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Can anyone explain the difference between the following sentences?

  1. I eat most kinds of soup hot.
  2. I eat most kinds of hot soup.

Earlier today, one of my non-English speaking friends asked me the difference between these sentences, and I couldn't explain it to him. Now, I don't speak English as my mother tongue either, but I've studied it for a long time and I understand the difference.

The first sentence means that no matter what kind of soup I eat, I mostly make it hot (boil it or microwave it or whatever) and then eat it.

The second one means I eat soup that is hot. It's like if there are 100 kinds of hot soup, I eat and probably enjoy 99 of them.

Unless I'm wrong, that is the difference. But what kind of grammar is used here? The placement of the word 'hot' is the only difference and that changes the meanings of those sentences. Can anyone explain this using grammar?

14

I'm not a grammar expert, but here are my thoughts on this:

In the first sentence, "most kinds of soup" is the direct object, and "hot" is a phrase of manner depicting the way you eat the direct object.

What do I eat? -- Most kinds of soup

How do I eat it? -- Hot

In the second sentence, the direct object is "most kinds of hot soup", where "hot" is an attribute adjective for "soup". Furthermore, here, "hot soup" is a phrase in itself, designating soup recipes that are usually consumed hot.

What do I eat? -- Most kinds of hot soup

  • 1
    +1 although some other answers address the purely grammatical elements, this answer alone points out that 'hot soup' is a stand-alone phrase with specific meaning. – Jeutnarg Mar 28 '17 at 18:12
5

My take on this is that both have different meanings as a result of taking subsets of things (soups) in different orders.

The first "I eat most kinds of soup hot" means I take a subset of soups (one which I eat) and tell you that the majority of these are hot. You imply that you might eat a few cold soups, but most are hot.

The second "I eat most kinds of hot soup" tells you that out of the hot soup set, you will eat most of these. It tells you nothing of how much cold soup you might eat. You could eat most of your soups cold (but still eat many variaties of the hot ones) or not have any cold soups (only eating most types of hot ones).

3

It is a matter of emphasis. In the two examples you give, hot acts differently.

I like soup hot emphasises that you prefer the soup to be hot, to having it cold.

I like hot soup is indication that you do like hot soup, but you are not stressing the fact that you prefer it to be hot as opposed to cold.

Someone might say something like "I had some wonderful cold gazpacho soup, at Nicola's party. I like hot soup, but I am especially partial to Nicola's cold gazpacho".

Your friend might respond with "I like soup hot" - which would be indication that they did not think much of having cold soup.

1

In my opinion, it is related to the relative clause.

The first sentence can be rewritten as 'I eat kinds of soup (which is) hot'.

Then, the second one is just a normal sentence.

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When the adjective is before the noun, it constitute a stand alone proposition. "Hot soup" is a thing.

When it is after, it qualifies the object, and gives precision on the action. "I like soup hot" means that "hot" qualifies the soup that you like, not just the soup.

In one case you have "(I like) (hot soup)" and in the second one you have "(I like soup) (hot)"

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These are two different usages of an adjective.

The first sentence

I eat most kinds of soup hot

gives an example of descriptive use of an adjective: hot refers to a property of soup which can be true or false for any kind of soup.

The use that can be seen in the sentence

I eat most kinds of hot soup

is often referred to as distinctive: we are now referring specifically to those soups which are customarily consumed hot.

Notice the different position of the adjective in the two phrases.

0

I eat most kinds of soup hot.

Hot here is a predicative adjective. It describes how you eat most kind of soup, and relates thus to the verb (eat).

I eat most kinds of hot soup.

Here instead we have an attributive adjective. It describes what do you eat, and relates to the noun (soup).

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