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I am not sure if "specify" is the right word here, so please edit it if there is a more suitable expression.

So I know that noun phrases can be "specified" by dependent clauses, like this,

The cat that was lying there woke up.

In which that was lying there is a dependent clause that "specifies" cat. But can you do the same thing with the verb phrase/verb?

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Yes, of course.

The cat that was lying there woke up with a satisfied yawn.


Updated: I am adding to this based on some comments.

In my revised version of the example sentence, the verb is woke. It is modified by with a satisfied yawn which acts adverbially—it describes how the cat woke up. In the same fashion, that was lying there acts adjectivally to modify the noun cat.


There is a slight difference between the two however. That was lying there is a relative clause, whereas with a satisfied yawn is not.

I can think of no way of modifying the example sentence that produces an adverbial relative clause after woke up, but I can think of an alternative sentence:

I didn't know who would be there.

Here, the verb is know and who would be there is both a relative and adverbial clause that modifies it.

  • That is a prepositional phrase. Notice that it does not contain a verb. – DarthCadeus Aug 13 '18 at 5:09
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    @DarthCadeus The verb is woke and with a satisfied yawn acts adverbially—it describes how the cat woke up. By the same analysis, that was lying there acts adjectivally to modify the noun cat. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 13 '18 at 13:15
  • But the point is not what with a satisfied yawn describes, but what it is. I know verbs can have specifiers, I just do not know if it can be specified by a clause – DarthCadeus Aug 13 '18 at 14:39
  • @DarthCadeus I'm still confused by what you mean by "specified" if not "modified." Are you perhaps looking for an adverbial phrase that is also a relative clause? I can't think of how to modify your example sentence off the top of my head, but consider this: "I didn't know who would be there." Is that what you're looking for? – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 13 '18 at 14:59

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