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I just read this Wikipedia article and have a questing regarding this sentence:

Moulds can be obtained to uniformly cast bullets of a diameter producing optimum accuracy in a specific firearm, and a firearm owner possessing such a mould can obtain a supply of those bullets independent of unreliable manufacturers and distributors.

Why isn't it "independently"? My understanding is as follows: "obtain" is a verb and "independent" describes a property of that obtainment of bullets. Therefore, I'd write "independently", not "independent".

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    Independent is correct. It is the supply that is independent. (In that context supply is a noun.) – nnnnnn Jun 6 '16 at 12:49
  • A very good question. – user24743 Jun 6 '16 at 12:51
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It is not an easy question to answer. I believe you are confused because you don't see any reason not to use "independently" in place of "independent". In order to understand the sentence, you need to separate each part as follows:

a firearm owner (subject) possessing such a mould (present participle clause modifying the subject) can obtain (modal + transitive verb) a supply of those bullets (direct object) independent of unreliable manufacturers and distributors (adjective modifier or dangling participle).

"independent of..." is an adjective phrase (dangling modifier) that modifies the subject. Some grammarians explained that the present participle being is omitted as follows.

a firearm owner possessing such a mould can obtain a supply of those bullets being independent of unreliable manufacturers and distributors.

"Being independent..." is a dangling participle which modifies the subject's state.

Regardless of whether you consider "being" is omitted or not, the most important function of "independent" is to modify the subject and it should be in the form of an adjective in order to do it (Example sentence in the link: Tall and slim, she’s an exceptionally striking woman).

If you split the part into two sentences, it will be more clear and easy to understand.

(1) a firearm owner possessing such a mould can obtain a supply of those bullets

(2) a firearm owner is independent of unreliable manufacturers and distributors (when obtaining a supply of those bullets).

You can visit the above link to understand more about "adjective modifier" or "dangling participle".

  • Would "independently" also be correct? Would it describe that merely the process of obtaining supplies is independent of unreliable manufacturers, therefore leaving room for speculation that the firearm owner is still dependent on unreliable manufacturers in some other way, whereas the way it is written by the author of that text it means that the firearm owner is entirely independent of unreliable manufacturers? – UTF-8 Jun 6 '16 at 18:10
  • @UTF-8 There is subtle difference and it is not easy to explain. If the adverb independently modifies the verb to obtain, it is possible. However, independent modifies the subject and I don't see any problem using "independent". The subject is independent of other people in obtaining those bullets. That's the key. – user24743 Jun 6 '16 at 18:14
  • I'm not saying there is a problem with the way it is written. But are my assumption about the sentence's meaning had it been written with the word "independently" instead of "independent" correct? – UTF-8 Jun 6 '16 at 18:22
  • @UTF-8 You need to Google "independent of" and "independently of" and find out whether it would be correct or not yourself. I would never use "independently" as it doesn't modify the verb. – user24743 Jun 6 '16 at 18:24
  • I see that "independently" is an adjective in a lot of cases but thought it was an adverb in that sentence. Placing it at a different location ("A firearm owner possessing such a mould can – independent of unreliable manufacturers – obtain a supply of those bullets."), however, makes a big difference for me. – UTF-8 Jun 6 '16 at 18:35

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