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  1. #1
    struggling is offline Newbie
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    Default Verb complementation/prepositional verbs

    Hi all,

    I'm currently a bit stuck in the analysis of a few sentences as far as verb complementation is concerned. The main problem is that certain verbs in these sentences make it hard to analyse them properly.

    If anyone thinks this should rather be posted in the Ask a Teacher section, I would be grateful if you move the thread there.

    Here is a link to the text I've tried to analyse: (couldn't post it since I'm new to the forum)

    Here are the sentences I have difficulties with:

    1. Another Times report said his office was copied on the memo ordering the reassignment.

    -> the major problem here is that I don't know if this word "copy sb. on sth" is ditransitive, so as to have "his office" as direct object and "on the memo" as prepositional object or whether "on the memo" is an adverbial, therefore making the sentence a complex-transitive one. I always thought that if "the memo" was a prepositional object, the verb had to be a prepositional verb, too. However, this is not the case here I think, since "copy on" is not a prepositional verb given that an object could be inserted between "copy" and "on" (they copied his office on the memo).


    2. He made no specific mention of the scandal, but did say that faith helped believers not to be intimidated by the “chatter of dominant opinion”.

    -> the problem here is that I don't know if "make mention of" is to be seen as a unit or wether "make" stands alone. The latter would mean that "no specific mention" is a direct object and "of the scandal" is prepositional object, but that seems strange. "Make" therefore would be ditransitive. The other option I have thought of is to see "make mention of" as a unit, therefore regarding "the scandal" as its prepositional object. This is a very tricky one for me, really.

    3. It was a slip the Vatican could ill afford.

    -> I'm not sure at all about how to start analysing this sentence. I think some transformation would be necessary so as to be able to identify its constituents properly. Unfortunately, I don't know whether "the Vatican could ill afford" is an extraposed subject (represented by "it") or if the structure is just totally different.

    I would really appreciate getting your views about these three issues. Most "normal" verbs do not pose a serious problem for me in analysing verb complementation, but these words here are particularly hard for me. Thank you for your help!

  2. #2
    susiedqq is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Verb complementation/prepositional verbs

    Here is a link to the text I've tried to analyse: (couldn't post it since I'm new to the forum)

    Here are the sentences I have difficulties with:

    1. Another Times report said his office was copied on the memo ordering

    to receive a duplicate of information is to be "copied"


    was copied is the verb
    on - memo is prep. phrase


    2. He made no specific mention of the scandal, but did say that faith helped believers not to be intimidated by the “chatter of dominant opinion”.

    You can make mention, make small talk, etc.
    made mention is idiomatic expression, but would be: made / mention

    of - scandal is prep phrase


    3. It was a slip the Vatican could ill afford.

    It / was / slip
    (that) vatican / could afford
    ill is an adjective describing affort.

  3. #3
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Verb complementation/prepositional verbs

    I think "ill" is an adverb here. It could have been said "illy". It answers the question "how" about a verb.

  4. #4
    struggling is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Verb complementation/prepositional verbs

    Hi Susie, hi Frank,

    thank you very much for your answers. You've helped me ruling out the two alternative solutions I had mentioned for the first two sentences!

    @susie: I hope I got that right: you are saying that make mention is to be analysed as a unit and is not to be separated, right? Which means that "mention" is not a direct object but part of the verb (which in this case is an idiomatic expression, I have suspected that as well)?!

    As to the last sentence, I have still got a problem. I agree with Frank that "ill" must be an adverb. But I can't see yet how to analyse the sentence with regard to verb complementation:

    - Do I have to say that "it" is the subject with "was" being a copular verb and all the rest "a slip ... afford" the subject complement?

    - Or: Is the sentence to be turned out since there seems to be an extraposed subject which would result in the sentence being something like "The Vatican could ill afford the slip"? I am very unsure about the whole thing, but I would tend to favour the latter option.

    What do you think?

  5. #5
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Verb complementation/prepositional verbs


  6. #6
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Verb complementation/prepositional verbs

    Dear Struggling,

    I find it interesting that your native language is German. Have you ever seen anything like the Reed-Kellogg diagrams on this forum?

    Frank

  7. #7
    struggling is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Verb complementation/prepositional verbs

    Hi Frank,

    thank you for the diagram. To answer your question: I have seen these diagrams before when I was searching for topics similar to mine before opening a new thread. But to be honest, I haven't worked with this kind of analyses before. We are using different types of diagrams at uni, which look like kind of a horizontal tree. Anyways, I think I got a clue of what your diagrams wants to say :) (it's actually an interesting way of analysing sentences, are you using special software for that? If so, which one?)

    I wasn't really aware of the hidden relative clause, but now that you have shown it to me I've also "discovered" it. So you're saying that the sentence in fact has to be analysed the way it stands there: "it" = subject, was = copular verb, "a slip... afford" is subject complement which in turn can be analysed as a complex NP featuring a shortened relative clause "(that) the Vatican... afford"

    I'm just asking because I thought it was necessary to transform the whole thing as suggested my previous post, but I think you've persuaded me to leave it the way I found it in the text :)

    Thank you very much for your help! Oh, by the way: Why do you find it interesting that my native language is German? Has it got something to do with the way I'm trying to analyse the sentence or with the Reed-Kellog diagrams?

  8. #8
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
    Frank Antonson is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Verb complementation/prepositional verbs

    Well, about the interesting German...

    I think anybody who speaks English has by nature a deep-seated affinity for German. I certainly do. Are you aware of what The Battle of Hastings did to our language?

    The other thing about German in this context is that the relative pronouns carry with them various endings showing what they are relating back to and how they are functioning within the adjective clause. In English it is simply going to be "that" or "which" or just omitted.

    Look back at a thread "Diagramming German" "In dein alten Zeit wo das Wuenchen noch geholfen hat, lebte ein Koenig...

  9. #9
    Frank Antonson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Verb complementation/prepositional verbs

    "...alten Zeiten..." Sorry about that.

  10. #10
    struggling is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Verb complementation/prepositional verbs

    Hi Frank, sorry for the long delay in answering your post, but I could hardly make it to the PC this week.

    About German being close to English: I am well aware of the fact how close the bonds between both languages are. I actually wrote a paper about it once. We are both of West Germanic origin linguistically, and only in 800 AD the languages have started to separate. And if it weren't for the French, who brought you their language, subsequently causing a two-third share of Romance (Latin and French) vocabulary in English, we would still speek kind of dialects of the same language, as the Dutch and the Germans do.

    And with regard to the pronouns: This is actually a major issue for me and other German natives trying to write "natural" English, since we are constantly searching for references that are more precise than "this" or "that". Have you ever studied German or did you have it at school? I guess it might be learned relatively easily by English native speakers.

    Speaking of natives: You certainly have a better sense of your language than I do. So I'd be interested in your opinion about that one: the extent of Britain's surveillance society comes a shock. -> What is "a shock"? An idiomatic expression that goes with come, or is it an adverbial of manner which complements "come"? Have a good weekend!

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