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The first time we see him as an adult, he marauds through a village, helping his comrades to slaughter half of the innocent inhabitants and enslave the rest.

Source


I'm not sure about the grammatical construction of "him as an adult".
Does "as an adult" adjectivally modify "him"?

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    How do we see him? As an adult. It boils down to an adverbial phrase.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 19:03
  • Presumably this is in reference to a book, play, movie, or similar. It means "in the first scene in which he is an adult" or "the first time he appears as an adult". Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 21:36

3 Answers 3

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The first time we see him as an adult ...

No: "as an adult" does not modify "him". It's a complement, not a modifier.

The noun phrase functioning as object of "see" is just the pronoun "him". "As an adult" is a separate constituent, a complement of "see".

The complement of "as", "an adult", is a 'predicative oblique' and the preposition phrase "as an adult" is called a 'marked predicative complement'.

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  • In "In her latest film, the story is told in reverse. We see the main character as an adult in the beginning and as a child at the end." does "as an adult" not adjectivally modify "the main character"? Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 16:01
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    @Aaaaaaassssss No: "as an adult" is not a modifier but a complement of "see". It's the same analysis as in your original example. Compare this example: "I consider him an adult", where "an adult" is clearly an objective predicative complement of "consider".
    – BillJ
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 16:11
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    @Aaaaaaassssss Take a look at this: link
    – BillJ
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 16:47
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    Pronouns are a sub-class of noun, so the phrases they head are noun phrases. There's no such thing as a 'pronoun phrase'. "Him" functions as object of "see", and hence can only be a phrase that happens to consist of just a head and no dependents. Nothing unusual about that.
    – BillJ
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 20:48
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    While this is a possible parse, I don't think this is the intended interpretation in the given sentence. He's not considering the person an adult, he actually is an adult when we see him.
    – Barmar
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 22:29
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I want to specifically disagree with BillJ’s answer.

To “see as an adult” means to conceptualize a specific person as inhabiting an adult role, taking adult responsibilities. It’s pretty common to say that that a parent is or is not “seeing” their grown child “as an adult”, meaning that the parent does or does not regard their offspring as independent and mature — often with the implication that this reflects a fault in the parent rather than the offspring.

In expressions like this, “as an adult” modifies “see”; it is effectively an adverb.

But in the OP’s question, the phrase is not being use that way at all.

The first time we see him as an adult, he marauds through a village,

“As an adult” is modifying “him”. We could write sentences like the following to make it clearer:

  • As an adult, he marauds through villages.
  • As an adult, he had many responsibilities he never had as a child.
  • As an adult, he never spoke to his parents.
  • The new photographs show him as an adult.

In these contexts “as” describe the person; in the adverbial context, “as” describes the interaction with the person.

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  • Well, it's really: how we see him. I agree that it is just adverbial.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 19:05
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    I don't think the PP modifies how we physically "see", such as an attributive modifier like adverbial "clearly" would; rather, it describes "him", the predicand. In other words, it is predicated of the postverbal noun phrase "him", and hence is predicative.
    – BillJ
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 20:15
  • @BillJ The sentence means "The first time we see him in his adult form ..."
    – Barmar
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 22:30
  • It seems to me that "as an adult" serves the same purpose here as in the sentence, "The first time he saw New York as an adult, he got mugged." And I thought I was going to use this example to contradict this answer, but actually it tends to make me agree.
    – David K
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 4:24
  • @Barmar The noun phrase "an adult" is predicated of the postverbal noun phrase and hence is predicative. That's how the grammar works, which is what the OP asked about.
    – BillJ
    Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 12:59
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Yes, it does. The review implies that Amleth is still a boy when his mother remarries (unlike Shakespeare's Hamlet). The sentence refers to the first time the character appears on screen after he has become an adult.

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    No: it's not a modifier. See my answer below.
    – BillJ
    Commented Feb 12, 2023 at 14:57

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