“. . . I’ve wanted to go to see you and Adam but I didn’t think I could do any good.”
“Well, you can’t do any harm. I thought he’d get over it. But he still walks around like a ghost.”
“It’s over a year, isn’t it?” Samuel asked.
“Three months over.”
“Well, what do you think I can do?”
“I don’t know,” said Lee. “Maybe you could shock him out of it. Nothing else has worked.”
. . . . . .
Suddenly he plucked his hard thumbs out of his neighbor’s throat.
(John Steinbeck, East of Eden)

The second prepositional phrase seems to be adverbial, while the first predicative complement over the object-him. What are the two’s role in their sentences?

  • 1
    +1 My gut says they're both locative ('adverbial'?) complements, but this is not something I understand very well. Looking forward to the answers. Jun 8, 2013 at 10:58
  • @StoneyB, Ms. Downing says in her book 'locative complement' (p99) or 'obligatory locative' (p115). And their verbs are called 'complex-transitive verbs. (p115)
    – Listenever
    Jun 8, 2013 at 11:53
  • It's nice to have my instinct confirmed. Since I got back into studying formal grammar I've been wondering about this. Jun 8, 2013 at 13:33

1 Answer 1


On consideration, I'm going to go with my original instinct. Both phrases are resultative complements rather than adjuncts of their respective verbs, and both describe the final 'position' which the verbs cause their respective direct objects to lie in.

  • You could shock him out of it

    INITIAL STATE: He is in 'it' = a state of depression.
    ACTION: You cause him to 'depart from' that state.
    RESULT: He is out of it.

  • He plucked his hard thumbs out of his neighbor’s throat.

    INITIAL STATE: His thumbs are in his neighbor's throat.
    ACTION: He he caused his thumbs to 'depart from' his neighbor's throat.
    RESULT: His thumbs are out of his neighbor's throat.

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