Verbals are verb forms that act as some other part of speech. There are 3 types: Infinitive – to + verb To run, to walk, to cry, to sing Gerund – the present participle WHEN IT FUNCTIONS AS A NOUN. Swimming (Swimming is good exercise.) Flying (Flying makes her nervous.) Participle – the past participle & the present participle WHEN IT FUNCTIONS AS AN ADJECTIVE The boy running through the hall is my brother. The broken chair is useless.
Infinitive An infinitive is the easiest verbal to recognize because it is to + verb. If there’s no “to” or no verb, it’s not an infinitive. The only real trick is being careful to notice if it’s a verb that follows “to” or a noun. If it’s a noun, you have, of course, a prepositional phrase & not an infinitive. Infinitives prep. phrases to cry to church to watch to school to read to the store to show to gold
An infinitive can function as a noun, an adjective, or an adverb: Noun – I want to leave. I want a book. In both cases above, what follows “want” is a noun; I want what? To leave/a book Adjective – This is the man to elect. This is the new man. Although “to elect” follows the noun & “new” precedes it, both identify “man.” Adverb – He cheated to win the game. “To win the game” answers the question “why.”
Important note: we’ve been talking about verbals, but you need to realize that verbals are usually part of a verbal phrase. Look at the last example: He cheated to win the game. How does the word “game” function in that sentence? It answers the question “won what?” It’s a direct object…but not the direct object of the sentence. The verb is “cheated.” Game is NOT the answer to “He cheated what?” In short, “game” is the direct object of the infinitive “to win.” Although verbals don’t function as verbs, they can have objects just like verbs can. They can also have their own modifiers: He learned to run swiftly through the field. He didn’t LEARN swiftly. “Swiftly” describes “to run” ; it answers the question “to run how?” A verbal phrase is made up of the verbal & its objects and/or modifiers.
Gerunds A gerund is a present participle (the –ing form of the verb) that functions as a noun: I like reading. I like steak. “Reading” & “steak” are direct objects. Riding horseback is a great activity. Football is a great activity. “Riding horseback” & “football” are subjects. I don’t believe in wasting food. I don’t believe in the tooth fairy. “Wasting food” & “the tooth fairy” are objects of the preposition. In short, a gerund can do anything any other noun can do.
Participials Participial phrases are probably the most useful of the verbal phrases—and also the hardest to understand if you find grammar in general difficult. The participle can be a present (-ing) or past (the one used with have/has/had) participle, & it functions as an adjective: The man runningdown the street is the thief. (which man?) The broken chair belongs to Baby Bear. (which chair?) Very frequently, a participial phrase comes at the very beginning of the sentence. When it does, it identifies the SUBJECT: Running down the street, the man screamed for help. Laughing at his sister, the little boy held her toy out of reach.
You’ve heard of dangling participles? That’s when they DON’T describe the subject: Running down the road, the tree became visible. This is a dangling participle, because there’s nothing in the sentence to which the participle can refer. Obviously, the tree wasn’t running down the road, but that’s how this sentence makes it sound. There are also dangling infinitives. Just as an introductory participial phrase has to modify the subject, so does an introductory infinitive phrase: To get a good grade, you have to work hard. – correct To get a good grade, the book is helpful. – incorrect; the book isn’t trying to get a good grade.
Used correctly, participial phrases can add variety to your writing: He heard that his house had been robbed, & he fainted. Hearing that his house had been robbed, he fainted. The fish was caught in the net & flopped about to try to escape. Caught in the net, the fish flopped about to try to escape. Remember that, like verbs, participials can have direct objects: Hearing his mother’s voice, he jumped out the window. “Voice” is the direct object of “hearing,” which is a participle.
To sum up: Infinitive = to + verb USE: noun, adj., adv. Gerund = verb + ing USE: noun Participial = verb + ing (present part.) verb used w/have (past part.) USE: Adjective
The following exercises were designed for this class, but there are 3 more pages of exercises for practice. Verb or verbal? Verbals 1 – Gerund or Particple Verbals 2 – Infinitives Verbals 3 – Infinitive or Prepositional Phrase? Verbals 4 – Identifying Verbals Verbals 4b – Identifying Verbals
Infinitive Exercises • · Infinitives and Infinitive Phrases • · Infinitives and Infinitive Phrases - exercise 2 • · Infinitives and Infinitive Phrases - exercise 3 • · Infinitives and Infinitive Phrases - exercise 4 • · Infinitives and Infinitive Phrases - exercise 5 • · Infinitives and Infinitive Phrases - exercise 6
Gerund Exercises Gerunds and Gerund Phrases Gerunds and Gerund Phrases - exercise 2 Gerunds and Gerund Phrases (with functions) - exercise 3 Gerunds and Gerund Phrases (with functions) - exercise 4 Gerunds and Gerund Phrases (with functions) - exercise 5 Gerunds and Gerund Phrases (with functions) - exercise 6
Participial Exercises http://www.towson.edu/ows/exerciseparticiples1.htmhttp://www.towson.edu/ows/exerciseparticiples2.htmhttp://www.towson.edu/ows/exercisepariciples3.htmhttp://www.towson.edu/ows/exerciseparticiples4.htmhttp://www.towson.edu/ows/exerciseparticiples5.htm