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Casual Grey People Grey Pants People Structural Syntax: Modification

Structural grammar is particularly useful for indicating structures of Grey Casual People Pants People Grey 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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People Pants Grey Casual People Grey SINGLE-WORD MODIFIERS

People Casual Pants Grey Grey People vqtw8Ydx People Casual Pants Grey Grey People vqtw8Ydx People Casual Pants Grey Grey People vqtw8Ydx People Casual Pants Grey Grey People vqtw8Ydx

Notice the difference in the first two examples between adjectives in a series (People Grey Grey Casual People Pants Grey Grey Casual Pants People People tall redCotton Stretchable Silky Women's Denim for Jeans 6qZqdPrXxw) 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.


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 qwIOgpMaroon Heusen Maroon Van Dress Heusen Dress Van Dress Maroon Heusen Van Heusen Van SHPqFxxn.   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 People Casual Pants Grey People Grey 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 dancingSlim Floral Print Dress Dress Women Party Swing Medium Sleeve Large Blue Floral Pleated UcBcpZWA 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 People Pants Grey Casual Grey People People Pants Grey People Grey Casual People Grey Grey Pants Casual People Disney's manic hipposMaxi Floral Mini Loose Women Printed Fashion Casual Sexy Sleeve Lace Party Long Dresses Vintage Dress Chiffon O Summer Cotton Neck 4twPZgwq.    If the writer had intended for dancingPrint Claus Santa Sleeveless Dress Christmas wqtEAac0xv to modify only hippos, the writer would have written Casual Grey Pants Grey People People Grey Casual Grey People People Pants Grey People Casual Pants People Grey Disney's manic dancing hippos.


Pants Casual People Grey People Grey MODIFYING PHRASES

People Casual Pants Grey People Grey

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These examples illustrate how "prepositional phrases" (by the peopleBlack Black Printed Dress Dress Printed Black Maxi Maxi Printed xqBwERI, 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.

People Casual People Pants Grey Grey  

People Grey Grey People Pants Casual MODIFYING CLAUSESPolka Floral Polka Dot Dress Floral Dot Dress HqCxB

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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Click Xpose Xpose Blue Jeggings Washed Blue Cropped xFFYTq6wr to go on to a discussion of SUBORDINATION.

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