elicit = transitive or intransitive?

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sb70012

Senior Member
Azerbaijani/Persian
By questioning the witness, the attorney elicited that it was raining at the time of the accident.
Source: vocabulary for the high school student

Hello,
Dictionaries say that [elicit] is a transitive verb. But in the above example it seems to be used as an intransitive. Isn't it? It made me confused. Would you please be kind enough to clarify its function in the above example?

Thank you.
 
  • DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    It is transitive, but the object there is the clause "that it was raining...".

    Or, if it makes it any easier to understand "...the attorney elicited the fact [= that it was raining at the time of the accident]. :)
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    But after a transitive verb we can not use relative adjective [that]. An object should be used immediately after a transitive verb. Shouldn't it?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    But after a transitive verb we can not use relative adjective [that]. An object should be used immediately after a transitive verb. Shouldn't it?
    No, not necessarily. You could have a conversation which went:
    - "My friend told me something interesting (direct object) last night".
    - "Oh, what (direct object) did he say?"
    - "He told me that he's going out with my ex! (object clause)". :)
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    Thanks for answering but I couldn't understand your explanation.
    - "He told me that he's going out with my ex! (object clause)". :)
    Look, [told] is a transitive verb and after it, the object [me] has been put there. The relative adjective [that] has not put after the transitive verb (told). The relative adjective (that) has been put after the object (me). Not after the transitive verb (told).

    In your example the relative adjective has been put after the object (me) not after the transitive verb (told).
    But in my example the relative adjective (that) has been put right exactly after the transitive verb (elicited) which makes me confused.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    The combination [elicit that], where "that" is a conjunction, sounds odd to me.
    Thank you. Yes, that's why I started this thread.
    This is an odd structure ===> Transitive verb + relative adjective (that)
    This is acceptable ===> Transitive verb + an object + relative adjective (that)
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Thanks for answering but I couldn't understand your explanation.

    Look, [told] is a transitive verb and after it, the object [me] has been put there. The relative adjective [that] has not put after the transitive verb (told). The relative adjective (that) has been put after the object (me). Not after the transitive verb (told).

    In your example the relative adjective has been put after the object (me) not after the transitive verb (told).
    But in my example the relative adjective (that) has been put right exactly after the transitive verb (elicited) which makes me confused.
    Sorry if I've confused you. :oops:

    In the sentences I made up, "me" is an indirect object of the transitive verb.

    I was just querying your impression that a transitive verb must always be followed by its direct object, because whiler I agree that that is the usual, most common word order, there's nothing grammatically wrong with either:
    - "My friend told me something interesting last night".
    - "He told me that he's going out with my ex!"
    or - "By questioning the witness, the attorney elicited that it was raining at the time of the accident".
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    Don't you agree with Soundshift that [elicit that] is an odd construction?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think it's just a case of ellipsis; you can read it as "elicited [the information] that it was raining..."
    I do agree with Donny though - I think "elicit" can be followed by an object clause "that it was raining at the time of the accident".

    It's similar to "He admitted that it was raining", isn't it?.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Don't you agree with Soundshift that [elicit that] is an odd construction?
    I'd certainly tend to agree that that particular example isn't a very good one.

    But going back to your original query about objects directly following transitive verbs, you could I think easily alter the sentence to read:
    "The attorney elicited from the witness [the fact] that the defendant had been lying." :)
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    Donny,
    Again I don't accept these structures as correct English:

    To elicit from => 'from' is a preposition here. We need an object after a transitive verb. I think it's always wrong.
    To elicit that => 'that' is a relative adjective. We need an object after a transitive verb. I think it's always wrong.

    Look at these examples:

    1. Short questions are more likely to elicit a response. => perfect English
    (elicit + a response) = (transitive + object)

    2. He, at least, was successful in eliciting an answer. => perfect English
    (elicit + an answer) = (transitive + object)

    3. The questionnaire was intended to elicit information on eating habits. => perfect English
    (elicit + information) = (transitive + object)

    Your example:

    4. The attorney elicited from the witness [the fact] that the defendant had been lying. => odd English
    This is odd for some reasons:
    1. After 'elicit' you shouldn't use the preposition (from). Because 'elicit' is transitive. Look at my three examples.

    an object is needed right exactly after 'elicit'
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    It's similar to "He admitted that it was raining", isn't it?.
    I disagree with you it's not similar to my example.
    'admit' in your sentence has been used as an intransitive.
    But 'elicit' is always transitive.

    Isn't it?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    The American Heritage Dictionary lists "admit" (tr) with an example of transitive use. The object there is a "that clause".
    https://ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=admit


    v.ad·mit·ted, ad·mit·ting, ad·mits
    v.tr.
    1.
    a.
    To grant to be real, valid, or true; acknowledge or concede:Even proponents of the technology admit that it doesn't always work as well as it should.
    b.
    To disclose or confess (guilt or an error, for example).
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    1. That it was raining at the time of the accident is now an indisputable fact. The italic clause is a noun clause and the subject of the sentence.

    2. It is an answer that the witness provided in response to the questioning. It is the subject of this sentence and it represents the italic noun clause in 1.The italic is a noun. It is the complement of "It is".

    3. That it was raining at the time of the accident is an answer that the witness provided in response to the questioning. This takes sentences 1 and 2 and combines them into one sentence. (Noun clause - is - noun ...)

    4. The questioning elicited an answer from the witness. A simple sentence, with a simple noun as the object of elcicited.

    5. The questioning elicited that it was raining at the time of the accident. This combines sentences 3 and 4 into one with a noun clause as the object of elicited.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Maybe this definition of elicit in the (big) Oxford English Dictionary will help, sb (my highlighting):

    To bring out, educe (principles, truths, etc.) from the data in which they are implied. Also, to extract, draw out (information) from a person by interrogation; sometimes with object clause introduced by that.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    Completely understood.
    Thanks a million everybody.
    I don't know how to thank you.
     
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