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  1. Tontuelo
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    #1

    Question about certain syntactic structures

    Hey everybody,

    I have a question about the syntax of sentences like these:

    a. He ordered to clean up.
    vs
    b. He ordered them to clean up.

    or

    c. I hope to win the lottery.
    vs
    d. She hoped him to win the lottery.

    Now I know how to use these sentences and the difference in meaning, but I am not sure about if they are all correct?
    Also I find them very confusing grammatically. In (a) "to clean up" is, I guess, direct object complement to "ordered". But in (b), what is "them"? Is "them to clean up" a direct object phrase in which "them" is the subject? So what's the general approach for "them (to clean up)" in (b) and "him (to win the lottery)" in (d)?

    Thanks!


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    #2

    Re: Question about certain syntactic structures

    b and c are good English; a and d are not. A should be "he ordered [someone] to clean up" ; d should be " she hoped that he would win the lottery." Can you proceed from there?

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    #3

    Re: Question about certain syntactic structures

    Okay, thank you!

    Now I'm just wondering about one more thing (it's a bit more advanced grammar): What is the grammatical status of the words in italics in sentences like these?

    He ordered them to clean up.
    He asked me to go away.

    I feel like it's kind of the subject of the infinitive, but that's impossible because infinitives don't take subjects...

    thanks!


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    #4

    Re: Question about certain syntactic structures

    He ordered them to clean up.

    I believe "them" is the direct object and "to clean up" is the indirect object. "He ordered to clean up" is either incorrect or there is an assumed "them" which has been elipsed. It sounds wrong to me. If I'm not using "them", I would rather say "He gave the order to clean up."

    She hoped to win the lottery.

    This is a horse of a different color, I think. Possibly "hoped to" is a verbal phrase and "win the lottery" is its direct object, or "hoped" is an intransitive verb and "to win the lottery" is a prepositional complement. I'm thinking the latter. "She hoped him to win the lottery" is incorrect. "She helped him to win the lottery" would be gramatically correct and comparable to the first example, but probably illegal to act out.

    If you want to use hope, say:
    She hoped for him to win the lottery.
    She hoped that he would win the lottery.

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    #5

    Re: Question about certain syntactic structures

    Quote Originally Posted by nonsense View Post
    He ordered them to clean up.

    I believe "them" is the direct object and "to clean up" is the indirect object.
    But how can a to-infinitive be an indirect object? Isn't an indirect object someone who receives the direct object or an actor who is otherwise affected by it? I'm still confused by the syntax here...

    Quote Originally Posted by nonsense View Post
    She hoped to win the lottery.

    This is a horse of a different color, I think. Possibly "hoped to" is a verbal phrase and "win the lottery" is its direct object, or "hoped" is an intransitive verb and "to win the lottery" is a prepositional complement. I'm thinking the latter.
    I don't think "to win the lottery" can be a prepositional complement because "to win" is a to-infinitive (equal to a gerund, "winning").. and I think "hope" is just a transitive verb. The way I see it, both exaples here are similar, but in the first one "them" is expressed, changing the syntax...

    ?

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    #6

    Re: Question about certain syntactic structures

    A lot of ink has been spilt over these constructions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tontuelo View Post
    Now I'm just wondering about one more thing (it's a bit more advanced grammar): What is the grammatical status of the words in italics in sentences like these?

    He ordered them to clean up.
    He asked me to go away.
    They are normally analyzed as direct objects. Verbs like "ordered" therefore have three arguments: a subject, a direct object, and something else which we can call an infinitival complement.

    I feel like it's kind of the subject of the infinitive, but that's impossible because infinitives don't take subjects...

    thanks!
    I think you are quite right! The subject of an infinitive is not normally expressed. Instead it is usually identified with (or "controlled by") one of the other arguments. Normally if there is a direct object present, it will be identified with that ("he ordered them to clean up"). Otherwise it is identified with the subject ("I hoped to win the lottery").

    There is an important class of exceptions to this: "he promised Mary not to be late", where there is apparently a direct object but the missing subject of the infinitive is identified with the subject. (Some people would deny that "Mary" here is a direct object.)

    The ungrammatical examples you give are bad because they don't satisfy the requirements imposed by the main verbs.

    Hope this helps a bit.

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    #7

    Re: Question about certain syntactic structures

    thanks, that helps a lot!

    (the ungrammatical examples are because I was trying too hard to find different types of structure with the same verb ;) )

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