Marian had plenty of work to finish

In the correction form, it says that the function of to finish is adverbial.

But why it is not an adjective? Which work? The work to finish. So it is an adjective!!



2 Answers 2


You're right in your analysis, but not exactly correct in the terminology.

The phrase is not an adjective, but because it modifies a noun, it is adjectival.

It has no function like an adverb, so it's not an adverbial, and the answer key is wrong.

  • Maybe it could be either adjectival or adverbial depending on how you interpret it? If you think of both the prepositional phrase "of work" and the infinitive "to finish" as independently modifying the Direct Object "plenty" (that is the way I interpreted it and it seems like the way your answer does too) then it's used as an adjective since "plenty" is a noun. But, if you rearrange it to "Marian had to finish plenty of work," then "to finish" might be thought of as modifying "had"? That seems like a stretch, but might be where the answer key is getting "adverbial" from. Jul 31, 2023 at 1:58
  • 1
    @QuackE.Duck "Marian had to finish plenty of work" is an entirely different sentence with different structure to the original. In "had plenty of work to finish", "had" is an independent verb that means possession. The object of possession is "work", and "to finish" modifies "work". In "had to finish plenty of work", "had to" is a modal-like structure roughly meaning the same as "must", but in the past, and "to finish" isn't even a constituent phrase.
    – gotube
    Aug 1, 2023 at 7:56

Marian had plenty of work [to finish].

The bracketed element is neither an adjective nor an adverb, but an infinitival relative clause modifying "plenty of work".

It has a modal meaning comparable to that expressed in finites by "can" or "should", and is thus comparable to Marian had plenty of work that she could / should finish.

Note that 'adjective' and 'adverb' are parts of speech, not clause types.

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