Fat Free Verbs

by Jennifer Tonkyro Mosby


Instructional Objective The learners will be able to identify and differentiate between active and passive verbs and replace heavy verbs with lean verbs. For example, the learner would replace the verbs, "utilize" or "employ," with the verb, "use." "Utilize" and "employ" are heavy verbs and "use" is a lean verb.

Learners/Context Learners are college students enrolled in English 503W, Technical Writing. In their textbook, Clear Technical Writing by John A. Brogan, students have completed sections on identifying and correctly using active voice vs. passive voice and lean verbs. Learners would play this card game as a review of those sections.

Rationale This card game would punctuate and reinforce the active voice, passive voice and lean verb sections in Clear Technical Writing. Students in the Technical Writing class habitually used passive voice and heavy verbs before completeing the active voice, passive voice and lean verb sections. Using this card game to periodically review using correct verbs would prevent students from slipping back into old habits. Playing the card game would be more fun and interesting than doing the review segment at the end of each section in Clear Technical Writing.

Rules This is a rummy-style card game. Up to four people can play.

1. The dealer shuffles the deck and deals seven cards to each player and places the remaining cards face down to make the stock pile. The dealer starts the discard pile by turning over the top card of the stock pile.

2. Each player examines his or her cards and arranges them into sets.

A player can make two types of sets: active voice or passive voice sets and heavy/lean verb sets. For each set, a player must have a title card and two or three sentence cards whose verbs match the title card. For example, if a player has the passive voice title card, he or she must get two or three sentence cards that have passive voice sentences. If a player has a title card with the verb, "use," he or she must get two or three sentence cards that have verbs with the heavy form of "use". If the player can replace the verb on the sentence card with the verb on the title card without changing the meaning of the sentence, then the cards are of the same set. See the Card Design section below for examples of sets.

3. The player to the left of the dealer either picks a card from the stock pile or takes the top card from the discard pile. The player is looking for cards that will complete sets. The player then discards one card. The player's turn is over and play moves to the left.

4. The first person to acquire all sets wins the game.

Deck Design Total number of cards - 60

Number of title cards - 12 (10 verb, 1 active voice, 1 passive voice)

Number of sentence cards - 48

Card Design

Design Process First, I brainstormed for ideas that would work in one of the card game formats. When I chose the verb idea, it seemed to be more suited to a War format. Each player would put down a sentence card at the same time. The player with the leaner verb would win the round. This would not have worked because the verbs are either lean or heavy-- there are no degrees of heavy-ness or weakness. I then chose the rummy format with three types of sets: active voice, passive voice, and lean verbs. The lean verbs set type was too vague so I chose instead to use examples of lean verbs for the title cards. This way players can recognize and differentiate between a lean verb and its heavier counterparts.