Which is correct?

1 I would like my tea hot / hot tea. 

2 (a) Do you want your tea hot or cold? 

  (b) Do you want your hot tea or cold tea? 



Original Post

Hello, Bear_Bear,

(1) can be correct either way, but with a different meaning:

1a. I would like my tea hot: this means that the speaker would like to have the tea he/she usually drinks to be hot on this particular occasion.

1b. I would like my hot tea: this means that the speaker always has his/her tea hot, so he/she is simply asking for his/her hot tea to be served as usual.

The presence of "or" in (2) makes (a) the only possible choice. Somebody (possibly the waiter) is asking the speaker how he/she wants his/her tea. (2) can also be expressed as follows:

2a'. Do you want your tea to be hot or cold?

(2b) is somewhat unlikely in practice but would also be grammatically possible if another possessive were added:

2b'. Do you want your hot tea or your cold tea? (This means that the person sometimes has hot tea and, other times, cold tea. The waiter wants to know which he/she will be having in this case.)

When the adjective precedes the noun, it is a noun modifier. When it follows, it is an object complement.

3. He is painting the white wall. (The wall is white and he is painting it another color.)

4. He is painting the wall white. (The wall is not painted or is painted in any color. Once he finishes painting it, the wall will be white.)

Last edited by Gustavo, Contributor

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