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  Elements of Grammar that Serve the Function of Describing


Titanic Wreck Finally Found

special to the New York Times

The barnacle-encrusted hull of the Titanic has been found resting deep on the floor of the Atlantic. Divers have encountered difficulties determining how to bring any artifacts to the surface... 


Adjuncts are adverbial descriptors which can be eliminated without making the clause ungrammatical. 

The diamond necklace was lost (with the ship). 

Jack could have been saved (if there had been enough lifeboats). 

Click here for adverbials.

References are adjectivial descriptors which can go backward or forward as pre-modifiers or post-modifiers. 

Both adjuncts and references may be positively or negatively inclusive.  

In a noun phrase, adjective phrases are pre-modifiers; they come before the noun.

The terrified child huddled behind a chair on the deck.

Click here for adjective phrases.

Examples of post-modifiers are adjectival clauses, reduced adjectival clauses., and prepositional phrases.   

The child who was huddled behind a chair on the deck was rescued. 

The child huddled behind a chair on the deck was rescued. 

The child behind a chair on the deck was rescued.  

Click here for adjectival clauses.

Click here for reduced adjectivial clauses.

Click here for prepositional phrases.

Positive or negative inclusiveness include both adjective phrases and adjectival clauses. 

The steerage passengers were not the ones who were most likely to be rescued.

No male steerage passengers survived.     

Quantifiers are descriptors that function to explain how much or how many. 

They range on a scale from all to none.  Here are a few examples. 

All of the poor young men died.                                                                                                                          

Every person waiting to be rescued prayed. 

A lot of valuables that were lost when the Titanic sank.                                                                                         

Many people lost their lives.                                                                                                                              

Some of the wealthy men were heroes.                                                                                                              

None of the musicians on the Titanic survived.                                                                                                       

No help came in time to save most of the passengers.  

Partitives are descriptors that contain a noun phrase followed by a prepositional phrase. 

The function of subject or object of a clause is served by the first noun phrase, and not the noun phrase that serves as the object of the prepositional phrase.  Many students are confused by partitives!  

Click here for the functions of subjects and objects..

The wreck of the Titanic was photographed for the movie.                                                                                      

Rose was saved by a piece of furniture Jack found floating in the water. 

Click here for noun phrase.

Click here for prepositional phrase.


Classifiers are descriptors that categorize and classify.  They are adjectivals that have the forms of adjectives, nouns, or gerunds.   

Barnacle growth covers the Titanic as it lies underwater. 

Urban growth continued unchecked in the twentieth century, and New York today would not be recognized by the passengers on the Titanic.  

The hull of the Titanic  lies under the ocean as a continuing testament to the tragedy.

Click here for adjectivals.