A prepositional phrase comprising a preposition and a noun phrase can generally function either as an adjectival phrase or as an adverbial phrase.

The book on the table is mine. (The prepositional phrase on the table is an adjectival phrase modifying the noun phrase the book.)

Put the book on the table. (The prepositional phrase on the book is an adverbial phrase modifying the verb put.)

I used to think that this dual property of the prepositional phrase is applicable to all prepositions without exception. But then, here comes this example.

Do you have any plans during the vacation?

Which sounds awkward at best.

I thought about the reason why this sounded awkward. The reason I came up with is that the prepositional phrase during the vacation cannot modify any plans. It can only modify the verb have, thereby rendering the sentence awkward.

Can "during" ever lead a prepositional phrase that acts as an adjectival phrase?

  • 4
    Work during the day progressed faster and with less accidents. – Jim Sep 2 '14 at 3:53
  • Thanks, Jim. So how come 'during the vacation' cannot modify 'any plans' in my example? – JK2 Sep 2 '14 at 3:59
  • 2
    Because plans are intrinsically for something not during something. "Do you have any plans for while you're on vacation?" – Jim Sep 2 '14 at 4:09

As noted in comments, a prepositional phrase using during can be used to modify a noun. The example used during the day to modify work used as the subject.

The problem with your sentence lies elsewhere: it’s that during doesn’t work very well for plans. One has plans for one’s vacation, not “during” it.

Plus during the vacation sounds funny for other reasons. It is hard to construct a context where the vacation works at all; it doesn’t work like the holidays might. I suppose you could say during the summer vacation to mean over the summer vacation, but I would leave out that the myself and just say over summer vacation.

For example, these all work:

  • I have plans for doing something special during my vacation this summer.

  • I have plans to do something special during my vacation this summer.

  • I plan to do something special during my vacation this summer.

  • I plan to do something special over summer vacation.

  • A lot of this is localized to British English, I think. – aparente001 Jul 14 '19 at 2:34

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