Tag Archives: phrases

Precore and Postcore and Batman!

Way to go Pwips! You made it through chapters 3 & 4 and an introduction to the noun phrase and sentence types. In the upcoming chapter 5, we will dive into the predicate phrase and certain phrases that are not a part of the core sentence.

Here is an introduction to those certain phrases—

  • First of all, we need to define what the core sentence is:

– The subject and the predicate of a simple declarative sentence are the core of the sentence.

  • For example:

Batman is the best superhero of all time!

“Batman” is the subject of the sentence, and “is the best superhero of all time” is the predicate. These two components always make up the core sentence.

Various kinds of phrases can be added at the beginning or end of the core sentence. These phrases are referred to as precore and postcore phrases and have different forms and functions. They add circumstances or comments about the core.

The first kind of these phrases is a precore phrase:

  • Pre-Adjuncts: These precore phrases frame the core sentence by telling us a circumstance that is true of the entire sentence. They tell the attitude of the writer toward the sentence or tell the reader what the next topic of the text will be.
    • For example:

In my opinion, Batman is the best superhero of all time.

First you identify the core of the sentence, which is the subject and predicate phrases “Batman is the best superhero of all time”.

“In my opinion” is a prepositional phrase that is functioning as a pre-adjunct. It is not part of the subject, nor is it part of the predicate since it doesn’t say something about the subject “Batman”. Instead it presents a circumstance that comments on, or provides a setting for the whole sentence. In this case, “in my opinion” tells us the writer’s attitude to the sentence.

  • Adverbials: Another type of phrase that can be precore; the term adverbial refers to the function of this type of phrase. Adverbials come in various forms such as noun phrases, simple adverbs, or prepositional phrases. Adverbials express a time at which an action takes place, where the action occurs, or the manner in which an action was carried out.
  • For example:

In a somber tone of voice, Alfred said that some men just want to watch the world burn.

The adverbial “in a somber tone of voice” is a prepositional phrase that expresses the manner in which Alfred is speaking.

Every day the Joker acts like a dog chasing cars.

“Every day” is the adverbial with the form of NP, and it establishes when the action takes place.

In the hospital, Harvey Dent received a surprise visit from the Joker.

The adverbial “In the hospital” describes where the action is taking place.

Post Core Phrases:

Sometimes pre-adjuncts occur at the end of the core sentence, in which case they are called Post-Adjuncts. Post adjuncts function in the same ways as pre-adjuncts.

  • Example:

Ironman is not as epic as Batman, with all due respect.

The post-core phrase “with all due respect” shows the attitude of the writer just as a pre-adjunct would.

Here is an example of a Post-core Adverbial:

  • Example:

Batman leapt into the Batmobile in great haste.

“In great haste” is an adverbial expressing the manner in which the action is taking place.



English 362: Glorious Diagrams!

Hello PWP students!

We’ve reached chapter 3 in Hopper’s textbook and been introduced to the basics of the great emblem of this grammar course, the Diagram. In addition to being a main focal point in the class, diagrams can be extremely confusing!

Here is a recap on important basics to understanding diagrams:

First of all, remember the definition of phrase. This is important since it’s phrases that we will be diagramming.

Phrase: this term refers to a set of words that belong together because they function as a grammatical unit (eg., “the hot rod” is the unit of a noun phrase)

In a diagram, a phrase has two aspects that are identified: Form and Function (hence, it is called a “form-function diagram”)

Forms: labels for categories like “verb”, “noun”, “adjective”; and labels for phrases like “Noun Phrase” and “Predicate Phrase”

-Forms are represented in the top “tree” part of the diagram

Functions: (what the phrase is doing in the sentence, or the purpose that it serves) labels such as “Subject”, “Predicate”, “Modifier”, “Determiner”, etc.

-Functions are represented in the underlined section of the diagram, underneath the sentence.

Every sentence that we will be working with is made up of two basic phrases: The Noun Phrase (NP) and the Predicate Phrase (PredPhr).  When you diagram a sentence, after you start the tree diagram by labeling the sentence with the overarching “S” form label,  the NP and PredPhr are the first two phrases that you will identify. Identify their forms (NP and PredPhr), and then identify their functions (Subject and Predicate). (See p. 48 of Hopper’s textbook)

Example Sentence:

The hot rod whizzed down the street.

   Two basic phrases of sentence:

“The hot rod” And “whizzed down the street”

   – Forms:

“the hot rod” = NP

“whizzed down the street” = PredPhr


     NP function (the hot rod) = Subject

PredPhr function (whizzed down the street) = Predicate


See chapter 3 for visuals of this diagramming process. Understanding the basic form-function categories of NP and PredPhr is just the beginning before we dissect each of those phrases down to every single word’s form and function. Keep up the good practice! If you have any questions or simply want someone to practice with, please stop by Laurentide and see either Cheyenne or Olivia (that’s me:)