An Introduction to the Language of Literature by N. F. Blake (auth.)

By N. F. Blake (auth.)

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This may be considered in relation to the difference between the active and passive forms of a verb. In the active voice the agent is also the subject of the clause so that in 'The IRA sent arms to Ireland', the subject the IRA is also the agent doing the sending. This sentence can be expressed in a passive form as 'Arms were sent to Ireland by the IRA'. The use of 40 AN INTRODUCTION TO THE LANGUAGE OF LITERATURE the passive automatically puts the agent into an adverbial group 'by the IRA', for it is still the IRA who are sending the arms.

As single words precede the head in a noun group, it follows that in system analysis the head is analysis, and in analysis system the head is system. It is this understanding of English word order which enables us to make sense of complicated headlines in newspapers such as power enquiry report fiasco. Two different kinds of words can appear before the head of a noun group, and they are called determiner and modifier. The latter corresponds closely, but not entirely, with adjectives in traditional grammar.

But the second qualifier in a waste of shame really refers to the whole of the preceding part of the group, expence of Spirit. The complement of the first clause in this sentence is lust in action, which is formed in the same way as the subject in that it consists of a noun group which has a head and a qualifier. This accentuates the parallelism between the subject and the complement, and suggests that there is a link between expence of Spirit and lust on the one hand and between in a waste of shame and in action on the other.

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