Tidwell's Use of Adjective Clusters

The adjective clusters in the following sentences are bold faced.

1. So there I was on this particular flight, surrounded by cargo at the very rear of the fuselage, | alone except for a crew member next to me in a baggy jumpsuit. [One long and one very short adjective cluster].

2. The voices were scratchy, full of that rough electronic sound that somehow makes even routine cockpit communication seem dire and foreboding.

3. The chief was an American, reportedly born and raised among forest Indians, a blowgun hunter since age four,(noun cluster) a man gone totally native. (noun cluster) [Notice that the adverb before "born" does not change the cluster into an adverb cluster. The adverb is simply modifying the adjective which controls the cluster.]

4. It's a new sort of chug experience, recreational in form, | more expensive than acid | but easier on the cerebral cortex. [This sentence has three adjective clusters in parallel structure.]

5. That first day on the river, as we moved farther and farther into the forest, (subordinate clause) was a singularly exquisite experience, replete with the sense of our being gradually and lastingly dipped into the unknown. [Notice that the main clause of this sentence is interupted by the subordinate clause. The kernel of the main clause is "day was experience."]

6. It was a boat, actually, a floating hotel, (noun cluster) a Fitzcaraldo mirage of jungle comfort (noun cluster) put together piece by piece on the Napo River and then piloted all the way up the Aguarico to this spot by Transturi Touring. [The adjective clusters in this sentence are derived from passive voice sentences].

7. Dorys was a walking first-aid station, hired to protect us from long-legged creepy crawlies and the myriad other hazards of this place | so far from telephones and hospitals. [Two adjective clusters, the seconnd modifying the last word of the first (place).]

8. Applied to the skin, this slowed the spread of venom long enough to allow a chance to get to a Quito hospital.

9.A gigantic moth, delicate despite its size, alighted on Roberto's shoulder, its wings presenting a near-exact replica of an owl's face,(absolute) a trick on would-be predators.(noun cluster) [Notice the variety of free modifiers used in this sentence--an adjective cluster, an absolute, and a noun cluster. Also notice that the main clause is interupted. Its kernel structure is "moth alighted."]

Sentences taken from:

Tidwell, Mike. "Chapter One." Amazon Stranger . (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/books/chap1/amazonst. htm) July 22, 1996.

Return to Lesson Eight