we found him stretched dead drunk upon the dining-room sofa

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fabriciosantana
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we found him stretched dead drunk upon the dining-room sofa

Post by fabriciosantana » Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:22 pm

I would love a complete syntactic analysis of this sentence. My specific doubt is whether "upon the dining-room" modifies the verb "found" or the participle "streched". Also, whether "dead drunk" has the same syntactical function as "stretched" (in which case there could be a comma between them) or whether it is a modifier of "stretched". Thank you!

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Alan
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Re: we found him stretched dead drunk upon the dining-room sofa

Post by Alan » Sat Nov 21, 2020 5:53 am

1. Re. 'upon the dining-room sofa': we generally reckon an adverbial to be modifying the nearest VP to which it can be considered to relate within the bounds of semantic normality/common sense. Thus, 'stretched' here, rather than more distant 'found', seems to fit the bill. However, in many cases (as indeed here) the point may well be moot.

2. Re. 'stretched' vs. 'dead drunk'; both function as object complements to 'him' and, as such, are syntactic equals. However, syntactic equality does not always guarantee the use of commas (cf. a big red car), and the writer in this case has apparently seen fit, perhaps for stylistic reasons, to dispense with them.

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