In our previous blog, Lily and I (not me and Lily) introduced you to a new word ‘SYNTAX’, which, if you were paying attention, refers to “the correct placement and use of words in a sentence.”

We walked you through the process of sentence structure and showed how words have both a function and a name. Let’s put this into practice. See if you can parse or analyze the following sentence:

Somewhere, in space, a talented team of Peruvian astronauts works in zero gravity.

Let’s go for the whole enchilada…(I’ll ask the questions; answers will follow below. No peeking!)

1. What type of sentence is it?

2. In what order is this sentence written?

3. What is the whole subject of the sentence?

4. What is the bare subject?

5. What is the whole predicate?

6. What is the bare predicate?

7. What are the three phrases used as modifiers in the sentence?

The correct answers are as follows:

1. Statement, Assertive or Declarative (S.A.D.)

2. Split order (predicate – subject – predicate)

3. ‘A talented team of Peruvian astronauts’ is the whole subject.

4. ‘team’ is the bare subject (not ‘astronauts’ because ‘astronauts’ is part of the adjective phrase ‘of Peruvian astronauts’. REMEMBER: phrases are inseparable groups of words.

5. ‘works in zero gravity somewhere in space’ (sounds better this way but as long as you had it all, consider it correct)

6. ‘works’ is the bare predicate (it tells us what the team does). ***Why ‘works’ and not ‘work’? How many teams are mentioned? One, right? ‘Team’ (the bare subject) is singular (one team) and must be followed by the singular form of the verb (bare predicate). Would you say ‘One team work’ or ‘One team works’? In this case ‘works’ works.

7. ‘in space’ modifies ‘work’ and tells us where they do their thing, ‘of Peruvian astronauts’ modifies ‘team’, ‘in zero gravity’ modifies ‘work’ and tells us how or where they work.

Now, for the hard part:

Identify the function and name for each word in the given sentence. The answers follow immediately so you might want to cover them first. (Let’s try to be honest, Abe!)

‘Somewhere’ modifies bare predicate ‘work’. Adverb

‘in’ introduces the adverb phrase ‘in space’. Preposition

‘space’ is the object of the preposition ‘in’. Noun

‘a’ modifies bare subject ‘team’. Adjective. ***Three members of the adjective family are also known as articles. ‘A’ and ‘an’ are indefinite articles (not specific) while ‘the’ is a definite article. You must surely remember indefinite and definite articles from French class – un, une (indefinite), le, la (definite). Comprenez?

‘talented’ modifies bare subject. Adjective

‘team’ is the bare subject. Noun

‘of’ introduces the adjective phrase ‘of Peruvian astronauts’. Preposition

‘Peruvian’ modifies ‘astronauts’. Adjective

‘astronauts’ is the object of the preposition ‘of’. Noun

‘works’ is the bare predicate. Verb

‘in’ introduces the adverb phrase ‘in zero gravity’. Preposition

‘zero’ modifies ‘gravity’. Adjective

‘gravity’ is the object of the preposition ‘in’. Noun


Yes they can – all 150 of them, three of which are among the Top 10 most used words in English. Two of them (‘in’ and ‘of’) appeared in today’s sentence. The preposition ‘to’ completes the trio.

We’ve included several more for your perusal:

about, above, across, after, among, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, besides, between, beyond, but, by, down, during, except, for, near, off, on, over, since, through, to, under, until, up, with…

Here are a few sentences containing phrases (in bold print). See if you are able to identify their function (what word do they describe) and name (adjective or adverb phrase). Again, it is important that we take it nice and slow. There are, in fact, several kinds of phrases but there’s no sense talking about them all at once (unless, of course, you are looking for a one-way ticket to the looney bin). Let’s stick with prepositional phrases (adjective & adverb) for now…

The boy climbed over the fence.

That house down the road is haunted by eerie spirits.

During the ceremony, the band of brave soldiers stood at attention.

The bride in the gorgeous gown walked into the church and up the aisle.

At noon, the bells of many churches ring throughout the villages.

Before we give you the correct answers, we’d like you to take a closer look at the last word of each phrase (usually a noun or pronoun) and see how it relates to the first word (preposition). We have used the term ‘object of the preposition’ and the word ‘object’ will soon show itself as a very important one, especially when it’s time to make the correct pronoun choice in a phrase. This will be our next step and for those of you who have been   diligent, the ‘fog’ will begin to clear and you’ll find yourself not only speaking or writing correctly but more important, understanding why.

Now, here are your answers:

‘over the fence’ modifies the bare predicate ‘climbed’. Adverb phrase.

‘down the road’ modifies the bare subject ‘house’. Adjective phrase.

‘by eerie spirits’ modifies b.p. (bare predicate) ‘haunted’. Adverb phrase.

‘during the ceremony’ modifies b.p. ‘stood’. Adverb phrase.

‘of brave soldiers’ modifies b.s. (bare subject) ‘band’. Adjective phrase.

‘at attention’ modifies b.p. ‘stood’. Adverb phrase.

‘in the gorgeous gown’ modifies b.s. ‘bride’. Adjective phrase.

‘into the church’, ‘up the aisle’ both modify the b.p. ‘walked’. Adverb phrases.

‘at noon’, ‘throughout the villages’ modify b.p. ‘ring’. Adverb phrases.

‘of many churches’ modifies b.s. “bells’. Adjective phrase.

That’s all for now folks. In the next blog, we’ll get personal with pronouns and show you, once and for all, how to make the correct choice when the situation warrants it.

P.S. We know the chance of this type of blog getting ‘Freshly Pressed’ has the same odds as the Toronto Maple Leafs winning another Stanley Cup; we do, however, welcome your comments or feedback. It’s always nice to know that someone out there is taking notice…

Keep well, well, well…

Bloggingfrog & Lily





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