How to analyse sentences


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How to analyse sentences

  1. 1. HOW TO ANALYSE SENTENCESFinding the sentence elements in a sentenceTHE VERB(AL)We usually start a syntactic analysis by finding the verb(s) in a sentence. There may be oneverb:He goes to school. I like doing homeworkOr there may be several verbs (a verb phrase):He does not go to schoolI am doing homeworkWe will be writing lettersYou shouldn’t have done itThere may be a phrasal verb in the sentence:He woke up at sevenYou must never give upAnd several verbs may be coordinated:She was laughing and crying at the same timeTHE SUBJECTThe subject may be:A proper noun: John loves his wifeA noun: The man loves his wifeA pronoun: He loves his wifeA noun + a relative clause: The man who is sitting between aunt Sarha and your mother loveshis wifeA noun + complementation: The man on the corner loves his wifeAn infinitive clause: To roll stones can be dangerousAn –ing clause: Riding two horses at the same time is difficultA sentence may have two subjects joined by coordination: The man on the corner and his sonwant to speak with youTHE OBJECTThere are three types of objects: direct object, indirect object and oblique object.Direct object:Proper noun: I know JohnNoun: I know the manPronoun: I know himNoun + relative clause: I know the man who is sitting between Sarah and your motherNoun + complementation: I know the man on the cornerInfinitive clause: I hate to get up early-ing clause: I don’t like being responsibleSeveral objects coordinated: I hate ice-cream, chocolate and chewing gumIndirect objects resemble direct objects in form:Proper noun, noun, pronoun: She gave John / the man / him moneyNoun + relative clause: She gave the boy who fell off his bike a helping hand
  2. 2. Oblique object:Sometimes the indirect object in a sentence with both direct and indirect objects (e.g.: shegave the man money) is realised as a prepositional phrase:She gave money to the manAnd sometimes the oblique object cannot be rephrased as direct object:Can you post this letter for me?(you cannot say: can you post me this letter?)SUBJECT COMPLEMENT (PREDICATIVE)In form the subject predicative may look like a direct object, but whereas the direct object andthe subject denote two different entities, the subject predicative describes the subject, i.e. thereis identity between the subject and the subject predicative.Proper noun: His name is MaxNoun: John is a boy (an extremely nice boy)Adjective: She became famousOBJECT COMPLEMENT (PREDICATIVE)The object predicative has the same relationship to the object as the subject predicative has tothe subject:They call him MaxThey made her famousADVERBIALThere are many types of adverbial, but the three most common are:Adverbial of time: He woke up at seven She plays the piano every day He came after the show had started I’m leaving now He left before anyone could stop himAdverbial of place: They live in London The bus stop is just around the corner Mary was at home last week I want to go thereAdverbial of manner: He searched the room carefully She sings beautifully He went slowly up the stairs We gradually go used to it
  3. 3. To sum up; this is how you analyse – step by step:Example sentences:1. John has a good friend2. John is a good friend3. John gave his friend money4. John gave money to his friend5. John is at home6. John made his friend happy- Find the verb- Ask who / what + the verb (and the rest of the sentence): who has (a good friend) / who made his friend happy to find the subject- Ask the subject + the verb + who / what: John has what / John gave what to find the direct object. But! This is also how you find subject complement (predicative): John is what So you need to know the difference between object and subject complement (predicative) (subject predicatives describe or identify the subject)- Ask subject + verb + direct object + to whom: John gave money to whom to find the indirect object (his friend)- If the object begins with a preposition (to his friend) it is called oblique object. There is no semantic difference between (3) and (4), but sentences with oblique objects may not always have a counterpart with an indirect object: John stole money from his friend (i.e. you can’t say John stole his friend money- The relationship between object and object complement (predicative) is the same as the one between subject and subject complement (predicative): John made his friend happy S + V + O + OP His friend is happy S + V + SP- Ask when / where / why / how / how often, much, far … to find the adverbials: John is whereJohn has a good friendS V DOJohn is a good friendS V SCJohn gave his friend moneyS V IO DOJohn gave money to his friendS V DO OOJohn is at homeS V AJohn made his friend happyS V O OC