LMD Sentence Analysis Practise

Topic Summary:

I make and share sentence dependency trees for a few sentences taken from Elliot’s recent article.


Learning grammar and beginning interacting with the forum. I have chosen sentences that I think are within my skill level. I am posting in the hope of getting feedback to see whether that actually is the case.

CF relevance:

Analysing sentences using trees. Practicing grammar. Seeking feedback to check my understanding.

Do you want unbounded criticism? (A criticism is a reason that an idea decisively fails at a goal. Criticism can be about anything relevant to goal success, including methods, meta, context or tangents. If you think a line of discussion isn’t worth focusing attention on, that is a disagreement with the person who posted it, which can be discussed.)


Colour Code - Same as Elliot’s in this video

Blue: Noun
Green: Verb
Orange: Modifier
Purple: Preposition
Red: Conjunction
Yellow: Other

My first sentence is:

Philosophy doesn’t need to be your top priority.



My second sentence is:

You don’t have to copy me to be rational.


I am unsure about whether ‘to be’ is a child of ‘to copy’ or the main verb phrase ‘do not have’. I decided that the arrangement pictured made more sense to me intuitively, but I couldn’t explain my choice. Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

My third sentence is:

It’s valid to pursue philosophy in a primary or secondary way.


‘It’ is being used in this way from the ‘British English’ dictionary (Oxford?) on my mac:

So I have not included what ‘it’ represents in square brackets in the node.

I forgot to mention it in my first post but I intended to share just four sentences.

This is the fourth sentence:

Not pursuing philosophy at all is dangerous because our culture has lots of irrationalities and errors which a total non-philosopher wouldn’t have enough defense against.


“lots” is the object of “has”.

“of irrationalities and errors” is a prepositional phrase that modifies “lots”.


In the Dictionary app, go to the “Dictionary” menu and choose “Settings” to get a list of available dictionaries. It shows which are enabled, in what order, and more details:

1 Like

Thanks Fire. I believe you’re right.

I think the reason I made that mistake is because I thought ‘lots’ was an adverb and therefore couldn’t be the object of the action verb ‘has’. The preposition ‘of’ then was the object of ‘has’ which didn’t make sense so I thought ‘lots of’ might be an adverb similar to ‘at all’.

I can see that ‘lots’ is functioning as an indefinite pronoun (so can be the object of ‘has’). From that link:

When ‘a lot’ is used as a pronoun, it goes under the title of ‘indefinite pronouns’. It is a quantifier because it shows the amount or quantity of something, not definite, though.

(‘lots’ being an equivalent informal version of ‘a lot’)

I did notice initally that the dictionary listed it as a pronoun but I judged wrongly that it wasn’t. This was because I couldn’t think of what it was referring to and it didn’t feel pronouny. But I see that indefinte pronouns don’t refer to anything in particular.

Thanks Elliot. It is the Oxford English!

This is great for getting started. Your answers look good enough to be reasonably useful/functional – nearing intermediate level. In other words, you could probably do a lot of other philosophy work without getting much better at grammar skill.

Besides skill level, using this knowledge to support activities also requires either practice (to automatize most of your grammar knowledge) or identifying key issues and then putting in conscious effort (like making a tree) at those times. Automatization has many advantages for knowledge that will be used often. I don’t know what practice you’ve already done but I find people usually need more – like practicing until it’s not a big deal to do a few more sentences. (Like how, for me, it doesn’t take much effort to review a few sentences someone posts. That doesn’t sound hard or effortful; it sounds routine.)

There are errors. Some are:

I think “to be” is a child of “do have” in sentence 2.

For sentence 3, I don’t understand why you didn’t say what “it” refers to. I think it’d be good to say that. I also think the text “it” refers to, which is plays the subject role, should be nested under “it” or “is”, not put within the complement subtree. It can help to consider a rewrite of the sentence which removes the “it” and puts the words in more standard places, like rewriting “it is [complement] [subject]” to “[subject] is [complement]”. That helps clarify that [subject] isn’t really part of the complement because in the rewrite the complement functions fine (no words seem missing) with the [subject] words removed from it.

Sentence 4:

  • “and” is the prepositional object of “of” which modifies “lots” which is the object of “has”
  • “enough” modifies “defense” not “would have”
  • nothing is specified as the subject of “would have”

I had planned the post for that sentence to contain what I thought ‘It’ was referencing in the commentary along with that dictionary excerpt but for some reason I didn’t include it. I think I forgot and basically didn’t proof read properly to check that my commentary made sense.

I think now that I should have included it in square brackets in the tree. I was worried it’d look bad and clutter the tree but I didn’t test it. Having tested it just now, it would’ve looked fine.

I think “It” refers to the entire “to pursue” subtree. So “to pursue philosophy in a primary or secondary way”.

This is great, thank you. I can see now with a rewrite that the subject isn’t part of the complement e.g ‘To pursue philosophy in a primary or secondary way is valid.’

So it makes sense to have it elsewhere in the tree. I am unsure on whether the subtree should be a child of ‘It’ or ‘is’ though. I do know that it is a lot easier if I use a rewrite to make the tree e.g

  • To pursue philosophy in a primary or secondary way is valid.
  • Pursuing philosophy in a primary or secondary way is valid.

Do you think it’s okay to do such a rewrite when making the tree?

That rewrite appears to work, but so does another one, and I don’t have automatized knowledge that chooses between them. The other option is “it” = “philosophy”.

Do you think it’s okay to do such a rewrite when making the tree?

Depends on your goal/context. In friendly contexts, it’s often OK to paraphrase or rewrite stuff in limited ways. In adversarial contexts, confirming that someone agrees with a change can be problematic and sticking to more like exact quoting can work better.

I am unsure on whether the subtree should be a child of ‘It’ or ‘is’ though.

I don’t have automatized knowledge that chooses between them. They both look reasonable.

Thanks. I think I have a handle on why these happened. I covered the first in reply to Fire. The second was from not comparing what different dictionaries said about what parts of speech the words could be (Merriam-Webster has “enough” as and adjective while the Oxford English on my mac doesn’t). With the third I was aware that “non-philosopher” was the subject, but I forgot the label when making the tree.

I think “to be” is a child of “do have” in sentence 2.

This infinitive is still something I am unsure on. Could you help me understand your choice?

No. That’s too much work for me.

No problem, thanks!