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Authorities Say the Philippines' Most Active Volcano Could Be Just Hours From Erupting (The title of an article from Yahoo news)

I don't know whether 'Hours' functions as a noun in the place for complement or an adverb in the sentence.

I think it is used adverbly because if it is a noun, it has to modify 'the Philippines' Most Active Volcano', and then, the meaning of the sentence seems to be awkward, so, I think, it should be an adverb modifying the verb 'be'.

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  • It's a noun. It's a predicate nominative. Volcano (subj.) could be (linking verb) hours (predicate nominative). Jan 24 '18 at 6:40
  • @joiedevivre But how come hours is to be volcano? However I think, I don't get it.
    – GKK
    Jan 24 '18 at 6:45
  • "Hours" is a noun, so "hours from erupting" is a noun phrase that functions as complement of "be". The NP refers to "Philippines' Most Active Volcano".
    – BillJ
    Jan 24 '18 at 8:20
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In response to your question and the comments, all units of measurement can be used this way:

I am two pounds away from my weight-loss goal.
The children were miles from home.
The bandwidth is one gigabit per second from the required speed.

It's also appropriate to use this construction with "past":

I am two hours past the deadline.

I suppose this could be confusing, though. Obviously, the subject doesn't somehow turn into the unit of measurement. But the unit of measurement is still a noun. The entire phrase "hours from erupting" is describing the volcano, if that helps. That would make the phrase adjectival.

In fact that's probably a better way to deconstruct it than I did in the comments:

Volcano = subject
Could be = linking verb
Hours from erupting = predicate adjectival phrase

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  • I have got it well what you say. But, how about to think the part 'two hours past the deadline' as an adverbial phrase that is modifying the verb 'be'. I think that Hours from erupting is describing a time of the future to which the volcano is related, but not the volcano as it is.
    – GKK
    Jan 24 '18 at 7:25
  • You can think of it as a predicate adjective, but a predicate adjective or nominative is required to make a complete sentence. You couldn't say, for example, "I am rarely." Rarely is an adverb that modifies the to be verb, but the sentence is not complete. Jan 24 '18 at 7:28
  • I agree with you that "I am rarely" is not a complete sentence. But it does seem not to be the case related to our discussed sentence, because it does not just make sense. And I think that 'I am two hours past the deadline' it can be a complete sentence, even if 'two hours past the deadline' were an adverbial phrase because it seems to convey the meaning well to think so.
    – GKK
    Jan 24 '18 at 7:35
  • My point was that if "two hours past the deadline" were adverbial, then the sentence would not have a subject complement, so it would be an incomplete sentence. But "two hours past the deadline" is the subject complement, so it describes the subject (I). Subject > linking verb > adverb is not a valid grammatical structure in English. Does that make sense? Jan 24 '18 at 7:42
  • Yes, you are right. I couldn't agree more with you. But we can think that 'I am'(meaning 'I exist'), as it is, is a grammatically complete sentence, it is not an usual sentence to write so, though.
    – GKK
    Jan 24 '18 at 7:47

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