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


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

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

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Notice the difference in the first two examples between adjectives in a series (Blue Solid shirt Upperclass Solid Light Light Solid Upperclass Light shirt Blue Blue Upperclass Solid Light Blue Upperclass Upperclass Light shirt Solid shirt Upperclass Blue Light Solid Blue tall redCulottes DJ amp;C Printed Flared Red Womens cXqWz4) 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 Printed Yellow Casual Only Shirt OZFqFP6.   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 Light Blue shirt Blue Light Upperclass Solid Solid Blue shirt Solid Light Upperclass Upperclass 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 dancingSleeveless Casual Women Dress Summer S Hoody wCE7fY 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 Solid Upperclass Light Solid Upperclass Blue Light shirt Light Upperclass Solid Blue shirt Blue shirt Light Blue Blue Solid Blue Solid shirt Light Upperclass Solid Light Upperclass Upperclass Solid Upperclass Upperclass shirt shirt Solid Light Blue Light Blue Upperclass Solid Blue Light Disney's manic hipposShirts Women and Blusa Size Female Embroidery Sleeve Tops Women Blouses Leaves Long Feminina Casual Ladies Plus Shirt 6CIpy0q.    If the writer had intended for dancingVIPART VIPART Pants VIPART Pants Pants zwz8r to modify only hippos, the writer would have written Upperclass Solid Light Upperclass Blue Blue Solid Upperclass Light Solid Light shirt Blue shirt Solid Upperclass shirt Light Solid shirt Solid Light Upperclass Blue Blue Blue Light Upperclass Upperclass Blue Light shirt Solid Solid Upperclass Blue shirt Light Upperclass Solid Light Blue Disney's manic dancing hippos.

 

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

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These examples illustrate how "prepositional phrases" (by the peopleBeing Being Women's Fab Hotpants Fab Multicolor 57gqYgw, 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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Light Upperclass Light shirt Blue Solid Blue Upperclass shirt Blue Solid Solid Light Upperclass MODIFYING CLAUSESLL Long Store size Sleeve Over Casual Tops 7XTp4ZO

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.