This verse consists of two sentences. They are formed by the first and second lines of this verse respectively. The first sentence can be subdivided into two segments: 1) appaka te manussesu (few are those amongst people). The subject is the personal pronoun te (they, nominative plural). The verb is omitted, implying the verb "to be". This verb has an attribute, the adjective appaka (few, nominative plural). This word has itself an attribute, the noun manussesu (amongst people, locative plural). 2) ye jana paragamino (who have gone to the other shore). The subject is the relative pronoun ye (who, nominative plural). It has an attribute, the noun jana (people, nominative plural). This word has itself an attribute, the compound paragamino (gone to the other shore, nominative plural). In the second sentence, the subject is the noun paja (people, mankind, nominative singular). It has two attributes, the pronoun ayaj (this, nominative singular) and the adjective itara (other, nominative singular). The verb is anudhavati (follow, 3rd person, singular, active, indicative, present tense). This verb has an attribute, the noun tiram (shore, accusative singular) that is stressed by the particle eva (just). The adverb atha (and then) introduces the sentence and connects it to the previous one.
One day, a group of people came to the monastery to give offerings to the monks and listen to the discourses. It was arranged that they could stay the whole night and listen to the monks explaining the Dharma. But some of them did not have enough energy and they returned home early. Some stayed for the night, but were sleepy and did not pay much attention to what was being said. Only a few were able to listen attentively to the discourses. In the morning the Buddha was told about what happened. He replied by this verse, saying that most people are too attached to this world, only a few are able to reach the other shore and attain Nirvana. He reminded the monks to strive diligently for the goal; only those who will do se will be able to reach the perfection of mind.