0
  • The decision affects people at large.
  • The decision affects people in general.

What role do the phrases at large and in general perform here? Are they used as adjective modifiers of the noun people, or adverb modifiers of the verb affects?

7
  • 4
    They are both preposition phrases modifying "people". We know they are part of the NP because we can say "[People at large/in general] are not affected by the decision".
    – BillJ
    Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 10:29
  • 1
    The PP would then be an adjunct in clause structure, not part of the NP. I would call it a 'supplementary' adjunct as opposed to a modifier.
    – BillJ
    Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 10:50
  • 1
    @Sanjay "In general, it affects the people",then would 'in general' be adverbial modifying the whole sentence? Yes, that is how it would be understood. It is often called "a free modifier."
    – Greybeard
    Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 11:56
  • 2
    There is ambiguity in the statements that is not discussed in the comments. Leave open.
    – Anton
    Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 22:07
  • 1
    "People in general" could be a noun phrase, but IMO it's less common to use "people at large" as a noun phrase unless with a meaning to match "wild animals at large". So "at large" is probably modifying the verb/sentence. It's not clear-cut though. Clue is whether "in general"/"at large" could be replaced by "generally", "largely", "mostly", etc, or "most", "general", etc.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 31 at 14:16

3 Answers 3

0

I think the backslash is a notational shorthand for writing either:

The decision affects people at large and the people in general

It's somewhat imprecise because it implies that the two "peoples", people at large and people in general, are exchangeable terms, which makes the sentence redundant. Stylistically, I would encourage something more specific. For instance,

Prohibition affected livelihoods of all American people.

"at large" and "in general" are prepositional phrases, and they modify the people because

  1. they are placed at the end of the sentence
  2. the "people" is a subjective noun, and "affects" is used as a transitive verb
  3. It doesn't make sense to "affect at large" as a verb or for a "decision at large" to be a noun
  4. practically, the sentence is trying to emphasize that the implications of a certain policy or action will perhaps have more wide ranging implications that initially assumed.
2
  • OP uses the backslash in one of its normal roles; he is not asking how it is used, but using it to couple two related usages in a single question. Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 19:16
  • It's an adverb because at large people and in general people is not doable.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 2, 2023 at 18:48
0
  • They are both preposition phrases modifying "people". We know they are part of the NP because we can say "[People at large/in general] are not affected by the decision".                                                                                                                         – BillJ

  • If the same sentence were to be rearranged to read "In general, it affects the people", then would 'in general' be [an] adverbial modifying the whole sentence?                                                                                                                         – Sanjay

  • The PP would then be an adjunct in clause structure, not part of the NP. I would call it a 'supplementary' adjunct as opposed to a modifier.                                                                                                                         – BillJ Apr 27, 2020

-1

Both are adjectival. Both modify "people". They have different meanings.

If the OP wants more than this, ELL beckons.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.