saw <me cry> [grammatical term?]

Nathandh

Member
USA
English
Objects can carry a verb. He saw me cry. What did he see? Me cry. The verb can also take an object. I saw him take a ball.

The object (noun/pronoun) with a verb phrase is close to being a clause. But it’s not a clause because the noun/pronoun is in object form and not in subject form. The object with a verb phrase is in-between the prepositional and infinitive phrases and a clause. The prepositional and infinitive phrases have a noun and a verb respectively (one each). The object with a verb phrase has both. The clause has a subject noun with a verb.

It’s incredible that the highly unusual object with a verb phrase does not have its own name. Why didn't anyone name it?
 
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Objects can carry a verb. He saw me cry. What did he see? Me cry. The verb can also take an object. I saw him take a ball.

    The object (noun/pronoun) with a verb phrase is close to being a clause. But it’s not a clause because the noun/pronoun is in object form and not in subject form. The object with a verb phrase is in-between the prepositional and infinitive phrases and a clause. The prepositional and infinitive phrases have a noun and a verb respectively (one each). The object with a verb phrase has both. The clause has a subject noun with a verb.

    It’s incredible that the highly unusual object with a verb phrase does not have its own name. Why didn't anyone name it?
    Are you sure nobody has done?
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Objects can carry a verb. He saw me cry. What did he see? Me cry. The verb can also take an object. I saw him take a ball.

    The object (noun/pronoun) with a verb phrase is close to being a clause. But it’s not a clause because the noun/pronoun is in object form and not in subject form. The object with a verb phrase is in-between the prepositional and infinitive phrases and a clause. The prepositional and infinitive phrases have a noun and a verb respectively (one each). The object with a verb phrase has both. The clause has a subject noun with a verb.

    It’s incredible that the highly unusual object with a verb phrase does not have its own name. Why didn't anyone name it?
    You are thinking strictly in terms of traditional grammar. In modern grammars, there's nothing highly unusual about it. The object pronoun is what functions as "subject" of non-finite verb forms (infinitives, participles). In He saw me cry and He saw me crying, "me cry" and "me crying" are clauses functioning as direct object. Similarly, I saw him take a ball has a clause as direct object of "saw" ("him take a ball"). The only difference here is that the verb in the clause has its own direct object ("a ball").
     

    Nathandh

    Member
    USA
    English
    SevenDays,

    I contemplated whether or not "me cry" (in I saw me cry) is a clause. I am not sure it is since the noun/pronoun is in object form. Moreover, if it is a clause, then the object noun/pronoun would be acting as a subordinating conjunction similar to relative pronouns (as in, I saw who came). I kind of doubt nouns (as in I saw Jack cry) and object pronouns (me) can do that. So I tend to view "me cry" or "Jack cry" as a phrase. In any case, the phrase or clause is unusual (there is nothing else like it) and it should be named.
     
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    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    SevenDays,

    I contemplated whether or not "me cry" (in I saw me cry) is a clause. I am not sure it is since the noun/pronoun is in object form. Moreover, if it is a clause, then the object noun/pronoun would be acting as a subordinating conjunction similar to relative pronouns (as in, I saw who came). I kind of doubt nouns (as in I saw Jack cry) and object pronouns (me) can do that. So I tend to view "me cry" or "Jack cry" as a phrase. In any case, the phrase or clause is unusual (there is nothing else like it) and it should be named.
    If you follow traditional grammar, you'll call it a phrase. If you follow any of the modern grammars, you'll call it a clause. Either way, there's no need for a special name. Some use the term "complex direct object" for objects that have internal structure (and are not just simple nouns), but I don't know if that's what you are looking for.

    Subject pronouns functions as "subjects" of finite verbs: I cry, she cries. Object pronouns function as "subjects" of non-finite verbs: She saw me crying (non-finite -ing verb); She wants me to cry (non-finite to-infinitive); She saw me cry (non-finite bare infinitive).

    Subordinating conjunctions are not the only thing that can introduce and connect clauses. For example, complementizers do the same job: I understand that she cries; I wonder if she is crying; Ask me why she is crying. In "She saw me cry," there is no complementizer introducing and connecting the subordinate clause "me cry" to the main clause "She saw," and that's a syntactic peculiarity of sense verbs (verbs such as "see," "hear," etc.).
     

    Nathandh

    Member
    USA
    English
    "That," "if," and "why" are on the list of subordinating conjunctions. In any case, I saw the argument coming that "he saw me cry" and the like do not need a conjunction, which is true because the object could be there without the "clause." But I still feel that it is not a true clause (because the noun is in object form) but in-between a phrase and a clause.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I don't know why you want a name for it (or even what purpose that serves as far syntax is concerned).

    But in I saw him go, go is a bare infinitive.
    In I saw him lay down his arms the underlined words make a bare-infinitive clause.

    One modern definition is:
    A bare infinitive clause is a clause whose verb phrase contains as its head a bare infinitive form of a lexical verb,
    i.e. without a preceding particle to, e.g. [the underlined]
    They made us drink warm orange juice.
     

    Nathandh

    Member
    USA
    English
    The problem with bare infinitive clause is that such also call the regular infinitive phrase an infinitive clause even though it has no noun at all. But I subscribe to the definition of a clause as containing a subject and predicate, so an infinitive phrase is just that, a phrase and not a clause. The object plus bare infinitive, in my estimation, also does not reach the level of a clause, because the noun is in object form and not in subject form. I'm just surprised that the object plus verb phrase was not given a name.
     

    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    Hi,

    I think you're mixing up the function and category of a word. In "He saw me cry", me is the subject of the verb to cry: that's its function. Me is a pronoun: that's its category.
     

    Nathandh

    Member
    USA
    English
    "me" of "me cry" may very well not be the subject of the clause because it is in object form. In all clauses, the subject is in subject form. The reason it does not need a conjunction is, in fact, because it is in object form. And this very well may hinder it from being a clause.
     

    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    All kinds of pronouns can act as subjects. Not only subject pronouns.

    The subject can be a possessive pronoun ("Mine is better."), a reflexive pronoun ("She fancies herself to be a great singer."), an object pronoun ("Me, do such a thing? Never!"; "I want him to leave."), or it can be virtually absent ("Why leave?").

    In "I saw Mary cry" or "I let Mary leave", Mary is both the object of the conjugated verb and the subject of the infinitive clause. If you use a pronoun instead, you get "I saw her cry. I let her leave". It's an object pronoun, because Mary is an object before she turns into a subject. 1) Who did you see? Mary. 2) What was she doing? She was crying. In a more complex language, perhaps the grammar would call for a hybrid subject-objet pronoun, but not in English.
     
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    Nathandh

    Member
    USA
    English
    Oddmania
    Your reflexive pronoun example is incorrect. She is the subject, not herself. Mine can be used as a subject or object. It's another way of saying my something, which can be used as a subject or object. Me, do such a thing is either incorrect grammar or is elliptical (omitting something that is assumed). Why leave is elliptical instead of Why should we leave. "Me" is never a subject.
     

    Nathandh

    Member
    USA
    English
    I'm not sure this is the kind of answer #1 was expecting, but I call this an accusative and infinitive construction, and so does Wikipedia. Accusative and infinitive - Wikipedia

    Allegedly, In the framework of transformational grammar, this construction is known as exceptional case-marking.
    I think you hit it on the head. Nice!

    It's an unexpected exceptional object/subject of its clause.

    [From wikepedia
    Exceptional case-marking is a phenomenon in which the subject of an embedded infinitival verb seems to appear in a superordinate clause and, if it is a pronoun, is unexpectedly marked with object case morphology (him not he, her not she, etc.).

    Tim believes him to be innocent. - Exceptional case-marking of the object/subject him.]

    From the above you can see that it does not need a bare infinitive.

    In terms of traditional grammar, it turns out, for all intents and purposes, that it's called an object with a verb. Accusative=object and infinitive is a verb type.

    Thanks for teaching me something.
     
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