What is the Prepositional Phrase in the Busy Squirrel Dug in the Ground?
The structure of a sentence is a subject, verb, and optional complement (S/V/C). Almost every word in a sentence describes a subject, verb, or complement, and most other words are adjectives or adverbs that describe or modify the subject. In the example above, the prepositional phrase “in the tree” identifies the subject of the sentence and functions as an adjective.
Nonessential clause/nonessential phrase
A nonessential clause or phrase adds information not essential to the main idea of a sentence. Nonessential clauses and phrases are set off by commas. For example, “a busy squirrel dug in the ground” could mean “a squirrel dug in the ground,” not “a busy squirrel dug in the ground.”
Nonessential clauses and phrases are not needed in every sentence. When used in a sentence, they only modify the key words. Those words are called essential clauses. The nonessential clauses add superfluous information and change nothing else about the main idea of the sentence. They are set off by punctuation, including parentheses and commas.
In English, the main part of a sentence is the subject, verb, and optional complement (S/V/C) pattern. Almost every word in the language describes one or more of these words and is described by an adjective or adverb. The example sentence below shows the use of the indirect object “the tree.” This phrase identifies the subject of the sentence and acts as an adjective.
An indirect object comes between the subject and the direct object in a sentence. The action occurs between the subject and the direct object, which is usually a person, animal, or thing. A prepositional phrase, such as “he dug in the ground,” is not an indirect object. When a verb is followed by an indirect object, that object must come before or after the direct object.
Sammy ran to his hole often. He scavenged nuts from under the trees and visited his store house in the stone wall. He melted snow in this warm hollow. Indirect objects are usually underlined and should not be in bold text. Using a comma to separate two parts of the sentence will help you write a more effective sentence. We can also use a verb to indicate a verb.
When we say that a squirrel has been busy digging in the ground, it is not the subject. It is the complement. The complement answers “who or what?” and is written above the subject. This sentence has a complement. Bobtail told a joke about his squirrel friends. He was very busy. While digging in the ground, he spotted a string and dropped it under an oak tree.
The verb ‘digged’ in the sentence implies that the subject digs in the ground, while the noun ‘dig’ in the previous sentence ‘digged’ ‘dug’ ‘dug in the ground.’ When the subject digs in the ground, the verb ‘digged’ renames the subject. Similarly, ‘washes’ implies that the subject washes himself, but this is not true. Instead, “washed’ is a direct object of the sentence.
The predicate adjective ‘digged’ is the word that acts as the complement. The words are labeled C and highlighted twice. They point to the word that follows them. In the example above, “digged in the ground” means that the other word in the sentence is the predicate adjective. The next time you read this story, you’ll have a good idea of how to make it sound right.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.