Advanced Grammar

Sentence Structure

It didn't take very long for me to get bored with just lining up all the glyphs in a word-for-word translation of English. I decided instead that I would try something different and visually break every sentence up into its components and then rearrange them somehow.

Let's have two parts of speech: Things and Relationships.

Let's decree that all sentences will describe two Things connected by a Relationship. The first thing we need to do when translating a sentence is to decide what two Things, and what Relationship. We'll isolate the Things inside (parentheses) and place the Relationship between them.

As you can see, a Thing is not always a noun (New York). It can also be an adjective (alike) or a full sentence (You don't shut up.). A Relationship can be a verb (ate), a conjuction (and) or a logical expression (if/then).

If an element applies to the sentence as a whole rather than to an individual component, we'll either place it alone before the first parenthesis, or isolate it with [brackets] in an unbalanced sentence.

As you see in the last example, when we build complex clauses, we also break those down into two Things connected by a Relationship as well. In that last case the Things are "me" and "someone who gives a damn", and the Relationship is "as".

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Last updated December 2005

Copyright © 2005 Matthew White