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He paused outside the doors, taking stock of his men, careful not to give any sign of his thoughts. (source)

My understanding is the phrase "careful not to give any sign of his thoughts" is an adverbial modifying the main clause. In that case, shouldn't it be led by the adverb "carefully" instead of the adjective "careful"? If I am in the wrong and the original sentence is correct, what kind of phrase is "careful not to give any sign of his thoughts"? What is its grammatical function? And why can "careful" as an adjective be used here?

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  • Adverbials go with a verb: carefully not giving any sign....
    – Lambie
    Oct 9, 2018 at 23:46

1 Answer 1

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Careful acts as an adjective there. It's an example of ellipsis, which is "the omission of a word or phrase necessary for a complete syntactical construction but not necessary for understanding." Think of this way, with the missing word supplied:

He paused outside the doors, taking stock of his men, [being] careful not to give any sign of his thoughts.

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  • Makes perfect sense. Thanks! Follow-up: does "carefully" also work in this context?
    – Eddie Kal
    Oct 9, 2018 at 23:15
  • @Deancue No, it does not. You do something carefully. A person is careful. The answer is perfect. Why repeat your question again?
    – Lambie
    Oct 9, 2018 at 23:47
  • @Lambie Ok got it.
    – Eddie Kal
    Oct 10, 2018 at 0:03

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