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Exercise # 17 Based on
The Tale of Samuel Whiskers by Beatrix Potter
Is It a Finite Verb?
Analysis Key

     Remember that the objective of this assignment is not to teach students about verbals (the primary focus of KISS Level Four), but to help students realize that verbals are not finite verbs and should not be underlined twice.

1. They were busy (PA) lighting the candle [#1]. |

2. There [Expl] were some mutton bones (PN) lying [#2] about. |

3. He could not make anybody hear him [#3]. |

4. Once {upon a time} there [Expl] was an old cat (PN), called Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit [#4]. |

5. They found Mittens (DO) hiding [#5] {in an empty jar}. |

6. He could hear the sticks (DO) beginning to crackle and burn [#6]  {in the fire-place} down below. |


Notes
1. Note that if "busy" were the adverb "busily," our brains would read "were lighting" as a finite verb. As a predicate adjective, however, "busy" cuts off the pattern, and thus "lighting" is mentally processed as a gerundive to "They." "Candle" is the direct object of "lighting."
2. This sentence will almost certainly evoke a number of different explanations from different grammarians. I would not argue with a student who wanted to consider "There" an adverb, "bones" as the subject, and "were lying" as the finite verb.  KISS considers "lying" a gerundive that modifies "bones."
3. Because it is not a question, "anybody hear him" fails the sentence test. ["Anybody" is the subject, and "him" is the direct object, of the infinitive "hear." The entire infinitive phrase functions as the direct object of "could not make."
4. Since the sentence means "who was called," "called" fails the sentence test. [It is a gerundive that modifies "cat." And, since "called" is passive here, "Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit" is a retained predicate noun after the ellipsed infinitive in the active voice version -- They called her *to be* Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit."]
5. "Mittens hiding in an empty jar" fails the sentence test. ["Hiding" is a gerundive that modifies "Mittens." At KISS Level Five, some students may prefer to explain "Mittens hiding" as a noun absolute that functions as the direct object of "found."]
6. "Sticks beginning to crackle and burn" fails the sentence test. ["To crackle" and "burn" are infinitives that function as the direct objects of "beginning." "Beginning" is a gerundive that modifies "sticks." At KISS Level Five, some students may prefer to explain "sticks beginning to crackle and burn" as a noun absolute construction that functions as the direct object of "could hear."]