I think he knows more or less everything that goes on here, you know. (Harry Potter)

I’ve heard, in English, adjuncts cannot be put between verbs and their complements. For instance:

*I think he knows usually everything that goes on here.

If this is right, shouldn’t ‘more or less’ be put after ‘everything’?

  • 4
    More or less is a quantifier here: think of it as more-or-less-every – StoneyB on hiatus Feb 17 '13 at 2:22
  • I think this is Too Localised. I don't know what adjuncts cannot be put between verb-heads and their complements is supposed to mean, but if it's in a context where "adjunct" includes adverbial terms like more or less, almost, practically, it's a totally worthless concept. If "adjunct" means something else, it just goes to show the terminology isn't worth bothering with. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 17 '13 at 3:02
  • 1
    I have edited this to make the issue clearer. I think it's a valid question. – StoneyB on hiatus Jul 11 '13 at 14:37

It is true that adjuncts which modify the verb cannot be placed between the verb and its complements. But more or less in your example doesn't modify the verb. It modifies everything.

More or less everything that goes on here is known by him.

Consequently it is a part of the complement, and the rule is not violated. In fact, it is the determiner of the NP which constitutes the complement, and as such it must go at the head of that constituent.

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