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Teaching Gerunds and Infinitives: Lesson Plans

Schedule for Teaching Gerunds & Infinitives

The following schedule is flexible and is based on class lengths of approximately one hour. It also is for students at an intermediate level or higher who have already learned the verb tenses. Gerunds & infinitives do the jobs of nouns, so a good place to start is by identifying the things nouns do in a sentence.

Day One: [Allow students time to take notes as you go along]

  1. Put the following question on the top left corner of the board: "What jobs do nouns do in a sentence?". Leave room below this question to list the jobs.
  2. You can help generate answers to this question by writing an example sentence on the board which models the jobs...

        Tom gave a ring to Anna at McDonalds at 6pm.

    I find it helpful to ask them to find the verb in the sentence first, and then the subject. [In any sentence, the subject is the person, place or thing that does something. *The only exception to this is in the case of a subject complement sentence where the subject is the person, place, or thing that equals some other person, place, or thing. We will discuss this soon.]

    Students can find the subject of a sentence by asking:  Who or What is doing something? Ask students to tell you who is doing something in the example sentence.

    At this point they can see that one job of a noun is as a subject. Put this on our list.

  3. Next, ask students to tell you what job a ring is doing in the sentence. [It's the direct object, but how do we know it's a direct object?]

       direct object:

         The direct object is the part of the sentence that answers the question:What/Who + Subject + Verb

    For example, In the sentence...

         Tom gave a ring to Anna at McDonalds at 6pm.

    ...the direct object question would be: What did Tom give? and the answer would be a ring. Thus, a ring is the direct object. *This question test also becomes useful later on to identify gerund/infinitive, or noun clause direct objects.

    At this point they can see that another job of a noun is as a direct object. Add this to our list.

  4. Next, ask students to tell you what job at McDonalds and at 6pm are doing in the sentence. [They're preposition objects, but how do we know each of them is a preposition object?]

       preposition object:

         The preposition objects are easier to identify and are simply the parts of a sentence that answer the questions Where? or When?. This makes sense when we consider that the job of a preposition is to tell us where or when something happens. So, in our sample sentence...

    • McDonalds = where?
    • 6pm = when?

  5. This leaves just one more noun in our sentence, Anna. Ask students to tell you what job Anna is doing in the sentence. [It's the indirect object, but how do we know it's a indirect object? You guessed it. We ask another question.]

       indirect object:

         A final type of object students will encounter (though less often) is an indirect object. We can find the indirect object in a sentence by asking the question To whom?. Thus, in our example, if we ask To whom did Tom give a ring?, the answer (and the indirect object) is Anna. This holds true even if we alter the order of the sentence slightly.

    For example,in the sentence...

         Tom gave Anna a ring at McDonalds at 6pm.

         ...Anna is still the indirect object because it still answers the question To whom did Tom give a ring?.

  6. We now have four noun jobs listed on the board which leaves us with just one more: a subject complement.

    What is a subject complement?

    A subject complement occurs only in a sentence with a be verb and creates a situation where two nouns are equal to one another. Take the following example.

         Tom is the guy on the beach.

    In this sentence, the subject is Tom and, with regards to meaning, the subject complement is the guy on the beach. Notice that the be verb creates a special relationship in which Tom and the guy on the beach are the same person. Because of this equal relationship, it is possible to re-write the sentence as...

         The guy on the beach is Tom.

    ...and still retain the original meaning. *This concept becomes useful later on when using gerunds/infinitives and noun clauses to change the grammar in a paraphrase.

  7. Add subject complement to our list of noun jobs on the board.

  8. List of Noun Jobs
    • subjects
    • direct object = Who/What?
    • preposition object = Where/When?
    • indirect object = To Whom?
    • subject complement

    Inform students that gerunds and infinitives do the same things that nouns do.


page last modified: August 9, 2016

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