presumed dead

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Bigtime

Senior Member
Arabic
She is missing and is presumed dead.

Why to be is omitted from the sentence? As:

She is missing and is presumed to be dead.

Thanks.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I'd call it an ellipsis, Bigtime. Writers and speakers often omit words they think their readers and listeners can infer from the context.
     
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    scrotgrot

    Senior Member
    English - English
    Simple ellipsis, the expression is common. Presumed dead is a good name for a "category" of missing person, you can't name a category with a verb in it, it sounds odd.

    Your husband is presumed dead. The formula makes it seem like he has been pigeonholed in a certain category (cf. missing in action, AWOL). Presumed to be dead implies a less specialised meaning and an active "presumption" attributable to a particular person's judgement, which could be offensive to the bereaved.
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    The verb "presume", like "consider", "think", "declare" etc, does not necessarily have to take a clausal complement, or object and infinitival complement. It can instead take an object and predicative complement (e.g. I presume her capable of it), though it is more choosy about its adjectival complements than the others. Here it is used in the passive with a predicative complement (dead); there is no ellipsis.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    The verb "presume", like "consider", "think", "declare" etc, does not necessarily have to take a clausal complement, or object and infinitival complement. It can instead take an object and predicative complement (e.g. I presume her capable of it), though it is more choosy about its adjectival complements than the others. Here it is used in the passive with a predicative complement (dead); there is no ellipsis.
    Interesting comments, Pertinax. While I agree with your analysis, I'm curious about what your notion of ellipsis might be. Though some could find fault with my notion, I'd call it a fancy term for the practice recommended in White's old advice: Omit needless words.*

    *William Strunk Jr, E.B. White The Elements of Style
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    The grammatical term "ellipsis" refers to the omission of words without which a sentence is grammatically incomplete. Here the sentence is grammatically complete without the words "to be".
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    The grammatical term "ellipsis" refers to the omission of words without which a sentence is grammatically incomplete. Here the sentence is grammatically complete without the words "to be".
    Good answer, Pertinax, and thank you for taking the time to clear things up. However, that definition cuts things a little too fine for my tastes. I use it with the same, looser definition found in this version: ellipsis

    *Link to online version of MacMillan Dictionary's definition for "ellipsis".
     
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    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    the practice of leaving a word or words out of a sentence when they are not necessary for understanding it

    I am sure that is sound advice, but I find it worthless in a grammatical context, since any sentence may be considered the result of an ellipsis (in that sense) of some padded equivalent.

    The OED defines ellipsis as The omission of one or more words in a sentence, which would be needed to complete the grammatical construction or fully to express the sense; concr. an instance of such omission.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    the practice of leaving a word or words out of a sentence when they are not necessary for understanding it

    I am sure that is sound advice, but I find it worthless in a grammatical context, since any sentence may be considered the result of an ellipsis (in that sense) of some padded equivalent.

    The OED defines ellipsis as The omission of one or more words in a sentence, which would be needed to complete the grammatical construction or fully to express the sense; concr. an instance of such omission.
    That's fair enough, Pertinax, and thanks again for your time and effort. I only hope we haven't inadvertently strayed too far from Bigtime's topic. :)
     

    Bigtime

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Pertinax,
    How can we define the verbs like presume that does not necessarily have to take a clausal complement, or object and infinitival complement?
     

    Bigtime

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Pertinax,
    Thanks for the invaluable information. Is there a list of complex transitive verbs?
     
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