Actually, I have a theoritical part to cover with details about Verb, Noun, Prepositional and Adjective Phrases regarding Complements of Adjectives.

I have done 80% of my work but still got stuck with this example and one more that I have encountered yesterday thanks for the support of members of this forum.

The first example was taken from this page.

[] It was most spontaneous for me to write in English.

In my opinion, I will put the italic phrase into Verb Phrase as there is a to-Infinitive clause here. However, how about for me? Maybe one will put them into Prepositional Phrase because of for?

My second question is which phrase should you put making cakes into? The example is: I am busy making cakes. I am doing research about Complements of Adjectives but I haven't met any example like this, check this page or that one. But it is true that making cakes here is a complement and I cannot ignore it.

Once again, I ask two questions at the same time. Sorry about this.

  • 1
    The construction for + noun/pronoun + infinitive is used when the infinite needs its own subject. It can be phrased with a clause: it was most spontaneous that I write in English.
    – Schwale
    May 25, 2016 at 3:11
  • 1
    Some pointers: "to-infinitivals with and without a subject", "gerund-participials" (also known as "-ing participle clauses", or "present participles"). May 25, 2016 at 9:00

1 Answer 1

  1. The preposition for and of have a special function in English. It can indicate a subject of the action indicated by a to infinitive in a sentence which starts with expletive it (dummy it, dummy pronoun). For example:

A: It is important to attend the seminar. (To attend the seminar is important.)

B: For me or you?

A: It is important for you to attend the seminar.

A's first sentence is ambiguous and doesn't indicate who should attend the seminar. A's second sentence is very clear and indicates who should.

For you in the above example is a prepositional phrase to indicate a subject of to infinitive.

Note: You should use of when you use adjectives (good, nice, brace, stupid, kind, clever, etc.) that describe human nature, e.g., "It was nice of you to to help me."

  1. "making cakes" in the example is a dangling participle which is

Participles of verbs are often used to introduce subordinate clauses, which give extra information about the main part of a sentence (known as the main clause). It’s important to use participles in subordinate clauses correctly. The participle should always describe an action performed by the subject of the main part of the sentence.

For example:

A: I am busy.

B: Doing what?

A: I am busy making cakes.

As you can see, A's first sentence is not clear on why A is busy. But A's second sentence clearly states A is busy because A is making cakes. The dangling participle gives extra information about the subject's action or status.

I would not call it "complement of adjective" as it doesn't complement the adjective busy, but actually it complements the verb and its predicate am busy.

Some grammar books call it "participle clause" and "absolute construction (clause)". Whatever it is called, it is very important to note that the participle (making cakes) doesn't have a normal or usual syntactical relation with other words or sentence elements. It should always be a non-finite clause. You can't use make, to make, made, have made, had made, etc. in place of making.

  • I still wonder about for you as a Prepositional Phrase. In the book A Student's Introduction to English Grammar, Huddleston and Pullum described (Page 220) for them as in We arranged for them to meet the manager as an Intervening Noun Phrase. May 27, 2016 at 3:39
  • @HồQuangTrung Well, there is no universal term used in English grammar books. If you are interested in learning English, I advise you not to care so much about what they call it. Now, my question is why would it be a noun phrase? It is not a noun. It is intervening, but noun phrase??? It is not a noun. I wouldn't be able to understand why unless I read the chapter myself.
    – user24743
    May 27, 2016 at 3:41
  • In this book and of the same page, they also used one example, We counted on them to support us, to figure out that in on them, on is a Preposition for the Verb to count, therefore, them is the Complement of on while on them is Complement of counted. They didn't mention which phrase to support us belongs to. May 27, 2016 at 3:43
  • I am busy writing the comments so I haven't added the book. The link is here: link. Page 220 is shown as a preview. May 27, 2016 at 3:44
  • To support us is a to-infinitive used adverbially. I don't understand what you are trying to say. Are you interested in "for X" or "on X" before to infinitive or to infinitive itself? I don't get it.
    – user24743
    May 27, 2016 at 3:45

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