This is one of my classes this semester. I love ELA (English and Language Arts) but even I get bogged down by this stuff. This class is an online class and below is what my teacher has on the website Course Homepage for this class:
(Click on the cartoon to see it larger)
This coming week's topic is VERBS and VERB PHRASES.
To minimal required element of a well-formed sentence is the VERB (e.g., "Dog." is not a well-formed sentence. "Go!" is a well-formed sentence.) The VERB is the heart of the sentence. The VERB determines how many NPs will be required in a sentence for the verb's meaning to be fully expanded. If you can identify the VERB in each sentence, you can predict whether the sentence will have just a SUBJECT NP or also a DIRECT OBJECT NP and, possibly, an INDIRECT OBJECT NP.
For example, think of the verb love. What are the necessary NPs that appear with that verb given its meaning? The answer is a SUBJECT NP and a DIRECT OBJECT NP: Mary loves Peter.
What if the verb were give? Now, we expect that three NPs might be present (the SUBJECT NP, the DO NP, and the IO NP): Mary gave Peter a book.
What if the verb were seem? This one is a linking verb. We expect a SUBJECT NP and some type of SUBJECT COMPLEMENT (here, the forms vary): He seems happy. He seems a good student. He seems on target to graduate in May.
Try thinking in these terms when tackling the grammatical analysis of a new sentence. You may have never seen the sentence before, but you know (from experience with specific English verbs and their meaning) what types of constituents it will require. We call this the verb's argument structure.
Last example: Think of the verb fill. Knowing that someone has to do the filling and that something has to be filled and that something has to be the stuff used to fill something, we can predict that a sentence created around the verb fill will include a SUBJECT NP (Peter filled), a DO NP (Peter filled the pitcher), and a PP (Peter filled the pitcher with water).
Note: Thinking in terms of the argument structure of a verb, these constituents are the arguments of the verb fill. You don't need to worry about learning the terms arguments and argument structure. I present these terms just in case you try to do some internet searches on this topic.
Once more, please ask me questions if you need further explanations once you have read the chapter and listened to the lecture! I LOVE READING YOUR DISCUSSION POSTS!! YOU ARE AN EXCELLENT GROUP OF ONLINE STUDENTS, A JOY TO TEACH AND LEARN FROM. THANKS!
**You may now take pity on me**