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    #21

    Re: intransitive/transitive - The chair was sat on by her?

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    active voice: She sat on the chair.
    passive voice
    : The chair was sat on by her.

    That kind of passive is called (by many linguists) the prepositional passive. In the active-voice sentence, you have the intransitive verb "sit" (in the past tense) modified by a prepositional phrase ("on the chair"). In the passive-voice sentence, the object of "on" is subject.

    Alternatively, we could say that the object of "sat on" is subject in the passive-voice sentence. And if we said that, we might also say that "sat on" (two words: a verb and a preposition) is behaving as if it were one transitive verb in the sentence "The chair was sat on by her."

    I have a book on the prepositional passive. I haven't read the whole thing, but I just consulted it, and "sit on" is one of the verb-plus-preposition collocations that work in the prepositional passive, provided the meaning is literal (not metaphorical) and that the location specified by "on" is affected.

    Here are some sentences with "sit on" from the book. The red example with an asterisk and a line through it is ungrammatical. I am adding "active" and "passive" labels for clarity. Where two labels appear next to a sentence, the first applies to the first clause and the second to the second.

    The hen sat on the egg until it hatched. (active - active)
    The egg was sat on until it hatched.
    (passive - active)

    The egg was sat on for three weeks. (passive)

    John sat on my hat. (active)
    My hat was sat on.
    (passive)

    This bench shouldn't be sat on -- it's just been painted. (passive - passive)

    Don't let yourself be sat on. (passive)

    *Three committees were sat on by John. (passive)

    -----------------------------------------------------------
    Couper-Kuhlen, E. (1979). The prepositional passive in English: A semantic-syntactic analysis, with a lexicon of prepositional verbs. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.
    This is exactly what I was trying to understand. Thank-you for this.

    Although "She sat on the chair" is intransitive it can be considered as transitive active when we take into account prepositional verb. And there we have it, active and a passive form.

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    #22

    Re: intransitive/transitive - The chair was sat on by her?

    Quote Originally Posted by HeartShape View Post
    Although "She sat on the chair" is intransitive it can be considered as transitive active when we take into account prepositional verb.
    No! She sat on the chair is a sentence. Sentences are neither transitive nor intransitive. That's a property of a verb.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #23

    Re: intransitive/transitive - The chair was sat on by her?

    Quote Originally Posted by HeartShape View Post
    Although "She sat on the chair" is intransitive it can be considered as transitive active when we take into account prepositional verb. And there we have it, active and a passive form.
    So have you learned something from this fascinating discussion? Or did you just want to prove some kind of point to us?

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    #24

    Re: intransitive/transitive - The chair was sat on by her?

    Quote Originally Posted by HeartShape View Post
    Although "She sat on the chair" is intransitive it can be considered as transitive active when we take into account prepositional verb. And there we have it, active and a passive form.
    I think you meant to say that, in the active-voice sentence "She sat on the chair," although "sat on the chair" is an intransitive verb phrase (in which "on the chair" is a prepositional phrase modifying the intransitive verb "sat"), the verb-plus-preposition "sat on" may be analyzed as transitive in the passive-voice sentence "The chair was sat on (by her)." If so, I agree with you. However, that doesn't make "sat on" transitive in "She sat on the chair." The prepositional phrase "on the chair" is more naturally interpreted as its own phrasal unit, as an adverbial specifying location. Where did she sit? She sat on the chair. Where she sat was on the chair. And on the sofa sat her mother.

    I think we really need the passive in order parse "sat on" as a transitive prepositional verb (i.e., a transitive verb-plus-preposition combination):

    A: Why did this newly repaired chair break?
    B: It was sat on before the glue had taken hold.

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    #25

    Re: intransitive/transitive - The chair was sat on by her?

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    I think you meant to say that, in the active-voice sentence "She sat on the chair," although "sat on the chair" is an intransitive verb phrase (in which "on the chair" is a prepositional phrase modifying the intransitive verb "sat"), the verb-plus-preposition "sat on" may be analyzed as transitive in the passive-voice sentence "The chair was sat on (by her)." If so, I agree with you. However, that doesn't make "sat on" transitive in "She sat on the chair." The prepositional phrase "on the chair" is more naturally interpreted as its own phrasal unit, as an adverbial specifying location. Where did she sit? She sat on the chair. Where she sat was on the chair. And on the sofa sat her mother.

    I think we really need the passive in order parse "sat on" as a transitive prepositional verb (i.e., a transitive verb-plus-preposition combination):

    A: Why did this newly repaired chair break?
    B: It was sat on before the glue had taken hold.
    The way I interpret the sentence is as follows:

    1. She sat on the chair.
    2. The chair was sat on by her.

    For the intransitive to work it must be:

    1. She sat on the chair. (No objects is being parsed) when it is in the intransitive. I agree it answer the adverbial question, where? She sat where? On the chair.

    Am I right?

    (Re-analysing sentence 1, I think what you are saying sentence 1 always remain an intransitive, right? It is acting as an adverbial with an adverbial object. Since sentence 1 has no preposition this makes sentence 2 transitive.)
    Last edited by HeartShape; 22-Nov-2018 at 00:57.

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    #26

    Re: intransitive/transitive - The chair was sat on by her?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    So have you learned something from this fascinating discussion? Or did you just want to prove some kind of point to us?
    Discussion can be illuminating. It benefit's everyone.

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    #27

    Re: intransitive/transitive - The chair was sat on by her?

    Quote Originally Posted by HeartShape View Post
    The way I interpret the sentence is as follows:

    1. She sat on the chair.
    2. The chair was sat on by her.

    For the intransitive to work it must be:

    1. She sat on the chair. (No objects is are being parsed) when it is in the intransitive. I agree it answer the adverbial question, where? She sat where? On the chair.

    Am I right?
    Your groupings are interesting, HeartShape. On the one hand, it is clear to me that "sat on" is not a two-word verb like "turn on" (viz., "Turn on the lights" and "Turn the lights on") because "on" is not a particle that can be separated from "sat": it is ungrammatical to say, *"She sat the chair on." "On" cannot undergo particle movement in "sat on."

    On the other hand, even with "on the chair" as a prepositional phrase, I think that the prepositional phrase can arguably attach in two different places in a syntactic tree. When it answers the question "Where did she sit?," "on the chair" is clearly an adverbial adjunct (modifier). Thus, we can even say, "She sat down on the chair."

    But what about "She sat on the chair hard"? There "the chair" seems to be an affected thing, even if it's not a direct object. With modifying adjuncts, it's different. We can say, "She sat near the chair" and "She sat beside the chair," but we can't say, *"She sat near the chair hard" or *"She sat beside the chair hard."

    I take the above as evidence that "on the chair" is capable of functioning, in the same sentence ("She sat on the chair"), either as a modifying adjunct or as a complement, and I think the passive requires that "on the chair" be parsed as a complement. Notice that we can't have *"The chair was sat near" or *"The chair was sat beside."

    I'm still in process with this. My conclusions above are tentative, but I thought the reasoning worth sharing.

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    #28

    Re: intransitive/transitive - The chair was sat on by her?

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    Your groupings are interesting, HeartShape. On the one hand, it is clear to me that "sat on" is not a two-word verb like "turn on" (viz., "Turn on the lights" and "Turn the lights on") because "on" is not a particle that can be separated from "sat": it is ungrammatical to say, *"She sat the chair on." "On" cannot undergo particle movement in "sat on."

    On the other hand, even with "on the chair" as a prepositional phrase, I think that the prepositional phrase can arguably attach in two different places in a syntactic tree. When it answers the question "Where did she sit?," "on the chair" is clearly an adverbial adjunct (modifier). Thus, we can even say, "She sat down on the chair."

    But what about "She sat on the chair hard"? There "the chair" seems to be an affected thing, even if it's not a direct object. With modifying adjuncts, it's different. We can say, "She sat near the chair" and "She sat beside the chair," but we can't say, *"She sat near the chair hard" or *"She sat beside the chair hard."

    I take the above as evidence that "on the chair" is capable of functioning, in the same sentence ("She sat on the chair"), either as a modifying adjunct or as a complement, and I think the passive requires that "on the chair" be parsed as a complement. Notice that we can't have *"The chair was sat near" or *"The chair was sat beside."

    I'm still in process with this. My conclusions above are tentative, but I thought the reasoning worth sharing.
    Yes. You are right. "On the chair" is prepositional in the first sentence, and so if nothing can alter the syntax of the verb it must remain as an intransitive.

    If sentence 2 is considered to have a transitive verb then "by her" is the direct object, is that right?

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    #29

    Re: intransitive/transitive - The chair was sat on by her?

    Quote Originally Posted by HeartShape View Post
    If sentence 2 is considered to have a transitive verb then "by her" is the direct object, is that right?
    No. This is what is sometimes called the 'by-agent'.

    The fact that by her comes immediately after sat on doesn't make it a direct object. Think of direct objects as 'things' that are affected in some way by the action expressed by the verb.

    She sat on the chair.

    If you analyse the active voice sentence above as having transitivity, you can see that the chair is the object of sat on. It is the thing that is affected by the sitting,—the thing that has something done to it. In semantics we call this the 'patient'.

    She is the subject, because the referent of She is the person who affects, who 'does something to' the chair, who does the sitting. In semantics we call this the 'agent'.

    When you transform from active to passive voice, it's a bit like looking at the same situation but in reverse. The patient (The chair) is now treated as a subject and so there is no way of there being an object since the transitivity goes only one way. (In other words, we lose transitivity.) The person who does the sitting (She) remains as the agent, of course, but does not become the object of the verb. We can mention the agent with a 'by-agent' phrase.

    In my view, it's important to remember that subjects and objects are grammatical terms and are only partially (I would say 'indirectly') related to things in the world. Semantic terms like 'agent' and 'patient' (what are called 'arguments') attempt to relate more fully (or 'directly') to things in the world. So if you want to understand what language is used to mean, you'll be better off analysing the semantics rather than the grammar.

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    #30

    Re: intransitive/transitive - The chair was sat on by her?

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    No. This is what is sometimes called the 'by-agent'.

    The fact that by her comes immediately after sat on doesn't make it a direct object. Think of direct objects as 'things' that are affected in some way by the action expressed by the verb.

    She sat on the chair.

    If you analyse the active voice sentence above as having transitivity, you can see that the chair is the object of sat on. It is the thing that is affected by the sitting,—the thing that has something done to it. In semantics we call this the 'patient'.

    She is the subject, because the referent of She is the person who affects, who 'does something to' the chair, who does the sitting. In semantics we call this the 'agent'.

    When you transform from active to passive voice, it's a bit like looking at the same situation but in reverse. The patient (The chair) is now treated as a subject and so there is no way of there being an object since the transitivity goes only one way. (In other words, we lose transitivity.) The person who does the sitting (She) remains as the agent, of course, but does not become the object of the verb. We can mention the agent with a 'by-agent' phrase.

    In my view, it's important to remember that subjects and objects are grammatical terms and are only partially (I would say 'indirectly') related to things in the world. Semantic terms like 'agent' and 'patient' (what are called 'arguments') attempt to relate more fully (or 'directly') to things in the world. So if you want to understand what language is used to mean, you'll be better off analysing the semantics rather than the grammar.
    Thanks for the analysis.

    I think I understand it now.

    My initial interpretation was correct as in the following:

    1. She sat on the chair. (Intransitive active)
    2. The chair was sat on by her. (Transitive passive)

    I actually glanced over semantics where it talked about the patient and agent. I think I talked about them in one of my post some time ago but it wasn't actually anything to do with passives. I read about semantics earlier, and it seems quite interesting. Yes, it does offer a lot more meaning especially when it talks about the patient and agent, and it goes on to talk about ambiguity. It's much clearer when it describes syntax in those meaning I agree, but I still want to continue focusing on grammar as I want to cover every corner of details.

    Basically, I was a little thrown off course by the title "prepositional passives" or "prepositional verbs". From what I see the analysis of sentence 2 is the same. At first, I thought the idea changed the principles of transitive passives but it doesn't. Nothing has actually changed.

    Here is my analysis:

    The chair was sat on by her = S + V + prep

    "By her" is preposition phrase and "her" (agent) is the object of preposition.

    "On" is not a preposition but part of the verb phrase. Now I understand "on" cannot be parsed as prepositions, as it has no objects. But the "by" is preposition and it is parsing an object. That concludes my understanding.

    This might be of interest. This cause me a little confusion earlier:

    Pullum, 2002, p. 1433

    (c) Object of a preposition - prepositional passives

    a. Someone has slept in this bed.
    b. This bed has been slept in.

    Here the underlined NP in the active examples is an object not of the verb but of a preposition. In the passive this NP functions as a subject, with the result that a preposition which is transitive in the active is intransitive in the passive - hence the term prepositional passive.
    Last edited by HeartShape; 23-Nov-2018 at 17:59.

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