Syntactic functions

§ 212. Adjectives may have different functions in the sentence.

The most common are those ofan attribute ora predicative.

The attributes (premodifying and postmodifying) may be closely attached to their head-words (o good boy, the delegates present), or they may be loose (detached) (Clever and ambitious, he schemed as well as he could). In the first case the adjective forms a group with the noun it modifies; in the second case the adjective forms a sense-group separate from the head-word and the other parts of the sentence. A detached attribute is therefore separated by a comma from its head-word if it adjoins it, or from other parts of the sentence if it is distant from the head-word. As predicatives, adjectives may forma part of a compound nominal ordouble predicate (he was alone, the window was open. Old Jolyon sat alone, the dog went mad). Predicative adjectives may be modified by adverbials of manner, degree, or consequence and by clauses, forming long phrases as, in:

He is not so foolish as to neglect it.

She is not so crazy as you may imagine.

It is not as simple as you think.

Adjectives may also function asobjective orsubjective predicatives in complex constructions:


We consider him reliable. I can drink coffee hot. He pushed the door open. Better eat the apples fresh. I consider what he did awful. objects + objective predicatives
The fruits were picked ripe. The windows were flung open. subjective predicatives

Adjectives may be used parenthetically, conveying the attitude of the speaker to the contents of the sentence (strange, funny, curious, odd, surprising), often premodified by more or most.

Strange, it was the same person.

Most incredible, he deceived us.

A certain type of exclamatory sentence is based on adjectives, often modified by other words: How good of you! How wonderful! Excellent! Just right!


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