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Practicing immediate constituent analysis using a "toy" context-free phrase structure grammar of English is a great way to introduce undergraduate students to syntactic analysis. In the context of a course in English syntax, the following sentence came up as controversial, with different plausible parses considered. Do community members have a consensus parse for this sentence?

Mysterious wizards concoct potions cleverly in the early morning if the sun rises.

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The only ambiguity I can see is the scope of "cleverly". I.e. does it scope over the prepositional phrase or not? –  acattle Oct 8 '12 at 13:44
    
The scope of the conditional is also ambiguous. –  musicallinguist Oct 8 '12 at 14:52
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Either way, this sentence does not look very natural to me, at least not in prose... –  Cerberus Oct 8 '12 at 16:20
    
Is the nonsensical "if" instead of "when" there on purpose? –  Eugene Seidel Mar 7 '13 at 17:49
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1 Answer

The sentence could have a few different possible parses, though not all of them will be obvious. If you plug the sentence into the LinGO English Resource Grammar (ERG), which is an HPSG-based automatic parser, you can see the possible parses. The first one is probably the most obvious one.

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Would it be possible t provide these options in the answer? There are only four, but it might be a little difficult. –  Danger Fourpence Apr 6 '13 at 20:31
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