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  1. anhnha's Avatar
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    #1

    He ran fastest of all.

    Here is a sentence in my English book:

    He ran fastest of all.

    Could you help me diagram it?

    He = subject
    ran = verb
    fastest of all = ?

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    #2

    Re: He ran fastest of all.

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Hello, Anhnha

    I have some ideas (not "answers") to share with you regarding your fascinating (to me!) question.

    1. Some books feel that we should use "the" with superlative adverbs. Thus: "ran the fastest." (Sometimes we should NOT use "the," but that is another topic.)
    2. Some books feel that the omission of "the" is informal.
    3. Some books feel that the omission of "the" is fine and makes no difference.

    (I shall keep my opinion to myself.)

    4. "of all" might sound a little better if we extend it. Let's say: "of all his schoolmates."

    *****

    I shall now (try to) parse "He ran (the) fastest of all (his schoolmates)."

    He = subject.

    ran = verb.

    the = definite article that modifies (belongs to, attaches to, etc.) "fastest."

    fastest = the superlative of the adverb "fast."

    of all (his schoolmates) = prepositional phrase.

    NOW HERE IS THE BIG PROBLEM: What does the prepositional phrase modify?

    I googled many hours yesterday and discovered at least two theories:

    Theory #1: It modifies the adverb "fastest."
    Theory #2: It modifies the subject ("He").

    Which theory is the correct one? I shall keep my opinion to myself.

    *****

    P.S. I came across an argument in favor of theory #2. Is it correct? Of course, I do not know. A netizen named Jlovegren in the "English Language and Usage" section of the website Stack Exchange gave this analysis on December 23, 2012:


    Bugs was [the fastest] [of all rabbits]


    Jlovegren says that "of all rabbits" has a "partitive function." That is to say, "it introduces a reference set that the modified noun [my emphasis] should be compared against."

    Jlovegren rearranges the parts of the sentence like this:


    "Of all rabbits, Bugs [my emphasis] was the fastest."

    I am not saying that this analysis is correct or incorrect, but "of all rabbits" does appear to modify "Bugs."

    (Yes, Jlovegren's example is a superlative adjective, not an adverb. But MAYBE the explanation also applies to adverbs.)

    Finally, V.P. Kannan in English Grammar (accessed through Google "books") gives this sentence: "He runs fastest of all the students." The author claims that "all of the students" modifies the subject rather than the adverb. The author rearranges the sentence: "Of all the students, he [my emphasis] runs the fastest."
    Last edited by TheParser; 09-Aug-2015 at 13:25.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: He ran fastest of all.

    A shorter test:
    Does it describe the person, or does it describe how he ran?
    How did he run? The fastest of all [of the group you have already identified]. Adverb phrase.

    Parser: There is a huge difference between the verb "to be" (he was) and other verbs. "To be" (and a few other verbs) are linking verbs that connect the subject to another noun or adjective. "To run" is an active verb.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #4

    Re: He ran fastest of all.

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    I have found some material that just fascinates me. I am delighted to share it with anyone who is interested in this topic.

    The material comes from the 1852 edition of Exposition of the Grammatical Structure of the English Language by John Mulligan.

    *****

    I have made up this sentence: "Mr. Smith speaks the most humbly of all my teachers."

    I shall now analyze that sentence based only on Mr. Mulligan's views. I shall keep my opinion to myself regarding the validity of Mr. Mulligan's analysis. Everyone can decide for him-, herself.

    1. That sentence is another way to say "Mr. Smith speaks in the most humble manner of all my teachers."

    a. The word "the" modifies "manner."
    b. The prepositional phrase "of all my teachers" modifies the noun "Mr. Smith."

    i. That is to say, "Mr. Smith of all my teachers speaks in the most humble manner."

    2. Some people feel that the prepositional phrase modifies the superlative adverb " the most humbly."

    a. Perhaps they feel that the prepositional phrase modifies the word "manner" that is implied in "speaks the most humbly."


    *****

    If you wish to read Mr. Mulligan's views for yourself, do this:

    Go to the "books" section of Google. Then type in the following (including the quotation marks):

    "This boy behaves the best of all" Mulligan

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: He ran fastest of all.

    1852? Couldn't you find anything older?

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