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  1. #11
    Ikia is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Grammar problem with "to"

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Welcome, Ikia.

    Adding a comma is a good repair strategy here,

    Ex: The CD has been listened to, to make sure that it works.

    But the sentence still stands awkward. The reason being, the subject here to make sure... lacks a referent. Who made sure? Its referent is missing. It's normally found in the main clause, but our main clause is in passive voice and the subject of that clause is unstated. The result, the subject of the second clause lacks a referent. Consider,

    Ex: In order to/that we make sure the CD works, we have to listen to it.

    Ex: We have to listen to the CD in order to/that we make sure it
    works.

    All the best
    It wouldn't have occurred to me to change the voice. If the subject IS known and there is no reason to minimize it, then active voice is a better choice, just about always.

    Ikia

  2. #12
    cabledetached is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Grammar problem with "to"

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post

    Ex: In order to/that we make sure the CD works, we have to listen to it.

    Ex: We have to listen to the CD in order to/that we make sure it
    works.
    Hello,

    I don't have a background in linguistics, but to me the above seems odd for some reason. Why is a subject "we" necessary? "to make sure it works" is an adverbial phrase headed by the to-infinitive (to+make sure) and modifying the main phrasal verb (listened to). Adverbial phrases function like adverbs, often specifying manner, extent, reason, etc. A simple test in this case is to ask the question "why" after the main clause and see if the following phrase answers it. If it does, it's probably an adverbial phrase. Consider:

    I exercise (why?) to lose weight.
    The eggs were broken (why?) to make an omelet.
    The CD must be listened to (why?) to make sure it works.

    Grammatically, your sentence is fine. Stylistically though, it's a bit clumsy to double the "to", which is why you're having the "this sounds weird" gut reaction. Commas and pauses are a good idea, as has been suggested. Sometimes, the doubling is necessary and commas/pauses are the only way to help, as in the following focus-providing pseudocleft:

    What it is, is a bad case of the flu.

    In your case though, you can avoid the whole mess and follow the moderator's advice.

    Good Luck!

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Grammar problem with "to"

    Welcome, cabledetached.

    Quote Originally Posted by cabledetached View Post
    Hello,

    I don't have a background in linguistics, ... "to make sure it works" is an adverbial phrase headed by the to-infinitive (to+make sure) and modifying the main phrasal verb (listened to).
    Adverbial in function, true; however, its function isn't the problem. It's its referent that's the problem; it's unclear, and that the very reason the sentence reads semantically awkward.

    Take a look at the parallel and unparallel active and passive structures here:

    1. parallel
    I exercise <active>
    to lose weight <active>

    Repair: no repair needed

    2. unparallel
    The eggs were broken <passive>
    to make an omelet <active>

    Repair: The eggs were broken so that an omelet could be made. <passive + passive>

    3. unparallel
    The CD must be listened to <passive>
    to make sure it works. <active>

    Repair: We had to listen to the CD to make sure it worked. <active + active>

    What are your thoughts?

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Grammar problem with "to"

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    If you are not a teacher, you must clearly state that in your post.

    _________________
    Correction
    Your sentence is correct don't change anything. Listened to is a one-word unit, a phrasal verb. The second to is a preposition.

    You're right.
    Hi Cas :
    Neither of the following dictionaries classifies "listen to" as a phrasal verb:

    -Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary
    -Longman Dictionary of Contemparary English
    -Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary
    -Collins Advanced Learners Dictionary

    So, would you mind letting me know if it really is phrasal verb, and what exactly a phrasal verb means?

    incidently, have I used the word "neither" correctly here because there are more than two options?

    Cheers
    Udara

  5. #15
    engee30's Avatar
    engee30 is offline Key Member
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    Talking Re: Grammar problem with "to"

    Quote Originally Posted by udara sankalpa View Post

    incidently, have I used the word "neither" correctly here because there are more than two options?

    Cheers
    Udara
    No. It should be:

    None of the following dictionaries...

    Funny thing you mentioned it (the mistake) in your question!

    Quote Originally Posted by udara sankalpa View Post
    ...because there are more than two options?

  6. #16
    engee30's Avatar
    engee30 is offline Key Member
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    Wink Re: Grammar problem with "to"

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Correction
    Your sentence is correct don't change anything. Listened to is a one-word unit, a phrasal verb. The second to is a preposition.

    You're right.
    Well, I couldn't say that listen to is a 'real' phrasal verb. To me, a 'real' phrasal verb is a verb with particles (adverbs and/or prepositions) that is difficult to understand because the meaning of the whole phrase is different to the meaning of the verb that the phrasal verb is comprised of.
    Listen is an intransitive verb. And when we need to use it with an object, we use the prepositional phrase with 'to'.
    Whenever he speaks, everyone listens (to him/to his words/to what he's got to say).
    ___________________________
    NOTE:
    Bear in mind I'm not a teacher!

  7. #17
    Ikia is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Grammar problem with "to"

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Welcome, cabledetached.

    Adverbial in function, true; however, its function isn't the problem. It's its referent that's the problem; it's unclear, and that the very reason the sentence reads semantically awkward.

    Take a look at the parallel and unparallel active and passive structures here:

    1. parallel
    I exercise <active>
    to lose weight <active>

    Repair: no repair needed

    2. unparallel
    The eggs were broken <passive>
    to make an omelet <active>

    Repair: The eggs were broken so that an omelet could be made. <passive + passive>

    3. unparallel
    The CD must be listened to <passive>
    to make sure it works. <active>

    Repair: We had to listen to the CD to make sure it worked. <active + active>

    What are your thoughts?
    Interesting, huh? You seem to be taking an infinitive phrase and making it active or passive.

    The eggs were broken to make an omelet.

    Mom broke the eggs to make an omelet.

    I agree that you should avoid unnecessary shifts of voice in the same sentence, but in the above two sentences "to make an omelet" is an infinitive phrase, no? I don't think parallel, or a shift in voice, actually applies here.


    Ikia

  8. #18
    cabledetached is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Grammar problem with "to"

    Hi Casiopea,


    Thanks for the reply. This is a very interesting thread. I now see the advantage to having parallel constructions in some situations. At the same time, I'm still struggling with a few of your points. I'm relatively new to this whole English teaching deal, so please bear with me.

    1. By your example:

    The eggs must be broken
    <passive>
    to make an omelet <active>

    What makes the adverbial phrase active? I see no agent. Is it simply that the verb precedes the object?

    I can see how it can be changed to passive,

    so that an omelet [is/can be] made

    because passive voice doesn't require an agent in some circumstances. I always thought active voice needed an agent. Can you please clarify?

    2. Speaking of the agentless passive, are there any instances in which the use of non-parallel constructions is preferred or even required?

    For example:

    Native Americans were systematically displaced <passive>
    to make room for white settlers. <active>

    This sentence seems perfectly fine to me, even though the constructions are not parallel. It gives me no pause. If I change the the main clause to active,

    The US government systematically displaced Native Americans...

    I shift focus away from the patient (Native Americans) and introduce an agent that may be redundant (obvious from context or assumed to be known, for example). Assuming that I like to keep the main clause passive, what are my options if I want to maintain parallel structure? Check out:

    so that room could be made for white settlers - passive, but clumsy
    so that room for white settlers could be made - same
    so that white settlers could have room made for them - ?ugh. I don't even think this one is parallel
    so that white settlers could be accommodated - Aha! This one is passive and elegant. It looks like a winner.

    But is it really that much better than the original? It rewords the phrase in a way that shifts focus toward "white settlers" and away from the action "to make room", which I'm not sure I want to do.

    What do you think? Am I just splitting hairs?

    The thing is, lately my students have been stumping me with questions I'm not able to answer, so I appreciate anyone's input.

    Cheers

  9. #19
    Ikia is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Grammar problem with "to"

    You seem to have taken an infinitive phrase (are we still calling infinitives, gerunds, and participles, VERBALS?) and turned it into a dependent clause in passive voice.

    You haven't converted the phrase to passive voice; I've never heard of active and passive phrases, only active and passive voice used in sentences or clauses. How can a phrase be active or passive? HELP!!

    I THINK you've taken THE IDEA of the phrase and written it into a dependent clause, but I don't know why. Parallel, I think, means avoid shifting voices in compound or complex sentences.

    Ikia

  10. #20
    cabledetached is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Grammar problem with "to"

    Yes, Ikia, I agree. See point 1 in my previous post. When it boils down to it, I don't understand/agree with the parallel/non-parallel analysis (though I tried to follow its logic in poin 2) because, as you mentioned, we have a main clause and an infinitive phrase functioning as an adverbial. It seems like apples and oranges. To go back to the original sentence,

    The CD must be listened to to make sure it works.

    I think this sentence is perfectly fine, it just needs a comma.

    Cheers

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