Jill painted the kitchen rosey red.

In this sentence, would red be considered an object complement adjective? If so, what do I do with rosey, since I cannot have an adjective modifying another adjective? I think it is a stretch to say that rosey is an adverb modifying red, answering the question, "What degree red?"

Is this actually a S-Vt-IO-DO? Something substantive (red) is being applied to/for the kitchen. Can someone shed some light on this?

  • I would say that rosey is clearly an adverb here, though not a degree one. Compare with bright red or deep red. As for the function of rosey red on phrasal level, I'm wondering if it could be an adjunct. It is optional (Jill painted the kitchen) and further specifies painted (answering the question Painted how?). I don't think traditional grammar works well with sentences like that! Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 22:07
  • 3
    Who says you can't have an adjective modifying another adjective? In English almost any adjective can be used as an adverb in a compound adjective like "rosy red" or "deep purple". And what difference does is make what it's called? For the record, red in this sentence is an adjective that comes from the underlying meaning: Jill caused the kitchen to become rosey red by painting (it). English has many special verbs for causing things to have specific properties by various methods: Jill pried the can open; Jill knocked Max unconscious; Jill shot her attacker dead; etc. Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 22:10
  • Yes, sure: it doesn't matter how you call it as long as you allow adjective/adjective modification. If you don't, then it would act as an adverb, though. Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 22:15
  • If a determiner is added, "Jill painted the kitchen a rosy red," does that cause "red" to act as a substantive adjective which can be modified by an adjective? If so, do I then have a S-Vt-IO-DO pattern? If this is the case, maybe I have an implied determiner. It seems as though "red" is acting as a noun in the original sentence, and I know that it cannot be an object complement noun. Red is not the same thing as the kitchen. Anymore thoughts?
    – tboz
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 1:24
  • This is actually one of those causatives, which have something of the appearance of a bitransitive verb, but are not usually construed to be such.
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 2:18

3 Answers 3


In this context, "rosey" is definitely an adverb, and modifies the type of red.


"Rosy" and "red" are both adjectives, with an elided noun:

Jill painted the kitchen a rosy red [color].

  • 1
    I would disagree: you cannot say Jill painted the kitchen a red ros(e)y (but a reddish pink would be possible), so they are clearly not on the same level. Though rosy itself can of course be used as an adjective. In your example you have added a determiner which would suggest an elision, but that is not in the original sentence. Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 22:13
  • Yes, an adjective can modify an adjective. But often the order matters. You can, after all, say, "Jill painted the kitchen a red rosy color." Here they are clearly both adjectives. "Elided," by the way, indicates a missing word in the original sentence.
    – shipr
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 22:42
  • Would "red" then be diagrammed as an object complement adjective? How would you diagram "rosy"?
    – tboz
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 1:34
  • Sure, I know what 'elision' means. But from your example I assume you refer to color as being elided, which only really works since you inserted a, which was not in the original sentence. If it had been Jill painted the kitchen a rosey red then there would be an obvious elision, but not so without the a. Commented Feb 23, 2013 at 17:34
  • There's no question that "rosy" modifies "red." It doesn't have to designate degree to be an adverb here. It denotes a particular shade/tint. I would accept it as either adverb or adjective in this position, but I wouldn't agree with reconstructing the sentence (the elided noun argument) to justify this usage; that's not necessary. Commented Feb 24, 2013 at 6:31

Rosey is an adjective that modifies the adjective red which is used as a noun in this case. Adjectives can often be used as nouns and modified by another adjective, e.g.

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