Diagramming Sentences

Sentence Diagrams

by Eugene R. Moutoux

~ One Way of Learning English Grammar ~

The Opening Sentence of the Declaration of Independence

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
Lesson 17: 1. This sentence contains three relative pronouns and a relative adverb. Broken lines are drawn between relative pronouns and their respective antecedents. The relative adverb, when, is situated on a line drawn between the verbs requires and becomes. This line is solid at both ends to signify the missing adverbial elements at the time and at which. 2. The word that introducing the clause they should declare the causes is an expletive, i.e., a word that takes up space but doesn't enter into the meaning of the clause or sentence. If that had been omitted, an x would replace it in the diagram. 3. Two complex infinitive phrases are in apposition with the subject of the sentence, it
Apologia pro descriptione mea: The two infinitive phrases are not adverbial modifiers of necessary. If one assumes that they are and then asks what it refers to, i.e., what it is that is necessary to dissolve and to assume, one gets no reasonable answer; indeed the question itself is nonsensical.

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