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I'm trying to learn grammar using Internet tutorials, and it appears to be the consensus that sentences consist of a subject, verb, and often an object. And in the simple examples provided by the tutorials, identifying the sentence structure is always easy:

The dog (subject) eats (verb) a bone (object)

But I'm never able to do it in my own writing. For example, I can identify the subject "we" the verb "develop" and object "Y" in the sentence below, but I have no clue what the rest is.

By combining X, we develop Y, which allows us to use Z to build R that can be combined with S to allow T.

Can someone label the sentence structure of the sentence above, so that I know the names of things that I should lookup, or refer me to some good literature that defines grammar. I have a background in Computer Science and Math, so something formal (maybe using formal grammars) would be very useful.

My motivation is that I'm currently trying to learn how to write better (using the book "Style The Basics of Clarity and Grace"). The book contains sentences such as "you underlined abstract nouns as simple subject" and I would like to know what those kind of things are. Therefore, I would like to be able to label components of sentences with their appropriate linguistic names. I think that a formal grammar would help me do this (given by background), but it doesn't have to handle extreme edge cases, or be at the bleeding edge of linguistic research.

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    I think you may need to read about "complex sentences". Sentence parsing or diagramming sentences is definitely useful. – Damkerng T. Sep 6 '15 at 17:25
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    Over the last 100 years, and especially in the last 50, formal grammar has been undergoing an explosive transformation that has not settled into a consensus. There are many competing 'schools' of grammatical analysis; some of these borrow traditional terms but use them in novel ways, some invent entire new terminologies. So there's no established answer to be given. Start from the other end: What do you want to use your knowledge (or 'knowledge') of grammar for? – StoneyB on hiatus Sep 6 '15 at 18:17
  • @StoneyB I added some motivation to the post – Konstantin Weitz Sep 6 '15 at 18:30
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    An excellent book! I think you will find that Williams uses very little technical vocabulary, and defines all the novel terms you need to understand what he is saying. If you are a native speaker, or a fluent non-native speaker, formal grammar can only teach you the rational principles which underlie what you already know. That may be vastly interesting in itself (I certainly find it so); but it will not make you a better writer. Read-read-read, write-write-write will be more useful than theory. – StoneyB on hiatus Sep 6 '15 at 18:55
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I couldn't understand if you know about "non-defining relative clause" .If I presume you don't know yet, I can show these parts in your sentence.

When I look at your sentence, I can see what makes it long is that the part non-defining relative clause which I highlighted.

By combining X, we develop Y, which allows us to use Z to build R that can be combined with S to allow T.

And there is also defining relative clause in this non-defining relative clause.

By combining X, we develop Y, which allows us to use Z to build R that can be combined with S to allow T.

As the name suggests, defining relative clauses give essential information to define or identify the person or thing we are talking about.Defining relative clauses are composed of a relative pronoun (sometimes omitted), a verb, and optional other elements such as the subject or object of the verb. Commas are not used to separate defining relative clauses from the rest of the sentence. Commas or parentheses are used to separate non-defining relative clauses from the rest of the sentence.

Non-defining relative clauses tell us more/extra about someone or something. Non-defining relative clauses are composed of a relative pronoun, a verb, and optional other elements such as the subject or object of the verb. Commas or parentheses are always used to separate non-defining relative clauses from the rest of the sentence.

http://www.edufind.com/english-grammar/relative-clauses/

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/grammar/british-grammar/relative-clauses-defining-and-non-defining

https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/645/02/

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I don't know what you mean by a formal grammar, LTAG is a computational grammar which you may found helpful. It shows the grammar as a collection of some elementary and recursive adjoining trees.

A simple sentence could consist of a noun phrase and a verb phrase.

I -NP (asked -V (a question) -NP (of (my teacher) -NP) -PP ) -VP

VP consists of a verb (asked) and two dependent phrase (a question (direct object) and of teacher (indirect object) ). These phrases consist of some prepositions and again a noun phrase.

To learn noun phrases, there are many constructions which can build them, adjectives and relative clauses are among of them

for example the sentence above could be

[A clever boy] asked [a hard question] of [his teacher who was an arrogant man]

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