I've read this sentence in a book:

Like most languages, C# lets you define local variables, which are named elements inside a method that each hold a piece of information.

I can see this sentence in two ways, I can't get to know which one is the correct one:

  1. named is the adjective of elements. So nothing is named "elements inside a method"! it is just saying that variables are named elements (each element has a name) which are declared inside a method and hold a piece of information.
  2. are named is a passive verb, and the whole sentence means that variables are named "elements inside a method"

I myself think that the first one is correct, however I have to persuade someone who thinks the second one is correct. I don't know how to prove it.

  • Does this answer your question? verb or adjective in "The blue page is *stapled* to the red page"? – Edwin Ashworth Jul 20 '20 at 13:50
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    I'd say that 'named elements' is [attribute + referent] (cf 'landed gentry') and on the analysis I subscribe to, 'named' is an adjective (obviously a participial one, so strongly connoting verbiness). – Edwin Ashworth Jul 20 '20 at 13:53
  • I see "named" as a verb, not an adjective, because it has none of the distinctive properties of adjectives. For example, it can't be modified by "very" and it can't occur as complement to complex-intransitive verbs like "become" ("It became quite named") or complex-transitive verbs like "find" ("I found it quite named"). – BillJ Jul 20 '20 at 17:32
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    ... But then 'nuclear' would cause problems with these tests. Essentially, there are different schools here. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 20 '20 at 18:36
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    But there is no verb "nuclear", whereas there is a verb "name", hence the doubt about whether "named" is a participial adjective or a verb phrase. – BillJ Jul 20 '20 at 18:44

In theory, the sentence is ambiguous, and both readings 1) and 2) are possible. But the context makes it completely clear that 1) is the correct one here: local variables exist inside a method, and they are elements that have names.

To avoid this ambiguity, in case reading 2) was intended, the writer could have used quotation marks around elements: which are named 'elements'... This would have been advisable. But reading 2) was never intended, so it doesn't matter here.


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