This post was written by guest blogger Carrie Frye.
In Kings of Infinite Space, the character Paul, a former English prof., works for a time at a textbook company, where he composes grammar exercises for grades six through twelve. “When he was really pissed off,” Hynes writes,”he composed items with inappropriate references that he figured [his supervisor] wouldn’t get — “Mr. Humbert (brought, brung) Dolores a banana …”
Here’s another grammar exercise written by Paul.
In each of the following sentences, underline the direct object once and the indirect object twice. Not all sentences have an indirect object.
1. I gave Renfield instructions not to wake me until sunset.
2. Lizzie offered her father a close shave this morning.
3. Oliver, have you told Mr. Fagin about the missing wallet?
4. Vita showed Virginia a thing or two.
5. Eagerly, Oscar taught Bosie the backstroke.
6. Sid gave Nancy the surprise of her life.
7. Affectionately, Mrs. Donner gave Jeffrey a second helping.
8. Tara offered Willow a token of her affection.
9. After a delicious Irish stew, Mr. Swift told us his modest proposal.
10. Norman gave his mother a carving knife for her birthday.
Good, eh? Now read the first letter of each line.
It reminds me of when, in third grade, some buddies and I looked up “fart” in our (highly abridged) classroom dictionary and found this thrilling description: “Fart: An explosion between the legs.” Next to the definition there was a line-drawing of a pair of legs with an asterisk between them. Like:*. And we were:!!