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In Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, the idiom the beginning of the end is defined as below.

the first sign of something ending

I am not sure whether ending is a participle that functions as an adjective, or a gerund. I think technically either can be possible. I'd like to ask for your helps.

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  • That dictionary calls is an idiom. Idioms needn't really follow grammar rules. The first sign of ending something: that's an adjective.
    – Lambie
    Jun 4, 2019 at 22:38

2 Answers 2

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The first sign of something ending comes from:
The first sign of something [that is] ending.

It is a reduced relative clause.

reduced relative clause

And here is one rule for them from the "Grammar Bank" site:

  1. If "To be" verb is used after a relative pronoun we can omit "Relative Pronoun + To be".

The car which is parked next to mine is very expensive. The car parked next to mine is very expensive.

Hamlet, which was written by Shakespeare sometime in the early 1600s, is among the classics. Hamlet, written by Shakespeare sometime in the early 1600s, is among the classics.

remove that + to be

All the sites I can find gives examples of clauses like this, where the auxiliary verbs can be more than a single word verb. The auxiliaries such as: that is [verb], that are [verb] are all shown as examples of reduced clauses.

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  • Thank you for explaining in such a logical way. I appreciate it. What took me so long to respond is that there is stuff I am confused about. I have known there are only two categories that expressions in such form can be classified into, which are a participle phrase that functions as an adjective, and a gerund that serves as a noun. Should I regard the case you explained to belong to a participle phrase that functions as an adjective, or totally another discrete type? Jun 18, 2019 at 8:53
  • For another instance, how about I heard an unspeakable rumor about you being in love? This is a line from a movie Allied. :) Jun 18, 2019 at 8:54
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    @SmartHumanism Surely, the rumor is unstoppable, rather than unspeakable. Unspeakable is for horrible things. "being in love" is a noun phrase. And rumor about you/your being in love is a prepositional phrase that includes that phrase.
    – Lambie
    Jun 18, 2019 at 14:49
  • Thank you for reply. Then, can it not be the case you explained? Is it wrong interpreting it as a reduced relative clause? I think it is possible from your explanation that an unstoppable rumor about you being in love came from a rumor about you who is in love with the part who is omitted. Jun 18, 2019 at 19:55
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    No, there is no reduced clause there: Being in love is a wonderful thing. |being in love| is a noun phrase. I heard an unspeakable rumor about you [who is] in love? is not grammatical. There is no omission in the case of being in love, or being rich, being poor, being smart, etc. etc. etc.
    – Lambie
    Jun 18, 2019 at 20:12
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the first sign of something ending

"Ending" is a gerund-participial clause modifying "something". Semantically, such clauses are similar to relative clauses: compare the first sign of something that is ending.

But we don't call them relative clauses since there's no possibility of them containing a relative phrase (cf. *"the first sign of something that ending").

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  • I'm well aware of that, though it is not obligatory. But what does that have to do with the OP's question, which simply asked about the category (POS) of the word "ending". To repeat, it's a gerund-participial clause serving as modifier of "something".
    – BillJ
    Jun 4, 2019 at 14:11
  • You're repeating yourself. Read the OP's question again, and this time try to take it on board!
    – BillJ
    Jun 4, 2019 at 14:35
  • I posted an answer, so the OP knows now.
    – BillJ
    Jun 4, 2019 at 14:38
  • Please provide a reference for your answer.
    – Lambie
    Jun 5, 2019 at 17:49

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