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caedmyn

does my student need to understand transitive and intransitive?

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I'm having trouble figuring out if my 6th grader NEEDS to understand the difference between transitive active, transitive passive, and intransitive verbs...or if they just need to know how to diagram them correctly.

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I think it *is* important to understand the difference - but I also don't see how general you could reliably diagram the difference without understanding it, either - not when it comes to complicated sentences, anyway.  You'd have to be *really* good at pattern-matching to be able to reliably diagram complicated sentences without actually understanding the difference, wouldn't you?  And if you *were* that good at pattern matching, then you'd basically have an intuitive understanding of the difference - I don't think giving an explicit name and concept to what you already see would be too difficult, would it?  Or maybe I'm not understanding the situation.

 

In any case, I do think being able to distinguish between active and passive verbs is important - is the subject *doing* the verb or is the verb *being done* to the subject?  Seems like you'd be likely to mis-identify the subject if you didn't get the difference.  And if you *can* reliably tell the subject in both cases, then you must have *some* sort of intuitive understanding of the difference - you could use that to work on the explicit understanding.

 

And wrt transitive vs intransitive - if you can't tell the difference, I'd think you'd be prone to mis-identifying direct objects, wouldn't you?  I admit I'm shaky on this one - I know the difference in theory but I don't *feel* the difference.  I'm hoping that working through diagramming with my dd11 will help me on this.  So I do think that an understanding-through-diagramming approach can be helpful (instead of a strict understand-first, diagram-second approach), but you have to make sure the understanding part actually happens, kwim - that you move beyond a strictly procedural understanding of diagramming.

 

In any case, I'm having problems with setting up a dichotomy between understanding grammar VS diagramming - I mean, isn't the whole point of diagramming to *aid* you in *understanding* grammar?  What good does the ability to diagram do you if you have no idea how the diagram connects to the grammar itself?  How can you use your diagramming skill to help you make sense of complicated grammar if you don't know how diagramming connects to grammar? 

 

I think seeing how diagramming connects to grammar and how grammar connects to actual understanding is probably *the* most vital thing in teaching grammar.  Better less grammar that is thoroughly understood and connected to real life, than lots of complicated diagrams and grammar definitions that are, so far as the student is concerned, utterly unconnected to anything real.  (And better still is complicated grammar that is fully understood and connected to real life - that's where one's grammar knowledge helps make one a better thinker, as well as a better reader and writer.)

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I would say eventually he or she does, but if it's a struggle it doesn't have to be in 6th grade IMHO. My DS is just really getting this nailed down in 8th grade and not knowing for grades 6-7 hasn't been detrimental at all.

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I wouldn't worry if she doesn't get it in sixth grade, at least in those terms. Transitive verbs need a direct object. The difference between active and passive there is where that direct object is. Intransitives don't take direct objects.

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I'm having trouble figuring out if my 6th grader NEEDS to understand the difference between transitive active, transitive passive, and intransitive verbs...or if they just need to know how to diagram them correctly.

 

I would argue that no one *needs* to know any of it, including the diagramming part.

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I see I didn't completely get the gist of the question. I agree with forty-two in that I'm not sure how she would diagram a sentence without the understanding. I stick by what I said that it can wait if it's a struggle for her but then I would also have her wait on the whole thing, including the diagramming.

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No.

In my opinion, grammar instruction is a tool to enable the student to write and speak the language with correct grammar and semantics, and to comprehend writing that uses complex sentence structures.

A student can achieve this without ever encountering the terms "transitive" and "intransitive", and also completely without ever diagramming a single sentence.

Edited by regentrude
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No.

In my opinion, grammar instruction is a tool to enable the student to write and speak the language with correct grammar and semantics, and to comprehend writing that uses complex sentence structures.

A student can achieve this without ever encountering the terms "transitive" and "intransitive", and also completely without ever diagramming a single sentence.

Yes, but grammar study, including the corresponding nomenclature, can help tremendously to speed up the process, especially in the acquisition of a foreign language.

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Yes, but grammar study, including the corresponding nomenclature, can help tremendously to speed up the process, especially in the acquisition of a foreign language.

 

Yes and no.  When I learned French, starting from age 11, I had had close to zero formal grammar teaching in English.  I learned quite easily what French verbs required an object without being taught the technical vocabulary.  And then I learned Chinese, which is a whole different kettle of fish.

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Yes and no. When I learned French, starting from age 11, I had had close to zero formal grammar teaching in English. I learned quite easily what French verbs required an object without being taught the technical vocabulary. And then I learned Chinese, which is a whole different kettle of fish.

Sure, you can learn it, but shouldn't knowing grammar help, just to give an for example, with direct object versus indirect object pronouns etc? I remember learning grammar at school from a very early age. I distinctly remember analyzing sentences in 4th grade. Having a solid grammar foundation made understanding and learning other languages' grammar a lot easier. Is it essential? No, but it is an extra neurological hook to which new knowledge will readily attach and therefore make the process smoother and faster.

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Sure, you can learn it, but shouldn't knowing grammar help, just to give an for example, with direct object versus indirect object pronouns etc? I remember learning grammar at school from a very early age. I distinctly remember analyzing sentences in 4th grade. Having a solid grammar foundation made understanding and learning other languages' grammar a lot easier. Is it essential? No, but it is an extra neurological hook to which new knowledge will readily attach and therefore make the process smoother and faster.

 

I don't know.  I always got good grades, didn't find French hard and chose to study it (joint major) at university.  I write decent English too and didn't get far beyond learning parts of speech.  My son Calvin is studying English at a world top three university having studied very basic formal grammar.

 

I think that some people pick up the structures of language intuitively - for them, too much grammar is just a waste.  I remember studying Sonlight Year 3 grammar with my eldest.  After a few weeks we had a moment when we looked at each other with simultaneous cartoon bubbles over our heads: why are we wasting our time on this when we can already use this language?

Edited by Laura Corin
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I think grammar study helps me with editing--not just for my own work but figuring out what to do when something "doesn't sound right."  I don't know that I'd be talking transitive/intransitive unless I was getting into when to use a passive construction and when to avoid it.

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Yes, but grammar study, including the corresponding nomenclature, can help tremendously to speed up the process, especially in the acquisition of a foreign language.

 

Ironically, before getting lured back into the forum I just did a Google search to remind myself which one takes objects because I am trying to teach myself Italian and so I have to answer those thorny grammar questions myself.  Now I have to go back and spend some of my time practicing identifying them because the auxiliary verbs change depending on which type it is. So, the fact that I don't remember having ever learned these in my past means I have to spend some extra time working on it now.  Not a crisis, I suppose.

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No, a 6th grader does *not* need to know the difference between a transitive and intransitive verb, or the difference between active and passive voice. It is also quite possible to diagram sentences without understanding those terms.

 

However, if a student is capable of diagraming sentences with linking verbs, action verbs, and direct objects, then adding the terminology isn’t that much harder.

 

The main verb of a sentence is either an action verb or linking verb. If you have an action verb with a direct object, the verb is transitive. If the action verb does not have a direct object, it is intransitive. Note that the same verb can be transitive (take a direct object) in one sentence but intransitive (no direct object) in another.

 

We walked around the park. <— intransitive (action verb + no direct object)

We walked the dog. <— transitive (action verb + direct object)

 

An action verb can be in the active or passive voice. Most of the time verbs are in the active voice—the subject does the action. If the sentence has an action verb, but the subject does not do the action, the sentence is in the passive voice.

 

He folded the laundry. <— active voice (action verb + subject does the action)

The laundry was folded by him. <— passive voice (action verb + subject does *not* do the action)

 

Some tips:

- The passive voice always has the form “to be†helping verb + past participle (usually -ed ending).

- Only action verbs can be transitive (not linking verbs).

- Only transitive verbs can be written in the passive voice.

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I'm having trouble figuring out if my 6th grader NEEDS to understand the difference between transitive active, transitive passive, and intransitive verbs...or if they just need to know how to diagram them correctly.

 

Knowing the difference between transitive and intransitive helps with using correct pronouns and whether a sentence is structured properly (because a transitive verb needs a direct object). I don't care whether children know how to diagram them or not, as long as they know how to use them properly.

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Huh.

I had to google transitive and intransitive. My son is learning (ridiculously thoroughly—6th grade CLE) about direct objects and indirect objects, and has been diagramming them for months, and we’ve yet to have them labeled transitive or intransitive. I’m sure the book will bring it up later, but for now, he’s able to tell that an action verb can be followed by a direct object without knowing the term “transitive.â€

 

In order to diagram them, the student will need to know:

 

Is the verb is linking or action?

If the verb is action, ask the questions “who†or “what about the verb to find the direct object. (I eat cake. Eat what? Cake.)

If the verb is linking, then look for the word in the predicate that either renames or describes the subject.

 

The student will need to be able to tell if the verb is linking or action, but the actual terms transitive and intransitive aren’t necessary to understand how to diagram. However, if your curriculum uses those terms a lot, it would be easiest to buckle down and commit them to memory..

 

If you want to grab the bull by the horns and master these terms and concepts, you can always create some sort of study sheets and examples and go over them for 5 minutes a few times a day. With a lot of repetition, this can be learned, just like any other vocabulary. But it depends on how much your curric relies on the terms and references them. If the curric mentions this a few times and then drops it, it might not be worth the effort. But if they’ll be using the terms a lot in the next few months, it might be good to pause and memorize this stuff.

 

It’s not really all that hard. Break it down into bite-sized pieces. The long words make it seem harder than it is, especially to a child. The rules are pretty simple if you break them down.

Edited by Garga

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Knowing the difference between transitive and intransitive helps with using correct pronouns and whether a sentence is structured properly (because a transitive verb needs a direct object). I don't care whether children know how to diagram them or not, as long as they know how to use them properly.

 

I'm not really sure how you'd mistakenly write a sentence improperly that has a transitive verb with no direct object.

 

Like, I can write, "She eats." or "She eats apples."  How would I mess that up somehow just because I didn't know the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs?  Either I want to tell you what she was eating or I don't want to tell you; both forms are correct for what they are.

 

But maybe I am missing something obvious.

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Although I agree that neither diagramming nor memorizing these specific labels is necessary for all sixth graders (let alone all people), on behalf of teaching grammar I would like to say that there is a group of people who find doing both immensely pleasurable and elucidating.

 

(I am not one of them, but if you sense what you're doing is giving your child a greater appreciation for and understanding of language, that would be my gauge of how much to continue. If it's doing the opposite, it's not only unnecessary; it seems to me it is counterproductive.)

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I think it's helpful to spend a little time on it.  It's one of those exercises that can help your mind become more aware and flexible in its understanding of words and what they represent and how they can work together.  But do you really need to have the concept rock solid in your brain and remember the terminology and do a unit on it every year?  No, I really don't think that's necessary for most people in most fields.

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I'm not really sure how you'd mistakenly write a sentence improperly that has a transitive verb with no direct object.

 

Like, I can write, "She eats." or "She eats apples."  How would I mess that up somehow just because I didn't know the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs?  Either I want to tell you what she was eating or I don't want to tell you; both forms are correct for what they are.

 

But maybe I am missing something obvious.

 

There is a sentence construction that is popular today that goes something like this: "I love that my children play together." "Love" is a transitive verb. The sentence should be something like this: "I love the fact that my children play together," or "I love it when my children play together," or "I love the way that my children play together."

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There is a sentence construction that is popular today that goes something like this: "I love that my children play together." "Love" is a transitive verb. The sentence should be something like this: "I love the fact that my children play together," or "I love it when my children play together," or "I love the way that my children play together."

 

But that's a spoken contraction, 'I love [the fact] that my children play together.'  Nothing wrong with that.

 

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But that's a spoken contraction, 'I love [the fact] that my children play together.'  Nothing wrong with that.

 

 

I disagree. :-)

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I love that my children play together.

 

Subject is I, verb is love, the direct object is a subordinate clause (that my children play together). 

 

That's how I'd handle the thing. 

 

ETA: I suppose it might help to know that love would carry a direct object and so I need to look for one. But I didn't think about it. I did think about the past two weeks I just spent working through subordinate clauses. :wacko:

Edited by Critterfixer
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I love that my children play together.

 

Subject is I, verb is love, the direct object is a subordinate clause (that my children play together). 

 

That's how I'd handle the thing. 

 

ETA: I suppose it might help to know that love would carry a direct object and so I need to look for one. But I didn't think about it. I did think about the past two weeks I just spent working through subordinate clauses. :wacko:

 

But  a direct object has to be a noun or a pronoun, yes?

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But  a direct object has to be a noun or a pronoun, yes?

Nope. It can be a phrase standing in for a noun. In this case, the phrase (that my children play together) stands in for "fact". The subordinate phrase is acting as a noun. 

Grammar is a funny animal.

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Another example would be something like, "I love to run." The direct object there is a verb--an infinitive. It's happy to function as a direct object, even carrying direct objects of its own.

I love to run races that go through the old part of town. 

That one has a subordinate clause acting as an adjective to races. What kind of races? The ones that go through the old part of town.

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Yes, I get the difference now.  Ellie, I think you see grammar (correct me if I'm wrong) as a prescriptive exercise - the main purpose of it is that it tells you how you must write in order to be correct in a certain register.

 

I see it as a descriptive exercise - it tells you how the things you are writing (or saying) are organized and their function in the sentence, as a means of analysing the language.  It can be used prescriptively, of course, both to stay in a formal register and to stay in another register, depending on intent - but the point of learning it for me is not, mainly, to teach my kid to stay in the formal register at all times, but to understand how the different parts of speech and writing work so that she can both consciously direct her writing and so that she can understand when and how another writer has done so.

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I have come full-circle with grammar lessons. I used to think it was very important. What I've actually seen between my three kids is that the two who internalized grammar from reading don't need a program to teach them how to use proper grammar. It's basically memorizing terms and diagramming sentences for fun, but doesn't change their actual writing skill because they already know how to write correctly. My child who has a language-based LD and does not internalize grammar from reading is kind of hopeless. No matter how much grammar we've done, he stinks at subject-verb agreement, sticking to one tense, and a million other things that grammar programs address. It's not that he hasn't been taught, it just doesn't stick. I'm not quite giving up, but I don't have any illusion that doing yet another grammar program with him will improve his writing. We focus on editing his work and I try to be understanding that he just has no internal sense of what is right. I hope he is a late bloomer, and it will get easier for him to learn it as he gets older.

Edited by ondreeuh

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I'm not really sure how you'd mistakenly write a sentence improperly that has a transitive verb with no direct object.

 

Like, I can write, "She eats." or "She eats apples."  How would I mess that up somehow just because I didn't know the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs?  Either I want to tell you what she was eating or I don't want to tell you; both forms are correct for what they are.

 

But maybe I am missing something obvious.

 

Sometimes the distinction between transitive and intransitive has helped my TESOL students differentiate between commonly-confused verbs, such as raise / rise, lay / lie, etc.  Raise is transitive, and rise is intransitive.  :)

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