Our own identities were simply given to us complete.

Why doesn’t the adverb ‘completely’ comes, but adjective ‘complete’ to the end of the sentence above? Is it because that ‘complete’ modify the subject ‘our own identities’?

2 Answers 2


Our own identities were simply given to us complete.

Syntactically, the adjective "complete" is not actually located within the subject noun phrase "our own identities", but within the verb phrase "given to us complete", so we can't say it modifies "identities".

Semantically, it does of course refer to "identities", so such elements are known as predicative adjuncts: predicative because they refer to a predicand (here, "identities") and 'adjunct' because they modify the verb phrase.


Yes, you have got it exactly. It is not a common construction. The meaning is

Our identities were completely determined without any personal involvement.

That is a perfectly comprehensible statement, but not completely plausible because such complete determinism is inconsistent with any sense of self. (I am sympathetic to determinism, but I also recognize the difficulties inherent in subscribing to it.) By using a convoluted grammar, the focus is shifted from questioning substance to understanding meaning.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .