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It is likely that the person who led you through the zoo helped you to learn a lot.

I wonder what is the grammatical function of the prepositional phrase in the above sentence?

In my opinion, the phrase modifies the verb "led", so it works as an adverb. But someone told me that I could add a verb "to be" between the pronoun, you, and the phrase and it makes sense, so the phrase is the complement of the object "you".

I'm a little confused about that.

  • I think the basic construction is inherently ambiguous in terms of whether the "adverbial" clause modifies the agent or patient ("subject" or "object"). As Groucho Marx said, One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know. – FumbleFingers Aug 8 at 16:25
  • Consider He's the Peeping Tom who watched me getting undressed. Same thing. If you want to impose a perverse interpretation, you could visualize the Peeping Tom getting undressed while he watched me cooking dinner, for example. – FumbleFingers Aug 8 at 16:29
  • I'd say it was a locative complement of "led". It falls under the general heading of 'source, goal and location' complements, where PPs typically hang out. – BillJ Aug 8 at 17:24
  • If I understand what you're saying, who led you to be through the zoo doesn't make any sense at all. While it's not wrong syntactically, somebody being through the zoo is mostly nonsensical. A better example (which might work with your question) is who led you to run screaming through the zoo. Of course, the sentence would be ungrammatical if the helped you to learn a lot part of it remained after that. You would do better to provide an actual example of what you have in mind that also makes sense. – Jason Bassford Aug 8 at 22:25
  • @JasonBassford “who led you through the zoo” is a dependent clause which modifies the antecedent-the person, and it means the person leads "you" in the zoo and give "you" some information. That's what my understanding of the sentence. – Henry Wang Aug 9 at 1:48

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