Optional depictive predicatives as adjuncts

Obligatory predicatives are clearly complements, dependent on the occurrence of an appropriate verb. With optional ones, however, there are grounds for saying that while the resultatives are complements, the depictives are adjuncts. Resultatives are either obligatory (as in the He talked himself hoarse construction) or else need to be licensed by the verb. Optional depictives, however, are less restricted in their occurrence. One manifestation of this has just been noted: they can occur in transitive clauses with either S or O as predicand. Another is that they can occur in combination with an obligatory predicative or in the ditransitive construction:

29  i) They look even more fantastic naked.
   ii) They served us our coffee black.

We will therefore regard such predicatives as adjuncts, so that the predicative/non-predicative contrast cuts across that between complements and adjuncts.

Like numerous other kinds of adjunct, predicatives may be integrated into the structure as modifiers, or detached, as supplements:

30  i) They left empty-handed.                                 [modifier]
   ii) Angry at this deception, Kim stormed out of the room.  [supplement]

(* This long words were typed by @snailboat: Only a little of which were originally posted by me, and then he added the long words to clarify my question , thankfully.)

This highlighted part, so that ~ that between complements and adjuncts, is very hard to understand. Above all, I can't guess what 'that' in the words means. Can you explain the meaning of the that and the whole meaning?

  • You seemed not to have a problem several weeks ago. You can discard the first highlighted "that" if you want to, so obviously it's not important to ask what it "means" - it's just a component of the syntax. Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 1:54
  • (As to the rest of it, it's just saying predicative/non-predicative and complement/adjunct must perforce be treated as orthogonal classifications.) Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 1:57
  • @FumbleFingers In fact, the contents were and still are hard to understand, after that question I bought the writhers' other book ‘A Students Introduction to English Grammar’ to know better. Now reading it, I look over the part that I don’t understand. When there are lots of questions in a part, it’s hard to question all of them. And further, even I don’t know what on earth I don’t know, would be a sure fact. I must make some questions, some time, from the same quotation, I think. I hope your good answers will be there too, thank you.
    – Listenever
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 2:30
  • 1
    I'm guessing here. Not having the whole page of it and not having read CGEL, I can only try to understand the sentence as it is. I think what the authors mean is, "... so that the predicative/non-predicative contrast cuts across that (contrast) between complements and adjuncts." Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 15:30

2 Answers 2


Okay, let's break it down. I think in order to understand the highlighted part, we need to make sure the sense of the preceding clause is clear...

We will therefore (because of points made earlier in the text, this is what we'll do)
regard (categorise, treat as)
such predicatives (the ones mentioned earlier)
as adjuncts (those predicatives will be classified as "adjuncts")

As @Dora says, you can then interpret so that as "thus" or "in consequence" (or "in such a way that"). That's to say because we're going to categorise some "predicatives" as "adjuncts", the following statement logically follows...

the predicative/non-predicative contrast cuts across that between complements and adjuncts.

A grammatical contrast/distinction can be made between predicative and non-predicative clauses. Apparently this distinction is normally thought of as being much the same as the distinction between complements (which are "predicates") and adjuncts (which are "non-predicative"). I'm not going to try and prove this by analysing the complex argument being made in the preceding text, but clearly this is the implication of the point being made in the highlighted text.

the predicative/non-predicative contrast (the first distinction)
cuts across (goes through, disregards, is not related to, is orthogonal to)
that (the other [contrast])
between complements and adjuncts. (just spells out what that other contrast actually is)

Since (apparently) predicates and complements are normally thought of as being the same thing, and complements and adjuncts are normally thought of as being different things, you wouldn't expect that a predicative clause could be classified as an adjunct. But for reasons (apparently) explained in the preceding text, the authors here intend to do treat predicative/non-predicative and complement/adjunct as two independent distinctions, making it possible for a clause to be both predicative and an adjunct.

TL;DR: The second highlighted that stands for that contrast - being the one between complements and adjuncts (as opposed to the one between predicative and non-predicative mentioned earlier in the text).

  • Frankly, yours is more complicated for me. Now I get this idea: the authors regard those optional predicatives as adjunct. So that the predicative/non-predicatve (Ahead of the ship, the captain saw an island on which to land  ‘ahead of the ship’ is non-predicative (CGEL,p.604)) contrast is contrary to the contrast between complement and adjunct. Because those predicative and non-predicative adjuncts are both optional, while complement is obligatory and adjunct optional. Is this what you are trying to say?
    – Listenever
    Commented Aug 2, 2014 at 0:20
  • 1
    @Listenever: I don't know exactly what predicates, complements and adjuncts are (and I don't really care), so I have no opinion on how those categories apply in your example. All I've done is try to explain what your highlighted phrase means (not very successfully, apparently! :) I'll try another way - essentially, both complements and adjuncts can be either predicative or non-predicative. You're the one reading the book, wherein I assume they define those terms (as they wish to use them, which may not be the same as other writers). Commented Aug 2, 2014 at 11:29

You can replace that "so that" with "thus" or "in consequence."

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 6:17
  • @Tyler: It's not entirely clear exactly what part of the highlighted section is causing OP's problem. Given the context, I think we must assumer OP understands that predicative/non-predicative and complement/adjunct are grammatical categories (and that any given clause can be classed as either predicative or non-predicative, and either complement or adjunct). So it's not unreasonable to assume that so that is the problematic element for OP. Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 11:47
  • @FumbleFingers I remain unconvinced that this isn’t more of a comment than an answer. It’s less explicative (albeit more accessible) than your own comment, for starters. Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 14:36
  • @Tyler: I've laboriously deconstructed the entire highlighted text, but I'm not sure I see much point. The preceding paragraph is so dense and full of specialised terminology I'm not even going to attempt to work out exactly what argument it's making. I cannot for the life of me see how anyone who doesn't have exceptionally good command of English would expect to learn anything from such text. People who can easily follow it probably aren't what I would call "learners". Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 15:47

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