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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Sentence Analysis

    Hello,
    I would love to have some feedback on this, please. It's been bugging me for a while!
    The sentence is: " Reading the newspaper, I was struck by the difference between fact and fiction. "
    This is how I analysed it:

    * "Reading the newspaper" is a participial clause acting as an adjective modifying "I", the subject.
    This is the confusing part. "struck" seems to be an adjective to me, but it might as well be part of the verb, "was struck".. The problem is that, defining "was struck" will help me analyse the prepositional phrase "by the difference" .

    If "struck" is an adjective, then "by the difference" is an adjective modifying struck. But, if "was struck" is a verb, then the prep. phrase cannot be an adjective since adjectives do not modify verbs. And according to my knowledge, there are two types of prepositional phrases, adjectives and adverbs. Following this respect, the prep. phrase is an adverb. If this is the case, then what kind of adverb is it?


    What do you think?

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Sentence Analysis

    "Reading the newspaper" is not a clause; it is a participial phrase. You are correct that it is adjectival. The phrase "was struck" is a passive voice verb. That would make your prepositional phrase an adverb. I don't think it matters what type of adverb it is.

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    #3

    Re: Sentence Analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    "Reading the newspaper" is not a clause; it is a participial phrase. You are correct that it is adjectival. The phrase "was struck" is a passive voice verb. That would make your prepositional phrase an adverb. I don't think it matters what type of adverb it is.
    Sorry, but the first part of your reply is incorrect. It's neither a phrase nor adjectival.

    "Reading the newspaper" is a gerund-participial clause. Like most non-finite clauses, it is subjectless, but the missing subject is retrievable by looking at the subject of the matrix clause, so it's obviously "I".

    You must remember that unlike phrases, clauses express a subject-predicate structure; in this case the subject is "I" and the predicate is "reading the newspaper".

    The clause itself is a supplementary adjunct; it doesn't modify anything, but simply adds useful, though non-essential, information about the situation. It's easy to tell it's a supplement because it's set off with a comma, and in speech it would be marked off by a slight pause.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Sentence Analysis

    I don't recognize "non finite clauses". For me, a clause has a subject and verb (not a verbal).

  4. Piscean's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Sentence Analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    I don't recognize "non finite clauses".
    Fine, but some schools of grammatical thought do. They argue their case quite cogently.

    I, personally, am not too happy about such a dramatic change in the use of the word 'clause' - I would prefer a different word for this extension of the traditional 'clause' to have been chosen - but we cannot deny that the word is frequently used in the new way today.

  5. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Sentence Analysis

    I understand the there are many who accept non-finite clauses. But there are many who do not.

  6. Piscean's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Sentence Analysis

    Quite.

    So, Paul, what you wrote here
    Quote Originally Posted by PaulMatthews View Post
    Sorry, but the first part of your reply is incorrect. It's neither a phrase nor adjectival.
    is too dismissive. What Mike wrote is not incorrect in some schools of grammar.

    I think we all need to be aware that there is no universally accepted list of definitions of grammatical terms.

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    #8

    Re: Sentence Analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    I don't recognize "non finite clauses". For me, a clause has a subject and verb (not a verbal).
    But it does have a subject and verb. The subject is "I" and the verb is "reading". The fact that it's a secondary (untensed) verb-form makes no difference (other than that the clause is called non-finite); it's still a verb, and in the OP's example it even has a direct object, i.e. "newspaper".

    The term 'non-finite clause' is very widely used nowadays - you'll find it any good grammar book or other resource. As I said, most non-finite clauses have no overt subject, but we understand them as having subjects. In the OP's example, the missing subject "I" is easily retrievable from the matrix clause.

    The use of the term 'phrase' (for these clauses) dropped out of the system quite some years ago, though you'll still find it in schoolbooks and on some Mickey Mouse grammar websites, but scholarly grammar has moved on and if you want to take grammar seriously, you just have to move with the times. And, believe it or not, it actually makes parsing easier - let's be thankful for that!

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    #9

    Re: Sentence Analysis

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    Quite.

    So, Paul, what you wrote hereis too dismissive. What Mike wrote is not incorrect in some schools of grammar.

    I think we all need to be aware that there is no universally accepted list of definitions of grammatical terms.
    Very few schools of grammar still call them phrases. Grammar is a science and like all sciences, improvements in the way we see and analyse things inevitably occur slowly and surely, but the term "phrase" for sequences that contain non-finite verb-forms disappeared many years ago. Of course, you'll still find it used in schoolbooks and beginners' grammar websites, but we're talking scholarly grammar here (aren't we?) and it simply makes no sense to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that the modern approach doesn't exist, or for some reason is inferior.


    I always ask dissenters: "when you go into hospital for that all-important prostate operation, would you prefer the surgeon to be using the latest 21st-century techniques, or those used 100 years or more ago which have been proved to be unreliable and inferior?" Usually does the trick!
    Last edited by PaulMatthews; 29-Mar-2016 at 09:15.

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    #10

    Re: Sentence Analysis

    I see your point, but even within the context you mention, it doesn't hold that much water- ask any oncologist how many of their patients also try alternative medicines and approaches. In language, there is still a lot of disagreement- the scientists leading the charge have not managed to convince everyone, so we have to navigate seas where there are different routes. Throughout the world people are taught grammatical stuff that I think is wrong, but when someone starts asking a question about the future tense, which I don't agree with, I don't try to make them see the error of their ways before anything else. Pragmatics is as relevant to grammar as meaning IMO.

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