I wrote a sentence that I don't know is correct.

The presence of the doctor after the incident matters to every patient.

I think "after the incident" is used as an adjectival phrase.

But there are phrases like day after tommorow, and day before yesterday... so, is the sentence I wrote grammatically correct with the adjdctival phrase "after the incident"?

Reason I am asking is because I thought that whiz-deletion was used. And when I try to restore the original version if this sentence, it becomes presence of doctor (which was) after the incident, which sounds nonsensical to me.

Is the whiz-deldtion used, or is it the product of other grammar structure?

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    You should really stop trying to find truth in ill-remembered rumors; it never works out. Whenever I see a question containing a phrase like "I think I heard someone saying there is no such thing as an adjectival phrase of time", I despair. As Geoff Pullum points out -- repeatedly -- anybody, anywhere, at any time, with any level of knowledge whatever about English grammar, can say anything they want to say, however ridiculous, about English grammar, and people will believe them. – John Lawler Sep 24 '15 at 0:15
  • Hm... I know that it was stupid to say that, but that was the only clue I had... but do you mean that there are adjectival phrases of time? – sooeithdk Sep 24 '15 at 0:17
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    There are prepositional phrases expressing time, and they may modify anything at all in a sentence, including nouns. Prepositional phrases expressing time and modifying nouns are called adjective phrases of time. After the incident modifies presence, which is a noun. Q.E.D. – John Lawler Sep 24 '15 at 0:19
  • I learned from this website that most adjective phrases are formed by using whiz deletion... "the presence of doctor which was after the incident" sounds strange to me, and confused me... so is the whiz deletion used? – sooeithdk Sep 24 '15 at 0:23
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    My problem is with the sentence itself. (a) it's not clear what it means and (b) it's not clear what the grammatical structure is. Please could you say exactly what this sentence is about? What is the incident - a car crash? The doctor is hardly likely to be there before the incident and waiting for it to occur. Doctors only ever arrive after incidents and it's fairly obvious the patient will be glad to see them. – chasly from UK Sep 24 '15 at 0:53

Think simple. Delete 'incident' and type 'breakfast'. He went to school after the breakfast.

Does this sentence make sense to you? It should. Apply the same logic to your sentence.

  • The presence of the doctor after the breakfast matters to every patient.
  • The presence of the doctor after the incident matters to every patient.

Your sentence is correct. I know it is totally illogical (breakfast) but grammatically correct. There is no whiz-deletion.

  • I find both sentences illogical. There is no point in trying to unwhizz a sentence that doesn't make sense. – chasly from UK Sep 24 '15 at 0:55
  • Without context, yes, it is ambiguous. The meaning of the sentence is that to patient whether the doctor is with them or not matters the most. – sooeithdk Sep 24 '15 at 1:00
  • This sentence was closely linked to other ones that explain it further, which I am unable to post, for it will take too much space. – sooeithdk Sep 24 '15 at 1:05
  • @Grizzly Why is theere no whiz-deletion? – sooeithdk Sep 24 '15 at 1:08
  • it refers to a general time. after the incident. After any accident. If you used it with a specific event I would say OK. The presence of the doctor which was after the incident mattered a lot to the patient's family. Still sounds illogical however. – Grizzly Sep 24 '15 at 1:17

The sentence doesn't make sense to readers because of the use of "the" to modify doctor and incident. This is a sentence expressing a fact. It is best to use "a" or pluralize doctor and incident to make this a better sentence:

"The presence of doctors after incidents matters to every patient." In my opinion, "every" should be changed to "all" as "all" better fits the generalization.


"The presence of a doctor after incidents matters to every patient."

"Incident" should probably be cleaned up with a more descriptive word. Incidents of what?

As professor Lawler pointed out, "after incidents" is an adjective phrase. "After the incident" can be either a defining relative clause or non defining by either using "that is" or ",which is." but in your example is not present.

That said, the sentence is still "iffy." Is this the general idea you are trying to convey: "The presence of a doctor after major surgery matters to all patients."

  • Yes, tha's exactly what it is. So the sentence is adjective, but does not use which was, but is just iffy, as you said, in nature. Thank you for the answer! – sooeithdk Sep 24 '15 at 3:16
  • @sooeithdk is my last suggestion the general idea you are trying to convey? – michael_timofeev Sep 24 '15 at 3:19
  • It is very much so. I don't know how you pointed that out. – sooeithdk Sep 24 '15 at 3:22

The reason the sentence feels wrong is because it's too detached. Try this instead:

"You want a doctor most when you are newly a patient."

  • Could you explain what you mean by detached? – sooeithdk Sep 24 '15 at 1:03
  • Detached as in passive vs active voice. Quoting Strunk and White, "Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words..." "...Use the active voice Put statements in positive form Omit needless words..." – Taryn Sep 24 '15 at 1:05
  • Consider rushing up to someone who's just crashed their bike. Would you ask, "Does the presence of a doctor matter to you now?", or would you ask, "Are you hurt? Do you need a doctor?" – Taryn Sep 24 '15 at 1:12
  • What I am writing is not a conversation and I was trying to find a logical answer for my confusion... even though the question was kind of stupid. But still, thank you for the suggestion. – sooeithdk Sep 24 '15 at 1:14
  • @sooeithdk how is his sentence in the passive voice? – michael_timofeev Sep 24 '15 at 3:16

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