[MUD-Dev] English grammar thoughts

Kylotan kylotan at kylotan.eidosnet.co.uk
Sat Oct 20 05:49:19 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

From: Par Winzell <zell at skotos.net>

> So, first, what I think I know: in English, the direct object is
> the answer to the question 'What did you put? wave? fill? nod?' 
> and thus invariant under word-order juggling -- in

>   'wave my sword at the sky'

> and

>   'wave at the sky with my sword'

> the direct object is the sword in both cases. If this were true,
> it'd mean that direct objects can have prepositions in front of
> them, which I had previously thought they could not.

No; not really. In the 2nd case, the sky is the direct object and
the sword is indirect. You see, in the second sentence, you're using
a different verb "to wave at" which is different to "to wave". For
some intents and purposes, you can consider 'wave' to be a single
verb that is simply used in different grammatical contexts, but not
really this case. Compare "to look" with "to look at" for a clearer
example: "to look" = "to appear" whereas "to look at" = "to
watch". Different verbs, they just happen to share a word when you
use certain synonyms.

>     [ I think there's always a preposition before the direct object ]

I think you meant indirect object here...

> Finally, does anybody know what the relationship is between the
> notions of on one hand direct and indirect objects and the object
> of the preposition, and on the other hand noun cases like
> nominative, accusative, dative, etc?

The dative is the indirect object, in all the work I've done, but
maybe there are situations where this isn't always the case, given
that I am no grammar expert.

Ben Sizer

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