I'm working on a syntax tree for the sentence "The belief that syntactic theory reveals the inner structure of sentences emboldened the already much too cocky professor," and I'm stuck on "already much too cocky."

As far as I can tell, you can only put one adverb phrase in an adjective phrase, and one adverb in an adverb phrase, but already, much, and too all modify cocky, not professor.

Am I incorrect in thinking you can only put one adverb in an adverb phrase? Would already, much, and too go in the adverb phrase, in the adjective phrase?*

*In a bracketed diagram, I mean like this: [AdjP[AdvP[already] [much] [too]] [cocky]]

  • standard: professor who was already much too cocky. Personally, I do this adjectival extension as a prepended phrase: the already-much too-cocky professor,
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 14 at 23:31
  • 1
    No, they don’t all modify cocky – it’s not ‘already cocky’, ‘much cocky’ and ‘too cocky’. Too modifies cocky, much modifies too cocky, and already modifies much too cocky. More importantly, if your question is about syntax trees, you need to specify what framework you’re working under, since different frameworks draw syntax trees in very different ways. Commented Feb 15 at 8:54


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