While working on my project, I came across this sentence:

Obi is correct

My question is can we say that 'correct' in the above sentence defines the state of a man, since is is a form of 'be' - which usually defines the state of the subject or existence of the object.

If yes, can we say 'correct' is a special type of adjective, since a man cannot normally be described as 'correct' or in a 'correct' state.

Are there any other examples of such adjectives?

  • Collins gives (amongst others) these senses for 'wrong': adj 1. not correct or truthful: the wrong answer. 2. acting or judging in error: you are wrong to think that. >> The sense of 'correct' here is as the antonym of sense 2, not 1, above. As regards adjectives: they are very often used to describe temporary rather than permanent states (I was very cold half an hour ago) / stances or behaviours (I made a mess of that test: I was wrong about the causes of the Depression / He admitted that he was wrong to slap him). Aug 4, 2014 at 10:32
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    late or early perhaps.
    – Neil W
    Aug 4, 2014 at 10:33
  • @EdwinAshworth In order words, is correct is not a complete sentence? Aug 4, 2014 at 12:08
  • Please try to rephrase that. (1) Does your 'In other words ...' mean 'Would another way of putting your above comment on adjectives be ...'? (2) How can an adjective be a complete sentence? I'm essentially saying there that the verb 'be' is used with temporary states etc (she is asleep) as well as with 'permanent' ones (he is bald). Adjectives exist that cover both situations (some probably do dual duty). Aug 4, 2014 at 13:36
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    My take on this question is we are talking about adjectives that can only be applied to a thing X in relation to another thing Y. One cannot be correct (in the relevant sense) without being correct about something. One cannot be late (in the relevant sense) without being late for something. One however can simply be green, for instance, without reference to anything else. One could be tempted to seek a parallel with transitive and intransitive verbs. I'm not sure there's a linguistic distinction though, since I certainly don't have to say what someone is late for, to be grammatical.
    – Neil W
    Aug 6, 2014 at 6:07

1 Answer 1


The terms endophora and exophora are relevant to the question asked in the title,

What is the word for adjectives like ‘correct’ which may not provide complete meaning without previous sentence?

Of exophora, Wikipedia says

In linguistic pragmatics, exophora is reference to something extralinguistic, i.e. not in the same text, and contrasts with endophora. Exophora can be deictic, in which special words or grammatical markings are used to make reference to something in the context of the utterance or speaker. For example, pronouns are often exophoric, with words such as "this", "that", "here", "there", as in that chair over there is John's said while indicating the direction of the chair referred to.

Of endophora, Wikipedia says

Endophora is an expression that refers to something in the same text. For example, in the sentences "I saw Sally yesterday. She was lying on the beach", "she" is an endophoric expression because it refers to something already mentioned in the text, i.e. "Sally".

By contrast, "She was lying on the beach," if it appeared by itself, has an exophoric expression; "she" refers to something that the reader is not told about. That is to say, there is not enough information in the text to independently determine to whom "she" refers. It can refer to someone the speaker assumes his audience has prior knowledge of or it can refer to a person he is showing to his listeners. Without further information, in other words, there is no way of knowing the exact meaning of an exophoric term.

In short, an adjective that depends for meaning on a previous sentence is used exophorically.

Also note the word deictic in the explanation of exophora. Deictic means “Of or pertaining to deixis; to a word whose meaning is dependent on context”. Deixis means “(linguistics) A reference within a sentence that relies on the context being known to interpret correctly”.

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