Is there REALLY such thing as an adverbial prep phrase that modifies a trans. verb?!

Status
Not open for further replies.

jayjay5531

Member
Joined
Mar 31, 2013
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
Okay, that was a stupid way to phrase my question. Obviously there are examples of sentences containing adverbial prepositional phrases that undoubtedly modify the transitive verb. For example:

1.) "I ate lunch in the cafeteria."

However, it seems that oftentimes we gloss over a prepositional phrase as adverbial (modifying the verb) when it's in fact adjectival or even nounal in nature.

2.) "I put the tray below the counter."

Maybe "below the counter" modifies the verb "put." However, it seems to me that the prepositional phrase "below the counter" is the objective complement of "tray". It's a description of the tray after the act of the "putting" is complete.

IMHO "below the counter" doesn't modify "put" because it isn't describing where the "putting" occurred (if anything, we can assuming the act of "putting" occurred in the area surrounding the counter).

Compare Sentence 1 with Sentence 2. They both have prepositional phrases that answer the question "Where?". However, in sentence one, it's clearly modifying "ate" because it describes where the action of the verb took place. While Sentence 2's prepositional phrase also answers "where", it's radically different. "below the counter" complements the object "tray", describing its state after the action of the verb has occurred.

Now that I put the tray below the counter:

"The tray is below the counter".

Even more clearly here, "is" is the linking verb and "below the counter" is the predicate adjective, describing the tray. Whether we say "The tray is below the counter", or "The tray is where it should be", or "The tray is properly stowed" - in all cases, we're looking at nounals/adjectivals that complement the subject.

The more I think about it, the more the idea that adverbs answer the question "Where?" seems to fall apart! Certainly any prepositional phrase following a linking verb is a subjective complement. But I am realizing that in many or even most cases, seemingly adverbial prepositional phrases (answering "where" or "how") that follow a direct object are actually objective complements of the direct object.


I don't even know if any of that made sense, or if it was already obvious, or if it's insignificant, or if I'm totally wrong. What are your thoughts?


JJ
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
Can't they be seen as follows:

I ate what +where
I put what + where

The difference is that the second requires the where part.
 

philo2009

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2009
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
I think you're getting a little confused here. The phrase 'below the counter' in

[1] I put the tray below the counter.

is adverbial, but it complements, rather than modifies, the VP - that is, it is an obligatory, and not an optional, clause-element. (The verb 'put' is somewhat unusual in that it requires both a direct object and an adverbial complement.)

The same prepositional phrase could indeed be adjectival, e.g. in

[2] The tray below the counter needs wiping.

where it postmodifies the noun 'tray' (specifiying to which tray we are referring), but I trust that you can see the massive difference between [1] and [2]!

(P.S. The term is nominal, not *nounal)
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top