Can you please help me parse this sentence:

The best way to enjoy a fine wine is slowly.

Please explain the structure of the sentence. I am mostly having trouble with slowly after is.

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    – ColleenV
    May 20, 2019 at 10:57

2 Answers 2


The best way to enjoy a fine wine is slowly.

Generally AdvPs modify verbs where they are adjuncts. But they can also occur as complement to the verb be in its specifying sense, as here.

Note that there are one or two verbs that select a manner AdvP as complement, as in He treated her appallingly.

  • 1
    I wouldn't expect a native English speaker to know what "AdvP" means, let alone an English learner. May 8, 2019 at 18:01
  • @Acccumulation Really? Then how do you explain the fact that the OP uses the term AdvP himself (see his first comment).
    – BillJ
    May 8, 2019 at 18:08
  • 1
    How is the fact that a particular person knows what a term means in any way inconsistent with people in general don't know what it means? May 8, 2019 at 19:07
  • is there any restriction on the type of AdvP and the type of head Noun that the AdvP is predicated upon that can occur in such construction? May 9, 2019 at 7:50
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    @Man_From_India Other adverbs include "slowly", "rapidly", "ferociously " etc. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any other nouns.
    – BillJ
    May 9, 2019 at 16:08

"is" is a copula that links "the best way" and "slowly". And yet "slowly" is an adverb, which calls for it to modify the verb "enjoy" rather than the noun "way". So this can be analyzed as being elliptical for "The best way to enjoy a fine wine is to enjoy it slowly".

Another analysis is that while the word "way" is a noun, what it refers to is an adverb. If that's confusing, it might help to consider the word "action". In the sentence "Alice hit Bob", "hit" is the action. So the word "action" is a noun, but it refers to a verb. Just as the noun "action" refers to verbs, the noun "way" refers to adverbs. If you look up the word "adverb", you'll probably get something like "the way or manner of performing an action". For instance, "In what way did he run? He ran slowly." An adverb describes the way a verb is performed. In the example you gave, "slowly" is a way of enjoying a fine wine. The sentence is saying that this way is the best.

"slowly" is definitely not modifying "is". "is" is simply a linking verb that, depending on how you analyze it, connects either "slowly" or "[to enjoy it] slowly" to "way".

  • "Slowly" cannot be modifying "enjoy" when it's a complement of "be".
    – BillJ
    May 8, 2019 at 17:44
  • @BillJ My understanding is that nothing is the complement of "be". "subject complement or predicative of the subject is a predicative expression that follows a linking verb (copula) and that complements the subject" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subject_complement . So in the sentence "A is B", B is the complement of A, not "is". As to your main point, I agree that if "slowly" is the complement, then analyzing it as modifying "enjoy" is problematic. Either "slowly" is modifying "way", or it is modifying "to enjoy it" and the entire phrase "to enjoy is slowly" is the complement of "way". May 8, 2019 at 17:55
  • You've got the analysis all wrong. See my answer for a brief explanation. The AdvP can only be a complement of "be" since it's required to complete the VP. And since it has "way" as predicand, it is a PC.
    – BillJ
    May 8, 2019 at 17:57

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