They were listening scared.

Is there anything wrong with this sentence? I searched Google Books and this expression does not seem to appear anywhere:

listening scared

Not even Ngram recognizes it as a valid arrangement of words.

  • 2
    Grammatically, it's fine. Semantically, it would also be fine in the right context.
    – BillJ
    Dec 15 '17 at 18:59
  • 1
    I'm talking about the dogs in a village, after a gunshot thundered at midnight. They stopped barking, listening scared.
    – user65007
    Dec 15 '17 at 19:03
  • 1
    If it's the dogs that were "listening" and 'scared', then it's fine. "Scared" is an adjective functioning as a predicative adjunct: predicative because it relates to a 'predicand' (the subject "they") and adjunct because it's a modifier in clause structure.
    – BillJ
    Dec 15 '17 at 19:19
  • 2
    It looks weird to me but I think it's mostly because of the punctuation. I would much prefer "They were listening , scared" because that emphasizes that they were listening, and that they were scared. The version without the comma makes it look like they were one thing called "listening scared".
    – stangdon
    Dec 15 '17 at 19:49
  • 1
    "Scared" is not an adverb, it's an adjective, but it is still an adjunct in clause structure. It's predicative of course since it relates to the subject, but it is not a dependent in the subject NP, which is just "they", so it cannot be seen as a modifier or complement of "they". It is precisely because depictives like this cut across the contrast between complements and adjuncts that they are called 'predicative adjuncts'.
    – BillJ
    Dec 15 '17 at 21:35

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