Grammar shorts: If your sentence is a mess check the verb and rebuild

I remember early on in my studies of grammar when I would have complex sentences and compound structures that would freak me out. The truth about sentences is that they are all simply larger structures that follow the same rules. The only difference is really how we punctuate these sentences which tell us whether we are using sentence modifiers, which are sometime phrases which don`t have a subject + predicate, or clauses that are restrictive or nonrestrictive. The bedrock to any sentence, however, is the verb. Once you find the verb and determine its type you can then walk back and restructure a bad sentence or simply check your own grammar for errors.
Verbs can be tricky at times. I`ll give an example. The VG verb is a two place transitive verb that generally requires an animate indirect object receiving a direct object from the subject in the sentence.
John sent the roses to his wife.
In this sentence we have the subject John who sends what? Roses (direct object) to whom? His wife (indirect object). Now, the indirect object is in the form a prepositional phrase “to his wife.” The prepositional phrase is adverbial prepositional phrase of reception (who received the roses).
Let`s change the sentence a bit.
John sent some flowers to Atlanta.
This sentence would seem to be another VG two place transitive sentence, right? Not so, because, in this case the prepositional phrase is not only inanimate but is also modifying the verb “sent.” Simply put, the prepositional phrase “to Atlanta” is not an indirect object, it`s modifying the verb sent. Therefore “sent,” in this case, is a normal VT verb (transitive verb). The prepositional phrase “to Atlanta” is an adverb of place, adding additional information to this sentence.
Now, let`s put these sentences together:
John sent roses to his wife and John sent some flowers to Atlanta.
Now let`s make this sentence more concise and simple.
John sent roses to his wife and flowers to Atlanta.
This is a clearer and more concise sentence which has the noun subject as “John,” the transitive verb “sent, the direct object “roses,” and the prepositional phrase “to his wife” (as the indirect object). The word “and” serves as a coordinating conjunction of the noun phrase “flowers to Atlanta” (which has an embedded prepositional phrase “to Atlanta”). This little phrase is a sentence modifier which adds information to the main clause, “John sent roses to his wife…”
I hope you enjoyed “Grammar Shorts.” Short lessons in grammar.


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