I came across this sentence when I looked up the word breathless in OALD:

He arrived breathless at the top of the stairs. enter image description here

Why don’t they use breathlessly? I’ve learnt that there are some verbs such as linking verbs that can be followed by adjectives, but arrive isn’t a linking verb. Why is it followed by breathless instead of breathlessly in that sentence?

  • It's not being used as an adverb. As the dictionary entry says, it's being used as an adjective. It's the same as saying He arrived (in a) breathless (state) at the top of the stairs. It's just that some of the words that would make it obvious have been omitted. Jan 15, 2019 at 5:19

1 Answer 1


The adverb 'breathlessly' would modify the action of the verb 'arrived' and bring to the idea of 'arrival in a breathless manner' instead of the desired sense: he arrived there being breathless (he was breathless by the moment of arrival).

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