Edit note:

This question with some good answers does not explain (or ask) why it is an adjective that's used as opposed to an adverb in this type of construction:

My Question:

Consider this sentence: "Garlic can be eaten raw or cooked".

In the dictionary, "raw" is an adjective only and is not an adverb. "Cooked" is also an adjective.

So, why can an adjective be placed after "eat" as in "Garlic can be eaten raw"?

  • The adjective raw means "you can eat garlic in raw state. "raw" does not describe the manner of eating. You can't eat rawly or cookedly.
    – rogermue
    Oct 10, 2015 at 16:20
  • @EdwinAshworth So why is this not a reduced adverbial? Oct 10, 2015 at 16:50
  • 1
    'I drink tea when it is hot' uses an adverbial temporal clause to tell when (really, metaphorically, under what conditions) the action occurs. But you are correct in judging that the semantic difference between this sentence and 'I drink tea hot' is minimal. Notice that 'hot' is an adjective even in the adverbial. Oct 11, 2015 at 15:38
  • 1
    @Araucaria it's reopened
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 15, 2015 at 7:50

2 Answers 2


Short answer

Raw here is a Predicative Adjunct. It is an adjective and not an adverb because it is describing the noun phrase, garlic. Predicative Adjuncts are very often adjectives. They're almost never adverbs.

Longer answer

Verbs set up slots for different types of phrase. The number of slots depends on the individual verb. All verbs set up a slot for a Subject phrase.

The verb BELIEVE, for example, can also set up a slot for an Object and a Predicative Complement:

  • We believed him innocent.

Here the Object is him and the Predicative Complement is the adjective phrase innocent. A Predicative Complement is just a Complement that describes the Subject or Object of a verb. In the clause above innocent describes the Object, him.

The Predicative Complement of the verb IMAGINE gives us a description of the Object . We call these Complements depictive. This contrasts with Predicative Complements that describe the Object after some kind of action or transformation. Consider the verb DRIVE:

  • Bob drives me crazy.

Here the Predicative Complement crazy describes me after the transformation described by drives. We call Predicative Complements like crazy in this example resultative.

A Predicative Adjunct is similar to a Predicative Complement, only it doesn't fill any special slot set up by the verb. According to the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Huddleston & Pullum 2002), optional, depictive predicative phrases are usually Adjuncts, not Complements. They don't appear to be licenced by the verb and they seem to freely be able to describe either the Subject or the Object of the verb.

In the Original Poster's example Garlic can be eaten raw, the adjective raw is optional. We can say Garlic can be eaten without any substantial change to the meaning of the verb EAT. The predicative phrase raw is also depictive and not resultative - because the rawness isn't a result of the eating action. Lastly, if we transform the clause into an active voice clause, then we will see that an adjective in this position can seem to apply just as easily to the Subject or Object of a clause using the verb EAT:

  • He ate the pizza naked.
  • He ate the pizza raw.

This data seems to show that raw is a Predicative Adjunct.

  • So, this kind of sentence is not the result of a reduction of "when it is" but is its own entity, so to speak. Oct 12, 2015 at 0:25
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    Typo error "Bob drives my crazy."? "me"?
    – Tom
    Oct 12, 2015 at 3:18
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    another typo: BELIEVE :) Why did you capitalise Garlic in "it is describing a noun phrase"?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 12, 2015 at 8:02
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    @Mari-LouA Thanks! Good question, erm that's just because it was citing the OP's example where it's capitalised because it's the first word in the sentence. I agree that it's distracting though. I'll change it. Oct 12, 2015 at 8:44
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    @Araucaria I thought of that--what happened to when-- when I posted my answer. Don't have an explanation. Anyway, I'm satisfied with your explanation. Thank you for helping me. Oct 12, 2015 at 9:04

What your example means is "Garlic can be eaten when it is raw". So maybe that is what happens -- we optionally delete "when it is".

  • What about "you can eat garlic raw"?
    – Tom
    Oct 10, 2015 at 2:47
  • Means "You can eat garlic when it is raw." No problem.
    – Greg Lee
    Oct 10, 2015 at 3:54
  • 3
    Perhaps I should note that "You can eat garlic naked" doesn't necessarily mean "You can eat garlic when it is naked".
    – Greg Lee
    Oct 10, 2015 at 4:02
  • Yes, you could of course say You can eat raw garlic which employs the adjective conventionally.
    – WS2
    Oct 10, 2015 at 7:28
  • @GregLee You beat me to it with the eating pizza! Oct 10, 2015 at 11:21

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