Step 5 – Perform an analysis of each sentence in the paragraph you are studying and write a meaningful grammatical diagram. ;There are three kinds of analyses you may perform: interrogative, syntactical, and propositional. In an interrogative analysis, you probe the text with interrogatives. (Who? What? Why? Where? When? How many? How much? To what extent?) In a syntactical analysis, you determine the kernel sentence and all modifiers and then write each modifier under the other part of the sentence it modifies, qualifies, or tells more about. In a propositional analysis, you determine the basic (i.e., kernel) sentence and each modifier and write it in the form of a proposition (i.e., statement) what each modifying word, phrase, or clause tells about what it modifies.
Syntactical Analysis – The way sentence parts are put together is called “syntax.” An “analysis” divides a sentence into parts and studies each part. A syntactical analysis breaks down each sentence in a paragraph into meaningful parts and studies the parts. In performing this analysis, you rewrite each sentence into a grammatical diagram that shows the relationship of each part to the whole and to all other parts. Since the analysis is not performed as an exercise in grammar for grammar’s sake, you do not break sentences down into every small part possible. You seek only to write an analysis that aids in understanding the message of the sentence.
Before discussing how to perform a “Syntactical Analysis” of a text, I present a syntactical and propositional analysis of Hebrews 5:8-10. By presenting this example first, I hope to enable you to see the value of this process.
When you analyze a sentence, ask the following: “What or who is it about?” “What does it assert about this subject?” These questions will bring the kernel of the sentence into focus. Then for every other element of the sentence ask, “What does this modify or tell me something about?” Also ask, “Which of the following does it tell me–which one, what kind, how many, when, where, how, why, , to what extent, or under what circumstances?” If it tells you which one, what kind, or how many, it will modify a noun or a pronoun. If it tells you when, where, how, why, to what extent, or under what circumstances, it will likely modify a verb, or possibly an adjective.
Syntactical Analysis: Hebrews 5:8-10 : “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered, and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
. . ., he learned obedience
Although he was a son
from what he suffered,
. . . , he became the source of . . . salvation
once made perfect
for all who obey him
[He] was designated . . . to be high priest
in the order of Melchizedek.
1. Jesus learned obedience.
2. He learned obedience in spite of the fact that he was a son.
3. He learned obedience from what he suffered.
4. In addition, Jesus became the source of salvation.
5. This salvation is eternal.
6. He became the source of salvation when he was made perfect by obedience.
7. He became the source of salvation for all who obey him.
9. In addition, Jesus was designated to be a high priest.
10. He was designated to be a high priest by God.
11. He was designated a high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Take note of the fantastic truth claims brought into clearer focus by this analysis. (1) It was by submission to the suffering of death that Jesus was made perfect. (2) Even the Son of God had to submit to death before he could give us salvation. (3) His perfect obedience qualified him to be our savior. (4) The salvation given by Jesus is not for time (i.e., this life) only, but it is eternal. (5) This salvation is limited to those who obey Jesus. (6) The salvation given to the obedient is connected with Jesus being a priest like Melchizedek.
The steps in writing a syntactical analysis are as follows: (1) Isolate the kernel sentence by writing the subject, verb, and complement. The kernel is merely a simple sentence. When leaving out a word, phrase, or clause in the rewriting process, insert the ellipsis mark (. . .) to indicate that an element has been omitted. (2) Single out the modifiers. This is done by breaking the sentence into meaningful parts. Modifiers expand the kernel sentence into a more complex sentence–adds to the simple or kernel sentence. A modifier might be one word, a phrase, or even a clause. Write each modifier under the part of the kernel that it modifies–under that about which it tells you more. Write the modifiers into the diagram in their order in the original sentence. This diagrammatic rewriting of the sentence shows how each part relates to each other and to the whole. Following is an example of a syntactical analysis:
Sentence: The elderly Apostle John always taught the early church how to love each other.
. . . Apostle. . . taught . . . how to love each other . . ..
The . . .
the early church
This sentence is made up of a kernel and its modifiers. The simple subject and simple predicate of the independent clause make up the kernel of the sentence. The underlining in the following indicates the components of the kernel sentence. The elderly Apostle John always taught the early church how to love each other. (. . . John . . . taught . . . how to love each other.)
The sentence is expanded through modification of its subject and verb. In this case the modifiers are one-word and phrase modifiers. The underlined parts of the following show the modifiers that expand the sentence. The elderly Apostle John always taught the early church how to love each other. “The” is a definite article or specifier that modifies Apostle, the subject. “Elderly” is an adjective that modifies Apostle, the subject. “John” is an appositive modifying or identifying Apostle, the subject. “Always” is an adverb modifying taught, the verb. “The early church” is the indirect object that tells to or for whom John taught. (Note: This syntactical analysis does not break a sentence down into every small part possible, only into meaningful parts.)
A syntactical analysis simply observes the function of words, phrases, and clauses as any analysis classifying parts of speech would. The subject of a sentence is what or who the sentence is about. (Example: Paul preached the gospel.) The predicate is the statement made about the subject by averb and a complement. (Example: Paul preached the gospel.) The complement is a word, or group of words, that completes what the verb is attempting to say–thus it is a “completer.” When a verb cannot make a statement about the subject by itself, it must have a complement (i.e., completer). It may be either a subject complement or a direct object.
Some verbs can make complete statements about their subjects without help of complements, and some cannot. An intransitive action verb can, because it makes a complete statement by itself. Transitive action and linking verbs cannot make complete statements alone. They must have completers (i.e., complements).
The complement of a transitive action verb may be a noun or pronoun and is called the direct object. The direct object receives the action of the verb. The complement of a linking verb is called the subject complement; it may be either a noun or an adjective. If the subject complement is a noun, it is called a predicate nominative (noun). It identifies the subject. If the subject complement is an adjective, it is called a predicate adjective. It describes the subject. Examples: (1) Paul preached the gospel [direct object – receives the action]. (2) Paul was a missionary [predicate nominative – identifies the subject]. (3) Paul was evangelistic [predicate adjective – describes the subject].)
The following is an example of a “syntactical analysis.” It also adds the “propositional analysis.” The syntactical analysis rewrites the sentence in a diagrammatic form that shows how each part relates to other parts and to the whole. The propositional analysis transforms each element of the analysis into the truth claim (i.e., propositional claim) it indicates.
Sentence: The elderly Apostle John taught the early church how to love one another.
(1) . . .Apostle . . . taught . . . how to love one another. . ..
(5) the early church
Propositional Analysis: Sentence parts stated in propositional form.
1. The Apostle taught how to love one another.
2. The Apostle that taught was John.
3. The Apostle was elderly.
4. John always taught this lesson.
5. He taught this to the early church.
Modifiers expand kernel sentences by giving added information. Modifiers may qualify (i.e., give additional information about) the subject, the verb, the complement, or other modifiers. These modifiers actually combine with the kernel and contribute additional propositions (i.e., statements or truth claims) to the sentence. Each modifier gives added particulars about or limits what it modifies. In the above sentence analysis, observe how, through modifying elements, a sentence can include several propositional statements. Through breaking a sentence into its meaningful parts, we can see the various propositions (or truth claims) in the sentence.
Following the rewriting of the sentence are the propositions formed from the kernel and the modifiers. The propositions were formed by transforming the modifiers into complete statements or sentences. The numbered sentence parts represent propositions (various truth claims), as shown by the propositions with the same numbers.
As you study the following analysis of a sentence, remember the following. Modifiers take different forms: one word, a phrase, or a clause. A phrase is a group of words that does not have both a subject and a verb. A clause is a group of words that has both a subject and a verb. A clause may be independent and make a complete statement by itself. Also a clause may be dependent (i.e., subordinate) and depend on the kernel (i.e., an independent clause) for complete meaning. An independent clause contains the kernel sentence. A dependent clause is a modifier within the sentence.
One-word Modifiers: (1) Jesus is a divine person. (“Divine” is an adjective modifying the subject complement, person, by telling what kind of person Jesus is.) (2) Peter
later denied Jesus. (“Later” is an adverb modifying the verb, denied, by telling when Peter denied Jesus.)
Syntactical Analysis & Propositional Analysis:
(Sentence # 1) Jesus is a divine person.
Jesus is a . . . person.
Jesus is a person.
Jesus is a divine person
(Sentence # 2) Peter later denied Jesus.
Peter . . . denied Jesus.
Peter denied Jesus.
He denied him later.
(3) Our benevolent God gave His Son for us. (“Benevolent” is an adjective modifying the subject, God, by telling what kind of God He is.) (4) Paul was a very effective missionary. (“Very” is an adverb modifying an adjective, effective, telling how effective.) (5) Our Bible is the book of life. (“The” is a definite article modifying the predicate nominative, book, specifying which book.)
(Sentence # 3) Our benevolent God gave His Son for us.
. . . God gave . . . Son
God gave a son.
The Son He gave was his son.
The God who gave his son is our God.
God is benevolent.
He Gave his son for us.
(Sentence # 4) Paul was a very effective missionary.
Paul was a . . . missionary.
Paul was a missionary.
He was an effective missionary.
His missionary work was very effective.
(Sentence # 5) Our Bible is the book of life.
. . . Bible is . . . book . . ..
The Bible is a book.
It is our Bible that is a book.
It is not just a book, but “the” book.
The Bible is the book of life.
Phrase Modifiers: (1) Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. (The prepositional phrase “to Jesus” tells where Nicodemus came. The prepositional phrase “by night” tells when he came.). (2) Seeing the light, Saul became blind. (The participial phrase, “seeing the light,” tells the circumstances under which Saul became blind.) (3) Before seeing the light, Saul was an unbeliever and a persecutor of the church. (The participial phrase, before seeing the light” tells when Saul was an unbeliever. “Of the church” is a prepositional phrase that modifies the predicate nominative, “persecutor.”)
Sentence # 3 – Before seeing the light, Saul was an unbeliever and a persecutor of the church.
. . . Saul was an unbeliever . . .
before seeing the light
[Saul was] a persecutor . . . .
[before seeing the light]
of the church
Saul was an unbeliever.
He was an unbeliever before he saw the light.
In addition, Saul was a persecutor.
It was before he saw the light that he was a persecutor.
He was a persecutor of the church.
Clause Modifiers: As the following indicate, independent clauses can stand-alone. But dependent clauses cannot stand-alone. They depend on independent clauses for meaning and are tied to them as modifiers. (1) Paul went to Ephesus. (Independent clause with an intransitive verb modified by a prepositional phrase telling where) (2) Peter preached the gospel. (Independent clause with a transitive verb and a direct object receiving its action) (3) Luke was a physician, and he preached the gospel. (an independent clauses [having a linking verb and predicate noun identifying Luke] and an independent clause [having a transitive action verb and direct object receiving its action] joined by a coordinating conjunction that shows something in addition to what went before it) (4) Matthew was a tax collector, but he later became an apostle (two independent clause joined by an adversative coordinating conjunction that shows that what follows is the opposite of what went before it). (5) After he came to Philippi, Paul converted a woman named Lydia. (a clause introduced by a subordinating conjunction, indicating time, modifying the predicate of an independent clause) (6) John, who showed great love, taught other disciples to love each other. (a clause, which modifies the subject noun, introduced by a relative pronoun and embedded into an independent clause) (7) Simon the sorcerer was rebuked because he had an evil heart (a dependent clause, showing a causal relationship, joined to an independent clause) In addition to classifying modifiers according to form (one word, phrase, or clause), modifiers are classified according to function. There are adjectival modifiers and adverbial modifiers. Subjects, direct objects, predicate nominatives, and other nouns and pronouns are modified by adjectival (or adjective) words, phrases, and clauses. Indirect complements and objective complements function like adverbs. Appositives function like adjectives.
(Sentence # 4) Matthew was a tax collector, but he later became an apostle.
Matthew was a tax collector, . . .
he . . . became an apostle.
Matthew was a tax collector.
In contrast, he became an apostle.
It was later, after serving as a tax collector, that he became an apostle.
Sentence # 5 – After he came to Philippi, Paul converted a woman named Lydia.
. . . Paul converted a woman . . . .
After he came to Philippi
Paul converted a woman.
He converted this woman after he came to Philippi.
The woman’s name was Lydia.
Sentence # 6 – John, who showed great love, taught other disciples to love each other.
John . . . taught. . .to love each other.
who showed . . . love
John taught to love one another other.
John was the one who showed love.
He showed great love.
He taught this to other disciples.
The following examples are included to help those who are having difficulty determining just what particular modifiers tell more about. Some have difficulty deciding on the use made of modifiers. Be sure to classify modifiers according to their uses. The simple procedure is to ask, “What does this modifier tell me more about?” More specifically, it is also helpful to determine what question each particular modifier answers. Adjectives usually answer “Which one?” “What kind?” and “How many?” Adverbials usually answer “When?” “Where?” “Why?” “How?” “To what extent?” “Under what conditions?” Decide which question a modifier answers; then decide the element of the sentence about which it answers the question.
Adjectival Modifiers: (1) The young evangelist learned much from Paul. (“Young” is a one-word modifier that tells what kind of “evangelist.”) (2) The man who heeds God’s word shall be blessed. (“The” is a definite article modifying the subject, “man,” showing that a specific man shall be blessed. “Who heeds God’s Word” is a dependent clause modifying “man,” the subject, revealing which men.)
Sentence # 2 – The man who heeds God’s word shall be blessed.
. . . man . . . shall be blessed.
who heeds God’s word
Man shall be blessed.
A particular man, “the” man, shall be blessed.
It is the man that heeds God’s word that shall be blessed.
(3) The disciples around the table saw the scars in Jesus’ hands. (“Around the table” is a prepositional phrase modifying “disciples,” the subject. “In Jesus’ hands” is a prepositional phrase modifying “scars,” the direct object.) (4) The disciples walking to Emmaus saw Jesus after he was raised. (“Walking to Emmaus” is a participial phrase telling which “disciples.”) (5) The Lord blessed the experienced missionary. (“Experienced” is a past participle, a one-word modifier–verbal adjective, modifying “missionary.”) (6) The leaders of the Jews arrested Peter, who preached the resurrection. (“Of the Jews” is the translation of a genitive (oblique case) noun modifying the subject, “leaders.” “Who preached the resurrection” is an adjective clause which modifies “Peter,”–the direct object.)
Sentence # 6 – The leaders of the Jews arrested Peter, who preached the resurrection.
. . . leaders . . . arrested Peter
of the Jews
who preached the resurrection
Leaders arrested Peter.
Particular leaders arrested Peter.
The leaders who arrested Peter were leaders of the Jews.
Peter preached the resurrection.
(7) Jesus of Nazareth moved to Capernaum in Galilee. (“Of Nazareth” is the translation of a genitive case noun (designated “the of case”) which modifies “Jesus”–the subject. “In Galilee” is a prepositional phrase modifying “Capernaum,” the object of “to,” another preposition)
Note the following examples of sentences 2 and 6. These examples include a one-word modifier, a phrase modifier, and two clause modifiers.
Subjects, direct objects, and predicate nominatives may be modified by appositives–words, phrases, and clauses that rename or identify nouns or pronouns.
Appositives: (1) Paul, the missionary, preached the gospel in all the known world. (“The missionary” is an appositive modifying the subject, “Paul.”)
Sentence # 1 – Paul, the missionary, preached the gospel in all the known world.
Paul, . . . preached the gospel . . . .
in all the known world
Paul preached the gospel.
Paul was the missionary.
He preached the gospel in all the known world.
(2) Peter’s profession, preaching the gospel, cost him much suffering. (“Preaching the gospel” is a participial phrase used as an appositive identifying the subject, “Peter’s profession.”) (3) Our Savior, the Christ who died for mankind, loves men of all nations. (“The Christ who died for mankind” is a noun clause identifying “our Savior,” the subject.) (4) Jesus converted Nathaniel, the man Philip brought to Him. (“The man Philip brought to Him” is a noun clause identifying “Nathaniel,” the direct object.) (5) One Christian, Barnabas, gave his possessions, land, to help the poor. (“Barnabas” is an appositive identifying the subject, “One Christian.” “Land” is also an appositive, but it identifies the direct object, “possessions.”) (6) Paul was always a faithful evangelist, a man who taught the gospel publicly and from house to house. (“A man who taught the gospel publicly and from house to house” is an appositive clause identifying the predicate nominative, “faithful evangelist.”)
Predicates may be modified by adverbial words, phrases, and clauses. The adverb answers “Why?” “When?” “Where?” and “How?” and sometimes “Under what circumstances?”
Adverbial Modifiers: (1) Levi immediately followed Jesus. (“Immediately” is a one-word modifier of “followed,” the verb) (2) By coming to Jesus at night, Nicodemus showed his fear of his peers. (“By coming to Jesus at night” is a participial phrase modifying the complete predicate, “showed his fear of his peers.”)
(3) If one is born of water and the Spirit, he shall enter into the kingdom of God. (“If one is born of water and the Spirit” is a conditional clause modifying the complete predicate, “shall enter into the kingdom of God.”)
(Sentence # 2) By coming to Jesus at night, Nicodemus showed his fear of his peers.
. . . Nicodemus showed his fear . . . .
By coming to Jesus at night
of his peers
Nicodemus showed fear.
He showed his fear by coming to Jesus at night.
His fear was fear of his peers
(Sentence # 3) If one is born of water and the Spirit, he shall enter into the kingdom of God.
. . . he shall enter into the kingdom . . . .
If one is born of water and the Spirit
Someone shall enter the kingdom.
He will enter if born of water and the Spirit.
The kingdom he will enter is the kingdom of God.
(4) Daily, the early church met in the temple and from house to house to encourage one another. (“Daily” is a one-word modifier of the predicate, “met in the temple and from house to house.” It tells when they met.)
The indirect object modifies the predicate in a sentence. It indicates to or for whom an act is performed. The indirect object can only be present in a sentence that has a direct object. It always comes between the verb and the direct object. Although it tells “to” or “for” whom an action is performed, the indirect object is not preceded by the prepositions “to” or “for.” However, an indirect object translated from the Greek New Testament is often translated from a prepositional phrase in the dative form.
Indirect Objects: (1) On Pentecost, Peter preached the Jews a sermon they will never forget. (The preaching was done for the Jews.) (2) Paul took the Macedonians the gospel. (The gospel was taken to the Macedonians.) (3) The apostles left us the New Testament. (The New Testament was left for us.)
The direct object may be modified by an objective complement. Some transitive verbs often need a substantive or adjective in addition to the direct object to complete what the writer or speaker sets out to say. This noun or adjective called the objective complement actually completes the action expressed by the verb and refers to the direct object.
Syntactical Analysis :
(Sentence # 1) – On Pentecost, Peter preached the Jews a sermon they will never forget.
. . . Peter preached . . . a sermon . . ..
[to] the Jews
they never will forget
Peter preached a sermon.
He preached it on Pentecost.
He preached it to the Jews.
The sermon he preached is one they will never forget..
(Sentence # 2) Paul took the Macedonians the gospel.
Paul took. . . the gospel . . ..
[to] the Macedonians
Paul took the gospel.
He took it to the Macedonians.
(Sentence # 3) The Apostles left us the New Testament.
The Apostles left . . . the New Testament.
The Apostles left the New Testament.
They left the New Testament for us.
When the objective complement is an adjective, it could be added to the verb to form a two-word verb. If we say, “I make the tea sweet by putting sugar in it”; we might have said, “I make-sweet the tea by putting sugar in it.” The latter of these two expressions is equal to saying, “I sweeten (i.e., make-sweet) the tea by putting sugar in it.” Likewise, in the statement, “John made the gospel appealing by his love,” It is as though “made appealing” is the action denoted by the verb. The verbal concept is actually “:make-appealing.” Also, “appealing” refers to and describes the the direct object, “gospel.” These examples illustrate the close relationship between the verb and the objective complement. The objective complement serves as part of the verbal idea and also complements the direct object. This close relationship is not strange since the direct object is part of the predicate.
When the word following the verb is a preposition, the verb and preposition together do form a “two-word” verb. We actually do this with phrases such as “wake up,” “sit down,” “lay down,” and “stand up.” If the verb in one of these phrases is followed by a direct object, the preposition could be considered an objective complement. For example, to “lay the book down” is the same as “to lay-down the book.” Also, to “wake-up” a person is the same as to “wake a person up.”
The substantive or adjective, called the objective complement, either identifies or qualifies the direct object. Although the objective complement usually follows the direct object, it could precede it in the sentence. Since the objective complement is so essential to the completeness of the verbal concept and predication of the kernel, it might be treated in either of two ways in the syntactical analysis. Often, it may be treated as part of the predicate in the kernel. It may also be treated as a modifier of the predicate, and sometimes must be.
Objective Complements: (1) The grace of God rendered the legal system null and void. (“Null” and “void” , as single words, qualify the direct object, “law.” Also, they may be seen as parts of the verbal idea “render null and void.”)
Syntactical Analysis :
(Sentence # 1) The grace of God rendered the legal system null and void.
(Treating the objective complement as part of the verb)
. . . grace . . . rendered null and void the legal system
Grace rendered-null-and-void the legal system.
Grace is a particular grace.
Grace is the grace of God.
(Treating the objective complement as modifiers of the predicate)
. . . grace . . . rendered . . . the legal system
Grace rendered the legal system [something].
Grace is a particular grace.
Grace is grace from God.
It rendered the legal system as null.
It rendered the legal system as void.
(Treating the objective complement as modifiers of the direct object)
. . . grace . . . rendered the legal system
Grace renders the legal system [something].
Grace is a particular grace.
Grace is from God.
It rendered the legal system to be a null system.
It rendered the legal system to be a void system.
(2) The Lord appointed Paul an apostle. (“An apostle” renames the direct object, “Paul.” It also might be viewed as an adverbial phrase, “as an apostle.”
Syntactical Analysis :
(Sentences # 2) The Lord appointed Paul an apostle.
(Treating the objective complement as a modifier of the direct object)
The Lord appointed Paul . . . .
The Lord appointed Paul.
Paul became an apostle by the appointment.
(Treating the objective complement as an adverbial phrase)
The Lord appointed Paul . . . .
[as] an apostle
The Lord appointed Paul.
The appointment was as an apostle.
(3) When he came down from the mountain, Moses found Israel reveling in immorality and idolatry. (The phrase “wallowing in immorality and idolatry” qualifies the direct object, “Israel,” and completes the statement attempted by the verb.) (4) Evil living causes our Christian influence weak. (The adjective “weak” completes the statement being made by the verb by qualifying the direct object, “influence.”) (5) When it comes to salvation, one sin makes our works of no avail. (The prepositional phrase “of no avail” is an essential modifier of the direct object, “works.”) (6) Christ made Paul what he was. (The clause “what he was” modifies the direct object, “Paul.”) (7) God’s system of forgiveness makes the gospel effective. (The adjective “effective” precedes the direct object, but it is still the objective complement. It serves as part of the verbal idea, “makes effective.” It also modifies the direct object, “gospel.” in either case, it is a modifier of the predicate.)
Syntactical Analysis :
Sentence # 7 – God’s system of forgiveness makes the gospel effective.
. . . system . . . makes the gospel
(8) Jesus chose the twelve as His apostles. (The objective complement, “apostles,” is introduced by the expletive, “as” and, although an objective complement, is obviously adverbial, modifying “the twelve.” “For” may be used in the same way that “as” is used.)
At this point a reiteration of the steps in doing a syntactical analysis might help. (1) Pick out the subject, verb, and complement of the independent clause(s) in the sentence. (2) Write the kernel of each sentence in the original order, putting three spaced periods (i.e., the ellipsis mark) wherever one or more words are left out. (3) Separate the modifying words, phrases and clauses (i.e., all other parts of the sentence). (4) Asking what question each modifier answers, decide what each one tells something about. (5) Write the modifiers under the words they modify, beginning about half way in the word modified.
The syntactical analysis, along with information gained through the semantic analysis and the grammatical analysis, will provide a basis for the propositional analysis. The propositional analysis provides a detailed list of what is said in the sentence and the paragraph.
Syntactical Analysis of 1 Thess. 1:3, NIV.
“We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ”
We . . . remember . . . your work
-produced by faith
[We . . . remember] . . . your labor
-prompted by love
[We . . . remember] . . . .your endurance
-inspired by hope
– before . . . God
– and [our] Father
– in . . . Jesus
– our Lord
Paul and colleagues remembered their work
Their works were produced by faith.
They remembered their labor.
Their labor was produced by love.
In addition, they remembered their endurance.
Their endurance was inspired by hope.
Their hope was in Jesus.
Jesus was their Lord.
Jesus was the Christ.