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Summary Direct Object - undergo the action denoted by the verb.

Direct Object can be a Noun Phrase, Prepositional Phrase, Finite Clauses, and NonFinite Clause.

Realisations of the Direct Object


Direct Objects are usually constituents which refer to an entity that can be said to undergo the action denoted by the verb. The way we put it in Chapter 2 was to say that Direct Objects typically have the semantic role of Patient. A simple way of determining what is the Direct Object in a particular sentence is to ask Who or what is affected by the action denoted by the verb? For example, in (37) if we ask What is affected by the process of losing? the answer is his keys. This NP is therefore the DO of the sentence. Now we must address the question how DOs can be realised syntactically. Direct Objects can be realised by the following range of phrases and clauses: Noun Phrases, Prepositional Phrases, finite clauses and non-finite clauses. Lets start with some simple examples of NPs as Direct Objects: NPs functioning as Direct Object (38) Sarah admires [NP the President]. (39) Ralph enjoys [NP her company]. (40) William lit [NP the barbecue]. (41) Nina described [NP the event].

Prepositional Phrases as DO are even rarer than Prepositional Phrases as Subject, but some possible structures are shown in (42) and (43): PPs functioning as Direct Object (42) Speaker A Where will the new discotheque be built? Speaker B I dont know, but the council rejected [PP behind the church]. (43) Speaker A Are you going on holiday before or after Easter? Speaker B I prefer [PP before Easter]. Like PPs as Subjects, PPs as Direct Objects tend to be locative phrases or phrases specifying a time span. Let us now turn to examples of Direct Objects in the form of clauses. First I will give some examples of finite DO clauses. In (44)(47) we have that-clauses as Direct Objects, and in (48)(51) we have Wh-clauses: Finite clauses functioning as Direct Object That-clauses functioning as Direct Object (44) The government believes [that the voters are stupid ]. (45) She admits [that she ignored the red light]. (46) Maggie doubts [that her boyfriend will ever change]. (47) We regret [that we appointed you]. Finite Wh-clauses functioning as Direct Object (48) He knows [what she means]. (49) He explained [who would be in charge of the investigation]. (50) I dont remember [why Paul said that].

(51) They finally decided [where they will send their child to school ]. 76 The FunctionForm Interface Nonfinite Direct Object clauses can be realised by all five types of nonfinite clause: to-infinitive clauses, bare infinitive clauses, -ing participle clauses, -ed participle clauses and Small Clauses. Well start with examples of to-infinitive clauses as Direct Objects, both with a Subject of their own, as in (52)(55), and without a Subject of their own, as in (56)(63). To-infinitive DO clauses without a Subject of their own can be of two types: either they are not introduced at all, as in (56)(59), or they are introduced by a Wh-word, as in (60)(63): Nonfinite clauses functioning as Direct Object To-infinitive clauses functioning as Direct Object with a Subject of their own: (52) Ann considers [Helen to be an excellent director]. (53) They believe [the tabloid newspapers to contain nothing but smut]. (54) The company expects [its employees to dress smartly]. (55) She imagined [the others to want promotion]. without a Subject of their own: (56) Gary wants [to leave]. (57) We hope [to see you soon]. (58) They expect [to leave the country within twenty-four hours]. (59) She proposed [to open a restaurant in London]. without a Subject of their own, introduced by a Wh-word: (60) He forgot [what to say to the examiners]. (61) The dentist couldnt decide [who to see next]. (62) They told their family [when to come over]. (63) You should know [how to do arithmetic without a calculator]. You will remember from the previous section, when we were looking at nonfinite Subject clauses without a Subject of their own, that a Subject was nevertheless recoverable from the context, or from our knowledge of the world. For example, in (21), repeated here (64) [To surrender our arms] will seem cowardly. the understood Subject of the subordinate clause is us: for us to surrender our arms would be cowardly. We are faced with a similar situation in the case of nonfinite Direct Object clauses without a Subject, except that now a Realisations of the Direct Object 77 Subject is recoverable from the matrix clause. For example, the implied Subject of each of the subordinate clauses in (56)(63) is the Subject of the matrix clause. To illustrate this, consider (56): here it is clear that Gary is the Subject both of the wanting and the leaving. Let us turn now to bare infinitive clauses as Direct Object. You will recall that such clauses contain an infinitive without the particle to. Bare infinitive clauses as DO always contain a Subject: Bare infinitive clauses functioning as Direct Object (65) We saw [the sun rise]. (66) Rick could hear [his tutor rage with anger]. (67) She made [her boyfriend cry]. (68) I let [the situation pass]. The verbs that take bare infinitive clauses as DO are mostly verbs of perception (see, hear) and so-called causative verbs, i.e. verbs that denote a process of causation (make, let ). There are three remaining types of Direct Object clause: -ing participle clauses, -ed participle clauses and Small Clauses. Like to-infinitive clauses, Direct Object -ing participle clauses can occur both with and without a Subject of their own. Where the subordinate clause has no Subject, it is interpreted as being the same as the matrix clause Subject.

-ing participle clauses functioning as Direct Object with a Subject of their own: (69) I heard [Jamie singing in the bath]. (70) The witness saw [someone running away]. (71) They remember [the cast rehearsing for days]. (72) We could smell [something burning]. without a Subject of their own: (73) She abhors [eating meat]. (74) Willy intended [registering for the exams]. (75) Ray regrets [buying a sportscar]. (76) I cant imagine [travelling to Moscow]. Direct Object clauses can also occur in the form of an -ed participle clause. Like bare infinitive DO clauses, -ed participle clauses always take a Subject: 78 The FunctionForm Interface -ed participle clauses functioning as Direct Object (77) We had [the prisoners jailed ]. (78) She watched [the ship moored]. (79) I need [my watch repaired]. (80) They found [the front door locked]. Finally, here are some examples of SCs functioning as Direct Object: Small clauses functioning as Direct Object (81) Martin considers [Tim a creep]. ((16) of Chapter 4) (82) Larry judges [the Head of Department a genius]. (83) Phil deems [Henry foolish] (84) Katie thinks [us clever].