loved ones

Discussion in 'English Only' started by jj88, Nov 27, 2005.

  1. jj88 Senior Member

    English, US
    Hi,

    I have a question about the meaning of "loved ones." Loved ones is a noun that means the people that you love. Is that correct? It's kind of confusing, because "loved" is in the past tense, making it seem like you don't love the people you are referring to anymore.

    thanks in advance,
    john
     
  2. joanpeace Senior Member

    Alberta, Canada
    Canada - English
    I think in this case, "loved" is an adjective, not a verb, therefore there is no tense involved
    "loved ones" = ones who are loved (are = present tense)

    "loving" could also be used as an adjective, i.e. "loving ones" but the meaning would be entirely different. In this case, the ones are doing the loving rather than being the recipient of our love.
     
  3. jj88 Senior Member

    English, US
    oh okay, it's all cleared up now, thanks for your explanation
     
  4. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    The "loved" isn't past, it's part of a passive verbal construction-- people who are loved. You love them, they are loved by you.

    As a set phrase, it means your family. Then by extension, it includes people who are "like family," such as really intimate friends and atypical family members such as "special friends" or same-sex "significant others."

    "Loved ones" not really just people you love, they're the ones who might get summoned to your deathbed, be remembered in your will, name their kids after you. In the funeral-home or mortuary "industry," the "loved one" is a euphemism for the deceased.
    .
     
  5. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    The grammatical classification of "loved" here would be past participle.

    A "participle" is a verb form used as an adjective. A past participle is used passively (the action of the verb is performed on the modified word), while a present participle is used actively (the modified word is performing the action).

    To express that you no longer love these people, you could say "previously/formerly/once loved ones."
     
  6. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I disagree. The part of speech is participial, but the past participle that is used in the present perfect is not used with "to be." That's what makes it adjectival/participial.

    What you describe holds true for "I have loved" and "I had loved," but not "I am loved." There is nothing intrinsically "past" about the participle in present-tense passive formations. I would not call "loved" in this situation a past participle. To be such, it has to be part of a verb, as it is in "I have loved." Even in the passive past tense, "I have been loved," the past participle isn't loved, it's been.
    .
     
  7. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    To me, the "past participle" is a form of a verb, and its definition as such is independent of the various functions that it can complete. It is a principal part of a verb that can take on several grammatical functions.

    1. It can be used to form the perfect tenses (some of which are not past at all):
    I have loved.
    I had loved.
    I will have loved.
    I could have loved.
    etc.

    2. It is used to form the passive voice:
    I am loved.
    I was loved.
    I will be loved.
    I might have been loved.
    etc.

    3. It can be used as a "regular" adjective:
    our loved ones

    4. It can be part of a participial phrase:
    Loved by his parents, the boy had a happy childhood.

    Since the form is consistently the same regardless of the function, I find it suitable to use one name to describe it - if for the sole purpose of facilitating the process of explaining it to learners. The term that happened to have been chosen was "past participle." Does it always sound perfectly logical? Perhaps not, but it's what we've got.

    In the end, though, it's just a question of nomenclature. We all know what we're talking about.
     
  8. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Well, yes and no-- what's efficient and functional for you isn't tantamount to a universal principle. That's why there are competing nomenclatures for all these fringey and more abstract topics, where simple mechanics morphs into something more akin to aesthetics-- the philosophy of grammar.

    You'll find grammars that call "loved" in this context a passive participle. To me this is much more intuitive, and the fact that it is identical in form with the past participle is just one of those things. In any highly-declined or highly-conjugated language there are enclitics that are identical in form, no? For example -um in Latin can mean neuter nominative, masculine accusative, genitive feminine plural-- and so on, ad nauseum. (Well, that's the way everyone spells it-- I know the proper accusative form for feminine words is -am, but I digress.)

    Why call a passive participle past just because it is identical in form? "If I were King" isn't a past-tense formation, and it's just as identical to one as passive participles are to past.

    I wish there were a word like "mood" or "tense" to denote the passive verbal "construction"-- then the participial element of it could be assigned a name, and people who want everything firmly nailed down could rest easy. The same situation exists for gerunds-- a term I wouldn't mind seeing expanded to account for past-looking adjectival formations, to account for expressions like "loved ones" in a non-verbal way, like the gerundive "she is a very loving person."

    No one would confuse that sentence with a present-progressive form, and insist that "loving" in that context was a present participle-- so why do something exactly like that in present-passive forms like "she is loved," or the much more obvious "she is a beloved friend of mine?"

    I vote we call these past-gerundive-looking things "passive participles" as they are already defined in many grammar "rule books." Past in apparent form only, just as "as it were" looks (and sounds) vaguely, and incorrectly, "past" in meaning.
    .
     
  9. zhonglin Senior Member

    Manila
    Mandarin
    Hi,

    I have a question, is it fine to use the term loved ones as singular? "You may give this to your loved one" Does this sound natural?
     
  10. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Ontario, Canada. I grew up in US.
    English (American).
    Singular works.
     
  11. zhonglin Senior Member

    Manila
    Mandarin
    Thank you for your reply, is the singular form "loved one" fairly common in AE and BE?
     
  12. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    Not really. It often applies to family, close friends, and romantic interests as a group. We rarely expect a person to have only one such person.
     
  13. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Ontario, Canada. I grew up in US.
    English (American).
    I see nothing uncommon about, "Why's he sad?" "He lost a loved one in the tornado."
     
  14. zhonglin Senior Member

    Manila
    Mandarin
    Thank you again for all your comments.. what if the situation is that you're given only one flower and you are to give that to only one person, can I say.. Please give it to your loved one (girlfriend.. girlfriend sounds informal so I guess I am looking for some formal term for it).. Another sentence is "will you not ask your loved one on a date in valentines"?
     
  15. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Ontario, Canada. I grew up in US.
    English (American).
    There is no English problem, but it does sound like either excessive diplomacy or a blast from 150 years ago. :)
     
  16. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    Not common is not as strong as "uncommon" which is stronger than "rare." This would be used when you wanted to be vague for some reason.
    While this might be your romantic interest, it also allows you to ask your mother or your sister or your best friend. The person who says this might be unsure whether you date boys or girls and wants to avoid saying "girlfriend"/"boyfriend"/"husband"/"wife". ;)
     
  17. bhstuff New Member

    english

    I think "loved ones" is a term that has been hijacked by people being lazy and unctuous. Similarly to how policemen and medical personnel often refer to people they actually despise as "gentlemen", loved ones has become the ubiquitous substitute for "family" or "friend". Assuming and asserting that every family member is a loved one weakens the meaning of "love" and not so subtly boxes people into expected modes of behavior.
     

Share This Page