Perhaps most far reaching, California is prepared to expose the extent to which low-wage employers get a free ride on taxpayers.

In this sentence, is 'perhaps most far reaching' is a modifier? If so, then what does it modify? I mean, WHAT is far reaching they're saying here? And how do I know that though there isn't any subject or verb in that phrase?

  • 2
    It doesn't modify anything. It's a supplementary adjunct, set apart from the rest of the clause by a comma (and by a pause in speech). Rather than being tightly integrated into clause structure like modifiers are, it's a loosely attached expression, a separate unit of information. It refers to the main clause, but it doesn't actually modify it. It is most likely preceded in the discourse by some relevant discussion on the topic, and the superlative nature of the adjunct relates back to that.
    – BillJ
    Dec 3 '16 at 8:51
  • @BillJ, thanks! But if it's just a supplementary adjunt, how should I figure out the meaning of that phrase in the sentence? So it means the fact that 'California is prepared to expose the extent to which low-wage employers get a free ride on taxpayers' is far reaching?
    – dbwlsld
    Dec 3 '16 at 9:21
  • 1
    Not quite; it means most far reaching of some previously mentioned proposal or intention or whatever.
    – BillJ
    Dec 3 '16 at 9:54

Consider this series of statements:

They plan to increase the size of the Space Station, to house another 100 scientists. They plan to add a manufacturing facility, to produce superconductors in a zero-gravity environment. But perhaps the most far reaching, they intend to construct a launch pad on the space station itself, from which flights to Mars will depart.

There is an implicit or virtual nominal: the most far reaching SOMETHING. The listener thinks back on the previous sentences and realizes (almost instantaneously) that the verb "plan" was used, so that what is meant here is probably "the most far reaching plan" or "the most far reaching idea".

You're correct to realize that the listener or reader is being expected to fill in the gap here. Some would say that the writer is giving the readers an opportunity to stumble, if only slightly, by not explicitly stating the idea that occupies the gap.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .