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Sorry abuot this again, I fear I'm becoming somewhat of a pain. But I have to fully get it.

From what I gathered, Adjective Prepositional Phrases modifies nouns/pronouns or object of another preposition, eg.:

The book on the table in the English classroom is her book. (on the table modifies book and in the English classroom modifies on the table)

while Adverb Prepositional Phrases modifies verbs, adjectives or predicate adjectives, eg.:

The pirate map was hidden underneath a big rock. (underneath a rock modifies the verb was hidden)

The dog is troublesome in so many ways. (in so many ways modifies the predicate adjective troublesome)

So here is one practice kind of threw me off again:

In the cage we saw a juaguar from the jungle of Brazil. (A: in the cage mofidies the verb saw therefore it's a Adverb prepositional phrase)

But I thought in the cage modifies the juaguar who is in the cage therefore an Adjective prepositional phrases. Any opinions? Thanks a lot.

Raen
Full Member424
1 comment I see your problem. I knew instinctively after only five words that it modifies the verb, but I don't know if I can explain it. At first, I thought it was the sentence order which made the difference. "From the jungle" clearly modifies the jaguar, coming after it - as well as logically, or contextually.

But then I realized that if you say, "We saw a jaguar in the cage," the prepositional phrase still modifies the verb. If you say, "We saw a jaguar in the cage from the jungle of Brazil," the next prepositional phrase (from the jungle) could well be taken to modify "cage."

Even if you say, "There was a jaguar in the cage," it modifies the verb.

In order to make it modify the noun, we must place the verb after the prepositional phrase. "The jaguar in the cage was taking lunch."

At one point, I was toying with the idea that the difference lay in the fact that "the jaguar" is the object of the verb, and therefore ineligible. (Notice that in my last example, "the jaguar" is the subject of the sentence.) But this idea didn't seem to hold up.

I'm sure some clever person has conceived a rule that will cover this. I just don't know what it is.

- A.
Veteran Member20,911
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Thank you very much Avangi for your explanation. But I have to confess I'm still as confused as before if not more.

For this sentence: In the cage we saw a jaguar from the jungle of Brazil, I did a little more work. After reviewing the rules more closely, it does say in the grammar book that 1) An adjective prepositional phrase will come right after the noun or pronoun that it modifies, and 2) Adverb prepositional phrases can come anywhere in the sentence and can be moved within the sentence without changing the meaning.

According to it, since "in the jungle" falls into the rule #2 above that Adverb prepositional phrases can come anywhere in the sentence and does not affect the over meaning and #1 that "in the jungle" doesn't follow the noun (jaguar) therefore not an Adjective prepostional phrase. Therefore it's an Adverb prepositional phrases that modifies the verb "saw".

But my question is this, put aside the grammar mumble jumble, if I agree the verb "saw" is modified by "in the jungle", an adverb prepositional phrase that tells how, when, where how much or why, it would almost seems like We were in the cage and saw the jaguar from the jungle of Brazil since "in the cage" (that tells where) modifies the verb "saw"...........

I don't know, it's just confusing. I'm only studying the garmmar at this extent in order to take the exam. It seems to me, the detailed grammar analysis doesn't help improve communication skills in real life. In fact if I allow myself to be caught up with it, it hinders my ability to communicate, I'd be thinking in my head: now did I put that prepositional phrase in the right place in my sentence.....?

Thanks you again, Avangi!

Raen
RaenThe book on the table in the English classroom is her book.

The pirate map was hidden underneath a big rock.

The dog is troublesome in so many ways.

In the cage we saw a juaguar from the jungle of Brazil.
I've been threatening to buy an ESL text, but haven't gotten around to it.

Taken by themselves, the two rules you quoted would be useful only in concluding that a prepositional phrase which does not immediately follow a noun must be adverbial, since it cannot be adjectival. That's really all we can say. Rule #1 does not actually say that a phrase which follows a noun must modify it. Rule #2 is of no use whatsoever.

At least the rules apply nicely to the phrase, in the cage. It doesn't follow anything, and is therefore adverbial.

When we say it modifies "saw," we don't mean it modifies "we saw." If we want it to modify the pronoun "we," we must say, "We in the cage saw a jaguar in the jungle." Now the phrase is adjectival and modifies the noun which it follows.

When you think of the verb "to see," you think of the act of seeing as including the person who sees. But it does not. You must be able to separate the actor from the act - the subject from the verb. You see how? Doesn't say. You see what? A jaguar. You see where? In the cage. The question is not, "You see from where?" It's not, "Where are you when you see?"

"From the jungle" directly follows and modifies the noun, "jaguar." "Of Brazil" directly follows and modifies the noun, "jungle."

As you noted earlier, in the first three examples above, the prepositional phrases modify the words they directly follow. There's no confusion about that. The ones in the first sentence are adjectival because they modify nouns. The next two are adverbial because they modify adjectives - to me, a useless bit of trivia. But the cage thing is sort of interesting.
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(I don't know how to quote the part of your post in mine), but it's brilliant and it helped me understand the rules better. I think I have to learn to apply grammar rules as if they're a bit like mathematical teniques, dissect and analyze English texts as such.......as least to me. Thanks Avangi, you're great! Raen
Sorry Avangi, this idea just came to me soon after I posted the previous message.

Allow me to play with the rules again. Let's say we rearrange the sentence in such way:

"We saw the jaguar in the cage from the jungle of Brazil."

Semantcally it means the same to me. Considering the rule #1 in my other post, would you still say "in the jungle" modifies the verb "saw"? Or would it change since it comes right after the noun "jaguar"?

Thanks for your time

Raen
Raen"We saw the jaguar in the cage from the jungle of Brazil."
would you still say "in the jungle cage " modifies the verb "saw"? Or would it change since it comes right after the noun "jaguar"? This is exactly the point I was trying to make about the limitation of the rules. They're useful only in eliminating the adjectival function, not in asserting it. An adverbial / prepositional phrase, according to the two rules, may be placed anywhere, including directly after a noun which it does not modify. That is to say, just because a prepositional phrase follows a noun, that doesn't mean it modifies that noun.

We saw a jaguar in the cage. Unfortunately, I don't know how to help you with this. My instinct tells me that "in the cage" modifies "saw." I don't know how to construct a rule that would cover it.

You may certainly argue that it modifies "we" (we are in the cage), or "jaguar" (which is definitely in the cage.) I'd have to look at a lot of examples and try to figure it out, but I'm sure someone already has. I wish some of our ESL people would jump in here.

My only suggestion is that when several options fit the rules, you should go with the verb.

Re the mechanics of posting, after you hit "reply," wait until things settle down and the cursor appears. Then look back to the previous screen, which has turned sort of olive-colored, and in the lower left-hand corner you'll see a small white box with the word "Quote." Click on that, and the whole screen will be copied into your working screen. Then, simply delete the stuff you don't want, taking care to save the bracketed code at the begining and end. (At least, that's the way I do it. Perhaps someone has a better way.

Good luck with the test!

- A.
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AvangiThis is exactly the point I was trying to make about the limitation of the rules. They're useful only in eliminating the adjectival function, not in asserting it. An adverbial / prepositional phrase, according to the two rules, may be placed anywhere, including directly after a noun which it does not modify. That is to say, just because a prepositional phrase follows a noun, that doesn't mean it modifies that noun.
(Yay, I got the quote thing down!) Thanks for your time Avangi, I truly appreciate it. But I must say I'm just about as depressed as can be Emotion: sad, because now I'm think I, as someone learning English as a 2nd language, am.....(pardon my languaged here) screwed. I don't thik I have the ability to know what to eliminate nor asserting. You instinctively know (or feel) the right answer without fully know why is, I think, because of the fact that you are a native speaker. And I don't have the natural sense to know whether it's adverbial or adjectival, instead I have to strictly go by the grammar rules........... rules that seem to me right now not necessarily "definitive".

Thanks again Avangi, at least I know now I maybe need to be more relaxed or flexible in learning the mechanics of English grammar. Thanks, you are great!

Regards

Raen
Anonymous:
thnx a lot... for this info u gave i really really needed it...

- anonymus[Y]
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