I lately lost a preposition

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Wed Feb 13 15:32:15 UTC 2008

On Feb 11, 2008, at 10:54 AM, Philip Cleary wrote:

>> so "agree", with or without a preposition, is just a routine verb in
>> english with respect to the kinds of objects it occurs with.
>> the pattern of "proceed" in the examples we've seen so far is
>> different: a bare NP direct object (and then a very specific kind of
>> direct object):
>>  He proceeded B.A. in 1962.
> I happened to watch Lawrence of Arabia last night. There's a scene in
> which Gen. Allenby says, "I'm promoting you major." Is this the same
> phenomenon? I would have said, "I'm promoting you to major."

not exactly the same phenomenon.  "promote" can take two NP
complements, one (a direct object) denoting the person or thing
promoted, the other (normally a complement marked by the preposition
"to") denoting the position to which that person or thing is
promoted.  the first of these is an ordinary (full) NP, but the second
can be (though doesn't have to be) a bare NP:
   I'm promoting you to major. [bare NP]
   I'm promoting you to the rank of major. [full NP (containing a bare
   I'm promoting you to the vice-presidency. [full NP]

"proceed", for most of us, is an intransitive, with a complement
marked by "to" -- and the complement must be a full NP:
   He proceeded to the B.A. in 1962. [full NP]
   *He proceeded to B.A. in 1962. [bare NP]
so it's different from "promote".  i'll return to "proceed" in another

   I'm promoting you major.
could be viewed as a P-less variant of
   I'm promoting you to major. 'I'm promoting you to be a major'
or it could be viewed as an extension of "promote" to the pattern of
"elect" and "appoint" (with a bare NP and P-less second complement),
as in
   We'll elect you vice-president.
these two views aren't necessarily incompatible; the "elect" pattern
could be understood as a rationale for the omission of "to".

the syntax of verbs with a direct object and a second complement
denoting a role or rank is complicated.  for me, "select" and "choose"
don't work like "elect", but require a second complement in "as":
   We'll select/choose you as vice-president.  *We'll select/choose
you vice-president.
there probably are people who allow the "double-object" pattern for
"select" and/or "choose".  i'm certain that there are people who allow
the double-object pattern for "vote" --
   We'll vote him vice-president.
though this isn't natural for me.  in any case, there are all sorts of
intricate details here, with verbs of similar semantics occurring in
different constructions, so that there's plenty of room for pattern


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