She cut the paper gingerly.

She cut him loose.

gingerly above is an adverb but loose isn't.

This is because gingerly describes the manner of "her" cutting the paper, but loose doesn't do so.

What does it mean to say that loose is an object complement? By definition, an object complement describes the object. Does it mean that in the sentence above it tells us how the person was after being cut loose? In other words, does the object complement tell us that the person was free after being cut loose?

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    You could say a person was free after being set/cut loose. But you couldn't say he was loose after being set/cut free - in that case, you'd have to say he was on the loose. – FumbleFingers Mar 24 at 14:49
  • @FumbleFingers— Thanks a lot! Could you please parse the sentence for me? Is loose an object complement here or is the phrase cut loose an implied PP as another member has noted (Unfortunately, I couldn't follow that argument.) – User40475 Mar 24 at 15:06
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    That comment was the best I could do, I'm afraid. Note that I have little interest in the relevant terminology for things like this. Things like nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are useful terms when the categorisation is easy, but as soon as it becomes difficult to decide which "Party of Speech" applies to some usage, I would generally consider that to be a strong indicator that such categorisation isn't useful for the context anyway). – FumbleFingers Mar 24 at 15:12
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    Yes. It's an idiom meaning to free someone or something from something which holds or restricts them. I think it's better to classify it as a resultative objective complement rather than as a manner adjunct. – BillJ Mar 24 at 15:14
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    cut loose is not only an idiom. It is much easier to understand these if you examine the implied absences. – Lambie Mar 24 at 15:19

to cut loose is an idiomatic expression.

She cut him loose. suggests she let him go as a boyfriend or lover. She cut off his "attachment" to her.

Also, it can be literal. She cut him loose [from the rope around his wrists.]

It implies that a person is attached to something. The attachment can be emotional or literal and the ties or bonds are not always given in the metaphor but always implied.

It is a phrasal verb: to cut someone loose [break off a relationship with them] In literal contexts, the ties are there.

to cut the paper gingerly = to cut the paper cautiously or carefully.

In short, to cut loose means to removes the ties that literally or metaphorically bind or tie a person to another or to something and it can be used as a phrasal verb.

set free and cut loose are phrasal or two-words verbs with implied prepositional phrases, which explains how they became phrasal verbs.

to be set free [from a cage]
to be cut loose [from attachments, literally or not]

  • Thank you, @Lambie. But I'm more interested in the grammar of the sentence here. In its literal sense, loose is an object complement because it describes the pronoun "him" (after being freed), i.e., "he was set free"? – User40475 Mar 24 at 14:20
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    set free is also phrasal: to be set free [from something or someone]. Same thing. There is an implied prepositional phrase, just like cut loose. loose and free are not object complements. – Lambie Mar 24 at 14:27
  • prepositional phrase? How so? – User40475 Mar 24 at 14:52
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    I just told you that: to be set free [from something] "from a cage" is a prepositional phrase. – Lambie Mar 24 at 15:12
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    For me, it's: Subject + phrasal verb. OR Subject + two-word verb. That said, if you prefer the grammar touted by "those above", that's up to you. Personally, I think it confuses things as it does not clarify the implied prepositional phrase which is beautifully logical in English and makes everything very clear regarding meaning. – Lambie Mar 24 at 15:31

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