“Funny, isn’t it,” she said, “how the law can have a soft spot like that? No, someone had seen her in the village at the time Robin went missing, so she wasn’t really a suspect. It was decided that because of her. . . because she was . . . well, not to put too fine a point on it, that Meg was best (1) left out of things entirely, and that’s how it was done.”

“So it was Dieter who found the body then.” “Yes. He told me about it that same evening. He was still in shock – hardly making sense: all about how he had come (2) racing down from Gibbet Wood, yelling himself hoarse . . . leaping fences, sliding in the mud . . . running into the yard, looking up at the empty windows. Like dead eyes, they were, he kept saying, like the windows of the Brontes’ parsonage. But as I said, poor Dieter was in shock. He didn’t know what he was saying.” (The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag)

I guess the first participial construction is a complement of the adjective best, while the second participial construction is an adjunct for it’s not necessary to complete the meaning. Am I right?

closed as too localized by MetaEd, tchrist, Mitch, Andrew Leach, Jim Feb 2 '13 at 22:17

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  • That sounds right to me if I'm understanding your question. Isn't racing used as an adverbial adjunct in (2) – mattacular Feb 2 '13 at 13:34

Your (1) is, formally, a simple passive construction Meg was left out of things, with best as an adverb modifying the clause. It has, however, idiomatic force: the construction X is best VERBed means The best thing to do is to VERB X. In this case, “It was decided that the best thing to do was to leave Meg out of things.”

Your (2) is a participial phrase, like the following participial phrases headed by yelling, leaping, sliding, looking. In traditional grammar they would be parsed as adjuncts modifying come; functionally, however, it makes more sense to treat come as a copula which takes these phrases as subject complements –that is, they are attributed to the subject he.

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