a yielding

tagoot

Senior Member
Japanese
[…], complaisant often implies passivity or a yielding to others because of weakness <was too complaisant to protest a decision he thought unfair>.
Definition of COMPLAISANT

I found this sentence interesting. ‘Passivity’ is an abstract noun and its parallel word ‘a yielding’ apparently means a physical instance of yielding. I thought, however, ‘yielding’ without an indefinite article would be suitable because what matters is tendency or mentality to yield.

Could you please explain why you use ‘a yielding’ here? Can’t you say ‘yielding’ instead? What difference do they have? Thank you in advance.
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    The writer has chosen to use the style "complaisant often implies [noun] + [noun]". You are proposing [noun] + [verb]. That is also valid.
     

    tagoot

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    PaulQ, thank you every time.
    You are proposing [noun] + [verb].
    I thought that ‘a yielding’ was an indefinite article & gerund. Gerund of course functions as a kind of noun although it is derived from verb, and gerund sometimes takes indefinite article as in ‘I heard a knocking on the door’(in this cace an instance of knocking is easy to understand). If so, does this gerund ‘yielding’ need an indefinite article or not in the original sentence? If both are acceptable, don’t they have any difference?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    "complaisant often implies.. [noun] +..... [noun]"
    "complaisant often implies passivity or a yielding
    Gerund of course functions as a kind of noun
    :thumbsup:
    If so, does this gerund ‘yielding’ need an indefinite article or not in the original sentence?
    It is a acting as a countable noun, therefore it must have an article. Obviously, if it acts as a verb (which it does not here) then it cannot have an article.
    If both are acceptable, don’t they have any difference?
    There is no semantic difference, but there is a difference in style: the "a yielding" is more formal.
     

    tagoot

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    PaulQ, thank you again for taking the time and trouble to answer a further question of mine.

    It is acting as a countable noun, therefore it must have an article.
    My question is why the gerund ‘yielding’ is treated as a countable noun here.
    Gerund does take indefinite article as countable noun sometimes, but it’s very rare.
    Almost all the time gerund is treated as an abstract noun like:
    We considered taking the train instead of the bus.
    I remember meeting her at a party once.

    You don’t say “We considered a taking the train instead of the bus.”, do you?

    Is there clear principle to differentiate and to properly use “countable” and “uncountable” gerund?
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    You don’t say “We considered a taking the train instead of the bus.”, do you?
    This is irrelevant as taking has more of the verbal about it, (taking the train is a noun phrase.)

    As I see it:

    a yielding -> an instance or example of someone/something yielding.
    yielding -< adjectival and verbal.
    The yielding wood broke into sharp splinters.
    "Yielding to his advances, she allowed him to kiss her." -> She yielded to his advances and she allowed him to kiss her."

    This may be of help: Gerund or participle? We are trying to adjust to the new ways of girls <venturing> forth
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Gerund does take indefinite article as countable noun sometimes, but it’s very rare.
    We may never know why the dictionary author chose to emphasize that "yielding" is countable here. Dictionary definitions are highly specialized and unusual forms of language and their authors can express things in very odd ways.
     

    RedwoodGrove

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Most likely in this case the article "a" is used to stress the fact that it is a noun, while there is no doubt about "passivity". When you say "a yielding" it can also emphasize that it is an example rather than an action.
     

    tagoot

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    PaulQ, se16teddy, RedwoodGrove
    Thank you for all of your extensive discussion.

    To sum it up, are both of the following correct, and which sounds more natural?

    A. Complaisant often implies passivity or a yielding to others because of weakness.

    B. Complaisant often implies passivity or yielding to others because of weakness.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    A. Complaisant often implies passivity or a yielding to others because of weakness.

    B. Complaisant often implies passivity or yielding to others because of weakness.

    C: Complaisant often implies a passivity, or a yielding to others because of weakness.

    D: Complaisant often implies a passivity towards, or a yielding to, others because of weakness.

    I remind myself that this is a dictionary definition and, thus, formal. I prefer B A1 for the formal parallelism of a clear 'noun - noun'.

    You now have twice as many options... :)

    1Edited 00:45 local
     
    Last edited:

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I much prefer B, 'passivity' and 'yielding' without an article, for stylistic parallelism. I can imagine why the author might have chosen to use the indefinite article: perhaps 'a yielding' means a certain sort or degree of yielding. Paul's suggested D is in some ways the 'best', but is it really necessary to be so explicit and clunky about the prepositions, passivity towards and yielding to. I don't think so.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    C and D have too many words and commas - I added them as a demonstration of the flexibility of English.

    There's nothing indistinct about passivity being a noun and the "a" confirms that "yielding" is a noun.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    If parallelism is a concern, there's no reason to have the indefinite article before 'yielding'. It's a perfectly legitimate verbal noun without an article.
     

    tagoot

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    PaulQ, Hermione Golightly, RedwoodGrove, se16teddy
    Thank you all for the extensive discussion.

    As a temporary conclusion, I feel like I can say that B. “Complaisant often implies passivity or yielding to others because of weakness.” is more natural.

    Thank you again.
     
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