Sentence Diagrams

Sentence 20

His comments came after Jefferson County Judge-Executive Rebecca Jackson and all three county commissioners sent a hand-delivered letter directing him not to "issue any statements of commitment, or send a memorandum of understanding at this time on behalf of the county" to the Rockets about plans for an arena.

          - Sheldon S. Schafer and Chris Poynter (published on June 13, 2000, in Louisville, KY, in The Courier-Journal, page A1)

Lesson 20: Another item of grammar that has not played a role in the twenty sentences I chose to diagram for this web site, is the retained direct object. Ordinarily, when we make an active-voice sentence passive, we make the direct object in the active voice  the subject in the passive voice, and the subject in the active voice becomes the object of the preposition by in the passive voice. Here is an example: Those two boys broke the window becomes The window was broken by those two boys. The direct object disappears. Ah, but there is an exception. Since it is possible in English to make the indirect object of a sentence in the active voice the subject when that sentence is expressed passively, the direct object is retained in the passive voice. Here is how it works: If you change the active-voice sentence The teacher has given them permission to the passive They have been given permission by the teacher, the direct object, permission, is retained.
Apologia pro descriptione mea: It is sometimes quite difficult to decide if a prepositional phrase is adverbial or adjectival. I hope you will agree that the prepositional phrase about plans for an arena modifies (describes) statements and memorandum, in which case it is adjectival, whereas the other three prepositional phrases describe the issuing of statements and the sending of a memorandum, and thus are adverbial.
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