In the sentence "the mad cow jumped right over the moon", the adjunct 'right' modifies the preposition 'over' in the preposition phrase 'right over the moon'. As the adjunct 'mad' to 'cow' is an adjective describing the noun 'cow', what part of grammar is adjunct 'right' as it describes 'over'?

I'm not sure whether I'm describing this properly. I'm taking a first year linguistics course, but this is beyond the scope of what we're currently learning and I'm interested in how to classify this.


1 Answer 1


It's an adverb, using McCawley's definition of adverb as "a modifier of something other than a noun". (I don't think your term "adjunct" conveys anything useful.)

IIRC, Joseph Emonds characterized "right" as a PP (prepositional phrase) modifier, but also proposed that some bare prepositions were actually objectless PPs.

  • 2
    "Intransitive prepositions" is what Pullum&Huddleston calls them. I like the term.
    – jlawler
    Jun 5, 2015 at 20:05

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