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  1. #1
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    Default help with prepositional phrases

    Hi there,

    I sometimes have difficulty in determining which part of the sentence a prepositional phrase modifies.

    For example:

    1.) I called the man from Hong Kong. <-- Is the pp "from Hong Kong" modifying the object "man" or the verb "called"?

    2.) A man of the people from the United States. <-- Is the pp "from the United States" modifying the object of the preposition "people" or the subject "man"?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    kfredson is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: help with prepositional phrases

    Quote Originally Posted by baconlover View Post
    Hi there,

    I sometimes have difficulty in determining which part of the sentence a prepositional phrase modifies.

    For example:

    1.) I called the man from Hong Kong. <-- Is the pp "from Hong Kong" modifying the object "man" or the verb "called"?

    2.) A man of the people from the United States. <-- Is the pp "from the United States" modifying the object of the preposition "people" or the subject "man"?

    Thanks!
    1. man
    2. man

  3. #3
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    Default Re: help with prepositional phrases

    Quote Originally Posted by kfredson View Post
    1. man
    2. man
    I understand that modifiers should be placed as close as possible to the word(s) they are meant to modify. So in example 2 above, shouldn't "from the United States" be modifying "people"? In this case, a prepositional phrase would be modifying an object of a preposition.

    Let me know if I am missing something here.

  4. #4
    kfredson is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: help with prepositional phrases

    Quote Originally Posted by baconlover View Post
    I understand that modifiers should be placed as close as possible to the word(s) they are meant to modify. So in example 2 above, shouldn't "from the United States" be modifying "people"? In this case, a prepositional phrase would be modifying an object of a preposition.

    Let me know if I am missing something here.

    "A man of the people" is a common phrase, meaning someone who comes from common roots and/or has the interests of the people at heart. This particular man happens to come from the United States.

    Perhaps you wanted to say, instead, that it is a man arising out of "the people of the United States," or "the people of India." That would have a very different meaning. In that case you would have to write the sentence differently so as to avoid confusion, since "man of the people" -- in the sense that I described it -- has become a commonly understood phrase.

    So I suppose you could say that "of the United States" is modifying the phrase "man of the people." I prefer to think of it as simply modifying "man."

  5. #5
    mxreader is offline Member
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    Default Re: help with prepositional phrases

    Quote Originally Posted by baconlover View Post
    Let me know if I am missing something here.
    A verb is missing in "sentence" 2.

  6. #6
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    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: help with prepositional phrases

    Quote Originally Posted by baconlover View Post
    1.) I called the man from Hong Kong. <-- Is the pp "from Hong Kong" modifying the object "man" or the verb "called"?
    This sentence is ambiguous, and could quite easily mean that you were in Hong Kong when you called a man in London who had never been to Hong Kong.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: help with prepositional phrases

    Quote Originally Posted by mxreader View Post
    A verb is missing in "sentence" 2.
    2.) A man of the people from the United States visited the Indonesian in Australia on a quiet Monday morning to learn some english.

  8. #8
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: help with prepositional phrases

    Quote Originally Posted by baconlover View Post
    Hi there,

    I sometimes have difficulty in determining which part of the sentence a prepositional phrase modifies.

    For example:

    1.) I called the man from Hong Kong. <-- Is the pp "from Hong Kong" modifying the object "man" or the verb "called"?

    2.) A man of the people from the United States. <-- Is the pp "from the United States" modifying the object of the preposition "people" or the subject "man"?

    Thanks!
    1. Structurally ambiguous: both readings are possible, depending on sense/context.

    2. It modifies 'man of the people', an invariable phrase (i.e. it cannot be internally modified)

  9. #9
    Kondorosi is offline Banned
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    Default Re: help with prepositional phrases

    Quote Originally Posted by baconlover View Post
    1.) I called the man from Hong Kong. <-- Is the pp "from Hong Kong" modifying the object "man" or the verb "called"?
    from HK is indeterminable between a complement and a modifier. Context. Test.

    I called him from Hong Kong. (him = man) --> from HK = modifies 'called'
    I called him. (him = man from HK) --> from HK = compl.

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