The best way to enjoy a fine wine is slowly - Help parse the sentence



Can you please help me parse this sentence:

The best way to enjoy a fine wine is slowly.

Please explain the structure of the sentence. I am mostly having trouble with slowly after is.


Posted 2019-05-08T16:36:38.440

Reputation: 10 615

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– ColleenV – 2019-05-20T10:57:22.337



The best way to enjoy a fine wine is slowly.

Generally AdvPs modify verbs where they are adjuncts. But they can also occur as complement to the verb be in its specifying sense, as here.

Note that there are one or two verbs that select a manner AdvP as complement, as in He treated her appallingly.


Posted 2019-05-08T16:36:38.440

Reputation: 9 994

1I wouldn't expect a native English speaker to know what "AdvP" means, let alone an English learner. – Acccumulation – 2019-05-08T18:01:53.053

@Acccumulation Really? Then how do you explain the fact that the OP uses the term AdvP himself (see his first comment). – BillJ – 2019-05-08T18:08:04.930

1How is the fact that a particular person knows what a term means in any way inconsistent with people in general don't know what it means? – Acccumulation – 2019-05-08T19:07:53.070

is there any restriction on the type of AdvP and the type of head Noun that the AdvP is predicated upon that can occur in such construction? – Man_From_India – 2019-05-09T07:50:32.293

As far as I know, it is restricted to manner AdvPs. Have you looked in CGEL? – BillJ – 2019-05-09T08:17:47.890

@BillJ yup not much written thereafter. I checked Oxford Modern English Grammar by Bas Aarts. He says only time adjunct takes place. Quirk et al. and Biber et al. doesn't mention anything similar, or that I could find out. – Man_From_India – 2019-05-09T09:35:51.647

@BillJ I searched COCA, no result except a handful of temporal adjunct used this way. Very very small number of results. On Google search "is slowly" gave only one result that is related to our discussion. – Man_From_India – 2019-05-09T09:37:58.447

Sorry that is not adjunct. AdvP. And they are complement there. – Man_From_India – 2019-05-09T09:40:00.317

@Man_From_India Your example is perfectly grammatical. "Slowly" is clearly a complement of "be". I don't know what else can be said about it. – BillJ – 2019-05-09T12:26:39.433

@BillJ yes there is no doubt but that it is a complement. What I am more concerned is whether there is any restriction on AdvP used this way and the head of the NP that the AdvP is predicated upon. – Man_From_India – 2019-05-09T12:35:17.473

1@Man_From_India Other adverbs include "slowly", "rapidly", "ferociously " etc. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any other nouns. – BillJ – 2019-05-09T16:08:55.483

@BillJ "The best way to show aggression is ferociously" - is it also correct? – Man_From_India – 2019-05-09T16:19:13.437

Hello BillJ I have got some problem here about its being specifying. Like I used the test Slowly is the way to enjoy the wine. This is not good but okey I guess. But I don't think this is correct Is slowly the way to enjoy the wine?. – Man_From_India – 2019-05-27T00:26:26.973


"is" is a copula that links "the best way" and "slowly". And yet "slowly" is an adverb, which calls for it to modify the verb "enjoy" rather than the noun "way". So this can be analyzed as being elliptical for "The best way to enjoy a fine wine is to enjoy it slowly".

Another analysis is that while the word "way" is a noun, what it refers to is an adverb. If that's confusing, it might help to consider the word "action". In the sentence "Alice hit Bob", "hit" is the action. So the word "action" is a noun, but it refers to a verb. Just as the noun "action" refers to verbs, the noun "way" refers to adverbs. If you look up the word "adverb", you'll probably get something like "the way or manner of performing an action". For instance, "In what way did he run? He ran slowly." An adverb describes the way a verb is performed. In the example you gave, "slowly" is a way of enjoying a fine wine. The sentence is saying that this way is the best.

"slowly" is definitely not modifying "is". "is" is simply a linking verb that, depending on how you analyze it, connects either "slowly" or "[to enjoy it] slowly" to "way".


Posted 2019-05-08T16:36:38.440

Reputation: 2 884

"Slowly" cannot be modifying "enjoy" when it's a complement of "be". – BillJ – 2019-05-08T17:44:43.480

@BillJ My understanding is that nothing is the complement of "be". "subject complement or predicative of the subject is a predicative expression that follows a linking verb (copula) and that complements the subject" . So in the sentence "A is B", B is the complement of A, not "is". As to your main point, I agree that if "slowly" is the complement, then analyzing it as modifying "enjoy" is problematic. Either "slowly" is modifying "way", or it is modifying "to enjoy it" and the entire phrase "to enjoy is slowly" is the complement of "way".

– Acccumulation – 2019-05-08T17:55:34.140

You've got the analysis all wrong. See my answer for a brief explanation. The AdvP can only be a complement of "be" since it's required to complete the VP. And since it has "way" as predicand, it is a PC. – BillJ – 2019-05-08T17:57:06.360