imagine a little girl, hardly more than a baby.

hhtt

Senior Member
Turkish
"Imagine a little girl, hardly more than a baby." Would you please explain the part "hardly more than a baby" in grammar? How does that phrase added at the end of the sentence?

Source: Duma Key by Stephen Kİng

Thank you.
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "Imagine a little girl, who/she is hardly more than a baby."

    "Hardly more than a baby" is in adjectival apposition to "a little girl."
     
    Last edited:

    hhtt

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    "Imagine a little girl, who/she is hardly more than a baby."

    "Hardly more than a baby" is in adjectival apposition to "a little girl."
    Thank you PaulQ but I am still much confused. Are "A little girl, she is hardly more than a baby" and "a little girli who is hardly more than a baby" not very different things, one seems to be an "ellipsis", the other seems to be "a reduced relative clause"?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Are "A little girl, she is hardly more than a baby" and "a little girli who is hardly more than a baby" not very different things, one seems to be an "ellipsis", the other seems to be "a reduced relative clause"?
    No. They are not very different - they are very similar - both tell you more about the little girl, and that is the point of that construction.

    What has been omitted is uncertain and this makes it difficult to be precise about the precise function - nevertheless, as both mean the same thing, it really does not matter how you see it.

    I would have punctuated it "Imagine a little girl - hardly more than a baby."

    Compare
    "I had a car - only an old one - but it was very fast."
     

    hhtt

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    No. They are not very different - they are very similar - both tell you more about the little girl, and that is the point of that construction.

    What has been omitted is uncertain and this makes it difficult to be precise about the precise function - nevertheless, as both mean the same thing, it really does not matter how you see it.

    I would have punctuated it "Imagine a little girl - hardly more than a baby."

    Compare
    "I had a car - only an old one - but it was very fast."
    Can we say that these three cases are all parenthetical expressions, i.e they can be ommited, not changing the meaning?

    1. Imagine a little girl, hardly more than a baby.
    2. Imagine a little girl, who is hardly more than a baby.
    3. Imagine a little girl - hardly more than a baby.

    Thank you.
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I think that grammatically "hardly more than a baby" functions as a phrasal adjective applied to "girl."

    I don't see the point of adding words like "she is" or "who is" because, while they don't change the meaning, they do change the grammar and the question is about grammar.
     

    hhtt

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    I think that grammatically "hardly more than a baby" functions as a phrasal adjective applied to "girl."

    I don't see the point of adding words like "she is" or "who is" because, while they don't change the meaning, they do change the grammar and the question is about grammar.
    Yes, but they help to understand that grammar.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Can we say that these three cases are all parenthetical expressions, i.e they can be ommited, not changing the meaning?
    A so-called parenthetical expression is one that would work perfectly well within parentheses or brackets, as additional but not essential information or comment. And yes, that does apply here (but not, perhaps, if you add “who is”, which renders parentheses redundant).

    Imagine a little girl (hardly more than a baby) whose parents have been killed and is left in the care of her elder sister.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I think that grammatically "hardly more than a baby" functions as a phrasal adjective applied to "girl."
    "Hardly more than a baby" is in adjectival apposition to "a little girl."
    Genuine question: Is there any difference between
    "Imagine a little girl, hardly more than a baby."
    and
    "That man over there, the boss, he's the man you want to speak to."?
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Genuine question: Is there any difference between
    "Imagine a little girl, hardly more than a baby."
    and
    "That man over there, the boss, he's the man you want to speak to."?
    Genuine answer: I don't see any similarity between those two sentences. Well, they're both in English. One is a command, the other is a statement; one is about a man, the other about a little girl. That's two of the differences...

    Can you rephrase the question to help me understand what you're asking?
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    See the so-called "meat world" for discussion of another instance of this usage of "so-called" which is otherwise not the topic of this thread.

    I think this thread is about adjectival phrases or parenthenticals at the end of sentences. As in the example in the first post.

    They are not especially uncommon.

    Examples by me:
    "Ellen gave her daughter a hug, warm and gentle."
    "She looked at the lake, wide and smooth with a swan swimming on its surface."
    "They stood in the parking lot, nearly devoid of cars at this hour."
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Can you rephrase the question to help me understand what you're asking?
    You said "I think that grammatically "hardly more than a baby" functions as a phrasal adjective applied to "girl"."
    I said, "Hardly more than a baby" is in adjectival apposition to "a little girl."

    Question: Are we saying the same thing, or do you see a difference?

    These examples may or may not help:
    "Imagine a little girl, hardly more than a baby."
    and
    "That man over there, the boss, he's the man you want to speak to."

    I suppose also "The boss, that man over there, he's the man you want to speak to."?
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    PaulQ - I don't see "the boss" in the first version of your sentence or "that man over there" in the second as any kind of adjective - "the boss" and "that man over there" are appositives, for sure, but they are noun phrases (in both cases) rather than adjectives. Whereas "hardly more than a baby" seems like an adjective and not any kind of noun phrase, so it's not an appositive. It's just a post-noun-located adjective (located after the noun because it's a phrase, like in the examples I gave above).

    The function of "hardly more than a baby" is more like the function of "over there" in your example, really.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    While it acts adjectivally, I don't see why "hardly more than a baby" should not be considered to be a noun phrase, in the same way that "a baby" and "only a baby" would be noun phrases.
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    While you can use the latter two as the subject of a sentence, you can't use "hardly more than a baby" as the subject of a sentence.

    You can use "a baby" or even "only a baby" as the object of a preposition, too, and you can't use "hardly more than a baby" as the object of a preposition.

    I'm not seeing in what way "hardly more than a baby" seems like a noun phrase. It means very close to "hardly older than a baby" or "hardly bigger than a baby" and the noun use of "more" or even "more than a ___" isn't the intended meaning in that sentence.

    Note how in PaulQ's example, the appositive could switch places with the noun it was appositive to. But you can't write "Imagine hardly more than a baby, a little girl" - you can only substitute "hardly more than a baby" for "little girl" as the object of "to be" - the same place a predicate adjective could go.

    So, I'm not claiming to be any kind of grammar expert, for that you'd need to page wandle ;) But to me it's clear it's not a noun phrase.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Nominals are not the only thing that can be appositives: Appositive Phrases, and Adverbial and Adjectival Phrases and Clauses | Texas Gateway.

    The examples at the end of the exercise show what function the phrase has and why the addition of "Subject + to be" gives the expanded version.

    Your examples:
    "Ellen gave her daughter a hug, it was warm and gentle."
    "She looked at the lake, it was wide and smooth with a swan swimming on its surface."
    "They stood in the parking lot, it was nearly devoid of cars at this hour."

    "That man over there, he is the boss, he's the man you want to speak to."
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I looked over that page you linked to, PaulQ, and it specifically states that appositive means a noun or pronoun phrase... it calls the other ones like my three examples "adjectival phrases"

    They do serve similar purposes and are in many ways treated similarly. But the name "appositive" is for the noun ones in every citation I found.
     
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