"She is at the point of her death."

Here, 'at the point of her death' is said to be an adverbial phrase by the textbook which modifies the finite verb 'is'. But I thought it is an adjective phrase modifying the subject 'she'. If I am wrong, where and how?

  • 3
    I agree with you--it's a preposition phrase acting as an 'adjectival' predicate complement. But we don't say that a person is 'at the point of' somebody else's death! Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 14:41
  • oops... I edited that...
    – Sami
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 16:12
  • 2
    A complement, yes, but locative not predicative.
    – BillJ
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 19:02
  • What if she's at wit's end? Is the type of complement determined semantically or naively (in the algorithmic sense)?
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 21:48
  • 2
    @StoneyB I'm curious, though. If it's adjectival then we should be able to use it as an adjective, "At the point of her death she is calm". Here it seems more like an adverbial phrase telling us the time frame, and not describing her.
    – Andrew
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


The sentence "She is at the point of her death." has a subject, a verb, and an adverbial prepositional phrase.

  • [She] [is] [at the point of her death].

Here the "Adverbial Prepositional Phrase" modifies the verb "is" and answers the questions "Where?", "At what point?", or even "When?". Here "at" is the head of the phrase and "the point of her death" is a noun phrase functioning as a prepositional complement.

  • I don't think it's an adverbial prepositional phrase, Alex, because "is" is a copula or linking verb; therefore, it's not modifying the verb "is"; it's complementing it.
    – Nick
    Commented Dec 9, 2017 at 6:47
  • @NicholasCastagnola Are you sure? It doesn't make sense as anything other than an adverbial phrase. It does answer the question, "Where?" maybe "When?" doesn't it? Commented Dec 9, 2017 at 6:50
  • Yes, but as Stoney B points out above, I think it is a predicate complement. If it were, "She writhed on her bed at the point of her death", I would agree with you because it would be acting as if it were and adverb, modifying "writhed".
    – Nick
    Commented Dec 9, 2017 at 6:57
  • Adverbs and adjectives and their complements and adjuncts and phrases are not my strong suit, so I shall defer to you on this one, but Stoney B suggests that it is a predicate complement and that is what I think it is, but I'm not sure. I don't like the word adverbial here because "is" is a linking verb; therefore, it never takes an adverb--only an adjective: "She is independent"--not "She is independently."
    – Nick
    Commented Dec 9, 2017 at 7:04
  • @NicholasCastagnola Hmm, taking that into account you may be right. Commented Dec 9, 2017 at 7:33

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