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Hi,

What (part of speech) does "essentially" modify in the following sentenses?

(a) Members may also exclude from patentability: plants and animals other than micro-organisms, and essentially biological processes for the production of plants or animals other than non-biological and microbiological processes.

(b) The argument is essentially a technical one.

I'm inclined to explain that in the two sentences "essentially" modifies verbs (exclude and is), but I'm not sure.

Thanks in advance,

i
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Comments  
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a-- it modifies biological
b-- it modifies the whole sentence
Hi. I think "essentially" in (a) is just a garbage word which has no function. It's usually used like "mainly" to fatten up someone's poor speaking style, and I'm surprised to see it in a written technical piece.

You may exclude A and B and (essentially) all this other stuff which fits the following definition.

You may exclude (broadly) such things as I'm going to describe
. I think if it modifies anything at all, it modifies the verb, "exclude."

The bare sentence is, "Members may exclude plants, animals, and processes." What kind of processes?? Biological processes. All biological processes?? No. Only essential biological processes.

I don't think this is what the speaker means. If he did, essential and biological would both be adjectives modifying the noun, processes. But he says "essentially." Neither essential nor essentially fit the context.

In (b) I agree with the OP that "essentially" modifies the verb "is." The argument is, in essence, a technical one.

- A.

Edit. I also agree with MrM that in (b) it modifies the whole sentence. That is, you could say, "Essentially, the argument is a technical one." If I had to chose one word, I think the verb represents the sentence. (based on my early upbringing)
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AvangiI think "essentially" in (a) is just a garbage word which has no function. It's usually used like "mainly" to fatten up someone's poor speaking style, and I'm surprised to see it in a written technical piece.

You may exclude A and B and (essentially) all this other stuff which fits the following definition.

You may exclude (broadly) such things as I'm going to describe
. I think if it modifies anything at all, it modifies the verb, "exclude."

The bare sentence is, "Members may exclude plants, animals, and processes." What kind of processes?? Biological processes. All biological processes?? No. Only essential biological processes.

I don't think this is what the speaker means. If he did, essential and biological would both be adjectives modifying the noun, processes. But he says "essentially." Neither essential nor essentially fit the context.
Thanks for the comment. I'm still puzzled by essentially in (a). (a) is quoted from TRIPS Article 27, Paragraph 3(b). If "essentially" were to modify "biological", I still need to figure out what "essentially biological processes" means, both legally and scientifically.

I have another view on (a). The word "essentially" is used because it emphasizes what is not included as non-biological processes. As you've said, it can be dropped without harm. But, just wondering, it could have lawful meaning attached, just like "substantially", which is a legalese in patent specs interpretation.

i
I don't agree with Avangi; I agree with MM.
Infinik I'm still puzzled by essentially in (a). (a) is quoted from TRIPS Article 27, Paragraph 3(b). If "essentially" were to modify "biological", I still need to figure out what "essentially biological processes" means, both legally and scientifically.

I have another view on (a). The word "essentially" is used because it emphasizes what is not included as non-biological processes. As you've said, it can be dropped without harm. But, just wondering, it could have lawful meaning attached, just like "substantially", which is a legalese in patent specs interpretation.
I understand what you want, but the legal meaning would be moot, because it's not grammatical. Essentially, substantially, extremely etc. are adverbs and would modify the adjective, biological. What kind of processes may be exempted?? Biological processes! How biological are they?? They're extremely biological; they're substantially biological; they're essentially biological.

Okay. I concede you have a point. It could mean these processes are mostly biological. I guess I agree with you. (I couldn't see it that way last night.) In other words the exempted processes must be mainly biological, and the non-biological aspects/components must be non-essential.

"Essential biological processes" would have an entirely different meaning. That is, only those biological processes which are essential, vs. only those processes which are essentially biological.

I'm glad you pressed me on this. I guess I owe MM an apology. - A.
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Avangi"Essential biological processes" would have an entirely different meaning. That is, only those biological processes which are essential, vs. only those processes which are essentially biological.
I really appreciate your patience on me. You couldn't imagine how much trouble I was (and still am, and perhaps will be..) having with English adverbs. Also, thanks to MM's pinpoint accuracy from the very beginning.

i
Infinik thanks to MM's pinpoint accuracy from the very beginning.
Amen to that! I apologize for leading you on a wild goose chase. - A.
Essentially modifies biological in (a), right?
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