Preposition or No Preposition

Hello, everyone,

1. He used the pen gifted him by his father to sign his maiden contract.

2. He calculated the money spent him by his family.

Are these sentences correct? If yes, what is the underlying structure?

Thanks.

Original Post
ahmad posted:

1. He used the pen gifted him by his father to sign his maiden contract.
2. He calculated the money spent him by his family.

Are these sentences correct? If yes, what is the underlying structure?

Hello, Ahmad,

Neither sentence is good, but (2) is much worse than (1). Indeed, (2) is incorrect. The title you have given this thread is "Preposition or No Preposition." The answer is: Preposition. Sentence (1) needs "to," and (2) needs "on."

(1a) He used the pen gifted to him by his father to sign his maiden contract.
(2a) He calculated the money spent on him by his family.

Sentence (1) is not ungrammatical, even without "to." The underlying structure of "gifted him by his father" is "which was gifted him by his father," which in turn has the underlying structure "which his father gifted him."

The underlying structure of "gifted to him by his father," in (1a), is "which was gifted to him by his father," which in turn has the underlying structure "which his father gifted to him."

The underlying structure "spent on him by his family," in (2a), is "which was spent on him by his family," which in turn has the underlying structure "which his family spent on him." You CANNOT say, *"His family spent him money" or *"Money was spent him by his family." In other words, the preposition can't be omitted.

Don't be afraid not to use the passive voice. I'd prefer the active voice in these sentences: "He used the pen his father (had) gifted to him to sign his maiden contract" (or "He signed his maiden contract with the pen his father (had) gifted to him"); "He calculated the money his family (had) spent on him."

David, Moderator posted
The underlying structure of "gifted him by his father" is "which was gifted him by his father," which in turn has the underlying structure "which his father gifted him."
 

Hi, David, 

Would be so kind as to help me understand this structure? I don't know anything about it at all.

Hello, Ahmad,

Are you familiar with indirect objects and the so-called Dative Alternation?

A sentence like:

"Sally gave a doughnut to Peter." [direct object = "a doughnut"]

can be transformed to:

"Sally gave Peter a doughnut." [indirect object = "Peter"; DO = "a doughnut"]

which is equivalent in meaning to the first sentence.

Passivized, the first sentence reads, "A doughnut was given to Peter by Sally."

Passivized, the second reads, "Peter was given a doughnut by Sally."

It is also grammatical to passivize the second sentence like this:

"A doughnut was given Peter by Sally."

However, that order is unusual, especially in American English.

In (1), you have that unusual structure in a reduced relative clause.

If you don't know what I mean by a reduced relative clause, I'll continue the story.

Thanks a lot, David. I don't think there is any need to continue that story as of now. However, there is something which I need  a clarification of.

" PP NP structures though regarded as ungrammatically can seldom be found." 

The above quote is from the source accessible via the below link.

http://www.glottopedia.org/ind...p/Dative_alternation

Would you please provide an example for PP NP structures, apart from shedding light on its acceptability or otherwise?

Thanks.

ahmad posted:

" PP NP structures though regarded as ungrammatically can seldom be found." 

[. . .]

Would you please provide an example for PP NP structures, apart from shedding light on its acceptability or otherwise?

Hello, Ahmad,

"Indirect object" is a term that is used in different ways by different grammarians and textbook authors. I use "indirect object" in reference to the first NP object in what they are calling the double-object construction.

I, too, use "double-object construction" instead of "indirect-object construction," but I tend to do so only in my private thinking about grammar or when talking to linguists. I use "indirect-object construction" when teaching learners.

The other construction I refer to, simply, as "the related prepositional construction." I would never call the object of a preposition an indirect object, though some grammarians and many ESL teachers do.

As to your new question, they are calling the related prepositional construction both the indirect-object construction and the "NP PP" construction. The sentence of theirs that you have quoted is ungrammatical:

*PP NP structures though regarded as ungrammatically can seldom be found.

I think they meant to write "regarded as ungrammatical." Perhaps they started to write a different sentence and "ungrammatically" is residue from the original. In any case, that particular Glottopedia sentence is ungrammatical.

I am guessing that by "PP NP structures" they mean "NP PP structures" in reverse order. But, again, it is hard to make assumptions about the meaning of an ungrammatical sentence. That's one reason why grammar is so important.

Assuming that they did mean to refer to "NP PP structures" in reverse order, the reverse order ("PP NP") does sometimes happen, and it generally does when the NP is "heavy," i.e., big/long. I'll illustrate by changing their example slightly:

  • The girl gave to the cat a brand new cat outfit that her grandmother had knitted.

In that sentence, the noun phrase "a brand new cat outfit that her grandmother had knitted" is the NP, just as "milk" is in the Glottopedia example, and "to the cat" is the PP. Notice that the above example is stylistically superior to this:

  • The girl gave a brand new cat outfit that her grandmother had knitted to the cat.

In that sentence, the reader might initially think that "to the cat" is an adverbial related to "knitted" ("knitted to the cat"???) instead of what it really is, a prepositional phrase related to "gave."

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