I Hate Learning Verbs!

Alston Hurd Chase, Time Remembered 2.2:

“Then came a brief quiz on the forms if it was a grammar day. Usually I sent students to the board for these and corrected and graded them immediately. As soon as the class had learned one or two tenses of the verb I began the practice of sending them to the board as soon as class opened to write a tense synopsis, i.e. all the forms of a certain person and number in all moods and voices of a certain verb which they had studied thus far. It fascinated the boys to watch these synopses grow in length from two or three forms until the board could scarcely hold them all. Like all teachers I had pet proverbs, one of which was, ‘A synopsis a day keeps the zeros away.’ This had reference to my much cursed practice of giving a zero for any sentence in which any error of any kind was made with the verb. I explained that the verb was the engine of the sentence, its most important part. This is particularly true in Greek and Latin where the pronoun subject is regularly omitted, the person and number being found in the ending of the verb. Furthermore, each synopsis had to be accompanied by the principal parts, those basic forms from which all other parts of the verb can be derived. Because of the unbelievable variations in the tenses of many Greek verbs a command of the principal parts saves hours of baffling search in the dictionary. (For example, the present of the Greek verb to bear is pher, its future ois, its past definite enengkon. Again, I used to say sententiously, ‘See ye first the principal parts and all other things shall be added unto you.’ Many of my old students who went on with Greek in college rose up and called me blessed for this once hated insistence upon learning the verbs.”

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