owe it to him to reply [extraposition with ditransitive]

< Previous | Next >

loviii

Senior Member
Russian
Sorry for volume.

Example of anticipatory object owe | meaning of owe in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English | LDOCE:
(0) You owe it to him to reply to the invitation.

I think it means something like:
You are obliged to reply to his invitation.

Before I considered, anticipatory objects could appear only with complex transitives (I find it difficult to be here). But in (0) we have the indirect object "to him" (or someone will call it oblique object or preposition + indirect object).

As I'd have thought earlier, (0) was ungrammatical, because if we convert (0) to its initial form before the extraposition - You owe to reply to the invitation to him - we get "owe to inf.", which is not correct since "owe" is transitive and must have an object. Therefore (0) was supposed to be ungrammatical!

By this logic we can have only the next variant:
(1) You owe it to him replying to the invitation.
Because "replying to the invitation" is suitable as object to "owe" in "You owe replying to the invitation to him" as odd as it could sound.

a) What do you think of my issue vision?
b) Can we say (1) and (2) and if we can, then why do we need (0)?
(1) You owe it to him replying to the invitation.
(2) You owe him replying to the invitation.
c) With what else ditransitives can I use the extraposition
d) For example, is it correct to say:
(3) The embassy denied it to him to get the visa. ( = The embassy denied him getting the visa)​

Thanks in advance!
 
Last edited:
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You seem to be tying yourself in knots trying to explain an unchangeable idiom — to “owe it to” someone (often yourself) to do something. It always takes an infinitive.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I think you need to take 'owe it to someone to do something' as an idiom, rather than a possible form of ditransitive construction. None of the other verbs most likely to take a clausal complement (promise, guarantee, order, permit) can take such a construction.

    slowly cross-posted
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I can't claim to understand much of the linguistic logic here, but none of the examples apart from the original (0) with the infinitive construction is idiomatic. Trying to replace it with a gerund certainly doesn't work in (1) or (2).

    You can use "owe" ditransitively, that is with both direct and indirect objects, but I think you would have to do (1) and (2) as "You owe him a reply to the invitation" and (3) as "The embassy denied him the chance of a visa"
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish/AE
    Sorry for volume.

    Example of anticipatory object owe | meaning of owe in Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English | LDOCE:
    (0) You owe it to him to reply to the invitation.

    I think it means something like:
    You are obliged to reply to his invitation.

    Before I considered, anticipatory objects could appear only with complex transitives (I find it difficult to be here). But in (0) we have the indirect object "to him" (or someone will call it oblique object or preposition + indirect object).

    As I'd have thought earlier, (0) was ungrammatical, because if we convert (0) to its initial form before the extraposition - You owe to reply to the invitation to him - we get "owe to inf.", which is not correct since "owe" is transitive and must have an object. Therefore (0) was supposed to be ungrammatical!

    By this logic we can have only the next variant:
    (1) You owe it to him replying to the invitation.
    Because "replying to the invitation" is suitable as object to "owe" in "You owe replying to the invitation to him" as odd as it could sound.

    a) What do you think of my issue vision?
    b) Can we say (1) and (2) and if we can, then why do we need (0)?
    (1) You owe it to him replying to the invitation.
    (2) You owe him replying to the invitation.
    c) With what else ditransitives can I use the extraposition
    d) For example, is it correct to say:
    (3) The embassy denied it to him to get the visa. ( = The embassy denied him getting the visa)​

    Thanks in advance!
    The thing about extraposition is that it creates a fixed construction (i.e. owe it to someone to do something); in other words, you don't turn You owe it to him to reply to the invitation back to its original form before extraposition ("You owe to reply to the invitation to him"), which you then use for your analysis. You've gone down the wrong path if you do this.

    The fixed construction (or "idiom," if you wish) owe it to someone to do something uses the infinitive for a good reason; the infinitive is prospective in nature (it points toward the future). And that makes sense, because "owe" (the obligation) comes first, and the act ("to reply") comes second. If you introduce the -ing "replying" you complicate the message because -ing words are "concurrent" in nature. The implication of this is that "You owe it to him replying to the invitation" sounds as if "owe" and "replying" are happening "concurrently/at the same time," which is not the intended meaning. Cognitively, it's easier for us to process "prospective/to reply" rather than "concurrent/replying."

    Each verb has its own syntax, and not every verb allows extraposition. Therefore, we can't make generalizations (unfortunately); it depends on the verb in question, and I don't think that "deny" allows extraposition (or at least I can't think of a case where it'd be natural, and "The embassy denied it to him to get the visa" doesn't work for me; I'd simply say "The embassy denied him a visa").
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top