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Let’s say someone thinks they look terrible when their hair is dyed in blonde. Instead of “I look terrible when blonde” or “I look terrible as a blonde” Can that person say,

  • I look terrible blonde.

It sounds sort of off to me but I think this sort of structure is used by native speakers. Do you think this sentence is correct, and is there a grammatical name for sentences like this?

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In speaking, it is natural and makes perfect sense.

In writing, however, at first read, it looks like "terrible" modifies "blonde", but that doesn't make sense so the reader has to parse it again. So, for conversation or written dialogue, yes, but for any other kind of writing, I'd use one of your two clearer alternatives.

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  • Indeed, the first thing that sprang to mind was that the intended meaning was "I look terribly blonde".
    – Joachim
    Oct 16, 2022 at 6:31
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    @Joachim - I had a girlfriend like that once. Oct 16, 2022 at 14:28
  • To clarify - 'I had a girlfriend like that (terribly blonde)' did not mean that she was like a stereotype from a 'blonde joke'. Her hair was naturally such a vivid colour that people often assumed she had dyed it. Oct 18, 2022 at 7:03

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