These changes have been positive, giving many women legal rights.

After the comma, is giving many women legal rights an adverbial clause? Any special kind of that? What does the sentence mean? Is it equal the following?

  1. These changes have been positive, which give many women legal rights.

  2. These changes have been positive since they give many women legal rights.

  3. These changes, which give many women legal rights, have been positive.

1 Answer 1


The sentence almost certainly means "These changes have been positive because they give women many legal rights." Under that substantive reading, the phrase "giving women many legal rights" describes the changes and so is adjectival.

The form of the sentence, however, appears to be an ellipsis for "These changes have been positive by giving women many legal rights." In that case, the phrase technically gives the reason for calling the changes positive and so is adverbial in that it is elaborating on an adjective.

How we analyze the phrase is not really important in determining the meaning. Ellipses frequently permit different but equally valid analytical descriptions.

  • You might also clarify that it is not a gerund but a "comment clause".
    – Rykara
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 18:45
  • True, but I was trying to get the OP to focus on meaning rather than analytical categories. Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 20:33

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