This is from a TIME article

Ethereum has brought thousands of unbanked people around the world into financial systems, allowed capital to flow unencumbered across borders, and provided the infrastructure for entrepreneurs to build all sorts of new products, from payment systems to prediction markets, digital swap meets to medical-research hubs.

I think the adjective 'unencumbered' in bold should be changed to an adverb or something of that matter to modify the verb 'flow'.

Am I wrong?

  • 1
    It might be considered somewhat of a "mixed metaphor" (capital doesn't literally "flow" nor does it bear literal encumbrance) but I don't think it's very severe or really even noticeable. I suppose you are correct that it might sound better to some to say "flow unimpeded" rather than "unencumbered", as IMHO that would fix it as far as the metaphor is concerned. But I absolutely agree with Chungoli's answer below. Mar 30, 2022 at 17:20

1 Answer 1


No, this is syntactically correct.

English allows for adjectives to follow linking verbs. Some commonly-used examples are "go unpunished", "smell bad" or "keep quiet".

In practice, many verbs relating to motion allow for this construction. A common one is "escape unscathed". I would say that using it in novel phrases like the one above can sound somewhat literary.

It's also possible to insert entire adjective phrases after verbs, for example "they crept, unseen by the guards, through the hedges".

  • Thank you very much.
    – user153498
    Mar 30, 2022 at 8:02
  • 4
    yea, it's because the adjective still acts on the preceding noun i.e. the capital was unencumbered as it was flowing. to use your example, "smell bad" and "smell badly" both make sense but mean different things. If something stinks, it smells bad. if your nose doesn't work properly, you smell badly.
    – sam-pyt
    Mar 30, 2022 at 16:25
  • @sam-pyt This isn't just a lengthy setup to the "how does a dog smell with no nose" joke, is it? :p Mar 30, 2022 at 17:56

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