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  1. #1

    why are these ungrammatical?

    *1. Coffee is preferred strong by people from UK.
    *2. Mary was kept leaving by John.
    *3. It is now available for passengers to board the plane.

    For 3, it is said that it is grammatical to say
    'The plane is now available for passengers to board.'
    What is the difference between the 2 then?

    Thanks!!!

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: why are these ungrammatical?

    Quote Originally Posted by susumuya View Post
    *1. Coffee is preferred strong by people from UK.
    *2. Mary was kept leaving by John.
    *3. It is now available for passengers to board the plane.

    For 3, it is said that it is grammatical to say
    'The plane is now available for passengers to board.'
    What is the difference between the 2 then?

    Thanks!!!
    1. The problem with this sentence is a passive voice verb "is preferred" followed by what can only be considered a predicate adjective that is supposed to modify the subject.

    Strong coffee is preferred by people form the UK.
    People from the UK prefer strong coffee.

    2. When the verb "keep" is used before a present particple, it acts as an auxiliary verb that indicates repeated activity. This sentence tries to use "keep leaving" as in the passive voice; this can be done only with actions that can be caused by an outside agent. John can't keep Mary leaving.

    Mary was kept from leaving by John. John can keep Mary from leaving.

    3. This uses "it" as a dummy subject. This is common but it is done so with abstractions. In this case, the use of "available" makes "it" apply to the airplane.

    It is now possible for passengers to board the airplane.
    The plane is now available for passenger boarding.

    The first correct sentence uses "it" for an abstraction - possibility.
    The second uses available to refer to the airplane by using a linking verb -predicate adjective construction

  3. #3

    Re: why are these ungrammatical?

    1. So, if predicate adjective is to modify a subject, is that mean that it modifies the subject in the predicate? But not the subject in the sentence, is people from UK?

    Then, how do you explain why 'people from UK prefer their coffee strong.' is grammatical?

    Is that because the verb 'prefer' does not allow direct object to form passive when it is combined with the other complement, ie. predicate adjective?


    2. So, why 'keep leaving' cannot form passive? Are there any more specific reasons for that?

    3. If 'That assignment was a joy to do.' and 'It was a joy to do that assignment' are both grammatical, why can't we substitute 'the plane' by dummy 'it' and put 'the plane' after 'to board'? What makes in different with the 'assignment' examples?

    What does dummy 'it' represent in 'it is now available for the passenger to board the plane.'?
    Last edited by susumuya; 18-Nov-2006 at 23:10.

  4. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: why are these ungrammatical?

    Quote Originally Posted by susumuya View Post
    1. So, if predicate adjective is to modify a subject, is that mean that it modifies the subject in the predicate? But not the subject in the sentence, is people from UK?
    A predicate adjective is one that is contained in the predicate. The linking verb links it back to the subject of the sentence.

    Then, how do you explain why 'people from UK prefer their coffee strong.' is grammatical?

    Is that because the verb 'prefer' does not allow direct object to form passive when it is combined with the other complement, ie. predicate adjective?
    In that sentence, "strong" is an adjective complement of "coffee". As a complement, it immediately follows the noun. That isn't possible with the passive voice construction.


    2. So, why 'keep leaving' cannot form passive? Are there any more specific reasons for that?
    Because the agent can't perform the action.


    3. If 'That assignment was a joy to do.' and 'It was a joy to do that assignment' are both grammatical, why can't we substitute 'the plane' by dummy 'it' and put 'the plane' after 'to board'? What makes in different with the 'assignment' examples?
    As I said, "joy" is a feeling, an abstraction. "Availability" is not.


    What does dummy 'it' represent in 'it is now available for the passenger to board the plane.'?
    I have no idea. The only thing that is available here is the plane.

  5. #5

    Re: why are these ungrammatical?

    Thanks!!!!!!!!!!! But still, I can't quite understand about the last one... ><

    Is 'it is now available for passengers to board' grammatical?
    Coz if 'it' means the plane underlyingly, the above sentence should be grammatical, right?

    But why it becomes ungrammatical when 'the plane' is put after 'to board'?

  6. RonBee's Avatar
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    #6

    Smile Re: why are these ungrammatical?

    Quote Originally Posted by susumuya View Post
    Thanks!!!!!!!!!!! But still, I can't quite understand about the last one... ><

    Is 'it is now available for passengers to board' grammatical?
    Question:
    Is 'it is now available for passengers to board' grammatical?
    No. Something would have to be available for that to make sense. (As Mike said, the only thing that could be would be the plane.) Anyhow, the important thing to know is if that is used or not (Not!), not whether you can make up a sentence and hope people will understand it. What you want to say there is that the plane is ready for boarding and that people with boarding passes now have permission to board the plane.

    Quote Originally Posted by susumuya View Post
    But why it becomes ungrammatical when 'the plane' is put after 'to board'?
    Question:
    Why does the sentence become ungrammatical when "the plane" is put after "to board"?
    It doesn't. Example: "It is now possible to board the plane."

    Your goal should be to speak and write understandable English. Don't worry too much about why we don't say what we don't say. (You can spend endless hours doing that.) Instead, learn how to do a better job with what you have.


  7. rewboss's Avatar

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    #7

    Re: why are these ungrammatical?

    Actually, a dummy "it" doesn't refer to anything at all -- that's why it's a dummy. Consider this sentence:

    It is raining.

    What is "it" in this sentence? The cloud? The weather? The rain? The answer is: nothing at all, it's just there to make the sentence grammatical.

    But the dummy "it" can't be used in all sentences. In your example, "it is available", the phrase "is available" demands that something is available. That something is the plane -- but a dummy "it" means nothing at all.

    "It is available for the passengers to board the plane." What is "it" here? It can't be "plane" because that's the object of "board". If it refers to, say, the steps up to the cabin, the sentence would be fine: it would mean, "These steps are available for passengers in order to enable them to board the plane."

    If you mean that the plane is ready, then you need to have "plane" as the subject:

    "The plane is available for passengers to board."

    If "the plane" has already been mentioned very recently, you could replace it with "it" in the usual manner:

    "See that shiny new plane out there? It is available for passengers to board."

    Incidentally, the phrase I have heard most often is a much simpler construction: "The plane is now ready for boarding."

  8. #8

    Re: why are these ungrammatical?

    Thank you so much!!!!!!
    haha~~~ Indeed, this is an assignment of mine~~

    Well... Honestly, the ungrammatical sentences really seem ok for me at the first glance~~ But after all these explanations, I understand them more!!

    Hopefully, I did get all your answer correctly~~ (no misinterpretation... )

    Thanks once again!!!

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    #9

    Re: why are these ungrammatical?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    1. The problem with this sentence is a passive voice verb "is preferred" followed by what can only be considered a predicate adjective that is supposed to modify the subject.

    Strong coffee is preferred by people form the UK.
    People from the UK prefer strong coffee.

    2. When the verb "keep" is used before a present particple, it acts as an auxiliary verb that indicates repeated activity. This sentence tries to use "keep leaving" as in the passive voice; this can be done only with actions that can be caused by an outside agent. John can't keep Mary leaving.

    Mary was kept from leaving by John. John can keep Mary from leaving.

    3. This uses "it" as a dummy subject. This is common but it is done so with abstractions. In this case, the use of "available" makes "it" apply to the airplane.

    It is now possible for passengers to board the airplane.
    The plane is now available for passenger boarding.

    The first correct sentence uses "it" for an abstraction - possibility.
    The second uses available to refer to the airplane by using a linking verb -predicate adjective construction
    Similarly::
    It is not allowed to smoke here. Is ungrammatical
    You are not allowed to smoke here. grammatical.

  9. #10

    Re: why are these ungrammatical?

    OH!

    'It is not allowed to smoke here' is also ungrammatical??

    So, there is quite a lot of restrictions for the use of 'it'...
    Is it also because of the abstractness of the adjective?

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