He entered the room drunk.

He left the room angry.

I have heard that both drunk and angry are the examples of what is called resultative adjuncts.

Is this correct? What does the term mean?

  • 2
    Stack exchange isn't about discussions, it's about questions. Please ask a specific question.
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 24 '14 at 23:04
  • That's a silly attitude. There isn't any specific answer available, mostly because everybody here uses their own variety of terminology and attendant presuppositions. Since there can't be a specific answer, what good is a specific question? Discussion -- hopefully leading to tuning -- is what's needed. This is another example of what I mean when I say that the SE model is a bad fit for language and linguistics; it's much worse on ELU.
    – jlawler
    Jun 25 '14 at 16:37
  • 1
    ELU is bad because people upvote answers with no evidence at all. If they instilled a culture of showing corpus evidence for usages then a lot of its problems would be solved I suspect.
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 25 '14 at 20:53
  • 1
    And it's easy to come up with specific questions which still open up the topic for discussion. If there's no consensus then ask for the terms people use for it. Ask for the difference between resultative and depictive adjuncts. There are so many questions.
    – curiousdannii
    Jun 25 '14 at 20:56
  • We can treat this as a terminology question: "what are resultative adjuncts?" / "what term best describes these examples?" Jun 26 '14 at 0:06

The examples given in the question are not examples of resultative adjuncts. Resultative adjuncts give the result of an action, e.g.

We scrubbed the tub clean.

The situation worried us silly.

The music soothed her into a meditative state.

The expressions clean, silly, and into a meditative state are resultative adjuncts because they give the result of the scrubbing, worrying, and soothing. In these cases, they are predications over the object, not over the subject. The syntactic analysis of such adjuncts is that they are direct dependents of the verb.

The adjectives drunk and angry in the examples in the question are more accurately characterized as depictive adjuncts. They depict the state of a participant during the process expressed by the verb. Depictive adjuncts are typically predications over the subject.

An appropriate umbrella term that subsumes both resultative adjuncts as well as depictive adjuncts is participant-oriented adjuncts: clean, silly, into a mediative state, drunk, and angry are all participant-oriented adjuncts because they assign a property to one of the participants in the sentence.

Note that one can distinguish between participant-oriented adjuncts and participant-oriented complements. The following sentences illustrate participant-oriented complements:

 That made me angry. 

 That sounds good.

 It tastes terrible.

The adjectives angry, good, and terrible are now complements (they're not adjuncts), because their appearance is obligatory. The following sentences are bad:

 *That made me.

 *That sounds.

 *It tastes.

Compare these sentences with the following quite good sentences:

We scrubbed the tub.

The situation worried us.

The music soothed her.

He entered the room.

He left the room.

These sentences are all fine, indicating that when clean, silly, into a mediative state, drunk, angry do appear in them, they are adjuncts (not complements).

  • That's the difference between "complement" and "adjunct"? One's obligatory and the other's not? I would consider that a property of the construction or its matrix predicate, not of its attendant modifiers. I would suggest that a constituent analysis would be more parsimonious. This is part of the Green Conspiracy; cf Georgia Green "How Abstract is Surface Structure?" in CLS 6.
    – jlawler
    Jun 24 '14 at 18:13
  • @Jlawler, on the dependency-based analysis that I prefer, the sentences have surface structures that are closely similar, the only difference being how one marks the distinction between complements and adjuncts. Yes, whether or not the adjective is a complement or an adjunct is a property of the matrix predicate. I do not understand the fourth sentence you write. Concerning the type of transformations that Green seems to have wanted to acknowledge, we probably disagree about them. I do not think such transformations exist. Jun 24 '14 at 23:08
  • Existence proofs being notoriously iffy, I would agree about the existence. Like positrons, however, they make calculations simpler.
    – jlawler
    Jun 25 '14 at 0:07

At the university I was taught those are predicatives, and these are sentences with compound nominative predicates (like in "He is drunk). Your bold words are adjectives, and the verbs ("entered", "left") in such sentences are, actually, play the role of the linking verbs (like "be" or "become"), although many otherwise action verbs can be used as the verbal part of such predicates.

One of the proofs of such a view at it is that the a- adjectives can be used at the end of such sentences. By a- adjectives I mean those ones like "asleep", "awake", "afraid", etc.:

He lay asleep.

The door stood ajar.

The a- adjectives can be used only as predicatives, never as attributes (which differs them greatly from most of the other adjectives, some even consider them to belong to a separate part of speech, "statives", "the words of the category of state"). The point is, action verbs are used as linking verbs with the a- adjectives, and it looks very much like the sentences with a- adjectives is just a special case of the sentences of your kind.

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