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(Code and Color Key)

Distinguishing Finite Verbs from Verbals
From the Writing of a Sixth Grader
Analysis Key

1. They told her to meet them  here again that night [NuA]. |

"To meet" does not pass the "to" test so it is a verbal.  (It is an infinitive. "Her" is both the indirect object of "told" and the subject of "to meet"; "them" is the direct object of "to meet," and the infinitive functions as the direct object of "told.")
2. One day [NuA] {at school} a group {of children} were huddled (P) {in a corner} whispering. |
"A group of children whispering" does not pass the sentence test. Thus "whispering" is a verbal (a gerundive that modifies "group"). Note that if it were preceded by "and," it would be part of a compound finite verb -- "were huddled in a corner and whispering." 
3. But she continued to fill up her sack. |
"To fill" fails the "to" test so it is a verbal. {It is an infinitive; "sack" is its direct object, and the infinitive phrase itself functions as the direct object of "continued.")
4. They sat {beside the stove} watching their wood-pile disappear. |
Both "They watching" and "Wood-pile disappear" fail the sentence test. Thus "watching" and "disappear" are both verbals.  ("Wood-pile" is the subject of the infinitive "disappear." The infinitive phrase is the direct object of "watching" which is a gerundive that modifies "they."}
5. They could not earn any more rubles (DO) to buy food or buy more wood {with *them*}. | 
"To buy ... or buy" fails the "to" test. ("Food" and "wood" are the direct objects of "buy." The infinitive phrase itself can be explained either as an adjective to "roubles" or as an adverb (of purpose) to "earn.") The "with" at the end raises a number of interesting questions, all of which quickly lead into theoretical questions of both syntax and natural language development. 
6. She assured them (IO) [DO that she could be trusted (P) {before asking again [what (DO of "meant") they meant] }. |
Grammarians will almost certainly debate the function of "them" and the "that" clause, some claiming that the "them" is the direct object, and then proposing other explanations of the "that" clause. "Asking" is a verbal (a gerund that functions as the object of the preposition "before"). The "what they meant" clause is the direct object of "asking."
7. [Adv. to "gave" and "proceeded" When she arrived,] they gave her (IO) a sack (DO) and proceeded to fill their sacks {with coal} {from the railroad}. |
"Sacks" is the direct object of the infinitive "to fill." The infinitive phrase functions as the direct object of "proceeded."
8. [Adv. to "was" When the leader, a twelve-year-old boy, told everyone to stop [#8],] her relief was great (PA), but short-lived (PA). |
"Boy" is an appositive to "leader." "Everyone" is both the indirect object of "told" and the subject of the infinitive "to stop." The infinitive phrase functions as the direct object of "told."

     These sentences were taken from the writing of Ellen McGuirk, a sixth grade home-schooled student. She was writing about a book called The Endless Steppe. The heroine is a Jewish twelve-year-old, living in a Siberian village and attending school with the locals. They are hatching a plan to steal coal from the schoolhouse because their families are short of fuel. 
-- Adapted from a message from Ellen's mother.
[I sincerely appreciate the contribution of these sentences. I could never imitate the writing of students at all the different grade levels, and besides, I have a terrible imagination. Thus these contributions enable me to prepare exercises much faster than I otherwise could. (EV)]
     The image in the exercise is based on a cover for Esther Hautzig's The Endless Steppe. (Amazon) [The book is on the Recommended Reading List for Grade 8 at]