I am trying to understand which syntactic role the word red has in this sentence:

We could colour the walls red.

My first thought was it being an adverb, but I have never heard someone saying colours could be used as adverbs. Also, the position is untypical for adverbs.

What part of speech is red in the sentence? What syntactic role does it play? Is it some sort of adjective-valency perhaps? Which other verbs (like to colour) have similar properties?

  • "Red" is not an adverb; it's an adjective functioning as an objective complement of "colour". "Colour" is being used as a transitive verb here with "the walls" as its direct object. "Red" describes the colour the object (the walls) would be painted, hence 'objective complement'. – BillJ May 8 '16 at 13:23
  • @BillJ A question. What about "his face is going red with anger?" – vickyace May 8 '16 at 14:13
  • @vickyace This is a complex-intransitive structure and I'd put "go" in the same category as "become", so the adjective phrase "red with anger" is subjective predicative complement of "going"; it refers to the subject "his face", hence 'subjective complement. – BillJ May 8 '16 at 16:02

As BillJ mentioned in the comment, "red" is an adjective functioning as an object (or objective) complement whose primary role is to complement the transitivie verb and its object to show what it has become. For example, "We painted the walls red" could be rephrased to:

We painted the walls and (as a result) they became red.

There are many transitive verbs that are used in "verb + object + object complement" construction as indicated in the link. You can visit the link and see how it works.

One thing to note is "red" is not an adverb and it doesn't function as an adverb as it doesn't modify the verb or other parts of the sentence.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.