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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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Wednesday, October 12

ES3, the 4

Here I am again, whether you like it or not. This time with the 4, what is grammatically called the past participle. And, again, now you can forget this bit of gobbledygook. It’s the form of the verb that usually ends in –ed or has some other ending or internal pronunciation change. It’s the form that, as part of a main V, follows have. It’s used as an adjective and sometimes as an adverb. The 4 almost never takes an o, almost always works with 1-o’s. I say "almost never" because in only a few cases can it actually take an object. Here’s one such case: “Shown the truth, he apologized.” A few others: granted his wish, taught the lesson, given the prize, refused shelter, etc. Most of them sound awkward and are seldom used, even though they’re structurally acceptable.

When the 4 is in the usual adjective position, right in front of a noun, I ignore it because it doesn’t complicate the structure any more than any other adjective in the front position: “the broken window,” “his paid vacation,” “the dried leaves.” But in the following cases, I’d designate it as a 4: “We repaired the window broken in the storm.” “He accepted the money paid through his insurance policy.” “She raked up the leaves dried by the autumn wind.” When it describes the S, it can be an introductory phrase or it can come after the S, either enclosed or not enclosed in commas. And sometimes, it can even bring up the rear as long as there’s no other noun it could refer to. And finally, it can sometimes take on an adverbial flavor. Examples, with patterns first followed by the sentences:

One other symbol I have to include just to account for everything. Sometimes a pure adjective can be used just like a 4, but since it doesn’t originate from a verb, I call it a 4a. “Cold and weary, the boys trudged home from their campout.”

That’s it. Next comes the appositive and the s-v-o’s. And aren’t you looking forward to that?

One last note about the art of writing. Young children and semi-illiterate writers will frame their writing in little bits of information, in simple main clauses, each one a sentence, one right after another. “I went to school this morning. I had two classes before lunch. The classes weren’t my favorites. For lunch I had soup and a sandwich. The soup was tomato. The sandwich was chicken salad.” Better, but still not very brilliant, “This morning I went to two of my least favorite classes, after which for lunch I had tomato soup and a chicken salad sandwich.”

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