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Prepositional Phrases: A Passage for Analysis
From Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities
Analysis Key

     {Through gloomy vaults} [Adj. to "vaults" where the light {of day} had

never shone,] {past hideous doors} {of dark dens and cages}, {down cavernous

flights} {of steps}, and again {up steep rugged ascents} {of stone and brick}, more 

{like dry waterfalls} {than staircases} [#1], Defarge, the turnkey, and Jacques

Three, linked [#2] hand [NuA] and arm [NuA], went {with all the speed} 

[Adj. to "speed" they could make]. | Here and there, especially {at first}, the 

inundation started {on them} and swept by; | but [Adv. to "were (alone}" 

when they had done descending (DO) [#3] , and were winding and 

climbing up a tower (DO)], they were alone. | Hemmed [#4] in here {by

the massive thickness} {of walls and arches}, the storm {within the fortress} and

{without *the fortress*} was only audible (PA) {to them} {in a dull, subdued

way}, [Adv. (manner) to "audible" as if the noise [Adj. to "noise" {out of which}

they had come] had almost destroyed their sense (DO) {of hearing [#5] } ]. |

1. The "more" modifies the "like dry waterfalls" prepositional phrase. That phrase functions as an adjective to "ascents." The "than staircases" phrase functions as an adverb to "more." (Some grammarians would explain "than staircases" as an ellipsed subordinate clause -- "than *they were like* staircases."
2. "Linked" is a verbal (gerundive) that modifies the three subjects.
3. "Descending" is a verbal (gerund).
4. "Hemmed" is a verbal  (gerundive) that modifies "storm," even though we are told that the storm is also "without."  
5. "Hearing" can be viewed as a gerund, a verbal noun.