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Grammar Made Easy- New Question Answered-Gerunds & Verb Phrases

As I post the books we offer, I try to answer all the questions I can think of. Inevitably, others think of questions that would never cross my mind, and I try to add them to the FAQ page to help others who want to know the same thing. This is the latest question to cross my desk, and the answer was graciously provided by Connie Schenkelberg, who knows this stuff inside and out.

Q- Does Grammar Made Easy teach punctuation, gerunds, or verb phrases?

A- Thank you for the questions about Grammar Made Easy (GME).The purpose of the book is to teach the structures of the English language. There are 15 structures, and they are taught from a linguistic point of view.

Linguistic grammar looks at the function of words in a sentence, rather than the form class (or part of speech). For example,

Running is not my favorite sport. — Running is used as a noun (specifically, a gerund) in this sentence.
Tom was running this morning. — Running is used as a verb in this sentence.
The running boy fled down the street. — Running is used as an adjective (participle) in this sentence.

Traditional grammar, the kind many of us learned in school, looks at the part of speech. Period. Running is a verb. The fact that it can be used in different ways becomes confusing because we’ve already taught the students that it’s a verb.

By using the linguistic approach, we encourage our students to explore more interesting approaches to language. GME shows students how to use the 15 structures to develop dense and varied sentences. This leads greater fluidity in writing, which is always a good thing.

Now, let’s talk about verb phrases. GME teaches them but probably not the way you’re expecting it to. Most grammar books have exercises in which students have to underline the subject once and the verb/verb phrase twice. GME doesn’t do this. Instead, we teach most of the types of verb phrases: participles, participial phrases, and verbs with their auxiliaries. The first two are structures and have their own chapters. The latter is taught along the way as we parse (identify how each word functions in the sentence) and diagram sentences.

There are two types of verb phrases that I didn’t cover: the gerund and the infinitive. The gerund is simply a verb that functions as a noun. The other verb phrase is the infinitive. Both of these structures are covered in the longer version of GME, the one with the extended keys. For this version of the text, I diagrammed every single exercise in the book, which added roughly 64 pages to its length. As we encountered these two verb phrases, I briefly explained them and showed how they are diagrammed. This version will soon be available on the Grammar Made Easy webpage.

As for punctuation, GME teaches commas as they are needed in the various structures. It does not teach the other types of punctuation. By middle school, most students don’t need help with end marks (periods, questions marks, and exclamation points). They do need to work on quotation marks and possessives, but I don’t cover them in the book.

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I hope that’s helpful! If you love Grammar Made Easy, you’ll probably be delighted to hear that Connie is nearly finished with a spelling book for the same age group. Watch for in the month of May!

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