people gazed open-mouthed

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godfreychan

Member
Cantonese - Hong Kong
People pointed and gazed open-mouthed...

According to OALD, open-mouthed is an adjective. So I wonder why an adjective can follow a verb. :confused: As I know, adjectives can follow only linking verbs or some verbs like feel, etc.

Thank you very much!
 
  • Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I agree with Cyberpedant. "Open-mouthed" here modifies "gazed", a verb (it's how they gazed); it's therefore an adverb.

    Yes, some words can play different roles in different contexts.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    People gazed, open-mouthed.
    Bill stood there, helpless.

    I don't have a grammatical term for the structure, but it seems clear enough that open-mouthed and helpless are adjectives modifying people and Bill, not adverbs modifying gazed and stood.
    Contrast:
    Bill stood there helplessly.

    OK, I stuck a comma in there. But that's because I like commas.

    Is there a name for this construction?
    Am I imagining things ... ... again?
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I've been checking all of my dictionaries, both US and UK, and Panjandrum, you may well be right. There's no indication that open-mouthed can be called an adverb. It appears to be classed strictly as an adjective.

    But of course whatever the part of speech, there's nothing wrong with Godfrey's sentence. And I know of no hard-and-fast rule that an adjective may never follow a verb.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The advantage of having the adjective after the verb is that it becomes clearly descriptive rather than defining.

    Open-mouthed people gazed (people who were open-mouthed gazed) - what did the closed-mouthed people do?
    Angry people waited (people who were angry waited) - what did the calm people do?

    People gazed open-mouthed (people, who were open-mouthed, gazed) -clearly people were open-mouthed as they gazed.
    People waited angry (people, who were angry, waited) - clearly people were angry as they waited.
     
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