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I'm an ESL teacher trying to help my student parse this sentence:

And as they have come together, the imperative among participating countries to cloak their technological capacities and weaknesses has proved irresistible, at times hindering the search, military analysts say.

My question is about the phrase "at times hindering the search" — I'm not sure what it modifies. It begins with an adverb phrase "at times," before a participial phrase "hindering the search."

Is it an adjective phrase, modifying "imperative?" Or is it an adverb phrase, modifying "to cloak?"

  • @Kace36 Maybe you should read it one more time. – Kris Jul 25 '17 at 6:46
  • @Kris Hahaha. Okay I saw your answer. Let me read it again. I took her analysis at face value. I'll dissect it completely. I guess I see your train of thought now either way ;) – Kace36 Jul 25 '17 at 6:53
  • Sorry Lee. @Kris is right. I read it wrong and didn't pay enough attention, rather I just went off your analysis without really reading it very well and simply glossed over it super fast. It's a long sentence ;) Read his answer. He is right. I will remove my other comments so they are not confusing. – Kace36 Jul 25 '17 at 6:57
  • It's a supplement, not a dependent, so it doesn't modify anything. The form is not an AdvP, but a PP with "at" as head and "times" as complement. The gerund-participial clause "hindering the search" is complement to "times". Supplements have the character of interpolations, and are not integrated into the structure of the clause. – BillJ Jul 25 '17 at 7:58
  • @BillJ "Supplements have the character of interpolations, and are not integrated into the structure of the clause." Perhaps; so? – Kris Jul 26 '17 at 12:30
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There is a correct answer to this. But the fact that you had to ask the question shows that 1) the sentence is far too long and involved and 2) the choice of the word ‘imperative’ is inept.

THE ANSWER 1). You are virtually correct. “at times” is indeed an adverbial phrase. It modifies the participle “hindering”; “the search” is a noun phrase, and is the object of “hindering” (so in Latin, it would be ‘quaestum’ - accusative). But because participles are adjectives, the whole phrase (“at times .. search”) is an adjectival phrase, and qualifies ** “the imperative. Well, strictly, it qualifies the whole ungainly noun phrase **The imperative among participating countries to cloak their technological capacities and weaknesses

Compare: “Because participating countries feel obliged to conceal their technological capacities and weaknesses, their search for collaboration / peace is frustrated...”

2). “Imperatives” do not hinder. An ‘impulse’ or ‘determination’ might. That is a fault of ‘usage’.

-2

The adverb modifies proved irresistible -- it was so irresistible, it came in the way of the search.

HTH.

  • You're welcome, Lee Davis. Glad to be of help. Hope you will find ELU helpful to you in the future too. – Kris Jul 31 '17 at 9:50

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