The Printable KISS Grammar Workbooks The KISS Workbooks Anthology
From "A Letter from Birmingham Jail"
by Martin Luther King, Jr.
1. Place parentheses ( ) around each prepositional phrase. 
2. Underline verbs twice, their subjects once, and label complements (PA, PN, IO, or DO).
3. Place brackets [ ] around each adverbial clause and draw an arrow from the opening bracket to the word that the clause modifies.
4. Place a vertical line after each main clause.

5. Note King's use of parallel subordinate clauses in this single main clause. Try to de-combine the main clause into two or more main clauses, and discuss the results with your classmates.

     But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and 

fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you 

have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, and even kill your black 

brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty 

million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the 

midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue

twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your 

six-year-old daughter  why she can't go to the public amusement park 

that has just been advertised on the television, and see tears welling 

up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored 

children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her

little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by 

developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when 

you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking, 

"Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when 

you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after

night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no 

motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by 

nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name 

becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old

you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and 

mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are

harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro,

living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect 

next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when 

you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" -- then

you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.