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  1. Phaedrus's Avatar
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    #41

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

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Unfortunately, I don't understand any of this, but I do appreciate your trying to explain.
    Think about wh-questions. In which of the following sentences is "eat" intransitive, and in which is it transitive?

    (A) Who ate?
    (B) What did they eat?

    In neither sentence is the verb followed by another word. Also, why is it possible to use "whom" in the following sentences?

    (C) Whom do they admire?
    (D) I met Madonna, whom they admire.
    Last edited by Phaedrus; 24-Nov-2018 at 07:31. Reason: typo

  2. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #42

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

    In (B) eat is transitive because it contains a direct object. In (A), ate is not because it doesn't.

    Similarly, whom is the object of transitive admire.

    It doesn't matter in which position the object appears. The fact that there appears an object somewhere means that there is transitivity.

  3. Phaedrus's Avatar
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    #43

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

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    It doesn't matter in which position the object appears. The fact that there appears an object somewhere means that there is transitivity.
    That is basically what I was driving at ("what" is the [deep] object of "at" in the free relative clause "what I was driving at"). Since our discussion comprises both active- and passive-voice sentences, however, I think it is particularly helpful to speak of "complements" rather than "objects." The term "object" usually contrasts with "subject," the one taking objective/accusative case pronouns, and the other taking subjective/nominative-case pronouns in English.

    It sounds contradictory to say that an object can be subject. We can say that someone punched him or that he was punched, but we can't say that him was punched. Similarly, we can say that someone sat on him or that he was sat on, but we can't say that him was sat on. In the passive, the complement of the verb or preposition moves to the front of the sentence, but here the complement of the verb or the preposition becomes the subject of the sentence.

    In the passive, what begins as an object becomes the subject. Either way, however, it remains a complement.

  4. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #44

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    That is basically what I was driving at ("what" is the [deep] object of "at" in the free relative clause "what I was driving at"). Since our discussion comprises both active- and passive-voice sentences, however, I think it is particularly helpful to speak of "complements" rather than "objects." The term "object" usually contrasts with "subject," the one taking objective/accusative case pronouns, and the other taking subjective/nominative-case pronouns in English.

    It sounds contradictory to say that an object can be subject. We can say that someone punched him or that he was punched, but we can't say that him was punched. Similarly, we can say that someone sat on him or that he was sat on, but we can't say that him was sat on. In the passive, the complement of the verb or preposition moves to the front of the sentence, but here the complement of the verb or the preposition becomes the subject of the sentence.

    In the passive, what begins as an object becomes the subject. Either way, however, it remains a complement.
    Okay, now I get where you're coming from. Thanks.

    For you, transitivity is across verbs/prepositions and their complements, irrespective of any case marking, and so the transitivity of a verb in an active voice sentence remains consistent when the sentence is transformed into the passive voice, in the same way that the verb's valency (the number of argument slots it has) also remains consistent. Although this does seem perfectly reasonable to me, I had thought that this was not the generally agreed upon definition of transitivity.

  5. Phaedrus's Avatar
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    #45

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

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Although this does seem perfectly reasonable to me, I had thought that this was not the generally agreed upon definition of transitivity.
    Apart from the OED quote that I gave, I have not sought to define the concept of transitivity. That would be an interesting topic to research.

    As I understand and use the concept of transitivity, the only passive constructions that do not have transitive verbs are prepositional passives.

    And yet there is clearly something transitive about prepositional passives, even though they have intransitive verbs. That's why they're tricky.

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    #46

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

    Hi,

    My initial interpretation has been correct all along:

    Using "Prepositional Verbs", some intransitive verbs can be made transitive. My example is an illustration of that.

    1. She sat on the chair. (Transitive active)
    2. The chair was sat on. (Intransitive passive) with the preposition "on" retained.
    3. The chair was sat on (by her). (Transitive passive)

    The fact sentence 1 contains a transitive verb is evidence of sentence 3 in its passive form.

    And thus, this concludes the third sentence does indeed have a transitive verb phrase.

    See the following:

    A Grammar of Present-Day English, R.W. Pence, p. 46

    Verb + Preposition Combinations. Sometimes a preposition-like word is so closely welded to a preceding verb that a following substantive is really the object of the verb plus the preposition rather than the object of the preposition alone. That is, the preposition is almost a suffix of the verb. This explains why some intransitive verbs become transitive when such a preposition is closely welded to them and why such verbs may readily be turned into the passive voice with the preposition "retained” after the passive verb.

    They laughed at me. [At is a preposition attached to laughed, so that me is really the object of laughed + at rather than of at alone. Compare "They ridiculed me.” Note the possible passive voice — "I was laughed at” — with the preposition at "retained.”]
    Last edited by HeartShape; 25-Nov-2018 at 00:18.

  7. Phaedrus's Avatar
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    #47

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

    Quote Originally Posted by HeartShape View Post
    1. She sat on the chair. (Transitive active)
    2. The chair was sat on. (Intransitive passive) with the preposition "on" retained.
    3. The chair was sat on (by her). (Transitive passive)
    If you want to say that "sat on" is a transitive verb, you need to say it is transitive in the active and in the passive. Voice has no bearing on transitivity.

    The addition of an agent "by"-phrase has no bearing on transitivity, either. Therefore, your different labels for (2) and (3) make no sense.

    A Grammar of Present-Day English, R.W. Pence, p. 46

    Verb + Preposition Combinations. Sometimes a preposition-like word is so closely welded to a preceding verb that a following substantive is really the object of the verb plus the preposition rather than the object of the preposition alone. That is, the preposition is almost a suffix of the verb. This explains why some intransitive verbs become transitive when such a preposition is closely welded to them and why such verbs may readily be turned into the passive voice with the preposition "retained” after the passive verb.

    They laughed at me. [At is a preposition attached to laughed, so that me is really the object of laughed + at rather than of at alone. Compare "They ridiculed me.” Note the possible passive voice — "I was laughed at” — with the preposition at "retained.”]
    That passage is on page 56 of the edition I have -- the second (1963); the first edition was published in 1947. Isn't it weird that they (there are two authors: Pence and Emery) speak of a "preposition-like" word and then say, in their explanation of "laughed at," that "at" is a preposition? It's especially weird, I think, because on page 43 there is a note with the same example ("They laughed at me"), and they state there that "at" is an adverb.

    So I can't tell whether they want to say that, in "laugh at," "at" is a preposition, an adverb, or a preposition-like thing that has no name. But it is clear that they want to say that "laugh at" functions as a single verb. Two problems come to mind. First, if "laugh at" is a single verb, it should not be possible to insert an adverb right into the middle of it, yet we can say things like "They laughed scornfully at me." Compare: "She sat down hard on the chair."

    Second, if "laugh at" is a single verb, and "at" is not a preposition with respect to the direct object that follows, it should not be possible to prepose "at" together with the object at the front of a relative clause. But it is possible to do that. Not only can we say, "I was the person whom they laughed at," but we can also say, more formally, "I was the person at whom they laughed." Compare: "That is the chair on which she sat."

    I think their case would have been sounder had they steered clear of prepositional verbs and stuck with phrasal verbs:

    He looked up the word.
    *He looked quickly up the word.

    That is the word which he looked up.
    *That is the word up which he looked.
    Last edited by Phaedrus; 25-Nov-2018 at 05:54. Reason: fussiness

  8. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #48

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    If you want to say that "sat on" is a transitive verb, you need to say it is transitive in the active and in the passive. Voice has no bearing on transitivity.
    Just to be clear to HeartShape, I am disputing what Phaedrus claims above. My understanding is that voice does have a bearing on transitivity. This seems to be a disagreement of technical definition. (Phaedrus—I don't mean to disrespect your expertise but I need to be convinced that your deep structure analysis of the dependence of complements on verbs is not simply a function of valency, as opposed to transitivity.)


    That passage is on page 56 of the edition I have -- the second (1963); the first edition was published in 1947. Isn't it weird that they (there are two authors: Pence and Emery) speak of a "preposition-like" word and then say, in their explanation of "laughed at," that "at" is a preposition? It's especially weird, I think, because on page 43 there is a note with the same example ("They laughed at me"), and they state there that "at" is an adverb.
    Yes!

    So I can't tell whether they want to say that, in "laugh at," "at" is a preposition, an adverb, or a preposition-like thing that has no name.
    I suppose they are saying that in terms of its form it's a preposition but functionally/semantically it is more 'attached' to the verb than to its complement me.

    But it is clear that they want to say that "laugh at" functions as a single verb.
    I'm not sure that 'single verb' is the right way of putting it but yes. I'd say it's more accurate to say that laughed at can be seen as a single divalent predicator. That is, it has two arguments (They and me). Semantically, it seems to me that it's like a compound of two predicators (monovalent laughed and divalent at). It's like the verb laughed 'borrows' valency from the preposition.

    Two problems come to mind. First, if "laugh at" is a single verb, it should not be possible to insert an adverb right into the middle of it, yet we can say things like "They laughed scornfully at me." Compare: "She sat down hard on the chair."
    Why should that not be possible? Would this problem disappear for you if it were labelled a 'compound predicator' instead of as a verb?

    Second, if "laugh at" is a single verb, and "at" is not a preposition with respect to the direct object that follows, it should not be possible to prepose "at" together with the object at the front of a relative clause. But it is possible to do that. Not only can we say, "I was the person whom they laughed at," but we can also say, more formally, "I was the person at whom they laughed."
    Yes. Very interesting observation. It does sound strange to me now that at whom they laughed is possible. I'm just thinking out loud here but I wonder if this word order could be more a vestige of Latin grammar translation than anything else. I mean, if the at is indeed more 'attached' to the verb laughed than it is to the object me, then why would this separation be made? I'm going to conclude that the reason why whom they laughed at feels more comfortable than at whom they laughed (in most informal speech at least) is precisely because of the compound connection between the predicators laughed and at (or in other words the integrity of the 'single verb').

    I think their case would have been sounder had they steered clear of prepositional verbs and stuck with phrasal verbs:

    He looked up the word.
    *He looked quickly up the word.

    That is the word which he looked up.
    *That is the word up which he looked.
    The reason why *That is the word up which he looked is not possible is that the particle up, although it adds meaning, has no valency. It cannot therefore connect with which like at could in the same position.

    But it's interesting why *He looked quickly up the word is not possible. It seems that the intrusion of the adverbial quickly between verb and particle somehow interferes with the transitivity, where it doesn't when relocated elsewhere, as in He quickly looked up the word.

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    #49

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    If you want to say that "sat on" is a transitive verb, you need to say it is transitive in the active and in the passive. Voice has no bearing on transitivity.

    The addition of an agent "by"-phrase has no bearing on transitivity, either. Therefore, your different labels for (2) and (3) make no sense.



    That passage is on page 56 of the edition I have -- the second (1963); the first edition was published in 1947. Isn't it weird that they (there are two authors: Pence and Emery) speak of a "preposition-like" word and then say, in their explanation of "laughed at," that "at" is a preposition? It's especially weird, I think, because on page 43 there is a note with the same example ("They laughed at me"), and they state there that "at" is an adverb.

    So I can't tell whether they want to say that, in "laugh at," "at" is a preposition, an adverb, or a preposition-like thing that has no name. But it is clear that they want to say that "laugh at" functions as a single verb. Two problems come to mind. First, if "laugh at" is a single verb, it should not be possible to insert an adverb right into the middle of it, yet we can say things like "They laughed scornfully at me." Compare: "She sat down hard on the chair."

    Second, if "laugh at" is a single verb, and "at" is not a preposition with respect to the direct object that follows, it should not be possible to prepose "at" together with the object at the front of a relative clause. But it is possible to do that. Not only can we say, "I was the person whom they laughed at," but we can also say, more formally, "I was the person at whom they laughed." Compare: "That is the chair on which she sat."

    I think their case would have been sounder had they steered clear of prepositional verbs and stuck with phrasal verbs:

    He looked up the word.
    *He looked quickly up the word.

    That is the word which he looked up.
    *That is the word up which he looked.
    Thanks for this.

    I did have some reservation about sentence 2. I thought since the object isn't explicitly stated it was OK to label it as an intransitive, but it's actually implied, so it should be rewritten with just the two sentences.

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

    I included active to help identify the direction of the transitivity, to know which voice we are talking in, it helps.

    Yes. I think they did state that, but Pence also describes why by referring you to another page.

    In regards to the split verbs it's actually OK to split verbs. Linguist approves the adverb between "They laughed scornfully at me".

    Well, it is a prepositional verb because they are not referring to just any verbs but prepositionals, and had Pence referred to them as phrasal verb I would not have found the excerpt to support my argument.
    You will actually find linguist calling prepositional verb as phrasal verbs, so whether you want to call it a phrasal verb is fine.

    As I have said, my original argument put forward is valid and correct, the verb in the sentence can be considered as a transitive and not an intransitive. This is evident in the passive form. This is also evident in the dictionary as I have just noticed.

    See the following:

    Laugh at = phrasal verb [transitive]

    [laugh at someone/something] to say unkind things about someone or something that are intended to make them seem silly

    The other kids laughed at his haircut.

    https://www.macmillandictionary.com/...itish/laugh-at

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