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  1. #1
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    difference between complement and object

    I've read from a book on linguistics that modern linguists hold that object is the constituent in a sentence that could be changed into a passive voice, for example ,in the phrase"change train ",train is a complement rather than an object,because we can't say that train is changed.It seems quite baffling as we usually regard the part following a verb as an object.Then which criteria should we refer to when defining an object?Would you please help me out?Thank you!

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    Re: difference between complement and object

    Hi,

    A complement describes a verb's argument (subject or object) more closely:

    1. Sir George is a knight. (Subject complement)
    2. The Queen made Sir George a knight. (object complement)

    Notice that you can put "a knight" in the object slot, in 2.:

    3. The Queen made a knight of Sir George.

    Notice that it is possible to read sentence 2. in such a way that "a knight" is, in fact, the object of the sentence. In that case, "Sir George" gets demoted from direct object of the sentence to indirect object of the sentence. The meaning of the sentence changes quite drastically. It now means:

    4. The Queen made a knight for Sir George.

    Because of what we know about the world, reading sentence 2. in a way that it means the same as sentence 4. is very unlikely, but grammar allows it.

    So, in summary, the sentence # 2 could mean:

    2. a The Queen (Subject) made Sir George (direct object) a knight (object complement).

    or

    2. b The Queen (Subject) made Sir George (indirect object) a knight (direct object).

    So, I'm quite curious how to analyse a sentence like:

    5. We changed train at Victoria station.

    so that "train" is a complement. What does it complement? Since this sentence has no object, "trains" would have to be a "subject complement". But I don't see that.

    It might be an "adverbial complement"?

    I'm not sure myself.

  3. #3
    rj1948 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: difference between complement and object

    Hi,

    A complement describes a verb's argument (subject or object) more closely:

    1. Sir George is a knight. (Subject complement)
    2. The Queen made Sir George a knight. (object complement)

    Notice that you can put "a knight" in the object slot, in 2.:

    3. The Queen made a knight of Sir George.

    Notice that it is possible to read sentence 2. in such a way that "a knight" is, in fact, the object of the sentence. In that case, "Sir George" gets demoted from direct object of the sentence to indirect object of the sentence. The meaning of the sentence changes quite drastically. It now means:

    4. The Queen made a knight for Sir George.

    Because of what we know about the world, reading sentence 2. in a way that it means the same as sentence 4. is very unlikely, but grammar allows it.

    So, in summary, the sentence # 2 could mean:

    2. a The Queen (Subject) made Sir George (direct object) a knight (object complement).

    or

    2. b The Queen (Subject) made Sir George (indirect object) a knight (direct object).

    So, I'm quite curious how to analyse a sentence like:

    5. We changed train at Victoria station.

    so that "train" is a complement. What does it complement? Since this sentence has no object, "trains" would have to be a "subject complement". But I don't see that.

    It might be an "adverbial complement"?

    I'm not sure myself.

    In the above passage,
    The Queen(subject) made Sir.George(indirect object) a knight(direct object)

    Can we convert this into passive with a knight as direct object?
    No.We can not. A knight is not an object. It is an object cmplement.
    We can change this sentence into passive with Sir.George as object .

    Regards,
    rj1948.

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    Re: difference between complement and object

    Quote Originally Posted by rj1948 View Post
    The Queen(subject) made Sir.George(indirect object) a knight(direct object)

    Can we convert this into passive with a knight as direct object?
    No.We can not. A knight is not an object. It is an object cmplement.
    We can change this sentence into passive with Sir.George as object .

    Regards,
    rj1948.
    Actually, yes, you can put the sentence into the passive:

    A knight was made for Sir George.

    This is similar to:

    The Queen gave Sir George a cookie. --> A cookie was given to Sir George.

    As I said, the sentence means different things if you interpret "a knight" as object, or as object complement. (They're actually two different sentences, one of which is a lot harder to find a context for. ;) )

  5. #5
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    Re: difference between complement and object

    Note:
    We don't change train. We change trains.

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    rj1948 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: difference between complement and object

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
    Actually, yes, you can put the sentence into the passive:

    A knight was made for Sir George.

    This is similar to:

    The Queen gave Sir George a cookie. --> A cookie was given to Sir George.

    As I said, the sentence means different things if you interpret "a knight" as object, or as object complement. (They're actually two different sentences, one of which is a lot harder to find a context for. ;) )
    I'm sorry Downstorm.-knight is a title -honorary title;a decoration and it is an object complement.A knight is not conferred.Knighthood is conferred.
    Kindly see the sentence below.
    The boys elected John their leader.
    Their leader is complement.
    We can not change the above into passive with their leader as object.It is not possible.
    We don't change train.We change train.
    Regards,
    rj1948

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    Re: difference between complement and object

    Quote Originally Posted by rj1948 View Post
    I'm sorry Downstorm.-knight is a title -honorary title;a decoration and it is an object complement.
    I'm sorry Downstorm. "Knight" is a title. And it is an object complement (in that sentence).

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    Re: difference between complement and object

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
    So, I'm quite curious how to analyse a sentence like:

    5. We changed trains at Victoria station.

    so that "train" is a complement. What does it complement? Since this sentence has no object, "trains" would have to be a "subject complement". But I don't see that.

    It might be an "adverbial complement"?

    I'm not sure myself.
    Consider that its semantic contribution is intransitive;i.e., synonymous with transfer.

    Active: We have to transfer trains.
    Passive: Trains have to be transferred [by us].


    Additionally, do you see a pattern here?
    Ex: We were asked to/were told to/were made to/need(ed) to/want(ed) to transfer trains at Victoria station.

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    Re: difference between complement and object

    Quote Originally Posted by Grace-Ellen View Post
    Then which criteria should we refer to when defining an object?
    Semantics, of course, which is why passive is used as a test. (Note that, the same test is used to determine stative verbs).

    They change/modify trains at our company. <object>
    Passive => Trains are changed/modified.

    They change/transfer trains at the station. <complement>
    Passive => Trains are changed/transferred. The meaning here differs.

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    Re: difference between complement and object

    Quote Originally Posted by rj1948 View Post
    I'm sorry Downstorm.-knight is a title -honorary title;a decoration and it is an object complement.A knight is not conferred.Knighthood is conferred.
    Kindly see the sentence below.
    The boys elected John their leader.
    Their leader is complement.
    We can not change the above into passive with their leader as object.It is not possible.
    We don't change train.We change train.
    Regards,
    rj1948
    I'm aware of this. What you don't seem to acknowledge is:

    It is grammatically possible to interprete "a knight" in the sentence as the direct object of "make". This completely changes the meaning of the sentence. It means that the Queen creates a knight (perhaps in a vat in the cellar? A ginger bread knight? A knight doll?) for the benefit of Sir George:

    The Queen baked Sir George a cake. The Queen sang Sir George a song. The Queen made Sir George a knight (out of paper and glue).

    This is different from bestowing a title. Sir George isn't Sir George before the ceremony. Sir George is Sir George after the ceremony. "A knight" = object complement. There is no argument there at all.

    But you need to separate syntax from semantics. I only mentioned this because I thought interpreting the same sentence in two different ways, once with direct object, and once with object complement, this could help people think about the difference between a complement and an object for themselves. (Apparantly, this wasn't such a good idea. )

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