Does anyone know what sort of grammar rule is applied in this sentence (the bold part)? I've never seen this before:

... something we should all spend roughly one-third of our time doing, but which we actually tend to squeeze at both ends, with tiredness and underperformance the result.

In my way of understanding, I split the phrase into two parts:

With tiredness and underperformance / the result

However, two adjacent noun phrases in this way seems strange to me. Is it a case of an appositive?

  • It is a couple of words connected by a conjunction, like black and white, fish and chips, or girls and boys. Could you be more specific about what you are finding confusing about this particular use of and? Mar 21 '16 at 2:04
  • The question seems to be about "tiredness and underperformance" (noun phrase 1) and "the result" (noun phrase 2). I do not think it's about the conjunction "tiredness and underperformance." The users seems to want to know how "the result" can appear in the position it does, after the conjunctive noun phrase.
    – DyingIsFun
    Mar 21 '16 at 2:20
  • @Silenus: yes, that's exactly what I would like to ask here. The appearance of the article "THE" between 2 noun phrases seems odd.
    – user78585
    Mar 21 '16 at 2:28
  • See my answer. I edited it to give an example involving placing "the" between two noun phrases.
    – DyingIsFun
    Mar 21 '16 at 2:37
  • @silenus ~ you probably right, though noun phrase 1 is not a noun phrase, which is what threw me. Mar 21 '16 at 3:14

The two NPs after "with" are from the absolute construction "with tiredness and underperformance being the result" reflecting the optional deletion of "being". Similar constructions are "with no one (being) the wiser", "with the election (being) still undecided", and "without time (being) a factor".


It seems like you're asking how it is possible that "the result" can appear after "(with) tiredness and underperformance."

It's an example of what's called a small clause, "a frequently occurring construction that has the semantic subject-predicate characteristics of a clause, but that lacks the tense of a finite clause" (here). Small clauses are complex, but they can consist of two noun phrases, in for example, the sentence

  • The witch made John a pig.

In this sentence, "John a pig" is a small clause. It is an example of two noun phrases ("John" and "a pig") appearing side by side in a subject predicate structure.

Another example involves the definite article 'the'. For example, consider

  • They elected the man the president.

Here "the man the president" is a small clause. We have two noun phrases ("the man" and "the president") occurring side by side in a subject predicate structure.

But small clauses can also be made out of prepositional phrases and noun phrases. For example, in the sentence

  • The witch turned John into a pig

the case can be made that "John into a pig" is a small clause. Here, the prepositional phrase "into a pig" appears after the noun phrase "John".

Although your example involves the preposition 'with', I am uncertain whether it's closer to the two noun phrase examples or the noun phrase and prepositional phrase example. In any event, "(with) tiredness and underperformance the result" can be viewed as roughly similar to "the man the president".

I hope these examples have shown you how two noun phrases (or a noun phrase and a prepositional phrase) can appear side by side in a subject predicate structure.

  • @user78585, I'm no longer confident in this answer. If you remove the accepted check, I'll delete it.
    – DyingIsFun
    Mar 21 '16 at 17:00
  • It is a good answer. No need to kill it! Mar 22 '16 at 8:30
  • I'm not one of your downvoters, but I'm not sure all your Direct Object plus Predicative Complement examples can be construed as small clauses, for example John into a pig. However, I agree that the OP's example can be construed as a verbless clause. Whereas in your examples, the supposed (I say that because that analysis is contentious) clauses are the Complements of verbs, in the (non-contentious) example of the OP's the clause is the Complement of the preposition with. Mar 22 '16 at 12:24
  • @Araucaria, I agree with you. There is an important difference between my examples and the OP's example of 'with.' I was unaware 'with' could take nonfinite/verbless clauses like it does. Thanks.
    – DyingIsFun
    Mar 22 '16 at 15:01


The preposition with (and its sister without) cannot take finite clauses as a Complement:

  • *They came out of the building with they had their hands in the air. (ungrammatical)
  • *They came out of the building with their hands were in the air. (ungrammatical)

  • *They crossed the road without they looked. (ungrammatical)

  • *They accepted the offer without anybody noticed. (ungrammatical)

They can however take non-finite clauses:

  • They crossed the road without looking.
  • They accepted the offer without anybody noticing.

In the examples above we see with taking a gerund participle clause as a Compliment. When the Subjects of such gerund-participle clauses are the same as the Subjects of the main clauses they are omissible, as we can observe from the first sentence above.

These nonfinite clauses can often be reduced to verbless clauses, so that they have a Subject and a phrase describing the Subject (the Predicate of the verbless clause), but no verb. We can often perceive the missing verb as a non-finite form of the verb BE. However, it is often noted that with and without are also often semantically similar to the verb have (as we often see when with takes noun phrases as a Complement: the bike with the red seat - "the bike which has a red seat"). The first ungrammatical example in this answer post can therefore be repaired like this:

  • They came out of the building with their hands in the air.

The Original Poster's example

In the Original Poster's example—which is technically not a sentence but a noun phrase containing a very long relative clause—we see a with-preposition phrase which has a verbless clause as it's Complement. The Subject of the verbless clause is the coordination of noun phrases tiredness and underperformance. The predicate is the result. We can understand the clause as being a reduced version of a non-finite gerund-participle clause:

  • with tiredness and underperformance being the result.

Grammar Note

Here is the entry from the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Huddleston & Pullum et al, 2002) regarding with and verbless clauses:

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Your problem here is that the first noun phrase is a prepositional phrase. A prepositional phrase consists of a preposition (in this case with) plus a noun/pronoun/noun phrase/gerund/clause, in this case it is tiredness and underperformance. See here for more information. Identifying precisely which nouns or pronouns are associated with the preposition, and hence constitute the prepositional phrase, is done by turning it into a question with who or what. Here, that becomes with what? and is answered by with tiredness and underperformance.

Excluding its use as a nominal as that requires a be verb, a prepositional phrase has two functions. Adverbial, to say when, where, or how something happened, for example "Janice cried at the party" tells us where Janice cried. Adjectival, which is usually specifying which [noun]. For example, "in the cupboard, the bread was going mouldy" tells us which bread (the bread in the cupboard) has turned green.

In your example, the prepositional phrase is answering the question of "which result is caused by a lack of sleep?", with the answer being "the tiredness and underperformance one".

  • The preposition phrase here is "with tiredness and underperformance the result" not "with tiredness and underperformance". Mar 21 '16 at 12:18
  • A PP must have an adjectival or adverbial function. with tiredness and underperformance does that. With tiredness and underperformance the result doesn't, so it cannot be PP. With tiredness and underperformance does also answers the question 'with what do they suffer?', is grammatically complete (proven by functioning as an adjectival constituent), and is conceptually complete (proven by answering the question and including a coordinating conjunction). In short, it has all the defining characteristics of a PP. The most likely reason for that is that it is, in fact, a PP. Mar 21 '16 at 16:06
  • What you claim there won't hold, it seems. For example PPs have all kinds of other functions. They can be Subjects, Objects and Supplements - which is what this PP is. (I think you'd probably call being a Supplement being an adverbial) Mar 21 '16 at 19:26
  • A PP can function as a nominal (and hence as as a subject or object) in conjunction with to be. For example "after six is a good time to call" or "the park is next to the hospital". This means that the nominality is triggerd by the verb, not the PP. That is clearly not the case in the example sentence which leaves the PP as adverbal or adjectival. with tiredness and underperfornance does that; with tiredness and underperformance the result doesn't. Nothing you have said suggests that with tiredness and underperformance is not a PP, so I see no point continuing this. Mar 22 '16 at 2:14
  • Oh that's easy to show. Just move the PP to the beginning of the larger relative clause: but which, with tiredness and underperformance the result, we actually tend to squeeze at both ends. You'll see that the result has to move with the rest of the PP. Mar 22 '16 at 8:23

It's funny you should ask "is there a grammar rule" because it seems like there is one for everything right? Well, this is no exception. What you are dealing with here is called paired adjectives. There are two basic sub-sets of paired adjectives called coordinate adjectives and cumulative adjectives After a little Googling around, I found a nice explanation on how they work here:

Paired Adjectives

Then, the following article:

Ordering Multiple Adjectives

Gets into the details on how to deal with the "and" usage between the pairs.

Let's address the second part of your question, "is it appositive"? The answer to this is NO. You are not using one of the pair-members to rename the other pair-member. See... Know an Appositive when you see it!

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