Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 22
  1. #1
    luckycharmer is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Great Britain
      • Current Location:
      • Great Britain
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    12
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    I am trying to understand objects and am having multiple problems in doing so. I think that in order to understand anything, a good definition is vital, but I can't find a decent definition (ie one that you can't disprove with commonly occurring examples).

    Most grammar books go with the "noun or noun equivalent that receives the action of the verb" definition but this has obvious problems, not least that terms like "her mother" in sentences such as

    She resembles her mother

    would not be classed as objects using this definition, even if we use it loosely, so we need a different one.

    I have the Oxford dictionary of English grammar and it says that while objects are usually said to be "affected" by the verb (noting that "affected" must be interpreted loosely)the term (object) is essentially a syntactic rather than semantic one. It does not bother to give any syntactic definition though, having said this, rendering it not particularly useful. Sigh.

    From looking at lists of verbs with their objects (direct, indirect and both), it would definitely appear that the common denominator is syntactic rather than semantic but I still can't work out what it is. Any syntactic definition I come up with doesn't exclude terms like "to France" in phrases like


    She went to France

    And I still don't really understand why the verb to go is usually classed as intransitive. If you look at the three sentences

    (1) She went to France

    (2) She went to her mother

    (3) She spoke to her mother

    how can you say that "her mother" is not just as much of an object in (2) as in (3)? And if so, how is it any different from "France" in (1).

  2. #2
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    9,392
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    You realize that any analysis of language is imperfect. We define parts of speech and other "rules" to aid in understanding use, but they will never be without exception.

    Human languages are not designed according to a set of rules and they do not always obey them.

  3. #3
    luckycharmer is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Great Britain
      • Current Location:
      • Great Britain
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    12
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    Yes, of course I realise this. But if most dictionaries are confident enough to class "resemble" as a transitive verb, they must have a basis for doing so; some understanding of the term that goes beyond "a noun/noun equivalent which is affected by the verb". I'm trying to further my understanding of how these classifications are made.

  4. #4
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    9,392
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    "She resembles her mother"

    Why do you think "mother" can not be an object of this verb? Granted it's not as black and white as "she threw the ball," but it is a plausible interpretation.



  5. #5
    luckycharmer is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Great Britain
      • Current Location:
      • Great Britain
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    12
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    I do think "her mother" is an object of the verb resemble, but it isn't based on the definitions given by most textbooks. Thus I need to find a definition that accommodates examples like this one. And I wouldn't say that it's grey, rather than black and white; I think it is unambiguously NOT an object IF we define object as being the entity that receives the action of the verb. A grey example would be something like "she sees the star" in which the "action" does not really affect the star but can nonetheless be seen to be directed towards it, whether intentionally or unintentionally. "Her mother" serves more as a point of comparison in the given example.

  6. #6
    luckycharmer is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Great Britain
      • Current Location:
      • Great Britain
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    12
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    By some definitions resemble is semi-copular, which might solve some of my problems (why don't dictionaries recognise copular verbs? - they don't even class be as being a copula. The problem still remains with go ​though.

  7. #7
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    9,392
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    If it helps you to think of "resemble" as a linking verb of sorts and "her mother" then as a predicate adjective, then do so.

  8. #8
    TheParser is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    4,890
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello,



    Have you had a chance to check A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language by Randolph Quirk and three

    colleagues? I have the 1985 edition (with 1,179 pages). It (the newer edition, of course) is used by many teachers

    throughout the world. You should be able to find a copy in any good library.

    *****

    Well, that book on page 735 (and other pages. Check the index) discusses "resemble." Of course, copyright laws

    prevent me from copying all the words, but I think that I am permitted to give you a brief idea.

    a. Dr. Quirk introduces the term middle verbs. (I had never heard of that term until today. I thank you.)

    b. He says that middle verbs are a small group of "apparently" transitive verbs that normally occur only in the active

    (no passive).

    c. He lists: have, possess, lack, suit, become, fit, equal, and -- resemble.

    i. "Jack doesn't possess a life insurance policy." Native speakers will not accept "A life insurance policy isn't possessed by Jack."

    d. Regarding "resemble":

    i. His eldest child resembles Geoffrey.
    ii. He says that since "resemble" is a so-called middle verb (NOT allowing the passive), you may call "Geoffrey" a so-called
    "verb complement" instead of "object."
    iii. He says that for some people "resemble" can take the passive: (?) Geoffrey is resembled by his eldest child. [The ? = Some native speakers accept that sentence; others do not.] Dr. Quirk says that "most" native speakers consider "resemble" a middle verb (that is, NO passive).


    James

  9. #9
    luckycharmer is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Great Britain
      • Current Location:
      • Great Britain
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Posts
    12
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    Thanks TheParser! Yes, that is very helpful, although I don't have the Quirk book. I just googled it and it costs about £100!? Is this normal? The Huddleston and Pullman (spelling?) costs even more.

    I think these middle verbs are semi-copular from what I can deduce from various sources and that certainly makes more sense than calling them transitive. But then why do the dictionaries persist in defining them as such when they aren't really?

    Still trying to figure out the "go" thing.

  10. #10
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    Quote Originally Posted by luckycharmer View Post
    But then why do the dictionaries persist in defining them as such when they aren't really?
    Dictionaries are not grammars Their compilers simply try to do the best they can in a very limited space. For most practical purposes, 'resemble' functions as a transitive verb. Native speakers know from experience that it is not used in the passive. Those learners who attempt to use it in the passive soon learn that they can't.
    Quirk says that "most" native speakers consider "resemble" a middle verb (that is, NO passive).
    I doubt that (Quirk's opinion, not that he wrote it). Few native speakers have heard of the term 'middle verb' - it's an expression understood only by those who read serious books on grammar. Note that TheParser, who reads a lot about English, had not come across the term until today. I think Quirk means that most native speakers know that it is not used in the passive.
    Last edited by 5jj; 21-Nov-2012 at 11:20. Reason: typo
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 8
    Last Post: 23-May-2012, 10:10
  2. [General] Using the term "definition"
    By luciakino in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 10-Feb-2010, 09:04
  3. Relative clauses! How do I find the subject/object?
    By indonesia in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 08-Jan-2010, 18:56
  4. How to find a certain word for a definition
    By maral55 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: 27-May-2009, 16:22
  5. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 19-Mar-2007, 20:05

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Hotchalk