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Understanding English Grammar

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1 Understanding English Grammar
An Introduction to Diagramming Sentences

2 Works Cited Funk, Robert & Martha Kolln. Understanding English Grammar. 5th Ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1998.

3 Underlying Structure Ten sentence patterns account for the underlying structure of almost all possible grammatical sentences in English. All sentences have a subject and a predicate.

4 Subject Predicate Test: To figure out where the subject ends and the predicate begins, substitute a pronoun for the subject. Example: The council has passed the ordinance It has passed the ordinance. This subject-predicate relationship underlies every sentence, even those is which the subject is unstated but clearly understood: Example: (you) Help! (you) Sit down!

5 New Terminology The two basic constituents of every
sentence are (1) the NP, or noun phrase, which is the same as the subject and (2) the VP, or verb phrase, which is the same as the predicate.

6 Additional Terminology
Phrase—any group of two or more words that function as a unit within a sentence. Always includes a head, or headword, along with its modifiers and/or complements. (The head of a noun phrase is a noun, the head of a verb phrase, a verb). Clause—also a group of words, but it must have a subject and predicate. There is a difference between a sentence and a clause. Not all clauses are sentences and often a single sentence will include more than one clause.

7 The Sentence Slots Because the variations among the sentence patterns are in the predicates, we group the ten patterns according to their verb types: 1. the be patterns 2. the linking verb patterns 3. the intransitive verb pattern 4. the transitive verb patterns

8 About the patterns… The number of slots in the predicate varies: Most patterns have two, but Pattern VI has only one slot, and three of the transitive patterns, VIII to X, each have three. The label in parentheses names the function, the role, that the slot performs in the sentence. The subscript numbers you see in some of the patterns show the relationship between noun phrases: Identical numbers mean that the two noun phrases have the same referent; different numbers denote different referents. (A referent is the thing (or person, event, concept, and so on ) that the noun or noun phrase stands for).

9 (Adverbial of time or place)
The be Patterns I NP be ADV/TP (subject) (predicating verb) (Adverbial of time or place) The students are upstairs II ADJ (subj) (pred vb) (subj complement) diligent III NP1 (subj comp) scholars

10 The be Patterns Explained
The first three formulas state that when a form of be serves as the predicating verb, an adverbial of time or place (Pattern I), or an adjectival (Pattern II), or a noun phrase (Pattern III) will follow it. The one exception to this rule is a statement simply affirming existence, such as “I am.” Other one-word forms of be are: am, is, are, was, were, being, and been; the expanded forms include: have been, was being, might be, and will be.

11 Pattern I: NP be ADV/TP The ADV in the formula stands for adverbial, a modifier of the verb. The ADV that follows be is, with certain exceptions, limited to when and where information. This slot is labeled as adverbial rather than simply as adverb because the adverbial information is often expressed by a structure other than a simple adverb. Adverb is the name of a word class; adverbial names the function that adverbs carry out. One of the most common adverbial structures is the prepositional phrase, a two-part structure consisting of a preposition—a word such as in, out, up, down, under, between, for, from—and its object, most commonly a noun or noun phrase.

12 Example: The diligent student is very diligent.
Pattern II: NP be ADJ In this pattern the complement that follows be is an adjectival. This slot is the subject complement, which both completes the verb and modifies or describes the subject. Test: If you’re not sure what an adjective is, answer this question: The________NOUN is very________. Only an adjective will fit. Example: The diligent student is very diligent. Besides adjectives, we sometimes find prepositional phrases filling the subject complement slot in Pattern II sentences. These are set phrases, or idiomatic expressions, that name an attribute of the subject: You are out of your mind. She is in a bad mood. To figure out that such sentences do not belong to Pattern I, you can usually think of an adjective, a single descriptive word, that could substitute for the phrase: You are crazy. She is cranky. You can also rule out Pattern I because such phrases do not supply information of time or place.

13 Pattern III: NP1 be NP1 The NP, of course, fills the subject slot in all of the patterns; in Pattern III a noun phrase following be fills the subject complement slot as well. The subject complement renames the subject; be, the main verb, acts as an equal sign, connecting the subject with its complement.

14 The Sentence Patterns: Be Verbs

15 Linking Verb Patterns IV NP Linking verb ADJ The students seem
(subj) (pred vb) (subj comp) The students seem diligent. V NP1 Lnk verb became scholars.

16 The Linking Verb Patterns
Linking verb applies to all verbs other than be complemented by a subject complement—an adjectival or a noun phrase that describes, characterizes, or identifies the subject.

17 Pattern IV: NP V-lnk ADJ
In these sentences an adjectival fills the subject complement slot. The adjectival describes or names an attribute of the subject, just as in Pattern II. Pattern IV is a common category for verbs of the senses (taste, smell, feel, sound, & look). Just as in Pattern II, an adjectival prepositional phrase (an idiom) can fill the subject complement slot.

18 Pattern V: NP1 V-lnk NP1 In this pattern a noun phrase fills the subject complement slot following the linking verb. Just as in Pattern III, both NPs have the same referent. Become and remain are among the most common verbs of Pattern V.

19 The Optional Slots Adverbials can appear in every sentence pattern.
Many of our sentences include information beyond the basic requirements—words or phrases that answer such questions as where, when, why, how, how often, and the like. Pattern I has the required ADV/TP, but it can also include optional adverbials. No matter where they occur, all adverbials are diagrammed as modifiers of the verb. Adverbs can be modified with words like very, known as qualifiers.

20 The Sentence Patterns: Linking Verbs
IV NP V-lnk ADJ V NP1 V-lnk NP1

21 Pattern VI: NP V-int An intransitive verb has no complement—no noun phrase or adjectival—following. Most Pattern VI sentences have other information, often adverbials. Pattern VI looks a lot like Pattern I, but in Pattern I, the adverbial information is not optional.

22 Exceptions to Pattern VI
There are thousands of intransitive verbs. Among them are a few verbs that require an adverbial to make them complete: Reside: My best friend resides in Roswell. Sneak: The boys sneaked past the guard. Glance: She glanced at her watch. These are not given a new pattern since the number is so small.

23 Intransitive Phrasal Verbs
A phrasal verb consists of a verb combined with a preposition-like word, known as a particle; together they form an idiom. An idiom is a set expression that acts as a unit (i.e. made up). Test: adverbs can be shifted without a change in meaning, whereas a particle cannot (i.e. up we jumped vs. up we made) Test: replace the phrasal with a one word synonym (i.e. gave in=capitulated, broke up=ended).

24 The Sentence Patterns: Intransitive Verbs
VI NP V-int

25 Pattern VII: NP1 V-tr NP2 The one method of distinguishing transitive verbs that works almost every time is the recognition that the two noun phrases have different referents. An exception occurs when the direct object is either a reflexive pronoun (John cut himself) or a reciprocal pronoun (John and Mary love each other). Don’t forget about transitive phrasal verbs Ex. He came by his fortune in an unusual way.

26 Pattern VIII: NP1 V-tr NP2 NP3
All three NPs have different referents. You have the option of shifting the indirect object to a position following the direct object, where it will be the object of a preposition. Ex. The students gave their professor their homework OR The students gave their homework to the professor. The same system of identity applies in Pattern VIII when reflexive or reciprocal pronouns fill the indirect object slot, as they sometimes do. Ex. Jill gave herself a haircut OR We gave each other identical Christmas presents.

27 Pattern IX: NP1 V-Tr NP2 ADJ
In this pattern the direct object is followed by a second complement, as adjective that modifies or describes the direct object; this is the object complement. Pattern IX is a small class, with relatively few verbs, most of which appear equally often in Pattern VII, where they take the direct object only.

28 Pattern X: NP1 V-tr NP2 NP2 TEST: To discern between patterns IX and X, check whether you can insert the words to be between the direct object and the following slot. Ex. Taro finds his job easy. (X) Taro found his job easily. (IX) Pam found her job the hard way. (IX) Pam finds her job a challenge. (X)

29 Pattern X: NP1 V-tr NP2 NP2 continued…
Sometimes the object complement is signaled by as, which we call an expletive, or operator. Ex. We elected Tom as our secretary. We refer to him as “Mr. Secretary.” I know him as a good friend.

30 The Sentence Patterns: Transitive Verbs
VII NP1 V-tr NP2 VIII NP1 V-tr NP2 NP3 IX NP1 V-tr NP2 ADJ X NP1 V-tr NP2 NP2

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