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I am diagramming sentences. Two of them include the phrase "according to..." as in "According to the afternoon paper, the police looked into..." I know that the "according to" part is a prepositional phrase, but I can't tell if it modifies the subject (police), the verb phrase (looked into) or the direct object. Any ideas?
Comments  
The phrase "according to ..." is a sentential adverb. It serves as a modifier for the whole sentence. "unfortunately" and many other words and phrases would work the same. "Unfortunately, the police ..."

CJ
Anonymous Two of them include the phrase "according to..."
What's the second one? I doubt one rule fits all.

She didn't play the hand according to Hoyle. I'd take it as adverbial in the traditional sense. Emotion: smile

(When you say, "as in," shall we assume that both examples are the same?) Emotion: thinking

Who ate the last steak? (reply) Moreover, the dog. [bah]
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Avangiplay the hand according to Hoyle. I'd take it as adverbial in the traditional sense.
Good point.

CJ
The subject is not modified by the "according too" because the police would have looked into (whatever) even if the afternoon paper would not state it.
AnonymousThe subject is not modified by the "according to" because the police would have looked into (whatever) even if the afternoon paper would not state it.
Exactly!
That's why Jim pointed out that it modifies the whole sentence.
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I believe it is adverbial. When you can move it to different places in the sentence, then it is usually adverbial rather than adjectival.