In the NP "mines in wartime", "in wartime" modifies the head "mines".

that nice tall man from Canada whom you met

"from Canada" modifies "man".

But why is the prepositional phrase "of Education" a complement to "Ministry" in "the Ministry of Education"?

How can I tell if a prepositional phrase is a complement to a noun or a modifier? And how are these two different?

  • I think my attempt at answering your question doesn't capture the gist of your question fully. @BillJ has the final word on this I suppose: Do check his answer to the question What is the difference between a modifier and a complement on Linguistics SE.
    – user405662
    May 5, 2021 at 9:02
  • 3
    The PP "from Canada" is an optional modifier; it can be dropped with no loss of grammaticality. But in "Ministry of Education, the PP "of Education" is an essential part of the proper name.
    – BillJ
    May 5, 2021 at 9:19
  • 1
    Ignoring the unusual string 'mines in wartime' ... 'that nice tall man whom you met' would work just as well here as 'that nice tall man from Canada whom you met' or 'that nice tall man with the golden retriever whom you met'. The PPs 'merely' provide (very useful / stylishly satisfying) additional material. You could, in writing fiction, pile them up, adding details but rapidly going downhill stylewise. // But a building with a signboard reading 'Ministry' is just wrong, incomplete. Yes, elsewhere we abbreviate to 'the Ministry', but only when context supplies the complement. MOE coheres. May 5, 2021 at 11:36
  • 1
    @user405662 Thanks for your help though. I just read BillJ's answer. Indeed very informative. Just FYI, it's not my downvote on your answer... I appreciate your help all the same.
    – Eddie Kal
    May 6, 2021 at 8:28


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.