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    #1

    Argument VS Adjunct

    Good morning, everyone!

    I have a problem identifying certain structures of the sentence; sometimes it is hard to tell whether I'm dealing with an argument or adjunct.

    Adjunct is said to be optional;, that is, its omision will not change the meaning of the predicate. At the same time, the argument of the sentence is a mandatory syntactic unit that completes the meaning of the predicate.
    My question is what does the "meaning of the predicate" designates?
    Does it simply mean, that with the complement being ommited the predicate becomes ambiguous? Please, consider my reasoning below:

    Put the cheese back on the table. --> Should I put it on the table, in a purse or put it on as a hat and wear it to work?

    Here, "back" appears to "complete" the meaning of the verb "put", whereas "on the table" can be omitted, because it doesn' affect the predicate in any way, and therefore can be thought of as structurally dispensable.

    More examples:

    • he stood there in silence --> "there" complements (and completes) the meaning of the verb, whereas "in silence" is dispensable;
    • I'm running --> meaningless outside the context (running a marathon, running a business, running away from problems, or running out of whiskey?);
    • I'm running in the hallway of the Bristol University --> "in the hallway" - complement; "of the Bristol University" - adjunct;
    • The bag is under the table/round - "under the table" and "round" determine the state of the bag (i.e. whether its location or shape is in the focus)".

    Am I getting it right? Does the argument help to identify the meaning of the predicate?


    Thank you very much in advance:)

    Seva
    Last edited by Vsevolod; 27-Sep-2016 at 18:15. Reason: Added another example

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    #2

    Re: Argument VS Adjunct

    Quote Originally Posted by Vsevolod View Post
    Adjunct is said to be optional;, that is, its omision will not change the meaning of the predicate. At the same time, the argument of the sentence is a mandatory syntactic unit that completes the meaning of the predicate.
    Until a moment ago, I didn't know an adjunct from a hole in the wall. Since I see no other answer at present, I'll go out on a limb. A definition I just read says:
    Adjuncts are parts of a sentence that are used to elaborate on or modify other words or phrases in a sentence. Along with complements, subjects, verbs, and objects, adjuncts are one of the five main components of the structure of clauses. A distinguishing feature of adjuncts is that their removal from sentences does not alter the grammatical integrity and correctness of the sentence. In other words, adjuncts expand on the word or phrase that they are modifying, but their presence in sentences is not needed for the sentence to stand alone. Nouns, adjectives, and adverbs can all be adjuncts.

    Source: (Underlined emphasis mine)

    My question is what does the "meaning of the predicate" designates?
    Does it simply mean, that with the complement being ommited the predicate becomes ambiguous? Please, consider my reasoning below:

    Put the cheese back on the table. --> Should I put it on the table, in a purse or put it on as a hat and wear it to work?

    Here, "back" appears to "complete" the meaning of the verb "put", whereas "on the table" can be omitted, because it doesn' affect the predicate in any way, and therefore can be thought of as structurally dispensable.
    It seems to me that "...back on the table" is an argument by the above definitions. Removing this portion of the sentence renders it meaningless. "...on the table", however, would meet the definition of an adjunct; removing it leaves a perfectly meaningful, complete sentence, but its presence adds additional information.

    More examples:

    • he stood there in silence --> "there" complements (and completes) the meaning of the verb, whereas "in silence" is dispensable;
    "...there" is redundant. Its removal does not change the sentence unless the speaker is indicating a particular place at which "he" stood.

    "...in silence" is clearly an adjunct. "He stood there" is a complete, meaningful sentence. Removing "...in silence" removed information, but did not render the sentence grammatically incorrect.


    • I'm running --> meaningless outside the context (running a marathon, running a business, running away from problems, or running out of whiskey?);
    Not meaningless. Perfectly natural statement of an action you might be performing at this moment. You could add an adjunct to it to provide more information of course. "I'm running in the park".


    I'm running in the hallway of the Bristol University
    --> "in the hallway" - complement; "of the Bristol University" - adjunct;
    "...of the Bristol University" is an adjunct, yes.


    The bag is under the table/round
    - "under the table" and "round" determine the state of the bag (i.e. whether its location or shape is in the focus)".
    Your emphasized portion is not an adjunct since removing it destroys the grammatical correctness of the sentence. "The bag is." becomes an incomplete sentence.

    Hopefully, the grammarians will give you more defined responses later.
    Last edited by ChinaDan; 27-Sep-2016 at 04:24.

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    #3

    Question Re: Argument VS Adjunct

    Thank you for your input, ChinaDan!

    he stood in silence by the mausoleum
    - How do you understand which one is the complementing and which one is the adjunctive PP? I simply can't grasp it:(

    Not meaningless. Perfectly natural statement of an action you might be performing at this moment. You could add an adjunct to it to provide more information of course. "I'm running in the park".
    Does it mean "in the hallway" and "of the Bristol University" are both adjuncts?


    Thank you again.

    Seva

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    #4

    Re: Argument VS Adjunct

    Quote Originally Posted by Vsevolod View Post
    Thank you for your input, ChinaDan!
    You are very welcome, however, I would prefer the real grammarians answered your question. I have little interest in grammar and neither teach it, nor study it. There are people on this site who have forgotten more than I know about grammar. I can write something in many different ways, manipulate a sentence with reasonable skill, but I don't concern myself with the technical names of their structures.

    That said, I'll do my best till an expert steps in...

    he stood in silence by the mausoleum
    - How do you understand which one is the complementing and which one is the adjunctive PP? I simply can't grasp it:(
    I look at that sentence, and I see "He stood." can stand alone as a valid sentence. It has an object and a verb; it makes sense. I could say...

    "It stands". Or I can add more information (an adjunct if my understanding is correct).

    "It stands alone". And I can add yet more information (another adjunct?).

    "It stands alone in this thread".

    So I see your sentence in three parts; "He stood" + "in silence" + "by the mausoleum".

    To see that another way, (who + what) + how + where. I don't see "complements" or "adjuncts" or "arguments". I see the sentence in concepts. My advice is to understand the language; the ideas and concepts. Once you've mastered that, the labels (grammar) that describes the language will be much easier to learn because all you need to do is memorize a label and learn to recognize the structure it matches.

    BTW, this process is dynamic; I don't mean to say you must master all of English before beginning to learn grammar. I only mean that before the grammar can make real sense to you, you need to master the use of the language which the grammar is attempting to describe.

    Grammar won't teach you language, however. Language first - then if you need/want to understand the appropriate grammar (or linguistics), match the labels to the concepts.

    Does it mean "in the hallway" and "of the Bristol University" are both adjuncts?
    Both of those can be removed without ruining the sentence. Either could be removed and still have a good sentence (though you'd need to change "of" to something else like "in" or "at". That's all I can tell you with confidence. This appears to match the definition of "adjunct", but once again, I'm not a grammar expert.

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    #5

    Re: Argument VS Adjunct

    Thank you, ChinaDen, for both your answers, and your advice.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 27-Sep-2016 at 18:11.

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    #6

    Re: Argument VS Adjunct

    Quote Originally Posted by Vsevolod View Post
    Adjunct is said to be optional;, that is, its omision will not change the meaning of the predicate. At the same time, the argument of the sentence is a mandatory syntactic unit that completes the meaning of the predicate.
    My question is what does the "meaning of the predicate" designate?
    Quote Originally Posted by ChinaDan View Post
    Adjuncts are parts of a sentence that are used to elaborate on or modify other words or phrases in a sentence. A distinguishing feature of adjuncts is that their removal from sentences does not alter the grammatical integrity and correctness of the sentence. In other words, adjuncts expand on the word or phrase that they are modifying, but their presence in sentences is not needed for the sentence to stand alone.
    The above two descriptions seem fundamentally different to me. The first is concerned with meaning, the second ostensibly only with grammar.

    So with an example such as:

    I'm running out of time.


    the PP out of time is necessary to preserve the meaning, and so can be considered an argument by the first definition. However, its removal (to I'm running.) preserves the grammatical integrity and so is not an argument in terms of the second definition.

    My non-expert view is that an argument must have some connection with meaning. Otherwise what's the point of studying grammar at all? The question for me is if an adjunct does not alter meaning, then what on Earth does it do?! What exactly do we mean by meaning?


    @Paul Matthews, please?

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    #7

    Re: Argument VS Adjunct

    It's just dawned on me that in order to answer this question we could shift our focus from the syntactics to semantics. What if the only way to tell the difference between the argument and adjunct is to put a sentence in a proper context?

    Consider the following examples:

    - What did you do yesterday?
    - I chopped the old oak down with my new axe.

    - What did you chop the old oak with?
    - (I chopped it) with an axe...duh.

    In the first conversation, "with my new axe" looks perfectly dispensable, since "I chopped the old oak down" would be enough to answer the question, whereas in the second one omission of the "with an axe" bit would render the answer incomplete.

    Do you think that the difference between the two notions might be context-sensitive and related to the focus of the sentence?
    Last edited by Vsevolod; 28-Sep-2016 at 04:13.

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    #8

    Re: Argument VS Adjunct

    Quote Originally Posted by Vsevolod View Post
    Do you think that the difference between the two notions might be context-sensitive and be related to the focus of the sentence?
    If you and I were having this conversation, my answer to your second question would be simply, "An axe".

    Communication is about moving a concept from one person's mind to another's. Context and especially continuity are vital.

    My perfunctory reply is not especially informative on its own, but it fits properly within the continuity of our conversation, and it provides the correct information in this context to complete the concept you are building in your mind of what I did yesterday.

    That is more or less the definition of "successful communication".

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    #9

    Re: Argument VS Adjunct

    This thread is also under discussion here.

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