I followed him down the path that wound this way and that, three times the length of the path we had climbed.

I analyzed this sentence grammatically:

  1. I is the subject
  2. followed is a verb
  3. him is the object
  4. down the path this way and that is an object modifier or complement (don't know which)
  5. three times is a quantifier and noun

But could not understand the grammatical status of "the the length of the path we had climbed."


If you take a rope and uncoil it as you climb, it will trace the path you took. Now measure the length of that rope. That's the "length of the path". The phrase you're interested in (with one less "the" at the start) is a noun phrase with length as the head noun.

Here's a description of a noun phrase:

A noun phrase includes a noun—a person, place, or thing—and the modifiers which distinguish it.

You can find the noun dog in a sentence, for example, but you don't know which canine the writer means until you consider the entire noun phrase: that dog, Aunt Audrey's dog, the dog on the sofa, the neighbor's dog that chases our cat, the dog digging in the new flower bed.

- Grammar Bytes!

  • ...is this very noun phrase acted as object modifier of him? Jul 4 '17 at 14:03
  • ..(down the path....we had climbed )is all act as object modifier or something else? Jul 4 '17 at 14:04
  • 1
    @M.NaeemAhmad Regarding your first comment - no, the phrase "the length of the path we had climbed" is not related to the word him. It's related to "the path that wound this way and that". That is, they've traveled one third of the whole path.
    – Lawrence
    Jul 4 '17 at 14:26
  • and what about the path that wound this way and that? Jul 4 '17 at 14:30
  • 1
    @M.NaeemAhmad I'm not an expert on linguistics (I just speak the language :) ), but with reference to this page, I'd call that winding-path phrase a prepositional phrase that serves as an object complement. Then the decision is whether it complements "I" or "him". Since "I" is the subject, I'd say it's "I".
    – Lawrence
    Jul 4 '17 at 14:41

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