This query is a follow-up from another question I asked a few days ago. I am still pondering how to best interpret the following phrase grammatically:

"my brother's weapon"

Could I categorize it as follows:

my = Possessive pronoun adjective modifying brother's

brother's = possessive noun also functioning as an adjective modifying weapon

my brother's = adjective phrase collectively modifying weapon

If I diagrammed this, would "weapon" be on the main line with "brother's" descending on a slanted line below it like an adjective? Would "my" be on another adjective line coming off of "brother's"?

I'm thinking the flow would be similar to the way one might diagram "the bright red truck"? In this phrase, would you consider "bright" an adjective modifying "red" with the both of them working together as an adjective phrase modifying truck?

Thank you in advance for your polite feedback. I'm working hard to clarify my understanding of how these parts of speech function together in context.

  • 3
    My and the are both determiners, not adjectives, and modify nouns independently of adjectives. Determiners appear before adjectives in noun phrases, and may or may not modify the noun phrase instead of the noun. Depends. – John Lawler Mar 5 '14 at 22:39
  • I'd like to see 'galore' diagrammed. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 5 '14 at 23:02
  • @Edwin: Let's just deal with the whisky first, and worry about the galore bit if we're still standing! :) – FumbleFingers Mar 5 '14 at 23:59
  • @FF That's cheating. The seeing-double classification. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 6 '14 at 11:39

Concerning your specific query about how to diagram "my brother's weapon," you would diagram "brother's" on a slanted line under "weapon" as "brother's" is a possessive that modifies "weapon." "My" would go on a line under "brother's" because "my" tells whose brother.

  • Right. One way or another, any structure that indicates this nested bracketing -- [[my brother's] weapon] -- is correct. As far as Reed-Kellogg is concerned, assuming weapon is on the main line (head of direct object noun phrase, say), then brother's would be a diagonal modifier (like an adjective), and my would be a parallel diagonal modifier under brother's, with a right-angle modification connector to brother's, rather than weapon. (as well as I can describe it here, anyway) – John Lawler May 16 '14 at 17:04

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