In the CGEL(Quirk et al), the case below puzzles me because an adverb phrase or a prepositional phrase rarely serves as subject.

10.15 Adverbial forms as subject:

(1) Slowly is exactly how he speaks.

(2) Will after the snow be soon enough?

It is said in the book that the following two conditions allow this use of adverbials.
(i)the adverbial is a fragment of understood clause(of 15.16), or
(ii) the sentence can be related to one with prop it(of 10.26)

I've read extremely carefully on every detailed term either of 15.16 or of 10.26. Condition (ii) is understandable, whereas Condition (i) is way too difficult to understand.

How can I judge whether the adverbial is a fragment of understood clause?

How does a non-native speaker define the understood clause?

  • 1
    It isn't really an adverbial if you use it as a subject -- it's a noun phrase, no matter where it came from. Clauses and phrases and sentences and interjections and anything that can be said can be used as the subject or object of the right verb. For instance, He repeated "....."; fill in the blank. Under the staircase is where Harry Potter lived, after all. Jul 1, 2022 at 18:22
  • 1
    Forget 'fragment'. In "Slowly is exactly how he speaks", slowly" is not a noun phrase but an AdvP functioning as subject. It can also function as predicative complement, as in "The only way to cook it is very slowly.
    – BillJ
    Jul 2, 2022 at 8:36


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