The Wikipedia page on adjuncts gives the example

Yesterday, Lorna saw the dog in the garden.

Notice that this example is ambiguous between whether the adjunct in the garden modifies the verb saw (in which case it is Lorna who saw the dog while she was in the garden) or the noun phrase the dog (in which case it is the dog who is in the garden). The definition can be extended to include adjuncts that modify nouns or other parts of speech (see noun adjunct).

The page on noun adjunct says (emphasis mine)

a noun adjunct ... is an optional noun that modifies another noun

Seems to be only about using nouns like adjectives, so actually "in the garden" doesn't seem to be a noun adjunct at all.

Can adjuncts ever modify nouns? What is the correct term for the parallel to adjuncts regarding nouns/noun phrases? E.g. could "on the plate" in

The sauce on the plate was eaten by him

Have any name in addition to prepositional phrase?

  • 1
    In “The sauce on the plate”, on the plate is an attributive phrase. I'm not sure about English with its strict and too-meaningful word order, but in Slavic languages such phrases as “very fool” or “drug addict for a long time” are quite valid. Anyhow, every English sentence needs a verb, so if there's any adjunct in your sentence, you're going to have hard time proving the adjunct modifies not the verb.
    – Yellow Sky
    Nov 24, 2021 at 7:08
  • @YellowSky why is it an attributive phrase and not a prepositional phrase?
    – minseong
    Nov 24, 2021 at 10:19
  • It is an attributive prepositional phrase. It is prepositional by form and attributive by meaning/function.
    – Yellow Sky
    Nov 24, 2021 at 11:42
  • Note that noun adjunct does not mean ‘adjunct that modifies a noun’. An adjunct that modifies a noun is an adnominal adjunct, but adnominal adjuncts can be of any form allowed (adjectives, for example). Rather, a noun adjunct is specifically an adjunct which is itself a noun. Since nouns on their own can only modify other nouns, a noun adjunct (= adjunct which is a noun) will always also be an adnominal adjunct (= adjunct which modifies a noun), but not vice versa. Nov 24, 2021 at 14:54

1 Answer 1


The common meaning of "adjunct" on its own is as "adverbial adjunct".

So the Wikipedia page spends most of its time talking about adverbial adjuncts and even acknowledges this:

Most discussions of adjuncts focus on adverbial adjuncts, that is, on adjuncts that modify verbs, verb phrases, or entire clauses

But you can have non-adverbial adjuncts.

Adjuncts can appear in other domains, however; that is, they can modify most categories.

An adjunct that modifies a noun, as in your example, is called an adnominal adjunct.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.