Diagramming Sentences

Sentence Diagrams

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Sentences from the United States Constitution


Amendment 1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Lesson 2: 1. Not only can a short noun-phrase (a noun with a modifier or two) function as a subject or an object, but a long noun-phrase can as well. In the sentence above, the entire compound noun-phrase following abridging (which consists of some 27 words) is the direct object of abridging. 2. Abridging is a participle, specifically a present active participle. Participles are verbal adjectives. As verbs they sometimes take direct objects; as adjectives, they modify nouns or pronouns. Some other participial forms of the verb abridge are being abridged (present passive), having abridged (perfect active), having been abridged (perfect passive), and abridged (past).
Apologia pro descriptione mea: The two infinitive phrases describe the twofold right that may not be abridged by a law of Congress; they function here as adjective modifiers, not as appositives. The following is a sentence containing an infinitive used as an appositive: As with all rights of men, the first of our constitutional rights, to exercise religion freely, is not absolute. 
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