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  1. #1
    sariputra is offline Junior Member
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    adjective ? or past participle ?

    Dear teachers,

    Don't get too excited by the sight of your name in print. ----- (1)

    He was very excited to be asked to play for Wales. ------------ (2)

    Some horses become excited when they are in traffic. -------- (3)

    With reference to the above three sentences, the OALD (Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English) says that parts of speech of the words 'excited' are not past participles but adjectives.
    Accordingly the words of get , was and become are not auxiliary verbs but main verbs.

    But it is very difficult for me to distinguish between an adjective and a past participle of a verb especially in the sentence (2) in which the verb of Be was used.

    In this regard, I would appreciate it if you kindly make me know what are the criteria for an adjective and for a past participle of a verb.

    Best regards,
    Sariputra

  2. #2
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    Re: adjective ? or past participle ?

    "excited" is a past participle in form (note the -ed ending), but an adjective in function. We know it's functioning as an adjective because the verb is a linking verb. Only adjectives and noun--and some adverbs of place--follow a linking verb. To determine if the verb is linking or not, replace it with the symbol "=", meaning equals, like this,

    [1] (You) = too excited by the sight of your name in print.

    [2] He = very excited to be asked to play for Wales.

    [3] Some horses = excited when they are in traffic.

    The basic synax for all of the above looks like this,

    Subject: You; He; Some horses
    Linking Verb: get; was; become
    Subject Complement: too excited; very excited; excited

    Note, if the subject complement is an adjective it's called a predicate adjective, and if it's a noun, it's called a predicate nominal.

    "excited" is a predicate adjective. That's why your dictionary calls it an adjective. Predicate adjective describe the subject. One way to tell that is to replace the verb with "=":

    Max is happy => Max = happy. (Predicate adjective)
    Sam was a doctor => Sam = a doctor. (Predicate nominal)

    All the best,

  3. #3
    Mister Micawber's Avatar
    Mister Micawber is offline Key Member
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    Re: adjective ? or past participle ?

    .
    I agree that it is sometimes difficult, Saripurta, and can be controversial (even though 'be', 'get', and 'become' are common linking verbs).

    Of your three sentences, I would say that #1 is the most problematical, as it states an explicit agent of what could be considered a passive sentence, the active form being something like:

    'Don't let the sight of your name in print excite you too much.'

    The criterion is simple but not always clear-cut: does the '-ed' verb form represent a condition or an action? The overt presence of the agent in the sentence (or nearby) goes a long way to convincing me that it is the action which is being considered by the speaker, and it is therefore a participle.

    .

  4. #4
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    Re: adjective ? or past participle ?

    I see what you mean, MM. However, I think that excited works as an adjective in all of those sentences. Note that in the first two sentences, excited is written right next to "too" and "very" and the third sentence would admit that, as well. I don't think such a thing can be used with participles...

  5. #5
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    Re: adjective ? or past participle ?

    Right. "get" functions as a linking verb in that context. Other examples,

    [1] Max gets excited easily, so don't you get Max excited. (Max = excited)

    [2] Don't cause Max to be/get excited. (BE + excited)

    [3] You don't seem excited at all. (SEEM + adjective)

  6. #6
    sariputra is offline Junior Member
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    Re: adjective ? or past participle ?

    I thank Mr. Casiopea, Mr. Micauber & Mr. Hcaulfield for their kind reply. I can say that Mr. Micauber and Mr. Hcaulfield pin-pointed the core of my question. I does not lessen, however, my thanks to Mr. Casiopea.

    My problem is the fact that the three sentences I quoted in my question are considered as passive voices by me, though the agents are not explicit in the sentences (2) & (3).

    The explations from Mr. Micauber & Mr. Hcaulfield was helpful to me. And I will continue my effort until the problem can be clearly solved.

    Thanking all of you again.

    Sincerely yours,
    Sariputra

  7. #7
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    Re: adjective ? or past participle ?

    You're welcome.

    Maybe this will help, too:

    [1] Don't get too excited by the sight of your name in print.
    => It's an imperative construction. The subject (you) is omitted:

    Don't (YOU) get too excited / (YOU) = too excited.

    [2] He was very excited to be asked to play for Wales.
    => The subject of 'to be asked' has been omitted:

    He has very excited to be asked (BY _____) to play for Wales.

    [3] Some horses become excited when they are in traffic.
    => The subject is 'horses' / horses = excited.

    Note, 'was' and 'become' in those contexts function as linking verbs. To test that replace 'was' and 'become' with SEEM/SEEMS (it only takes an adjective):

    Don't SEEM too excited (adjective)
    He SEEMS excited (adjective)
    Some horses SEEM excited (adjective)

    Consider,

    [a] The flowers grew buds. ('grew' is the main verb; it refers to an action)
    TEST: The flowers SEEM buds. (ungrammatical)

    'grow' can't be replaced by SEEM, so 'grow' isn't a linking verb in that context. Now,

    [b] Max and Pat grew excited. ('grew' is a linking verb; it refers to a state)
    TEST: Max and Pat SEEM excited. (adjective)

    'grew' is a linking verb in [b], so that makes 'excited' an adjective.

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