Modifiers of The Predicate

Modifiers of The Predicate :

The simple predicate, being a verb or verb-phrase, can have only adverbial modifiers.

The simple predicate may be modified by

(1) an adverb, an adverbial phrase or an adverbial clause

(2) an infinitive

(3) an adverbial objective

(4) a nominative absolute

(5) an indirect object

(6) a cognate object


The simple predicate may be modified by an adverb, an adverbial phrase, or an adverbial clause.

1. The landlord collects his rents {monthly. | on the first of every month. | when the first of the month comes.}

2. The old schoolhouse stands {there. | at the cross-roads. | where the roads meet.}

3. We left the hall {early. | before the last speech. | while the last speech was being delivered.}

In each of these groups, the simple predicate of the first sentence is modified by an adverb, that of the second by an adverbial phrase, and that of the third by an adverbial clause.

Most adverbial phrases are prepositional.

Adverb………Adverbial Phrase

speedily………with speed

furiously………with fury

lately………of late

instantly………in an instant

there………in that place

rapidly………at a rapid rate

skillfully………in a skillful manner

skillfully………with skill

promptly………on the instant

to-morrow………on the morrow

unwillingly………against my will

Peculiar adverbial phrases are.

to and fro

now and then

up and down

again and again

first and last

full speed

full tilt

hit or miss

more or less

head first

upside down

inside out

sink or swim

cash down

An adverbial clause that modifies a verb may be introduced by (1) a relative adverb, or (2) a subordinate conjunction.

Relative Adverbs

1. Our colonel was always found where the fighting was fiercest.
2. When I give the signal, press the button.
3. Whenever I call, you refuse to see me.
4. Miller arrived after the play had begun.
5. Everybody listened while the vagrant told his story.
6. My uncle laughed until the tears came.
7. The prisoner has not been seen since he made his escape.

Subordinate Conjunctions

1. Archer resigned because his health failed.
2. I will give the address if you will let me choose my subject.
3. Brandon insisted on walking, although the roads were dangerous.
4. The child ran with all her might lest she should be too late.
5. I gave you a front seat in order that you might hear.
6. The town lies at the base of a lofty cliff so that it is sheltered from the north wind.

Infinitives as Modifiers of The Predicate

The simple predicate may be modified by an infinitive.

1. He lay down to rest.
2. I stopped to listen.
3. The fire continued to burn.
4. The wind began to subside.
5. Jack worked hard to fell the tree.
6. Will did his best to win the prize.
7. Kate began to weep bitterly.
8. That draughtsman seems to be remarkably skilful.

The infinitive may have a complement or a modifier, as in the last four examples.

Adverbial Objectives as Modifiers of The Predicate

The simple predicate may be modified by an adverbial objective.

1. I have waited ages.
2. We have walked miles.
3. Arthur practised weeks.

The addition of modifiers to the adverbial objective makes an adverbial phrase.

1. Walter ran the entire distance.
2. He stayed a whole day.
3. I will forgive you this time.
4. He came at me full tilt.
5. The wind blew all night.
6. Come with me a little way.

In the first sentence, the adverbial phrase the entire distance modifies the verb ran as an adverb would do. This phrase consists of the noun distance with its adjective modifiers, the and entire.

Nominative Absolute as Modifier of The Predicate

The simple predicate may be modified by a nominative absolute.

A substantive in the absolute construction makes with its modifiers an adverbial phrase.

1. The ship having arrived, we all embarked.
2. We shall sail on Tuesday, weather permitting.
3. That done, repair to Pompey’s theatre.
4. The bridge across the chasm being only a single tree trunk, we hesitated to attempt the passage.

In the first sentence, the adverbial absolute phrase, the ship having arrived, is equivalent to the adverbial prepositional phrase, on the arrival of the ship and defines the time of the action expressed by the verb embarked.

Indirect Objects as Modifiers of The Predicate

The simple predicate may be modified by an indirect object.

1. He gave me a watch. [= He gave a watch to me.]

2. Tom told me the whole story. [= Tom told the whole story to me.]

In these sentences, the indirect object me, being equivalent to a prepositional phrase, is an adverbial modifier.

The objective of service is also an adverbial modifier.

Cognate Objects as Modifiers of The Predicate

The simple predicate may be modified by a cognate object or by a phrase containing such an object.

1. The officer looked daggers at me [= looked at me angrily].

2. The shepherd sang a merry song [= sang merrily].

3. The skipper laughed a scornful laugh [= laughed scornfully].

In the first sentence, the cognate object (daggers) modifies the predicate verb (looked) as the adverb angrily would do. It is therefore an adverbial modifier. In the second and third sentences the modifier of the predicate verb (sang, laughed) is an adverbial phrase consisting of a cognate object (song, laugh) with its adjective modifiers (a merry, a scornful).

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