That was me when I was two years old.

diamondcutter

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(Two children are looking at a photo.)

Anna: Who’s that?
Kevin: That was me when I was two years old.
Anna: That’s a cute picture.

(From Let’s Go 5, an English textbook for children, OUP)

I wonder how to analyze the when-clause. Is it a relative clause, an adverbial clause of time or a predicative Clause ?
 
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PaulMatthews

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That was me when I was two years old.

You're on the right lines -- the underlined element is a relative construction, but it's a preposition phrase in what is known as a 'fused' relative construction.

The fusion involves "when", which functions simultaneously as head of the preposition phrase and adjunct of temporal location in the embedded relative clause.

It has a paraphrase containing noun + integrated relative: That was me at a time when I was two years old.


 

jutfrank

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"when", which functions simultaneously as head of the preposition phrase

Does this mean that you think when is a preposition here?

Could you help me understand how?
 

PaulMatthews

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Does this mean that you think when is a preposition here?

Could you help me understand how?

Yes, I can.

I think the case for reclassifying "when" as a preposition revolves around two main points:

1. Subordinators function as markers of subordination, whereas prepositions (inc. "when") function as heads of the constituents they introduce.

2. Unlike conjunctions, prepositions have independent meaning ('an evident semantic content'). In the case of "when", it has a temporal meaning. Consider this example:

It happened at a time when I was living alone.

Here, “when” functions within the relative clause as a temporal adjunct:

"It happened at time x; I was living alone at x".


The same applies to items like “before”, “after” and “since”, which have dual classification in trad grammar as conjunctions and preps; these are also reclassified solely as prepositions.
 
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diamondcutter

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Thanks, Paul.

That was me at a time when I was two years old.
It happened at a time when I was living alone.

In these two sentences, I wonder why you don’t use the definite article but the indefinite one before the noun ‘time’.
 

diamondcutter

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Hi, teachers.

I’d like to know if both the definite and indefinite articles are possible before the noun ‘time’ in these two sentences.

That was me at a/the time when I was two years old.

It happened at a/the time when I was living alone.
 

Tarheel

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(Two children are looking at a photo.)

Anna: Who’s that?
Kevin: That was me when I was two years old.
Anna: That’s a cute picture.

I would see me when I was two years old as a noun phrase. (Simplifies things, doesn't it?)
 

Tarheel

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Thanks, Paul.

That was me at a time when I was two years old.
It happened at a time when I was living alone.

In these two sentences, I wonder why you don’t use the definite article but the indefinite one before the noun ‘time’.

It doesn't refer to any particular time.
 

Tarheel

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Hi, teachers.

I’d like to know if both the definite and indefinite articles are possible before the noun ‘time’ in these two sentences.

That was me at a/the time when I was two years old.

It happened at a/the time when I was living alone.

Both are possible. It depends.
 

TheParser

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Is it a relative clause, an adverbial clause of time or a predicative Clause ?


NOT A TEACHER


Diamondcutter, I am pretty sure that most secondary teachers here in the United States would be very much delighted if a student were able to analyze "when I was two years old" simply as an ADVERBIAL clause.

And if a student were to say "That was I," those teachers would be absolutely astounded if that student were able to supply the rule that justifies the "I." Of course, almost no native speaker nowadays would use "I" in that sentence. (Yes, I would. But, then, I also still use "whom" whenever possible, especially in writing.)
 
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