• People these days have it easy.
  • People back then didn't know about germs.
  • The news today makes up for the news yesterday.
  • The meeting Monday will complete the agenda from the meeting Friday.

In some cases it can be parsed as an adverb modifying the verb or whole sentence, but not always. And it often seems very tightly tied to the noun.

Since the times can usually be moved into a prepositional phrase (usually of/from), my best guess is a noun adjunct, but noun adjuncts that occur after the noun are supposed to be extremely rare (the only examples I've seen were all names).

I found this post but the only answers that make sense are downvoted.

  • 1
    How is "the news recently" different grammatically from "the news today" (for example)?
    – Laurel
    May 25, 2021 at 3:53
  • @Laurel That sounds like an error to me (use "recent news"), unless the adverb is modifying the verb or the whole sentence (in which case it can be moved, but some of my examples can't). If it is allowed I could analyze it as "the news [that we have heard] recently" but that seems a lot to elide ...
    – o11c
    May 25, 2021 at 4:37
  • 5
    No: they are not rare. They are all temporal post-head modifiers. "These days" is an NP modifying "people"; "back then" is a PP modifying "people"; "today" is an NP modifying "news", and "Monday / Friday" are NPs modifying "meeting".
    – BillJ
    May 25, 2021 at 5:18
  • 2
    @BoldBen I wouldn't go along with what you say. There's no reason to say they are reduced clauses. NPs (typically demoting properties such as as age, time and date etc.) can certainly post modify nouns. And PPs even more freely so. Your suggestions are simply paraphrases, not syntactic analyses.
    – BillJ
    May 25, 2021 at 5:53

1 Answer 1


[1] [People these days] have it easy.

[2] [People back then] didn't know about germs.

[3] [The news today] makes up for the news yesterday.

[4] [The meeting Monday] will complete the agenda from [the meeting Friday].

The elements in bold are all temporal post-modifiers in NP structure.

In [1], [3] and [4] they are NPs modifying respectively "people", "news, "Monday" and "meeting". In [2] it's a PP modifying "people".

  • I don't see how "back then" can be a prepositional phrase. I see "back" as an adjective modifying the noun "then"; "people then" has the same meaning.
    – o11c
    May 25, 2021 at 16:17
  • @o11c modern grammar classifies the "back" in "back then" as a preposition. It has a different sense to the "back" found in, for example "back door". In the temporal expression "back then", the prep "then" occurs as complement of "back", thus "back then" is analysed as a PP. link
    – BillJ
    May 25, 2021 at 17:21

Your Answer

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

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