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Sometimes I come across the phrase "a modifier in clause structure".
Can we draw the unambiguous conclusion from this phrase about what head such a modifier modifies?
If we can, then what head is implied?

For example, the textbook "the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language", page 1265:

Modifiers in clause structure:
(1) They are saving up to buy a washing-machine.
(2) They arrived home to find the house had been burgled.
(3) He was a fool to say he’d go.
(4) Liz was lying by the pool reading a novel.

The phrases in bold are modifiers in clause structure.
What heads do they modify?

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  • Didn't you ask a similar question earlier today? It looks like it's been deleted. If there was a problem you should have edited the question, not deleted and reposted.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jun 7 at 20:55
  • Aren't they adverbial, modifying the main verb in each case? Saving why. Arrived how. Was in what way. Lying why. Commented Jun 7 at 21:08
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    The non-finite clauses on your examples don't modify a head, but a verb phrase. In (1) for example, "to buy a washing-machine" modifies the VP "saving up".
    – BillJ
    Commented Jun 8 at 6:31
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    Further, the term 'modifier in clause structure' is intended to distinguish those modifiers from the ones in phrase structure, i.e. in noun/adjective/adverb/preposition/determinative phrases.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jun 8 at 8:00
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    @Loviii Yes, I would say so.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jun 11 at 6:08

2 Answers 2

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Check out the tree diagram on p473: the head is the VP. In other words, modifiers in clause structure generally modify a unit made up of the predicator (verb at the head of the clause) and its complements.

enter image description here

However, often it's necessary to include more than just the predicator and its complements in the VP acting as head. For example, in the following sentence, it would be best to say that the modifier because he was late modifies the head ate his lunch quickly, not just ate his lunch.

He ate his lunch quickly because he was late.

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  • I don't think it's a suitable tree here for diagramming a modifier in clause structure. I think CGEL used that tree structure simply to make a comparison with the adjacent nominalised version [52a]: as they say "to bring out the parallelism ...". Ordinarily, they would label "carefully analysed the issues" as 'Predicate: VP', with 'analysed' as 'Predicator: V' with its 'Object: NP' ("the issues").
    – BillJ
    Commented Jun 8 at 9:15
  • @BillJ You wrote: Ordinarily, they would label "carefully analysed the issues" as 'Predicate: VP'. Do you mean that in this case "carefully" modifies "analysed"? Thanks.
    – Loviii
    Commented Jun 10 at 2:37
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    @Loviii No: I'd say that "carefully"modifies the VP "analysed the issues".
    – BillJ
    Commented Jun 11 at 6:06
  • @Loviii Note also that "carefully analysed" is not here a constituent.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jun 11 at 6:15
  • You gave the sentence "He ate his lunch quickly because he was late" as an example of modifiers in clause structure. In this regard, am I right that: “because he was late” is a modifier in clause structure (where the clause is "He ate his lunch quickly because he was late"); “quickly” is also a modifier in clause structure (where the clause is "He ate his lunch quickly", i.e. without "because he was late") ? Thanks.
    – Loviii
    Commented Jun 11 at 7:32
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He ate his lunch quickly because he was late.

Here is how I would diagram DW256's example. As you can see, "quickly" and "because he was late" are both modifiers in clause structure, part of the predicate VP.

Tree Diagram

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