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Thread: any difference?

  1. #1
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default any difference?

    What kind of semantic difference do you see between these sentences below:

    (a) There is a crying baby.
    (b) There is a baby crying.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: any difference?

    (a) There is a big, crying baby. (Object: adj. + adj. + noun)
    ==> A big, crying animate object is there

    (b) There is a big baby crying. (Object: adj.+ noun+clause)
    ==> A big animate object is there (and it's) crying.

    All the best,

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    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: any difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    (a) There is a big, crying baby. (Object: adj. + adj. + noun)
    ==> A big, crying animate object is there

    (b) There is a big baby crying. (Object: adj.+ noun+clause)
    ==> A big animate object is there (and it's) crying.

    All the best,
    Thank you for the structual analysis, Casiopea.

    So, what kind of difference do you feel in their meanings when you hear those sentences?

  4. #4
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is online now VIP Member
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    Default Re: any difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka
    What kind of semantic difference do you see between these sentences below:

    (a) There is a crying baby.
    (b) There is a baby crying.
    I really don't get much of a semantic difference. :wink:

  5. #5
    Tombraiders Guest

    Default Re: any difference?

    (a) There is a crying baby.
    The subject in question is the baby. In normal situation, you would be able to find the baby by tracing the crying sound.

    (b) There is a baby crying.
    You only hear the sound of crying. Maybe it's only a tape recording.

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default

    a) could theoretically mean that all the baby does is cry.

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    Default Re: any difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka
    So, what kind of difference do you feel in their meanings when you hear those sentences?
    (a) There is a crying baby.
    (b) There is a baby crying.

    Sentence (a), as is, doesn't make sense to me. It'd make more sense if a location were added, like this,

    (a) There is a crying baby on the bus.

    As for the semantic difference between (a) and (b), one exists. Structurally (a) and (b) are different. That difference tells us they are also semantically different. Now that doesn't mean to say they are drastically different in the meaning they express. Let's look at the data:

    (a) There is a crying baby on the bus.
    ==> 'crying' functions as a participle, specifically, a nominal participle (i.e. an adjective), and as an adjective it describes the noun 'baby. It tells us what kind of baby it is.

    (b) There is a baby crying.
    ==> 'crying' functions as a participle, specifically, as part of an omitted phrase (i.e. who is),

    (c) There is a baby who is crying.
    (d) There is a baby and it is crying.

    Both (c) and (d) mean, "There is a baby crying."

    The difference between (a) and (b) is this. 'crying' functions as a nominal in (a)--that is, it describes a noun, a thing--and functions as a verbal in (b)--that is, it describes an action. There's a difference between a nominal participle and a verbal participle.

    Compare,

    (e) There is a big box on the bus. (Adjective) :D
    (f) There is a box that is big on the bus. (Adjective) :D
    (g) There is a box big on the bus. (Verbal Participle) :(

    Sentence (g) is ungrammatical because the adjective 'big' cannot function as a verbal participle. It needs a subject (i.e. that) and a verb (i.e. is); 'that is' cannot be omitted.

    But with verbal participles, the subject and the verb are often or rather regularly omitted,

    There is a baby who is crying on the bus. :D
    There is a baby crying on the bus. :D

    Gerunds are examples of verbal participles that function as nouns:

    She likes swimming. (Noun)

    Adjectives that a) modify a noun and b) follow the noun are examples of verbal participles that function as adjectives,

    There is a baby crying. (Adjective)

    In sum,

    (a) There is a crying baby on the bus.
    ==> 'crying' describes the (kind of) baby. (Nominal)

    (b) There is a baby crying.
    ==> 'crying' tells us what the baby is doing. (Verbal)

    ===
    All you guys (who are) partying way past their prime are old.

    The relative clause '(who are) partying way past your prime' functions as an adjective modifying 'guys'. Within the relative clause we have a participle 'partying', which is semantically connected to the verb BE (i.e. are). As part of the verb BE, an -ing word functions as a verbal participle, and as such it refers to an action. :D

    All the best,

  8. #8
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: any difference?

    Thank you for the wonderful explanation, Casiopea!

    Arigato!':D'

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    Default Re: any difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taka
    Thank you for the wonderful explanation, Casiopea!

    Arigato!':D'
    You are welcome. :D

    Did you really get it? (i.e. Wakatta?)

    All the best,

  10. #10
    Taka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: any difference?

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Quote Originally Posted by Taka
    Thank you for the wonderful explanation, Casiopea!

    Arigato!':D'
    You are welcome. :D

    Did you really get it? (i.e. Wakatta?)

    All the best,
    Yes I undestand it perfectly (for example, "There is a walking man" is weird but "There is a man walking" is quite natural, right?)

    By the way, where are you living now? I'm afraid you cannot live on the Mt. Fuji.

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