Sentence Diagrams

Sentence 12

The advocacy group Human Rights Watch claims the nation's war on drugs unfairly targets African Americans, who are far more likely to be imprisoned for drug offenses than whites even though far more whites use illegal drugs than blacks.

          - Michael A. Fletcher, The Washington Post (published on June 8, 2000, in Louisville, KY, in The Courier-Journal, page A3)

Lesson 12: 1. An appositive is a word (noun or pronoun) or phrase that follows another word or phrase (usually immediately) and identifies or further describes it. In the above sentence, Human Rights Watch is in apposition with group. When diagramming, one places the appositive in parentheses. 2. There are four adverbs in the sentence we are examining: unfairly, which modifies a verb; far, which appears twice and both times modifies the adverb more; and even, which modifies a conjunction.
Apologia pro descriptione mea: 1. The word than appears twice, each time as a relative adverb. That it is not a preposition can be seen by examining two sentences: a) She is more likely than I to finish the test (which parallels the first than-clause above, and b) Far more people than they attend the lectures (which parallels the second than-clause. Since we don't say me and them, respectively, in the examples, and since prepositions would require these objective forms, than is not a preposition here. As a relative adverb, than introduces a clause, even if the bulk of the clause is unexpressed, which is the case here. When diagramming such than-clauses, one puts an x in the place of each missing word. The missing modifier of blacks doesn't have to be many; it could be another quantitative word or expression like some or a few. Ask yourself what the comparative form of some and of a few is. Is it not more? The unexpressed words are likely, some, and use them.
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