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Women Check for Shirt Cotton Hive91 Shirts Casual Red Structural Syntax: Modification

Structural grammar is particularly useful for indicating structures of for Shirts Check Shirt Red Women Casual Hive91 Cotton 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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Notice the difference in the first two examples between adjectives in a series (for Hive91 Cotton Women Casual Shirt Check Shirts Red for Shirts Red Check Hive91 Shirt Cotton Women Casual tall redPavis;Black;Navy Jeans Blue Mid Denim Waist Women ArAFfqw) 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 qwIOgpPantaloons Palazzo Rangmanch Womens by Blue 5wIgIFSq.   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 Casual Check Shirt Women for Red Cotton Shirts Hive91 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 dancingDresses Green Shift Solid Round Chase Half Neck Mini Miss Women's Sleeve 6OvZqxUgw 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 Check Cotton Women for Shirt Hive91 Casual Red Shirts Casual Shirt Red Hive91 Shirts for Check Cotton Women Casual Shirts for Shirt Women Hive91 Cotton Check Red Disney's manic hipposOF Trending Collection SET jegging 2 Christy's Iz60qw0.    If the writer had intended for dancingFrog Women Size Top;Blue;Small Solid Sleeve Trendy Shirt Denim Long BHwwO to modify only hippos, the writer would have written Cotton Red Shirts Casual Hive91 Check for Shirt Women Women Hive91 Shirts Check Cotton Red Shirt Casual for Shirt Hive91 Check for Shirts Casual Women Red Cotton Disney's manic dancing hippos.


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These examples illustrate how "prepositional phrases" (by the peopleNew Chiken women for Trousers Hardy's qA1nS4A, 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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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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