On Wikipedia, I read a sentence like this:

Logical realism posits that logical truth exists independent of human ideas.

Is that grammatical? According to Wikipedia, this seems connected to adjuncts and predicative expressions. If it is grammatical, what criteria can be used to tell what verbs can be used in this way?

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    Independent of human ideas is a secondary predicate. We have a couple of dozen questions about this sort of clausal constituent, tagged secondary-predicates, and a brief definition at the tag wiki. At least in theory just about any verb could take a secondary predicate. Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 23:04
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    It's not clausaI, it's phrasal. I see no reason to call it a predicative adjunct referring to the subject "logical truth". I'd replace "independent" with the adverb "independently" and analyse "Independently of human ideas" as an AdvP modifying "exists".
    – BillJ
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 7:59

1 Answer 1


Yes, although this construction is available to almost any verb. StoneyB calls it a "secondary predicate" while BillJ calls it (I believe) an "adverbial predicate", but either way it's a phrase that acts like an adverb to modify the verb. Another example from a related question on ELL:

... the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky.

Personally, this structure feels somewhat literary. In everyday exposition the author would be more likely to use the adverb independently.

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    Hmm. Replace "exists" with "is" and "independent of human ideas" looks like an ordinary subject complement. Is there any particular reason to avoid considering this as a copular use of a typically intransitive verb? The inverse happens in the classical "I think; therefore, I am". Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 17:53
  • @GaryBotnovcan I'm not really interested in the classification of grammar structures, but there seems to be a slight difference between this example and your example. In your example the secondary phrase helps describe what is "logical truth" while in this example it modifies how logical truth exists. Granted this makes little difference to the underlying meaning, but it should affect how linguists describe the grammar, I think.
    – Andrew
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 18:08

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