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jack

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Apr 24, 2004
Are these correct? What do these mean?
1. I don’t want to break the two of you apart.
2. I don’t want to break you two apart.

Are these correct? If not, why?
3. I don’t want to break the two of you apart. (Why do I have to use 'the'?)
4. I don’t want to break a two of you apart. (Why can't I use 'a'?)
5. I don’t want to break two of you apart. (If this is wrong, why?)
 

Mister Micawber

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1. and 2. are both correct, and mean that the speaker does not wish to interrupt or otherwise separate the two people spoken to.

3. Correct, because it is the same as (1). 'The' because it is a single, specific set of 'two', the two people spoken to.

4. is incorrect for the same reason. There is only one set of 'two'.

5. is incorrect for the same reason. No article means it must be plural-- more than just the two people ('you's) spoken to.
 

jack

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Joined
Apr 24, 2004
So these mean the same thing?
1. I don’t want to break the two of you apart. (What is the point of 'the' here?)
2. I don’t want to break you two apart.

What do these mean?
3. Which would you sooner do - go swimming or play tennis? (Is this correct? How come I never hear anybody say this? It sounds kind of strange.)
4. Which would you do sooner - go swimming or play tennis?
 

Mister Micawber

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(1) The point of the 'the' is that there are only a single pair under discussion. 'The' for specificity.

(1) and (2) have the same meaning.

In (3) and (4), 'sooner' means 'rather'. Adverbs have a certain ability to assume different positions around or within the verb phrase of a sentence. (3) is much the preferred position, and I say it reasonably often. How often do your hear native speakers in conversation, Jack?
 

jack

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Apr 24, 2004
Are these correct? What do they mean?

Is 'up' an adverb in these sentences?
1. He can wake you up.
2. He can wake up you. (This sounds incorrect but it sounds correct as well. If it is incorrect, why?)
 
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Mister Micawber

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'Up' is an adverb in these sentences.

1. 'He can wake you up.' CORRECT. IT MEANS 'HE IS ABLE TO AROUSE YOU FROM SLEEP OR INDOLENCE'.

2. x 'He can wake up you.' INCORRECT. THE PRONOUN MUST TAKE THE MEDIAL POSITION IN PHRASAL VERBS, THOUGH THE NOUN NEED NOT: 'He can wake Jack up'; 'he can wake up Jack'; 'he can wake you up'-- THESE ARE THE CORRECT FORMS.
 
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