[MUD-Dev] English grammar thoughts

Jasper McChesney jasperm at student.umass.edu
Mon Oct 22 08:28:48 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


Just one or two things I didn't mention in my last post on this....

Travis Casey wrote:
 
> Why not?  The action of "waving" is the same either way.  If "to
> wave at" is a different verb, than are "to wave in the direction
> of" and "to wave towards" also different verbs?  These are simply
> modifying phrases indicating the direction in which one is waving.

Technically it is the same verb, but it has both a transitive and
intrasitive use; meaning one form in which is takes a direct object
and one where it doesn't.  The second example ("wave at the sky with
my sword") has no direct object (and is thus intransitive).

The main thing about prepositional phrases is that you can remove
them and the sentance still retains its main meaning.  The second
example is fundamentally saying just "wave."  "At the sky" and "with
my sword" modify the main action, and don't act as objects.

The first example ("wave my sword at the sky"), on the other hand,
has a basic meaning "wave my sword."  which is quite different from
just "wave."  Even though, after we've prased them in our minds,
they have basically the same meaning, they're gramatically
different.

>> Compare "to look" with "to look at" for a clearer example: "to
>> look" = "to appear" whereas "to look at" = "to watch".
 
> Not necessarily.  "He looks north" does not mean that someone
> appears to be north, whatever that would mean -- it means that he
> is watching in the direction north.

Right, north is an adverb (AFAIK).  "Look" is always an intransitive
verb in English, it never takes a direct object.

>   http://latin.gal.ohio-state.edu/grammar/english_cases.htm

So I was in fact wrong on that bit, sorry.  We do, technically, have
those cases (well, some of them), it's just that the word form
doesn't change.

--
Jasper "Asmaul" McChesney
jasperm at student.umass.edu / jasp at javanet.com
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