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  1. #1
    abcspacksbcglobal is offline Newbie
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    Default Need help Digramming an advanced sentence and determining sentence pattern

    "And there, resting his head on Daniel's lap was the biggest lion, purring like a little kitten." This is a sentence that we tried to diagram and was trying to verify the diagramming and pattern but we can't get it verified. The Reed-K software states that its not a complete sentence.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Need help Digramming an advanced sentence and determining sentence pattern

    What's your diagram?

  3. #3
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Need help Digramming an advanced sentence and determining sentence pattern

    Quote Originally Posted by abcspacksbcglobal View Post
    "And there, resting his head on Daniel's lap was the biggest lion, purring like a little kitten." This is a sentence that we tried to diagram and was trying to verify the diagramming and pattern but we can't get it verified. The Reed-K software states that its not a complete sentence.
    A fun and interesting sentence.

    If you wish, I will diagram it as a Youtube video, but consider it two independent clauses -- two sentences, if you will, with elliptical words supplied in the followng way:

    "And there, resting his head on Daniel's lap, was the biggest lion, AND IT WAS purring like a little kitten"

    "resting...lap" is a participle phrase modifying lion. Use "x"'s for the understood words. That should make it more doable.

    There are other ways to look at this, but that is probably the easiest.

  4. #4
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Need help Digramming an advanced sentence and determining sentence pattern

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Antonson View Post
    [I[ but consider it two independent clauses -- two sentences, if you will, with elliptical words supplied in the followng way:

    "And there, resting his head on Daniel's lap, was the biggest lion, AND IT WAS purring like a little kitten"

    "resting...lap" is a participle phrase modifying lion.
    This to me brings up one of the weaknesses of R-K - the need sometimes to interpret some phrases as ellipses in what seems to me to be a fairly arbitrary way. What is the justification for considering 'resting ...lap' as a participle phrase but 'purring ... kitten' as an ellipsis of an independent clause?
    Last edited by 5jj; 23-Mar-2013 at 21:04.

  5. #5
    Esgaleth's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need help Digramming an advanced sentence and determining sentence pattern

    Knowing fairly little about diagramming sentences and more out of curiosity: is there any chance to consider "resting...lap" an adverbial modifier of "was"? Also, I hope it won't be altogether wrong to regard "purring...kitten" as a participle phrase modifying "lion"?

  6. #6
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Need help Digramming an advanced sentence and determining sentence pattern

    Yes. There are other ways to interpret this sentence. In a way, it comes down to trying to figure out what syntax, exactly, was in the mind of the speaker or writer.
    But ellipsis in speech is a reality. I like to try to limit myself to the fewest supplied words as possible.

    But to 5jj, I would say, "What ist the alternative to R-K? What does this sentence look like as a tree diagram? And is it more helpful?"

  7. #7
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need help Digramming an advanced sentence and determining sentence pattern

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Antonson View Post
    But ellipsis in speech is a reality.
    Is it a reality, or is it a convenient fiction? If words are not there, it is very difficult to prove that they were there once/subconsciously/correctly but have been ellipted.
    But to 5jj, I would say, "What ist the alternative to R-K? What does this sentence look like as a tree diagram? And is it more helpful?"
    For those who find pleasure/value in an analysis of a sentence for its own sake, there seem to be several other methods out there. I make no pretence of offering a 'better' one - most of them seem flawed to me.

    And you didn't answer my question: What is the justification for considering 'resting ...lap' as a participle phrase but 'purring ... kitten' as an ellipsis of an independent clause?

  8. #8
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Need help Digramming an advanced sentence and determining sentence pattern

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Is it a reality, or is it a convenient fiction? If words are not there, it is very difficult to prove that they were there once/subconsciously/correctly but have been ellipted.
    For those who find pleasure/value in an analysis of a sentence for its own sake, there seem to be several other methods out there. I make no pretence of offering a 'better' one - most of them seem flawed to me.

    And you didn't answer my question: What is the justification for considering 'resting ...lap' as a participle phrase but 'purring ... kitten' as an ellipsis of an independent clause?
    Without ellipsis how could a sentence like: "If not us, who; if not now, when?" be understood? There is no noun or verb in those four clauses. In our minds we supply four simple subjects and four simple predicates, and much more. Yet, a person can get sense out of the sentences. It is fun to diagram.

    "Purring...kitten" could be considered a participial phrase, sure. That also works. But its placement make it for me easier to understand as the progressive form of the verb phrase "was purring" with the "was" understood. I guess what I wanted to object to is that an automated program determined that "purring like a kitten" was an incomplete sentence. Maybe automated programs don't do well with ellipsis. "Purring...kitten" could also be considered the second half of a compound simple predicate, sharing the "was", but I find that awkward.

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