Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sentence Diagramming: Grimm Wednesday

"She'll sting you one day, Oh, ever so gently, so you hardly ever feel it.
'Till you fall dead." - Jacob Grimm

If you are in the mood to work with beautifully macabre language today, interpret and diagram the following quotation.

Today's sentences come from Jacob Grimm, one of the brothers who famously authored Grimm's Fairy Tales.  

Darker than new readers might expect, the first sentence in this quotation relies on adverbs and adverbial phrases for its grim message. Furthermore, the second sentence is actually a sentence fragment, so I have diagrammed it here as an additional part of the first sentence, an additional adverbial phrase.

The complete Kellogg-Reed Diagram

To begin the diagram, I first identified the nouns in the sentences and determined if they were each subjects or objects.  After placing the nouns in their proper places on base lines, I began pairing each of the subject nouns with their respective verbs.

Once I identified the nouns and verbs and how they worked in pairs, I went back to the second sentence because I identified it as a sentence fragment.  There is no noun the precedes the preposition "'till."  That made it easier to identify the noun clause because a preposition should be followed by an object.  In this case, the object of the preposition "'till" is the noun clause, "you drop dead."

The beauty in this quotation lies in its use of adverbs and adverbial phrases.  None of the adverbs work alone; each is accompanied by another adverb, making the sentence pleasing to the ear. This includes the prepositional phrase, which is  used here also as an adverbial phrase to describe how long "she'll sting," or when she will cease stinging.

I was sure to place the coordinating conjunction, "so," that links the two independent clauses, and I checked to be sure I had correctly indicated the prepositional phrase with its base line crossing the preposition line.  Lastly, I checked to be sure I had correctly incorporated the interjection, "Oh," which is capitalized in the quotation.

My final interpretation and diagram includes two independent clauses connected by a coordinating conjunction, a fragment used as an adverbial prepositional phrase with a noun clause as its object, and a stand alone interjection.  Adverbial phrases add to the beauty of the quotation, its specific, visceral language.

Want to read more about diagramming sentences? Try

Diagramming Vonnegut: "So it goes."
Diagramming Pangloss: "All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds."
Diagramming Hamlet: "To be or not to be."

Copyright Amy Lynn Hess.  Please contact the author for permission to republish.

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