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The police questioned everyone in the room.

Here "in the room" is an adjective phrase or an adverb phrase

I think it is an adverb phrase.But some of the teachers of our country think it an adjective phrase. Which one will be correct?

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    No, not an adverb phrase or an adjective phrase. "In the room" is a preposition phrase modifying the noun "everyone".
    – BillJ
    Aug 15 '20 at 12:37
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    Note that a phrase is allocated to a phrasal category according to the category (part of speech) of its head word. Thus an adjective phrase is one whose head word is an adjective, and an adverb phrase is one whose head is an adverb, and so on. See my answer for examples. There is no adjective or adverb functioning as head in your example, but there is a preposition as head, thus "in the room" is a PP.
    – BillJ
    Aug 15 '20 at 13:45
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This is a textbook case of ambiguous meanings. Two interpretations are possible:

  1. The police did the questioning in the room. "In the room" is therefore an adverbial phrase specifying where the questioning was done.
  2. The people were all in the room (maybe when a crime occurred) and all of those people were later questioned by the police. "In the room" is therefore an adjectival phrase specifying which people were questioned.

The sentence can correctly be parsed either way. Only context will tell you which interpretation is the intended one.

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  • -1 The OP didn't ask about function but category. 'Adverbial' is not a function but a category. Irrespective of its function, "in the room" is a PP headed by the preposition "in".
    – BillJ
    Aug 15 '20 at 12:46
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    @BillJ The post does not include the words "function" or "category" nor does it ask about prepositional phrases, which your (incorrect) answer suggests are mutually exclusive with adj. and adv. phrases. They aren't.
    – TypeIA
    Aug 15 '20 at 12:48
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    @BillJ In case that's not clear... I agree it is a prepositional phrase. It's also either an advervial or an adjectival phrase. The OP asked about the latter, not the former, and your answer falsely claims that being a prepositional phrase excludes it from being the others.
    – TypeIA
    Aug 15 '20 at 12:52
  • No, but you mentioned 'adverbial' and that is a function. The question asked whether "in the room" was an adverb phrase or an adjective phrase, which it is neither. It's a preposition phrase.
    – BillJ
    Aug 15 '20 at 12:52
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    @BillJ From Grammarly: "Most of the time, a prepositional phrase modifies a verb or a noun. These two kinds of prepositional phrases are called adverbial phrases and adjectival phrases, respectively."
    – TypeIA
    Aug 15 '20 at 12:54
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The police questioned [everyone in the room].

The bracketed element is neither an adverb phrase nor an adjective phrase.

"In" is a preposition, so "in the room" can only belong to the category 'preposition phrase'.

Note that adjective and adverb phrases are ones headed by an adjective / adverb:

It's a [very nice house] (adjective phrase)

I dealt with it [quite separately]" (adverb phrase)

Functionally, the most salient interpretation of your example is that the PP is modifying the noun "everyone".

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  • Why do you assume that the most salient interpretation isn't the location of the action? Without further context, we cannot determine whether the location of the action or of the people is more relevant. The phrase in question could be either adjectival or adverbial, and you show no reason to prefer one to the other. Aug 15 '20 at 13:47
  • The bracketed phrase is not the one the OP asked about. Furthermore the answer is factually incorrect. Adverbial and adjectival phrases need not be headed by or even contain actual adverbs or adjectives. This is a trivial matter to confirm by consulting any grammar reference or searching the web.
    – TypeIA
    Aug 15 '20 at 14:02
  • @TypeIA What are you talking about? The OP asked about “in the room”, which I said was a PP in my answer. Can't you read? And you are completely wrong about the definition of ‘adverb phrase’ / ‘adjective phrase’. Any scholarly grammar will confirm that.
    – BillJ
    Aug 15 '20 at 14:08
  • @TypeIA I suggest you correct your wrong answer, which I might add initially said that "in the room" was a clause! You corrected that elementary error after comments had been received, which is frowned on here.
    – BillJ
    Aug 15 '20 at 14:18
  • Here's a link to a scholarly website where the definitions of adjective and adverb phrase are given. link
    – BillJ
    Aug 15 '20 at 14:21

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