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  1. #11
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    Quote Originally Posted by luckycharmer View Post

    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).
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Luckycharmer:


    I do not have an answer. I do, however, have some homework for you.

    Please notice what happens when we try to change those sentences to the passive:

    1. France was gone to (by her). NOT acceptable.

    2. Her mother was gone to (by her). NOT acceptable.

    3. Her mother was spoken to (by her). ACCEPTABLE. (Especially when you mean that someone is reprimanded):

    Teacher: That crazy old Parser is always coming up with the stupidest ideas!

    Moderator: Don't worry. He has been spoken to. ( = I have admonished him and told him to stop posting until he has

    something accurate to post.)



    James

  2. #12
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    Quote Originally Posted by luckycharmer View Post

    Still trying to figure out the "go" thing.
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello,




    I may have found some answers for you. I need to break up the information into two posts.

    *****

    1. A prepositional phrase (preposition + object) sometimes acts like a single adverb.

    Tom went there.
    Tom went to France. / to his mother's home.

    Do you see how the preposition phrases are something like the adverb "there"? So they modify the verb. They answer the

    question: Where did Tom go?

    Therefore, "to France" and "to his mother's home" are not the objects of the verb "went."

    If you have any questions, please do ask. I or someone else will be delighted to try to answer you.


    James


    Reference: Guide to Modern English by Richard K. Corbin, Marguerite Blough, and Howard Vander Beek, copyright 1965, 1960 by Scott, Foresman and Company, page 301.

    P.S. Those sentences above are mine. The authors' examples were:

    Ed went home.
    Ed went to his house.

    "Home" in that sentence is considered an "adverb."

  3. #13
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

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



    Hello, again
    :

    1. Before I had read your post, I had already known how to analyze a sentence such as "I spoke to mother."

    I = subject.
    spoke = verb.
    to my mother. = prepositional phrase that modifies the verb "spoke." ("to" = the preposition; "my mother" = the object of the preposition.)

    I do not think that most American high school students could give that explanation, nor -- in my opinion -- could many college (university) students nowadays. After reading your question, I realized that I, too, did not really (completely) understand such sentences.

    2. Thanks to my favorite grammar book, I think that I understand it much better. I want to thank you for forcing me to find the answer, which I should like to now share with you.

    3. Consider these sentences of mine:

    a. I told the secret to Mona.

    i. "the secret" is the object of "told." Do you agree? And "to Mona" is a prepositional phrase that modifies the verb "told" and answers the question: To whom did you tell the secret.

    b. I told Mona the secret.

    i. This time "Mona" is called a so-called indirect object. It does the same job as "to Mona," but it just does not have a preposition and is placed in a different location.

    4. Now consider your sentence "I spoke to my mother."

    5. I think (repeat: think) that something is missing. What is missing? I think that the object of "spoke" is missing. When you speak, what do you use? I think the answer is "words." Do you agree?

    a. So maybe (maybe!) your sentence actually means: I spoke words to my mother.

    i. the object of "spoke" is "words." (Of course, you do not say "words." It is in your mind.)
    ii. "to my mother" modifies "spoke." It tells to whom you spoke.
    iii. Do you see why "to my mother" cannot be the so-called object of "spoke."
    iv. By the way, it seems that I cannot use an indirect object with the verb "speak." I cannot say, "I spoke my mother [ words].

    6. My favorite book gives this similar sentence: I spoke to him. The scholar explains that "to him" is the DATIVE. In modern

    English, the idea of the dative is expressed by the prepositional phrase or the indirect object (please see 3.b.i.).

    7. The object is missing in that sentence. (But maybe it is in the mind of the speaker.) So do you now see why "to my mother" cannot be the object of the verb "spoke"?

    If you have any questions, please do ask.


    James


    My main source was the fantastic two-volume A Grammar of the English Language (1931) by Professor Dr. George Oliver Curme, Vol. II, page 105. Some day if you ever want a book that gives the historical background of English grammar, do try to get a copy. His scholarship is incredible!

    I also got some ideas from Professor Otto Jespersen's Essentials of English Grammar. He was a Danish gentleman who learned English so well that he wrote outstanding grammar books on English. He knew English grammar better than many English people and Americans. Just as many students here at usingenglish. com know grammar better than do I.

  4. #14
    luckycharmer is offline Newbie
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    Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    Thank you for your replies James!

    Yes I would agree that "secret" is the object of "told" in "I told Mona a secret" and I do understand what you're saying about the verb "speak" having an implicit object ("words"). But isn't Mona the indirect object irrespective of whether the sentence is written:

    I told Mona a secret

    or

    I told a secret to Mona

    (My grammar dictionary says that some grammarians would see Mona as indirect object in both examples while others wouldn't - I'm inclined to see it as indirect object both times, probably because I speak several languages and it would be as such in the translations). Looking at it like this, isn't an indirect object just as much of an object as a direct object? And irrespective of whether you say

    I spoke to my mother

    or

    I spoke words to my mother

    "my mother" is still the indirect object, still an object. And if you change the sentence to "I looked to my mother (who gave me a sympathetic smile)" then "to my mother" is the only object in the sentence (and is still an indirect object).

    So then how is "in France" in "I went to France" not an indirect object? A lot of people seem to imply it is an adjunct, but it isn't by the definition I use (from Huddleston and Pullman). They say that for a word to be an adjunct, it must still be possible when the verb is changed to another, and as you can't say "I arrived to France" or "I died to France" it is therefore a complement (as they define it). They say that all objects are complements but seemingly all complements are not objects, and I don't fully understand the difference. They give criteria that words must meet to be objects, but they are not fail safe. (eg it can become the subject of a passive sentence - but not all objects can, seemingly.)

  5. #15
    luckycharmer is offline Newbie
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    Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    I'm responding to your posts in the wrong order - I apologise.

    I'm not sure I agree with that explanation. Primarily because a lot of grammarians seem to define adverbs as being optional, whereas "to France" isn't in the example above; it doesn't behave like other adverbials of place. Most adverbs provide extra information about the action/state etc denoted by the verb, and locative adverbials add information about where the action happened but are not key to the actual action itself. For example

    I studied in the park

    I saw Amy outside the cafeteria

    Adam wanted to eat near the auditorium.

    All of these are not necessary for the full meaning of the verb to be communicated. But with

    I went to France

    France is tied in to the meaning of the verb in a way that most adverbials of place are not. You could "pick up" the action of the verb in the first three sentences and have it taking place anywhere, but with "I went to France", you cannot. The actual action does not take place there, the place is part of the action itself; it provides the end point of the actual action. And "France" could be seen to receive the action, it gets a new person within its borders. What are your thoughts?

  6. #16
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    Quote Originally Posted by luckycharmer View Post

    My grammar dictionary says that some grammarians would see Mona as indirect object in both examples while others wouldn't - I'm inclined to see it as indirect object both times.



    So then how is "in France" in "I went to France" not an indirect object? A lot of people seem to imply it is an adjunct, but it isn't by the definition I use (from Huddleston and Pullman).
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****Hello, Luckycharmer:

    (1) Great point about indirect object vs. prepositional phrase. I think that high school grammar books have to be

    arbitrary in order not to confuse students too much. Maybe that's why some grammarians use the term "dative."

    (2) Regarding adjuncts, that is completely over my head. I am still trying to understand the traditional 8 parts of speech.

    None of that elegant stuff such as "determiners," "adjuncts," etc. for me!

    *****


    Are you aware of the fact that this grammar helpline has many forums? It seems that general questions about grammar

    are handled here. But if you check the various forums that are available, you may find one in which finer points of grammar

    are debated. May I suggest that you start a new thread here (or in one of those other forums) and state one succinct

    question. There are many teachers and non-teachers here who really know their grammar. (And I promise not to butt in!)


    James

  7. #17
    5jj's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    I am re-posting SD's post #2, luckycharmer, because unless you understand what SD is saying, you are in for a lot of frustration:
    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.
    There are no such things as objects or complements. 'Object' and 'complement' are simply labels that people have found useful to apply to words used for certain functions in a sentence. In the good (bad?) old days, most writers on grammar agreed broadly on what these labels meant. As comparatively recently as the 1950 and early 60s, when I was studying English at school, there were few problems in Britain, though the foundations of the largely Latin-based theoretical grammar had already been examined by quite a few people who found them not as solid as everybody believed.

    Since then, there have been several very different approaches to study of the grammar of English, and several schools have grown up, sometimes splitting into separate schools. Within each school, new terms have been invented, and old terms re-defined. Every time I read a new (to me) book or article, I have to spend a lot of time trying to find out, and then trying to remember, what the writer means by certain words I thought I understood (to say nothing of my problems with invented words).

    We could probably fill a whole book with a compilation of how various writers have labelled the words/phrases I have coloured in the sentences below. Note: Don't try to makes sense of the colours; I have simply used different colours to indicate what I think are different functions within each sentence:

    She said, "My name is Emma".
    She said that her name was Emma.
    She said me that her name was Emma.
    She said to me that her name was Emma.
    She said me her name.
    ?She said her name to me.
    She said hello to me.
    She said the words quietly.
    She said.

    "My name is Emma" she told me.
    She told me her name.
    ?She told me hello.
    ?She told her name.
    She told me that her name was Emma.
    ?She told to me that her name was Emma.
    She told the words quietly.
    She told.

    She spoke English.
    She spoke me English.
    She spoke English to me.
    She spoke hello.
    She spoke to me in English.
    She spoke the words quietly.
    She spoke.


    So, unfortunately, I think you are as likely to find a satisfactory defintion of 'object' as you are to find a hobbit riding a unicorn round Red Square in Moscow when the sun is setting in the east..

  8. #18
    luckycharmer is offline Newbie
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    Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    I think I had figured out that this was the case to some extent a while back (although after having got a degree in languages - none of our teachers/professors ever thought to explain this to us in the 4 years we all spent studying, which still makes me quite angry today).

    That said, most textbook authors and grammarians appear very confident in assigning words to certain categories and stating without any reservations that an object is this or that, or whatever they think it is. It's when EVERY book and author presents their opinion as fact or their opinion as entirely unproblematic that you start to wonder if you are just a bit stupid and might be missing something. And a lot of posters on here, while very knowledgeable, can be pretty adamant that an object is x or y and that everyone else is wrong. It does make you doubt yourself a lot.

    But thanks for all the replies! If I dig up any further evidence I shall post it here!

  9. #19
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    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Few native speakers have heard of the term 'middle verb' - it's an expression understood only by those who read serious books on grammar.
    I am completely serious when I say that on Sunday, while out to breakfast with my teenage daughters, we were talking about middle verbs and we used the word "ergative."

    Only one of them likes football, so what else was there to talk about besdies obscure grammar terms?
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  10. #20
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    Re: Trying to find a definition for the term object that works

    Quote Originally Posted by luckycharmer View Post
    I think I had figured out that this was the case to some extent a while back (although after having got a degree in languages - none of our teachers/professors ever thought to explain this to us in the 4 years we all spent studying, which still makes me quite angry today).

    That said, most textbook authors and grammarians appear very confident in assigning words to certain categories and stating without any reservations that an object is this or that, or whatever they think it is. It's when EVERY book and author presents their opinion as fact or their opinion as entirely unproblematic that you start to wonder if you are just a bit stupid and might be missing something. And a lot of posters on here, while very knowledgeable, can be pretty adamant that an object is x or y and that everyone else is wrong. It does make you doubt yourself a lot.

    But thanks for all the replies! If I dig up any further evidence I shall post it here!
    Most people who write a textbook or similar about any subject appear/sound very confident about everything they say. They want, after all, to sell their book. Would you buy a book which contains chapter after chapter of "Well, this is what I think might be the case but lots of other people disagree so you don't have to believe what I'm telling you ..." etc. "Experts" consider themselves just that. They believe their opinion and knowledge to be correct.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

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