For a Reed–Kellogg sentence diagram, how would you diagram a sentence with a causative verb like "made"? For example:

The hot weather made her want to swim.

I understand that "weather" is the subject and "made" is the verb, but is the direct object "her" or "want to swim"? And either way, how would you diagram "want to swim"? As a participial phrase, or as an infinitive phrase with a blank space where the "to" would usually be?

Thanks for any help you're able to offer! I've been trying to figure this out for days...

  • In this particular sentence, the direct object of made is the infinitive clause verb phrase want to swim (which itself contains another infinitive complement verb phrase). The subjects of both want and swim are the same as her, which is the indirect object of made, and they are deleted by Equi-Subject Deletion (aka Control). A Reed-Kellogg diagram wouldn't have any way to indicate all this, but you can make it up yourself; that's what everybody else does, after all. Jun 7, 2017 at 22:45
  • 1
    I see it as a complex catenative construction where "her" is the syntactic direct object of "made" and the 'understood' (not syntactic) subject of the subordinate clause "want to swim", which functions as catenative complement of "made". Within the subordinate clause is the further subordinate clause "to swim" as catenative complement of "want". We call "her" a raised object since the verb it relates to syntactically ("made") is higher in the constituent structure than the one it relates to semantically ("want"). I doubt if Reed-Kellogg could cope with this analysis!
    – BillJ
    Jun 8, 2017 at 10:06
  • According to new contributor @B Gram, Martha Kolln treats these cases in her book, 'Understanding English Grammar'. See p. 263 on Catenative Verbs. Feb 9 at 19:41

1 Answer 1


In light of advice that Reed-Kellogg cannot handle this type of causative construction and the advice to make it up, I propose the following: If you think about it, the sentence can be reinterpreted as “The hot weather made (it such that) she wanted to swim.” The only problem is what to do about “her”. It's an object of “made” but also a subject of “want”. So my advice is to show those relationships as simply and cleanly as possible:

enter image description here

  1. Set up the basic subject / verb / object structure for the main clause “weather made”
  2. In the direct object space, set up another S / V / O structure on stilts.
  3. Make “her” the subject of "want" as if it were a “she” as in the alternate interpretation.
  4. Put the infinitive “to swim” on stilts as the object of “want”.
  5. If you want, you could put “(her)” in the direct object area with arrows pointing to its reanalyzed position as the subject of “want”.

I've always thought the purpose of diagramming was to show you understand the structure of a sentence, the functions of its words, and the relationships between those words. Even if this is wrong, it shows you know better than to make an objective pronoun the subject of a verb not in the 3rd person, but also shows you see that “her” has both properties of an object and properties of a subject. (It's like asking what the part of speech of a present participle is. It is derived from a verb and has verbal properties, but it also functions as an adjective.)

  • What an artistic diagram. :)
    – Lambie
    Oct 7, 2023 at 18:37

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