1. I want to drink the coffee cold.

  2. I don't want to eat the soup cold.

Quite a lot of times I've come across such a sentence in which people wrote "drink it cold" or "eat it cold", but I have no idea how to classify such a cold into a grammatical element. Are the colds above used as a postpositive adjective, or just object complement as in the sentences right below? However, 'drink' and 'eat' seem to be different from thr verbs of the three sentences below in that there seems not to be implied or omitted "to be" in between "the coffee and cold" and "the soup and cold" unlike below sentences, in which "to be" can be considered implied or omitted.

I want the coffee (to be) cold.

I prefer the coffee (to be) cold.

I like the coffee (to be) cold.

I think in both cases drink and eat seem to have a similar construction to the verb 'feel' as in

I'm feeling his body cold.

So, I presume both to be used as an object complement that needn't to imply "to be" before, but I'm not sure.

  • As a learner: I am not sure "I like the coffee cold" always means "I like it to be cold". I mean the there might be a slight difference. I like it cold strikes me as you want to talk about your general preferences when it comes to drinking coffee
    – Cardinal
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 5:52
  • In your examples, "cold" is an objective predicative complement referring to "coffee / soup". If you insert "to be", there's little change in meaning, but there's a significant change syntactically: "to be cold" is a clause as complement of "want / prefer / like", and "coffee" becomes a 'raised' object. "Cold" is then a subjective predicative complement, rather than an objective one.
    – BillJ
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 7:53
  • @BillJ Could you please introduce such verbs that can take an objective predicative complement?
    – GKK
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 7:55
  • Objective PCs only occur with transitive verbs. If some property can be ascribed to the object by some noun or adjective, we call it an 'objective PC' Common examples include: "They served the coffee black"; "We painted the house white"; "I consider Ed untrustworthy"; "We made them happy". Can you see a pattern emerging?
    – BillJ
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 8:13
  • I don't have a comprehensive list of such verbs, but if you look on the Internet, you'll find plenty of resources with examples. Note that objective PCs can be nouns and adjectives.
    – BillJ
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 8:21

1 Answer 1


I want to drink the coffee cold.

Cold is a noun only if it refers to the affliction that gives you a stuffed nose. If it refers to the temperature, it's a modifier. Therefore cold can't be an object, because it's not a noun.

Cold answers either the question "how do you want to drink the coffee?" (in a manner where it's not cold) or "when do you want to drink the coffee?" (not while it's cold, for example). Adverbs typically answer how or when in a sentence.

Cold as an adverb often means "suddenly" or "unprepared":

The way she was talking stopped me cold.

I can't just walk in there cold and give a speech (example from here).

but it can still refer to temperature as well.

  • Here, "object complement" is a technical term referring to a kind of adjective which describes (semantically predicates on) the object coffee. It's not a kind of object, but a kind of complement. In the OP's sentence, it's a depictive secondary predicate rather than a modifier.
    – user230
    Commented Dec 18, 2018 at 14:58

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