Learning Grammar #2 - More Parts Trees and Sentence Analyses

“Great” is the subject complement and it functions as an adjective modifying “books”. “Are” is definitely a linking verb.

I looked up “great” and it appears that it can be a noun or an adjective. The definitions I found for “great” didn’t seem to match its meaning is this sentence very well. I think “great” is being used sort of synonymously to “good”. The definition of “good” is closer to what I think this sentence is saying.

From ET’s grammar article:

What’s the difference between an object and a complement? Objects go with action verbs, they’re always nouns, and they’re sometimes optional. Complements go with linking verbs, they’re nouns or adjectives, and they’re always required.

I think I have been getting confused about this and I forgot what the grammar article said.

Are these statements compatible?

No, those statements aren’t compatible. An adjective can only modify a noun so “to read” can’t be an adjective if it’s modifying “great”, which is itself a modifier. So, “to read” must be an adverb.

  1. I planted a tree last spring.
    [planted [I] [tree [a]] [(during) [spring [last]]]]

I’m not sure if its reasonable to add “during” to the tree. Without “during”, I guess I would just move “spring” up to that node, with “last” still modifying “spring”.

  1. I planted it in my backyard.
    [planted [I] [it] [in [backyard [my]]]]


  1. Mom said that it will be fun to watch it get bigger.

This sentence is very hard for me to judge. This tree structure is my 4th iteration.

[that [said [Mom]] [be [it] [fun [“to watch” [it [get] [bigger]]]][will]]]

“Mom said” is the main clause.

“That” is a conjunction introducing a subordinate clause.

“It will be fun” is the stripped-down subordinate clause.

“will” is an adverb modifying “be”.

“fun” is the subject complement of “it”. “Fun” is an adjective.

“to watch” is an infinitive, functioning as an adverb, modifying “fun”.

Seemingly most confusing part:

“it” is the object of the infinitive “to watch”.

The phrase “it get bigger” includes the non-finite verb “get”. I guess that “get” is a non-finite verb because its tense can’t be changed; “it gets bigger” and “it got bigger” don’t work in the sentence.

It appears that “get” is modifying “it”. “It” is a noun, which would make “get” an adjective.


What is it that will it be fun “to watch”? “it”. That seems to make sense. “It” is the object of “to watch”.

Does “get” tell you about “to watch”? I don’t know. You’re watching “it”, so you’re watching whatever “it” does, and what “it” does could be a modifier on “it”. “Get” tells you about what “it” is doing.

Maybe “get” can be looked at as a qualifier on what you’re going “to watch”. You’re watching something “get”. You are watching “it”, but what you’re watching about “it” is qualified, or limited to “get”. You’re specifically watching the getting, not just anything about “it”.

“Bigger” seems like it must be an adjective based on the dictionaries I checked (4-5 top dictionaries in google search). So, if “get” is a modifier, then “bigger” can’t be modifying “get”. Therefore, “bigger” is modifying “it”.

  1. When it is bigger, birds will build nests and live in it.
    [When [will [birds] [and [build [nests]] [live [in [it]]]]] [is [it] [bigger]]]

  1. When it is bigger, squirrels will build nests and live in it, too.
    [When [will [squirrels] [and [build [nests]] [live [in [it]] [too]]]] [is [it] [bigger]]]


Resources/notes pertaining to “that” as relative pronoun vs “that” as conjunction (relevant to #3 below):

Relative Clauses – The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


  1. I am glad that I planted a tree.
    It doesn’t seem to make sense to re-write this sentence as the following:
    I planted a tree. I am glad that.
    This doesn’t look like an instance of “that” as a relative pronoun. “That” as a relative pronoun usually follows a noun but “glad” is an adjective (subject complement). The clause “I planted a tree” is saying why “I am glad”.
    S-expression: [that [am [I] [glad]] [planted [I] [tree [a]]]]

This rewrite may help you see what’s going on more clearly:

It will be fun to watch it get bigger; Mom said that.

Note that semi-colons join two clauses. They’re fairly similar to the word “and”.

I’ve covered “that” multiple times and it’s come up in some discussions. I don’t know exactly where offhand.

Look up “will” in a dictionary. Dictionaries are particularly useful for figuring out parts of speech.

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Note how both of the verbs (“am”, “planted”) have both a subject and an object/complement which isn’t “that”. There’s no noun slot left in the sentence for “that” to go in as a (pro)noun. There’s no need (or option) for “that” to play a noun role here.

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I just want to say thank you again for helping me so much with grammar. Its been really awesome. I don’t see any way that I could have made the progress that I have made so far without your help.

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Sentence from part 4 of ET’s grammar article. I plan to do parts of speech and some questions-based analysis on these sentences as well.

  1. John pet his dog and cat with vigor.
    [pet [John] [and [dog [his]] [cat [(his)]]][with [vigor]]]

  2. Seeing isn’t believing.
    [is [Seeing] [believing] [not]]

  3. I like philosophy because it involves thinking methods.
    [because [like [I] [philosophy]] [involves [it] [methods [thinking]]]]


  1. Some people don’t love truth or honesty.
    [do [people [Some]] [love [or [truth] [honesty]]] [not]]

  2. John and Olivia enthusiastically sang their favorite song on the stage, but singing well wasn’t enough for the actors pretending to be judges.
    [but [sang [and [John] [Olivia]] [song [favorite [their]]] [on [stage [the]]] [enthusiastically]] [was [singing [well]] [enough [for [actors [the][pretending [“to be” [judges]]]]]] [not]]]

EDIT: correct image here (deleted duplicate of #6 image)

  1. While you’re having a discussion, never misquote anyone.
    [While [(are) [you] [having [discussion [a]]]] [misquote [(you)] [anyone] [never]]]

  2. I think that nuclear power is safe.
    [think [I] [that [is [power [nuclear]] [safe]]]]


“That” looks like it is a relative pronoun here. Is this the way the tree should look for “that” as a relative pronoun.

Did this in under 30 min., maybe not much more than 20 min.

You did two good things here. You recognized there was an issue to figure out. And you came up with a tree which is reasonable. You could use that tree in a discussion and it wouldn’t screw up the discussion. It corresponds fine to what the writer meant.

Here’s the process I used for analyzing the tricky part of this sentence:

  1. Notice there’s an issue (there appear to be two nouns after the verb)
  2. Consider if one of the nouns could be an indirect object.
  3. Come up with a couple reasons it’s not an indirect object.
  4. Look up “last” and “spring” in a dictionary.
  5. Web search something like “last spring grammar”.
  6. Skim a relevant forum topic this which linked to a different dictionary entry.
  7. Conclude it’s a special case. The dictionary gave some rules for when to omit a preposition but gave no conceptual explanation. So I don’t know why exactly but I concluded that this sentence simply doesn’t follow standard grammar rules. Adding an implied preposition in the tree to fix it is fine.

I suggest trying to go through this process yourself.

Your tree is fine (functional) but FYI if you want to apply “his” to both “dog” and “cat”, but it’s only in the sentence once, a solution is to apply “his” as a modifier of the group, which is done by making it a child of the head/lead/root of that group/subtree (the “and”).

John and Olivia enthusiastically sang their favorite song on the stage, but singing well wasn’t enough for the actors pretending to be judges.

You have the wrong tree image.

It’s an option. I think I talked about this in my grammar gumroad.

There was once an Ant who was very thirsty, and she went down to the brook to drink, but the current carried her away down the stream.
[and [was [There] [Ant [an] [who [was [thirsty [very]]]]] [once]][but [went [she] [“to drink”] [down [to [brook [the]]]]][carried [current [the]] [her] [away] [down [stream [the]]]]]]

Short story sentences:

  1. She is young.
    [is [She] [young]]

  2. Her shoes are old.
    [are [shoes [Her]] [old]]

  3. She wears them to work.
    [wears [She] [them] [to [work]]]

  4. She goes to work five days a week.
    [goes [She] [to [work]] [days [five] [week [a]]]]

• “a” looks like its synonymous to “per” in this sentence and appears to function as a preposition
• “to work” is a prepositional phrase
• “five” appears to be functioning as a determiner in this sentence, modifying “days”


• Says number words can be determiners.


May be relevant:
Appositives and Appositive Phrases—How to Use Them | Grammarly.

  1. She loves her work.
    [loves [She] [work [her]]]

  2. She is a waitress.
    [is [She] [waitress [a]]]


  1. She works at a restaurant.
    [works [She] [at [restaurant [a]]]]


  1. The restaurant is near her home.
    [is [restaurant [The]] [near [home [her]]]]

  2. She walks to the restaurant.
    [walks [She] [to [restaurant [the]]]]

  3. She stands up all day long.
    [stands [She] [up] [day [all] [long]]]


• “all day long” is an idiom, that appears to function primarily as a modifier
• “up” is an adverb that modifies “stands”

  1. She is young and strong.
    [is [She] [and [young] [strong]]]

  2. But her shoes are not.
    [But [“(previous sentence)”] [are [shoes [her]] [not]]]

  3. They are old.
    [are [They] [old]]

  4. She saw an ad in the paper.
    [saw [She] [ad [an]] [in [paper [the]]]]


  1. All shoes were on sale at the shoe store.
    [were [shoes [All]] [on [sale]] [at [store [the] [shoe]]]]


  1. She walked into the store.
    [walked [She] [into [store [the]]]]


  1. She looked around.
    [looked [She] [around]]


• “around” is an adverb that modifies “looked”

  1. She saw some black shoes.
    [saw [She] [shoes [some] [black]]]

  2. They looked good.
    [looked [They] [good]]

  3. She tried them on.
    [tried [She] [them] [on]]

• Based on the definitions that I found “on” has to be either a preposition or an adverb. “On” doesn’t look like a preposition here so it seems that it has to be an adverb. As an adverb, “on” cannot modify “them”, so it must be modifying “tried”.

  1. They were very comfortable.
    [were [They] [comfortable [very]]]

• “comfortable” is the subject complement
• “very” is an adverb that modifies “comfortable”

  1. They felt good.
    [felt [They] [good]]


  1. They were only $25.
    [were [They] [$25 [only]]]

• “$25” is the subject complement
• “only” is an adverb that modifies “$25”

  1. She paid cash.
    [paid [She] [cash]]
    • “cash” is an adverb that modifies “paid”. It tells you’re the type of payment.

  2. She wore them home.
    [wore [She] [them] [home]]

  3. She felt good.
    [felt [She] [good]]

  4. She was ready for work the next day.
    [was [She] [ready [for [work [day [next [the]]]]]]]


Maybe “the next day” is technically short for “on the next day”

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