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Notes | Tutorial 02

Date: 2020-06-24

Part 2: Complex Sentence Grammar

Breaking down sentences involves splitting at conjunctions and analysing the clauses recursively.


  • Clause -> simple sentence
  • Phrase -> incomplete simple sentence
    • verb phrase - e.g. very quickly ate - (ate::verb (quickly::adverb quickly::modifier))
    • noun phrase - e.g. *the unusually cute cats” - (cats::noun the::modifier “unusually cute”::modifier)
    • adjective phrase - e.g. unusually cute
  • Prepositional phrase -> preposition + noun phrase
  • functions like adjective or adverb
  • e.g., during the day – (during::preposition (day::noun the::mod))

Warning: Standard terminology uses the term “verb phrase” to mean “predicate”: the verb plus its object or complement, plus modifiers. It’d be reasonable to use “simple verb phrase” to mean a verb plus the adverbs modifying it.



  • coordinating conj: each clause is equal, e.g. and, but, for, or, yet, nor, so. FANBOYS; can join some phrases
  • subordinating conj: disparity in importance or order, etc: e.g. after, before, although, while, if; can only join clauses


paragraph level

  • main points should use verb, subject, object and complement. Modifiers for helper points (less important than what they modify)
  • main points -> main clauses; helper points -> subordinate clauses (which must be deliberate; main clauses by default)
  • Detail: Relative pronouns can also make subordinate clauses. I won’t cover them, but I’ll give one example. In “John, who is a mechanic, loves restoring cars.”, “who” is a relative pronoun. It creates a subordinate clause that functions as an adjective that modifies “John”.

  • use italics etc to give hints
  • you can say “my main point is:”

subordinating conj

writing without subordinating conjunctions sucks. elephants and zoo example.


See exercises

Part 3: Verbals, References and Implied Words


based on a verb, but not a verb. like “fooling”, “to eat”, “broken”. they share features of verbs like having an object or complement (no subject)

  • gerund: noun based on verb; ends in -ing. “fooling”
  • participle: adj based on verb; can be suffixed -ing too, but also -ed and maybe others.
  • infinitive: verbs with ‘to’ in front: ‘to sit’, ‘to be’. I want to sit -> ‘to sit’ -> noun infinitive (want is the verb, ‘to sit’ the object). verbs don’t end in -ing or have to in front


  • pronouns: always nouns
  • reference adjectives: ‘my’, ‘your’
  • abbreviations
  • explanatory refs: e.g. the thing you said yesterday about cats – often unclear. more info better than less

implied words

happens often, somewhat ambiguous

“that” is often omitted; full form of “I think Ayn Rand was wise” is “I think that Ayn Rand was wise”.

  • indirect object: shortcut to involving an implied word. they’re nouns that come after verbs. I threw her the ball -> I threw to her the ball; ‘her’ is an indirect object, ‘to her’ is prepositional phrase moding ‘threw’
  • common with conjs -> avoids repetition
  • confused? -> look for implied words
  • formal writing often doesn’t leave them -> less ambiguous

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