"I woke up tired."

We have subject/(phrasal) verb/adjective.

So this looks like a linking verb with a predicate adjective. ("I am tired", "I became tired", "He seemed tired"). But since when is 'woke up' a linking verb? Is there a finite list of linking verbs or is it open? And I thought that a linking verb wasn't a 'doing' verb but 'woke up' seems like a 'doing' verb.

Note also that "I woke tired" or "I awoke tired" doesn't seem right. Why does the phrasal verb work but not the single word versions? Is it just usage?

And please don't say that 'tired' is an adverb because plainly it isn't, for any number of reasons--morphology being just the obvious one.

  • But she rolled over and went back to sleep.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 1, 2016 at 22:15
  • 1
    She woke up alert. Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenters [and Seymour]. :). But don't be struck dumb. Action verbs followed by adjectives are used in English to refer to states one finds oneself in that answer the question how (like an adverb). I put up a whole list of them the other day. This is exactly the same structure. I am not going to wax poetic but isn't this horse pretty dead?
    – Lambie
    Jun 1, 2016 at 22:41
  • @Lambie - How is it possible for a dead horse to be pretty?
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 2, 2016 at 1:49
  • I don't believe it's the same structure at all. "She made him tired"--there is a causative verb, and a direct object. "I woke up tired"--'woke up' here is an intransitive verb. (In another sentence it could be transitive--"I woke him up".) And 'tired' doesn't modify 'woke up' in the conventional sense--it doesn't show how you woke up, it shows how you were when you woke up. That's what you seem to be saying, and it's a very different structure to "He shot (made) Sam dead." He caused Sam to be in the state of being dead, but upon awaking he existed in the state of being tired.
    – Dunsanist
    Jun 2, 2016 at 11:06
  • It's as fundamental a distinction as the distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs, or between adverbs and adjectives (that is, not all that fundamental really, but as fundamental as grammar gets).
    – Dunsanist
    Jun 2, 2016 at 11:10

2 Answers 2


'Tired' may not be an adverb, but it is being used adverbially.

Note that a comma makes 'I woke, tired' work.

'I woke [up], [being] tired.' {tired = passive participle; cf. I was tired when I woke}

'I woke [up] the baby.' {the baby = direct object}

  • This question is the same as the one asked the other day re: shot dead. Yes, it is being used as an adverb even though it is an adjective. And I believe the question may have been asked by the same person.
    – Lambie
    Jun 1, 2016 at 22:14
  • There is a difference: 'He was shot [to be] dead' is related to the object complement {cf. 'She shot him [to be] dead'}
    – AmI
    Jun 1, 2016 at 22:33
  • No, it isn't. It is the same structure. She shot him dead is not short for she shot him to be dead. That is agrammatical in any case.
    – Lambie
    Jun 1, 2016 at 22:36
  • 'She shot him dead' is the same structure as 'She woke him tired', but that 2nd sentence is 'agrammatical'. 'She shot him dead' does contain two clauses: 'He is dead' and 'She shot him' or 'She shot [to make] that he is dead'. My '[to be]' is grammatical; just archaic since invention of the object complement. Note that 'She shot him, to be dead' would be adverbial and shift the death to her.
    – AmI
    Jun 2, 2016 at 19:39
  • She woke him tired is not grammatical in English. Your explanations seem to be veering further off course....:)
    – Lambie
    Jun 2, 2016 at 20:27

I think tired is being used as a perfect passive participle - "I woke up [having been] tired." In which case, woke up is a simple verb and tired is just an adjective describing I.

  • There is no having been tired. The idea is you wake up and upon waking your state or condition is tired.
    – Lambie
    Jun 2, 2016 at 18:05
  • @Nick - You are right about passive participle, but not about perfect; "I woke up [and I was] tired." cf. (active participle) "I woke up [and I was] smiling."
    – AmI
    Jun 9, 2016 at 18:30

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