Are the 5 basic sentence patterns sacred?

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infinikyte

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Hi there! :D This is a message for grammar diehards only, so if you are not interested in sentence structures please do click the BACK button on your browser right away!! 8)

Now, I'm sure you know that there are five basic sentence patterns, consisting of necessay elements which are S(subject), V(verb), O(object), and C(complement).

I list out the 5 patterns here:

S+V
S+V+C
S+V+O
S+V+O+C
S+V+O+O

Recently I've begun to pay more attention to a few sentences that are suspiciously similar to the 5 basic patterns but yet not quite conforming to the rules. Because I'm an EFL learner but I also teach English to others in Taiwan, these "exceptional" sentences have given me a headache!! :mad: I have suggestions saying some of these "exceptions" would actually create new patterns, such as S+V+A(Adverbial) and S+V+O+A. Some, however, do not seem to fall into any patterns at all. I would like opinions on the following sentences, see what you think their patterns are. I really appreciate if you could come up with any ideas, I NEED YOUR HELP!!

Sentence 1
She is upstairs.

This is not S+V since "upstairs" necessarily modifies "is", and not S+V+C either since "upstairs" is an adverb and usually the C in S+V+C means nouns or adjectives. (But can I argue that the C in S+V+C include prepositional phrases?) So does S+V+A justify the pattern? I'm not particularly clear about the term "adverbial"; can it mean both adverbs and prepositional phrases?

Sentence 2
She lives in London.

Again, not S+V since "in London" is necessary to complete the sentence. Also not S+V+C since "in London" is a prepositional phrase.

sentence 3
She put her hands in her pockets.

This is not S+V+O+C since "in the pockets" does not complement "her hands" , and not S+V+O either since "in the pockets" necessarily modifies the verb "put". Surely we can argue that "put something in somewhere" is a verb phrase so S+V+O fits in this case, but does S+V+O+A clarify the pattern better?

Sentence 4
She introduced me to her brother.

Again, S+V+O+A or "introduce...to..."?

Sentence 5
She left the room exhausted.

The word "exhausted" describes the subject "she", so it apparently has this pattern: S+V+O+SC(subject complement). On the contrary, can I argue that "exhausted" here modifies the verb "left" rather than the subject "She"? Then "exhausted" would have to become an adverb!? :shock:

Sentence 6
I sold him my car brand-new.

Apparent pattern: S+V+O+O+OC. "brand-new" complements "my car", the direct object. Can I argue that this sentence is in fact "I sold him my brand-new car, an authentic S+V+O+O?


Sentence 7
The plan struck me as excellent.

A bit like sentence 5, "as excellent" describe the subject "THe plan". In this case is "as excellent" prepositional?


I wonder if sentences 5 and 6 are more conversational so they do not have a clear grammar structure?

I feel I can classify all of the above in any 5 basic patterns, but that is in a loose manner. I'm looking for a more strict approach to analyze these problems. So if you have any thought, please please post it!!
 

MikeNewYork

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Before I begin, I want to compliment you on your English.

I think you are overreading the intent of the five basic sentence patterns. None of the basic five have modifiers listed. That is most likely a leftover from diagraming sentences. In that scheme, modifiers were depicted below the main sentence line.

Certainly S-V-adverbial is not an uncommon sentence pattern;
nor is S-V-O-adverbial. These are both covered under S-V and S-V-O.
 

RonBee

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The only sentence that is at all unusual is sentence six, which moves brand-new from its usual position in I sold him my brand-new car.

:)
 
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infinikyte

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MikeNewYork said:
That is most likely a leftover from diagraming sentences. In that scheme, modifiers were depicted below the main sentence line.

Hmm.. By diagraming sentences you mean those drawn like a tree structure from left to right?

I'm just thinking that if, based on the fact that those mentioned adverbials behave more like complements than modifiers and thus are necessary to the pattern, I expand the basic five to basic seven (S+V+A and S+V+O+A) and would help the students distinguish this subtle difference. Otherwise I'd have to create subcategories for these adverbials under S+V and S+V+O+A as you said... which I'd think students would accept better than just listing them as mere exceptions. :eek:

EFL students can give you a hard time!!! But.. they are a vital income source!! :oops:
 
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infinikyte

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RonBee said:
The only sentence that is at all unusual is sentence six, which moves brand-new from its usual position in I sold him my brand-new car.

:)

But... that doesn't mean people don't say it right? I just think that if they occur mostly in informal situations such as dialogues, I won't have to deal with it grammatically. 8)

From experience, I'd say conversational speech has the most unusual usage from the English learers' view. Things such as double negatives and "He don't", or the omission of prepositions in news anchoring.. Sometimes I find it very interesting to catch these. :p
 

Casiopea

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Every English sentence, no matter its length, contains a basic statement. The 5 English sentence patterns below represent the barest basic statement. Notice that the patterns are based on verbs:

1. Intransitive Verbs: SV (e.g. Bells rang.)
2. Linking Verbs et al: SVC (e.g. Love is blind.)
3. Transitive Verbs: SVO (e.g. The cat scratched Sally.)
4. Ditransitive Verbs: SVOO (e.g. John gave his mother flowers.)
5. Object Complement Verbs: SVOC (e.g. The teacher considered him a good student.)

Question: What pattern is "She is upstairs"?
Answer: The pattern SVC. She =S, is = linking verb, upstairs =C, subject complement. 'upstairs', an adverb in form, functions here as a predicate adjective. Test: The upstairs woman. Compare a non-linking verb: "She walked upstairs", 'upstairs' has the form and function of an adverb in modifying the verb 'walked'.

Only linking verbs et al (See below) take subject complements. That is, C of SVC is known as a subject complement because it describes the subject, never the verb.

Subject Complement: Linking verbs take a subject complements. A subject complement is a word or word group that complete the meaning of the subject by either renaming it or describing it. SVC: Linking verbs Forms of Be (am, is, are, were, was, being, been) and "appear" "become" "feel" "grow" "look" "make" "prove" "seem" "smell" "sound" and "taste".

Question: "Can I argue that the C in SVC includes prepositional phrases?"
Answer: Yes. C has two factors: 1) Form and 2) Function. "She is at the store." (SVC). C = 'at the store', a prepositional phrase, functioning as an adjective, describing Where the subject (She) is situated.

Question: "I'm not particularly clear about the term "adverbial"; can it mean both adverbs and prepositional phrases?"
Answer: If a word is used to describe a verb, then its functions is that of an adverb. For example, "They swam in the lake". 'in the lake', a prepositional phrase, functions as an adverb in describing where they swam. Its form is that of a preposition and its function is that of an adverb. Note, 'swam' is not a linking verb. Compare, "She is in the lake", she is situated in the lake. 'in the lake', a prepositional phrase, functions as a predicate adjective, describing the subject (She).

Question: What sentence pattern is "She lives in London"?
Answer: 'live' meaning, to reside in a particular place or way isinstransitive:

"She lives in London. (SV+PP) 'in London' is a prepositional phrase.

Question: What sentence pattern is "She put her hands in her pockets"?
Answer[/]: SVOC. She = S, put =V, her hands = O, in her pockets =C
Note, Her hands are in her pockets. 'in her pockets' modifies 'hands'; it tells us where her hands are located.

Question: "Surely we can argue that "put something in somewhere" is a verb phrase so SVO fits in this case, but does SVOA clarify the pattern better?
Answer: Firstly, SVO doesn't fit. It's SVOC. Second, put X in Y is the verb's subcategorization frame, (VOC). Third, suggesting the pattern SVOA works for sentences that have A only. It doesn't work for other SVOC sentences. That is, C was choosen because it houses many forms, PP, Adj, Adv, whereas A was rejected because it houses one form only, A. In other words, iff we chose SVOA, the we would have to add SVOPP, SVOAdj, SVOAdv, so as to describe the other SVO_ sentences, which would make the list of English sentence patterns very long, not to mention no longer basic. SVOC descibes more than one kind of object complement.

Question: What pattern is "She introduced me to her brother."
Answer: SVOO. She = S, introduced = V, me = O (direct object), to her brother = O (indirect object)
Note, introduced is a dirtransitive verb: It takes two objects, introduce X to Y.

Question: What sentence pattern is "She left the room exhausted."
Answer: SVO+Adverb. She =S, left =V, the room =O, exhuasted =Adv. 'exhausted' describes How she left the room. (SVO+Adv)
Note, Exhausted, she left the room. We can move the adverb to the beginning or end of the sentence. Adverbs and other added modifications do not have set, fixed positions. That's why they are not dealt with in the structure of the 5 basic sentence patterns.

Question: What sentence pattern is "I sold him my car brand-new."
Answer: SVOO. I =S, sold =V, him =O (indirect object, i.e. to him), my car =O (direct object), brand-new = Adjective, modifying 'car'. (SVOO).

Note, Non-standard usage, meaning "I sold him my car: brand new, (it was)." For non-native speakers, here's a rule of thumb. Fit the sentence into one of the basic 5 patterns, anything left over is a modification. To find out what role the modification plays, ask yourself the 5Ws: who, what, when, where, how. For example, What kind of car? A brand-new car. Adjective.

Question: What sentence pattern is "The plan struck me as excellent."
Answer: SVOC. The plan=S, struck=V, me=O, as excellent =C, functioning as an adjective modifiying 'the plan'. (SVOC)
Note, It struck me as (being an) excellent (plan). Adjective

I feel I can classify all of the above in any 5 basic patterns, but that is in a loose manner. I'm looking for a more strict approach to analyze these problems.

Funny you mention the word "loose". I suggest you visit the site below.

Basic statement: Bells rang.
Loose sentence: Bells rang, filling the air with their clangor, startling pigeons into flight from every belfry, bringing people into the streets to hear the news.

In short, in order to understand the 5 basic sentence patterns, one must first know the basic structure of English verbs. Look for the verb type (intrans, linking, trans, ditrans, object compl.), find its pattern; anything left over is modification; Ask the 5 Ws. If the sentence is a question, make it into a statement e.g. Why did he go? => He went because/why?; if the sentence is complex, like "Bells rang, filling...,...,...." make it simplex. If the sentence begins with a non-subject, move the subject back to the beginning e.g. At the store is where I found him => I found him at the store. Trust the 5 basic patterns. They are more helpful than you think.

:D
 

MikeNewYork

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infinikyte said:
MikeNewYork said:
That is most likely a leftover from diagraming sentences. In that scheme, modifiers were depicted below the main sentence line.

Hmm.. By diagraming sentences you mean those drawn like a tree structure from left to right?

I'm just thinking that if, based on the fact that those mentioned adverbials behave more like complements than modifiers and thus are necessary to the pattern, I expand the basic five to basic seven (S+V+A and S+V+O+A) and would help the students distinguish this subtle difference. Otherwise I'd have to create subcategories for these adverbials under S+V and S+V+O+A as you said... which I'd think students would accept better than just listing them as mere exceptions. :eek:

Again, I do not see the problem with adverbs and adjectives. I do not consider them complements of the verb or subject; they are modifiers. Take the sentence: She lives in London. The verb is the intransitive form of "live". She lives. She exists. The adverb in unnecessary in the sentence. The prepositional phrase "in London" is an adverbial phrase, modifying the verb "lives".

Take the sentence "She is upstairs." Here, I will disagree with my colleague, Cas. Many will say that a linking verb cannot take an adverb. This is generally true, but forms of the verb "to be" are not always linking verbs. This verb can also be an intransitive stative verb, when it takes on the meaning "to exist". In my opinion, "upstairs" is an adverb, modifying the verb "is". It simply answers the question "where?" as do many adverbs. She exists upstairs.

I see no reason to change the 5 basic patterns.
 

Casiopea

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MikeNewYork said:
Take the sentence "She is upstairs." Here, I will disagree with my colleague, Cas. Many will say that a linking verb cannot take an adverb. This is generally true, but forms of the verb "to be" are not always linking verbs. This verb can also be an intransitive stative verb, when it takes on the meaning "to exist". In my opinion, "upstairs" is an adverb, modifying the verb "is". It simply answers the question "where?" as do many adverbs. She exists upstairs.

:D

1. intransitive (linking) verb: SV+Adv

She is upstairs = She situates herself upstairs. adverb

:D Nice :D
 
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infinikyte

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WOW.... looking at the length of Casiopea's reply alone overwhelms me. Were it an student answer sheet it'd come out 120% on the score! Five thumbs up for Cas :up: :up: :up: :up: :up: Really appreciate your spending time to help me on this!!

Now... I've come across another dichotomy of verbs: complete(needing no complements to complete(sorry for the pun :twisted: ) the meaning of the verb/sentence) and incomplete (needing complements to complete the meaning of the verb/sentence)verbs, which would make out the five basic sentnece patterns as well:

Transitive complete: SVO
Ditransitive complete: SVOO
Transitive incomplete: SVOC
Intransitive complete: SV
Intransitive incomplete: SVC

Here, a verb is emphasized in the relationship with complements. I feel that for the SVC and SVOC cases, this relationship seems to weaken the link between S and C(in SVC) and O and C(in SVOC). So I've never used this concept to explain to my students. What do you think?

Only linking verbs et al take subject complements. That is, C of SVC is known as a subject complement because it describes the subject, never the verb.

That's why I thought the complete-incomplete-verbs idea could be confusing. Seems to me that there are grammar theories don't pan out because they generate too many exceptions, rather than just saying right or wrong.

Yes. C has two factors: 1) Form and 2) Function. "She is at the store." (SVC). C = 'at the store', a prepositional phrase, functioning as an adjective, describing Where the subject (She) is situated.

Yup, complements take virtually any forms. I thought a PP can't be a C. :oops:

If a word is used to describe a verb, then its functions is that of an adverb.

This is a quote from The Little, Brown Handbook, it says exactly what I need to remember in order not to raise these dumb questions.:

The function of a word in a sentence always determines its part of speech in that sentence.

b]Answer[/b]: SVOC. She = S, put =V, her hands = O, in her pockets =C Note, Her hands are in her pockets. 'in her pockets' modifies 'hands'; it tells us where her hands are located.

Darn me! I was too concentrating on "put something in somewhere" that I didn't notice it's a simple O=OC relationship! Only that, why can't I say "in her pockets" functions as an adverb to modify "put"?

Question: What pattern is "She introduced me to her brother."
Answer: SVOO. She = S, introduced = V, me = O (direct object), to her brother = O (indirect object)
Note, introduced is a dirtransitive verb: It takes two objects, introduce X to Y.

That means, we can also say "She introduced her brother me" :shock: , since S+V+IO+DO and S+V+DO+PP+IO are interchangeable? Like "I bought her a present." = "I bought a present for her."

Note, Exhausted, she left the room. We can move the adverb to the beginning or end of the sentence. Adverbs and other added modifications do not have set, fixed positions.

I couldn't find an entry for exhausted as an adverb in the dictionary. Is it the case that an adjective functions as a adverb?? If that's the case, your explanation is all clear to me.

Question: What sentence pattern is "The plan struck me as excellent."
Answer: SVOC. The plan=S, struck=V, me=O, as excellent =C, functioning as an adjective modifiying 'the plan'. (SVOC)
Note, It struck me as (being an) excellent (plan). Adjective

So if it's just written SVOC, we wouldn't know whether the C complements S or O. Thus there are actually two forms: SVO(OC) and SVO(SC), right? However, by your explanation, isn't this sentence more like a reduction from "It struck me as it is an excellent plan"? So it's actually a subordinate clause type.

Funny you mention the word "loose". I suggest you visit the site below.

Yeah, the loose sentences defined are more like rhetorical than grammatical to me, don't you think? And the periodic sentences are just an example of nonfinite clauses.

The 5Ws is a really good help, thanks for that !

:D
 

MikeNewYork

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Casiopea said:
MikeNewYork said:
Take the sentence "She is upstairs." Here, I will disagree with my colleague, Cas. Many will say that a linking verb cannot take an adverb. This is generally true, but forms of the verb "to be" are not always linking verbs. This verb can also be an intransitive stative verb, when it takes on the meaning "to exist". In my opinion, "upstairs" is an adverb, modifying the verb "is". It simply answers the question "where?" as do many adverbs. She exists upstairs.

:D

1. intransitive (linking) verb: SV+Adv

She is upstairs = She situates herself upstairs. adverb

:D Nice :D

Thanks! :lol:
 

MikeNewYork

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infinikyte said:
So if it's just written SVOC, we wouldn't know whether the C complements S or O. Thus there are actually two forms: SVO(OC) and SVO(SC), right? However, by your explanation, isn't this sentence more like a reduction from "It struck me as it is an excellent plan"? So it's actually a subordinate clause type.

No, "as" is a preposition in that sentence and is used in the normal fashion.
 

RonBee

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From the site:

:wink:

Despite some loose spelling, it is well-worth reading, especially for beginning writers.

:D
 

Tdol

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I'd just say that nothing is sacred in language. ;-)
 

Casiopea

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I'll get to your questions in just a moment. First, though, I'd like to provide a bit on the function and distribution of complements.

There are two kinds of subject complements: adjective complements and noun complements.

Adjective complements, also called predicate adjectives, describe the subject, like this:

Mount Fiji is beautiful.
The window is broken.
The sky is blue.

Noun complements, also called predicate nominatives, rename the subject , like this:

She is a doctor. Note, 'a doctor' is a noun phrase.
John is my brother. Note, 'my brother is a noun phrase.
They are writers.

Subject complements follow linking verbs, whereas object complements follow objects. Subjects and objects tend to be nouns. That's why the words that modify subjects and nouns, or rather complete them, tend to be either nouns or adjectives. Other forms such as prepositional phrases and adverbs can in fact modify subjects and objects, but their function is that of a noun or adjective.

There are two kinds of object complements: adjective complements and noun complements. They follow the object. They describe or rename the object.

SVOC Adjective complement
Jackson got the reporters (O) excited (C).

('excited', a past participle, describes 'the reporters', the object, and so its functions is that of an object complement.)

SVOC Noun complement
They elected her (O) President (C).

('President', a noun, renames 'her', the object, and so its function is that of an object complement.)


SVOC can be paraphrased by a SVC structure, like this:

SVOC: They (S) elected (V) her (O) President (C).
SVC: She (S) is President (C).

Complements agree in number (singular/plural) with the words they complete (modify), like this:

They made her (O) a doctor (C).
==> Both 'her' and 'a doctor' are singular in number.

They made them (O) doctors (C).
==> Both 'them' and 'doctors' are plural in number.

:D
 

Casiopea

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I've come across another dichotomy of verbs: complete (needing no complements to complete the verb) and incomplete (needing complements to complete the verb).

Transitive verbs need to transfer their meaning through an object. They are incomplete. Intransitive verbs do not need to transfer their meaning to an object. They are complete within themselves.

Here, a verb is emphasized in the relationship with complements. I feel that for the SVC and SVOC cases, this relationship seems to weaken the link between S and C(in SVC) and O and C(in SVOC). So I've never used this concept to explain to my students. What do you think?

Notice the wording given in the definition for '(in)complete'. The definition refers specifically to verbs, not to subjects and objects. That is, the word completed is made in reference to (in)transitive verbs, not to complements, object and subjects.

Yup, complements take virtually any form. I thought a PP can't be a C. :oops:

Well, it is somewhat confusing to think of a word as having a form as well as a function. It's that duality, I believe, that confuses students, both native speakers and non-native speakers.

Darn me! I was concentrating too much on "put something in somewhere" that I didn't notice it's a simple O=OC relationship! Only that, why can't I say "in her pockets" functions as an adverb to modify "put"?

'She put her hands in her pockets'
'in her pockets'
Form: Prepositional phrase
Function: Adverb of location? Let's test it:
Describes where the action took place. (Huh?) (Not OK)
Function: Object complement.
Describes where the object is located. (Yup)

The verb 'put' has the following structural form: V+NP+PP.

Compare:

'swam' intransitive: SV+Adjunct
We swam in the lake.'in the lake'
Form: prep phrase
Function: adverb
Describes where the action took place. (OK)

*An adjunct is a non-complement. It's added information.

That means, we can also say "She introduced her brother me" :shock: , since S+V+IO+DO and S+V+DO+PP+IO are interchangeable? Like "I bought her a present." = "I bought a present for her."

There are different types of ditransitives (i.e. double object verbs). Verbs like 'bought' undergo dative shift. When we switch the DO and IO we have to add 'for' or 'to'. Ditransitives like the verb 'introduce' however don't follow that pattern:

1. She introduced me (DO) to her brother (IO).
2. She introduced her brother (DO) to me (IO).

In the case of 'introduce' the DO and the IO cannot be switched, only the nouns can be switched, which results in a different meaning:

1. I was introduced first, he was introduced second.
2. He was introduced first, I was introduced second.


I couldn't find an entry for exhausted as an adverb in the dictionary. Is it the case that an adjective functions as a adverb?? If that's the case, your explanation is all clear to me.

The word 'exhausted' has an inflectional -ed suffix. Words are not listed in the dictionary with inflections. Take off the -ed and you'll find the word 'exhaust'. If we add -ed to it we get a past participle in form. In our example sentence:

She left the room exhausted.

'exhuasted' describes her state of being. How she left. (Adverb)
'exhausted' is an adverb.
'exhuasted functions as an adverb.
Sentence Pattern: SVO+Adv

*Sorry. Did I say SVOC originally? Sorry.

Compare:

She left the room a mess.
'a mess' describes the state of 'the room'.
'the room is a mess'
'a mess' functions to describe the object 'the room'.
Sentence Pattern: SVOC

So if it's just written SVOC, we wouldn't know whether the C complements S or O. Thus there are actually two forms: SVO(OC) and SVO(SC), right?

Here's the difference. C of SVOC modifies Objects, whereas C of SVC modifies Subjects. The former has an Object, the latter does not. The Cs are different. C of SVOC can never modify S. Having said that, I see I've erred. Allow me to correct the structural analysis:

The plan struck me as excellent. (SVO) not (SVOC)

The plan (S) struck (V) me (O) as excellent. (SVO+Adjunct)

The excellence of the plan (S) struck (V) me (O). (SVO)

:D
 

MikeNewYork

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Cas!

Excellent posts. Very thorough and well presented. :D
 
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Casiopea said:
Question: What sentence pattern is "I sold him my car brand-new."
Answer: SVOO. I =S, sold =V, him =O (indirect object, i.e. to him), my car =O (direct object), brand-new = Adjective, modifying 'car'. (SVOO).

Note, Non-standard usage, meaning "I sold him my car: brand new, (it was)." For non-native speakers, here's a rule of thumb. Fit the sentence into one of the basic 5 patterns, anything left over is a modification. To find out what role the modification plays, ask yourself the 5Ws: who, what, when, where, how. For example, What kind of car? A brand-new car. Adjective.
:D

"Brand new" is an adjective, without doubt. The question seems to be why is the adjective placed after the noun modified?

I think that we can look at it as a shortened adjective phrase with both the heading preposition "in" and (say) the noun "condition" abandoned, leaving only the modifier "brand new" from the adjective phrase "in a brand-new condition". As an adjective phrase, it's position is not abnormal, in "I sold him my car in a brand new condition". So, SVC? :wink:
 

Tdol

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Is 'brand' an adverb as it modifies 'new'? ;-)
 

Casiopea

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jwschang said:
I think that we can look at it as a shortened adjective phrase with both the heading preposition "in" and (say) the noun "condition" abandoned, leaving only the modifier "brand new" from the adjective phrase "in a brand-new condition". As an adjective phrase, it's position is not abnormal, in "I sold him my car in a brand new condition". So, SVC? :wink:

That's an interesting analysis.

It'd be SVC is V were a linking verb et al, like this:

My car is brand new. (SVC)

Let's look at an SVOC structure:

They named (V) the baby(O) George (C). (SVOC)

'named' takes an object and that object requires a complement. In fact, if we switch the order of the object and the complement the result is ungrammatical:

*They named (V) George (C) the baby (O).

In short, with SVOC structures the O and the C cannot be switched. On the other hand, with SVOO structures the DO and the IO can be switched:

I sold (V) him (IO) the car (DO) brand new. (SVOO+Adjunct)

I sold (V) it (DO) to him (IO) brand new. (SVOO+Adjunct)

Note, 'brand new' is added information; information not required by the verb to express its basic meaning. The same holds true for 'in a brand new condition', as well as other information that's not stated inside the verb's subcategorization frame:

sold [something, to someone]; [someone, something]

:D
 

RonBee

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V =verb
S = subject
O = object
C = complement
DO = direct object
IO = indirect object

Do I have all those right, grammar mavens?

:wink:
 
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