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Shirt Women Monk Frog Light Full Denim Trendy Structural Syntax: Modification

Structural grammar is particularly useful for indicating structures of Full Light Shirt Monk Women Trendy Frog Denim modification.   Modification is the grammatical tie that exists, for example, between an adjective and its noun, or a verb and its adverb.  But structural diagrams can also indicate clearly what we intuitively feel when we construct sentences: that adjectives sometimes modify whole phrases which themselves contain other adjectives, that adverbs sometimes modify whole clauses, that phrases sometimes modify other phrases or whole clauses, that clauses sometimes modify other clauses, or that some words we do not normally think of as adjectives or adverbs sometimes perform the grammatical function of modification.

In analyzing structures of modification, it is sometimes useful to talk about the "head" of a construction.  The head of a construction is the single word that "gets modified," the word that could by itself stand for the whole construction in the grammar of the sentence.  It is the word in the construction that all the modifying elements "depend on."

In diagramming, we indicate the grammatical tie of modification by means of an arrowhead (>) that points from the modifier to whatever is modified.   All of the arrowheads in a diagram of a structure of modification point toward the head of the construction.

Here are some examples.


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Women Shirt Light Denim Full Trendy Monk Frog SINGLE-WORD MODIFIERS

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Notice the difference in the first two examples between adjectives in a series (Light Shirt Frog Monk Women Trendy Denim Full Monk Shirt Trendy Frog Women Light Full Denim tall redLong Solid Red Casual Dark Mini O Dress Neck Sweet Women Sleeve Knitting Dress xB6qqUCwA) and Print Pop Shorts Black Fresh Double Layered Zelocity N BA40qw1q adjectives (big, black).  There is subtle shade of difference in the meaning.  One could be talking about a barn that is (1) tall, and (2) red, in which case there would be a comma between tall and red to indicate the structure of modification.   Or, as in the example given, one could be talking about a red barn that is tall.   One could be talking about a black dog that is big, in which case there would be no comma between big and black.  Or, as in the example given, one could be talking about a dog that is (1) big, and (2) black.

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In these first two examples, notice also that the article (in this case the, but the same applies to a and an) is normally thought of as modifying the whole construction that it begins--that is, the article is diagrammed as belonging "on the outside" of the rest of the construction (the head with all of its other modifiers).  This is equivalent to saying that the first "cut" in a structure of modification beginning with an article should be taken between the article and the rest of the construction.

Notice how in the third example the diagram indicates that the adverb Recklessly modifies not just the verb flew, but the whole Cotton Lycra Inked Pink Jeggings Pink Inked qwIOgpS Half neck Black Straight Dresses Sleeves Loose Summer O Dress Women Fashion Mini Lace Short Casual qCZWwf.   This makes sense if we notice that the adverb is movable.  We could put it at the end of the sentence equally well: They flew downhill recklessly.  If the Recklessly were intended to modify only Denim Shirt Trendy Full Light Monk Women Frog flew, it would be put next to flew: They recklessly flew downhill.  The writer's choice to put the adverb at the beginning of the sentence and to set it off with a comma is precisely the writer's way of indicating that the adverb modifies the whole predication.

Similarly, notice how the comma in the fourth example actually separates the modifier dancingRise Denim Wash Miss Women's Jeans Chase Dark Regular Skinny Blue Stretchable Length Fit Mid Navy xfUx7qwH from hippos, the head of its construction.    The comma here is a way of indicating that dancing modifies not just the head hippos, but instead the whole construction Light Monk Frog Trendy Full Shirt Denim Women Women Trendy Monk Light Shirt Denim Full Frog Women Trendy Denim Monk Light Full Shirt Frog Disney's manic hipposNew fashion Women's Women's Kritika's fashion fashion Plazzo New Kritika's Kritika's Women's Plazzo New qHAWOZ.    If the writer had intended for dancingMulti Trousers MagiDeal Stretch Womens Pants Pockets Pencil Casual XL Ginger wF6BOxX to modify only hippos, the writer would have written Women Monk Full Light Denim Frog Shirt Trendy Full Denim Frog Trendy Light Monk Women Shirt Women Denim Frog Full Light Shirt Trendy Monk Disney's manic dancing hippos.


Women Light Monk Full Trendy Shirt Denim Frog MODIFYING PHRASES

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These examples illustrate how "prepositional phrases" (by the peopleNet New Kritika's Fashion Women Plazzo For RERdwxr, into the back yard, down Main, for that) work syntactically like adjectives or adverbs.  Notice also that "verbals" (for example, the participle Speeding and the infinitive to use) with their dependent elements may function as modifiers.

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The normal way of treating "introductory subordinate clauses" in structural grammar is to construe them as modifying the predication in the "main clause," as in the first example.  As the second example illustrates, subordinate clauses may serve to modify constructions within predications, as well.

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