March 15, 2013
The Printable KISS Workbooks
Sandro Botticelli's
Pallas and the Centaur
undated, tempera on canvas,
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. 
How to Use
KISS Grammar
The study of grammar is a science.
The teaching of grammar is an art.


Preface -- Goldilocks' Porridge
Where to Start
How KISS Works
     Two of the KISS Differences
     The KISS "Levels," "Sub-levels," and "Sections"
      The Basic Objectives and Types of KISS Exercises
The Five Main KISS Levels
  Level 1 - The Basic Concepts
  Level 2 - Expanding the Basic Concepts
         Level 5.1 - Noun Used as an Adverb
         Level 5.2 - Interjections
         Level 5.3 - Direct Address
Level 3 - Adding Clauses (Subordinate and Main)
  Level 3.1 - The Basics of Clauses
  Level 3.2 - Advanced Questions about Clauses
         Level 5.4 - Appositives
         Level 5.5 - Post-Positioned Adjectives
         Level 5.6 - Delayed Subjects and Sentences
         Level 5.7 - Passive Voice and Retained Complements
  Level 4 - Verbals (Gerunds, Gerundives, and Infinitives)
         Level 5.8 - Noun Absolutes
Level 6 - Advanced Exercises for KISS Studies in Style & Logic
     The Eight On-line Sections for Level Six
     Using KISS Analytical Exercises
      Using the KISS Analysis Keys
Additional Options within KISS Instructional Materials
      Some Strategic and Tactical Considerations

See also: Alternative Sequences for Teaching KISS

Return to the Printable Books Page.

     Before you start to use KISS, I strongly suggest that you look at The KISS Psycholinguistic Model (a separate document). This model changes the study of grammar from the memorization of isolated, often senseless rules into the study of how our brains process language. The model underlies most KISS suggestions about errors, about style, and about logic. Most of my students have noted that the model gives them not only a specific reason for studying grammar, but also the sense of a goal.

Preface -- Goldilocks' Porridge

      Perhaps we should begin by addressing a general misconception about "grammar." Most people think that there is a grammar of English -- one set of terms, rules, etc., that students should learn. That, however, is very far from the case. There are actually dozens of different grammars of English, and the misconception has resulted in much confusion about what should be taught, how, why, and when. (If you are interested, you might want to look up "Linguistics" at Wikipedia. You'll find that not only are there many basic types of "English" grammars, often developed for different purposes, but also that different types use -- teach -- different terminology.) KISS Grammar is therefore a specific set of grammatical terms developed for the purpose of teaching native speakers how to intelligently discuss the grammar of English sentences.

     Over the years, I have been asked to write a "short" general description of KISS, a description that teachers (and parents) can share with colleagues who are unfamiliar with KISS. Two things made this difficult. First, KISS is an entirely new approach to the teaching of grammar, and the sequence and extent of the materials is in many ways adaptable for instructors who have different objectives and circumstances. And, like almost everything else, KISS can be improved. (Members of the KISS List have been giving me tremendous help in developing the design.)
     The second difficulty results, in part, from the numerous ways in which KISS Grammar can be applied. KISS is based on the premise that in order to be useful, the study of grammar depends on the users' ability to identify grammatical constructions in any sentence that they read or write. Thus the core of KISS is identification exercises. But the purpose of those exercises is to enable users to meaningfully discuss questions about errors, logic, and style. The problem here is that some people think grammar should be taught primarily to correct errors; others consider grammar important for teaching writing styles. Interestingly, few people consider grammar relevant to understanding some basic logic, but if you stay with KISS, you will see that grammar underlies many logical concepts.
     The different objectives that teachers and parents bring to KISS  lead me to Goldilocks. Some people like their porridge hot (errors?); some like it cold (logic?); and some like it "just right" to meet their own still different objectives. A writer is a cook, but unlike a real cook, a writer prepares only one dish. How does the writer meet the objectives of those who like it hot and of those who like it cold? What is "just right"?
     Some readers of this document will be well-acquainted with grammatical terms. They will find much of what follows bland and boring. Other readers will be very uncomfortable with any grammatical terminology. They will find much of what follows to be confusing. Some readers will feel that there is not enough salt, for example, not enough focus on questions of errors and punctuation. Others may object that it is too salty. They may not be interested in errors and punctuation. For them there is not enough pepper, not enough focus on style or on logic.
     I understand these concerns, and I ask for readers' patience. I have tried, in the following, to give you not just a description, but also the flavor of KISS Grammar. To do that, I have included some of the instructional materials and also some examples of the types of constructions that KISS addresses. For some readers, this will be either too much salt, or too much pepper. All I can do is to suggest that you skip (or quickly browse) the parts that do not interest you.
     If you have questions, you are welcome to join the KISS List and ask them there. If you want to share this document with colleagues, you are welcome to abridge it in any way that you wish. Suggestions for improving this document are welcome. I hope you find KISS Grammar useful.

--Ed Vavra
January, 2013

     It would take a separate book to explain what these materials owe to my mother, my wife, and my son, so here all I can do is to note all of that help. The KISS  design and approach have also been significantly improved by the questions and suggestions of my students over more than thirty years of teaching. Organizing and explaining these materials for the use of other parents and teachers is, however, a totally different type of task, and for the major assistance that I have had with that, I owe a great debt to the questions and suggestions of the many on-line users of KISS materials.

Where to Start

      The basic answer about where to start is simple: start at KISS Level 1 (The Basic Concepts) and work your way through the sequence of KISS Levels -- not the "Grade-Levels."
     The "Grade-Levels" have confused people, so a little explanation is needed. Currently, there are no standards for what grammar should be taught at which grade level. Thus some users of KISS want to start with students in second grade, whereas others want to start with ninth graders. The vast majority of KISS exercises are based on sentences from real texts, including students' writing. Grade-Level Workbooks attempt to align the grammar exercises with the reading levels and interests of the students. Sixth graders probably will not appreciate exercises based on Bunny Rabbit's Diary, and third graders will have a very hard time with sentences from Jane Austen's novels. Thus the differences in the grade-level books are entirely differences in the texts used for exercises. This includes exercises based on students' writing. In the third-grade books, you will find exercises based on the writing of third graders. In the sixth-grade books, from the writing of sixth graders, etc. The instructional materials for the KISS Grammar Levels are identical across grade-levels.

[Yes, I know that this is an insane project for an individual to attempt, but then I'm probably crazy.]
     Have your students work their way through the KISS Levels. They should not do all the grade-level books. Students who have learned how to identify subjects and verbs in third grade do not need to study them again in a later grade. As you will see, KISS identification exercises are cumulative. Once students have learned how to identify subjects and verbs, they will identify them in every identification exercise that they do. (This is one of the major differences of the KISS Approach.)
     Suppose, for example, that in third grade, students work through KISS Level 1.5 (Prepositional Phrases) in the workbooks for students in third grade. In fourth grade, they can (or will be able to) switch to the workbook for students in fourth grade and pick up with KISS Level 1.6 -- Pronouns (Case) Number, and Tense. Until the printable fourth-grade book is complete, your students can stay with the third-grade book, or move to that KISS Level in the sixth-grade book.
     There are currently printable books for each of the KISS Levels for sixth graders. These books include everything that anyone needs to know in order to identify and intelligently discuss the function of any word in any English sentence. (Some members of the Yahoo KISSGrammarGroup have noted that older students do not mind using these materials.)
     The preceding does not mean that sixth graders would be finished with their study of grammar. The KISS levels can be completed as slowly or quickly as teachers or parents wish, but the printable books have been designed as basically a five-year sequence. The five levels themselves include some work on errors, style, and logic, but their primary objective is to provide students with a grammatical toolbox that they can use to study further aspects of errors, style, and logic. 
     This can be done in various ways. For one, every year, including those years after they have finished the last KISS Level, students should grammatically analyze (even  statistically) a passage of their own writing. They should also do a few exercises on punctuation, style, and logic from KISS Level Six (described below). There are two reasons for this. First, students' sentences obviously become more complex and sophisticated as the students mature. As a result, they naturally use more complicated constructions in their writing. Exercises in Level Six will help students see how to manage this complexity. Second, the study of punctuation, style, and logic can be neverending. For example, I'm in the process of making numerous exercises based on Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. When I first considered the book, I assumed that it would be an appropriate choice for eighth graders. Was I surprised. Many of his sentences are amazingly complicated--and many of them are fragments. As noted above, KISS is the only pedagogical grammar that is intentionally designed to enable students to understand and intelligently discuss sentence structure. Does it make sense to have students learn it and then not use it?

     Three final notes. First, unlike most instructional material on grammar, KISS is intended to make sense to the students. If it does not, please let me know (preferably on one of the discussion groups). Second, be sure that you begin by at least browsing the "AK" (analysis key and teacher's) book for the level at which you will be working. These books include important explanations and suggestions for teaching. Third, the KISS Grade-Level books provide a good, but not an ideal sequence for instruction. I try to explain this in Alternative Sequences for Teaching KISS, which you may want to look at. [Note that all of these materials are available for free on the KISS web site.]

How KISS Works

     The primary objective of KISS Grammar is to enable students to identify grammatical constructions such that they can explain the function of every word in almost any sentence. This ability enables students to understand how sentences work, and that understanding will enable them to intelligently discuss the rules of punctuation as well as sophisticated questions of style and logic. To my knowledge, no other instructional materials on grammar even try to reach this objective.

Two of the Major KISS Differences

     The following two sentences illustrate two primary differences between KISS and almost every other approach to teaching grammar:

1. She took off her sash, and tied one end round the butterfly.

2. He took down his soft crush hat after he had dressed himself, a new glint of interest and determination in his eye, and taking his black crook cane from behind the door, where he had always placed it, started out briskly to look for her among the nearest neighbors.

Identifying the subjects, verbs, and prepositional phrases in the first sentence is relatively easy. (It is comparable to the sentences that you will find in many grammar textbooks.) The second sentence, from Dreiser's wonderful story "The Lost Phoebe," will give many people serious problems. You will probably never find comparable sentences in the exercises in most grammar textbooks. In essence, the second sentence includes what we might call "advanced constructions" that will simply confuse the beginning student. [If the following paragraph confuses you, that is its objective. It describes what most grammars leave out -- and their omissions result in students' inability to apply what they have learned to real texts.]
     For example, most students who have studied traditional grammar would probably underline "taking" twice, the usual notation for a finite verb. Indeed, most approaches to grammar do not distinguish "finite verbs" from "verbals." Finite verbs are the verbs that, in essence, make sentences. "Verbals," on the other hand, are verbs that function as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs. But even beyond that, most grammar textbooks do not even acknowledge the fact that many words in sentences can be explained in more than one way. Within KISS, "taking" can be explained in two different ways, each of which is totally acceptable. It can be viewed as a gerundive (a verbal adjective) that modifies "He," or it can be seen as a gerund (a verbal noun) that functions as a noun used as an adverb to modify "started out." 

The KISS "Levels," "Sub-levels," and "Sections"

     The KISS strategy is to enable students to master the basic, and most frequently used constructions first. As a result, KISS is organized by "Levels." 

Level 1 - The Basic Concepts
Level 2  - Expanding the Basic Concepts
Level 3.1 - Adding Clauses (Subordinate and Main)
Level 3.2 - Advanced Questions about Clauses
Level 4 - Verbals (Gerunds, Gerundives, and Infinitives)
Level 5.8 - Noun Absolutes
Level 6 - Advanced & Additional Exercises
These Levels will be discussed in more detail below, but the point here is that, in most cases, the Levels build upon one another. Most grammar textbooks, for example, give definitions of "subject" and "verb," but they never even try to teach students how to identify subjects and verbs in their own writing. Students do a few exercises on identifying subjects and verbs, but then instruction moves to something else and rarely, if ever, are students again required to identify the subjects and verbs in the exercises they are doing. In other words, students are taught what subjects and verbs are, but the students are never expected to be able to identify subjects and verbs in real sentences -- including those they themselves write. (Is it any wonder that students have trouble applying the grammar that they have been taught to their own writing?)
     In KISS, students will always be identifying the subjects and verbs in any sentences that they analyze. In KISS Level 1, therefore, exercises on  recognizing  subjects and verbs may take students some time, but the identification of subjects and verbs will become almost automatic. (You will find that, if the students focus on what they are learning, it will not take as many exercises as you might expect. All that the exercises do is to make students unconscious knowledge of grammar conscious, so that they can intelligently discuss it.)
     This ability to identify subjects and verbs almost automatically is extremely important. Many teachers report that their students have major problems with clauses. The problem is understandable--a "clause" is a subject / verb pattern and all the words that form a part of that specific pattern. Students who can identify subjects and verbs can easily understand that definition and use it to identify clauses; for students who cannot identify subject / verb patterns that explanation is totally useless. In other words, teaching clauses (KISS Level 3) is much easier--and much more meaningful to students--if the students have mastered at least KISS Level 1. More will be explained about the basic KISS Levels (and alternative sequences for using them) below, but first we need to consider their internal structure.
     The Levels are subdivided into sections that focus on a specific concept. For example, KISS Level 1 (The Basics) includes the following setions:
Level 1. 1. Identifying Subjects & Verbs
Level 1. 2. Adding Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives, Adverbs, and Phrases
Level 1. 3. Adding Complements
Level 1. 4. Compounding
Level 1. 5. Adding Simple Prepositional Phrases
Level 1. 6. Case, Number, and Tense
Level 1. 7. Punctuation and Capitalization
Note that most of these sections begin with the word "Adding." As stated above, students will almost always be identifying subjects and verbs, but as they progress through the KISS Levels, they will add concepts to their analysis of sentences. (I doubt that you will find anything like this in any other grammar textbook. 
     As with the Levels, more will be explained about all the sub-levels below, but first we need to consider the nature and organization of the actual instructional materials and exercises within these sub-levels. Remember, by the way, that this structure is identical across all the KISS Grade-level workbooks. The only differences in the grade-level books are that the sentences, poems, etc. that are used for exercises are grade-level appropriate.
     The number of exercises in a sub-level varies. Some concepts are very simple and require only two exercises. Others, like prepositional phrases (Level 1.5) not only require more time to master, but they are of different types for different purposes. As a result, these sub-levels are divided into numbered sections, and the sections may have more than one exercise. The following is the sequence for Level 1.5:
1. Identifying Prepositional Phrases 
2. (a & b) The Functions of Prepositional Phrases 
3. Prepositions by Themselves Can Function as Adverbs 
4. Prepositional Phrases as Indirect Objects 
5. Compound Objects of Prepositions
6. Separated Objects of Prepositions
7. Writing Sentences with Compound Objects of Prepositions
8. Rewriting Adjectives and Adverbs as Prepositional Phrases
9. Sentence Combining with Prepositional Phrases 
10. (a & b) The Logic of Prepositional Phrases
11. Logic - Adding Prepositional Phrases of Time and Space 
12. (a & b) Style - Left, Right, and Mid-Branching Phrases
13. Style - Sentence Models for Writing
14. (a & b) Passages for Analysis
15. Write, Revise, Edit, Analyze -- Describing an Event
The first thing to note here is that some of the numbers are followed by letters -- in this case, simply "(a & b)." The letters indicate individual exercises that have the same purpose and design. In this sub-level, therefore, there are two separate exercises on the functions of prepositional phrases, as there are on the logic and on the branching of prepositional phrases. With prepositional phrases, this is currently considered sufficient, subject to change by requests from users. In other cases, there may be more. For example, "exercise 1" for KISS Level 3.1.1 -- Compound Main Clauses actually consists of four exercises -- a, b, c, and d. Since the KISS objective is to have students master the concept, you may not need all of these, or you may need more. (You can get more in "The KISS Master Collection of Exercises.") In other words, classroom teachers and parents can make choices about how many exercises their students need on any specific concept. What is important is not that they were taught, or that students did them, but that students understand and can use them.
     But the list of exercises also illustrates some of the other important choices that teachers can make to adjust KISS to their own time limitations and objectives. 

The Basic Objectives and Types of KISS Exercises

       Beyond identification, the KISS Grade-Level Workbooks focus on the correction of errors, on writing style, and on logic. Exercises aimed at these objectives are spread throughout the workbooks, and teachers can choose to skip many of these, especially if they are working within a limited time frame.
     In the printable books, exercises for these objectives are distinguised by their titles (which makes the Table of Contents long). In the on-line books, they are distinguished by their backgrounds: 

Writing with Style
Passages for Analysis
Creating an Exercise; Treasure Hunts; Recipe Rosters

The following descriptions are brief, but they are intended to give new users an idea as to whether or not they want to include such exercises with their students.

Correction of Errors

     Identification exercises are fundamental for enabling students to avoid errors. Students who have problem with "its" and "it's," for example, do so because they do not sense "its" as an adjective and "it's" as a subject and verb. In doing KISS identification exercises, students will constantly be underlining "it's" as a subject and verb. As one of my students put it, "they cannot help but learn the difference."
     Punctuation exercises address not only errors, but also logic and style. For example, the instructional materials and notes for teachers in Level 3.1 (Clauses) explain why many of the comma-splices and run-ons in students' writing occur beause the students have never been taught how semicolons, colons, and dashes communicate logical differences between the clauses that they compound.

Writing with Style

     Currently, exercises on writing and style focus on the sentence level. They include such things as replacing one construction with another (rewriting adjective or adverbs as prepositional phrases), using strong verbs, revising sentences by adding prepositional phrases or clauses, sentence-combining and de-combining, and branching. ("Branching" denotes the placement of modifiers before, after, or beween subjects and verbs.)


     KISS exercises devoted to logic reinforce the identification, punctuation, and style exercises from the perspective of David Hune's three categories of identification, extension in time or space, and cause/effect. As a simple example, in writing stories, many students leave out details of time and space. Asking students to add such details usually does not help. But if they are shown how prepositional phrases add such details, students find it much easier to add such prepositional phrases.
     Students' errors with the punctuation of main clauses usually result from their perceiving a logical connection between the two clauses that they run together. In KISS Level 3.1.1, students will learn that the logical connection is often one of contrast (which many professionals would connect with a semicolon). In many other cases, the connection is what might be termed restatement--the second main clause restates the first (usually in more detail). In these sentences, many professional writers would use a colon or a dash. Once students can identify main clauses, they can fairly easily begin to see these logical relationships and use semicolons, colons, and dashes correctly.
     Note that these exercises on the logic of compound main clauses are not only fundamental to the mechanics of comparison/contrast writing; they are exercises in comparison/contrast (same/different) thinking. Far too many students absorb texts as simply a collection of facts. These exercises (like many of the exercises on subordinate clauses) focus students' attention on the writer's underlying logic that connects the facts.

Passages for Analysis

     The primary KISS objective is to enable students to be able to analyze real texts--their own and those they read. Most of the identification exercises, however, are based on sentences, not texts. The reason for this may not be obvious, but it is simple. If, for example, we want students to learn to identify prepositional phrases, they need sentences that include a variety of prepositions. Short real texts rarely do so. Thus the identification exercises are based on selected sentences. To make a connection to real texts, many of the KISS sections therefore include at least one exercise based on a passage for analysis. Teachers can, by the way, supplement these by having students identify the prepositional phrases in a short selection from their own writing or by using some of the samples of students' writing in KISS Level 6.5 Statistical Stylistics & Advanced Analytical Questions. In addition, many of the sections end with a "Just for Fun" exercise. These are jokes or otherwise humorous passages intended for a change of pace.

Creating an Exercise; Treasure Hunts; Recipe Rosters

     Many of the sections conclude with suggestions for having students create an exercise, for "treasure" hunts, and for recipe rosters. Having students create an exercise (similar to the exercises that they have just been doing) turns the students into teachers, and , as most teachers will probably admit, teaching is the best way of learning. These created exercises, by the way, can be used as exercises for other students (in many cases, replacing exercises in KISS).
     "Treasure" hunts ask students to find examples of the constructions they have just been studying in texts that they are reading. The objective, of course, is to help students see that what they have been learning applies to real texts.
     Recipe rosters turn the treasure hunts into writing exercises by having the students write the sentences themselves instead of finding them in texts.

     With the proceeding explanation of how KISS works and how it is organized as a background, we can turn to a more detailed explanation of the KISS levels. That explanation implies a tension within KISS between a logical (categorical) sequence and a developmental one--one based on how students' sentences naturally become more complex. For example, KISS Levl 1.5 includes an exercise on separated objects of prepositions. The exercise focuses on relatively infrequent cases in which objects of prepositions are separated from each other by modifiers of the first object. Consider the following from Spyri's Heidi:
That suited Heidi, and with one arm round Schwänli and the other round Bärli, she wandered up.
In this sentence, the prepostion "with" has two objects--"one arm" and "the other," but they are separated from each other by the prepositional phrase "round Schwänli." Some students will almost automatically see that both "one arm" and "the other" are objects of "with." But many students will not. Thus the exercise is intended to help all the students not only understand what is going on, but also how to indicate it in their analysis. In KISS, students can insert understood words. In the analysis keys, these inserted words are set off by asterisks. Thus:
That suited Heidi, and {with one arm} {round Schwänli} and {*with* the other} {round Bärli}, she wandered up.
The tension here is between putting this exercise in Level 1 (with its focus on prepositional phrases) and the question of natural syntactic development. The KISS exercises are identical across grade levels, but will third graders meet many such cases? Will this exercise confuse, more than help them? If it will confuse third graders, at which grade level should this concept be introduced? 
     There are several such questions within the KISS structure. In essence, the KISS sequence initially follows natural syntactic development, but from Level 3 (clauses) on, it may precede it. Third graders, in other words, all have an unconscious mastery of the constructions in KISS Levels 1 and 2. There is a fair amount of evidence however, that most students do not cognitively master subordinate clauses before grade seven. And there is a fair amount of evidence that suggests that even many high school students have not mastered constructions such as appositives and noun absolutes.

The Five Main KISS Levels

      KISS was originally developed for a grammar course for future teachers. This meant having students master the simplest (and most frequently used) constructions first. Because students had to do everything in one semester, and because mastery of many important constructions depends on mastery of the simpler constructions, KISS had five levels. As you will see, the sequence of the first four levels is very important. Students who have not mastered the first level will have real problems working at Level Two, etc. The fifth level is basically a "mop-up" -- it includes some very simple constructions (nouns used as adverbs, direct address, and interjections). In order to analyze every word, students need to know these simple constructions, but they are not very important to questions of style, errors, etc. Thus they were left to the end.
     Given only a single semester, most of my college students were able to more or less master clauses -- KISS Level Three. We did, however, cover everything, and some students were able to fairly well master the entire KISS sequence. But even they were shaky. To consciously master grammar, students need time to practice. And to learn how what they have learned affects questions of errors, style, and logic, students need even more time.

An Overview of the KISS Sequence

      As suggested above, it does not take five years for most students to master KISS grammar. But if you are starting with students in sixth grade, for example, there is no need to hurry. One or two five-minute exercises a week will allow what students are studying to sink in, and, at the end of a five-year sequence, those students should have a much better understanding of English grammar than do even most college English professors. You can, of course, go through the sequence much faster, but remember that the tortoise won the race. For this reason, the printable KISS workbooks have been set up as a five-year sequence.
     Theoretically, students can use any texts as exercise materials. Ideally, they could be using exercises based on the texts they are reading for other courses – and on the writing of their peers. But you may want to use at least some of the KISS exercises first. They have been developed to be relatively simple so that students can get a grasp of basic concepts without being too confused by constructions that they have not yet studied. Some confusion is good -- it forces students to think, but the KISS exercises have been designed to limit the amount of confusion that students will meet in any exercise. And remember that students should be told that there are mistakes that they are expected to make.

Level 1 - The Basic Concepts

     KISS Level 1 helps students master the basic constructions that are taught in most grammar textbooks -- subjects, verbs, complements (predicate adjectives, predicate nouns, indirect and direct objects), nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, coordinating conjunctions, and prepositional phrases). The printable books for Level 1 are much longer than the books for the other levels, primarily because students need more practice to master these basic concepts. 
     I might note here that in most grammar textbooks, prepositional phrases are often located near the end. If we want students to be able to analyze real sentences, that does not make sense. In the writing of adults, as much as a third of the words are in prepositional phrases. Once students learn how to place these words in parentheses, they can ignore them as they look for other constructions. This makes the analysis much easier.

Additional Notes about KISS Level 1

An Optional Sequence for KISS Level 1

     When I first taught KISS, I started with prepositional phrases (Level 1.5) -- for two reasons. First, students usually need a good deal of practice in identifying prepositions. The sooner they start, the more practice they will get. Second, prepositional phrases often cause subject/verb agreement errors such as "One of the men are here." The error results from the students' inability to recognize prepositional phrases. Some members of the KISS list still strongly favor starting with these phrases.
     However, another thoughtful member of the KISS list pointed out that it does not make much sense to ask students to identify the adjectival and adverbial functions of prepositional phrases if the students have not been taught anything about subjects, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Excellent point! The choice is yours. You may want to start with a few exercises in which students are asked to identify prepositional phrases (without indicating their functions or logic), and then go back to KISS Level 1.1

Errors Addressed in KISS Level 1

     Students who regularly underline subjects once and verbs twice should (sooner or later) learn when to use "its" and "it's," "their" and "they're," and "whose" and "who's" correctly. Those students who write "of" for "have" will begin to learn that "of" is always a preposition and "have" is always a verb. Many other errors in subject/verb agreement result from students mistaking the object of a preposition for the subject of a verb. KISS exercises will teach them the distinction. In addition, some fragments are so because they lack a subject or a verb. In doing KISS exercises, students will regularly be identifying the subjects and verbs in sentences. They should therefore begin to recognize when one is missing.

Style and Logic in KISS Level 1

     Exercises on adding, on rewriting, or on filling in blanks with  adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional phrases add texture (and details) to texts. As you begin to study the syntax of professional writers, you will also begin to see how often they effectively use compounding, especially of finite verbs, complements, and objects of prepositions. Thus KISS Level 1 can be an excellent introduction to style and logic.

Level 2 - Expanding the Basic Concepts

So 'tain't no use in me telling you somethin' unless Ah give you de understandin' to go 'long wid it.
-- Zora Neal Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

     Their Eyes Were Watching God is filled with thoughtful observations on life, but the passage cited above nails the primary problem with the current teaching of grammar. I often claim that grammar textbooks fail to teach students (and teachers) how to understand and use the materials that the grammar books "tell." It is one thing to tell students what subjects and verbs are; enabling students to understand and apply that information requires more "giving." The instructional material and exercises in KISS Level Two give students what they need in order to understand how to find the subjects, verbs, and most prepositional phrases in almost any sentence that they read or write.
     KISS Level 2 is where KISS really begins to differ from most grammar textbooks. It has two basic parts (the complexities of S/V/C patterns, and the complexities of prepositional phrases), but three level 5 constructions form a third part.

     Level 2.1 (the complexities of S/V/C patterns) includes some very simple concepts, for example, understood "you" (*You* Close the door.) [In KISS, we write in words that are left out (ellipsed) and enclose them in asterisks.] Some students are surprised to learn that the basic S/V/C pattern can be varied such that complements can come before the subject and verb. (A terrible creature it was.) This level also includes an option for explaining expletives. (There is only one teacher there.)
     For reasons explained in the teachers' notes in KISS Level 1, KISS ignores the traditional classification of verbs as transitive, intransitive, and "linking." As a result, in KISS Level 2.1, students are introduced to "Palimpsest Patterns," an explanation that may be unique to KISS Grammar. In a palimpsest, one text is written over another. This explanation enables students to explain sentences such as "I shall die a brave man." In it, "shall die" can be seen as written over "will be." That makes "man" a simple predicate noun after "will be." I have yet to see a grammar textbook that enables students to explain sentences such as this one.
     Another complication occurs in sentences such as "They were looking at the doggie in the window." The problem here is in "looking at," and grammarians have a variety of names for this construction. KISS uses the fairly common term "phrasal verb." In this case, "were looking at" can be considered a phrasal verb because it can be replaced by "were watching," but alternatively, "were looking" can be viewed as the verb phrase and "at the doggie" can be explained as a prepositional phrase. But this is not always the case. For example, in "Put on your thinking cap," many students will (without thinking) mark "on your thinking cap" as a prepositional phrase. But that is not what the sentence means. It means "Put your thinking cap on your head." Some grammarians thoughtlessly  insist that phrasal verbs can always be replaced by a regular verb. One grammarian, for example, argued that "put on" can be replaced by "don." But how many fourth graders know the word "don"?
     The most difficult of the sections in Level 2.1 is "Distinguishing Finite Verbs from Verbals." This is where students learn not to underline twice verbs that function as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs (discussed above). The KISS instructional material provides students with three questions that they should learn to ask to make the distinction.
     The last section in Level 2.1 is an introduction to the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive can be a very complex concept, but at this level the primary concern should be simply to recognize its existence so that teachers and students will not consider "I were" to be a subject/verb agreement error in sentence such as "If I were a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning."

     Level 2.2 - (the complexities of prepositional phrases) starts by focusing on the "to" problem. "To" can be a preposition, but it also functions as the sign of an infinitive (a verbal). This section makes students look at whether a verb or a noun answers the question "to what?" The complexity comes in the fact that gerunds (another verbal) can function as the objects of prepositions, as in "She loves every sport from fishing to skiing."
     Another section in this level helps students distinguish prepositions from subordinate conjunctions. Subordinate conjunctions introduce subordinate clauses, a construction that students will not deal with until KISS Level 3. At this level, therefore, all students need to know is that if whatever answers the question "What?" after what looks like a preposition could be a sentence, the word is not a preposition. Thus in "They haven't eaten since breakfast," "breakfast" can't be a sentence, so "since breakfast" is a prepositional phrase. But in "They haven't eaten since they had breakfast," "they had breakfast" could be a sentence. Thus "since they had breakfast" is not a prepositional phrase.
      Level 2.2 also introduces the important concept of embedding. "Embedding" means that one construction is, so to speak, "in the bed" of another. For example, in "The busses came from the hotel on the main street of Bidwell," the prepositional phrase "of Bidwell" modifies "street." Thus in can be viewed as inside (in the bed of) the "on the main street" phrase. And the "on the main street" phrase modifies "hotel," so that phrase is embedded on the "from the hotel" phrase. As you will see if you stick with KISS grammar, embedding is a major factor in the complexity of sentences.
     The last section in this level surveys advanced questions about prepositional phrases. If they have been given adequate time to practice, by the time students get to this level they will be able to identify 95+ % of the prepositional phrases they will meet in randomly selected texts. But if they are analyzing randomly selected texts, they will run into two constructions that will give them trouble -- gerunds (a type of verbal) and subordinate clauses that function as objects of prepositions. 
     Most students will be able to recognize many gerunds as the objects of prepositions without even thinking about it, as in "They ran without stopping." The complication occurs when, the gerund itself has a complement, as in "Sam was happy {about hitting a home run}." And, because students have not yet studied clauses, clauses that function as objects of prepositions will also confuse them, as in "I am never afraid {of [what I know] }."
     Students should be expected to miss both of these until they get to the study of verbals and clauses, but at this level teachers may want to show students the types of things they are expected to miss.

     Level 2.3 adds three simple Level 5 constructions to the students' analytical toolboxes. Students do not need to be able to recognize nouns used as adverbs, interjections, or direct address in order to understand clauses. If instructional time is limited, you should probably skip these. On the other hand, these three constructions are easy to learn, and they account for a fair number of words in real texts.

Level 5.1 Noun Used as an Adverb
     Jemima Puddle-duck came every afternoon
Level 5.2 Interjections
     Hey, what are you doing? 
Level 5.3 Direct Address
     Madam, have you lost your way? 
As you will see in later levels, KISS expands the traditional definition of interjections to include, among other things, some clauses.

Additional Notes about KISS Level 2

      KISS Level 2 reinforces the questions of style and errors addressed in KISS Level One. For style, it adds the varied positions in S/V/C patterns; for errors, it explains why subjunctives are not errors in subject/verb agreement.

Level 3 - Adding Clauses (Subordinate and Main)

      To understand many aspects of style and of errors, the most important constructions that students need to master are clauses. A clause is a subject / finite verb / complement pattern and all the words that chunk to (modify) it. In the KISS Approach, of course, students should be able to identify S/V/C patterns very quickly by the time they get to KISS Level Three. Typically, therefore, they have relatively little difficulty with clauses. But because clauses are so important, you might want to spend a year on each of the two main sub-divisions of KISS Level Three. The printable books, therefore have been divided into two.
      Level 3.1 introduces the basics of clauses -- main clauses, and the most common subordinate clauses. Level 3.2 addresses advanced questions about clauses. For students who have mastered the basics, these advanced questions are not that difficult, so the grade-level books for Level 3.2 include four the Level 5 constructions -- Appositives, Post-Positioned Adjectives, Delayed Subjects and Sentences, and Passive Voice and Retained Complements.

KISS Level 3.1 The Basics of Clauses

      Level 3.1.1 introduces main clauses and the punctuation and logic of compound main clauses. The easiest and most effective way of introducing students to the distinction between "sentence" and "clause" is to start with compound main clauses. Many of the problems that students have with punctuation involve main-clause boundaries, so expect to spend a fair amount of time here. Perhaps most important of all, be sure that students memorize and use the definition of a clause: A clause is a subject / (finite) verb / complement pattern and all the words that chunk to it. 
     Some of the exercises here focus on the logic of the punctuation of compound main clauses. Many good writers use semicolons to join main clauses that contain contrasting ideas (same; different): 

She likes the Orioles; he prefers the Mets.
They use colons or dashes when the following clause provides a clarification of the general idea of the first clause (same/same): 
Business was good this year: sales went up 25%.
Dinner was delicious -- the roast beef was tender,
and the asparagus was crisp.
If you study the errors in many students' writing, especially the run-ons and comma-splices, you will probably find that these errors occur where good writers would have used a semicolon, colon, or dash.

     Level 3.1.2 adds subordinate clauses to the students' analytical toolboxes. With very few exceptions (addressed in Level 3.2), subordinate clauses function as nouns, adjectives or adverbs within main (or other subordinate) clauses. The objective of this level is first to enable students to identify these clauses, and then to explore what they add to the style and logic of a text.
     The instructional material for this level is very short, but, as with how to find complements, it presents students with an analytical procedure:
Identifying Clauses -- The Analytical Procedure

If a sentence has only one S/V/C pattern, put a vertical line after it and go on to the next sentence. [The clause should be a main clause.] 

If a sentence has more than one S/V/C pattern: 

       1. Check for subordinate conjunctions. (See the list below.) They will often indicate where subordinate clauses begin. If you have put brackets around all the clauses introduced by subordinate conjunctions, and you still have more than one unanalyzed S/V/C pattern in the sentence, go on to 2. 

      2. Start with the LAST S/V/C pattern and work backwards! For each clause: 

a. Find the last word in the clause.

b. Find the first word in the clause. (Start with the word before the subject and keep moving toward the front of the sentence until you find a word that does not chunk to that S/V/C pattern.) 

c. If the clause begins with a subordinate conjunction , it is obviously subordinate. Put brackets around it. [If a clause begins with "and," "or," "but," a colon, a semicolon, or a dash, it is probably a main clause – put a vertical line in front of it.] 

d. If the clause does not begin with a subordinate conjunction, check to see if it answers a question about a word outside itself but within the sentence. If it does, put brackets around it. If it does not, put a vertical line after it.

     3. Repeat this procedure until there is only one S/V/C pattern in the sentence that has not been analyzed. The remaining pattern will be the core of a main clause. Put a vertical line at the end of the main clause.
The following words often function as subordinate conjunctions:

   after, although, as, as if, as though, because, before, if, how, lest, since, than, that, when, where, while, what, who, why, which, until, whenever, wherever, whatever, whoever, whichever, whether, for, so

     Many of the exercises in this level focus on questions of style and logic. Subordinate clauses are so called because they usually subordinate (make less important) the ideas expressed in them. This gives us the "MIMC" principle -- Main Idea in Main Clause. In KISS terms, we usually talk about this as "focus" -- the ideas in the main S/V/C pattern get the major focus. But subordination also creates different logical connections. Consider the following two sentences:

She did the dishes. He went swimming.

So stated, they simply present two facts. In KISS Level 3.1.1, students learn that they can combine these two sentences not only by using a comma plus "and," but also by using a semicolon:

She did the dishes; he went swimming.

Many readers see the semicolon as a sign of an implied contrast. In this case, the semicolon adds the idea that she was stuck in the kitchen and he went out and had fun.
     In KISS Level 3.1.2, students will study how subordinate clauses can change the focus and logical relationships between the clauses. I have made the main S/V/C pattern bold to suggest the difference in focus:

A logical relationship of time:
When she did the dishes, he went swimming.
She did the dishes when he went swimming.
Before she did the dishes, he went swimming.
He went swimming after she did the dishes.

Because she did the dishes, he went swimming.
She did the dishes, so he went swimming.

The nature of the clauses that are being combined affect the possibilities:

The doctor was delighted with Stuart. 
He said that it was very unusual for an American family to have a mouse.

can be rewritten as

The doctor, who was delighted with Stuart,
said that it was very unusual for an American family to have a mouse.

or as

The doctor, who said that it was very unusual for an American family
to have a mouse, was delighted with Stuart.

It is also possible, of course, to combine these two main clauses by using compound verbs: The doctor was delighted with Stuart and said that it was very unusual for an American family to have a mouse. Syntactically, however, items that are compounded are of equal importance.
     The point here is that KISS Level 3.1.2, in addition to helping students learn how to identify subordinate clauses, also provides a number of exercises for exploring differences in focus and logic.

     KISS Level 3.1.3 focuses on embedded clauses and the analytical procedure explained above. Much of the complexity of English results from the embedding of one construction within another. (This is, by the way, something that most grammar textbooks never address.) Consider, for example, the following sentence from Ouida's A Dog of Flanders.

 His sight was less clear [than it had been], | and it gave him pain to rise after the night's sleep, [though he would never lie a moment in his straw [when once the bell of the chapel tolling five let him know [that the daybreak of labor had begun]]]. |
The sentence has two main clauses, the first of which includes one subordinate clause. But the second main clause includes a subordinate clause ("that") that is embedded in the "when" clause that is embedded in the "though" clause which is embedded in the main clause. This section gives students practice in untangling sentences with embedded subordinate clauses. 

Additional Notes about KISS Level 3.1

     Questions about both errors and style were discussed in relation to the various sub-levels. The following, therefore, is just a summary.

Errors Addressed in KISS Level 3.1

     Run-ons and comma-splices occur in compounded main clauses. Once students learn to recognize the clauses in their writing, KISS provides them instruction in using semicolons, colons, and dashes as means not only for correcting such errors, but also for expressing the logic that probably caused the errors in the first place.

Style and Logic in KISS Level 3.1

     The MIMC principle and the manipulation of focus and logic were discussed above, but KISS Level 3.1 also enables students to begin important statistical studies of their own writing. How long or short should their sentences be? Highly accepted research suggests that the best basic measure of "syntactic maturity" is not the length of sentences, but rather the average number of words per main clause. Because KISS enables students to identify the clauses in their own writing, KISS enables students to analyze their own writing from this perspective and to compare it with that of their classmates, other peers, and even professionals. Unlike much of the work in the 1980's that thoughtlessly pressed students to write longer and more complicated sentences, KISS enables students to make their own decisions.

KISS Level 3.2 Advanced Questions about Clauses
plus Four Level 5 Constructions

      Level 3.2.1 introduces semi-reduced and other ellipsed clauses. "Ellipsis" is the omission of understood words. Most grammar textbooks never get to the concept of ellipsis in clauses. Linguists call a similar, but more comprehensive concept "reduction." In the analysis keys, KISS denotes ellipsed words by placing them within asterisks. 
     This level starts with ellipsed finite verbs in compounded main clauses. This is fairly common, even in stories written for children. In the following sentence from "How Brave Walter Hunted Wolves" in Andrew Lang's The Lilac Fairy Book, the verb "lives" is established in the first main clause, and then ellipsed in three following main clauses:

Caro lives in the dog house, Bravo in the stable, Putte with the stableman, Murre a little here and a little there, and Kuckeliku lives in the hen house, that is his kingdom.

Caro lives in the dog house, Bravo *lives* in the stable, Putte *lives* with the stableman, Murre *lives* a little here and a little there, and Kuckeliku lives in the hen house, that is his kingdom.

You might want to tell your students that they are actually studying advanced rhetoric--rhetoricians consider this ellipsis a stylistic device called "prozeugma."
     The next exercises introduce what KISS calls "Semi-Reduced Clauses."  Some subordinate clauses  begin with a word that can also be a preposition. When such clauses are "reduced," the result is a prepositional phrase:
[After they watched the ball game], they went to the park.
{After watching the ball game}, they went to the park.
Some subordinating conjunctions, however, do not function as prepositions. When these clauses are reduced, KISS calls the result a "semi-reduced clause":
[While they were watching the ball game], they had popcorn.
[While watching the ball game], they had popcorn.
The result is semi-reduced because full reduction results in a gerundive (a type of verbal) -- Watching the ball game, they had popcorn.
     The last question addressed in this level involves alternative explanations, primarily for "as" and "than" constructions. Some grammarians claim that in a sentence such as "Nelly is as happy as a bird." the "as a bird phrase is an ellipsed subordinate clause (as a bird *is happy*). KISS accepts that explanation, but in many cases, it is equally valid (and much simpler) to explain "as a bird" as a prepositional phrase.

     Level 3.2.2 explores a question about "so" and "for" as conjunctions. Some grammarians consider "so" and "for" to be coordinating conjunctions; others don't. You could consider this to be simply a matter of alternative explanations. But because of the logic involved, and because of the implications for statistical studies of style, KISS makes finer distinctions. These are briefly explained in the instructional material for this section. (If you are working with randomly selected texts, you will probably be surprised by how often "so" and "for" are used as conjunctions, even in stories written for children.

     Level 3.2.3 - "Interjection or Direct Object?" addresses other questions that are rarely, if ever, discussed in grammar textbooks. Consider, for example, the following sentence from Andersen's “The Snow Queen”:

You see that all our men folks are away, 
but mother is still here, and she will stay.

Are "but mother is still here" and "she will stay" main clauses, or are they additional direct objects of "You see"? The two explanations imply different meanings, but even in context it is almost impossible to tell which is "right." The first exercise in this section explores this ambiguity.
     The second establishes that some subordinate clauses can be explained as interjections:

That same day (I will not say but what I watched) 
I had the satisfaction to see Mr. Henry.
Rhetoricians call these "parenthetical" expressions (even though they are not always set off by parentheses).

     This section is called "Interjection or Direct Object?" because the first two exercises are background for a more frequent question, again a question that textbooks rarely address.  Consider the following sentences from Vredenburg's "Bluebeard":

"Wretched woman!" shouted Bluebeard, "you have
used this key, you have unlocked the door of that room
at the end of the passage. You shall die!!!"

Most textbooks would consider "shouted Bluebeard" to be the main subject and verb. But if we do that, what is the direct object of "shouted"? Is it just "Wretched woman"? Or does it include "you have used this key"? Or does it also include "you have unlocked the door of that room at the end of the passage"? And, even though there is a period after "passage," is not "You shall die!!!" part of what was "shouted"?
     The preceding example is, moreover, a simple example of a relatively frequent phenomenon. In many cases, readers are told that so-and-so said, and then the quotation may go on for entire paragraphs! For this reason (and for some others), KISS treats the "shouted Bluebeard" as a subordinate clause that functions as interjection. The clauses that might traditionally be direct objects are then explained as main clauses. The exercises in this level explore these questions.

     Level 3.2.4 - "'Tag' and Other Questions about Clauses" is the KISS catch-all section on clauses. The first question is about what most linguists call "tag questions," as in "They won the game, didn't they?" You can add "tag questions" to the students' analytical toolbox, but within KISS, they can simply be considered a type of interjection. They are not, by the way, always questions. Consider the following, from Heidi:

I want the goats to give me splendid milk, remember. 
In this case, another option would be to consider the "I . . . milk" as the direct object of "remember, but that brings us back to "Interjection or Direct Object?" In either of these cases, KISS presents the students with the option of the interjection.

     The last exercises in this level focus on "The Witch in 'Which' (and 'Who')." There are two types of things that students will run into. One is that "which" sometimes has an idea, rather than a specific word, that functions as its antecedent. 

A small, white goat, called Snowhopper, kept up bleating in the most piteous way, which induced Heidi to console it several times. 
In this case, some people might consider the verb ("kept") as an unusual antecedent for the adjectival "which" clause, but in a few cases, an entire clause is the meaningful antecedent.
    The other thing that students will run into with both "which" and "whom" is that sometimes the first word in the clause is not the subordinating conjunction. This is relatively frequent when the subordinating conjunction is the object of a preposition and the prepositional phrase begins the clause, as in "They went to the field in which the horse was kept." Students will probably have easily mastered this construction in KISS Level 3.1.2 (Basic Clauses). Here, however, the exercises focus on the less frequent cases in which a word precedes the prepositional phrase, and that word is part of the subordinate clause: "They saw the horses, [one {of which} was lame]."
     This level also includes discussions of the "in which" problem and "which" fragments. Teachers frequently note the "in which" problem. It is simply the repetition of the "in," as in "I love the city in which I live in." Within the KISS Approach, most students will recognize and learn to correct the problem on their own. As they analyze such sentences, they will note the superfluous "in."
     "Which" fragments are a different story. Consider the following from The Creators, by the noted scholar Daniel Boorstin:
Often called the first Christian philosopher, Philo was a Jew. Which of course is not surprising, since the Christian Messiah was also a Jew. (46-47)
Many teachers will consider this to be an error -- a "which" fragment. But in studying real texts, you will find that many respected writers use them. 
    The printable books for KISS Level 3.2 also include the following KISS Level 5 Constructions. 

Level 5.4 - Appositives

     Students could meaningfully be introduced to simple appositives when they are working at KISS Level 2. There are, however, two reasons for delaying their introduction. First, clauses are more important. Second, appositives are “late-blooming” constructions. Many students do not cognitively master them until they are in high school. 
     Most grammar textbooks define appositives as noun constructions that are connected to the rest of the sentence solely in terms of meaning. The appositive means the same thing as the word to which it stands in apposition, as in "We live in Winchester, a city in Virginia." 
     After some exercises on simple appositives, KISS focuses on "elaborated" appositives. "Elaborated" means that clauses, and other advanced constructions elaborate the modification of the "simple" appositive. In the following sentence from Frederick Ober's Old Put, the Patriot, the first four appositives (in bold) are simple, but the final one, "magnet," is more elaborate in that it is itself modified by an adjectival clause.

So they gathered, the young and the old, the learned doctor and the practical mechanic, for the defense of Freedom — a magnet [that drew both Pomeroy and  Warren to that since-famous redoubt on the summit of Breed's Hill].
In the next sentence, from The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson, appositives to "four others" are elaborated by appositives (in blue):
Harris and four others, Mountain himself, two Scotsmen -- Pinkerton and Hastie -- and a man of the name of Hicks, a drunken shoemaker, put their heads together and agreed upon the course.
Whereas most textbooks focus on appositives as single words, the point of this exercise is to show students that appositives are often much more sophisticated.
     Another exercise, which explores the various ways in which appositives can be punctuated, is followed by exercises that concentrate on writing. For example, students are asked to rewrite appositives as subordinate clauses and to rewrite subordinate clauses as appositives. This means rewriting A as B, or B as A, in the following:
A. Parker, a humorless, nervous man, lacked the icewater reactions of a typical butler.
B. Parker, [who was a humorless, nervous man], lacked the icewater reactions of a typical butler.
      Another exercise asks students to combine sentences by using an appositive to establish the credibility (or simple identity) of a person or research source:
Kevin Burns said six people were taken to hospitals from the wreck. Burns is a Shelton police Detective Sgt. 

Kevin Burns, a Shelton police Detective Sgt., said six people were taken to hospitals from the wreck.

Kellogg Hunt, a pioneer in the study of how sentences grow as children get older, called the appositive a "late-blooming" construction. He suggested that even many high school students have not cognitively mastered them.
     His argument is supported by the fact that many of my college students have problems with them. It is not at all unusual to see sentences such as, "According to Kevin Burns, a Shelton police Detective Sgt., said six people were taken to hospitals from the wreck." The KISS psycholinguistic model helps us understand the cause of this problem. Students who have not cognitively mastered appositives cannot contain the entire sentence in their short-term memory. As a result, they lose track of the beginning of the sentence. The result is what Mina P. Shaughnessy, in her classic book Errors and Expectations called a "slipped pattern." Whereas experienced readers will process "a Shelton police Detective Sgt." as an appositive to "Kevin Burns," in the inexperienced writer’s mind it is not processed as an appositive and thus becomes the subject of “said.”
     The final exercises in this level explore other constructions as appositives. You will not find this discussed in most grammar textbooks, but many constructions can so function. I first noticed this in the sentence "He struggled, kicked and bit." One can, of course, see the three verbs as simple compounds, but to do so is to miss the fact that "kicked" and "bit" are explanations of "struggled." In the following sentence from Carrie's War by  Nina Bawden, "jumping" and "landing" are gerunds that function as appositives to "trick." 
I brought off a new trick, jumping off Herakles with a standing back-somersault, and landing on my feet.
    Because there is a Level 3.2 for sixth graders, within KISS materials sixth graders can be introduced to appositives. But remember that Hunt found that most high school students don't use them. There is no need to rush.

Level 5.5 - Post-Positioned Adjectives

     Just as appositives can be seen as reductions of subordinate clauses based on S/V/PN patterns, post-positioned adjectives can be explained as reductions of clauses that are based on S/V/PA patterns:

The man, [who was old and tired], stopped by the roadside and fell asleep
The man, old and tired, stopped by the roadside and fell asleep.
Because they can usually be explained as ellipsed clauses, "post-positioned adjectives" could be eliminated as a concept, but the concept is useful for discussions of style and, in some cases, the adjectives are separated from the word that they modify by other constructions that would interfere with the reduced clausal explanation.

Level 5.6 - Delayed Subjects and Sentences

     In some sentences, the meaningful subject is delayed and its position at the beginning of the sentence is filled by a pronoun, usually "it":

It is true that learning grammar can be enjoyable.
[That learning grammar can be enjoyable] is true.
Most delayed subjects are either subordinate clauses or infinitives. You will probably not find any discussion of these constructions in typical grammar books, but I would suggest that helping students understand them helps students read better. To test this yourself, take several sentences with delayed subjects, and ask students what the "it" means. (What is true?) See how long it takes to get a meaningful answer.
     Delayed subjects slide into what KISS calls "delayed sentences." The basic difference is that in delayed subjects, the meaningful subject can be moved to replace the "It" without making any other changes. In delayed sentences, deleting the "It" necessitates additional changes:
It was to this temper [that he owed the felicity of his later days].
To this temper he owed the felicity of his later days.
Level 5.7 - Passive Voice and Retained Complements

     As currently taught, passive voice is basically a joke -- in order to understand passive voice, one first has to be able to identify subjects and verbs. Currently most students are not taught how to do that. They are, however, often told not to use passive voice, a meaningless rule to those who can find verbs in the first place.
    This section begins with exercises on identifying passive voice. Within the KISS framework, these should suffice because students will have been automatically underlining subjects and verbs for a relatively long time. The next exercises are on rewriting active verbs as passive, and passive as active:

Active: Bill closed the door.
Passive: The door was closed by Bill.
The rewriting exercises are followed by a focus on "Retained Complements."
    "Retained" simply means that the complement after a passive verb is considered to be "retained" from the active voice version:
Bill gave Bob a football.
Bob was given a football by Bill.
The preceding is an example of a "simple" retained complement, but as with Delayed Subjects, most retained complements are either infinitives or subordinate clauses:
Passive:  One is never allowed to get used to anything
Active: They never allow one to get used to anything.

Subordinate Clause

Passive: The butler was told [that he should get ready for traveling with the child]
Active: Someone told the butler [that he should get ready for traveling with the child]

     The next exercise focuses on a construction that I have never seen addressed in a grammar text:  "'To be to' --  Ellipsed Passive plus an Infinitive?" Consider the following sentence from Black Beauty:

Now I was to have a bit and bridle. 
Sentences like this (They are fairly common.) can be interpreted in two ways, one of which is in active voice; the other, in passive:
Active: Now I was *going* to have a bit and bridle.
Passive: Now I was *supposed* to have a bit and bridle.
In the active voice, "going" is usually the obvious ellipsed word. In the passive, the ellipsis is more ambiguous. In this case, it could be "expected" or "required" instead of "supposed." (Note the subtle differences in meaning.)
     Passives are a very important subject of study. Admonitions to avoid the passive have a very sound reason. Passive voice hides the person (or group) responsible for the action expressed in the verb -- "Oil was spilled in the Gulf." But in many cases, such as the description of processes, the passive makes more sense. It avoids the repetition of, for example, "The carpenter first selects a board. Next, the carpenter . . . ."

Additional Notes about KISS Level 3.2

     The level 3.2 grade-level books do not add much (in terms of errors) beyond what students will have learned in Level 3.1. Stylistically, it does add the important appositives, post-positioned adjectives, and passive voice.
     Level 3 is the most important for questions regarding errors and style. Indeed, if errors are your primary concern, you can probably skip Level 4 (verbals) and the single remaining Level 5 construction (noun absolutes). I would, however, strongly suggest that you not stop having students study grammar. You might simply want to switch to the Practice/Application exercises. (See below.)

Level 4 - Verbals (Gerunds, Gerundives, and Infinitives)

     As you have seen, most of the KISS Level 5 constructions have been spread across the earlier grade-level books. This final grade-level book therefore covers verbals and the last of the Level Five constructions, the noun absolute.

     In KISS Level 2.1.6, students had to learn about verbals in order to know that they should not underline them twice. In this section, they learn to distinguish the three types of verbals, how they function within sentences, and how they affect style. Like all verbs, verbals can have subjects and complements, and they are modified by adverbs.
     There are three and only three types of verbals. They are gerunds, gerundives, or infinitives. Here again, KISS suggests a Boolean sequence for making distinctions.

1. Any verb that has not been underlined twice (i.e., is not "finite") has to be a verbal.
2. Verbs that end in "-ing" and function as nouns (for example, as subjects, as predicate nouns, as direct objects, or as objects of prepositions) are called gerunds.
3. Verbs that end in "-ing," "-ed," "-en" and some irregular endings and that function as adjectives are called gerundives.
4. Any other verbal must be an infinitive. Infinitives can function as nouns, adjectives or adverbs.
As often happens in KISS, the explanations (directions for cooking) look much more complicated than the learning (eating). KISS exercises usually help students make these distinctions fairly easily.
     I should note that you will have a hard time finding a grammar book that uses the term "gerundive." (I know there is at least one, because it suggested the term.) Most grammar books use the term "participle." "Participle," however, is confusing because it denotes a form of a verb, but not its function. In
He was playing baseball.
"playing" is a participle but it functions as part of the finite verb phrase "was playing." In
Playing baseball, he made many new friends.
"Playing" is still a participle, but it functions as an adjective to "he." In other words, in KISS gerundives are participles that function as adjectives.

     KISS Level Four is set up in the same way that the materials on types of complements and basic types of clauses are. It starts with "mixed" exercises. The first of these concentrate on identification of the three different types. The next is on the subjects of verbals; the next is a sentence-combining exercise. These are followed by a passage for analysis and a "Just for Fun" exercise. 
     The next subset focuses on gerunds. These exercises include a study of the subjects of gerunds and an exercise on gerunds that function as nouns used as adverbs. In a sentence such as "They went swimming," KISS explains "swimming" as a gerund that functions as a Noun Used as an Adverb. Grammar textbooks rarely discuss this construction, but note that the KISS explanation is a simple logical deduction. A gerund is a verb that functions as a noun. It can therefore function in any way that a noun can. Since nouns can function as adverbs, so can gerunds.
     Gerundives are the subject of the next subset. Because gerundives underlie a number of stylistic options, there are a fair number of exercises on them. Other exercises involve sentence-manipulation or combining, and there is also an exercise that explores the punctuation associated with gerundives.
     The final subset explores infinitives. Because infinitives can function as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs, and because many infinitive constructions involve ellipsis, there are numerous exercises in this subset.

Level 5.8 - Noun Absolutes

     Noun absolutes are the last construction that students need to learn in order to be able to explain the connections among all the words in any sentence. They really should be taught after students have mastered verbals. Essentially, a noun absolute is a noun modified by a gerundive.
     Most textbooks define noun absolutes as adverbial constructions, such as "The party having ended, we all went home." In this case, the gerundive "having ended" modifies the noun "party" and that entire construction (the noun absolute) functions as an adverb of time to "went." Frequently, the gerundive *being* is ellipsed as in the following sentence from Dreiser's beautiful story "The Lost Phoebe": "He fell asleep after a time, his head on his knees."
     Like the previous levels, this one begins with exercises on the identification of absolutes. Then students are asked to write sentences making one clause an adverbial noun absolute. For example,

Heidi waved her hand. 
Her eyes followed Clara till she had disappeared.

Heidi waved her hand,
her eyes following Clara till she had disappeared.

     Unlike any grammar text that I am aware of, KISS then offers students the option of explaining noun absolutes as nouns. Consider, for example, the sentence:

They saw the windmill turning.
It was actually a student who brought this to my attention. She said that explaining "windmill" as the direct object of "saw" does not really fit the meaning. What they saw was the "windmill turning." Why, she asked, can't we consider "windmill turning" as a noun absolute that functions as a direct object? It is an excellent question! I think she is right.
     Several linguists who have looked at KISS Grammar object to this, but the highly respected George O. Curme, although he did not call them noun absolutes, discussed these constructions as functioning as nouns. KISS therefore gives students an option. In our example, they can explain "windmill" as the direct object and "turning" as a gerundive that modifies it, or they can consider "windmill turning" a noun absolute that functions as the direct object. (Note how the KISS Approach invites students to think and to make their own decisions.)

KISS Level 6 - Advanced Exercises for Studies in Style & Logic

     Consider, for a moment, how the KISS instructional sequence works. Students always start with KISS Level 1 and work their way through the levels. Ideally, they should never return to KISS Level 1. But KISS Level 1.7, for instance, focuses on punctuation. Students cannot simply study that level and never again deal with punctuation. Some other KISS Levels do include exercises on the punctuation of specific constructions, but as their sentences naturally grow longer, students will probably profit from some basic review. Thus the need for "Practice/Application" ("P/A") sections and KISS Level 6. The KISS instructional design includes a "P/A" booklet after each KISS Level in each grade level. [Printable versions of these booklets are not yet available, but the sections are partially developed on-line.]

     Although they differ slightly for different KISS levels, these books will all have the same basic structure. The first section consists of punctuation exercises. Some of these exercises are original texts stripped of punctuation and capitalization. Students are asked to "fix" them and then discuss what they did and why. In Level 3, exercises are added on the logic and punctuation of main clauses. These are basically on colons, semicolons, and dashes, not only because these punctuation marks themselves can express logical connections, but also because, as noted above, many students' errors (fragments, run-ons, and comma splices) can best be fixed by using a colon, semicolon or dash. There are also exercises on restrictive and non-restrictive modifiers, and exercises that explore "Bending and Breaking the Rules."
    The next section of all the "Practice/Application" booklets is a short focus on "Construction Reviews." Each booklet is designed to include an exercise on grammatical "person," "number," "case," and "tense." These are terms that students should know, but they are not part of the normal KISS analysis exercises. In theory, the "P/A" books provide students with at least one exercise on these concepts each year. Other exercises in this section review constructions that students have studied but that they may need to review. For example, the Level 2 "P/A" booklets, include a review of the "finite verb/verbal" distinction. The booklets for Levels 3.2 and 4 include a review exercise on ellipsis of various constructions and an exercise on the passive voice.
     The construction reviews are followed by a group of exercises on "Style and Logic." The "style" exercises usually consist of sentence-combining exercises -- one "directed" and one "free," followed by a "de-combining exercise." The exercises on logic are usually based on Hume's three categories -- "identification," "extension in time or space," and "cause/effect." Levels 1 and 2 focus on the logic of prepositional phrases. Starting in Level 3.1, the focus shifts to subordinate clauses. Levels 3.1, 3.2, and 4 also have an exercise on parallel subordinate clauses.
     Remember that as they work their way through the KISS Levels, students will do the sentence-combining exercises in Level 3.1 once -- in their entire education. These "P/A" exercises are intended to provide additional exercises so that students can do two or three such exercises every year after they have finished Level 3.1
     A short section on "Literature" follows. In most levels, this simply consists of a short, ideally stylistically interesting passage from a prose work, followed by a poem. In Level 4, this section is expanded to have students analyze and compare two short versions of the same text -- for example, two different translations of a fable by Aesop.
    The last section of each "P/A" booklet offers exercises on "Vocabulary." These either review or extend the concepts presented in Level 1.8 -- abstract/concrete, synonyms, antonyms, fill-in-the-blanks with interesting words, suffixes, prefixes, and roots. 

The Eight On-line Sections for Level Six

      Many exercises in the "P/A" books do not fit in the "construction" focused organization of the five original KISS levels. Thus a "sixth" level was set up, devoted just to these exercises.

     Section 6.1 - Studies in Punctuation

     This section includes many "general" exercises (in which the punctuation and capitalization of short texts has been removed). The "editing" exercises are also located here, as are exercises on "Bending and Breaking the Rules." (As you study randomly selected texts, you will probably be surprised by how often respected writers bend and break the "textbook" rules.") This section will also include exercises on the use of single quotation marks and other punctuation related to writing research papers.

     Section 6.2 - Style- Focus, Logic, and Texture

     This is a supplemental collection of exercises on parallel constructions, focus, logic, and texture that do not fit in other places. It is also the collection point for the exercises in which students are asked to compare the syntax of two versions of the same text.

     Section 6.3 Style - Sentence Combining & De-combining Exercises

     This section is a collection point for three types of exercises that are used in the "P/A" booklets. "Directed" combining exercises start with the very simple -- "Combine the two sentences into one by making the information in one sentence an adjective in the other sentence." From there they range to combining two sentences to make one sentence with compound finite verbs, to combining to make a main clause subordinate.
     "Free" sentence-combining exercises are simply texts that have been rewritten as shorter, simpler sentences. Students are asked to combine the sentences in any way they wish. They can then compare their versions with those of their classmates and with the original. Because the noted cognitive psychologists Lev Vygotsky and Jean Piaget both noted that cognitive mastery includes the ability to reverse a mental operation, this section also includes "de-combining" exercises.

     Section 6.4 - Research Projects

     This section began as "Studies of the Little Words." Little words cause the biggest problems. The exercises in this section provide a different perspective on sentence structure. The KISS Levels are based on constructions. This section focuses on words such as "like," "as," "but," and "since" that can function in a number of different ways.It has since been extended to include other research projects that students can do. More projects will be added.

     Section 6.5 - Statistical Stylistics

      This is the home of KISS statistical studies for students. Some people hate statistics; others love them. Within KISS, statistical studies are very important. Historically, there have been major efforts to increase the average length of students' main clauses. But are these efforts justified? There are reasons to believe that many of these efforts are harmful. The primary KISS focus is on normative statistics. There are some studies on the average length of main clauses written by students at different grade levels. 
     The KISS website includes sets of samples from state Departments of Education documents. These samples have been statistically analyzed and are freely available for exercises. They currently include sets by third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth graders. Because they include transcriptions of the students' original writing, they can also be used as editing exercises. And, because they include the original prompts and directions, the samples can be used as examples for discussion of all aspects of writing -- content, focus, organization, etc.
     But in practice, the best way to use KISS is to use the writing of the class itself as the norm. Have each student analyze a short selection of his or her writing (all on the same assignment). Have them count the number of words and the number of main clauses. Divide the number of words by the number of main clauses, and the result is the average number of words per main clause. Then average the results for the entire class. Each student can then consider his or her result against the class average. The current research suggests that fourth graders will average around eight words per main clause; eighth graders, around ten and a half; twelfth graders, around fourteen.
     The interesting thing about this is, of course, the two extremes. My college Freshmen typically average fifteen words per main clause, but some (including some of the better writers) average only eleven, and some (including some of the worst writers) average over twenty-five. But unlike the typical approach (encouraging all students to write longer main clauses), this approach lets each student know what he or she might want to work on. Those who write shorter clauses might want to do combining exercises to approach the class average; and those who write longer sentences (even among the better writers) might want to do more de-combining exercises. (The KISS psycholinguistic model suggests that if main clauses are too long, readers will have trouble decoding them; if they are too short and simple, they sound immature.)
      For those who love statistics, almost any construction can be studied statistically, but the two most important are words per main clause and subordinate clauses per main clause. (I've had some students who found that they used almost no subordinate clauses, whereas others found that they were writing sentences with subordinate clauses embedded four levels deep. The latter should not be pressed to write longer main clauses.)
     Once students are fairly comfortable with identifying subordinate clauses in real texts, I would suggest that they do at least two statistical projects each year. In one, they should analyze their own writing (as described above). In the other, they could analyze a short selection of professional prose. Ideally, each student could, for example, take a different short selection from a newspaper. Although the sample size would still be small, the project would give the students some sense of the style of sentences in newspapers.
     This section includes some statistical studies of professional writers. But currently, as noted above, the main focus is on statistical studies of the writing of students at different grade levels.

     Section 6.6 - Syntax and Writing

      Most of the exercises currently in this section are "Reading, Writing, and Syntax" exercises. These consist of short texts. The idea is to have the students read the text, write their own versions of it, and then analyze their own writing. (You can, of course, do this with any text.) 
     The section also includes short "model sentence" exercises, and will have a section on S/V/PN patterns and formal definitions. As time permits, other questions, such as transitions, will be added. (If I live long enough, this section will develop into an entire sequenced "writing curriculum," starting with suggestions for teaching writing to primary school students, and ending at the college level. I have, after all, spent the majority of the last thirty-five years teaching writing, not grammar.)

     Section 6.7 - Mixed Reviews & Additional Passages for Analysis

     This is the collection area for "mixed" construction reviews in the P/A books. These reviews mix constructions from different KISS Levels. For example, the same exercise may include the "to" problem and finite verbs vs. verbals. The section is also the collection point for the short prose passages, poems, and the "Just for Fun" exercises that are used in the P/A books.

     Section - 6.8 Assessment Quizzes

      At least one parent who is using the KISS site noted an appreciation of the assessment quizzes in the book for second graders. I had assumed that, working individually with their children, parents will know what their children do (and do not) understand. Classroom situations are different of course, and this is the KISS section for suggested assessment quizzes (and tests), and for a general discussion of assessment. These were originally designed simply as final assessment exercises for grade levels, but the expansion of the KISS design (separate starting and ending points for different grade levels) means that these will need to be expanded. For example, the plan is for separate Assessment Quizzes for KISS Level 3.1 for grades four, five, six, etc. 
     There are many possible formats for assessment quizzes. My favorite format consists of three parts. The first asks for definitions or procedures -- What is the definition of a clause? What is the procedure for determining the type of a complement? These questions are followed by a short passage with the sentences numbered. In the second section, students are asked to give the S/V/C patterns of the main clauses in each sentence. In the third, students are given a list of words and are asked to explain how each word connects to a main-clause pattern. For an example, see the quiz "From the Writing of Fourth Graders." (It is in the printable version of Level 6.8).
     Note that once you have chosen a format, assessment quizzes are not difficult to make. (My problem is in finding interesting passages for students at different grade levels. You might find that having students make assessment quizzes is itself interesting and instructive for students. They can make them either for their peers or for students a year (or a KISS level) behind them.

Using KISS Analytical Exercises

     Before students can intelligently discuss the functions of words in sentences, they need to be able to identify (and thus talk about) the functions of the words. The fundamental KISS exercises are therefore identification exercises. As previously noted, the KISS Approach is cumulative -- the levels build on each other. As they work through the KISS Levels, students add analytical tools to their "tool box," but they constantly use almost all the tools they have learned. The changes in the directions for the analytical exercises may illustrate this. In KISS Level 1.1, students are simply asked to underline verbs twice and subjects once. Once they add prepositional phrases in Level 1.5, the directions for all the rest of the analytical exercises in Levels One and Two are:
Basic Directions for Analytical Exercises (Levels 1 & 2)

1. Place parentheses ( ) around each prepositional phrase. 
2. Underline verbs twice, their subjects once, and label complements ("PA," "PN," "IO," or "DO").

In Levels 3, 4, and 5, directions are added, but here we can simply look at the directions for Level 5. Using these directions, students will be able to explain (and intelligently discuss) the function of any word in any sentence.

Directions for Identification Exercises -- Level 5

(Work sentence-by-sentence.)

1. Put parentheses ( ) around each prepositional phrase.
2. Underline subjects once, finite verbs twice, and label complements ("PA," "PN," "IO," "DO").
3. Place brackets around each subordinate clause. If the clause functions as a noun, label its function ("Subj.," "PN," "IO," "DO," "OP") above the opening bracket. If it functions as an adjective or adverb, draw an arrow from the opening bracket to the word that the clause modifies. Put a vertical line at the end of every main clause.
4. Put a box around every gerund and gerundive. If it is a gerund (i.e., it functions as a noun) indicate its function over the box. If it is a gerundive, draw an arrow to the word it modifies. Put an oval around every infinitive and indicate (as in three above) its function.
5. Use the following labels for the additional constructions:

NuA -- Noun used as an Adverb
Inj  --  Interjection
DirA -- Direct Address
App -- Appositive
PPA -- Post-Positioned Adjective
DS -- Delayed Subject
Put an "R" before complements that are retained ("RDO," "RPN," "RPA")
NAbs -- Noun Absolute (Put a wavy line under each noun absolute and label its function.

Note that the first two directions for Level 5 are identical to those for Levels 1.5 through Level 2. The third direction is what is added in KISS Level 3; the fourth, for level 4, and the fifth, for level 5.

An Important Suggestion for Adapting the Directions for these Exercises

       The teaching of grammar is an art. By the time students get to KISS Level Five, it should not take them very long to do all the things listed in the directions, but doing so does add a lot of clutter to their analysis. I strongly suggest that you modify the directions to meet your students' needs. For example, when they are working at Level 3.1.2 (Basic Clauses) it is a good idea to have the students usually draw arrows from adverbial and adjectival clauses to the word each modifies. But when they are finished with Level 3.1.2, you should drop that requirement unless your students are having problems with what clauses modify. Students should, however, always put brackets around subordinate clauses and label their functions.
     Similarly, when they are working at Level Four, students should follow the complete directions for identifying gerunds, gerundives, and infinitives. Thereafter, however, you might want to leave this whole section out of the directions. The same is true for Nouns Used as Adverbs, Interjections, Direct Address, Appositives, and Post-Positioned Adjectives. When you are focusing on these constructions, students should label them. After that, the labels often just add clutter.

Using the KISS Analysis Keys 

     Near the top of the on-line analysis keys you will find a link to the "Code and Color Key." In addition to explaining the codes and colors used in the analysis keys, this key is also called "The KISS Grammar Toolbox." It presents, in very brief form, all the essential concepts that students will need to learn in order to explain, and thus intelligently discuss, how any word, in any English sentence, functions within that sentence.

     Originally, there were analysis keys for each KISS level for each KISS exercise. They used a lot of paper so they have been replaced by one key, a key in which every word in every sentence is explained. My assumption is that parents and teachers will usually know which words students should be expected to explain. In many cases, the keys include notes about this. But this can be confusing for teachers who are not themselves comfortable with KISS terminology. Consider a couple of examples.

     An exercise in KISS Level 1.5 (Adding Prepositional Phrases) includes the sentence:

The corn which had been sowed in the field over the field-mouse's home grew up high into the air, and made a thick forest for the poor little girl, who was only an inch high.
The first thing we should note is that this is a very sophisticated sentence for a grammar textbook. The directions for this exercise are:
1. Place parentheses ( ) around each prepositional phrase.
2. Underline verbs twice, their subjects once, and label complements ("PA," "PN," "IO," or "DO").
In the analysis key, you will find it analyzed as:
The corn [Adj. to "corn" which had been sowed (P) {in the field} {over the field-mouse's home}] grewup high {into the air}, and madea thick forest (DO) {for the poor little girl}, [Adj. to "girl" who wasonly an inch [NuA] high (PA).] |
Based on the directions, you should expect the students to analyze the following:
The corn whichhad been sowed {in the field} {over the field-mouse's home} grew up high {into the air}, and made a thick forest (DO) {for the poor little girl}, who was only an inch high (PA).
In other words, you can ignore the rest of the analysis. It is there as information for parents and teachers who want to know how to analyze every word. You are, of course, always welcome to ask questions on the KISS Grammar List or the Yahoo Grammar Group about sentences in exercises (or any other sentences).

Additional Options within KISS Instructional Materials

Printable Books or On-line Exercises?

     KISS was originally started as on-line exercises and instructional materials. Many KISS-List users, however, requested printable books. The printable books are basically identical to the corresponding on-line instructional materials and exercises. The on-line "Tables of Contents," so to speak, are web documents that include links to the relevant instructional materials, exercises, and analysis keys. [Click here for an example.] In the printable books, this material is separated into two books. One book includes the instructional materials and exercises for students. The other ("AK") books are for parents and teachers. They include notes about some of the problems you may run into, suggestions for teaching, and analysis keys for the KISS Level at which you are working.

     The major differences between the two are:

1. The printable books enable you to download two documents (the students' workbook and the teachers' "AK" book). Together, these are approximately one year's worth of work. You do not need to visit the KISS site until you need the books for the next KISS level. (You can, of course, still join the KISS List or the Yahoo KISSGrammar Group to ask questions, share exercises, etc.)

2. The on-line "books" are clunkier to use, but they do have some advantages. In the on-line books, you can easily navigate from one KISS Level to same level in the next lowest or highest grade level by using the left and right arrows. [Click here for an example.] This enables you to easily find supplemental exercises (or exercises based on texts that your students are actually reading) for the level your students are working at. Clicking on the Level names (in the yellow boxes) will take you to the master collection of exercises (the exercises from all the grade levels) for that KISS Level. 
     Note too that each exercise in the on-line books includes a "ToC" link. These links will take to you the collection of all the exercises based on the relevant text. For example, clicking on the "ToC" link for an exercise based on Bret Harte's The Queen of the Pirate Isle will take you to all the exercises based on that story.
     The final advantage of the on-line exercises is that their Analysis Keys often include links to relevant instructional materials. Because the Analysis Keys include the complete analysis of most sentences, these links can be especially helpful for instructors who do not yet feel comfortable with the grammatical terminology.

     You are welcome to adapt KISS materials in any way that you want to. Someone in South Africa asked if she could modify the punctuation to conform to British standards. Absolutely. Someone asked if the exercises could be made available without the illustrations. I won't do that, but the printable books are in MS Word so that  you can adapt them to your own needs. Thus you are welcome to delete the illustrations if you do not want them. Similarly, you can adapt instructional materials to the needs of your students, and you can add, substitute for, or delete exercises. The only thing you cannot do with them is to sell them.

Some Strategic and Tactical Considerations

      It would certainly be nice if there were an effective, one-size-fits-all, sequential grammar textbook. One could simply start on page one and follow it, page by page, exercise after exercise. Unfortunately, there is no such animal. That most textbooks are designed as if there were (and as if they are) such books accounts for much of the failure in the teaching of grammar. Students learn differently. Some students can grasp prepositional phrases after two or three exercises; other students may need to do fifteen or twenty exercises before they get a firm grasp of the concept. 
    In addition, there are major differences between home-schooling, where children in essence receive one-on-one instruction -- with the same teacher year after year, and the classroom situation in which a teacher faces a hundred or more new students each year. And these students have a wide range of previous experience, desire to learn, etc. No one book can meet the needs of these radically different situations, especially when it involves the teaching of grammar. Because teachers and parents must address these differences, the teaching of grammar is an art. 

1.) Range of Objectives

     A question that teachers must decide for themselves is the range of their objectives. Why, in other words, are you trying to teach grammar? Is it only to help your students avoid "errors"? Or do you also want to help your students improve the style and logic of their writing (and thinking)? 
     Few students will be able to  master all of the needed constructions in one year (unless you spend almost all of their study time on grammar). If your objective is just the avoidance of errors, then you should work directly with the analysis exercises, getting well into KISS Level Three (clauses) as soon as possible. (See also "The KISS Approach to Grammatical Errors" in the Background Essays.) Along the way, you will want to do some of the punctuation exercises. Analytical exercises will not require much time -- either for homework or in class. But how soon your students will master the concepts depends on how quickly they can learn, how thoughtfully you present the constructions, how much they pay attention, etc. 
     If, on the other hand, your desire is to improve the sentence fluency of your students, you can start that at KISS Level One, with very simple sentence-combining exercises. You should also spend more time on the KISS (and other) writing exercises and projects. If you also want to include logic in your objectives, you can start that in level one as well, but note that the more you include in your objectives, the more exercises you will be doing, and thus the more time they will take.

2.) How Much Class Time Should It Take?

     The short answer to this question is that students should do two, probably no more than three, short exercises every week. Students should be able to complete most KISS exercises in five minutes or less. This estimate is entirely realistic because unlike every other approach to teaching grammar, KISS focuses on teaching students to master one construction before adding another, and it builds on what students have previously learned. Imagine, for example, students working on a KISS Level Three assignment on clauses. The assignment consists of ten sentences of approximately twenty words each. The students' task is to place parentheses around each prepositional phrase, underline subjects once, finite verbs twice, and label complements. Then they are to place brackets around each subordinate clause and indicate its functions. After each main clause, they are to place a vertical line. 
     By the time they are working in level three, however, the students should all be able to mark the prepositional phrases and S/V/C patterns automatically, almost without thinking. Then, since there will be a clause for every S/V/C pattern, all they need to think about is the clause patterns. If it takes them longer than five minutes, there is something wrong.
     There are, of course, a few assignments that should take students longer than five minutes. Most of these assignments involve analyzing (in some cases, statistically) a 200- 250-word selection of their own or someone else's writing. Teachers who are worried about spending too much time on grammar should note, however, that these are not just "grammar" exercises -- they are exercises that primarily focus on differences in writing styles.
      Teachers should find the KISS Approach easy to use and not at all demanding on their time. As far as grading is concerned, the only things that teachers need to grade are four or five short assessment quizzes a year. Most of the other assignments should probably be reviewed in class, or students can check each others' papers in small groups. (In some cases, I simply ask students if there are any questions on the homework. If there are none, I don't review it.) In-class reviews will usually take a lot longer than five minutes, but you will almost certainly find that they are very helpful to many students. In reviewing identification exercises in class, teachers may want to use an overhead and mark the answers on it with a washable ink pen as the students provide them, perhaps using the KISS Grammar Game, which my students seem to love.  (For more on the KISS Grammar Game, see the Background Essays.)
     I am well aware of the time it takes for teachers to collect or make instructional material -- that is why this site has not only instructional material, but also far more exercises (and their analysis keys) than anyone will ever want or need.

3.) Managing the Confusion Factor

     As I have frequently noted, most textbooks give students weak and simplistic instructional material plus very simple, "cookie-cutter" sentences as exercises. Most students do not need to think in order to do these exercises, and thus they do not learn much. This is reflected in the fact that many teachers complain that the students can do the exercises in the grammar textbooks, but that little, if anything,  transfers to their writing. Students should almost always need to think about what they are doing in the exercises. In other words, there should always be some element of confusion that requires thought. But if the amount of confusion is too great, students will simply become frustrated. The art of teaching grammar requires the ability to regulate this confusion factor. It is the most important thing that teachers do.
     A good example of this is the problem of verbals, especially verbals that function as adjectives and adverbs. These verbals can really confuse students who are trying to learn how to identify S/V/C patterns. Primary and middle school students, for example, use very few gerundives, so one way to avoid the extra confusion is to use as exercises sentences that do not contain such verbals (or at least sentences that use very few of them). Such exercises, for example, might be used with third and fourth graders, and then, in fifth grade, students could be introduced to sentences that do include verbals. KISS includes specific instructional material for distinguishing finite verbs from verbals, but even here a choice (and a caution) needs to be made.
     Some teachers attempt to teach verbals (gerunds, gerundives, and infinitives) to primary school children. You can, of course, choose to do that, but I would caution against it. For primary school students to identify finite verbs in stories, poems, and anything else they may read or write, it is very important that they be able to distinguish finite verbs from verbals. But they do not need to be able to identify the types of verbals. For understanding sentence structure, clauses are much more important than are verbals. Time spent on learning to identify the types of verbals could be much better spent on learning to identify clauses.
     The KISS sequence of instruction also means that students should be expected to make some specific mistakes. For example, they will not be able to identify clauses that function as direct objects until they get to clauses in KISS Level Three. This does not, however, mean that teachers should never explain to students constructions that the students are not expected to learn. For example, when students who are working at KISS Level Two run across a subordinate clause that functions as a direct object, teachers might well tell the students that 1 ) they were expected to miss that, 2) it is a clause that functions as a direct object, and 3) they will study clauses in KISS Level Three. 
     The key here, of course, is in keeping a clear distinction (both for the students and by the teacher) between those constructions that the students are expected to master and those that are simply being explained as supplemental, anticipatory information. Note that this approach is significantly different from what is currently usually done -- students  are "taught" and expected to remember all kinds of grammatical concepts. And most students remember none of it.
     I have tried to manage the confusion factor in the exercises assigned to the various KISS levels, but I'm human. Some exercises may be a bit too difficult, and some may be too simple.

4. ) Home-Schooling vs. the Classroom

    I am assuming that parents who are schooling their children at home are simply printing the texts, the exercises and the relevant analysis keys and showing them to their children. The classroom situation, obviously, is different. But it is also different in that classroom teachers cover the same material, year after year. Paper is expensive, and ink cartridges are more so. But there are some things that classroom teachers can do to save money and time.
      It is probably a good idea to give students copies of the identification exercises that they can write on. Many students will find copying such texts to be busywork. But you will probably find that you will need fewer of these than you may initially think. Most of these exercises are short enough to fit on a single piece of paper. 
     You may find it worthwhile to print overhead transparencies of some exercises and answer keys. When I begin work with students, I use overheads of the exercises and mark them with a washable ink pen as the students give me the answers in class. I then wipe them off with a damp paper towel. (Putting them in a suitable sheet protector and doing the marking on the protector will make the transparency last longer.) Once the students have done a few exercises, you may just want to show them the analysis key and discuss it. 
     To save paper and ink, you may want to have students do the stylistic exercises on separate paper, even if my directions suggest that students write on the exercise sheet. That way you can print enough for your largest class (plus a few spares), give them to the students in class, tell them not to write on them, and collect them after the class is done. By doing this, I have been able to use the same sheets of paper for several years.
     As for having the students read the literature, some of the texts are very short, and you may find it best to make transparencies of these so that your students can read and discuss them in class. When printed, some of the longer poems and stories take up three or more sheets of paper, but here again you can make one set, hand them out at the beginning of class, and tell the students not to write on them. If, as I assume you will, you use these texts as literature, and not just as grammar exercises, making such sets should be worth the time and expense.
     You are welcome to print (and adapt) as many copies of the exercises and instructional  materials as you wish for you and your students, and once you find a set of materials that you like, you can print them as booklets -- and get rid of those expensive and confusing "language arts" books. Obviously, you do not have permission to sell anything that includes KISS materials without permission.

5.) Grammar beyond KISS?

     KISS Grammar has been developed to be a tool, not an end in itself. I've seen a few comments about being "finished" with grammar once one has completed the analytical exercises. To me, that would defeat the purpose of using KISS. You will probably find that KISS enables you and your students to analyze the style and logic of any text. You will also probably find such analysis not only interesting, but very important. Perhaps the most important will be the students' analysis of their own writing, a project that should probably be done at least once a year, every year that students are in school. And that analysis will make more sense if students see it against the background of the analysis of other texts, not only from literature, but also from essays, newspaper articles, business correspondence, etc.

          In conclusion, please remember:

  • There are many, and fundamentally different, grammars of English. These grammars use different and sometimes conflicting terms to describe the same grammatical constructions. Although some of these sources can be helpful, most of my students have learned that searching through other grammar books (and web sites) simply adds to their confusion. It is much more effective to ask a question. (Once you do have a good grasp of KISS grammatical concepts, however, you are more than welcome to compare them to what you will find in other textbooks.)
  • Our educational system has done a terrible job of teaching grammar. Most teachers, if they have been taught it at all, have been taught very poorly. There is no reason, therefore,  for you to feel embarrassed about asking even the simplest questions.
  • Children teach themselves (subconsciously) dozens of times more about grammar before they are five than they will ever learn, or need to learn, in school. They do so inductively. No one gives them the "rules." Similarly, in learning a "conscious," analytical system for describing the grammar of sentences, one should do so inductively, with plenty of practice. As one student told me at the end of the semester, "At first those definitions and concepts looked impossible to learn. But I worked my way through the exercises, and then I found myself analyzing some of the sentences in other things I was reading." (And this was in a composition course in which only about six class periods were devoted to grammar.)
  • In the KISS Approach, you will usually be working with real, randomly selected sentences and texts, not with the sanitized, simplistic sentences that are usually found in most textbook exercises. You are going to hit complications. You are going to make mistakes. Relax, have fun, and don't worry about making mistakes or even about giving poor or incorrect answers to your students. Most prepositional phrases, most S/V/C patterns, and most clauses are very simple. There is no way in which you can mess them up. An occasional error on your or the student's part is no different than the child's "He cutted the paper." Once you and your students get a good conscious mastery of the basic constructions, the comparatively rare problem areas will become more and more clear.