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Jack and His Golden Box
Finite Verb or Verbal? - Exercise # 1
Analysis Key
     Remember that the objective here is to help students learn when not to underline verbs that function as verbals. The explanations below also explain the types of verbals involved, but that is information for teachers. Attempting to get students to distinguish the types of verbals may overwhelm them for no reason. Students need to know when a verb is not finite so that they do not underlined it. Otherwise, they will have problems in learning about clauses, and clauses are far more important than are the types of verbals.

1. He tried to stop Jack {from going in}. |

KISS includes early exercises specifically devoted to infinitives, like "to stop," that function as direct objects, but teachers may also, at this level, decide to accept "tried to stop" as the finite verb here. In either case, "Jack" is the direct object of "to stop." Students who have been taught to identify prepositional phrases before they look for finite verbs usually have no trouble with "going" as it will be tucked inside the parentheses. Technically, it is a gerund.
2. I want one {of the largest vessels} to fire a royal salute. |
At this level, teachers can simply accept "one" as the direct object of "want." The subject of "to fire" is "one," and "one to fire a ...salute" fails the sentence test. Thus it is not a finite verb. [Technically, "one" is the subject of the infinitive "to fire," and "salute" is the direct object of that infinitive. The infinitive phrase functions as the direct object of "want."]
3. I want to get some place to sleep. |
This is like sentence No. 1 -- the "to get" can be considered part of the finite verb, even though technically it is an infinitive that functions as the direct object of "want." "Place" is the direct object of "to get." The "to sleep" will give many students problems. Its subject is "I," so many students will see it as part of "I want to sleep." But to have a compound verb would require an "and" -- I want to get some place and to sleep." This type of problem, in other words, will simply require exposure and practice. Try to get students to see that "to sleep" describes the "place." [Technically, it is an infinitive that functions as an adjective to "place."]
4. They had seen the great beautiful castle (DO) standing {on golden pillars}. |
The subject of "standing" is "castle," and "The ... castle standing on golden pillars" fails the sentence test. Thus "standing" is not a finite verb. [At KISS Level Four, students will learn to explain it as a gerundive that modifies "castle." At Level Five, some students will prefer to explain "castle standing" as a noun absolute construction that functions as the direct object of "had seen."]
5. Maybe I shall do some good (DO) {for you} sometime {without you knowing it}. |
The subject of "knowing" is "you," and "You knowing it" fails the sentence test. [Technically, grammarians will disagree on this one. KISS explains "you knowing it" as a noun absolute phrase that functions as the object of the preposition. Note that "your knowing it" would be a gerund phrase (the subject of a gerund is in the possessive --"your" rather than "you").] "It," of course, is the direct object of "knowing."