the animals, all dripping wet, cross, and uncomfortable

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Senior Member
Here is a sentence from the novel Alice in Wonderland
(the first para.)by Lewis Carroll from a free English learning website(here):
They were indeed a queer–looking party that assembled on the bank—the birds with
draggled feathers, the (other) animals with their fur clinging close to them, and all dripping wet, cross, and uncomfortable.

I feel this sentence a little difficult to understand. First, I think the word other is needed before the word animals. Second, what's the meaning of dripping wet, cross? I feel dripping modifies wet, but not sure if cross means angry or contray.
Could you give me a helping hand please?
Thank you in advance
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  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The sentence is not difficult for a native speaker.

    "other" is not required, in this context, animals = mammals

    cross = annoyed

    You should look at by EJStarn:
    As to the other positioning options, the adjectives [dripping wet, cross, and uncomfortable.] are called free modifiers (a term not restricted to adjectives.)

    [The entry in] Longman Student Grammar of Written and Spoken English:
    7.9 Other syntactic roles of adjectives. [...] 7.9.4 Adjectives as free modifiers

    Adjectives can also be syntactically free modifiers of a noun phrase. These adjective phrases modify a noun phrase, but they are not syntactically part of the noun phrase; in fact, the adjective phrase has a peripheral role in the clause. These structures are most common in fiction. They typically occur in sentence initial position. [...]

    Green, bronze and golden it flowed through weeds and rushes. (FICT)
    Delicate and light bodied, it is often confused with American blended whiskey and thus called rye. (ACAD)

    Free modifiers can also occur in sentence-final position:

    Victor chuckled, highly amused. (FICT)


    Senior Member
    Thank you very much. And I have tried my best to to read about free modifiers, but failed. But I think maybe it doesn't matter. Now, what I want to know is whether dripping is an adverb in the phrase dripping wet"
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    Now, what I want to know is whether dripping is an adverb in the phrase dripping wet"
    No, I would consider it a sort of compound adjective. It is not uncommon to combine a participle with an adjective this way. "Dripping wet" means "so wet that drops of water were falling from them" -- that is, "so wet that they were dripping."

    Similar examples include:
    freezing cold - so cold that it would cause things to freeze.
    burning hot - so hot that it would burn something it touched
    smoking hot - so hot that it emits smoke.
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