November 1, 2012
To the Master Collection ToC The KISS Grammar Home Page

KISS Level 2.2.1 - The "To" Problem and Verbs as Objects of Prepositions


Notes for Teachers
Exercises in KISS Level 2.2.1
Ex 1 (a and b) - The "To" Problem (Infinitives)
Ex 2 - "To" and Verbs as Objects of Prepositions
Ex 3 - "To" or "Too"?
Ex 4 - Treasure Hunt and/or Recipe Roster
Notes for Teachers

     Little words cause the biggest problems. If we wish to enable students to analyze and discuss real texts, students need to distinguish "to" as a preposition from "to" as the sign of an infinitive. Note that the instructional material tells students that they are not expected to remember the term "infinitive." All they need to learn at this point is that if whatever answers the question "What?" after "to" is a noun or pronoun, they are dealing with a prepositional phrase and should put parentheses around it. If whatever answers the question is a verb, they should not.
     It takes some practice for most students to both remember this rule and learn to identify verbs. In a few cases, the distinction between verb and noun is ambiguous. Consider the sentence: "They went to sleep." If "to sleep" denoted their purpose for going, "sleep" is a verb; but if it means the state of being to which they went, it is a noun. (Note the implications of this for using "state of being" to identify verbs.) Fortunately, there are very few words that involve such ambiguities.

Overview of Exercises in KISS Level 2.2.1

Exercises One (a and b): "To" -- Is It a Preposition?

     The primary reason for having students learn to distinguish “to” prepositional phrases from infinitives at this level is that prepositional phrases almost never function as subjects, predicate nouns, or direct objects. Infinitives do: 

To breathe fresh air is to enjoy life. 
Sammy loves to swim.
Since, in teaching students to identify S/V/C patterns, KISS directs students to ignore the words that they have identified as prepositional phrases, the students need to be able to recognize infinitives as subjects, predicate nouns, or direct objects. (Most students can do so without formally knowing that they are “infinitives.”) 

Exercise Two: Verbs as Objects of Prepositions

     Originally, this exercise was to be about "to" plus a gerund -- which does create a prepositional phrase. For example, “She loves everything {from boating} {to fishing}.” In real texts, however, these are few and far between. Thus a ten-sentence exercise based on a real (long) text might include only four such sentences, the rest being reinforcements of exercises one and two. On the other hand, KISS Level 1.5 (on prepositional phrases) does not include an exercise on verbs as objects of prepositions. This exercise could go there, but Level 1.5 presents students with many other things to learn. 

      Fortunately, “to” phrases with gerunds as their objects are relatively rare. In collecting sentences for exercises from Sewell's Black Beauty, I was surprised by the number of sentences that included both "to" as a preposition and "to" as an infinitive. I had collected around forty such sentences when I stopped copying them. On the other hand, in the whole text I found only eight sentences in which "to" functions as a preposition with a gerund ("-ing" verb) as its object. In the Gutenberg edition of Spyri's Heidi, I found none.

     Thus this exercise has been redesigned. Each exercise includes at least one example of "to" plus a gerund, but the repetitions from exercises one and two have been replaced with other sentences that have gerunds as objects of prepositions:

{After swimming}, they took a nap.
(In making the table), they used a lot of wood.
If they have been working with randomly selected texts, students have probably met this construction and had little trouble with it except for how to mark the complements (like "table").

     The exercise has been extended to include the even more infrequent constructions in which infinitives function as objects of prepositions:

They did nothing {but sleep}.
He will do any chores (except to wash the dishes}.
In Black Beauty I found only about six such sentences with "but" and only two with "except." Thus in some exercises based on real texts, sentences may have to be invented in order to include these constructions.

     At this point in their work, students do not need to remember the terms "gerund" and "infinitive." (They are the primary focus of KISS Level Four.)
 

Exercise Three - "To" and "Too"

     “To” presents students with an additional problem in that they confuse it with “too.” As the instructional overhead explains, this results in errors that are readily noted by most readers, not just because they are “errors,” but because they lead the reader to expect something that does not appear (“Samantha wanted to go to.”) or hit the reader with a “what” when the reader does not expect it (“Samantha wanted to go too the park.”) 

     Some teachers claim that this is not a serious error, and that may be true. But the differences between “to” and “too” are not that difficult to understand. Thus, people who regularly use these words incorrectly give the impression of being either uneducated or lazy. As I tell my college Freshmen, misspellings of “to” and “too” have, and will continue to, make the difference between an A or a B (or a B and a C) on papers, not just in my English class, but also in papers for any other course. The errors are very noticeable, and they give the instructor the impression that the writer is not very careful or concerned with the paper.

Exercise Four - Treasure Hunt and/or Recipe Roster

      Like all KISS treasure hunts and/or recipe rosters, this one invites students to see that what they are learning clearly applies to randomly selected texts and/or to their own writing.
 
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”).
Probable Time Required:
     This depends on how quickly your students can master the distinction. Two or three initial exercises would probably be a good idea, time permitting. Thereafter, you can expect some students to make mistakes until they finally get it.
Exercises in KISS Level 2.2.1

Ex 1 (a and b) - The "To" Problem (Infinitives)
Instructional Material
Ex # 6 from Potter's  The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck Text AK ToC -
Ex # 12 from Potter's The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan Text AK ToC -
Ex # 13 from Potter's The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan " AK ToC IB2
Ex # 13 from Potter's The Tale of Samuel Whiskers Text AK ToC -
"A Robin and a Robin's Son" AK ToC G3
"To Market, To Market" AK ToC G3
Based on Pinocchio, The Tale of a Puppet, by C. Collodi  AK ToC G3; IB4
From "The Fairy Ring," by Johnny Gruelle Text AK ToC G4
From Vredenburg's My Book of Favorite Fairy Tales AK ToC G4; IB4
Marshall's Robin Hood, Ex # 2 AK ToC G5
"Jonah and the Whale" Text AK ToC -
"Why the Sea Is Salt," (Holbrook # 1, Simple) Text AK ToC -
"Why the Sea Is Salt," (Holbrook # 2, Advanced) " AK " -
Handel, the Great Musician Text AK ToC -
"To" -- Is it a preposition? Exercise # 5 AK ToC G5
Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell, Ex # 1 AK ToC G6
Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell, Ex # 2 AK ToC G6
"To" -- Is it a preposition? Exercise #2 AK ToC G7
Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell,  Ex # 3 AK ToC G7
"To" -- Is it a preposition? Exercise #1 AK  ToC G8
"To" -- Is it a preposition? Exercise # 6 AK ToC G9
From A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens AK ToC G9
"To" -- Is it a preposition? Exercise # 3 AK ToC G10
"To" -- Is it a preposition? Exercise # 4 AK ToC G11

For Level 3 +
These exercises include directions to identify clauses.

From A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens (#2) AK ToC 1YM

 
Ex 2 - Verbs as Objects of Prepositions
Instructional Material
Based on Pinocchio, The Tale of a Puppet, by C. Collodi  AK ToC G3; IG4
Based on Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell, (Ex # 4) AK ToC G6
Based on Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell, (Ex # 5) AK ToC G7
Ex 3 - "To" or "Too"?
Writing Sentences with "To" and "Too" IM ToC All; IG4
Ex 4 - Treasure Hunt and/or Recipe Roster
     Find and bring to class (or write) a sentence in which "to" is used both as a preposition and not as a preposition.