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  1. #1
    velimir is offline Member
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    Default elements of the sentences in the passive voice

    Hello everybody,

    This time I would like to ask for your help in analysing the structure of some sentences in the passive voice if possible. Here are the sentences :

    1. This picture was painted by Picasso.

    When the element that follows the preposition "by" in the passive sentence is the agent in the sentence,what is it as a element of the sentence? Is it a prepositional object ?

    2. This chair is made by hand.

    What is " by hand" in structure of the sentence above? Is it an adjunct?

    3. He was absorbed in reading .

    What is " in reading" in the structure of this sentence?

    4. He walked with her in the park.

    What is " with her" in the structure of this sentence? Is it a prepositional object?


    Many thanks in advance

    Best regards

  2. #2
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    Default Re: elements of the sentences in the passive voice

    Hello velimir.

    1. This picture was painted by Picasso.
    => Object of the preposition by.

    2. This chair is made by hand.
    => Adverbial. Let's test it: How is it made?

    3. He was absorbed in reading.
    => Prepositional phrase, gerundival object: in [his] reading.

    4. He walked with her in the park.
    => Preposition phrase functioning as an adverb.

  3. #3
    velimir is offline Member
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    Default Re: elements of the sentences in the passive voice

    Thanks a lot for the answer Soup. I was searching the Web and two grammars in meanwhile and regarding the case when the "by + noun" is an agent in the sentence (the first sentence in my first post),I'm even more confused. The element "by + noun" from the first sentence is defined in the one of the grammars (G.Leech) like "by+agent" element in the sentence structure, in the second (R.Quirk) like adverbial,and the most of the Web sources define it as a "prepositional object" or an " oblique object".
    I would be very grateful if you would give your explanation of this different definitions.

    Thanks again

    Velimir

  4. #4
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    Default Re: elements of the sentences in the passive voice

    Velimir, both are correct. Here's why and how:

    Example sentence
    [1] Active: Picasso painted the picture
    [2] Passive: The picture was painted by Picasso.

    The noun Picasso functions as a subject in [1] and as the object of the presposition by in [2]. Aside from its distrubution--where it sits in the sentence--the noun Picasso also carries meaning. In [1] and [2] it has the same semantic function, the agent of the verb painted.

    Note that, the subject of an active sentence functions as as the sematic subject of a passive sentence (e.g., Picasso = semantic subject/agent). Which is why Leer says one thing and Quirk says another. They're talking about the same thing, just from different perspectives.

    Hope that helps.

  5. #5
    velimir is offline Member
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    Default Re: elements of the sentences in the passive voice

    Again, I'm thankful for your help Soup.Your explanation was really helpful to me.I understand the difference in semantic and syntactic functions in general,but Quirk treat this construction as an adverbial not a prepositional object in the sentence.I understand that both adverbial and prepositional object are syntactic elements of the sentence and not semantic terms,and that any word or phrase can't have two syntactic functions in the same sentence,am I correct? And here is the sentence from Quirk's student's grammar I hope it will not be considered as a violation of copyright :

    Penicilin was discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming.

    (chapter 8, heading "Semantic roles of adverbials", in which this kind of adverbial is systemized under the semantic subgroup of "process" and expresses "agency" )

    Thanks again Soup

  6. #6
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    Default Re: elements of the sentences in the passive voice

    Velimir, you're most welcome. Quirk's take on language can be "quirky" (idiosyncratic) at times, but he's right--as is Leer. Let's take a closer look.

    Every word in a sentence has a form and a function. For example, the phrase

    by Picasso [Form: prepositional phrase]
    by Picasso [Function: adverbial phrase in function]

    So you see, you are right when you say that "any word or phrase can't have two syntactic functions in the same sentence". Note, moreover, that in general prepositional phrases function as avderbials.


    Quirk tells us, that this phrase by Picasso express agency and for that very reason functions adverbially:
    "Semantic roles of adverbials", in which this kind of adverbial is systemized under the semantic subgroup of "process" and expresses "agency"
    Shall we test Quirk? Let's:

    Statement: The picture was painted by Picasso.

    Adverbial Test
    Q: How was the picture painted?
    A: By an artist's hand. Picasso's.

    OR

    Q: What was the process by which the picture was painted?
    A: By an artist's hand. Picasso's.

  7. #7
    velimir is offline Member
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    Default Re: elements of the sentences in the passive voice

    Hello Soup.,

    You've surprised me with your quick and thorough answer .Thanks a lot.
    I understand (in some degree )the distinction between the form and function , but if the construction "by + agent" is an adverbial then it can't be understood as a prepositional object in the sentence,am I right ? Your first answer is confusing me Soup:

    " 1. This picture was painted by Picasso.
    => Object of the preposition by. "

    "by Picasso" is the adverbial in this sentence ,not the prepositional object, am I correct ? Or I still don't understand the point ?

    Thank you Soup

  8. #8
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    Default Re: elements of the sentences in the passive voice

    Quote Originally Posted by velimir View Post
    "by Picasso" is the adverbial in this sentence ,not the prepositional object, am I correct ? Or I still don't understand the point ?
    It's a matter of Syntax (structure) vs Semantics (meaning):

    Picasso: object of a preposition <Syntax>
    Picasso: agent of process <Semantics>

    Note, by is a preposition and on its own cannot function adverbially. It needs an object to do that.

    by Picasso is a prepositional phrase in form. We know that because the preposition by heads it. That preposition requires an object in order to carry meaning. Its object is the Proper noun Picasso. The phrase by Picasso is a prepositional phrase in form; i.e., that's what it looks like. Its function or rather what it does in the sentence--how it contributes meaning--is different. It functions adverbially telling us who (agent) acted on the painting (process). The words in brackets (...) refer to the Semantics of roles or how words in combination realize their meaning and contribute the sentence as a whole. In our example, by Picasso is semantically linked or tied or connected to the verb painted. It's a process, right? Which is why Quirk calls its semantic subject, Picasso, an agent (of process).

    Does that help..

  9. #9
    velimir is offline Member
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    Default Re: elements of the sentences in the passive voice

    Hello Soup,

    First to tell you that I'm really indebted to you for your explanations.Thank you.
    But I must tell that it still isn't quite clear to me unfortunately.It may be that I didn't put the question right but more probably that I'm deeply confused about some concepts. Anyway,let me try once more.
    As I have said earlier,I generaly understand the difference between the form and function.I know that every structural element of the sentence may be realized by(i.e may take a form of) different words or phrases.In this case the problem is that I thought that "Picasso" is the prepositional object in the structure of the given sentence,but in your last post you analyze it as part of the prepositional phrase - the object of the preposition,and the whole phrase "by Picasso" as adverbial in the sentence structure.
    And now I have a question and to explain it better let me quote a sentence from Quirk's grammar again(immediately follows the heading 'Object and prepositional object")...."There are numerous ditransitive verbs that take a prepositional object as the second object".Then he gives examples and I will quote one of them:

    "We reminded him of the agreement."

    I think that is an obvious conclusion that in the structure of this sentence "the agreement" is the prepositional object which Quirk mentions.And in the prepositional phrase "of the agreement" it is the object of the preposition "of", am I right ? That is confusing to me.
    I find that when a prepositional phrase acts as adverbial in the sentence in most cases it is not hard to identify its function because it indicates some circumstance,manner,time,place or similar.But it often gives me headache to identify a prepositional object.In this sentence for example I don't know how the verb "remind" takes "agreement" as object?

    Thanks again for the help Soup

    Velimir

  10. #10
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    Default Re: elements of the sentences in the passive voice

    Ex: We reminded him of the agreement.

    Quirk calls the of-phrase a "prepositional object" for two reasons:
    1. The phrase is headed by a preposition.
    2. The phrase doesn't function as a direct object, nor does it function as an indirect object.
    You'll hear the terms indirect and direct object used for
    objects of ditransitive verbs that aren't introduced by a preposition:

    Ex: He gave me the book. <Indirect object>

    You'll hear the term prepositional object used for objects that are introduced by a preposition:

    Ex: He gave the book to me <Prepositional Object)


    Velimir, if you would like to learn more about the problems with the above terminology, here's a great paper:

    Prepositional What? http://homepages.ulb.ac.be/~jpvannop/PrepWhat.rtf

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