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  1. #1
    paikiah Guest

    independant action of subject in bare infinitives?

    I was reading "The grammar book, an ESL/EFL teacher's course" By Marianne and Diane, and on page 652, there's the following:

    The capacity for independent action on the part of the subject was also noted by Kirsner and Thomson to account for pairs such as these:

    I saw the sungalsses lying/lie by the side of the road.

    Since "sunglasses" cannot act independently, the bare infinitive is not possible.


    Can someone tell me what this means? Can't seem to comprehend it all too well.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: independant action of subject in bare infinitives?

    I saw the man lying by the road. = He was on the ground as I drove past.
    I saw the man lie by the road. = He lay down as I drove past- I saw the action.

    I have never seen sunglasses capapable of independent movement, so the first is the natural option.

  3. #3
    paikiah Guest

    Re: independant action of subject in bare infinitives?

    so what you're saying is, if the object is able to move without human control, it cannot use a bare infinitive? Strange...

  4. #4
    Mister Micawber's Avatar
    Mister Micawber is offline Key Member
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    Re: independant action of subject in bare infinitives?

    'Is unable', I think you mean, Paikiah. But there may be more to it than that: 'I saw the mountains rise/rising before me as I rode westward'. 'I saw the glass tip/tipping toward me as I slumped to the floor beneath my stool.'

    Let me think.

  5. #5
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    Re: independant action of subject in bare infinitives?

    Quote Originally Posted by paikiah
    I saw the sungalsses lying/lie by the side of the road.

    Since "sunglasses" cannot act independently, the bare infinitive is not possible.

    Can someone tell me what this means? Can't seem to comprehend it all too well.
    Well, working from MM's example, or like form,

    I saw the man lie on the road.
    => I saw the man place himself on the road. ( volitional act)

    ?I saw the object lie on the road.
    => I saw the object place itself on the road. ( volitional act)

    Note, with catenative verbs, those that take a bare infinitive as their object, the structure is VERB+OBJECT/SUBJECT+DO. Notice "DO" expresses an act of volition. Sunglasses and other inaminate objects lack the ability/quality to "DO". Cf.

    I saw the dog lie on the road. (It placed itself on the road)
    I saw the book lie on the road. (It placed itself on the road)

    -ing works because it expresses a state of being:

    I saw the man lying on the road.
    I saw the book lying on the road.
    I saw the dog lying on the road.

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