Forums · General English Grammar & Vocabulary, Listening & Speaking · General English Grammar Questions
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.
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.
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!
RaenThe book on the table in the English classroom is her book.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.
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"We saw the jaguar in the cage from the jungle of Brazil."
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 , 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!
Anonymous:thnx a lot... for this info u gave i really really needed it...
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