Thursday, February 26, 2015


Yesterday I showed you the PAO (Person, Action, Object) method of creating a pegging list. It is a preferred method of memory competition champs and because everybody’s PAO list is different, it is often well suited to the individual student and less boring than the alphabet.

I will be giving you other pegging lists. But practice with this one for awhile.

As a college English instructor , I found an alternative use for PAO lists. I used it to introduce students to the parts of speech.

In class we followed the steps of yesterday’s blog. We created a list of people, and then a list of transitive verbs (They take an object) and finally a list of nouns that named people places or things.

Put the items in the list together in fun ways and you have a PAO list.

Barack Obama (person) sews (action) coats (object).

Lady Gaga buys cats.

Mickey Mouse chases bumblebees.

The sentences can have some nonsense in them because this makes them easier to remember.

Those objects (coats, cats and bumblebees) are all direct objects. They get their action directly from the verb.

I mentioned yesterday there were two other types of objects.

Indirect Object

I bought my brother a car.

Obviously I didn’t buy my brother. I bought the car. So brother is the indirect object.

I plowed my neighbor’s driveway. Surely I didn’t plow my neighbor. He is the indirect object.

Find the indirect object by rewriting the sentence. If I can put either of the prepositions “for” or “to” in front of the word, that word is an indirect object.

I bought a car for my brother.

I plowed the driveway for my neighbor.

Object of a Preposition

When I was in grade school teachers told us if we could not recognize prepositions, we had to memorize the list in the book. I don’t think any of my classmates memorized the list. We all told ourselves we could recognize a preposition.

As a college instructor I have had students come up to me after class and start reciting the prepositions in alphabetical order. Those were the students who memorized the lists of prepositions. They learned them well, and all these years later were able to rattle off the list of prepositions.

“About, Above, Across, At…” These students could do the entire list.

We had a notetaker in class one day, and I asked her how she recognized prepositions. She shrugged. “I don’t know. I just do,” she said.

I am like that too. I just know a preposition when I see one. Two of my students taught me some easy methods for those who don’t recognize prepositions on sight and who never memorized a list of them.

The dog house rule:

If I can put the word in front of The dog house,” it is a preposition.

A mouse can go under the dog house: the dog can walk to the dog house. I can hang a bird feeder above the dog house.

Other prepositions are into, on in, of, from, for, beneath.

If you try this with a list of prepositions that you find online or in an English book, some may not work. “During” is a preposition, but it does not work with “the dog house.” There are a few others, but the dog house rule limits the prepositions you might have to memorize

Anyplace a Mouse Can Go

Another student told me a preposition is anyplace a mouse can go. Above, over, under, into, on, off, past, onto.

I hope these grammar tips help.

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