Grammar-Land by M.L. Nesbitt Grammar-Land by M.L. Nesbitt    

Lesson 17: Active Verbs Govern the Objective Case

And now, gentlemen," said Judge Grammar, when next they were assembled. "But what is the matter, Dr. Verb? What is this about?" he asked, interrupting himself, for Dr. Verb had gone down on one knee before the Judge, and was holding out a paper to him. "A petition, your lordship," said Dr. Verb, solemnly; "I beg for justice. No, Preposition, it is of no use to try to hold me back, and to whisper that his lordship will be very angry. You have had your rights given you, and I am going to claim mine. My lord, I beg for the right of an extra mark whenever any word of mine governs a noun or pronoun in the Objective Case."
Active Verbs

At the words "Objective Case," everyone in the court held his breath, expecting the Judge to burst into a rage; and certainly a sudden flush did overspread his face, and rise to the very roots of his wig. For a moment he sat silent with compressed lips, then lifting his head haughtily, he said: "Do not apologize, Dr. Verb; I forgive you; but on one condition—that you show clearly and at once how to discover an Objective Case that is governed by a verb."

"Certainly, my lord," said Dr. Verb, joyfully; "it is the easiest thing in the world. Just as you have to ask the question, 'who?' or 'what?' before the verb, to find out the Nominative Case, so you must ask the question, 'whom?' or 'what?' after the verb, to find the Objective Case. For the nominative tells you who did the thing, and the objective tells you to whom the thing was done. Here is an example: 'Harry kicked the cat.' You ask, 'who kicked?' to find the nominative, and the answer is Harry. You ask, 'Harry kicked what?' to find the objective, and the answer is, the cat. Is that clear?"

"The cat would certainly object," muttered the Judge; "but I suppose that is not why it is called objective, because if the verb had been fed, cat would have been objective all the same. Well, Brother Parsing," he continued aloud, "did Dr. Verb explain the matter clearly? Could you find out the objective in that way?"

"Certainly, my lord," answered Serjeant Parsing, readily. "I will give you an example to prove it. 'I ate my dinner.' I find the nominative by asking 'who ate?' answer: I. I find the objective by asking 'I ate what?' answer: dinner; and dinner is clearly the objective, for it was the object for which I sat down to eat."

"Must all verbs have an Objective Case after them?" asked the Judge.

"They cannot all govern the objective," Serjeant Parsing began, when he was interrupted by a solemn voice near him, as Dr. Syntax suddenly rose and said, "Active verbs govern the Objective Case; active verbs govern the Objective Case; "and then sat down again.

"I know what he means by that," said Dr. Verb. "Active verbs are those whose action passes on to someone or something else, as in the sentence, 'Harry kicked the cat,' the action of kicking passed on to the poor cat; and in 'I ate my dinner,' the action of eating passed on and consumed the dinner; so kick and eat are both active verbs, and govern an Objective Case."

"Well, then," said the Judge, "must all active verbs have an Objective Case?"

"They should have one, my lord, if you want to make the sentence complete. You must give them an object for their activity. Every active boy can do something, though it may not be Latin, and the same with every active verb. If it is an active verb you can always put someone or something after it; as to eat something, drink something, see something, love somebody."

"And if the verb is not active?" asked the Judge.

"Then it usually has a preposition between it and the noun or pronoun after it, as, 'I think of you.' And the preposition gets all the honor and glory of governing the Objective Case, and gets an extra mark besides."

"Well," said the Judge, "you have explained it pretty clearly. I suppose I must allow you an extra mark for every verb that governs an Objective Case."

"But, please, my lord," said Mr. Noun, coming forward, "I suppose that Pronoun and I are not to lose a mark for every word of ours that is governed by a verb. That would be very hard."

"No, no," said the Judge. "There is no dishonor in being governed by an active verb; it is only when you allow yourselves to be governed by a little mite like Preposition, that you are to lose a mark."

"Allow ourselves to be governed," muttered Mr. Noun. "As if we could help it, when Dr. Syntax has once made the rule."

"Brother Parsing," said the Judge, "let us have a sentence to 'parse,' as you call it, that we may see clearly how it is. done."

"Certainly, my lord," said Serjeant Parsing, turning over his papers. "Here is an excellent sentence, or rather, I should say, two sentences, for there are two verbs: 'Jack suddenly gave a loud cry, for lo! a tiger appeared before him.' Now let each Part-of-Speech claim the word as I read it. Jack."

"Mine," said Mr. Noun. "Jack is a proper noun."

"Suddenly" said Serjeant Parsing.

"Certainly suddenly is mine," said Adverb, smoothly.

"Gave" said Serjeant Parsing.

"Gave is mine," said Dr. Verb, "and it agrees with its nominative, Jack. For 'who gave?' Jack gave, so Jack is the nominative; and please, Mr. Noun, what number and person is Jack, for gave must be the same?"

"Jack is singular number, of course," said Mr. Noun, "for there is only one Jack mentioned; and it is third person, for you are talking about him, not to him, and, of course, he is not talking of himself; my words never do that."

"Oh," said Dr. Verb, "then Jack is third person singular, is he? then gave is third person singular, too; and it is an active verb, and has an Objective Case. 'Jack gave what?' a cry—cry is the objective, governed by the active verb gave; so an extra mark for me, please Serjeant Parsing."

"All right," said the learned Serjeant. "A is the next word."

"Mine," said little Article.

"Loud," continued Serjeant Parsing.

"Loud is mine," said Adjective; "it qualifies cry—tells what sort of a cry he gave."

"Good," said Serjeant Parsing; "now, cry."

"Mine," said Mr. Noun; "a common noun this time, and Objective Case; but it does not lose a mark, as it is governed by an active verb, not by a preposition."

"For," continued Serjeant Parsing.

"Mine, sir," said Conjunction; "it joins the sentences. 'Jack gave a loud cry,' for 'lo! a tiger appeared before him.'"

"Lo! lo! lo! that is mine," cried little Interjection, before Serjeant Parsing had time to continue.

"A," called out the Serjeant, without noticing him.

"An article, again," said little Article.

"Tiger," continued Serjeant Parsing.

"Mine," said Mr. Noun; "a common noun, but nominative this time to the verb appeared."

"You should not tell my words, Mr. Noun," said Dr. Verb. "Please, sir, appeared is a verb, not active, because it does not say that the tiger appeared to anybody or anything; it appeared before somebody, and that little preposi..."

"Now you're telling, Dr. Verb," cried Preposition. "Please, sir, before is mine—a preposition, showing the position of the tiger with regard to poor Jack, and governing him in the Objective Case; so two marks for me, please, sir."

"One more word," said Serjeant Parsing; "him."

"Him is mine," said Pronoun, sadly; "it is a personal pronoun, third person and singular number, standing instead of the noun Jack; but," he added, with tears in his eyes, "it is of no use to give me a mark for it, as I shall lose it again on account of the case. Him is the objective case, governed by the preposition before; "and Pronoun turned away with a sob.

"Well, gentlemen," said Judge Grammar, "you see what the learned Serjeant means by 'parsing.' Only let our Schoolroom-shire friends parse a few sentences in the same way, and they will be perfectly prepared for the great trial that is coming on. Brother, pray hand them up a few." Then pulling out his watch, the Judge continued: "I find, gentlemen, that the present time will soon be past, and we shall be stepping into the future if we go on much longer; therefore, I must put off, until the next time we meet, the announcement I was going to make to you today."

The Judge then left the bench, and Serjeant Parsing prepared sentences for parsing.

Find Serjeant Parsing's sentences in the Lesson Guide.

    Grammar-Land by M.L. Nesbitt Grammar-Land by M.L. Nesbitt    

Lesson 17: Active Verbs Govern the Objective Case


Over the two weeks:

  • Read or review the lesson each week.
  • Complete the assigned enrichment activities for each week.


Dr. Verb testifies that the nominative tells you who did the thing, and the objective tells you to whom the thing was done. When in active form the verbs govern the objective case. For example, for the sentence 'Harry kicked the cat.', the action of kicking applies to the poor cat. All active verbs require an objective case. When in active form, the subject of a verb carries out some action. So 'Harry,' the subject, carries out the action, 'kicked,' on the object, 'cat.'


Activity - Week 1: PARSE THE SENTENCES

Parse the following sentences, identifying the Parts-of-Speech.

  • I see a bee in your bonnet.
  • The dragon ate a dragonfly.
  • You never saw a blue rose.
  • Ah! I have a bone in my leg.
  • I will ride behind you on your horse.
  • Tom picked a flower for me.
  • Willy is riding on the rocking horse.
  • A spider has eight legs.
  • We took a walk in the garden.


  • I stepped on a tack.
  • The dog licked the puppy.
  • The doctor cured the girl.
  • Oh! I lost my book.
  • I drank the milk.
  • Sarah climbed the fence.
  • William scolded the cat.
  • The octopus shot ink.
  • We climbed the fence.