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Distinguishing Finite Verbs from Verbals
From Rip Van Winkle, by Washington Irving
Analysis Key

1. They came {to a hollow}, {like a small amphitheatre}, surrounded [#1] {by 

perpendicular precipices}. |
 

2. The spirits influenced the weather (DO), spreading sunshine or clouds [#2] 

{over the landscape}, and sending good or bad hunting seasons [#2]. |
 

3. She dwelt {on the highest peak} {of the Catskills}, and had charge (DO) {of the

doors} {of day and night} to open and shut them [#3] {at the proper hour}. |
 

4. Panting and fatigued [#4], he threw himself (DO), late {in the afternoon},

{on a green knoll}, covered [#5] {with mountain herbage}, [Adj. [#6] that

crowned the brow (DO) {of a precipice}]. |
 

5. Supposing the figure to be some one [#7] {of the neighborhood} {in need} {of 

his assistance}, he hastened down to yield it [#8]. |
 

6. He would carry a fowling-piece (DO) {on his shoulder}, {for hours} 

together [#9] , trudging [#10] {through woods and swamps}, and {up hill} and

{down dale}, to shoot a few squirrels or wild pigeons [#11]. |


Notes
1. The commas around "like a small amphitheatre" tend to cut "surrounded" off from "amphitheatre" and send it back to "hollow." But neither "hollow surrounded by perpendicular precipices" nor "amphitheatre surrounded by perpendicular precipices" passes the sentence test. Thus "surrounded" is a verbal. [It is a gerundive that functions as an adjective to "hollow."]
2. Neither "spirits spreading sunshine" nor "spirits sending seasons" passes the sentence test. Thus they are both verbals. [They are gerundives that modify "spirits." "Sunshine" and "clouds" are direct objects of "spreading," and "seasons" is the direct object of "sending."] A few students may be initially confused by "hunting," but they will probably quickly acknowledge that it functions as an adjective to "seasons" and not as a finite verb.
3. "To open" and "shut" both fail the "to" test. [They are infinitives. Some people may reasonably see them as adjectives to "charge," whereas others will see them as adverbs to "had." "Them" is the direct object of the infinitives.]
4. "He panting" and "he fatigued" both fail the sentence test. [They are gerundives that modify "he."
5. "A green knoll covered with mountain herbage" fails the sentence test. ["Covered" is a gerundive that modified "knoll."
6.  The comma that separates "that" from "herbage" tends to throw the "that" back to "knoll," thereby making this clause modify "knoll."
7. "He supposing the figure to be some one of the neighborhood" fails the sentence test, so "supposing" is a verbal. "The figure to be some one of the neighborhood" fails both the "to" and the sentence tests, so "to be" is a verbal. Note the now outdated spelling of "some one." You will find it in a number of older texts. ["Figure" is a gerundive that functions as an adjective to "He." "Figure" is the subject and "some one" is a predicate noun to the infinitive "to be." The infinitive phrase functions as the direct object of "supposing."]
8. "He to yield it" fails both the "to" and the sentence tests. ["It" is the direct object of the infinitive "to yield." The infinitive phrase functions as an adverb (of purpose) to "hastened."
9. The explanation of "together" would evoke hours of discussion among grammarians, but most students will easily see that it goes with "hours." Should someone ask, I would explain it as an adverb to an ellipsed gerundive that modifies "hours" -- "for hours *taken* together."
10. "He trudging through the woods" fails the sentence test. [It is a gerundive that modifies "He."]
11. "He to shoot a few squirrels" fails both the "to" and the sentence tests. [It is an infinitive that functions as an adverb (of purpose) to "trudging." "Squirrels" and "pigeons" are direct objects of "to shoot."