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Thread: dangling prep

  1. #1
    svartnik is offline Banned
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    dangling prep

    I was hard to put up with.
    This seems to me an interesting sentence in terms of its syntax.
    Firstly, the sentence is active in form and passive in meaning.
    'I was hard to be put up with' we do not say. However, logic dictates that we should.
    Secondly, to my personal knowledge, all preps have an object.
    Somehow I feel in this sentence we have one, dangling idly.
    Should there not be an object of with in the predicate?
    It was hard to put up with me.
    Is this sentence a case of when incorrect becomes correct, or my grammar needs more polishing?
    Thanks

  2. #2
    svartnik is offline Banned
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    Re: dangling prep

    Does anone have anything to add.
    Thanks

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    Re: dangling prep

    Take a simpler, but similar sentence:

    The text was easy to understand.

    "Easy to understand" is in fact an adjectival phrase. It acts just like a normal adjective, but it is composed of several words instead of just one. It contains a head word ("easy"), and then an infinitive construction which acts as a kind of a modifier to the head word.

    The same with your sentence: it has the same kind of structure. The phrase "hard to put up with" is an adjectival phrase. You can replace with a single adjective:

    I was tired
    I was hungry
    I was angry
    ...etc.

    The implied object is "me", but it's simply not mentioned. If you want to be very pedantic, you could rewrite the sentence as follows:

    I was hard with which to put up.

    That introduces a relative pronoun which refers to "I" and acts as an object for "with". However, this construction sounds very unnatural indeed.

    The original sentence ends with a preposition, which many students are told is "incorrect" grammar. This is a common misconception; in fact, prepositions have been ending English sentences since at least the Renaissance. Still, sentences ending in prepositions are viewed by some as "bad", and if you want to avoid the controversy, your proposed rewrite is an excellent way around the problem: it sounds natural and it won't annoy pedants.

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    svartnik is offline Banned
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    Re: dangling prep

    hi

    thanks for the answer.

    "The implied object is "me", but it's simply not mentioned. If you want to be very pedantic, you could rewrite the sentence as follows:

    I was hard with (which) to put up."

    It should be:

    I was hard with whom to put up.

    What is the object of the prep in my original sentence?

    thx

  5. #5
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    Re: dangling prep

    Quote Originally Posted by svartnik View Post
    hi

    thanks for the answer.

    "The implied object is "me", but it's simply not mentioned. If you want to be very pedantic, you could rewrite the sentence as follows:

    I was hard with (which) to put up."

    It should be:

    I was hard with whom to put up.

    What is the object of the prep in my original sentence?

    thx
    I agree with Rewboss, but let me add a couple of things.

    "To put up with" is a phrasal verb in the infinitive form. It is inseparable and it has an idiomatic meaning (to tolerate). I agree with you that it is normally a transitive phrasal verb (meaning that the terminal preposition requires an object) and "tolerate" is normally transitive as well.

    So how do we analyze the construction?

    I = pronoun, subject
    am = linking verb

    Because of that construction, what follows can only be a noun that stands in for "I" (predicate nominative) or an adjective (predicate adjective) describing "I".

    There isn't any way I can turn the ending into a noun. It is descriptive in nature.

    So, what is "hard to put up with"?

    IMO, "hard" is an adjective, and "to put up with" is an infinitive modifying the adjective, which makes it adverbial.

    But, what happened to the object of the transitive verb? Let's look at similar constructions:

    The agreement is difficult to accept.
    I was hard to tolerate.
    Denmark is easy to miss.
    She is impossible to satisfy.
    John is too sick to incarcerate.
    Fred is too ugly to date. (meaning dating Fred)


    In all cases, the infinitive is a normally transitive verb that is used intransitively to modify a predicate adjective. There are too many examples to call them idioms. It suggests that this is a feature of adverbial infinitives whose logical object is the subject of a sentence.

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    svartnik is offline Banned
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    Re: dangling prep

    Hello,

    "In all cases, the infinitive is a normally transitive verb that is used intransitively to modify a predicate adjective. There are too many examples to call them idioms. It suggests that this is a feature of adverbial infinitives whose logical object is the subject of a sentence"

    Yes, there is no other reasonable explanation for it.

    Thanks.

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    Re: dangling prep

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    "To put up with" is a phrasal verb in the infinitive form. It is inseparable and it has an idiomatic meaning (to tolerate).
    As a matter of fact, the phrasal verb is "to put up", and is followed by the preposition "with" which takes an object (as opposed to the verb itself taking an object).

    Churchill (according to one story) is supposed to have remarked that the tortuous sentences sometimes produced to avoid putting a preposition at the end of a sentence were examples of "the kind of English up with which I will not put". Clearly, few (if any) native speakers would naturally produce that kind of construction, but Churchill overdid it somewhat: someone following the traditional rule would have said, "the kind of English with which I will not put up" (and would similarly find nothing objectionable about "Come in!"). That is still a little unnatural for most speakers, but doesn't sound quite as ridiculous.

  8. #8
    svartnik is offline Banned
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    Re: dangling prep

    Hi

    "Deferred prepositions are one thing up with which I will not put!" :)

    to put up with = 3 part PV.

    up = adverbial particle
    with = dependent prep

    to put up is another PV

  9. #9
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    Re: dangling prep

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    As a matter of fact, the phrasal verb is "to put up", and is followed by the preposition "with" which takes an object (as opposed to the verb itself taking an object).

    Churchill (according to one story) is supposed to have remarked that the tortuous sentences sometimes produced to avoid putting a preposition at the end of a sentence were examples of "the kind of English up with which I will not put". Clearly, few (if any) native speakers would naturally produce that kind of construction, but Churchill overdid it somewhat: someone following the traditional rule would have said, "the kind of English with which I will not put up" (and would similarly find nothing objectionable about "Come in!"). That is still a little unnatural for most speakers, but doesn't sound quite as ridiculous.
    Well, I suppose there are differences of opinion about where a phrasal verb starts and finishes, but "to put up" can be a phrasal verb, but it doesn't have the same meaning as "to put up with". Because the entire three-word phrase can be replaced by a single verb, I look at the entire phrase as a an idiomatic unit.

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