Are “in the air” and “at my home” adverbs modifying “was” or adjectives modifying “change” in the sentence below?
Change was in the air at my home.
Naively, it looks like “in the air” is an adverbial of place because it answers the question “where”. In “There’s smoke in the air”, “in the air” describes the location of the smoke.
But when we say that change/love/tension/… is “in the air”, the question “where” no longer applies. Merriam-Webster defines “in the air” as: being felt or expressed by many people. This is a participial phrase, which usually means it acts as an adjective.
To demonstrate it’s an adjective, let’s try and replace the expression with a common adjective of similar meaning:
“Change is present.”
This loses a lot of the nuances, but it’s a comparable sentence, so “in the air” is likely an adjective modifying “change”.