But isn't the whole clause describing the windmill?
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As the invention that brought deep well water to the surface, the windmill was used on the prairie.
This sentence is from English Grammar 101. They say that "As the...surface" is a dependent adverb clause and the rest is the independent clause. But I see "As the invention" (a prepositional phrase) being modified by "that brought...surface" (a relative pronoun that introduces a dependent adjectival clause). In other words "that...surface" is modifying "invention". Who is correct?
But isn't the whole clause describing the windmill?
The (Adj modifying windmill) windmill (subject-noun) was used (verb phrase) on the prairie (adverb prepositional phrase modifying verb). How would you breakdown "As the invention that brought deep well water to the surface".
I love to diagram sentences. May I try?
As you said, the main sentence is:
The = adjective (or determiner in newer grammars)
windmill = noun (as subject)
was used = verb (passive)
on the prairie = prepositional phrase modifying the verb
As = I think that you could find a million definitions for "as" here. Some would call it a preposition; others would label it an expletive. One thing for sure: it is not a conjunction, for -- as you said -- there is no verb.
the = adjective.
invention = noun.
that brought deep well water to the surface = As you said, those words are an adjective/ relative clause modifying the noun "invention." (It answers the question: what invention?)
Now for the $64, 000 question (that was a lot of money when I was young!): What is the role of "As the invention ... water to the surface"?
1. Your book says that it is a dependent adverb clause. I do not understand what that means, and -- of course -- I
would never dare disagree with what a book says.
2. I think that Tdol put his finger on it when he suggested that the whole clause refers to the windmill.
Now here is exciting news: Let's temporarily erase "that brought well water to the surface."
As an invention, the windmill was used on the prairie.
I think (repeat: think) that most books would say "As an invention" is an appositive that modifies the whole sentence "the windmill was used on the prairie.")
Here is a similar sentence from the great grammarian George Oliver Curme:
As a first step, I secured my vast property, so that the income would be certain.
Professor Curme explains that such an explantory remark belongs to (modifies) the whole sentence.
Now I suggest that maybe we can say "As an invention (that brought well water to the surface)" is an appositive
(explanatory remark) that belongs to the whole sentence "The windmill was used on the prairie."
If we erase the "as," "everyone" would agree that it is an appositive in:
The windmill, the invention that brought deep well water to the surface, was used on the prairie.
But for the sake of style, perhaps it is more elegant to put it at the beginnning of the sentence and introduce it with
P.S. Maybe your book uses the word "adverb" because when we add the word "as," the clause takes on an adverbial sense in that it tells us why the windmill was used on the prairie.
Last edited by TheParser; 07-Jun-2012 at 15:51. Reason: just thought of this
Thank you for your reply. Yes, your answer makes a lot of sense. I didn't get the sentence from a book; it was from a free grammar website. If you wouldn't mind taking a quick look at the website and tell me what you think? The website is Englishgrammar101.com. Click on Free Online Grammar Lessons---Module 2: Clause Patterns---
Lesson 2-26: The Adverbial Clause---Question 8. Thanks again.
I checked the website, and I am going to be very bold: It made a mistake. (We're all weak humans.)
As you so correctly said, "As the invention that brought deep well water to the surface" is certainly NO adverbial
clause. As you well know, if you delete the conjunction, an adverbial clause can stand on its own as a good
grammatical sentence. E.g., "If I have time, I will visit them." "If I have time" is an adverbial clause. If I delete the
conjunction, I get "I have time." That is a grammatical sentence. Now let's delete "as." We get: "The invention that
brought deep well water to the surface." As you can see, any student would immediately identify that as an incomplete
sentence (the kind that drives English teachers crazy).
IMHO, the sentence should have read: "As it was the invention that brought deep well water to the surface, ...."
Now, that is an adverbial clause.
Thank you for the information.
I have been lax. I am sorry. I am quite certain that I can diagram this, but I have been teaching a course online (which I have finished) and made a marathon tour of Europe (from which I have returned). Gradually I will begin to settle back into what was once normal, and considering the syntax of such sentences is not only normal but fun.
Does a "marathon tour" mean "If it's Tuesday, it must be Belgium"? That is, those tours that let you cover all of Europe in one week?
I described it on my Youtube Channel as "Frank's Tour d' Europe".
By the time I got to Portugal when I opened my mouth I didn't know what language would come out -- often German.
I was on my own -- not with a tour.
But it was, in a way, great.
Thanks for your interest.