The only marked event of the afternoon was, that I saw the girl with whom I had conversed in the verandah, dismissed in disgrace by Miss Scatcherd from a history class, and sent to stand in the middle of the large schoolroom. The punishment seemed to me in a high degree ignominious, especially for so great a girl—she looked thirteen or upwards. I expected she would show signs of great distress and shame; but to my surprise she neither wept nor blushed. Composed, though grave, she stood, the central mark of all eyes. (Jane Eyre)

I guess ‘composed’ has the function of participial phrase; ‘the central mark of all eyes’ has the same function. When noun phrase take the same role as participial phrase, what name do you call it?

1 Answer 1


I guess ‘composed’ has the function of participial phrase;

It depends on whether we consider composed to be an adjective, in which case it's simply an adjective acting as an adjective, or as the past participial of compose. Generally, we'd consider it an adjective for no reason other than we'll find it listed as such in a dictionary, but adjectives originating in such participial use are so common in English, that the distinction isn't really clear in such cases. Or particularly necessary, since whichever way we consider it, the meaning of the sentence is the same.

[About the only time it makes a real distinction is when strange things happen to mutate words further; the type of changes that can leave verbs with two past tense forms in use generally doesn't affect this—we use either past participial as an adjective—but has resulted in stricken being a different adjective to struck, with struck meaning "subjected to a labour strike" and stricken meaning afflicted or hit by something.]

‘the central mark of all eyes’ has the same function. When noun phrase take the same role as participial phrase, what name do you call it?

It's an adjunct: It is acting in an adverbial fashion, providing additional information; the sentence would be grammatical without it, and the meaning would not be wrong, just not as detailed, so it's not a complement.

Particular grammatical approaches may have other terms for it.

  • So by your words, can I think that, in this case, adjective phrases, participial phrases, and noun phrases (even prepositional phrases) take roles of adjuncts and all are categorized just into ‘adjunct’? : Very simple. I wish grammatical approach may have the same way.
    – Listenever
    Feb 21, 2013 at 11:30
  • 1
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adjunct_%28grammar%29 gives more than I can fit into a comment. There could well be a term specifically for a noun phrase serving as an adjunct, but I don't know it. ("Noun adjunct" most often means a noun serving as an adjective, not an adverb. So much for "very simple"!)
    – Jon Hanna
    Feb 21, 2013 at 11:40
  • I think your word, ‘adjunct’ is very simple one for the example. Yet adjuncts need not only to be restricted on adverbial function, as in the case: “the owner [complement: of the car] [adjunct: with sunglasses], and your word - adverbial fashion – needs to be put some considerations. For participial phrase, is said, to take an adjective role for subject. We also may think the noun phrase is an adjunct for the subject.: So the definition of Wikipedia’s for adjuncts also needs to be mended, I think.
    – Listenever
    Feb 21, 2013 at 12:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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