I am trying to diagram this sentence for a personal project:

Everything I touch with tenderness pricks like a bramble.

From what I understand, Everything is the subject, and pricks is the predicate with like a bramble being an adverbial phrase modifying pricks. I cannot tell what I touch's place is in this all, however. I think it is modifying Everything, but I don't know how to classify it.

  • 2
    It's a relative clause: try analyzing it with "everything that I touch" instead, then just say the "that" is invisible.
    – Draconis
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 16:10
  • @Draconis, that should probably be an answer. Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 16:32

2 Answers 2


What's tripping you up is a relative clause with an "invisible relative adjective".

First, start with your outer sentence:

Everything pricks like a bramble.

Come up with a diagram of this, using whatever theory you prefer.

Now look at the first part again:

Everything [that] I touch with tenderness…

The relative clause seems to be a sentence of its own!

…I touch [that] with tenderness…

So this is a sentence (an S or a TP or an IP or whatever your theory calls it), embedded into an adjectival phrase, which modifies the noun "everything".

  • Thank you! I could tell that it was complete and modifying Everything, but I just didn't really know how to describe it. I'll mark as the accepted answer! Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 13:55

"I touch" is nothing, that is, it is not a unit of linguistic analysis. "I" is a subject / pronoun and "touch" is a verb"; the two words are part of a relative clause "I touch with tenderness". Actually, it is a sentence, which in this context functions as a relative clause. That relative clause is modifying something – the word "Everything".

  • Hmmm. It's not a sentence. It has a gap in it! Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 18:26

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