From Deadpool Killustrated:


Why there is a FOR there? "And I left you a little farewell present after I'm gone" is a complete sentence for me, but with an additional for, I am confused by its structure, for who or for what?

  • 2
    Without the for the sentence would locate the act of leaving the present at a future time, after I'm gone, which is absurd. The present is "for" -- intended to be received or enjoyed -- at that future time. – StoneyB on hiatus Feb 19 '16 at 19:57

A temporal clause like "after I'm gone" is much more likely to be taken as a clause modifier (or verb phrase modifier) than a noun phrase modifier.

So "I left you a present after I'm gone"

would parse syntactically as

I [left [you] [a present] [after I'm gone]]

rather than

I [left [you] [a present [after I'm gone]]]

But "after I'm gone" is future in meaning, and inconsistent with "I left", which is past. So that sentence is not grammatical (or not interpretable).

The "for" attaches the temporal phrase to the object noun phrase:

I [left [you] [a present [for [after I'm gone]]].

Note that in this construction, "after I'm gone" must be syntactically a NP, since it follows a preposition. This is not unique: "Wait until after I'm gone" is another exmample.

I'm not completely sure why "after I'm gone" can't be parsed as a modifier on the NP, as other examples are fine, such as "the meeting on Thursday". I think it may be because in "the meeting on Thursday", 'on Thursday' is restricting or defining the meeting, whereas here it would be non-restrictive. But I'm not certain that that is the explanation.

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