An old A 2002 magazine sports the ad pictured below, juxtaposing

Their hunt the roast vegetable sauce.

with "Our roast vegetable sauce." There's something funny going on in the syntax of the former phrase, that actually made me pay some attention to it. I can't put my finger on what it is though.

Presumably this may be an elliptic construction ("their hunt [after/for/of] the roast vegetable sauce"), where "the roast vegetable sauce" would be in a genitive position. Just as well, this might be just a set phrase, no longer productive.

Is there a name for this type of construction, explaining how this syntax links to a semantics, and/or other examples of the phenomenon?

enter image description here

  • 25
    The more usual way (and you can see why) of showing nonce monster premodifiers is to use multiple hyphens: 'Their hunt-the-roast-vegetable sauce'. If overdone, leads to indigestion. Oct 3, 2020 at 18:25
  • 2
    The meaning becomes clear once you read the blurb next to the Supermarket's brand name: "…contains 190% more real pieces of roast vegetable per 100g..." OTOH I would like to know what a fake piece of vegetable looks like.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 4, 2020 at 13:09
  • 3
    Grocer's never omit Grocer's' Apostrophe's, M. Ashworth's. Never fear, though. It is mis-spelled "Sainsburys" in an answer here. (-:
    – JdeBP
    Oct 4, 2020 at 13:40
  • 3
    @Mari-Lou A: And also how big the pieces are. If I make the pieces smaller, I can have lots more pieces from the same weight of vegetable.
    – jamesqf
    Oct 4, 2020 at 16:05
  • 3
    If this were an ad for an American audience, I think it would have been worded hunt for the vegetable. I picture hunt the vegetable as me in the garden in my celery camouflage, behind the kale blind, with my spinach whistle and carrot gun, whispering: Shhh, be vewy vewy quiet: I'm hunting wadishes."
    – choster
    Oct 6, 2020 at 15:53

2 Answers 2


I had to read it a couple of times before it made sense, but the meaning is

Their 'hunt the roast vegetable' sauce.

In other words, Sainsburys claim that their sauce has many more pieces of vegetable in it than their rivals' sauces have.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Oct 22, 2020 at 3:17

They are implying that the competition's sauce has so little roast vegetables, you practically have to hunt around in the sauce to find any.

Their Roast Vegetable Sauce.


Our Roast Vegetable Sauce.

Their "hunt for the roast vegetables because they're so rare" Roast Vegetable Sauce.


Our "clearly has roast vegetables, you can tell without having to hunt for them" Roast Vegetable Sauce.

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.