March 27, 2022 at 12:18 pm #983Patrick ObenKeymaster
Following our practice session and the review of the assignments, these are important points to remember that will further deepen your understanding of syntax and modifiers.
Required Units vs Modifiers
Not every word in a clause or sentence is a modifier.
The easiest way to think about this is to make the distinction between what is required and what modifiers:
A modifier generally is not a required unit of the part of the sentence under consideration. It modifies the required units.
We have discussed required units at two levels:
1. Required unit for a clause or sentence(simple).
Sentence/clause S. = Subject + Pedicate
= Noun Phrase NP + Verb Phrase VP
You can expand these basic required elements with additional units.
Anything in addition to these required elements is a modifier.
eg. Jesus wept. Independent clause with no modifiers.
Jesus wept because Lazarus had died.
Because Lazarus had died is an additional element, not part of the required unit.
The entire unit is a modifier.
The next question is what kind of modifier is it?
That is, is it modifying a noun, a verb etc.
The simple way to know if to ask yourself what kind of information it supplies.
Eg what does because Lazarus had died tell you? It tells you why. Adverbs are words that tell you how, why, when, etc.
So this whole unit is called an adverbial. It functions as an adverb though it is not an adverb in form.
Next, is this unit because Lazarus had died a clause or a phrase?
Can you find a subject( NP) and its corresponding verb( VP)?
Lazarus = subject.
Had died = verb.
So because Lazarus had died is an adverbial clause!
It is a clause that modifies the verb “wept” telling us why Jesus wept.
2. Modifiers within required units.
The first level of modifiers as above is one that is in addition to the required NP + VP.
However, as we discussed, both NP and VP themselves can have modifiers within them.
But the same simple trick still works.
Always ask yourself “what is the required part in this unit”?
Clause =. The Word +. was with God
= Subject( NP) + Predicate( VP)
Remember this: a phrase can be one or more words, but it lacks an NP + VP as a clause does.
So NP here is The Word.
AS a noun phrase….what is the required part in a noun phrase??
Obviously, the noun phrase must have a noun!!
So noun is required, and everything else in that noun phrase when it has more than one word serves as a modifiers
In our NP, we have only one modifier “the”.
Anything that modifies nouns, whether it is an adjective or not, performs the function of an adjectival.
So an adjective is a specific part of speech. We have words called adjectives. However, an adjectival is a kind of function that can be played by any word or group of words.
In our case, “the” is a definite article by type, but is functions here as an adjectival to modify “Word”.
Grammatical Structure or Syntax
As discussed in the Lesson Observation Part 2, the structure for short passages is essentially syntax. As illustrated in the observation of John 1:1, when we observe terms, there are two main questions that help us clarify structure( relationships).
- What is the grammatical function of this term? ( function)
- Does this term modify another term, phrase or clause?( modifier)
Every word has a grammatical function in a sentence. So is always function. However, not every word serves as a modifier.
So as you observe passages, you will note function and in some cases, also note what they modify if they do.
So in practice, when you observe terms, these are the things you will write down
- Routine vs non-routine
- literal vs figurative
- Type of term and its inflections
- Grammatical function
E.g in the beginning was the Word.
The. non-routine, lit, definite article, functions as an adjectival( attributive article) modifying “Word”.
See the observation of John 1:1 here.
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