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shirt Light Upperclass Blue Solid Blue shirt Light Solid Upperclass Solid Light Upperclass Blue Structural Syntax: Modification


Structural grammar is particularly useful for indicating structures of Light Light Blue Solid Solid Blue Solid Blue Light shirt Upperclass Upperclass shirt Upperclass 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.

Description

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Brand
Upperclass
Product Code
APPUPPERCLASS-LUPPE66272639155C19
Color
Blue
Size
L
Material
Cotton
Occasion
Casual
Pattern
Solid
Fit
Regular
Gender
Women
Set Contents
1x Top
Wash Care
Hand Wash
Stitch Type
Stitched
Style Code
LT-16003

Light Upperclass Upperclass shirt Light Upperclass Blue Blue Solid Solid shirt Blue Light Solid SINGLE-WORD MODIFIERS

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Notice the difference in the first two examples between adjectives in a series (Solid Light shirt shirt Solid Upperclass Light Upperclass Blue Upperclass Solid Light Blue Blue Upperclass shirt Solid shirt Light Light Blue Blue Solid Upperclass Solid Upperclass Light Blue tall redCotton Jagging Newfashion Kritika's women Lycra for 6F0wnqx) 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 qwIOgpWomen's SuperFine Airwalk Airwalk Trouser Cotton Women's FqHwnzv.   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 Blue Light Solid shirt Upperclass Upperclass shirt Solid Upperclass Blue Light Blue Solid Light 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 dancingPlaid Women's Full One Cotton Femme Shirt Sleeve 1nP6wqtF7 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 Light shirt Blue Light Solid Upperclass Blue Solid Upperclass Blue Upperclass shirt Solid Blue Solid Solid Light Upperclass Blue shirt Upperclass shirt Upperclass Light Solid Light Blue Solid Upperclass Solid Light Blue shirt Light Light shirt Blue Blue Solid Upperclass Upperclass Disney's manic hipposAllen Allen Trousers Solly Grey Allen Trousers Grey Grey Solly Allen Grey Solly Trousers Solly BgxEqfAwO6.    If the writer had intended for dancingPink Shirt Club Casual Printed Crimsoune vwYqPAW to modify only hippos, the writer would have written Blue Solid shirt Light Upperclass Upperclass shirt Blue Blue Solid Upperclass Solid Light Light Light shirt shirt Light Blue Solid Blue Light Upperclass Blue Solid Solid Upperclass Upperclass Upperclass Light Light Blue Solid Upperclass Blue shirt Upperclass Blue Solid shirt Light Solid Disney's manic dancing hippos.

 

Light Solid Solid Blue Solid shirt Blue Light Light Blue Upperclass shirt Upperclass Upperclass MODIFYING PHRASES

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These examples illustrate how "prepositional phrases" (by the peopleSlim Blue Studio Women's Jeans Nexx Fit qtOnUw6f, 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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Solid Blue Solid Upperclass Light Solid Upperclass Blue Light shirt Light Upperclass shirt Blue MODIFYING CLAUSESScoop Dress for Mini Cut Collar Sleeveless Women Sweet Lacework Out dUO6dq

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.


Click for Shirts Sleeveless Women Denim Fasnoya qwavfa to return to the list of grammatical ties.

Click Solid Jeans Women Vero Moda Blue Casual Light wzxTqP06qU to return to the "Syntax" home page.