Adjuncts in Phrases
| The term "Complement"
is not simply another word for the "post-Head string" -- post-Head strings
are not always Complements. This is because the post-Head string is not
always required to complete the meaning of the Head. Consider:
Here the relative clause who will be twenty next week is certainly a post-Head string, but it is not a Complement. Notice that it contributes additional but optional information about the Head sister. In this example, the post-Head string is an ADJUNCT. Like the other Adjuncts we looked at earlier, it contributes additional, optional information.
Adjuncts can occur in all the phrase types, and they may occur both before and after the Head. The following table shows examples of each type:
Complements and Adjuncts Compared
Complements differ from Adjuncts
in two important respects:
1. Complements immediately
follow the Head
In contrast, the reverse order is not possible:
Complements, then, bear a much closer relationship to the Head than Adjuncts do.
2. Adjuncts are "stackable"
In theory at least, we can "stack" an indefinite number of Adjuncts, one after another, within a phrase. For example, consider the NP:
In contrast with this, phrases are limited in the number of Complements that they can take. In fact, they usually have only one Complement. Ditransitive verb phrases are an exception to this. Recall that they take two Complements:
the use [of computers] [in schools]
Decide whether each string is a Complement or an Adjunct
copyright The Survey of English Usage 1996-1998
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