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Adjuncts

Adjuncts are one of the five major elements of clause structure. The other four are subject (s),
verb (v), object (o) and complement (c). Adjuncts (a) are some times called adverbials.
An adjunct is a phrase which is not necessary to the structure of the clause, but which adds
some extra meaning to it.
In the sentence They waited outside for ages, the phrases outside and for ages add extra
meaning to waited. They tell us where, and for how long, the people waited. They are
adjuncts:
[S]They [V]waited [A]outside [A]for ages.
[S][V]I kept [O]a copy of the letter [A]in my desk.
[S]She [A]quickly [V]realized [O]her mistake.
[A]Suddenly, [S]it [V]started to rain.

Adjuncts and complements


Adjuncts and complements are different. An adjunct is not necessary, and adds extra
information. A complement is necessary in order to complete the meaning:
[S]He [V]put [O]some salt [C]in the soup.
The verb put must have a complement saying where something is put. Without the
complement (in the soup), the clause would not be complete. We cannot just say He put some
salt.

Adjuncts and postmodifiers in noun phrases


Adjuncts are different from postmodifiers in noun phrases. An adjunct adds extra information
to a clause. A postmodifier tells us more about the noun (n):
[S]They [V]’ve closed [N] that restaurant [postmodifier]on Market Street.
on Market Street is a postmodifier. It is part of the object noun phrase. It tells us which
restaurant we are talking about.

Complements
Complements are one of the five major elements of clause structure. The other four are
subject, verb, object and adjunct (complements are in bold):
Both the brothers became doctors.
A:
Have you seen my umbrella?
B:
It’s downstairs, by the back door.
Playing the guitar always makes me happy.

Subject and object complements


In clauses with linking verbs (be, seem, become), complements which follow the verb and
which add information about the subject are called subject complements:
Sheila is  a nurse. (adding information about Sheila)
All of them seemed surprised.
Complements which add more information about an object are called object complements:
He makes me very angry. (adding information about me)

Complements and adjuncts


Complements and adjuncts are different. A complement is necessary in order to complete the
meaning. An adjunct is not necessary, and adds extra information.
Compare
He put the cake in
the oven. put must have a complement to say where something is put.
Not: He put the Without the complement, the clause would not be complete.
cake.

We usually go away in the spring is an adjunct. It is not essential to complete the verb
in the spring. ‘go away’; it adds extra information.