Please consider the following fragment of an article:

An agricultural worker, digging in the ground of a derelict plantations, scraped open a grave -- the first of dozens in a burial ground some 3,000 years old.

Are both "scraped" and "open" acting as verb?

  • 2
    scrape is a kind of verb that can take, in addition to its direct object, a complement word such as "off, on, closed, open, over, in" etc to complete its meaning. We can "scrape a scab open" or "pull a shade closed" or "peel a sticker off" or "scrape the paint off" or "pull the car over" or "reel the fish in". Why the dash is used is a good question. You should ask it separately.
    – TimR
    Jan 14, 2016 at 14:37
  • @TRomano Thanks a lot. May you please convert your comment to an answer and provide any reference to read more about that "complement words "? Some of your examples are similar to phrasal verbs. Jan 14, 2016 at 17:57

2 Answers 2


"Scraped" is a verb.

"Open" is not being used as a verb here. You could say it's being used as an adjective here, or you could say it's an adverb.

There are a number of words that can be used to indicate a direction or state following a verb. I think a case easier to understand is the verb "pull". You can "pull up", "pull down", "pull left", "pull right", "pull open", "pull closed", "pull apart", etc.

In all these cases, you're saying where the thing is after you pulled it. If you "pull up", then before it was down but now it's up, etc.

Similarly with "scraped" here. The grave was previously closed, but after the scraping it is now open.

So you could say that "open" is the new state, and thus an adjective, or that it's the direction or manner in which it was scraped, and is thus an adverb.

  • Thanks. Don't open act as a preposition here? Jan 15, 2016 at 21:06
  • I checked a couple of sources and none say "open" can be a preposition. Prepositions normally indicate a relationship: in, on, above, etc. They can indicate a relationship of time, like during or since. Where I can see this getting hazy is that prepositions can also indicate a direction, like to or toward or from. That's sort of like up and open. But ... my intuitive feel is that it's different, and no source I checked says open can be a preposition. So ... no ... but I'm hard-pressed to give a clear, logical answer how it's different.
    – Jay
    Jan 15, 2016 at 21:26

To scrape is to "drag or pull a hard or sharp implement across (a surface or object) so as to remove dirt or other matter".

The context from the original article sounds like the farmer was working his field (possibly with a hoe or spade) and while digging (scraping) found and opened this grave. It would mean he dug down and then onto the upper surface of the grave as opposed to breaking through the top of the grave.

Scraped is simple past verb.

The double dash is a way of showing an em dash and is used depending on functionality available in the output device. It is "used to denote a break in a sentence or to set off parenthetical statements – ideally with intradocument consistency".

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    Thanks, indeed my question is why are two verbs places adjacently: scraped+open Jan 14, 2016 at 16:40
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    @PHPst Open is not a verb here but an adjective, an Object Complement. The worker's scraping caused the grave to become open. Jan 14, 2016 at 17:00
  • @Peter My question is not answered yet. Jan 14, 2016 at 17:54
  • grammar-monster.com/glossary/object_complement.htm object complement seems to be a noun not an adjective. Jan 14, 2016 at 17:58

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