The KISS Grammar Workbooks Return to: The Child's World: Third Reader
(Code and Color Key)
The Birds of Killingworth
-- Adapted from Longfellow
[Click here for the text.]

Ex # 1 Finite Verb or Verbal?
Analysis Key

1. And they passed a law (DO) to have the birds killed. |

"To have" fails the "'To' Test." [It is an infinitive that functions as an adverb to "passed," or, if one prefers, as an adjective to "law."] "Killed" is not a finite verb because the sentence does not mean "The birds killed something." It means to have the birds *to be* killed." Thus "killed" fails the sentence test. In later KISS Levels, "birds killed" can be explained in two ways. It can be considered an ellipsed infinitive ("the birds *to be* killed") that functions as the direct object of the infinitive "to have." Or it can be explained as a noun absolute that functions as the direct object of "to have."
2. Some birds fluttered, wounded, away {from the sight} {of man}. |
If we ask who or what was "wounded," the answer is "birds," but the sentence means that the birds were wounded, not that the birds wounded something. Thus "wounded" fails the sentence test. [It is a gerundive that modifies "birds."]
3. {In the fields and gardens} hundreds {of insects} {of every kind} crawled, finding no foe to check them. |
     The subject of "finding" is "hundreds of insects," but "hundreds of insects finding no foe" fails the sentence test. ["Finding" is a gerundive that modifies "hundreds," or, if one prefers, "insects."]
     The subject of "to check" is "foe," but "No foe to check them" fails both the "to" test and the sentence test. ["To check" is an infinitive. It's subject is "foe," and "them" is its direct object. The infinitive phrase functions as the direct object of "finding."]
4. {At last}, the farmers grew ashamed (PA) {of having killed the birds}. |
If students begin their analysis of sentences by identifying the prepositional phrases, "having killed" should be in parentheses before they start looking for subjects and verbs. As the object of the preposition, it fails the noun test. ["Birds" is the direct object of "having killed," which is a gerund that functions as the object of the preposition "of."]
5. The birds flew about singing their songs {of joy}. |
This one is particularly interesting because "The birds flew singing" could be considered a palimpsest pattern with "The birds flew" written over "The birds were singing." Because of this, it would not bother me if students considered "singing" as part of the finite verb phrase. It one does not see it this way, then "The birds singing their songs..." fails the sentence test. [In this view, "singing" would be a gerundive that modifies "birds"; "songs" is the direct object of "singing."]