1
  1. The philosophy that guides the organization's policies towards its employees is not bad.

  2. The philosophy guiding the organization's policies towards its employees is not bad.

  3. The organization's policies towards its employees is not bad.

In the first sentence, the phrase towards its employees is an adverbial prepositional phrase acting as an adverb which modifies the finite verb guide, isn't it?

In the third sentence, the phrase towards its employees is an adjectival prepositional phrase acting as an adjective which modifies the organigation's policies isn't it?

In the second sentence, guiding the organization's policies towards its employees is a participle phrase acting as an adjective which modifies the *philosophy, isn't it?

But my question is about the phrase towards its employees in the second sentence. I don't know whether it (towards its employees) is an adjectival prepositional phrase which modifies the organization's policies or an adverbial preposition phrase which modifies the word guiding in the second sentence.

  • I think that the phrase modifies the word "policies" in all cases, because it would seem illogical if it modified "guides". – CowperKettle Apr 22 at 4:46
  • In your opinion, "toward its empolyees" is an adjectival prepositional phrase in all the three sentences isn't it? – Md Hasem Apr 22 at 5:39
  • The philosophy guides the organization's policies toward its empolyees. In this sentence, "toward its empolyees" modifies the word "guide(finite verb)" isn't it? @CowperKettle – Md Hasem Apr 22 at 5:42
4

The boy guides the boat towards the shore.

In this sentence, "towards the shore" modifies "guides"

The philosophy guides the policy towards employees.

In this sentence, "towards employees" modifies "policy", because you cannot move a policy physically closer to employees - the word "guides" just has two different senses in sentence 1 and sentence 2.

4

In these sentences, the word "toward" doesn't refer to a direction. It's a synonym for "regarding", and is used to modify "policies". So "policies toward its employees" refers to the policies the company makes regarding their employees, and "towards its employees" is being used as an adjectival prepositional phrase.

Most online dictionaries don't mention this sense, but I found it in Merriam Webster:

2.b: in relation to
an attitude toward life

4

The philosophy guiding [the organization's policies towards its employees] is not bad.

I think the more salient interpretation is that it's "the organization's policies towards its employees" that are being guided by a philosophy that is not too bad.

Which means that the PP "towards its employees" modifies "policies", and thus the whole bracketed element is a noun phrase functioning as direct object of "guiding".

Note: it could be argued that the PP is not a modifier but a complement.

2

In theory, yes, the second sentence is syntactically ambiguous and could be viewed either way. However, as a native speaker just reading the sentence, my interpretation agrees with that of CowperKettle--namely, I interpret towards its employees as a modifier of policies in all three sentences.

  • The philosophy guides the organization's policies toward its empolyees. In this sentence, "toward its empolyees" modifies the word "guide(finite verb)" isn't it? – Md Hasem Apr 22 at 5:33
  • In your opinion, "toward its empolyees" is an adjectival prepositional phrase in all the three sentences isn't it? – Md Hasem Apr 22 at 5:35

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