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    #1

    This is John when he was two years old.

    This is John when he was two years old.


    This sentence is taken from LET'S GO 4 (Oxfor Universtiy Press). My question is what sentence element 'when he was two years old' is. Is it an adverbial or attributive? Can I say in this way? 'This is John at the age of two.'
    THANKS.
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  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: This is John when he was two years old.

    I would call the clause "adjectival". It describes "John". "John" is a predicate nominative following a linking verb.

  2. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: This is John when he was two years old.

    Quote Originally Posted by diamondcutter View Post
    'This is John at the age of two.'
    I think it is OK.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #4

    Re: This is John when he was two years old.

    Quote Originally Posted by diamondcutter View Post

    'when he was two years old.' Is it adverbial?

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    After thinking about the OP's question for two days (and rechecking my books), I feel that the "when" clause in the OP's sentence is adverbial.

    1. L.G. Alexander in the 1988 edition of the Longman English Grammar, page 22, explains the matter very well, I feel.

    a. He tells us that a relative (adjective) clause of time follows only "time" nouns, such as day, occasion, season.

    b. His examples are:

    1979 was the year in which my son was born.
    1979 was the year when my son was born.
    1979 was when my son was born.
    I still remember the summer that we had the big drought.
    I still remember the summer when we had the big drought.
    I still remember the summer during which we had the big drought.

    2. In my opinion, it appears that an adjectival "when" clause cannot have an antecedent such as "John."

    3. IF the OP's "when" clause is, in fact, adverbial, then the obvious question is: What does the "when" clause modify?

    a. Hopefully, some other members will tell us.
    b. I shall keep my opinion to myself at this time.
    c. I will say only that I feel that "This is John, when he was two years old" is an ellipsis of a longer sentence.

  3. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: This is John when he was two years old.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    c. I will say only that I feel that "This is John, when he was two years old" is an ellipsis of a longer sentence.
    Could the sentence be 'This is John at the time when he was two years old'?
    I am not a teacher.

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    #6

    Re: This is John when he was two years old.

    I don't usually find it useful to completely rewrite a sentence in order to parse it. In this sentence the clause acts as an adjective and that is enough for me. The only verb in the sentence is a linking verb and it is clear that the clause doesn't modify "is". I disagree with Parser's rule that a "when" clause cannot have a noun as an antecedent.

    This is a picture of Norway when WWII ended.
    I have a tape of John when he played football.
    This is my dog when he won Best of Show.

  5. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: This is John when he was two years old.

    Could the following be another example?
    'That explains your appearance when I saw you last time.'
    I was thinking about that when I saw the one below last month.
    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    That explains your appearance the last time I saw you.
    I am not a teacher.

  6. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: This is John when he was two years old.

    Yes. That appears to modify "appearance".

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