A Grammar for Reading and Writing by girlbanks

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									A Grammar for Reading and Writing
We do not read words, one by one. Meaning is contained not so much in individual words as in collections of words conveying broader or more specific ideas. Readers thus make sense of a sentence by breaking it into meaningful chunks and examining their interrelationships. Skillful writers focus not so much on individual words, as on creating and rephrasing larger phrases and clauses. The topics covered here describe the "meaningful chunks" of English sentence structure. In so doing they examine key grammatical principles underlying effective reading and writing. Speaking Constructions, Not Words When discussing speech, we say we know something when we can repeat it "word for word." Yet, when we speak, we do not really speak "one word at a time." We break the flow of words into chunks. And we do not do this randomly, simply to take a breath now and then. We insert pauses to break the flow into meaningful chunks. We do not say I left my We say: I left my raincoat on the chair. raincoat on the chair.

When we break a sentence into portions, whether by pauses or intonation, we are actually doing grammatical analysis. We break the sentence into chunks to facilitate understanding. Reading and Writing Constructions, Not Words Words appear on a page one word after another. Yet readers do not read word by word, one word at a time. As with speech, we find meaning by grouping words into larger units. You might think that you read the previous sentence word by word: As with larger units. speech, we find meaning by grouping words into

Yet meaning becomes apparent only when you see the line somewhat as: As with speech, we find meaning by grouping words into larger units.

It makes little difference whether we call these units chunks or use more technical terminology (such as phrases and clauses , or the more general term constructions ), the point is the same: We read chunks, not individual words.

The observations above suggest a test: Listen to someone read a passage aloud. You can gauge their understanding by how easily they group words into meaningful chunks as they read. Ambiguity The mental process involved in finding meaning in a string of words is most apparent when various alternative readings make sense that is, in situations that are ambiguous. She did not marry him because she loved him. Are they married? It depends on how you read the sentence: She did not marry him because she loved him. They are not married. She did not marry him because she loved him. She married him for other reasons. We find meaning by deciding on a meaningful way to analyze the sentence. In so doing we often attempt to recreate the natural pauses and emphasis that might indicate structure were the words spoken. Try another one. The drunk driver hit her head on Wednesday Who was hit? How? Do we know the gender of the driver? Do we know the nature of the accident? In an effort to make sense of the sentence, we analyze it various ways. The drunk driver The drunk driver The drunk driver hit her head hit her hit on Wednesday head on her head Wednesday on Wednesday

We find meaning by finding ways to break the sentence into meaningful chunks. In the first, the driver's own head is injured on a specific day. The driver is female. The drunk driver hit her head on Wednesday

In the second instance, the driver hit a female in a head on collision. The drunk driver hit her head on Wednesday

In the third, and more improbable, alternative a drunk driver somehow hit a female's head. The drunk driver hit her head on Wednesday

Maybe she was leaning over into traffic! Should we come upon such a sentence within a text, we would look to the context to decide which reading is appropriate. Structure and Meaning

Finally, consider the following three sentences: 1. The boy ate the apple in the pie. 2. The boy ate the apple in the summer. 3. The boy ate the apple in a hurry. At first glance, the three sentences seem to have the same structure. 1. The boy 2. The boy 3. The boy ate ate ate the apple the apple the apple in the pie. in the summer. in a hurry.

As we try to find meaning in the sentences, however, we discover that their structure is different: 1. The boy ate 2. The boy ate the apple 3. The boy how we break a sentence up. Punctuation often helps in this effort, but punctuation marks only certain boundaries. There is the story of the English teacher who wrote the following words on the board and asked the students to punctuate the sentence: Woman without her man is nothing. Students came away with different meanings, depending on how they grouped the words. (Reach an understanding of the sentence yourself, then see the footnote for the results.) (1) Slots, Constructions, and Meaning Once we recognize that we actually read chunks, we might then ask: · How do we recognize chunks? What do they look like? the apple in the pie. in the summer. ate the apple in a hurry.

And that leads to two other questions: · · Where in a sentence do these chunks normally fall, and What meaning can we attach to a particular chunks that is, to a particular grammatical construction occurring in a particular position in a sentence?

Complete Reference: The Noun Phrase looks at the most common construction in English sentences. Other sections identify particular positions or slots within a

sentence and the meaning attached to the various constructions appearing in those positions.

(1) Some read the words as: Woman, without her man, is nothing. Others read the same words as: Woman! Without her, man is nothing. We find, to a great extent, what we want to find!

Complete Reference: The Noun Phrase
Full References The discussion of the choice of language noted that a single concept is often signaled by a variety of words, each word possessing slightly different connotations. We can indicate that people are less than content by saying they are angry , irate , incensed , perturbed , upset , furious , or mad. The broader our vocabulary, the greater our options and the more precisely we can convey our meaning. And yet no matter how wide our vocabulary may be, a single word is often insufficient. A single word, by itself, can appear somewhat vague, no matter how specific that word might seem. The term `dog’ may be specific compared to `mammal,’ but it is general compared to `collie.’ And `collie’ is general compared to `Lassie.’ Then again, many different dogs played Lassie! Suppose you want to indicate a female person across the room. If you don’t know her name, what do you say? That girl. If there were more than one, this alone would be too general. It lacks specificity. The girl in the blue Hawaiian shirt x The taller of the two cheerleaders by the water cooler

When a single term will not supply the reference we need, we add terms to focus or limit a more general term. Instead of referring to drugs in a discussion, we might refer to hallucinogenic drugs. We might distinguish between hard drugs and prescription drugs . In so doing we modify the notion of a drug to describe the specific one, or ones, we have in mind. (Then again, at times we are forced to use many words when we cannot recall the one that will really do, as when we refer to that funny device doctors pump up on your arm to measure blood pressure instead of a sphygmomanometer ). This section examines how we construct full and specific references using noun phrases. An ability to recognize complete noun phrases is essential to reading ideas rather than words. A knowledge of the various possibilities for constructing extended noun pharses is essential for crafting precide and specific references. Nouns To begin our discussion, we must first establish the notion of a noun.

English teachers commonly identify nouns by their content. They describe nouns as words that "identify people, places, or things," as well as feelings or ideas—words like salesman , farm , balcony , bicycle , and trust. If you can usually put the word a or the before a word, it’s a noun. If you can make the word plural or singular, it's a noun. But don't worry...all that is needed at the moment is a sense of what a noun might be. Noun Pre-Modifiers What if a single noun isn't specific enough for our purposes? modify a noun to construct a more specific reference? How then do we

English places modifiers before a noun. Here we indicate the noun that is at the center of a noun phrase by an asterisk (*) and modifiers by arrows pointed toward the noun they modify. white house * large man * Modification is a somewhat technical term in linguistics. It does not mean to change something, as when we "modify" a car or dress. To modify means to limit, restrict, characterize, or otherwise focus meaning. We use this meaning throughout the discussion here.
Modifiers before the noun are called pre-modifiers. noun together form a noun phrase . All of the pre-modifiers that are present and the

NOUN

PHRASE

pre-modifiers noun * By contrast, languages such as Spanish and French place modifiers after the noun casa blanca * homme grand * The most common pre-modifiers are adjectives, such as red , long , hot . Other types of words often play this same role. Not only articles the water * big man white house

but also verbs

running

water *

and possessive pronouns her thoughts * Premodifiers limit the reference in a wide variety of ways. Order: Location: Source or Origin: Color:
Smell:

second, last kitchen, westerly Canadian red, dark
acrid, scented

Material: Size: Weight: Luster:

metal, oak large, 5-inch heavy shiny, dull

A number of pre-modifiers must appear first if they appear at all. Specification: Designation: Ownership/Possessive: Number: a, the, every this, that, those, these my, our, your, its, their, Mary’s one, many

These words typically signal the beginning of a noun phrase. Some noun phrases are short: the table  Some are long: the second shiny red Swedish touring sedan *

* a large smelly red Irish setter * my carved green Venetian glass salad bowl * the three old Democratic legislators * Notice that each construction would function as a single unit within a sentence. (We offer a test for this below,) The noun phrase is the most common unit in English sentences. That prevalence can be seen in the following excerpt from an example from the section on the choice of language: The stock market’s summer swoon turned Monday as the Dow Jones industrial average plunged. The stock market’s summer swoon turned into * into a dramatic rout

a dramatic rout *

Monday as the Dow Jones industrial average plunged. * * To appreciate the rich possibilities of pre-modifiers, you have only to see how much you can expand a premodifier in a noun phrase: the the the the the the the book history book American history book illustrated American history book recent illustrated American history book recent controversial illustrated American history book recent controversial illustrated leather bound American history book

Noun Post-Modifiers We were all taught about pre -modifiers: adjectives appearing before a noun in school. Teachers rarely speak as much about adding words after the initial reference. Just as we find pre -modifiers, we also find post -modifiers— modifiers coming after a noun. The most common post-modifier is prepositional phrases: the book on the table *

civil conflict in Africa * the Senate of the United States * Post-modifiers can be short a dream * or long, as in Martin Luther King Jr.’s reference to a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former

slaves

* and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together

at a table of brotherhood.

What does King have? A dream? No. He has a specific dream. Once we are sensitive to the existence of noun phrases, we recognize a relatively simple structure to the sentence. Here we recognize a noun phrase with a very long post-modifier—thirty-two words to be exact. We do not get lost in the flow of words, but recognize structure. At the point that we recognize structure within the sentence, we recognize meaning. (Notice also that post-modifiers often include clauses which themselves include complete sentences, as in the last example above.) Post-modifiers commonly answer the traditional news reporting questions of who , what , where , when , how , or why . Noun post-modifiers commonly take the following forms: prepositional phrase * _ing phrase the girl running to the store * _ed past tense * the man wanted by the police the dog in the store

wh - clauses * that/which clauses

the house where I was born

the thought that I had yesterday *

If you see a preposition, wh - word ( which, who, when where ), -ing verb form, or that or which after a noun, you can suspect a post-modifier and the completion of a noun phrase.

The noun together with all pre- and post-modifiers constitutes a single unit, a noun phrase that indicates the complete reference. Any agreement in terms of singular/plural is with the noun at the center. The boys on top of the house * Here the noun at the center of the noun phrase is plural, so a plural form of the verb is called for (not a singular form to agree with the singular house) . The Pronoun Test In school, we were taught that pronouns replaced nouns . Not so. Pronouns replace complete noun phrases . Pronoun replacement thus offers a test of a complete noun phrase. Consider: The boy ate the apple in the pie. What did he eat? The boy ate * Want proof? Introduce the pronoun `it’ into the sentence. replaces a noun, we’d get *The boy ate No native speaker would say that! The boy ate the it in the pie. They’d say it. If a pronoun truly the apple in the pie. are .............

The pronoun replaces the complete noun phrase, the apple in the pie . Boxes Within Boxes: Testing for a Complete Noun Phrase The goal of reading, we noted above, is not to recognize grammatical features, but to find meaning. The goal is not to break a sentence or part of a sentence into as small pieces as possible, but to break it into chunks in such a way that fosters the discovery of meaning.

Consider one of the examples above of a prepositional phrase as a post-modifier: the book on the table Book is a noun at the center of the noun phrase. But table is also a noun. we analyze the noun phrase completely, on all levels, we find: the book on the table * on the table  * If

We can have prepositional phrase within prepositional phrase within prepositional phrases: …the book on the table in the kitchen… * on the table in the kitchen… * in the kitchen … * We don't want to recognize every little noun phrase. We want to recognize the larger ones that shape the meaning. The book is not "on the table." The book is "on the table in the kitchen." The Senate of the United States is composed of two legislators from each State. Question: Who is in the Senate? a) two legislators b) two legislators from each State? The answer is b). The full Senate consists of two from each state (100 people), not simply two! We read the sentence as The Senate of the United States is composed of

two legislators from each State. * If we read the sentence as

The Senate of the United States is composed of two legislators from each State. we miss the meaning. Earlier we noted that pre -modifiers in noun phrase can be expanded to significant length. For the most part, we increased the length of the pre-modifier by adding additional adjectives, a word or two at a time. Noun phrase post modifiers can be expanded to much greater lengths. We can add long phrases which themselves contain complete sentences. the park where I hit a home run when I was in the ninth grade .

*
The sentence within the post-modifier is printed in boldface. The following sentence indicates something was lost. What was lost?

He lost the book by Mark Twain about the Mississippi that he took out of the library on Sunday before the game so that he could study during half time when his brother was getting popcorn. The answer is the complete phrase ……… the book by Mark Twain about the Mississippi that he took out of the library on Sunday before the game so that he could study during half time when his brother was getting popcorn. The base term book is modified as to author (Mark Twain), topic (about the Mississippi), as well as intent or purpose (that he took out of the library on Sunday before the game so that he could study during half time when his brother was getting popcorn.) We assume that he has another book by Twain about the Mississippi that he did not lose. Want proof? What would be replaced by `it’? The full reference of a noun phrase is often `conveniently’ ignored in movie advertisements. Janet Maslin, movie critic for The New York Times , complained when an advertisement for the video tape of John Grisham’s "The Rainmaker" quoted her as describing the movie as director Francis Ford Coppola’s `best and sharpest film,’ when, in fact, her review stated: John Grisham’s "The Rainmaker" is Mr. Coppola’s best and sharpest film in years. (1) The original quotation does not refer to the `best and sharpest film’ of Coppola’s career, but to his `best and sharpest film in years.’

Noun Phrases: The Dominant Construction

Finally, the degree to which noun phrases are the dominant construction within texts can be seen in the opening paragraph of the Text for Discussion: Annotation - Needle Exchange Programs and the Law - Time for a Change. The complete noun phrases appear within square brackets and appear in red. (1) In [ his social history of venereal disease ], [ No Magic Bullet ], [ Allan M. Brandt ]describes[ the controversy in the US military about preventing venereal disease among soldiers during World War I ]. Should there be [ a disease prevention effort that recognized that many young American men would succumb to the charms of French prostitutes ], or should there be [ a more punitive approach to discourage sexual contact ]? Unlike[ the New Zealand Expeditionary forces ], which gave[ condoms ]to[ their soldiers ],[ the United States ]decided to give [ American soldiers ][after-the-fact, and largely ineffective, chemical prophylaxis ]. [ American soldiers ]also were subject to [ court martial ] if they contracted[ a venereal disease ]. [ These measures ] failed. [ More than 383,000 soldiers ]were diagnosed with[ venereal diseases ]between April 1917 and December 1919 and lost [ seven million days of active duty ]. [ Only influenza ], which struck in [ an epidemic ], was [ a more common illness among servicemen ]. Implications For Reading and Writing The above discussion introduces a number of concepts crucial to effective reading and writing.  We do not read texts word by word, but chunk by chunk. We must read each grammatical construction as a single unit. Deciphering sentences involves isolating phrases within a sentence and recognizing where long phrases begin and end. To write well is not to string words together, but to string together larger phrases, to create full references that carefully distinguish one idea from another, going beyond talking in vague generalities. We can increase the clarity and sophistication of our thought by using extended phrases instead of single words.



Sophisticated thought is qualified thought. Intelligent discussion goes beyond either/or or black-or-white views of the world to recognize nuances and distinctions. Remarks can be    extended (made broader or more general) , qualified (restricted in some way), or limited (made more specific or less encompassing).

We don’t really make sentences longer by adding at the end so much as expanding each chunk Good writers carefully distinguish between all, most, many , some, few, and one. They specify the specific time, condition, or circumstances an assertion is true. Some claims are made for certain, some "in all probability" or "within a specific margin of error," some for given conditions. Good writers carefully distinguish between all, most, many, some, few, and one. They specify the specific time, condition, or circumstances an assertion is true.

Some claims are made for certain, some "in all probability" or "within a specific margin of error," some for given conditions. When drawing careful distinctions, authors are not being wishy-washy or nit picking. They are simply being precise. They are saying exactly what they want to say or feel secure in saying based on the available evidence. Weak writers can achieve an immediate gain in the level of thought of their writing by taking advantages of the opportunities for adding pre- and post-modifiers. For writers, this model is a reminder of the opportunity to extend, limit, or otherwise shape a specific idea. You can greatly increase the sophistication and depth of thought of your work by taking advantage of these pre- and postmodifier "slots". Having written a statement, you might go back in editing to see how you can further shape your thoughts by making use of these slots. The Constitution is the nation’s charter, and lawmakers should resist the temptation to push for amendments every time an election year rolls around. Notice how much richer the next sentence is (additional modifiers in bold face) . The Constitution of the United States is the nation’s bedrock charter, and devoted lawmakers sworn to uphold it should resist the dangerous temptation to push for pandering amendments every time an election year rolls around.

(1) Janet Maslin, `When Phrases That Flatter Are Misused,’ The New YorkTimes , Arts & Leisure section, August 23, 1998, p. 9.

Sentence and Predicate Modifiers
At times when reading, we come away with little, if any, understanding. We see the trees, but not the forest. We may miss the meaning for a number of reasons. We may not know the meaning of certain words or the concepts to which they refer. Even when we understand the words, we may come away with little understanding because the writing itself is particularly complex. In this latter instance, it is often helpful to apply grammatical analysis, to consciously attempt to break the sentence into meaningful units. A Model Of English Sentence Structure All English sentences follow the same basic formula. All speakers of the language are familiar with that formula, and yet this model is rarely if ever taught. (1) The discussion here lays that formula out. The discussion of noun phrases demonstrated the need to recognize grammatical constructions as complete units. There we were concerned with a single grammatical construction irrespective of where it appeared within a sentence.

This section looks more broadly at the sentence as a whole. It identifies various positions or slots within the sentence and discusses how constructions appearing within these slots shape the meaning of the sentence as a whole. In so doing, the discussion shows you how to make sense of complex sentences when you come across them in your reading, and how to construct them in your own writing. Simple, Compound, and Complex Sentences Simple sentences contain a subject and predicate--a topic and a statement about that topic. More complicated sentences can be formed by stringing elements of a simple sentences together to make compound sentences or by adding other elements to make a complex sentence . These pages focuss on three ways of expanding a simple sentence into a complex sentence:    Sentence Modifiers Predicate Modifers Inserts

For background discussion of simple and compound sentences, see Simple Sentences . Review: Sentence and Predicate Modifiers
We read all sentences with a dual awareness of both meaning and structure. We break each sentence into meaningful chunks and figure out their grammatical relationships: Recall our three model sentences: 1. The boy ate the apple in the pie. 2. The boy ate the apple in the summer. 3. The boy ate the apple in a hurry.

We can now see how we analyze these sentences differently to find meaning. Using the notation above, we now see the following structures: 1. The boy ate * 2. The boy ate the apple the apple in the pie.

[

in the summer.

3. The boy

ate the apple

{

in a hurry

}

To understand each sentence, we must analyze the relationship of its parts. That process is made easier with a knowledge of and a feeling for the various possible relationships: here noun modifiers, sentence modifiers, and predicate modifiers. Remember the sentence He did not marry her because he loved her. The two meanings stem from two equally legitimate analyses. In the analysis He did not marry her

[

because he loved her

they are not married. The phrase because he loved her is in the end sentence modifier slot that modifies the remainder of the sentence. We can test this by shifting the final construction from the end to the front slot. He did not marry her Because he loved her , he did not marry her because he loved her

Note the addition here of the comma when the front slot is filled. In the analysis He did not marry her they still might be married for other reasons. The phrase because he loved her is determined to be in the predicate modifier slot, indicating a reason for marrying. He did not marry her {because he loved her} because he loved her

Examples
Other instances of grammatical ambiguity typically appear in headlines, as the following. Lung Cancer in Women Mushrooms We can now read this as a reference to a certain disease Lung Cancer in Women Mushrooms * Female mushrooms have cancer! Lung Cancer in Women * Cancer in women is increasing—obviously the intended meaning!. Analyze the following yourself. · · Reagan Wins on Budget, But More Lies Ahead Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant Or as an event Mushrooms

· · · ·

Two Sisters Reunited after 18 Years in Checkout Counter Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors Killer Sentenced to Die for Second Time in 10 Years

Other examples can be found in "The Lower case" section of the Columbia Journalism Review : (5) : Thai Hospital Admits Starving Refugee Babies The Cambodia Daily , 2/26/98 Salad still good after 50 years Tribune-Star (Terra Haute, Ind.) 3/11/98
Transportation department to hold public meetings on I-49

The Times (Shreveport, La.) 3/19/98 MEDIA: Some Fear Coverage Reflects Judgment Los Angeles Times 1/29/98 Can you distinguish between ambiguity of word meaning and grammatical ambiguity? Implications For Reading What does the above analysis do for us? To find meaning in a sentence, we must break it into meaningful parts, and we must understand how those parts are related to each other. When we group words into larger constructions, we accomplish two goals. First. we reduce the complexity of the sentence as a whole into smaller, more manageable parts. In so doing, we group words to identify complete references. The meaning we come away with depends on how we break up (analyze) a sentence. The best strategy is to initially break the sentence into a few parts. Locate a basic simple sentence and identify how any remaining constructions are related to that basic simple sentence. The slot model offers a template for that effort. Earlier we recognized King's full dream. Within the construction defining that dream we can now recognize a time, a location, and an event: one day on the red hills of Georgia

the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. We find a complex sentence consisting of two front sentence modifiers followed by a simple sentence with a predicate modifier at the end one day

]

on the red hills of Georgia

]

the sons of former slaves and the sons of

former slaveowners will be able to sit down together Finally, consider the following sentence:

{

at a table of brotherhood.

When Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee met in the parlor of a modest house at Appomattox Court House, Virginia to work out the terms for the surrender of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, a great chapter in American life came to a close and a greater chapter began. At first, this appears to be a long and complex sentence. When we draw on the notions reviewed above, however, we see that its structure is really simple. We have a front sentence modifier When Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee met in the parlor of a modest house at Appomattox Court House, Virginia to work out the terms for the surrender of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia,

]

a great chapter in American life came to a close and a greater chapter began. followed by a series of simple sentences a great chapter in American life came to a close and a great new chapter began To test this analysis, try shifting the modifier: A great chapter in American life came to a close, and a great new chapter began.

[

when Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee met in the parlor of a modest house at Appomattox Court House, Virginia to work out the terms for the surrender of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. The large construction passes the test for a sentence modifier. While that large construction may be the most interesting piece of the sentence, it is not the most crucial to the meaning. The main idea of the sentence is about great chapter(s) beginning and ending. The large construction does not identify or describe those chapters; it only says when the shift came.

Implications For Writing

The "slot" model of sentences developed above offers a template into which to fit constructions in the effort to make sense of sentences. The same model offers writers opportunities to qualifying references and ideas in terms of place, quality, time, purpose, type, extent, or conditions. Writing that does not make use of the sentence modifier, predicate modifier, and insert slots can be decidedly childlike in expression and simplistic in thought.

(1) The discussion is based on Robert L. Allen, English Grammars and English Grammar , Scribner's, Scribner's, 1972. Out of print. (2) Letter to Editor, The New York Times , May 8, 1998 (Printed May 12, 1998), by Charlton Heston, NRA First Vice-President (3) William H. Dunlop, Letter to the Editor, The New York Times , Austin edition, June 10, 1998, p. A28. (4) Pete Hamill, Twenty Seven Words-The Bloody Problem of the Second Amendment , (Mightywords, 2000), www.mightywords.com, p. 4. (5) The examples from March/April and May/June 1998 issues.
Sentence Modifiers The sentence modifier slot holds constructions that modify the remainder of the sentence, much as pre- and post-modifiers modify a central noun in a noun phrase. pre-modifier noun post-modifier *  ———— [ SENTENCE MODIFIER

———  SENTENCE MODIFIER ] subject + predicate

We shall mark front and end sentence modifiers with the notion front modifier ] ................................ [ end modifier Recall the second model sentence from the set of three at the introduction to this section: 2. The boy ate the apple [ in the summer.

Here the final phrase, in the summer , modifiers the earlier sentence as a whole. It indicates when the boy at the apple. What proof do we have that this last phrase really modifiers the remainder of the sentence as a whole? The proof lies in the fact that



the main portion can stand alone as a simple sentence, and The boy ate the apple.



the modifier portion of the sentence can be shifted between the front and back without essentially changing the meaning.

(Emphasis may change slightly, and there is a stylistic convention of putting short sentence modifiers

first.) The boy ate the apple In the summer The boy ate the apple. in the summer .

There are, in effect, front and end "slots" that can be filled with comments on the remainder of the sentence. You can, with little trouble imagine all sorts of comments that might be inserted into the sentence modifier slots at the front and end of the sentence. ________________ ] the boy ate the apple [ ________________

Note that in the test for a sentence modifier does not work with the other two of the three sample sentences: 1. * In the pie. 3. * In a hurry the boy ate the apple. the boy ate the apple.

Here the sentences are clearly incorrect, or at least awkward. We will explain what is happening in the final model sentence in a moment. Grammatical Constructions Filling Sentence Modifier Slots Any slot in a sentence can be described in terms of the position of that slot, the constructions that can fill that slot, and the meaning imparted by construction within that slot. Sentence modifier slots can be filled by anything from a single word, Yesterday, to long phrases. Whenever it rains, … After the game was over and we had lost our third game... Because it would be senseless any other way... Content Sentence modifiers typically

  

qualify (in what way, under what conditions), limit, or set conditions or circumstances (for whom, why, when, where), or indicated reasons or conclusions.

Punctuation Sentence modifiers generally take a comma when they appear at the front of a sentence and are more than a single word. No comma ever appears before a sentence modifier in the end position. SENTENCE MODIFIER ] , _______________________ [ SENTENCE MODIFIER

The comma brackets off the front sentence modifier. Stylistically, shorter constructions appear early, and after a comma; longer one's appear at the end. Tactics and Strategies Some basic tactics and strategies for reading and writing should be apparent. You can make better sense of long and complicated sentence by attempting to recognize sentence

modifiers. If a sentence begins with a word like whenever , after , because, or in , the odds are you have a sentence modifier in the front slot. If a sentence begins with the, a, every, or my , that is, with any of the words that commonly begin noun phrases, the odds are that there is no sentence modifier in the front position. But there may still be one in the end position. As a writer, you can shape your thoughts more carefully and specifically by adding sentence modifiers. When or where is this true? Why is this the case? Under what circumstances does the remark apply? Examples Amendment II, U. S. Constitution A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. How should we understand this amendment? Is the right to bear arms a right designed only to assure a well regulated militia, or a broader right? To Charlton Heston, President of the National Rifle Association, the answer is clear: The Founders' intent in framing the Second Amendment is perfectly clear and undeniable. Thomas Jefferson wrote, "No man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." .... Some anti-gun elitists declare this notion outdated. However, many constitutional scholars from this country's most prestigious universities agree that the Founders' intent is clear and irreversible: To "keep and bear arms" is a right for all law-abiding citizens. (2) To William H. Dunlop, the situation is quite different: The words "Second Amendment" and "keep and bear arms" will be bandied about ad infinitum, but just as in the N.R.A.s ads, the full amendment will never be seen or heard. Why not? Because the first half of the amendment's "well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State" clearly limits the meaning of the second half, 'the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." (3) Or, in the words of novelist and journalist Pete Hamill, To most literate people, this sentence [the amendment] obviously connects the right to keep and bear arms to the existence of a well-regulated militia. The words seem to say what they do say. That is, the right to keep and bear arms is essential to the existence of a wellregulated militia. (4) This is not the only instance in which a "constitutional comma" matters. During early negotiations the Constitutional Convention of 1787 agreed to include: The Legislature of the United States shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises. The sentence was later extended to indicate how this money was to be spent The Legislature of the United States shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare. In the final version a comma was changed to a semicolon. The Legislature of the United States shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises ; to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general

welfare. Examples of sentence modifiers throughout a text are offered in an annotated versiopn of the Text for Discussion: Annotation - Needle Exchange Programs and the Law - Time for a Change. Predicate Modifiers The final phrase in the first of the three sample sentences was seen to involve an extended noun phrase. 1. The boy ate  The second involved a sentence modifer. 2. The boy ate the apple [ in the summer. the apple in the pie. *  ———

That leaves the final sample sentence 3. The boy ate the apple in a hurry We quickly see that the final phrase is not part of a noun phrase: * The boy ate That is, the final phrase does not help describe the apple. And we recognize that the final phrase cannot shift from one end to the other like a sentence modifier. the apple in a hurry

The boy ate the apple *In a hurry the boy ate the apple.

in a hurry

The result of the shift is somewhat awkward. And we recognize that the phrase does not really say something about the complete remaining sentence. It does not comment on the fact that the boy ate the apple so much as on how he ate the apple. That is, it comments on the predicate. The boy ate the apple in a hurry

In a hurry modifies the action, or, in more formal terms, the predicate. A construction in the predicate modifier slot modifies how the action took place, often with adverbs (such as, slowly) but also with prepositional phrases, as in the sentence above. Here we use curly parentheses to mark predicate modifiers. 3. The boy ate the apple { in a hurry }

From the above, we have identified one more slot within sentences, the predicate modifier. Predicate modifiers appear at the end of sentences, but within the boundary of any final sentence modifier. ] SUBJECT PREDICATE { PREDICATE MODIFIER } [

The test of a predicate modifier is

  

that it is not part of a noun phrase, and that it is not a sentence modifier, i.e., that it does not shift from end to front ( or it would not be a predicate modifier, but a sentence modifier), and , finally, that it comments on the predicate, on how, or why, or when an action occurred.

Constructions Filling the Predicate Modifier Slot Predicate modifier slots can be filled by anything from a single word, Quickly, or a phrase. With gusto… Content Predicate modifiers typically

   

qualify the predicate (in what way or manner) limit or set conditions or circumstances on the predicate (for whom, when, where) indicated reasons or conditions (why) indicate manner, time, or conditions on the predicate,

Predicate modifiers always comment on the action or predicate, not on the thought of the sentence as a whole. Punctuation A comma never separates a predicate modifier from the predicate itself. (If a comma occurs between the predicate and predicate modifier, it usually signals the presence of an insert [see Inserts )

Simple Sentences: Subject and Predicate Think of baby sentences: Johnny hungry. Cat run.

English sentences are composed of a topic and something said about that topic, commonly referred to as the subject and predicate. SENTENCE = SUBJECT + PREDICATE

The subject and predicate are often described as a topic and a comment, what is being talked about (the subject) and what is being said about it (the predicate). Each of these elements is characterized by a combination of three elements or perspectives: · · · a position or slot within a sentence a certain form or type of grammatical construction a certain meaning

Thus the subject of a sentence typically · · · occurs at the beginning of the sentence (position), consists of a noun phrase (form), and indicates the topic of the discussion (meaning).

The predicate · · · follows the subject, starts with a verb indicating an action or state of being, and conveys a thought about the subject.

The surest test of the complete subject in a sentence is to turn a statement into a yes/no question. All men are created equal. Make a yes/no question Are all men created equal.

The subject ( all men ) is the part around which the initial question word ( are ) moves. Are All men are created equal. ________ With some sentences you have to make the verb emphatic to form a question—for example, change ran into did run —to pick up the part of the verb that moves forward to make the question. He He Did he did ran to the store. run to the store. run to the store?.

Here the verb did moves around the subject He. A subject and predicate, together, form a simple sentence. As used here, the term "simple" refers to the basic structure of a sentence. Simple sentences can be short or long, and can express simple or complex thoughts and may contain complex constructions, but the basic structure of the sentence is simple. Here are two simple sentences: John ate spaghetti. The boy from Conosha with the funny earring in his left ear devoured a dish of delicious Italian pasta a la Milanese. These two sentences have the same structure: John ate

spaghetti. The boy from Conosha with the funny earring in his

a dish of delicious Italian pasta a la Milanese.

left ear devoured

Both are simple sentences from a structural point of view. They both consist of a subject and a predicate indicating what the subject did. They are both composed of two noun phrases and a verb. They both can be reduced with pronouns to He ate it. Note that length alone does not determine structure, although it is often a factor. We are concerned

with the complexity of structure, not length. Finally, besides the pronoun test, another test of a simple sentence is that we generally cannot leave any portion of the original sentence out without significantly changing the meaning. Any discussion composed only of simple sentences would seem childish in expression. While simple sentences are useful for emphasis or clarity, as when summing up an argument, simple sentences alone do not allow for expressing complex thoughts. They are not conducive to asserting relationships or qualifying thoughts. To develop a sentence further we have to add stuff. This can be done in one of two ways: · · we can simply multiply the elements that are there, or we can add additional elements.

The first instance produces what is known as compound sentences, the second complexsentences. Complex is the more general term. It suggests a degree of additional structure beyond a simple sentence. Compound refers to a specific and limited type of complexity. Series -- Compounding Elements The term "compound" can be interpreted as "repeating" or "multiple." In a compound sentence one or more elements are simply repeated. The subject can be multiple The boy, his sister, and his dog went swimming. (1) The boy, (2) his sister, and (3) his dog went swimming. The verb may be compound They ran, swam, and laughed.. They (1) ran, (2) swam, and (3) laughed.. A full predicate may consist of a series of remarks: He He moved here, found a job, and sent my kids to school. (1) moved here, (2) found a job, and (3) sent my kids to school. Two or more sentence can be compounded into one: This is where I call home; this is where I'll die. (1) This is where I call home;

(2) this is where I'll die. or This is where I call home, so this is where I'll die. (1) This is where I call home, so (2) this is where I'll die. Here we have two simple sentences linked together. used to describe such cases. The term "compound sentence" is generally

When individual elements within a sentence are repeated, the series is divided by commas. The comma stands for, in effect, the word and . The comma before the final item, before and , is often optional, but it is used here to make clear that the final two elements are not a pair, as in milk, bacons and eggs-- as opposed to the three items milk, bacon, and eggs. . When sentences are compounded, they are divided by and, a semicolon, or by a compounding term and a comma. Sentence one Sentence one Sentence one ; and ; however sentence two sentence two sentence two.

Compound sentences are commonly joined with and , but

, or , nor , so , yet and for .

Inserts
Inserts are one of the most common and powerful devices of English grammar, and yet one that is hardly discussed in traditional grammar. The section on sentence structure introduces the slot model for describing sentences. Here we use that model to describe a feature of English sentences that is generally not covered, or covered poorly, by other models of sentence structure. In keeping with the earlier slot model, we describe inserts in terms of their position, grammatical construction, and meaning. The Position of Inserts Inserts are, as their name implies, inserted remarks. Inserts, can, appropriately enough, appear anywhere within a sentence, including at the beginning or ending of a sentence.
( INSERT ) Subject ( INSERT ) Predi—( INSERT ) --cate ( INSERT )

You can see inserts at work in the previous sentences. Inserts are marked in bold face.

Inserts are, as their name implies , inserted remarks. Inserts can, appropriately enough , appear anywhere within a sentence, including at the beginning or ending of a sentence. Or, using the notation of parentheses to mark the inserts, Inserts are, ( as their name implies ) , inserted remarks. Inserts can, ( appropriately enough ) , appear anywhere within a sentence, ( including at the beginning or ending of a sentence) . The brackets separate the inserts from the remainder of the sentence. If we remove the inserts, we are left with a basic sentence. Inserts are, ( .................................. ) , inserted remarks. ( ........................ ) , appear anywhere within a sentence, .................................) Inserts can, (

[A careful reader will quickly realize that when inserts appear at the front or end of a sentence, they can be confused with sentence modifiers, a point we will get to in a moment. Hint: remember the test for sentence modifiers.) The Grammatical Constructions within Inserts Inserts can take various forms, but are usually short phrases or clauses. The Meaning of Inserts Inserts contain material that is not essential for the meaning of the sentence as a whole. Inserts generally     provide additional information offer clarifying remarks hedge or qualify contain editorial comments

Inserts can range from relatively important concerns to frivolous remarks. Inserts often indicate a contrasting element, especially at the end of a sentence      He was merely ignorant, not stupid . The chimpanzee seemed reflective, almost human . The speaker seemed innocent, even gullible . Some say the world will end in ice, not fire . The puppies were cute, but incredibly messy .

A basic test of inserts is that they can be removed with essentially no loss of meaning. Punctuation of Inserts In keeping with the notion of being inserted material—both in terms of their insertion into the sentence and in terms of their containing additional material inserted into the discussion—inserts are usually bracketed off from the remainder of the sentence by commas or other punctuation.

If commas are present in a sentence and they do not    indicate a sequence of items (as in bottles , boxes , and cans) , or separate a front sentence modifier from the rest of the sentence (Yesterday , I slept.), or reflect special usage, as with dates (April 6 , 1987) or locations (Austin , Texas)

they probably bracket an insert. (Note that the initial capital letter or final punctuation of a sentence can form one of the brackets of an insert.) The Use Of Inserts Inserts provides a simple way of distinguishing between what traditional grammar otherwise refers to as dependent and independent clauses. Consider the two sentences below: My brother, who is in the first grade, had a headache. My brother who is in the first grade had a headache. In the first, we assume the existence of one brother, who happens to attend the first grade. In the second, we assume the existence of more than one brother, and find a reference to the one who attends first grade. The first sentence contains an insert, as indicated by the punctuation. My brother , ( who is in the first grade ) , had a headache. The second contains an expanded noun phrase for the subject. My brother who is in the first grade  *  —————— had a headache.

This final sentence contains no insert; all of the information is essential for an understanding, and hence is part of the simple sentence. State identifications and titles function much like inserts, with a comma before and after. Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , is a neat town. Jim Jones , Professor of English , entered. Similarly, commas are used to insert the name of a speaker within a quote, a special form of insert. "The book , " he said , "is interesting." Inserts also offer a way to stress elements within a sentence. One way speakers emphasize a word (and hence an idea) is by raising the volume of their voice. Writers do not really have this option, other than maybe by CAPITALIZING and punctuation! Speakers can also introduce a “pregnant pause” that draws attention

to last word uttered and introduces anticipation of the next idea. Writers can achieve somewhat the same effect by introducing inserts. My brother is a chemist. My brother, you recall, is a chemist. The comma before an insert introduces a visual pause that stresses the preceding word. Even a “blank” insert would introduce the same effect. My brother, , is a chemist.

Punctuation and Levels of Insertion Various forms of punctuation (the comma, dash, parentheses, and bracket) indicate progressively lower levels of insertion, that is progressively less important information or comments. An additional form of insertion, when we feel we have to insert something but do not want to break the flow at all, is the footnote. Simple sentence : The Constitution gives the Congress power to declare war.

Commas : The Constitution , our basic law, gives the Congress power to declare war.

Dashes : The Constitution —in Article 1— gives the Congress power to declare war.

Parentheses : The Constitution (or so I believe) gives the Congress power to declare war.

Footnote : The Constitution (1) gives the Congress power to declare war.

Finally, square brackets are used to indicate an insertion of material into a quotation by someone other than the original author. Square Brackets : "The Constitution [of the United States] gives the Congress power to declare war."

The choice of punctuation is determined by the writer's view on the importance of the insertion, and hence the degree to which it is emphasized or de-emphasized. In different contexts, the same insertion could take on more or less importance. Implications For Reading Readers use the knowledge of insert slots in their analysis of complex sentences. By recognizing inserts, they uncover the simple sentences underlying otherwise complex sentences. The role of punctuation as a tool in sentence analysis can be seen in the following passage, the opening to a book review of a psychoanalytic reinterpretation of two novels: One of the reasons that so many people have lost interest in psychoanalysis—as a convincing and useful story about the kind of people we are—is that it has made so many spurious claims for itself. As a science, as an efficient cure for misery, as a secular religion, as a supreme explanation of virtually everything, it is wholly implausible. As one good story—among many others—about what we are and who we want to be, though, it can be remarkably illuminating. There is no cure for being alive, but useful and interesting descriptions of our predicament can make a difference. [2] Notice the opening sentence One of the reasons that so many people have lost interest in psychoanalysis —as a convincing and useful story about the kind of people we are— is that it has made so many spurious claims for itself. A definition of psychoanalysis ( as a convincing and useful story about the kind of people we are ) is inserted within the initial observation. The sentence makes complete sense without that insertion, but the insertion is useful for understanding. As the next sentence starts ( As a science,…. ), we expect a sentence modifier limiting the focus of the discussion, but instead we find reference to a series of possible viewpoints: As a science, as an efficient cure for misery, as a secular religion, as a supreme explanation of virtually everything, it [psychoanalysis] is wholly implausible. The commas here do not mark off inserts but items in a series. The following sentence contains two insertions bracketed off by dashes and then commas: As one good story

—among many others— about what we are and who we want to be , though, it can be remarkably illuminating. the first insert (— among many others —) emphasizes the notion that there are other options to psychoanalysis as a "good story." The second assertion (, though ,) emphasizes the contrast with the earlier observation on the value of psychoanalysis: no longer "wholly implausible", now "remarkably illuminating." Note that dashes are used to bracket somewhat of an aside, added for emphasis, while the commas bracket an insertion that is more critical to assuring the proper understanding. As always with inserts, we can read straight through without the inserts. As one good story ...................................... about what we are and who we want to be , ........................, it can be remarkably illuminating. or As one good story about what we are and who we want to be , it can be remarkably illuminating. This leaves us with a complex sentence containing a chunk in front and a base sentence: it can be remarkably illuminating. How should we understand the structure now? The chunk in front As one good story about what we are and who we want to be , it can be remarkably illuminating. might seem to be a front sentence modifier, but it will not pass the test: it won't shift to the end. * It can be remarkably illuminating, we are and who we want to be , as one good story about what

Whether we place this chunk ( As one good story about what we are and who we want to be) at the beginning or end of the sentence, it is another insert, inserted to define what is meant by "it."

In the final sentence of the paragraph, we can bracket off the end of the sentence: There is no cure for being alive , but useful and interesting descriptions of our predicament can make a difference. We have a series of two simple sentences joined by "but" and divided by a comma. Both elements seem crucial to the meaning. How we analyze a sentence controls how we understand that sentence. When the sentence analysis is spelled out like this, reading seems decidedly difficult and time consuming. In practice, the analysis suggested here is accomplished in split seconds, and usually instinctively. The only reason for spelling it out, as it were, is so that you can apply the technique consciously, slowly, and carefully when needed. The paragraph is repeated below with inserts marked in orange. One of the reasons that so many people have lost interest in psychoanalysis—as a convincing and useful story about the kind of people we are—is that it has made so many spurious claims for itself. As a science, as an efficient cure for misery, as a secular religion, as a supreme explanation of virtually everything, it is wholly implausible. As one good story—among many others—about what we are and who we want to be, though, it can be remarkably illuminating. There is no cure for being alive, but useful and interesting descriptions of our predicament can make a difference. Another Example The following is the opening of a book review of, among other books, David Halberstam's The Children, a history of the early days of the civil right movement. It was lucky for David Halberstam, for the civil rights movement, and for all of us that Halberstam became a reporter for the Nashville Tennessean in 1956. Just a year out of Harvard, he was given a front-row seat for one of the most significant of the early struggles against America's apartheid. The Nashville sit-ins of 1960 were not the first ones ( the honor for that goes to four college students in Greensboro, North Carolina ) but they were the most thoroughly prepared and skillfully conducted. Those who defied the local power structure knew very well what they were risking. For a year they had undergone spiritual exercises under the guidance of a thirty-one-year-old Gandhian, James Lawson, who had served prison time as a conscientious objector during the Korean War and studied nonviolence for three years in India. (3) Note how to make sense of the passage you instinctively separate our chunks It was lucky for David Halberstam, for the civil rights movement, and for all of us that Halberstam became a reporter for the Nashville Tennessean in 1956.

Just a year out of Harvard, ] he was given a front-row seat for one of the most significant of the early struggles against America's apartheid. The Nashville sit-ins of 1960 were not the first ones ( the honor for that goes to North Carolina) but they were the most thoroughly prepared and skillfully conducted. Those who defied the local power structure knew very well what they were risking. For a year ] four college students in Greensboro,

they had undergone spiritual exercises under the guidance of a thirty-one-year-old Gandhian ( , James Lawson, ) ( who had served prison time as a conscientious objector during the Korean War and studied nonviolence for three years in India ) . The paragraph is repeated below with the inserts in orange and sentence modifiers in blue. It was lucky for David Halberstam, for the civil rights movement, and for all of us that Halberstam became a reporter for the Nashville Tennessean in 1956. Just a year out of Harvard, he was given a front-row seat for one of the most significant of the early struggles against America's apartheid. The Nashville sit-ins of 1960 were not the first ones ( the honor for that goes to four college students in Greensboro, North Carolina ) but they were the most thoroughly prepared and skillfully conducted. Those who defied the local power structure knew very well what they were risking. For a year they had undergone spiritual exercises under the guidance of a thirty-one-year-old Gandhian, James Lawson, who had served prison time as a conscientious objector during the Korean War and studied nonviolence for three years in India. Examples of inserts throughout a text are offered in an annotated versiopn of the Text for Discussion: Annotation - Needle Exchange Programs and the Law - Time for a Change. Implications For Writing Using our earlier model, you can think of inserts as slots within a sentence that may or may not be filled as needed. Consider the following sentence: On Wednesday, the board of governors voted to discontinue the employee health plan.

Simple and to the point. Now consider the same sentence, taking advantage of opportunities to provide additional information and to expand on the ideas: As I recall, on Wednesday, June 11th, the board of governors, the source of power in the company, voted (6 to 1) to discontinue the employee health plan, a plan heavily favored by the employees. The sentence conveys a much richer, detailed statement Inserts are an important device for qualifying ideas, adding additional explanatory information, or offering editorial comments that might influence the reader's understanding and acceptance of remarks. Inserts represent potential slots authors can use to expand on, comment on, and/or clarify their remarks. And they use their knowledge of the punctuation requirements of inserts to edit their use of punctuation in their own writing—both to make sure that all inserts are bracketed from the remainder of the sentence, and to avoid introducing unnecessary punctuation.
(1) A footnote such as this might indicate additional historical or legal information about the constitution. (2) Adam Phillips, "Paging Dr. Freud," a review of The King and the Adulteress: A Psychoanalytic and Literary Reinterpretation of "Madame Boivary" and "King Lear" ;, The New York Times Book Review , June 7, 1998, p. 24. (3) Garry Wills, "Those Were the Days," The New York Review , June 25, 1998, p. 27.

The Comma: A Review
Commas are used for a number of specialized purposes: date / year numbers April 9,2001 123,456

Other than these, commas are used under four circumstances:     to to to to separate elements that are compounded or in a longer series bracket off introductory sentence modifiers bracket off inserts avoid ambiguity

Let's review each more closely. To Separate Elements In A Series (Compounding) Noun Phrasestalks about compound noun phrases The boy,his sister,and his dog went swimming. verbs

They run,swam,and laughed. full predicates I moved here,found a job,and sent my kids to school. and even when joining sentences when using a connecting word This is where I call home,sothis is where I'll die. Finally, we can use commas to separate a series of noun phrase premodifiers The big,bad,boisterous baboon...... In all of the cases above, the comma serves asand.A comma occurs after all but the next to last item in the series. Commas are thus used to separate elements that are compounded or in a longer series To Bracket Off Introductory Sentence Modifiers The section onsentence structurediscusses the use a comma to separate off an initial sentence modifier, as with Because he loved her,he did not marry her. To Bracket Off Inserts The section oninsertsshows how to bracket inserts within commas. Remember that inserts can occur anywhere, including at the very beginning or end of a sentence. The determination that an insert is present is based in part on the nature of the content--whether it is truly parenthetical or essential to the overall meaning. To Avoid Ambiguity The final use commas is to avoid a potential misunderstanding, such as when a sentence modifier at the end of a sentence may be mistaken for part of an earlier chunk, as with our sentence He did not marry her, because he loved her.. And that's it. Any other commas (such as between subject and predicate), does not belong. Try this experiment: Give your instructor five dollars for each comma you use in an essay. Your instructor will return five dollars for each comma used correctly. You should come out even. This technique for cutting down on unwanted commas has been heartily endorsed by every English instructor who has tried it. Rules for Comma Usage, http://webster.commnet.edu/hp/pages/darling/grammar/commas.htm

Resolving Ambiguity The relationship of structure and meaning is clearest in the case of ambiguity. Equally legitimate analyses yield equally legitimate (however unintended) meanings. Recall that sentence modifiers and inserts can both appear at the beginning or end of a sentence. This produces a situation with significant possibilities for ambiguity. How then are we to decide if an element at the beginning or end of a sentence is    a sentence modifier an insert or even part of the simple sentence itself,

and with that which meaning of the sentence to accept? We make such judgments on the basis of the nature of the content and the earlier tests. · if the element helps shape the overall meaning and can shift from front to back and vice versa, it's probably a sentence modifier. if removing the element produces an incomplete or meaningless sentence, the construction is part of the simple sentence. · if removing the element results in the loss of additional information or an editorial comment, but does not change the basic sense of the sentence, the construction was probably an insert.

·

Life gets interesting when two or more of these situations exist at the same time. We read with attention to both the content and the structure of the sentences, to both the thought expressed and the grammatical structure. Each informs the other. Unlike the New Zealand Expeditionary forces, which gave condoms to their soldiers, the United States decided to give American soldiers after-the-fact, and largely ineffective, chemical prophylaxis. To make sense of this sentence, we must recognize three basic elements. There is the core sentence: Unlike the New Zealand Expeditionary forces, which gave condoms to their soldiers, the United States decided to give American soldiers afterthe-fact, and largely ineffective, chemical prophylaxis.

There is the sentence premodifier indicating that the action was different than that taken by the New Zealand Expeditionary forces. Unlike the New Zealand Expeditionary forces, which gave condoms to their soldiers, the United States decided to give American soldiers after-the-fact, and largely ineffective, chemical prophylaxis. And there are two inserts that supply the information that the New Zealand Expeditionary forces gave their troops condoms and that the after-the-fact American efforts were largely ineffective: Unlike the New Zealand Expeditionary forces, which gave condoms to their soldiers, the United States decided to give American soldiers after-the-fact, and largely ineffective, chemical prophylaxis. One way or another, we have to find structure in the sentence to make sense of it.


								
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