The KISS Grammar Workbooks Back to April Menu
(Code and Color Key)

Sam's Diary Entry, from 
The Trumpet of the Swan, by E. B. White
Analysis Key

     I saw a pair (DO) {of trumpeter swans} today {on a small pond} east [#1] {of 

camp}. | The female has a nest (DO) {with eggs} {in it}. | I saw three (DO) [#2], |

but I'm going to put four (DO) {in the picture} | -- I think [DO she was laying

another one (DO). | This is the greatest discovery (PN) [Adv. to "greatest" I ever 

made] {in my entire life} [#3]. | I did not tell Pop (IO). | My bird book says [DO baby 

swans are called cygnets [#4].] | I am going back tomorrow to visit the great swans [#5] 

again. | I head a fox (DO) bark [#6] today. | Why does a fox bark? | Is it [PN [#7] 

because he is mad (PA), or worried, [#8] or hungry (PA),] or [PN [#7] because  

he is sending a message (DO) {to another fox}? | Why does a fox bark? |

1. Although one could argue that "east" functions as an adverb here, alternatively one could explain it as a post-positioned adjective -- "pond *which is* east of camp." Still another valid explanation would be to consider it the object in an ellipsed prepositional phrase -- "*to the* east."
2. Technically, some people will argue that "three" is an adjective here, modifying an ellipsed "eggs."
3. I've taken "in my entire life" to "is" in the main clause, but alternatively, it can be within the subordinate clause and modifying "made."
4. Overwhelming students with additional grammatical concepts before they have reached a comfort level with the ones you want them to focus on simply causes problems. Even with college students, therefore, I accept "Predicate Noun" as an explanation of "cygnets." If we had the time to get well into passive verbs and retained complements, then I would expect them to explain "cygnets" as a retained predicate adjective. It is retained from the ellipsed infinitive construction -- They call baby swans *to be* cygnets. [Note: This is not the traditional explanation. See subjective complements.]
5. "Swans" is the direct object of the verbal (infinitive) "to visit." The infinitive phrase functions as an adverb of purpose to "am going."
6. When they get to verbals, students can explain "fox" as the subject of the infinitive "bark" and the infinitive phrase as the direct object of "heard."
7. Some grammarians might argue that these "because" clauses are adverbial to "is," so I would accept that explanation from students. The clauses, however, give the reason that equals the subject "it." [If I remember correctly, some of my teachers tried to get us to use "that" in clauses like these.]
8. Note how what might otherwise be considered a passive verb (is worried) slides into a predicate adjective when it appears in a string of predicate adjectives.