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In the following sentence, please determine for me if the prepositional phrase is a predicate adjective phrase or an adverb phrase:

"The dog is in the yard."
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What type of phrases answer "where"?
in the yard certainly doesn't tell us 'which dog?' or 'what kind of dog?' we're talking about, so it can't be an adjective phrase.

CJ
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Hi

It's an Adverbial. A copular verb such as 'be' is a linking verb' What it links can be either a Complement, sometimes called a predicate adjective (e.g. the dog is nice/big) or an Adverbial (the dog is in the garden).

Hope that helps

Bill J

I see it like this. Linking verb "is" can not be modified by anything because "is" has both properties as a linking verb and auxiliary verb. Even though "in the yard" states location/place, the prepositional phrase "in the yard" can not modify the linking verb "is." And prepositional phrase can act as an adverb or adjective. Since linking verb "is" can not be modified by the prepositional phrase"in the yard", the prepositional phrase can only funcation as an adjective to complement the subject.
AnonymousI see it like this. Linking verb "is" can not be modified by anything because "is" has both properties as a linking verb and auxiliary verb. Even though "in the yard" states location/place, the prepositional phrase "in the yard" can not modify the linking verb "is." And prepositional phrase can act as an adverb or adjective. Since linking verb "is" can not be modified by the prepositional phrase"in the yard", the prepositional phrase can only funcation as an adjective to complement the subject.
You are actually half right: it is a complement, but it's not adjectival.

In traditional grammar, PPs with 'linking' verbs like 'be', such as that found in 'The dog is in the yard' were labelled 'adverbial'. The underlying reason was that "in the yard" can't possibly be a complement because it has no semantic relation of identity to the subject, i.e. 'the dog'.

It was argued that in 'He is a doctor', 'He' = "doctor", thus 'doctor' is a complement, but in 'He is in the garden', 'He' does not = 'garden', so 'in the garden' must be an adverbial, not a complement. And, of course, such PPs fitted neatly into the semantic category of 'adverbial of place', as typified in 'I had breakfast in bed', for example, where the PP 'in bed' is an indisputable adverbial of place.

Now, what about the very latest grammar? Well, this is where you are half right. PPs in such clauses are now regarded as locative complements; but not adjectival predicative complements because we can't interpret 'in the yard' as being adjectival in the same way that we can call 'filthy' an adjectival predicative complement in 'The dog is filthy'.

And of course, 'in the yard' must be a complement because without it *'The dog is' clearly makes no sense. Remember that obligatory elements are always complements: they are needed to complete the verb phrase; adverbials are always optional.

So why call it a locative complement? The structural similarity between 'The dog is in the yard' and 'The dog is filthy' suggests that assigning a location to something is comparable to assigning it a property. Indeed, locative complements resemble predicatives in that they too are oriented towards a particular element, subject in intransitives, object in transitives:

'Sue remained calm'. (intrans, PC - subject orientation) ~ 'I kept it handy' (trans - PC - object orientation)
'Sue remained outside' (intrans, locative - subject orientation) ~ 'I kept it in the drawer' (trans, locative - object orientation)

But there is one reason why we can't call 'locative complements' 'predicative complements', and that is that some verbs take predicatives but not locatives: 'He became anxious' is fine, but not '*'He became in the garden'. And 'Kim seemed angry' is OK, but not *'Kim seemed in the bedroom'. So the distinction between the two kinds of complement is logical and best preserved.

So yes, we did see them as adverbials, but I'm now convinced that the kind of PPs we've been talking about are in fact best called 'locative complements'.

BillJ
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May I add my two cents' worth to Grammar Geek's and CalifJim's excellent answers?

I believe that some books would NOT classify "is" as a so-called linking/ copular verb. In this case, it is a "real" verb. One of my favorite

books (Descriptive English Grammar by Professors House and Harman) explains:

"Be" is "a full verb when it means 'exist,' as in 'The baby is on the bed.' "

And, of course, you have heard of Shakespeare's "To be or not to be."

Therefore, the prepositional phrase "in the yard" is being used adverbially to tell where the dog "exists."
I wouldn't say that the verbs "become" and "seem" do not take locatives. It seems to me that these verbs require a predicative that is aimed at the subject ("anxious" and "angry"), and then, after this requirement is fulfilled, after they receive this argument that is necessary to achieve their meanings, then they may take locatives, as in:

He became anxious in the garden.

Kim seemed angry in the bedroom.

So it doesn't seem to be that they do not take locatives, but rather that they must take subject predicatives. They won't take anything else until they get a subject predicative.

In another example, the sentence "He became suddenly." makes no sense either, but we wouldn't say that the verb "become" does not take adverbs like "suddenly". It does take them, but only once it's fully meaningful.
AnonymousI wouldn't say that the verbs "become" and "seem" do not take locatives. It seems to me that these verbs require a predicative that is aimed at the subject ("anxious" and "angry"), and then, after this requirement is fulfilled, after they receive this argument that is necessary to achieve their meanings, then they may take locatives, as in:He became anxious in the garden.Kim seemed angry in the bedroom.So it doesn't seem to be that they do not take locatives, but rather that they must take subject predicatives. They won't take anything else until they get a subject predicative.In another example, the sentence "He became suddenly." makes no sense either, but we wouldn't say that the verb "become" does not take adverbs like "suddenly". It does take them, but only once it's fully meaningful.
He became anxious in the garden.
Kim seemed angry in the bedroom.

"In the garden" and "in the bedroom" are locatives but not complements. They are optional adjuncts of place modifying the verb phrases "He became anxious" and "Kim seemed angry" respectively.

"Anxious" and "angry" are of course obligatory predicative complements.

BillJ
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