OPEN WITH AN INFINITIVE
Verbals make sentences more active.
The English language has three verbals:
Verbals are half-verb, half another part of speech. Verbals look like verbs, but they function as another part of speech. Verbals are half-verb, half another part of speech.
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Verbals may function as
Infinitive = to + (base form of the verb)
Noun: To improve one’s mind is worthwhile.
“To improve one’s mind” is a noun phrase and the subject of the sentence.
Adverb: She struggled to improve her mind.
“to improve” functions like an adverb because it tells why she struggled.
Adjective: He had a desire to improve his mind.
“to improve” functions like an adjective because it describes his desire.
There are three ways to form infinitive phrases:
1. By combining with adverbs: To sit quietly by himself is all he wanted.
2. By combining with prepositional phrases: To sing in the shower became a daily habit.
3. By taking objects: To see her name on the door of the Oval Office she yearned.
1. To make a long story short, Bob, as usual, won the argument.
2. To show how lazy Sam had become, I will show you the pool of drool on his desk.
3. To get into my car, I had to break the window.
4. To arrive at an understanding, Stephanie had to slap his face.
5. To speak French became Phil’s primary goal.
6. To understand with perception constitutes commendable character.
OPEN WITH A PRESENT PARTICIPLE
Participles = half verb + half adjective
Present participles are formed by adding —ing to a verb: swimming, running, jumping, twisting, screaming, singing, kicking Example: Swimming across the ocean, he was eaten by a shark.
3 ways to form participle phrases (same as infinitives!)
1. By combining with an adverb: Writing hurriedly, I cried.
2. By combining with a prepositional phrase: Writing in my diary, I lied.
3. By taking an object: Writing the last page, I sighed.
Misplacing a participle phrase will lead to big problems! Don’t do this:
Standing on the hilltop, the sky was red and golden. What is standing on the hilltop?
I saw a dollar walking down the street. You saw what?
Driving down the freeway, a cemetery was on the left. Zombies don’t drive!
1. Exploring the theme of alienation, Sandra Cisneros pits Esperanza, the protagonist, against the American Mainstream, the Latino culture, and even her family.
2. Gazing at roses, Martha stood in the garden.
3. Watering the flowers, Martha stood in the garden.
4. Stepping on the porch, I saw my dog gnawing on the mailman’s shoe.
5. Depicting Tom Joad’s anger, Steinbeck sets the stage for violence.
6. Raising his hand, Marc Antony silenced the throng.
7. Dying of stab wounds, Caesar mutters, “Et tu, Brute?”
OPEN WITH A GERUND
Gerunds = half verb + half noun
Just like present participles, gerunds are formed by adding —ing to a verb.
Swimming, fishing, running, sleeping, driving, all these words could be gerunds or present participles.
HOWEVER, the big difference is how they function!
While present participles function as adjectives, gerunds function as nouns. As a noun, gerunds can be:
1. Subject of a sentence: Driving a tractor appealed to him.
2. Predicate noun: My specialty is fencing.
3. Object of a preposition: For silencing her screaming we thanked him.
There are three ways gerunds form phrases (just like infinitives and participles!):
1. By combining with an adverb: Driving dangerously is criminal.
2. By combining with a prepositional phrase: Driving across Texas is exhausting.
3. By taking an object: Driving a car takes patience.
1. Opening the heavy gate took longer than he thought.
2. Courting Dora became David Copperfield’s reason for existence.
3. Saving the Queen is OO7’s mission.
4. Standing in the doorway blocks the view.
5. Using metaphors adds to the symbolism of Melville’s whale.
6. Writing essays posed no problems for her.
7. Finding her identity consumed Esperanza.
8. Driving recklessly epitomizes irresponsibility.
9. Communicating with his parents became an arduous task.
10. Punishing Hester Prynne for adultery contradicted a basic tenet of Christianity: forgiveness.