I just watched a Youtube video of Conan O'Brien and there's a comment below saying "He(Conan)'s so much funnier than Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Ellen Degeneres and Seth Meyers combined.". I know that the "combined" is in fact an adjective here, and I also know adjectives can be put after nouns like "something" and "nothing", but what is the rule that allows this "combined" to be put at the end? Or like, why can you do this?

  • Combined here means something like considered all together, so there is no other logical place for it. – Kate Bunting Jan 2 '20 at 10:10

This is a good question.

"Combined" is a participle, which means it can be used as a noun, adjective, or part of a verb.

The normal rule is that adjectives precede the noun being modified. However, the preceding sentence shows one of the exceptions to that rule if you consider "being modified" an adjectival phrase. It is not an exception to that rule if you consider it as the ellipsis of of a clause (a relative clause in this case).

precedes the noun [that is] being modified

So I do not know that it is an error to categorize "combined" as an adjective: categorization is a free exercise of the human mind. You could reword the sentence and put "combined" before the list of names to create the impression of a hydra-like creature, each head of which is emitting topical quips. But I think it is more useful to think of it as being the key verb in an abbreviated clause

if their talents were combined

  • So the comment is the abbreviated sentence of "He's so much funnier than Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Ellen Degeneres and Seth Meyers ARE combined." ? – Sam Jan 3 '20 at 8:51
  • But on the other hand, I feel like "He's so much funnier than Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Ellen Degeneres and Seth Meyers ARE combined." sounds weird. – Sam Jan 3 '20 at 8:54
  • @Sam I agree that any sentence suggesting that people can be combined as though they had been mixed in a very large electric blender is going to sound weird because it is a weird (and distasteful) image. This is why I find it more useful to consider "combined" as suggesting a hypothetical clause. "He's much funnier than X, Y, and Z would be if their comedic talents were combined." People are not being combined; some of their attributes are being hypothetically combined. – Jeff Morrow Jan 3 '20 at 14:38
  • I was going to ask if "He's so much funnier than Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Ellen Degeneres and Seth Meyers's comedic talents are combined." sounds okay, but I found out it's grammatically wrong and I think what you are trying to tell me includes the fact that the original comment doesn't have an official full/complete version. So I think there are more variations of what the full/complete version can possibly be, but once we know the certain meaning of this usage, then the other variations don't really matter. Is what I am aware of correct? I hope I haven't got anything wrong. – Sam Jan 4 '20 at 15:20
  • Sam, that is exactly what I was trying to say. There are a variety of clauses that would complete the sentence grammatically and logicially, but they all mean the same. We are being asked to consider the hypothetical of combining not the physical bodies of a list of people but rather of combining an attribute that those people share. And that is why I think it makes more sense to consider "combined" as indicating an abbreviated hypothetical clause rather than an adjective. Grammar is a way to describe the way that a language is constructed. There need not be a unique description. – Jeff Morrow Jan 4 '20 at 17:27

Following on from what you understand already, it is because...

Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Ellen Degeneres and Seth Meyers

... is to be considered as one single noun, and then to consider them "combined" means to sum up (presumably) their comedic talent.

To not include "combined" would simply mean that Conan is "so much funnier" than each individual in the list.

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