Page 21 of Garner's fourth edition reads

One must analyze the sentence rather than memorize a list of common linking verbs. Often unexpected candidates serve as linking verbs—e.g.:

• “The rule sweeps too broad.” (The writer intends not to describe a manner of sweeping, but to say that the rule is broad.)

• “Before the vote, the senator stood uncertain for several days.) (The word describes not the manner of standing, but the man himself.)

A similar issue arises with an object complement, in which the sequence is [subject + verb + object + complement]—e.g.:

• “Chop the onions fine” (The sentence does not describe the manner of chopping, but the things chopped. The onions are to become fine [= reduced to small particles].)

• “Slice the meat thin.”

An elliptical form of this construction appears in the dentists’ much-beloved expression, Open wide (= open your mouth wide)

However, I find it contradictory that dictionaries (for example this one ) include an adverbial meaning with the adequate sense for all broad, fine, thin, as well as the adverbs in -ly for phrases such as thinly-sliced ham or finely chopped herbs.

Beside the issue of participle vs. adjective, the idiomaticity of some expressions is at play too: stand firm.


The OED: reads

Thin, adj. (n.) and adv. ;

Thinly, adv.;

Fine, adj.;

Finely, adv.

THIN (adverb) ​in a way that produces a thin piece or layer of something I like my bread sliced thin. The adverb tight includes specific grammatical points: ahdictionary.com and oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com

Collins has both adverbs Thin(ly) with the same meaning.

See also STRONG (adv.): "in a strong manner The horse ran strong at the end"

  • "Thin", "fine" etc, are adjectives -- optional depictives as adjuncts, with "onions" and "meat" as predicands. – BillJ Aug 22 '20 at 10:30

I cannot fault Garner's definition of a subject/object-oriented predicative complement (PC).

The WordRef dictionary lists "broad" as an adverb only in a nonstandard phrase like "he was broad awake".

WordRef incorrectly classifies "thin" as an adverb in "the ham was sliced thin". According to the OED, the only attested instances of "thin" as an adverb are obsolete, or comparative forms like "thinner" (which are more acceptable as adverbs than the uninflected form is). [Edit: see below]

Wordref recognises "fine" as an adverb only in informal settings such as "you did fine on the test".

If the adjective is used in its "-ly" form then it is an adverb, and there is no possibility of it functioning as PC.

There are, it is true, a number of cases which can be read either way - e.g. "The sun shone red", or "Swimming comes hard to her", where "red" and "hard" can be read as either adjective (functioning as PC) or adverb. But for most adjectives in most contexts, the PC-function is unambiguous.

Edit: The OED has classified "Cut the chops very thin" [1804] under the wrong heading. Even conceding that it could be analysed as an adverb here, which is dubious, it belongs under the heading C1(c), not C1(a). See comment below.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Aug 23 '20 at 20:23

The use of “thin” as an adverb in your quoted dictionary as an (the ham was sliced thin) seems erroneous. It is not the slicing that “thin” qualifies, but the state of the ham after slicing. The dictionary’s examples for broad and fine as adverbs are similarly unconvincing and rather colloquial. Did well describes an outcome of the doing rather than the manner of doing it, because you can do an exam hurriedly/carelessly/inattentively but still do well.

All your own quoted examples deal with state of the subject and not with the manner of the verb and seem to me to be correct versions of the same construct.

Put simply, ham that has been sliced thinly is thinly-sliced ham or ham sliced thin. But ham that has been sliced carelessly is carelessly-sliced ham, but not ham sliced careless, because careless does not describe the state of ham.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Aug 23 '20 at 20:24

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