[Ron] "Look –– they're off Ouch!"
Someone had poked Ron in the back of the head. It was Malfoy. "Oh, sorry, Weasley, didn't see you there."
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

They say adverbs can modify the head of noun phrase, not nouns. So ‘there’ does not modify ‘you’. What does ‘there’ do: is it a predicative over ‘you’ or is it just an adverb––meaning ‘in that place’?

  • I don't really see what you're asking. In this context, it seems perfectly natural to understand there as modifying you ("there" = in that place where you were). But if you insist on calling "there" an adverb you could always think of it as modifying the verb to see ("Is that Harry Potter I see there?"). It doesn't affect the meaning, however you understand it. Jul 17, 2013 at 16:05
  • I was writing an answer, but I have to agree with @FumbleFingers here.
    – apaderno
    Jul 17, 2013 at 18:44

1 Answer 1


Sure, there can modify you.

As McCawley says, pronouns don't "stand for" nouns but for entire noun phrases. Consequently you is a noun phrase, and (by default) its own Head.

You could pick up McCawley's recategorization of adverbs as Ad-Vs, Ad-Ns, Ad-Ss, &c and say that there here acts as an Ad-N´.

And if you want to sound really impressive and be really confusing, you could parallel that recategorization by saying that just as you is a Pro-N´, what there really is is a Pro-P´ or Pro-S, or whatever you think it stands for:

Oh, sorry, Weasley, didn't see you there.
Oh, sorry, Weasley, didn't see you in that place.
Oh, sorry, Weasley, didn't see you standing right in front of me.
Oh, sorry, Weasley, didn't see you blinking stupidly like the proletarian cretin you are.
Oh, sorry, Weasley, didn't see you offering an irresistible target.

  • 1
    Similarly, The OALD says that a pronoun is, "a word that is used instead of a noun or a noun phrase"; the NOAD says that a pronoun is, "a word that can function by itself as a noun phrase and that refers either to the participants in the discourse."
    – apaderno
    Jul 17, 2013 at 21:29
  • @StoneyB, I found that a pronoun stand for an NP in CGEL (p1462), but not at McCawley's. Would you tell me in what page is the word?
    – Listenever
    Jul 18, 2013 at 0:08
  • @Listenever I had to take it back to the library, but I think it's in the chapter where he talks about word classes/parts of speech. Jul 18, 2013 at 0:34

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