The food bins are broken open and empty.

The words "open" and "empty" in the above mentioned sentence seem like adjectives, but in another sense they modify the verb "broken". So can we call them "adverbs"? Another sense of the sentence could be that "open" and "empty" describe the action as the bins are opened and emptied after breaking. So the function of the words *open and *empty is a little confusing.

  • They are adjectives since they describe a property of the "food bins" after they were broken, not the manner in which they were broken open.
    – BillJ
    Feb 8, 2022 at 9:12
  • So can we say, The song is sung beautiful and nice as to describe the noun song which appears little odd because we know the word beautiful is modifying the verb sung not song.
    – Abid
    Feb 8, 2022 at 9:36
  • No: unlike "open, "beautiful" "and "nice" do not describe the resultant state of the song after it has been sung. Note that it should be "The song is sung beautifully and nicely,
    – BillJ
    Feb 8, 2022 at 10:15
  • I think "open" isn't an independent adjective; broken open is an adjective, and empty is another. Feb 8, 2022 at 11:11
  • Grammatically, it's no different to "The door is kicked open", where "kicked" is a verb and "open" is a predicative complement.
    – BillJ
    Feb 8, 2022 at 11:20

1 Answer 1


The food bins are broken open and empty.

"Empty" describes "the food bins" and thus is straightforwardly an adjective in predicative (PC) function.

"Open" is also an adjective, again in PC function. More specifically it is a resultative PC in that it ascribes the property of being "open" to "food bins" following the act of being "broken open".

"Open" is not an adverbial since it doesn't describe the manner in which they are broken open (cf. The food bins are broken hurriedly).

  • I think "the food bins are open and empty" is fine, but don't like "broken open" as a predicate adjective phrase. The addition of "broken" reduces the acceptability of the simpler structure. I would reword it as "The food bins have been broken open and are empty" Feb 8, 2022 at 21:17
  • @Vegawatcher I didn't say that "broken open" is a predicative AdjP. I said that "open" is predicative. "Broken" is of course a verb. The present tense in the original example is fine in an appropriate context.
    – BillJ
    Feb 9, 2022 at 12:45
  • It may be a difference in our dialects. I personally would never say "something is broken open." Feb 9, 2022 at 15:16

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