March 1, 2013
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KISS Level 2.1.6 - Distinguishing Finite Verbs from Verbals


Notes for Teachers
Exercises in KISS Level 2.1.6
Ex. 1 - Using the Noun Test to Eliminate Verbals
Ex. 2 - Using the "To" Test to Eliminate Verbals
Ex. 3 - Using the Sentence Test to Eliminate Verbals
Ex. 4 a and b - Mixed Exercise on Verbals
Ex. 5 - A Passage for Analysis
Ex. 6 - Just for Fun?
An Alternate Set of Exercises
Notes for Teachers

What Are Verbals?

     Even many teachers who have been “taught” grammar are not familiar with the term “verbal.” A verbal is a verb that functions as noun, adjective, or adverb. In other words, verbals can function in any way that a noun, adjective, or adverb can. In KISS Level Four — Verbals, students will learn that there are three, and only three, types of verbals (gerunds, gerundives, and infinitives). They will also learn that like any other verb, verbals can have subjects, complements and be modified by adverbs. Notes in the analysis keys explain the subjects and complements of verbals, but remember that these explanations are for teachers and parents. At this KISS Level (2.1.6) students simply need to learn how to distinguish finite verbs (the verbs they should underline twice) from verbals. They can learn how to do this by using the three tests explained in the instructional materials.

Consider:

1. They went to the zoo to see the monkeys.

In (1), “went” is a finite verb because it makes a sentence — “They went to the zoo.” “See,” however, is not. First, it’s got a “to” directly before it. But most importantly, the “to see” cannot be used to form an acceptable sentence — They to see the monkeys??? Zoo to see the monkeys??? Nonsense. Thus “to see” is a verbal. It functions as an adverb to explain why “They went.”

2. He likes everything from hunting to fishing. 
3. Anthony’s driving is dangerous.

     Situations like that in (2) should be easy for students because, if they are using the KISS approach, “hunting” and “fishing” should already be tucked out of the way in the parentheses that mark prepositional phrases. Both “hunting” and “fishing” function as nouns, the objects of prepositions. In (3), “driving” is a verb, but it is not finite because the sentence does not mean “Anthony is driving”; it means that his driving — whenever he drives — is dangerous. Simply put, “driving” functions as a noun, the subject of the sentence. (Here again, meaning is crucial to the KISS approach.)

4. Hearing his mother call, Paul always went to her.

     Sentence (4) includes two verbals. “Hearing” is a verb, but it is not finite. If we ask “Who or what is hearing his mother call?” the answer is “Paul,” but “Paul hearing his mother call” is, as students know, not an acceptable sentence. Students should be expected to use their knowledge of basic sentence structure. Their knowledge of it is just as good as any grammarian’s. And it will help them to find — and then to ignore — the other verbal in (4). Thus, “call” is a verb, but “His mother call.” (unlike “His mother calls.”) is not an acceptable sentence. Thus “call” is not a finite verb. “His mother call” functions as a noun, the direct object of “Hearing.”

5. Sent to the store by his mother, he went to the park instead.

     As always in the KISS approach, students must pay attention to meaning. In (5),  students could make an acceptable sentence with “sent”: “He sent to the store.” But that is not what “sent” means in this sentence. It means “he *was* sent.” Verbs cannot be added to a phrase to make it finite. Such verbs are verbals. In this case, “Sent” functions as a verbal adjective that modifies “he.”If you are not familiar with verbals, you might want to look at KISS Level Four -- Verbals.

     There is one case that is not covered by the three tests. Consider, for example, the sentence: 

6. They made Sam and Sally go to school every day.

Since students will rightly see "Sam and Sally go to school every day" as an acceptable sentence, they will probably identify "go" as a finite verb. To see that it is not, we need to apply an additional test (which we might call the "Substitution Test"). If they were to substitute a pronoun for "Sam and Sally," every student would substitute "them" — "They made them go to school every day." And "Them go to school every day" fails the sentence test. You can, of course, add this test to the instructional material yourself. As of now, however, my sense is that such cases are relatively rare. Thus, rather than add instructional material for relatively rare cases, it is probably better to focus students' attention on the majority of cases, and to expect students to make mistakes with such rare cases. Once they have mastered the basic distinction, you can point out this additional test.

Teaching Verbals at KISS Level Two

     Finite verbs are not easy to define. Perhaps that is why even many experienced English teachers do not know what they are. (Ask some.) This does not, by the way, suggest that teachers are stupid. The problem is that the professors who teach the teachers, and the people who write the textbooks, are more interested in teaching the names of constructions. They do not even attempt to help K-12 teachers learn how to analyze the sentences that students read and write. Thus, instead of using the term "verbals," the professors (and the textbooks) focus on the three types of verbals — "gerunds," "participles" (KISS "gerundives"), and "infinitives." This "Divide and Confuse" strategy keeps power and money in the hands of the professors and textbook publishers, but it does not help the teachers and students.

     The instructional materials for this objective begin with the three tests that students can use to make the distinction — the Noun Test, the "To" Test, and the Sentence Test. The first exercise is on the Noun Test, the second on the "To" test, and the third on the Sentence test. The material on the Noun Test includes a brief general explanation of verbals. The "Sentence Test" usually covers the examples in the "Noun" and "To" tests, but the "Noun" and "To" tests are easier to remember and to apply. This separation into three types of exercises should help teachers help students master one test at a time.
     Students are then given "A Summary Sheet of the Three Tests." Exercises four (a ? b) are on "Mixed" verbals. Exercise five is a "Passage for Analysis," and six is "Just for Fun." Students who have a good sense of what is, and what is not a good sentence, should be able to master this distinction with these seven exercises. If they need more practice, remember that you can find additional exercises in the on-line Master Master Collection of Exercises on the KISS web site. 

Two Notes of Caution:

     First, before you begin using these exercises, you should be sure that the students are fairly comfortable with identifying the finite verbs in the "basic" exercises, exercises in which there are few, if any, verbals. Students who cannot do so will probably find exercises on verbals extremely confusing and frustrating.
     Second, since, in context, every verb is either finite or a verbal, the instructional material on the "tests" explains much of KISS Level Four. It is, however, one thing to explain gerunds, gerundives and infinitives, and something quite different to expect the students to remember all these terms and details. Unfortunately, it is very easy to get caught up in teaching the three kinds of verbals. I simply want to emphasize, therefore, that the objective here is to enable students to identify the finite verbs, not the three types of verbals. The study of clauses (KISS Level Three) is much more important than the details of verbals. Once students  are at least well into the mastery of clauses, you can start the advanced work on verbals.
 
Suggested Directions for Analytical Exercises
1. Place parentheses ( ) around each prepositional phrase.
2. Underline every finite verb twice, its subject(s) once, and label any complements (“PA,” “PN,” “IO,” or “DO”).
3. Make a rectangle around each verbal.
Probable Time Required
     How much time you want to devote to focusing on the distinction between finite verbs and verbals depends on several variables, including the amount of time you can spend on grammar, whether or not you are working within a coordinated curriculum design, and your personal objectives. Because infinitives (“to” plus a verb) frequently function as complements, the KISS grade-level books suggest introducing it in Grade Three. The basic distinction between finite verbs and verbals is then introduced in Grade Four. When you first introduce the distinction, if you have the time, you should probably do at least two exercises on the noun test, two on the “to” test, and two on the sentence test. (Review the first, in-class, before the students do the second.) The distinction, however, cannot simply be taught and then forgotten, as is so often the case in most grammar books. 
Exercises in KISS Level 2.1.6

Ex. 1 - Using the Noun Test to Eliminate Verbals
IM - The Noun Test
Based on Pinocchio, The Tale of a Puppet, by C. Collodi  AK ToC G3; IG4
From Marshall's Robin Hood AK ToC G5
From Heidi, by Johanna Spyri AK ToC G6
Ex. 2 - Using the "To" Test to Eliminate Verbals
IM - The "To" Test
"To" Plus a Verb as a Complement
Ex # 5  from The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck Text AK ToC -
Ex # 5 from The Tale of Johnny Town Mouse Text AK ToC -
Ex # 10 from The Tale of Samuel Whiskers Text AK ToC -
Based on Pinocchio, The Tale of a Puppet, by C. Collodi  AK ToC G3
Ex # 1 from "Thumbelina"  (The "To" Test) Text AK ToC G4
From Wonder Stories 3 AK ToC -
From Stories of Robin Hood Told to the Children by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
As Adjectives or Adverbs Ex # 1 AK ToC -
As Adjectives or Adverbs Ex # 2 AK " G5
As Direct Objects Ex # 3 AK " -
As Direct Objects Ex # 4 AK " -
As Direct Objects Ex # 5 AK " -
As Direct Objects Ex # 6 AK " -
As Direct Objects (without "to") Ex # 7 AK " -
As Predicate Nouns Ex # 8 AK " -
Mixed Ex # 9 AK " -
From "Jack and His Golden Box (Ex # 3) Text AK ToC G6
From A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens AK ToC G9; 1 yr
Ex. 3 - Using the Sentence Test to Eliminate Verbals
IM - The Sentence Test
Ex # 2 from "Thumbelina" (The Sentence Test) Text AK ToC G3
Ex # 3 from "Thumbelina" (The Sentence Test) Text AK ToC G4
From Marshall's Robin Hood Ex # 1 AK ToC IG4
From Marshall's Robin Hood Ex # 2 AK ToC G6
From Marshall's Robin Hood Ex # 3 AK ToC G5
From "The Three Tasks," adapted from Grimm Text AK ToC -
Gerundives # 1 AK ToC G7
Gerundives # 2 AK ToC G8
From A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens AK ToC G9; 1YM
Ex. 4 a and b - Mixed Exercise on Verbals
IM - Summary of the Three Tests
Ex # 9 from Potter's  The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck Text AK ToC -
Ex # 6 from Potter's  The Tale of Johnny Town Mouse Text AK ToC -
Ex # 14 from Potter's  The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan Text AK ToC -
Ex # 15 from Potter's  The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan Text AK ToC -
Ex # 17 from Potter's The Tale of Samuel Whiskers Text AK ToC G3
Ex # 18 from Potter's  The Tale of Samuel Whiskers Text AK ToC G3
From "Crow Talk," by Johnny Gruelle Text AK ToC IG4
"The Birds of Killingworth," from Longfellow Text AK ToC -
From "Sally Migrundy," by Johnny Gruelle Text AK ToC -
The Story of Columbus Text AK ToC -
Casabianca Text AK ToC -
Damon and Pythias Text AK ToC -
Handel, the Great Musician Text AK ToC -
From "Jack and His Golden Box (Ex # 1) Text AK ToC G4
From "Jack and His Golden Box (Ex # 2) Text AK ToC G4
From Marshall's Robin Hood Ex # 1 AK ToC G5
From Marshall's Robin Hood Ex # 2 AK " G5; IG4
A Man and His Dog - Ex # 3 Text AK ToC -
From the Writing of a Sixth Grader AK ToC G6
From "Perseus," by Charles Kingsley AK ToC G6
10 Sentences from a 9th Grader's Writing AK ToC G9
From Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle AK ToC G9
Ex. 5 - A Passage for Analysis
The Shark (93%) [Wonder Stories, 3] AK ToC G3
The Closing 64 Words of "Jack and His Golden Box" [one subordinate clause; one gerund, three infinitives] Text AK ToC G4; IG4
Flying Fish (93%) [Wonder Stories, 3] AK ToC G5
"Rembrandt's The Night Watch," from Bryant's Children's Book AK ToC G6
Frog Fishes (90%) [Wonder Stories, 3] AK ToC G7
Ex. 6 - Just for Fun?
"The Farmer, the Fly, and the Cow"  AK ToC G3; IG4
Shooting Oneself  AK  ToC G6
Humorous Definitions (#3) AK ToC G7
An Alternate Set of Exercises
From the Writing of Fourth Graders ToC
Exploring Verbs as Direct Objects (Based on TA-6) 

These sentences are all from "Making Pizza" (TA-06) from the 2004 North Carolina Trainers Manual. You might want to have students discuss this essay in the context of the prompt and evaluation criteria from that Manual.

AK G4; IG4
Infinitives with and without a subject AK "
Gerunds as Direct Objects AK "
Comparing Gerunds and Infinitives as Direct Objects AK "
More Practice with Infinitives as Direct Objects (Relatively Easy) AK "
More Practice with Infinitives as Direct Objects  (More Difficult) AK "
Verbals (Gerundives) as Adjectives AK "
Verbals (Infinitives) as Adjectives AK "
Verbals (Infinitives) as Adverbs (Easy)  AK "
Verbals (Infinitives) as Adverbs (Harder)  AK "
Verbs That Function as Adjectives — "How to" and "What to" AK "