"He seems very tense today."
Some experts say that "today" modifies the whole sentence; other experts say that "today" modifies the verb "seems."
What do you say. And why?
In terms of their grammatical functions, adverbials fall into gour main categories:
Adjuncts, more than other adverbials, resemble the sentence elements: S, O, C.
1. they can be the focus of cleft sentences:
It is today that he seems tense.
2. potentiality for being the focus of subjuncts
He seems tense only
3. elicitation by question forms:
When does he seem tense? Today.
4. alternative interrogation and negation:
Did he seem tense yesterday
or the day before yesterday
He did not seem tense yesterday but the day before yesterday.
5. like other post-operator elements, adjuncts can come within the scope of predication ellipsis:
He seems tense today and she also seems tense today. -->
Today, he seems tense and so also does she.
While these characteristics hold generally for all adjuncts, there are three subcategories ranging in centrality from obligatory predication adjunct (normally can only be placed at E(nd) position) to the sentence adjunct whose position is more variable and whose presence is always optional.
'today' is a sentence adjunct (hinges on the rest of the sentence) of time and it pinpoints background information here:
- What is he like Today?
- Today, he seems tense. :tick:
- He seems tense today. :tick:
'today is an optional predication adjunct (hinges on the verb "seems") here:
- I thought he would seem tense on Thursday.
- No! He will seem tense today. :tick:
- No! Today, he will seem tense. :cross:
'today', according as it pinpoints new information or background information, can function as an optional predicate adjunct (focus on the verb) or a sentence adjunct (focus on the whole sentence).