Excerpted from the-tls.co.uk:

I was too afraid that I would quickly sabotage close-up whatever good impression I might have managed to create long-distance.

I can understand the sentence above, but its structure is strange to me. "I would quickly sabotage whatever good impression I might have..." is normal, but when added close-up I am confused, it seems it just sticks an extra noun into a complete sentence.

Can someone show me some sentences with similar structure (Verb + extra noun + Object)? What kinds of nouns can I use in this way?

  • 1
    Close-up and long-distance are not nouns in this sentence. – Alan Carmack Aug 13 '16 at 13:00

Close-up here is not used as a noun but as a locative, contrasting with long-distance at the end of the sentence.

The phrase is composed of the adjective close plus the intransitive preposition or particle (or adverb if your grammar is traditionalist) up, with the sense "completely, all the way", as in fill up. Compare the phrase with the opposite meaning far away.

The noun closeup in fact derives from this phrase: it's a shot taken from a position close up to the actor.

I personally would not hyphenate either close up or long distance in these adverbial uses; but that doesn't make the author's use wrong.

  • Can I say "I would eat near here a cake" to indicate location? – CYC Aug 13 '16 at 13:14
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    @CYC near here is fine, but we do not ordinarily put adverbs or locatives between a verb and its object: I would eat a cake near here, or Near here I would eat a cake. It is placed before the object here only because a) the object clause is very heavy and b) to parallel the position of contrasting long distance at the end of the object clause. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 13 '16 at 13:16
  • So the sentence in question has an uncommon structure? it puts "close-up" between sabotage and its object. – CYC Aug 13 '16 at 13:20
  • @CYC W e l l . . . it has a structure licensed by uncommon content! – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 13 '16 at 13:22
  • The hyphen in close-up is a warning against trying parse the sentence grouping "up" with "whatever". Personally I would probably have marked the phrase with commas, and re-written the ending: "... I would quickly sabotage, close up, what I might have managed to create at a distance." – alephzero Aug 13 '16 at 17:35

This seems like shorthand use of adverb clauses:

I was too afraid that I would quickly sabotage (in a) close-up (situation/meeting) whatever good impression I might have managed to create (in) long-distance (communication).

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