August 6, 2012
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KISS Grammar:
Level 6.4 Research Projects

      Originally, this was the home for the "Studies in the Syntax of Little Words" simply because these exercises do not fit in the other KISS sections. It has now been expanded to include other research projects. The primary objective of these exercises is to teach students how to make their own judgments about grammar. For more research studies, see Level 6.5 - Statistical Stylistics.
     A green background (white for green rows) in the right (grade-level) column
indicates that the exercise is in the printable version.
Studies in the Syntax of Little Words
     Little words cause the biggest analytical problems, so this is a collection of some of the words for studying some of the problems.
These exercises have been deleted from the Grade-Level Books.
"About" (from Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell) AK   ToC -
"As Well As"
"As Well As" (from Blue Willow, by Doris Gates) AK   ToC -
These exercises have been deleted from the Grade-Level Books.
Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet (2.1. 43-51) AK   ToC -
(Includes no verbals, a third-level embedded clause, an appositive, direct address, and "but" used as a coordinating conjunction, as an adverb, and as a preposition.)
These exercises have been deleted from the Grade-Level Books.
"Since" (from "Old Put," by Frederick Ober) AK   ToC -
Projects for KISS Level 1
L1.6 Pronouns as Predicate Nouns -- A Research Project on the Use of Nominative or Objective Case -
     Give each student in the class five copies of Exercise 6b without the instructions for identifying the constructions. Have each student ask five different people to circle the pronoun that they would use. (You might want to include space at the end for "Comments.") Then have the class count how many people gave each answer for each question. The class can then discuss the results in terms of "formal" vs. "popular" grammar.
     To make the results more interesting you can include at the top of each sheet a request for information about age (10-20, 21-30, etc.). sex ("m" or "f"), educational level (high school grad, years of college,) and or degree (B.S., M.A., Ph.D.). It would be particularly interesting to see how people with degrees in English respond.
Projects for KISS Level 2
The Public's Understanding of Grammar -- A Survey -
      Make a short survey form like the one below. Include some or all of the questions below. You can also add questions that interest you, but keep it short. Make copies and take them to the mall or any other place where you might find people who would agree to fill it in. After you collect the data, your teacher may ask you to write a short report about it and/or discuss the results with your classmates.

A Survey about Grammar

1. Is it acceptable to begin a written sentence with "But"?

____  Yes ____ No

2. Why?

3. Is the following sentence grammatically correct? Bill is better at baseball then Mary is.

____  Yes ____ No

4. If the sentence in # 3 is incorrect, how would you fix it?

5. Underline the subjects once and their verbs twice in the following  sentences.

a.) The children were playing in their yards, and the entire street was at peace.

b.) They saw Tom in the park playing baseball.

c.) To win the game made Sarah happy.

Please indicate your age group:
____ 10-19
____ 20-29 
____ 30-39 
____ 40-49 
____ 50-59 
____60 or above 

Please indicate your level of education:

____ some high school
____ high school diploma
____ started college
____ college degree
____ years of graduate work
____  graduate work degree

Please indicate your gender: ____ female ____ male


Beginning a Sentence with "And," "Or," or "But" -
      Select a text, count the number of sentences in it, and also count the number of sentences that begin with "And," "Or," or "But." Divide the number of sentences that begin with each word by the total number of sentences to see how often various texts (or writers) violate the common school rule against beginning a sentence with "But."
      Or you can just search larger texts electronically for each of the three words. This approach will enable you do get more data faster. (You can forget about counting the total number of sentences--just look for the exceptions.) Your teacher may also have the class work individually or in small groups to explore an entire newspaper or magazine by assigning pages or articles to different students. 
Projects for KISS Level 3
A Computer Search for the "Which" Fragment -
     Most teachers have been taught that beginning a main clause with "Which" can create a fragment.  As a result, they often correct such sentences in their student's writing. But not all writers follow this "rule." For example, George F. Will, a recognized excellent writer, began his article "The inexorable march of creative destruction" with the following paragraph. Note the beginning of the last sentence:
In 1886, a shipment of $25 watches from a Chicago jeweler was rejected by the addressee in Redwood Falls, Minn. The jeweler offered to sell the undeliverable goods for $12 apiece to a railroad station agent, who could then sell them to other agents, of whom there were more than 20,000. Which is what the agent, 23-year-old Richard Warren Sears, did. (The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 24, 2012.)
Will uses "which" as the subject of the main clause, but many teachers would want their students to use a "That" in place of "Which."
     Search electronic texts for "which" (the word is not that common) to see if you can find more examples of this technically "Which" fragment. (For more on this, see KISS "'Which' Fragment" collection, a link to which is in the on-line Level 3.2.4 book.)
Projects for KISS Level 4
Definitions of Grammatical Terms
      To see how different grammar books define terms differently, search both the internet and as many grammar textbooks as you can find for definitions of one or more of the following terms:
main clause
independent clause
subordinate clause
dependent clause
subjunctive mood

Write a description of what you found about one of the above..