The Many Facets of Grammar
Grammar is difficult to learn. Distinguishing between nouns and adjectives is challenging for most students, so attempting to explain the difference between verbals, participles, gerunds, and infinitives can be horrific.
Students are much more capable however, than they pretend to be. They think maybe if they act as if they do not understand, then maybe the material will disappear. They soon discover the material is not going to disappear until they demonstrate comprehension.
Lessons on teaching infinitives, teaching gerunds and teaching participles can last all year.
Gerunds always end with the suffix ing, functions as a noun in the sentence, and answers the question "what." Tell students to find the verb and ask themselves "what."
For example: Surfing is fun.
- First, find the verb: is
- Next, ask yourself–what is?
- Finally, answer your question–surfing. Surfing is the gerund.
Finding gerunds is as easy as 1-2-3.
Participles always have verb endings -ing, ed, -n, -t, etc. More importantly, participles function as adjectives, which sets them apart from gerunds.
Example of a participle:
Jack, walking down the road, was looking at the lake.
The participle is walking, as it ends in ing and is describing Jack.
Infinitives are verb phrases that begin with the word "to" and will be followed by an action verb.
For example: To understand the material, one must study
The Infinitive verb phrase is "to understand the material" with the infinitive being "to understand."
The best way to assess knowledge of verbals is to create a multiple-choice worksheet with examples of a gerund, participle, or infinitive. Students must select what type of verbal it is. Teach this once; go over examples, give students a multiple choice worksheet.
If grades are low, review the assignment, reteach verbals, and assign another worksheet on verbals.
Before long, students will master verbals.