Skip to main content

Hello,

1. She returned to her east London home to find her back door forced open. (Collins dictionary

2. When they got home, Jane cooked their dinner in the microwave oven and without realizing it, cooked her fiancé's wallet as well. Imagine their dismay when they found a beautifully-cooked wallet and notes turned to ash!New concept English)

Questions:

How would you parse "forced open"?  Is it an adjective phrase with open as head?

Is "turned to ash" a modifier of "notes", or is it part of the "find NP Ved" construction?

Thank you,

Robby Zhu

Last edited by Robby zhu
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Hi, Robby zhu—You have asked a very interesting question. In each example, I think that the construction is grammatically parallel: "find" is complemented by a construction in which there is an accusative noun phrase and a past participial verb phrase, and the construction has clausal, passive meaning:

(1a) She found her door forced open.
= She found that her door had been forced open.

(2a) They found the wallet and notes turned to ash.
= They found that the wallet and notes had been turned to ash.

As evidence that "forced open" and "turned to ash" are verb phrases rather than adjective phrases, neither can be intensified by "very." I parse this construction as the past-participial equivalent of the Acc-ing construction (viz., "I don't mind them doing that." The verb "want" can function similarly:

(3) The crime leader wanted the jewelry stolen.
= The crime leader wanted (for) the jewelry to be stolen.

If I have time, I may do some research for you on the construction.

Last edited by David, Moderator

Thank you, David.

The reason I think forced open, turned to ash are AdjPs is that, instead of denoting an action, they denote the state the door and the notes was in respectively. As for "very", I think it's because they are not gradable Adjs.

Do you think these are acceptable:

4. The door seems/is forced open.

5. The notes seems/is turned to ash.

From a non native standpoint, 4 seems fine, but I'm not sure about 5.

@Robby zhu posted:


Do you think these are acceptable:

4. The door seems/is forced open.

5. The notes seems/is turned to ash.

From a non native standpoint, 4 seems fine, but I'm not sure about 5.

Hi, Robby zhu—From a native standpoint, neither (4) nor (5) is acceptable. This is not to say that "forced" can never function as an adjective. It does in sentences like "It was a forced remark" and "The sound seemed forced."

Gradability aside, we are dealing with verb phrases in your examples, not adjective phrases. Clausal meaning is involved. I don't read the participles as object complements. The way to fix (4) and (5) is to use infinitival clauses:

(4a) The door seems to have been forced open.
(5a) The notes seem to have turned to ash.

Interestingly, Quirk et al. (1985) discuss this construction very briefly as a fourth, "peripheral" subtype of the object + -ed participle complementation [C7] pattern (see section 16.54, pp. 1207-1208):

Quote:
"A fourth group is peripheral to this construction:
(iv) Verbs for which the -ed participle describes a resulting state: find, discover, leave.

They found/discovered/left him worn out by travel and exertion.

- A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik. Longman, 1985.

Last edited by David, Moderator


(iv) Verbs for which the -ed participle describes a resulting state: find, discover, leave.

Actually, this is the reason why I asked if(4) and(5) are possible. I thought that if those expressions denote a state, then they can also be used in a copular construction as a subject complement, which turned out to be not true.

So I think even if they are object complement, they are, at least in one respect, different from the object complement proper, i.e. those realized by AdjPs:

6. He found her asleep on the sofa.

7. She was asleep on the sofa. ( When he noticed her.)

Your original analysis seems better:

"find" is complemented by a construction in which there is an accusative noun phrase and a past participial verb phrase, and the construction has clausal, passive meaning:

(1a) She found her door forced open.
= She found that her door had been forced open.

(2a) They found the wallet and notes turned to ash.
= They found that the wallet and notes had been turned to ash.



Last edited by Robby zhu

Hi, David and Robby zhu,

This has been a very interesting discussion. I think sentences (4) and (5) don't work because "forced" and "turned" refer to the actions that caused the door to be open and the papers to be in the form of ashes.

I think a verb that could be interpreted as either verbal or adjectival is "paint":

- The wall is painted red (verbal if the meaning is: Somebody paints the wall red).

- The wall is painted red (adjectival if the meaning is: The wall is covered with red paint).

Thanks for that, Gustavo. Indeed, participles can often be interpreted in either an adjectival or a verbal way. Curme (1933) speaks of this feature as figuring into why they are called participles: they are partly adjectival, partly verbal.

@Robby zhu posted:

So I think even if they are object complement, they are, at least in one respect, different from the object complement proper, i.e. those realized by AdjPs:

6. He found her asleep on the sofa.

7. She was asleep on the sofa. ( When he noticed her.)

I have found one descriptive grammar that does speak of the "find + NP + -ed participle" construction as containing an object complement:

Quote:
Present and past participles can function as OC after a couple of verbs denoting experience or involvement (i.e. expressing that the subject is in some way affected by something).  The verbs in question are catch, find, get and have.
e.g. . . . We found the village deserted.

- Declerck, Renaat. A Comprehensive Descriptive Grammar of English, p. 459. Kaitakusha, Tokyo, 1991.

In generative syntax, however, such constructions have been analyzed as involving "small clauses" (a controversial area). Unfortunately, that is also how "normal" object-complement constructions are analyzed in formal syntax.

That said, there seems clearly to be a noteworthy difference between, e.g., "He found the soup (too) salty"—a prototypical use of object-complement "find"—and "We found the village deserted."

I'd even say there is a noteworthy difference between "He found the soup (too) salty" and "He found her asleep on the couch," despite the fact that the noun phrase following "found" is followed by an adjective in each case.

I think "find" could be deemed a different verb in each case, the "find" in the salty-soup case being equivalent to "think" and the "find" in the asleep-on-the-couch being equivalent to "discover." Each reacts differently to the passive:

(8a) *? The soup was found too salty.
(8b) She was found asleep on the couch.

Also, although (8b) may be equivalent to "She was asleep on the couch when she was found," (8a) is NOT equivalent to "The soup was too salty when it was found" if (8a) is interpreted as the passive of "He found her asleep on the sofa."

It could be that a small clause is involved both in sentences like "He found the soup too salty" and in sentences like "He found her asleep on the sofa" but in different ways

I speculate that the small clause "the soup too salty" is itself the complement of "found" in "He found the soup too salty" and that "her asleep on the sofa" an adjunct small clause in "He found her asleep on the sofa."

With the adjunct interpretation of the small clause in "He found her asleep on the sofa" comes the addition that "her" is the direct object of "found" and the small clause is actually "[PRO: phonetically null pronoun] + asleep on the sofa."

That is my tentative analysis right now, and I apply it to the cases where a participle, present or past, follows the noun phrase following "find," viz., to sentences like "I found him smoking" and "I found the bread burnt."

By analyzing the small clause as an adjunct with a phonetically null pronoun (PRO) in the cases in question, the true direct-object status of the NP following "find" is protected, accounting for viability of the passive in such constructions.

In the other, soup-too-salty type of case, the structure may be something like the following, where a verb phrase complements "found," a verb phrase with a noun phrase in its specifier, this constuting the "small clause." Compare: :

Quote:
(54) They feared [VP Pete V'[ shot by the army]].

In each case an NP (or an NP-trace) occurs in the Specifier position of the XO-complement of the matrix verb, and this NP is the subject of the Small Clause.

- Aarts, Bas. Small Clauses in English, p. 25. TiEL: Mouton de Gruyter. 1992.

Last edited by David, Moderator

Indeed, participles can often be interpreted in either an adjectival or a verbal way. Curme (1933) speaks of this feature as figuring into why they are called participles: they are partly adjectival, partly verbal.

That's an excellent definition.

That said, there seems clearly to be a noteworthy difference between, e.g., "He found the soup (too) salty"—a prototypical use of object-complement "find"—and "We found the village deserted."

I'd even say there is a noteworthy difference between "He found the soup (too) salty" and "He found her asleep on the couch," despite the fact that the noun phrase following "found" is followed by an adjective in each case.

I think "find" could be deemed a different verb in each case, the "find" in the salty-soup case being equivalent to "think" and the "find" in the asleep-on-the-couch being equivalent to "discover." Each reacts differently to the passive:

(8a) *? The soup was found too salty.
(8b) She was found asleep on the couch.

Also, although (8b) may be equivalent to "She was asleep on the couch when she was found," (8a) is NOT equivalent to "The soup was too salty when it was found" if (8a) is interpreted as the passive of "He found her asleep on the sofa."

It could be that a small clause is involved both in sentences like "He found the soup too salty" and in sentences like "He found her asleep on the sofa" but in different ways

I speculate that the small clause "the soup too salty" is itself the complement of "found" in "He found the soup too salty" and that "her asleep on the sofa" an adjunct small clause in "He found her asleep on the sofa."

With the adjunct interpretation of the small clause in "He found her asleep on the sofa" comes the addition that "her" is the direct object of "found" and the small clause is actually "[PRO: phonetically null pronoun] + asleep on the sofa."

That is my tentative analysis right now, and I apply it to the cases where a participle, present or past, follows the noun phrase following "find," viz., to sentences like "I found him smoking" and "I found the bread burnt."

By analyzing the small clause as an adjunct with a phonetically null pronoun (PRO) in the cases in question, the true direct-object status of the NP following "find" is protected, accounting for viability of the passive in such constructions.

In the other, soup-too-salty type of case, the structure may be something like the following, where a verb phrase complements "found," a verb phrase with a noun phrase in its specifier, this constuting the "small clause."

A pleasure to read, David. It is indeed curious that, although a content clause can be used in both cases:

- He found that the soup was too salty.
- He found that she was asleep on the couch.

only "find" meaning "discover" can be used in the passive.

I think this restriction can be circumvented if "to be" is added:

- The soup was found to be too salty.

What do you think?

Last edited by Gustavo, Co-Moderator

Add Reply

×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×