• Mistake: He SURPRISED to see it snowing. (Adjectives that look like verbs.)


(This posting includes a handout which you are welcome to use with your students.)*

When students see an –ed at the end of a word, they tend to automatically assume it’s a verb, and this assumption can lead them to grammar mistakes.

(* mistakes—These sentences are missing a verb.)
*Kai embarrassed during his speech.
* Rumi interested in horses.

To help students in the most efficient manner, I will sometimes paint with a broad brush.  So I simply tell my students that these words are adjectives: surprised, embarrassed, confused, interested and shocked. They need a verb with them.

(correct): Kai was (v) embarrassed (adj) during his speech.

Avoiding unnecessarily complicated information

It’s true that those words can be can be used as verbs, for example:
– It embarrassed (v)  Kai that he forgot some of his speech.

But in all my years of teaching writing, I rarely see students use them that way. They almost always use them as adjectives, so I don’t waste their time/mental energy talking to them about using these as verbs. Instead, I just generalize and tell them that they are adjectives.

Four-step exercises to teach these to students (Handout included.)

After students have completed the following set of exercises, they tend to use those adjectives correctly in their writing.

Exercise 1: Listening.  I have found it most effective to start with a listening exercise.  This way, perhaps the correct form will sound right to them.

Exercise 2: Identify. Working with the listening passage in Exercise 1, students identify all the verbs.  This helps them internalize which words are adjectives and not verbs.

Exercise 3: Analyze. Students analyze a passage, find and correct the six verb/adjective mistakes.

Exercise 4: Apply. In this exercise, using nine adjectives that they had worked with in the previous exercises, they write sentences about a person or people.

Here is the complete set of exercise which you are welcome to try out with your students. Adjective or Verb Exercise HO 

For more exercises that take a similar multi-step approach to teaching writing and grammar for writing, see Pro Lingua Learning–Write after Input 

Also, for a complete unit with handouts that you can use with your students, see • Engaging Student-Centered Classification Writing Unit Using Inductive Approach

Also, for more handout-exercises that use this approach, see Innovative Approach to Writing: Introduce a new Unit with a Listening Activity and Writing Outstanding First Sentences on Essays (Applying Critical Think Techniques)

For a complete unit, see • Engaging Student-Centered Classification Writing Unit Using Inductive Approach

David Kehe

*About the free-download materials. During my 40 years of teaching ESL, I have had many colleagues who were very generous with their time, advice and materials. These downloads are my way of paying it forward.  

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