Friday, May 16, 2008

There is something I am aware of.

This sentence, from OPAR, pg. 7, begs to be diagrammed.

There – subject
is – linking verb
something – predicate nominative

And here is where I get a little confused. Is this part a subordinate clause?

I – subordinate clause subject?
am – subordinate clause linking verb?
aware – subordinate clause predicate adjective or nominative?
of – preposition

And here is where I get really confused.

(which) – understood relative pronoun, object of the preposition "of", whose antecedent is “something”?

Most importantly, as Dr. Peikoff explains, this little sentence expresses the three basic axioms of Objectivism.

There is (existence)
something (identity)
I am aware of (consciousness).

I don’t know about you, but I think its proper diagram would make one bitchin’ t-shirt. Any grammatical help in this effort would be greatly appreciated.

Update: added attribution to OPAR which at the time I wrote this seemed obvious to me. Of course, you weren't all reading the book at the same time as me - or were you? Nor could you possibly know that this is entirely too clever for me to come up with on my own - or could you? In any case, I hope the 2.1 possible readers of this post will be able to mentally integrate this new information and I apologize to Dr. Peikoff for my unattributed use of his ideas.


Stephen Bourque said...

You're way ahead of me; I do not know how to assist you with the diagramming.

However, lately I've been struggling to improve the word order of my sentences. So, in this one, I definitely would have said, "There is something of which I am aware."

I would say it this way because everybody knows that a preposition is a terrible thing to end a sentence with. :)

Lynne said...

I would say that too - but it does always sound so formal and wordy when I do that.

By the way, you can tell Dr. Peikoff that his sentence would read better if it didn't end with a preposition (OPAR pg. 7).

I think it would certainly be easier to diagram. I've also decided that "aware" is a predicate adjective. But that's as far as I got in the confusing bit.

Now that I think about it, apparently I did not make it clear that it was from OPAR. I will correct that now.

Kim said...

From what I read (by someone more familiar with grammar than myself) it seems that the rule 'do not end a sentence with a preposition' is more a guideline (like the pirate code?). It seems the bigger concern is making sure the preposition has an object. If it has an object, you may be home-free. If it doesn't refer back to something, then its a big no-no. Of course everyone is so hung up on not seeing prepositions at the end of sentences now that it all seems bad.

And there is the extent of my knowledge of grammer! And it's not even my knowledge. (How do you like all those sentences beginning with conjunctions?)

Lynne said...

Personally, starting sentences with the conjunction "And" is a great thrill. It's just so damn naughty! I guess those Catholic grammar school habits (a little nun humor) die hard.

Still, are you saying that "something" is the object of the preposition, or that "which", which is missing or possibly understood, is truly missing or possibly understood as the object of the preposition "of"? I must know before I get a million printed up.

Kim said...

I wonder if it couldn't also be "I am aware there is something" so the 'there is something' would be the object of the prepositional phrase. Is that even possible? I totally never got past prepositions in Rex Barks. The minute the transitive and intransitive verbs were introduced--my brain shut down.

Kim said...

Nope--Hubby says I'm all washed up and that type of rephrasing would actually change the meaning. So it's way over my head and I am so bad at it, I can only hinder!

Lynne said...

I brought this up to some homeschooling friends today and all but one of them looked at me like I had the plague. In any case, the two of us were still unable to come up with the correct diagram, but they all thought that the preposition ending thing was just a matter of style rather than proper usage.

Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog is a really funny book about diagramming and I've never made it through all the exercises of Rex Barks. Perhaps I should dig that out rather than searching for answers on the internet.

If I figure it out, I'll at least comment here if not update the post (including a new diagram).

Anonymous said...

"There" is not the subject. It never is. "Something" is the subject. Switch "there" and "something" on your diagram and you're closer, but I'd have to access a lot more brain cells than currently available to figure it out totally. Will think and get back to you.

Lynne said...

I would really appreciate that. The release of my entire line of diagram t-shirts has been stalled until I know the answer.

And why is "there" never a subject?