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    #1

    Question Can you use "when" to modify person?

    I just want to clearify about this. First I thought you couldn't, but for the following examples(which I also used in another thread):

    "Can you tell me something about Darwin when he was a child?"

    I thought it's modifying "tell" because I though you can only use "when" to modify time-related nouns, but someone said it's modifying "Darwin".

    Now I'm not sure. I do admit the sentence is weird if "when" modifies "tell", but can you modify a person using "when"? Also what kind of role is the phrase "when he was a child" plays in this sentence? Thanks.

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    #2

    Exclamation Re: Can you use "when" to modify person?

    Quote Originally Posted by pixel View Post
    I just want to clearify about this. First I thought you couldn't, but for the following examples(which I also used in another thread):

    "Can you tell me something about Darwin when he was a child?"

    I thought it's modifying "tell" because I though you can only use "when" to modify time-related nouns, but someone said it's modifying "Darwin".

    Now I'm not sure. I do admit the sentence is weird if "when" modifies "tell", but can you modify a person using "when"? Also what kind of role is the phrase "when he was a child" plays in this sentence? Thanks.

    No, ‘when’ can not modify a noun. Here ‘when’ is an adverb and acting as subordinating conjunction to introduce the sub-clause “he was a child”. The adverbial clause is modifying the adverb ‘something’ in the main clause. Look at a few similar examples:
    She was looking something like her mother when she put on that new dress.
    He took on something unusual about me when I was absent.

  2. Newbie
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    #3

    Re: Can you use "when" to modify person?

    Quote Originally Posted by sarat_106 View Post
    No, ‘when’ can not modify a noun. Here ‘when’ is an adverb and acting as subordinating conjunction to introduce the sub-clause “he was a child”. The adverbial clause is modifying the adverb ‘something’ in the main clause. Look at a few similar examples:
    She was looking something like her mother when she put on that new dress.
    He took on something unusual about me when I was absent.
    Thank you for answering. But as my understanding, 'when' can modify a noun to make a noun clause according to my grammar book. I just not sure if it can modify a person or not.
    Also, 'something' is not an adverb but a pronoun in this case, the examples you're giving are not quite the same case as mine. The 1st something indeed acts like an adverb, but the 2nd one acts as noun. Furthermore, both 'when' are modifying the verbs of the sentences, not 'something'.

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