I've been interested recently in modifiers that modify not a specific grammatical unit--e.g., nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, or phrases of each--but an entire sentence or clause. For example, see the example below for various phrases operating as modifiers,

Participle phrases

  • The gas tank exploded, sending shrapnel through the air. "Sending shrapnel through the air" here operates as an absolute phrase, per Can a participle phrase modify a clause?. This jives with Brian A. Garner's description of participial phrases in his The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation:

154 Participial phrases. A participial phrase is made up of a participle plus any closely associated word or words, such as modifiers or complements. It can be used (1) as an adjective to modify a noun ..., or (2) as an absolute phrase ....

Elliptical Prepositional Phrases

  • In any event, call me when you arrive. "In any event" does not appear to modify any specific part of speech. Garner calls this a prepositional "elliptical phrase."

Sentence Adverbs

  • Fortunately, we've had rain this week. "Fortunately" applies to the full clause, a structure Garner calls this a "sentence adverb."

My question:

  1. Are there other cases (other than absolute constructions, which I've not specifically included above) in which a modifier applies to an entire sentence/clause, rather than a specific syntactical element (i.e., noun/predicate)
  • Garner here uses the compound term 'sentence adverb' not 'sentence'. And there is a conflicting definition of 'elliptical prepositional phrase' exemplified by 'He booed [at] the magician.' – Edwin Ashworth Mar 10 '18 at 19:34
  • Apologies -- missed the "adverb" of "sentence adverb" in the original posting. – The_Arcadian Mar 10 '18 at 19:38
  • There are many different types of pragmatic markers which do not inform the grammar of a matrix sentence. Their functions include reformulation, attention focusing, domain categorisation, discourse structuring, general comment by the writer, comment by the writer on how reliable they think their statement is (modality) .... – Edwin Ashworth Mar 10 '18 at 19:46

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