KISS Level 1. 6. Pronouns, Case,
Number, and Tense
Although KISS is primarily focused on
syntax (how words relate to each other to create meaning), students should
have a basic understanding of case (nominative, possessive, objective),
number (singular vs. plural) and tense (past, present, future). This section
of KISS Level One focuses on explanations and exercises on these questions.
The instruction is important because students will need them for two reasons—to
learn to avoid errors, and to be able to follow directions.
Some of the errors are usage errors—“Billy
and me went fishing.” In this instance, “me,” an objective case pronoun
is used where a nominative case (“I”) is the standard. Ironically, some
students may make this error because they have been taught not to use “I.”
They have been so taught because students are not generally well taught
about grammatical “person.” “Person” refers almost exclusively to personal
pronouns. (See the instructional material, below.) Students should know
what grammatical “person” means because in some college courses, such as
civil engineering or human services, they will be instructed not to use
“first person” in their papers. Students have reported having to rewrite
papers, or even, in some cases, losing a letter grade on papers because
they were told not to use “first person.” Not knowing what that means,
they used it, and suffered.
“Tense” can become a maze of grammatical categories
-- see, for example, the conjugation
of the verb "discover." The major practical problem for some students,
however, is that they “shift” tenses—from past to present, etc., and teachers
mark this as a “tense shift.” Once students realize what the teachers mean,
they do not have much trouble learning to fix (or better, avoid) the error,
but that means that they need to know the differences among “past,” “present,”
and “future” tenses. Instead of teaching this to future teachers, some
idiotic “professors” teach students that there is no future tense. (They
claim this because unlike past and present tenses, the future tense always
requires a helping verb. The instruction, however, does not help students
in some courses where they may be directed to use future tense in some
In addition to “tense shifts,” some students
have problems with “pronoun shifts.” This means that they shift from “I,”
to “you,” to “he” without reason. Here again, the question is primarily
one of understanding the grammatical terms. Once they do, they usually
can see and understand any problems.
The Exercises in KISS Level 1.6
Exercise # 1 - The Antecedents of Pronouns
Once students can identify pronouns, they
can begin to understand the question of antecedents. Note that the instructional
material points out that some "antecedents" come after their pronouns,
and that some pronouns do not have antecedents.
Exercise # 2 - The Antecedents of Pronouns - Fill-in-the-Blanks
This is a simple practice exercise.
Exercise # 3 - Pronouns as Subjects in Multi - S/V/C Sentences
This exercise focuses on pronouns such as
"who," "which" and "that" that can also function as subordinating conjunctions.
In a sentence such as "They saw the mouse that ate the cheese," some students
will find the verb "ate," ask "Who or what ate?" and conclude that the
subject is "mouse." Students should have been taught that neither the complement
of a verb nor the object of a preposition can function as the subject of
a verb, but some students will forget. Thus this exercise gives them practice
on identifying "who," "which," and "that" as subjects.
Exercise # 4 - Pronouns -- Person, Number, and Case
This exercise focuses on the personal pronouns
and adds the concept of "case." Different grammar books use different terms
for the cases, and some grammar books claim that there are more than three.
KISS uses the terms "nominative," "possessive," and "objective." Exercise
4a consists of ten sentences -- in an attempt to include as many different
pronouns as possible. Exercise 4b consists of a short text -- to show how
the antecedents of many pronouns appear in previous sentences.
Exercise # 5 - Pronouns: The Gender Question
This exercise addresses the problem of using
masculine or feminine pronouns in sentences such as "Everyone should bring
his/her book." It is a question of usage rather than syntax, but students
should be made aware of the question.
Exercise # 6 (a ? b) - Writing Sentences with Personal Pronouns
In these two exercises, students are asked
to write sentences using various personal pronouns, and then to label the
person, number, and case of each pronoun..
Exercise #7a - Pronouns as Predicate Nouns
Pronouns as predicate nouns raise questions
of usage and sometimes of meaning. This exercise focuses on "SAE" (Standard
American English) that students are expected to use in formal writing.
* Exercise # 7b - Pronouns as Predicate Nouns (Choose)
This exercise, the same in every grade level,
is like those "(who/whom)" exercises that many of us had to do in school--and
some students may still have to do. The difference is that in KISS students
should already have learned to identify subjects and complements. Thus
they will be able to understand why direct objects, for example,
are in objective case. The exercise also includes some sentences
in which either objective or nominative case can be used.
* Exercise # 7c - Pronouns as Predicate Nouns -- A Research Project
Students are invited to use the sentences
in exercise # 6b as a survey, asking a number of other people to make the
choices. The students can then discuss the results and explore a difference
between formal and informal styles.
Exercise # 8a - Identifying Tenses
This is the first KISS exercise on identifying
past, present, and future tenses.
Exercise # 8b - Changing to a Different Tense
For practice, students are given a short passage
(or several sentences) in one tense, and they are asked to rewrite the
sentences in the two other tenses.
Exercise # 9 - Person, Number, Case, and Tense reviews the primary
concepts covered in this section.
# 2 - The Antecedents of Pronouns - Fill-in-the-Blanks
# 3 - Pronouns as Subjects
(in Multi S/V/C Sentences)
# 4b - Person, Number, and Case (A Short Text)
# 6 (a and b)
Writing Sentences with Personal
|Two exercises in each grade level
# 7a - Pronouns as Predicate Nouns
Ex # 7b - Pronouns as Predicate Nouns (Choose)
Ex # 7c - Pronouns as Predicate Nouns
-- A Research Project
# 8b - Changing to a Different Tense
# 9 - Review: Person, Number, Case, and Tense