Can I use adjectives in the dependent clause to describe the subject of the sentence like this? Is this grammatically correct?

  1. Her voice cut through the night, hoarse and scared.

(Are "hoarse" and "scared" correctly describing her voice, or should the adjectives be moved before "Her voice"?)

  1. Her words cut him off, rude and condescending.

(Are "rude" and "condescending" correctly describing her words?)

  • 1
    Yes, they are called 'predicative adjuncts'. Predicative because they refer to a predicand "her voice" / her words", and adjunct because they are optional items in clause structure. Compare the predicative complement comparisons"her voice was hoarse and scared" / Her words were rude and condescending". – BillJ Apr 15 '18 at 7:15

[1] Her voice cut through the night, [hoarse and scared].

[2] Her words cut him off, [rude and condescending].

Yes, you can, but they are not dependent clauses. The bracketed elements are AdjPs (adjective phrases) functioning as 'predicative adjuncts': predicative because they are related to a predicand – in this case "her voice" and "her words", and adjunct because they are optional items in clause structure. More specifically they are supplements, detached from the rest of the clause by intonation (and a slight pause) in speech and by punctuation (e.g. a comma) in writing.

Compare the predicative complement equivalents:

[3] Her voice was [hoarse and scared].

[4] Her words were [rude and condescending].

Here, the bracketed AdjPs are complements relating to "her voice/words" – they are complements because they are obligatory items – dropping them would make the sentences ungrammatical. By contrast, the AdjPs in [1] and [2] are optional items – they can be dropped with no loss of grammaticality.

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