Object and complement with to-infinitives

Discussion in 'English Only' started by kukujiji, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. kukujiji New Member

    Being new comer,seniors! Forgive my mistakes please.

    I have one confusion about object and compliment while using to- infinitives; as, birds love to sing.
    In this sentence' birds' is subject', 'love' is transitive verb, 'to sing' is to-infinitive and object.
    Same is the case with ; To find fault is easy. 'To find fault ' is subject, 'is' is verb and 'easy' is object.

    Now; His greatest pleasure is to sing. 'His greatest pleasure' is subject, 'is' is verb and 'to sing' is complement not an object. Why?
    Question is that is it a rule to take object only after transitive verbs? And 'is' takes complements not objects? Please give any example in which to-infinitive is used as a complement not followed by 'is' but any other verb.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 26, 2011
  2. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    1. The verb "be" takes a complement not an object.
    complement: a. a noun phrase that follows a copula or similar verb, as for example an idiot in the sentence He is an idiot (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/complement)

    copula: Also called linking verb. Grammar . a verb, e.g. be, seem, or look, that serves as a connecting link or establishes an identity between subject and complement. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/copula

    "The kettle seemed to sing"
  3. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    Only verbs that are transitive can take objects, as this is what the term means. Verbs like be (sometimes called "linking verbs") aren't transitive (other than in exceptional usages) and don't take objects. The words they link to the subject (often adjectives) are not objects, they are complements to the subject (subject complements). These verb don't do something to the subject, they tell you something about its state or condition or equate the subject to another thing:

    To find faultS is easyC (easy is not the object here, it is the complementC of the subjectS "to find fault").

    His greatest pleasureS is to singC (it's the same here: the two things are equated)

    Subject complements are only used with "linking verbs", like be, become, seem, etc. Note that some verbs are linking verbs sometimes, but not always:
    "The cat looked uncomfortable." (linking verb)
    "The cat looked for her dinner." ("action" verb)

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