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  1. We were served by a very impolite salesgirl at the supermarket.
  2. We were served by a very impolite salesgirl from the supermarket.

I'd like to know whether the sentences have the same meaning.

I think that at the supermarket is an adverb phrase, and from the supermarket is an adjective phrase.

If the sentences are changed into active, is it correct to place the phrase (at/from the supermarket) behind the subject?

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    Please expand your question to tell us whether you think the sentences have the same meaning. Do you think at the supermarket and from the market have different meanings here? – P. E. Dant Aug 27 '16 at 2:47
  • Thanks, P.E. Dant.I think 'at the supermarket' is an adverb phrase and 'from the supermarket' is an adjective phrase. – thein lwin Aug 27 '16 at 3:07
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    Please use the edit button below your question to expand the question to include your comment. Also, tell us what you think the two phrases mean. That will make your question much better! – P. E. Dant Aug 27 '16 at 3:09
  • Now you it will be even better if you tell us what you think your two sentences mean. Tell us how you think the two phrases from the supermarket and from the supermarket are different. – P. E. Dant Aug 27 '16 at 3:31
  • I've told you how I think the two phrases are different. One is an adverb, and another is an adjective. – thein lwin Aug 27 '16 at 4:02
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Your two sentences contain two different prepositional phrases which, as you thought, function as an adverbial and adjectival phrase, respectively.

  1. We were served by a very impolite salesgirl at the supermarket.
  2. We were served by a very impolite salesgirl from the supermarket.

The adverbial phrase in the first sentence tells us that the serving took place at the supermarket. We know that the speakers were served at the supermarket, and by a rude salesgirl.

The adjectival phrase in the second sentence modifies salesgirl by telling us about her place of origin. The assumption is that the supermarket is where she works. The adjectival phrase doesn't tell us where the rude service was endured by the speakers, though. It may have been at the bus station, on a roller coaster, or at the supermarket.

Like an adverb, an adverbial prepositional phrase can be moved around in a sentence. If we express the main clause in the first sentence in the passive voice, we can place the adverbial prepositional phrase before the subject:

  1. At the supermarket, a very impolite salesgirl served us.

If we express the main clause in the second sentence in the passive voice, we cannot change the position of the adjectival prepositional phrase relative to the noun it modifies. Unlike adjectives, which usually precede the nouns they modify, an adjectival prepositional phrase follows the noun it modifies. Here, the prepositional phrase modifies salesgirl and must immediately follow it:

  1. A very impolite salesgirl from the supermarket served us.
  • Thanks, P.E. Dant. I'm sorry for my tying error. Please read 'active' instead of 'passive'. I'll edit it. – thein lwin Aug 27 '16 at 5:31

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