Homeschool Reading Specialist

Yes, you can teach your child to read!

“When am I ever going to need to know this?”

on May 27, 2014

“When am I ever going to need to know this?” is a post from

I frequently hear this question from my older children while they are doing math lessons, but today I would like to share a conversation I had with my 17-year-old this morning that shows how grammar can make a big impact in everyday life.


This morning I was getting ready for the day when my 17-year-old daughter burst through the bathroom door and blurted out,

“Mom, how can I further clarify Ephesians 6:1? “K” and I were talking about it last night…. you know, ‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right?’ We agree that the verse is directed towards children, but she thinks that the children are being directed to obey their parents if they [the parents] are ‘in the Lord,’ but ‘in the Lord’ is a prepositional phrase that modifies the verb phrase ‘obey your parents.’ Because of that modifier, I think it is telling the children HOW to obey their parents; it’s not saying to obey only if their parents are in the Lord… ‘Children obey your parents in the Lord….'”

WHEW! She blurted all that out so fast, I had to ask her to repeat it again, more slowly so I could synthesize what she was saying.


We slowly parsed the part of the verse in question:

Identify the prepositional phrase(s) ~ in the Lord. The subject or verb will not be found within a prepositional phrase.

Find the verb.  What is the action? ~ obey  (start here with younger children who have not yet learned prepositions)

Find the subject. Whatever is “doing the action” is the subject. Who is to obey? ~ children

Is there a direct object? The direct object receives the action. Obey whom or what? ~ your parents. Parents are receiving the obedience of their children.  Direct objects can’t be the subject of the sentence.

       S            V               DO         Prep Phrase

“Children, obey your parents (in the Lord,) ….

Now back to the prepositional phrase. What is it telling us? What question does it answer? A preposition phrase can be an adjective prep phrase or an adverbial prep phrase. The prep phrase is an adjective when it modifies (links back to, gives more information about) a noun. It usually answers the question, “which“. <hmm, wondering if I am punctuating that correctly> 🙂 The phrase is an adverbial prepositional phrase if it modifies a verb or other adverb and answers one of the following questions: how, when, why, where.

prep adverb

Children, obey your parents how? “in the Lord”

Wow! The benefits of homeschooling! The grammatical clarification of this verse further drove home the fact that we, being children, only have power to obey when we are “in the Lord,” or when we are abiding in Him. What is one great reason to study grammar? In addition to the obvious answers about how grammar impacts writing, knowing your grammar can help in studying scripture.

I am sure there are many of you who could add further clarification to this post. I welcome your comments. I would really love to have some of you share more “parse-worthy” verses so we can practice this skill in a meaningful way!  🙂  In the meantime, enjoy those unexpected lessons that only He can supply!

Happy Parsing,


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Homeschool Reading Specialist

Yes, you can teach your child to read!

The Measured Mom

Yes, you can teach your child to read!

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