Sentence Diagrams

Sentence 9

TV networks are a lot like pesky phone solicitors, the people who call you as you are about to dig into a bowl of spaghetti and try to sell you Venetian blinds you don't want or some kind of helmet your gutters don't need.

          - Thomas Nord (published on June 2, 2000, in Louisville, KY, in The Courier-Journal, page D1)

Lesson 9: You are already familiar with two kinds of objects: direct objects and objects of prepositions. Now let's take a look at a third kind: indirect objects. A indirect object expresses the person(s) or thing(s) to whom (to which) something is given, said, or shown, or for whom (which) something is done. The indirect object is not preceded by a preposition. In the above sentence, the word you in the phrase to sell you is an indirect object. The indirect object is diagrammed like the object of a preposition; however, nothing is written on the slanted line.
Apologia pro descriptione mea: 1. Since the like-phrase functions as a predicate adjective, it must be diagrammed as such. Some like-phrases function adverbially, with like as a preposition, as in the sentence she runs like a gazelle; such phrases are diagrammed, of course, as prepositional phrases. 2. The part of the sentence from to sell to the end functions as the direct object of the verb try, while the part of the sentence from Venetian blinds on serves as the direct object of the infinitive to sell. If you count blinds and kind separately, there are five direct objects in this sentence, including two relative pronouns that are unexpressed. 3. Everything in the sentence from who on is a relative clause, which itself contains two relative clauses. 4. Like while in Sentence 8, as is a relative adverb of time. 5. About to can also be construed as a phrasal preposition. Examples of other phrasal prepositions are out of and because of. When a phrasal preposition is diagrammed, it appears in its entirety on a single slanted line.
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