Adjective Phrase

Adjective Phrase :

The various kinds of modifiers and complements have all been studied in other pages - each in connection with the construction which it illustrates. For purposes of analysis, however, it is necessary to consider modifiers as such and complements as such.

The topics will be taken up in the following order.

(1) modifiers of the subject and modifiers of the predicate

(2) complements

(3) modifiers of complements

(4) modifiers of modifiers

A word or group of words that changes or modifies the meaning of another word is called a modifier.

1. {Men | Able men | Men of ability} can always find employment.

2. {Walls | Battlemented walls | Walls with battlements} usually enclosed mediæval cities.

3. {Cottages | English cottages | Cottages in England} are often thatched.

4. The boy listened {eagerly. | with eagerness.}

5. I coughed {purposely. | on purpose.}

6. The bullet passed {harmlessly. | without doing harm.}

Modifiers may be attached not only to substantives and verbs, but also to adjectives and adverbs.

All modifiers of substantives are called adjective modifiers. All modifiers of verbs, adjectives and adverbs are called adverbial modifiers.

Note : The terms adjective modifier and adjective are not synonymous. All adjectives are adjective modifiers, but all adjective modifiers are not adjectives. Thus, in “Henry’s skates are rusty,” the possessive noun Henry’s is an adjective modifier, since it limits the noun skates as an adjective might do.

A group of words used as a modifier may be either a phrase or a clause.

1. {Able men | Men of ability | Men who have ability} can always find employment.

2. I spoke {thoughtlessly. | without thinking. | before I thought.}

A phrase or a clause used as an adjective modifier is called an adjective phrase or clause.

A phrase or a clause used as an adverbial modifier is called an adverbial phrase or clause.

Adjective and adverbial clauses are always subordinate…..because they are used as parts of speech.

Modifiers of The Subject

Any substantive in the sentence may take an adjective modifier, but modifiers of the subject are particularly important.

The simple subject may be modified by (1) an adjective, an adjective phrase or an adjective clause (2) a participle (3) an infinitive (4) a possessive (5) an appositive.

Adjectives as Modifiers of The Subject

Adjective Phrases as Modifiers of The Subject

Adjective Clauses as Modifiers of The Subject

The simple subject may be modified by an adjective, an adjective phrase or an adjective clause.

1. {Ivory trinkets | Trinkets of ivory | Trinkets which were carved from ivory} lay scattered about.

2. {Treeless spots | Spots without trees | Spots where no trees grew} were plainly visible.

In each of these groups of sentences, the subject of the first sentence is modified by an adjective, that of the second by an adjective phrase, that of the third by an adjective clause.

Most adjective phrases are prepositional, as in the examples.

An adjective clause may be introduced by a relative pronoun or a relative adverb. For lists.

Relative Pronouns as Modifiers of The Subject

1. The architect who designed this church was a man of genius.

2. The painter whom Ruskin oftenest mentions is Turner.

3. A piece of amber which is rubbed briskly will attract bits of paper.

4. The day that I dreaded came at last.

5. The plain through which this river flows is marvelously fertile.

6. The book from which I got this information is always regarded as authoritative.

7. A friend in whom one can trust is a treasure beyond price.

8. The boys with whom he associates do him no good.

Relative Adverbs as Modifiers of The Subject

1. The spot where the Old Guard made their last stand is marked by a bronze eagle.

2. The morning when I arrived in Rome is one of my pleasantest memories.

3. The year after Ashton left home brought fresh disaster.

4. The land whence Scyld drifted in his magic boat will never be known.

Note : A preposition and a relative pronoun may often replace a relative adverb. Thus, in the second example, on which might be substituted for when.

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