. Stratemeyer). According to David Mendosa, Stratemeyer “worked hard to have Tom never simply say anything. He asserted, asseverated, averred, chuckled, declared, ejaculated, expostulated, grinned (plainly or mischievously), groaned, quipped, or smiled.” Frequently, he punned. The puns could be embedded in the verb, as in

“I'm losing my hair,” Tom bawled.
(See the “Alternatives to 'Said'” Section.)
     More often, however, the pun is embedded in an adverb (or an adverbial prepositional phrase) that characterizes the manner in which something is said:
“My pencil is blunt,” said Tom pointlessly.
“I love hot dogs,” said Tom with relish.
In some cases, the pun is embedded in an S/V/PN pattern in which a subordinate clause functions as the subject and the pun appears in an adjective to the predicate noun:
“Your trousers have come apart!” was Tom's unseemly comment.
Tom Swifties make enjoyable practice and/or review exercises.
     For more Tom Swifties, see David Mendosa's page and the collection at (You can, of course, also find more by searching the web.) If you'd like to check Appleton's originals, many of his Tom Swift books are available in electronic format at Classic

     Note that, by their very nature, "Tom Swifties" involve the alternative explanations of clauses as direct objects, or interjections

A Review Exercise on 
Nouns Used as Adverbs, Direct Address, and Interjections
Exercise AK G8 Start L2.3 - 3 Add Mix
A Focus on Helping Verbs 
Exercise # 1 AK G5 Start L1.1. Helping
Exercise # 2 AK - L1.1. Helping
Reviewing S/V/C Patterns
Exercise # 1 AK G8 L1.3 -Mix
Exercise # 2 Combined with # 1 - -
Exercise # 3 AK G7 L1.3 -Mix
Exercise # 4 AK - L1.3 -Mix
Exercise # 5 AK G10 L1.3 -Mix
Exercise # 6 AK G11 L1.3 -Mix
Subordinate Clauses
Exercise # 1 (As Direct Objects) AK   L3.2.3 Sub Cl_Inj_DO
Exercise # 2 (As Subjects) AK G8 Start L3.1.2 Sub Cl
Exercise # 3 (Mixed Noun Clauses) AK G10 Start L3.1.2 Sub Cl
Exercise # 4 (Adverbial Clauses) AK G9Start L3.1.2 Sub Cl Adv
Exercise # 5 (Adjectival Clauses) AK - L3.1.2 Sub Cl Adj
This series of exercises provides fairly comprehensive coverage of verbals.
Exercise # 1 Gerunds AK G10 L4.1 Verbals
Exercise # 2 Gerundives AK - L4.1 Verbals
Exercise # 3 Infinitives AK G10 L4.1 Verbals
Exercise # 4 Mixed Verbals AK G10 L4.1 Verbals
Exercise # 5 Mixed Verbals AK G9 L4.1 Verbals
Exercise # 6 Gerundives or Noun Absolutes? AK G7 L5.8 N Abs
Punctuation Exercises
(including Apostrophes and Quotation Marks)

     The vocabulary in these may give students some problems, and some depend on general knowledge (such as the pun on "placidly" and Placido Domingo). I have tried to organize them by the easiest to understand (Ex # 1) to the most difficult (Ex # 5).

Exercise # 1 AK - L6.1 Punctuation
Exercise # 2 AK - L6.1 Punctuation
Exercise # 3 AK - L6.1 Punctuation
Exercise # 4 AK - L6.1 Punctuation
Exercise # 5 AK - L6.1 Punctuation
Reviewing Passive Voice [IM]
Identifying Passive Verbs AK 1YM L5.7 Passive