1

I'm talking about a sorry person about the exam.

I'm talking about a person sorry about the exam.

I intend to mean "a person who is sorry about the exam".

Are these two sentences the same and do they meet my intention?

5
  • The first version is syntactic garbage. The second one is simply an acceptable "condensed" version of what you say you intend it to mean anyway. That's to say, the highlighted element in I'm talking about a person [who is] sorry about the exam is optional, so it can validly be discarded. – FumbleFingers May 15 at 14:22
  • @FumbleFingers if someone spoke the second sentence to me I’d hear it as two different sentences. Even written, it’s a bit awkward. I don’t think it can be discarded in fact even if it maybe can in theory. – thehole May 15 at 15:22
  • The point I would like to figure out is why "a sorry man about the exam" is not equal to "a man sorry about the exam", or why "an angry man about the exam" is not equal to "a man angry about the exam", whereas "enough money to buy a new car" is equal to "money enough to buy a new car." @FumbleFingers – Jawel7 May 15 at 16:18
  • If someone has strong feelings about a particular subject, we have to say they are angry about that subject. An angry man could be one who is bad-tempered by nature. Also, we can't say a sorry man for a man who feels sorry. In old-fashioned language, it would mean a rather pathetic, contemptible man. – Kate Bunting May 15 at 21:16
  • 1
    @Jawel7: The reason your first version doesn't work is because the entire adjectival element sorry about the exam can't be split up. Single-word adjectives usually come before the noun they modify, but "phrasal" adjectives normally come after the noun. Note that although it would be slightly "quirky", we could in principle use hyphens to make your multi-word adjectival phrase function syntactically like a singe-word adjective, as in I'm talking about a "sorry-about-the-exam" person (scare quotes alert the reader to a "quirky" usage; in speech those words are spoken very rapidly). – FumbleFingers May 16 at 11:16
1

The only difference is the first sentence is ungrammatical. "Sorry" is a never-attributive adjective and should not be used as a pre-head modifier in a noun phrase structure. "Sorry" can only be used attributively in idiomatic expressions such as "A sorry state of affairs".

8
  • The point I would like to figure out is why "a sorry man about the exam" is not equal to "a man sorry about the exam", or why "an angry man about the exam" is not equal to "a man angry about the exam", whereas "enough money to buy a new car" is equal to "money enough to buy a new car." – Jawel7 May 15 at 16:17
  • It depends on the adjective. Some adjectives can only precede (eg. mere). Some adjectives must follow (eg. sorry). – user178049 May 15 at 16:31
  • Can I find any list including adjectives functioning like "enough" ? – Jawel7 May 15 at 16:34
  • Where do you find the sentence "I have money enough"? I don't think that's a common way of saying it. – user178049 May 15 at 16:48
  • 1
    That's not common. However, it's theoretically correct. "Money enough to buy a new car" is equal to "money that is enough to buy a new car". No difference between them just as some native speakers confirmed as well. However, when it comes to different adjectives, there are differences and I don't know why. – Jawel7 May 15 at 16:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.