Sentence Diagrams

Sentence 10

After punishing basketball coach Bobby Knight last month for misbehavior--but not firing him--Indiana University is still wrestling with its feelings about whether it did enough over the years to prevent Knight's heated confrontations with players, referees and others.

         - The Courier-Journal, June 4, 2000, page A1

Lesson 10: A gerund is a verbal noun, i.e., a noun ending in -ing. In this sentence, punishing and firing are gerunds; they, along with their respective objects and modifiers, constitute the compound object of the preposition after. Only gerunds are diagrammed along a step-down line.

Apologia pro descriptione mea: 1. Intuitively, I want to label punishing and firing present participles. But how can they be participles? After all, after is a preposition here (that it is not a subordinating conjunction is obvious from the fact that it does not introduce a clause, not even an implied clause). As a preposition, it must have as its object a noun, a pronoun, or a noun phrase. Participles introduce adjective phrases, and an adjective phrase cannot be the object of a preposition. Gerunds introduce noun phrases; therefore, punishing and firing must be gerunds. 2. The word enough can be an adverb (among other things) as well as a noun. In this sentence, since enough can become the subject of an equivalent passive-voice sentence (enough was done by Indiana University), it is a direct object. Note that a similar passive rendition would not be possible if the sentence read Indiana University did well. 3. Whether is an expletive; it introduces a noun clause (specifically, an indirect question).

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