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I find this sentence in number 12 out of 4.1 exercise in a book named Advanced GRAMMAR IN USE published by Cambridge university press.

She pushed open the door and ran into the room.

I looked up the dictionary and think that the word 'open' must be an adjective. But I don't understand why the word 'open' is put in that place instead of putting it between the word 'the' and the word 'door'.

The pattern 'push sth + adj. ' is found in Oxford English dictionary for advanced learners and there is an example sentence: I pushed the door open. So can I think that 'open' in this sentence is an adjective?

Besides, almost any dictionaries do not consider 'open' as an adverb including non-ESL dictionaries such as webster's new world college dictionary and merriam webster's collegiate dictionary, which suprises me a lot !!!

  • Possible duplicate of "The front door slid open" grammar explanation – FumbleFingers Aug 10 '16 at 12:50
  • In my opinion, this is not a duplicate of "The front door slid open" grammar explanation – FumbleFingers. – Ming Lu Aug 10 '16 at 13:12
  • Please explain why you think the syntactic breakdown of slide open should be any different to that of push open. @You might also consider, for example, “scraped open a grave” Why two successive verbs? (and doubtless many others) which I think covers exactly the same issue. – FumbleFingers Aug 10 '16 at 13:40
  • The reason why I think that way is explained in the main question description block. – Ming Lu Aug 10 '16 at 13:47
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    "The pattern 'push sth + adj. ' is found in Oxford English dictionary for advanced learners and there is an example sentence: I pushed the door open. So can I think that 'open' in this sentence is an adjective?" -- Yes. My general advice is the sooner you separate the part of speech from the function, the less confused you will be. E.g., if you confused what it is with what it does, you might think, because Safety in Safety is important is a noun, a to-infinitive can be a noun(!) too, like in To err is human. (And, really, some books will tell you so. No wonder it's confusing!) – Damkerng T. Aug 13 '16 at 3:20
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Adjectives answer the question "which?" or "what kind?".

Adverbs answer the question "how?"

Verbs that change or set the state of something can be followed by a word that describes what that state is. This word answers the question "how?", so I believe it's an adverb, not an adjective.

Many adverbs can be put in multiple places in sentences without change in meaning. You can say "She pushed the door open" and it would mean the same.

But I don't understand why the word 'open' is put in that place instead of putting it between the word 'the' and the word 'door

If you say "She pushed the open door", then open is an adjective modifying door. This is a common pattern in English - {article/determiner} {adjective} {adjective} ... {noun}.

Since it's an adjective, it's answering the question "which" or "what kind" of door. So this would mean the door was already open when she pushed it.

  • But I could not find the word 'open' as an adverb in Oxford English dictionary for advanced learners !!! – Ming Lu Aug 10 '16 at 12:34
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    I think @JavaLatte's theory of it being treated as a phrasal verb might be explain it better. You can separate the second word of phrasal verbs in a similar manner. I think the second word in phrasal verbs can be considered an adverb. In any event it's definitely not an adjective. – LawrenceC Aug 10 '16 at 12:38
  • @Ming Lu: Consider She painted the door blue. You won't find blue defined as an adverb in any dictionaries either. – FumbleFingers Aug 10 '16 at 12:49
  • The pattern 'push sth + adj. ' is found in Oxford English dictionary for advanced learners and there is an example sentence: I pushed the door open. So I belive 'open' in the phrasal verb 'push open' is an adjective. – Ming Lu Aug 10 '16 at 12:54
  • @LawrenceC Can u explain it? – Ming Lu Aug 10 '16 at 13:57
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The writer maybe sees push open as a phrasal verb, like put on. Phrasal verbs can be used in two ways:

1) She put the dress on
2) She put on the dress.

Your sentence matches form 2). I cannot find any dictionary evidence to confirm that it is normal to use push open as a phrasal verb, but this NGram indicates that quite a few writers use this form.

Here are a couple of examples:

When you've finished putting beads on all the pins, open the big (#3) safety pin and use the nail file to push open the little loop-the-loop at the end of it My best friends and me

Silence promises danger not peace, for always the sounds that push open my door or your door, are remembered as coming out of nothing. In the shadow of sharpeville

  • If push open is a phrasal verb, then can I consider 'open' as an adjective here? – Ming Lu Aug 10 '16 at 12:48
  • @MingLu, Phrasal verbs are normally made up of a verb and a particle (usually an adverb or preposition). The link provided by FumbleFingers suggests that open can indeed be an adverb, although this does not appear in dictionaries. I would be inclined to regard it as an adverb in your sentence. – JavaLatte Aug 10 '16 at 13:02
  • The pattern 'push sth + adj. ' is found in Oxford English dictionary for advanced learners and there is an example sentence: I pushed the door open. So can I think that 'open' in the phrasal verb 'push open' is an adjective? – Ming Lu Aug 10 '16 at 13:05
  • @MingLu, Your sentence is not a good or typical example of usage. If you choose to think of push open as a phrasal verb, you are free to do so. If you choose to thing of open as an adjective within this phrasal verb, you are free to do so. However, I would not recommend this: I would recommend sticking to the construction documented in OEDAL, namely "push sth + adj". – JavaLatte Aug 10 '16 at 13:17
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    @learner, They are not similar at all; as far as I know, "knock dead" is only used in the theatrical expression "knock 'em dead" dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/knock-em-dead. "knock over" and knock out" are similar, and both are flexible about where you put the over/out. "He knocked over the vase" or "he knocked the vase over". According to OED, over can be a preposition or an adverb., but not an adjective. oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/over – JavaLatte Sep 9 '16 at 9:24

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