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We dined with Trevor the following Monday.

I'm doing a test to figure out whether the constituent "with Trevor" is an adjunct or complement to the verb "dine". It is called the "did so" test as some of you may know.

So my question is, are the following sentences correct?

  1. As I dined with Trevor, Mary did so with Matt. (did so= dined)
  2. I dined with Trevor on Monday, while Mary did so on Wednesday. (did so= dined with Trevor)

Here are my definitions of adjuncts and complements: adjuncts are peripheral items not lexically required by the verb (predicator), while complements are required to complete the sense of the verb. For example, the verb "put" requires a complement: He put the book on the table, where "on the table" is a prepositional phrase functioning as a complement. You can't say **He put the book.*

So, my doubt is whether "with Trevor" in the first sentence is a complement (or argument) to the verb "dine", or just an adjunct. I hope that's clear.

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    To a close-voter: This is not a request for proof-reading. To Danguie: Can you include your definition of adjunct and complement?
    – user140086
    Jan 10, 2017 at 16:54
  • ... You're probably using the terms the way CGEL do, but they haven't established a monopoly yet. Jan 10, 2017 at 17:06
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    You may find the answers to the following question useful: Argument vs. adjunct
    – herisson
    Jan 10, 2017 at 17:12
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    The distinction between modifiers and complements is not easy to draw in the case of with phrases. "With" has as its most basic meaning the notion of accompaniment which can be expressed by 'comitative' adjuncts, so I'd say that the PP "with Trevor" in your example is probably an adjunct (Trevor and us dined together). By contrast, in "Please don't mess with my stuff", the with PP is clearly a complement. Obligatory elements are always complements: they are needed to complete the verb phrase; optional elements may be either complements or adjuncts.
    – BillJ
    Jan 10, 2017 at 18:20

1 Answer 1

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BillJ commented:

The distinction between modifiers and complements is not easy to draw in the case of with phrases. "With" has as its most basic meaning the notion of accompaniment which can be expressed by 'comitative' adjuncts, so I'd say that the PP "with Trevor" in your example is probably an adjunct (Trevor and us dined together). By contrast, in "Please don't mess with my stuff", the with PP is clearly a complement. Obligatory elements are always complements: they are needed to complete the verb phrase; optional elements may be either complements or adjuncts.

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