Lesson 8: Escape


Activity 1: Verbal Phrases

Materials: colored pencils
A verbal is a word that is made from a verb but functions like a noun, adjective, or adverb in a sentence. (Swimming is a fun sport. The frustrated shopper left the store.) A verbal phrase begins with a verbal and is followed by one or more words — together, the whole phrase functions as a noun, adjective, or adverb in a sentence.

There are three types of verbal phrases:
  • A gerund phrase starts with a gerund (a verb form ending in -ing). Gerund phrases always function as nouns in a sentence. (Singing in the shower is fun.)
  • An infinitive phrase starts with an infinitive (the word to + the basic form of a verb). Infinitive phrases can function as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs in a sentence. (The parents want to see the new playground.)
  • A participial phrase starts with the present participle form of a verb (skipping, trying) or the past participle form (worried, thrown). Participial phrases always function as adjectives. (Balancing on its hind legs, the dog walked across the room.)
While gerund phrases do not require commas, some verbal phrases do require them. For example, an infinitive phrase needs a comma only when it functions as an adverb at the beginning of a sentence. To get the female bird's attention, the male bird puffed out its chest. Participial phrases may or may not need commas:
  • A participial phrase needs a comma when it starts a sentence. Running toward the door, I tripped on my shoelace.
  • When a participial phrase appears in the middle of a sentence and supplies extra information, commas are needed. The church, constructed in the Middle Ages, is a popular place to visit. If the participial phrase provides information important to the meaning of the sentence, you do not need commas. The team earning the highest score will win the tournament.
  • You typically do not need a comma when the phrase comes at the end of the sentence. I saw Alex talking to his sister.
Here are some tips for working with verbal phrases:
  • Gerunds and some participles both end in -ing. You can tell the difference because gerund phrases always function as nouns, and participial phrases always function as adjectives.
  • It can be challenging determining the part of speech of some infinitive phrases. It may help you to determine what question the phrase answers. Who? or What? = noun. Which type? = adjective. When?, Where?, Why?, or How? = adverb.
  • Be aware that although the past participle of most verbs ends in -ed, the ending may differ for irregular verbs. Words like built, drawn, eaten, known, and sung could begin a participial phrase.
  • A verbal phrase may also include prepositional phrases. Standing at the top of the steps, my sister shouted to us. The underlined participial phrase also includes two prepositional phrases -- "at the top" and "of the steps."
Use the "Verbal Phrases" sheet to practice recognizing and labeling verbal phrases. Ask your parent which option you should complete.
This section covered the three types of verbal phrases. There are two options for this activity. Option 1 is more basic, and Option 2 is more advanced. Tell your child which option she should complete.

Option 1

Use the "Verbal Phrases" (Option 1) sheet to practice labeling verbal phrases.
Student Activity Page
Answer Key

Part I: Your child should have underlined each phrase and identified the phrase type.
1. Juana, considering the matter, threw caution to the winds. (participial phrase)
2. The poison sacs of the town began to manufacture venom. (infinitive phrase)
3. Juana carried Coyotito on her back, covered and held in by her head shawl. (participial phrase)

Part II: Your child should have labeled how each underlined phrase functioned in the sentence, either using the laminated grammar symbols or drawing the symbols with colored pencils.
4. adjective (smaller blue triangle)
5. adverb (orange circle) [it is an adverb because it answers the question "Why?"]

Part III: Your child wrote his own sentences and labeled how the phrases functioned in the sentence.
7. Sentence contains a gerund phrase. Should be labeled as a noun (large black triangle).
8. Sentence contains a participial phrase. Should be labeled as an adjective (smaller blue triangle).
9. Sentence contains an infinitive phrase. May be labeled as a noun, adjective, or adverb.

Option 2

Use the "Verbal Phrases" (Option 2) sheet to practice labeling verbal phrases.
Student Activity Page
Answer Key

Your child should have underlined the verbal phrases and marked how they function in the sentence (noun = large dark blue triangle, adjective = smaller green triangle, adverb = orange circle).
  1. Juana, considering the matter [adjective], threw caution to the winds.
  2. To determine to go and to say it [noun] was to be halfway there. (Your child may have labeled the phrase as three individual phrases: "to determine" & "to go" & "to say it")
  3. The neighbors, watching Kino's door through the crevices in their brush houses [adjective], were dressed and ready too.
  4. But the evil was all about, hidden behind the brush fence [adjective], crouched beside the house in the shadow [adjective], hovering in the air [adjective].
  5. Juana carried Coyotito on her back, covered and held in by her shawl. [adjective] (Note that the phrase modifies "Coyotito." Also, your child may have labeled "covered" & "held in by her shawl" separately.)
  6. One end of the shawl came across Juana's nose to protect her from the evil night air [adverb].
For Part II, your child should have written sentences that contain verbal phrases or located sentences in Chapter 6 that contain verbal phrases. Check the sentences to make sure that they contain verbal phrases.