I need a piece of advice. Look at this two sentences:

I got a bad grade. As a consequence, when I will go home I will find my parents sad.


I got a bad grade. As a consequence, when I will go home I will find my sad parents.

Now, to my non native ear, the first sentence is better because moving the adjective "sad" after "my parents" gives the idea that my parents became sad because of my bad grade. Whereas, the second sentence fails to accomodate for this particular circumstance, and it seems that my parents are always sad.

What's your take on this?

  • 1
    My take aligns with your take.
    – J.R.
    Nov 16, 2017 at 17:33
  • Your non native ear is correct! The first version is "natural" for the intended meaning. It's just about feasible that a poetically-inclined native speaker might use the second form in this or a similar context. Perhaps to imply that even though the parents aren't always sad, they're more closely associated with that state than you might expect (maybe because by further implication they're excessively concerned about their child's academic success). But if you want to write normal English rather than quirky poetry, stick with your gut instinct. Nov 16, 2017 at 17:37
  • Thank you J.R and FumbleFingers. Sadly, grammar books don't explain those nuances properly.
    – GoldenAge
    Nov 16, 2017 at 17:38
  • @GoldenAge: I'm sure that's not true - it'll just be that you don't know where to look. Syntactically the two constructions are totally different. The first version features a "deleted copula" (compare I think you stupid as a somewhat affected version of I think you are stupid). That's to say my parents sad is short for that my parents are sad, whereas in the second example my sad parents is just a straightforward noun phrase. Nov 16, 2017 at 17:45
  • Well yes. Probably I just don't know where to look at. Furthermore, the books I studied are not that good either.
    – GoldenAge
    Nov 16, 2017 at 17:51

1 Answer 1


Good ear. 

When "sad" appears before "parents", it modifies them directly.  Your parents may well be inherently sad.  They certainly seem to be unrelatedly sad.  When it appears after, it acts as an argument of the verb "find".  In this case, "sad" is what your parents are as you find them.  It's a condition related to that moment just as much as it is related to your parents. 

In turn, the introductory prepositional phrase "as a consequence" relates the moment of finding to the bad grade. 

The pattern here is Transitive Verb / Direct Object / Predicate Adjective Object Complement

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