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Friday, April 20, 2012

Resultative Adjective

Resultative Adjective

A resultative adjective comes after the noun it describes and gives the reader information about the outcome of the action of the verb on the noun. Generally, the meaning of the sentence is very different than it would be if the adjective were placed before the noun. Thus, the overriding rule is for the writer to think carefully about what he or she is trying to say and to arrange the words in the sentence accordingly.

Consider the following passage:
     Mr. Magoo traveled to the far West Indies in search of the greatest hunt of a lifetime. Though the Mangled Malatrope was an endangered cloven-hoofed species known in the parts to be both aggressive and scarce, he did not care. He wanted to be the last man on earth to bag the trophy beast. And on the eve of August 17, he returned to camp triumphant. That night in celebration, he and his guides (a) cooked the meat rare or (b) cooked the rare meat.

Do you see how the meaning of (a) is very different from the meaning of (b)? In (a), rare is a resultative adjective and implies that the meat was not cooked all the way. In (b), the word rare precedes the noun, meat, and implies that the meat is uncommon and not easily acquired.

Can you give an example of two sentences with different meanings, depending on the location of the adjective?

Tomorrow: Semicolon
This post is brought to you by the April A to Z Blog Challenge. Check back all through April for daily discussions of writing conventions.


Teresa Cypher aka T K CypherBuss said...

Just peeked in while at break from work. I LOVE your blog! Am following you now, Lucy, and will be back later. :-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lucy ... great explanation - I'm going to enjoy these and re-reading them .. cheers Hilary

Sue H said...

Isn't English grammar a wonderful thing! ;-)

Indeed, the placing of adjectives gives a whole new meaning to the sense of a piece of writing, either by ignorance or design. Thereby much humourous wit ensues! ;-)

SueH I refuse to go quietly!
Twitter - @Librarymaid

Dana said...

Nice post!

Wendy said...

Excellent example!

Jo said...

I understood the principle but had never heard 'resultative adjective' before. Interesting.

William Kendall said...

The question being how someone as blind as Mr. Magoo could bag big game in the first place, of course...

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