"I guess Gilbert Blythe will be in school today," said Diana. "He's been visiting his cousins over in New Brunswick all summer and he only came home Saturday night. He's AW'FLY handsome, Anne. And he teases the girls something terrible. He just torments our lives out."

–– L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I guess something terrible has he as its predicand, and it is an adjunct that modifies the predicator, teases. Is this the right view for the structure?

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    I just read from a book that in order to test if a phrase is an adjunct or not, you can try replacing the verb with some other verbs. An adjunct would still retain its meaning. In this case, if I replace teases with invites, i.e. he invites the girls something terrible, it doesn't make sense anymore. In short, I think something terrible is a complement, licensed by teases. (But I may be wrong, since I'm very new to this kind of analysis.) Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 6:07

1 Answer 1


Something terrible means exceedingly, or to an excessive degree. It appears to be an adjunct serving adverbially to modify teases, that is, it measure the extent of the teasing. If something terrible were removed from the sentence, the sentence would no longer tell us the extent of the teasing, but it would still be clear that Gilbert teases the girls. The essential meaning of teases would not change.

Wikipedia's Adjunct (grammar) article has some useful information about adjuncts.

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