postpone <making> a decision

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gholiat

Member
Indonesian
I always see a sentence with the form like this, "I'd like to postpone making a decision for a month" or "I was born eating fried rice". This kind of sentence format always confuse me, the "making" and "eating" position, isn't there supposed a word "for" in front of the gerund/verb ?
P.S : I got it from a movie subtitle
 
  • MrMuselk

    Senior Member
    English - South East England
    No, at least not in these expressions. To be born for eating means something similar, but Being born eating fried rice simply means you love eating fried rice. The gerund doesn’t always have to have “for” in front.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    "Making a decision" is a gerund clause, which functions here as an object in the same way that a noun phrase would:

    I postponed my vacation.
    I postponed making a decision
    . (I postponed the making of a decision)

    Another way to look at it:
    Postpone is a catenative verb: it can be followed directly by an -ing form verb.
     

    MrMuselk

    Senior Member
    English - South East England
    "Making a decision" is a gerund clause, which functions here as an object in the same way that a noun phrase would:

    I postponed my vacation.
    I postponed making a decision
    . (I postponed the making of a decision)
    :thumbsup:
     

    gholiat

    Member
    Indonesian
    "Making a decision" is a gerund clause, which functions here as an object in the same way that a noun phrase would:

    I postponed my vacation.
    I postponed making a decision
    . (I postponed the making of a decision)

    Another way to look at it:
    Postpone is a catenative verb: it can be followed directly by an -ing form verb.
    What is catenative verb ?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    What is catenative verb ?
    These are the verbs that can be followed immediately by a non-finite verb. You probably know the most frequently-used ones; you can find lists of them online. Postpone may be followed by the -ing form (gerund/participle).


    "A catenative verb is a verb that controls a non-finite complement. 'Catenative' means 'chaining' and reflects the way that the verb can link recursively with other catenatives to form a chain, as in:
    We decided to try to rent a house near the sea.

    Here there is a chain of three verbs: decide, try and rent, with to try to rent a house near the sea functioning as the catenative complement of decide, and to rent a house near the sea functioning as the catenative complement of try."
    (Angela Downing, English Grammar: A University Course. Routledge, 2006)

    What Are Catenative Verbs in English?
    Be born to do something - is standard. Be born doing (something) - is unusual usage, but it seems to me to be grammatically similar to your other example. Note that "making a decision" is a direct object, whereas "eating fried rice" is a verb phrase complement.

    We are not born knowing right from wrong.
    We are born crying, live complaining, and die disappointed.
    I was born eating fried rice.
     

    gholiat

    Member
    Indonesian
    These are the verbs that can be followed immediately by a non-finite verb. You probably know the most frequently-used ones; you can find lists of them online. Postpone may be followed by the -ing form (gerund/participle).




    Be born to do something - is standard. Be born doing (something) - is unusual usage, but it seems to me to be grammatically similar to your other example. Note that "making a decision" is a direct object, whereas "eating fried rice" is a verb phrase complement.

    We are not born knowing right from wrong.
    We are born crying, live complaining, and die disappointed.
    I was born eating fried rice.
    But isn't "eating fried rice" a participle phrase ?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    But isn't "eating fried rice" a participle phrase ?
    Eating fried rice, I was born - yes, there it would be a participle phrase (adjectival,modifying "I"), but I'm not sure how it functions in your sentence. Perhaps someone else will be able to help.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    "I was born eating fried rice" is something that cannot literally be true, because the digestive system of a new-born child would not be able to handle it.
    What it means is something like "I have always eaten fried rice as far back as I can remember. I may as well have been eating it since the moment I was born." I would understand its grammar as the participle phrase acting in the capacity of an adjective, modifying "I", and therefore "was born" in effect acting as a linking verb. The structure is similar to "I was born hungry" (meaning I have been hungry from the moment I was born). Prepositional phrases can also act as adjectives, for example in "I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth".

    An alternative interpretation is that the participle phrase acts as an adverb, modifying the verb "was born", but I think the adjective is more likely, since the speaker seems to be using "eating fried rice" as representing a kind of permanent state in which they have always been.
     

    gholiat

    Member
    Indonesian
    "I was born eating fried rice" is something that cannot literally be true, because the digestive system of a new-born child would not be able to handle it.
    What it means is something like "I have always eaten fried rice as far back as I can remember. I may as well have been eating it since the moment I was born." I would understand its grammar as the participle phrase acting in the capacity of an adjective, modifying "I", and therefore "was born" in effect acting as a linking verb. The structure is similar to "I was born hungry" (meaning I have been hungry from the moment I was born). Prepositional phrases can also act as adjectives, for example in "I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth".

    An alternative interpretation is that the participle phrase acts as an adverb, modifying the verb "was born", but I think the adjective is more likely, since the speaker seems to be using "eating fried rice" as representing a kind of permanent state in which they have always been.
    does it also mean like this "I was born for eating fried rice" ? and if it's a adjective that modifies "I", shouldn't "eating fried rice" be placed like this, "eating fried rice, I was born". You get what I mean right ?
     
    Last edited:

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    does it also mean like this "I was born for eating fried rice" ?
    No, that would be completely different. It would mean your purpose in life was to eat fried rice; that was why you were born.
    If that is the meaning you want, you can't omit "for".
    and if it's a adjective that modifies "I", shouldn't "eating fried rice" be placed like this, "eating fried rice, I was born". You get what I mean right ?
    Yes I do, and no it shouldn't, except perhaps when being poetic. Normally a prefixed participle clause like that would mean something like "One day I was eating fried rice, and then, suddenly, I was born." This would perhaps work in connection with becoming a "born-again Christian" :), but not with the situation we normally associate with birth.

    Here's an example to illustrate the difference. You may know that kittens (baby cats) are blind when they are born, and their eyes open when they are about two weeks old. We say "Kittens are born blind.". Here "blind" is an adjective describing the state of the kittens at the moment of their birth. If you say "Blind kittens are born.", this tells you a fact about blind kittens, namely that they are born. It's not a very interesting fact, which is why we don't say it. Even if you add a comma: "Blind, kittens are born.", it doesn't make any sense.
     

    gholiat

    Member
    Indonesian
    does it also mean like this "I was born for eating fried rice" ?
    No, that would be completely different. It would mean your purpose in life was to eat fried rice; that was why you were born.
    If that is the meaning you want, you can't omit "for".

    Yes I do, and no it shouldn't, except perhaps when being poetic. Normally a prefixed participle clause like that would mean something like "One day I was eating fried rice, and then, suddenly, I was born." This would perhaps work in connection with becoming a "born-again Christian" :), but not with the situation we normally associate with birth.

    Here's an example to illustrate the difference. You may know that kittens (baby cats) are blind when they are born, and their eyes open when they are about two weeks old. We say "Kittens are born blind.". Here "blind" is an adjective describing the state of the kittens at the moment of their birth. If you say "Blind kittens are born.", this tells you a fact about blind kittens, namely that they are born. It's not a very interesting fact, which is why we don't say it. Even if you add a comma: "Blind, kittens are born.", it doesn't make any sense.
    But I have read some sources that say, if we put the participial phrase and put a comma before the noun. The meaning will still also be the same when it was put after. This is the link of the source, perhaps you want to see it. monster.com/glossary/participle_phrases.htm
     

    MrMuselk

    Senior Member
    English - South East England
    I think he means: monster.com/glossary/participle_phrases.html
    I’ve never heard of htm files, so I think it was just missing an l; html.
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    I've now discovered he means not monster but grammar-monster (and it really is .htm, not .html, as the vast majority on the web are).

    However, I could find nothing on the page that supports his claim. It does tell you to use a comma when the phrase comes before the noun, but it doesn't say anything about the meaning being unchanged when the phrase comes after the noun.
     

    gholiat

    Member
    Indonesian
    No, that would be completely different. It would mean your purpose in life was to eat fried rice; that was why you were born.
    If that is the meaning you want, you can't omit "for".

    Yes I do, and no it shouldn't, except perhaps when being poetic. Normally a prefixed participle clause like that would mean something like "One day I was eating fried rice, and then, suddenly, I was born." This would perhaps work in connection with becoming a "born-again Christian" :), but not with the situation we normally associate with birth.

    Here's an example to illustrate the difference. You may know that kittens (baby cats) are blind when they are born, and their eyes open when they are about two weeks old. We say "Kittens are born blind.". Here "blind" is an adjective describing the state of the kittens at the moment of their birth. If you say "Blind kittens are born.", this tells you a fact about blind kittens, namely that they are born. It's not a very interesting fact, which is why we don't say it. Even if you add a comma: "Blind, kittens are born.", it doesn't make any sense.
    Here you say "Blind, kittens are born", it means you're saying that kittens are born and when they're born, they're blind. So it's the same like "kittens are born blind". P.S : that's what it means in the website.
     
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