seal on (intransitive)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by ridgemao, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. ridgemao

    ridgemao Senior Member

    Beijing
    Mandarin Chinese
    Hello, everyone:

    This is a recording from a native American teacher:

    The difference between cap and lid is that a cap usually seals on something. For example, in pictures(link2) 2 and 3 the cap seals on the bottle. You must unscrew it to take it off. A lid just covers something. Lid and cover can be used interchangeably. They mean the same thing.

    1. a cap usually seals on something.
    2. a cap usually seals something.

    WR dictionary says "seal" is transitive, so I think #1 is incorrect and #2 is correct.

    Am I right? Thank you.
     
  2. Retired-teacher Senior Member

    British English
    I agree that you normally say "the cap seals the bottle". In this case I think the writer wanted to emphasis that the cap goes onto the top of the bottle
     
  3. ridgemao

    ridgemao Senior Member

    Beijing
    Mandarin Chinese
  4. SevenDays Senior Member

    Spanish
    Combining a verb with a preposition is one of the characteristics of English, which creates "phrasal verbs." So, seals something comes from the verb "to seal," while seals on something comes from the phrasal verb "To seal on." With a phrasal verb, the transitivity of the verb "seal" is transferred to the preposition: seals on something ("something" satisfies the transitivity of "on") = a cap seals on the bottle. You can also use another preposition: seal at = The bottle seals at the top.

    Yes, in "The new postal ballots are being pulped because they do not seal properly," you can certainly say that "seal" appears in an intransitive use (with no "direct object"). This is also a feature of verbs; in general, they can appear with or without "objects."
     
  5. DonnyB

    DonnyB Senior Member

    Coventry, UK
    English UK Southern Standard English
    It sounds a little bit odd to me, but I see from the link that it's actually a 'bullet point', where, as with headlines, the rules of grammar and syntax are observed much more loosely.

    The relevant sentence in the article itself reads:
    A re-run of the Austrian presidential election has been postponed because the envelopes containing absentee postal ballots are faulty and cannot be sealed properly.
    That's the way I would expect the verb "seal" to be used in that context. :)


    [cross-posted]
     
  6. ridgemao

    ridgemao Senior Member

    Beijing
    Mandarin Chinese
    Hello, again:

    The "seal" is used as intransitive both in the title and in the content of a piece of news from The New York Times:

    BP Used Riskier Method to Seal Well Before Blast By IAN URBINAMAY
    The concern with the method BP chose, the document said, was that if the cement around the casing pipe did not seal properly, gases could leak all the way to the wellhead.

    If "seal properly" also sounds odd here, would you modify it as below?

    ...if the cement around the casing pipe was not sealed properly...

    Thank you again.
     
  7. SevenDays Senior Member

    Spanish
    Sure, that works too; "sealed" is a past participle in a passive construction ("was not sealed"), and in passive constructions the past participle is intransitive. So, you have two intransitive uses: (1) the casing pipe did not seal properly; (2) the casing pipe was not sealed properly. In the end, which one you use is a stylistic choice.
     
  8. karlalou Senior Member

    母国語:日本語
    I got an idea to take this 'on' as an adverb.
    The verb 'seal' seems to be used with 'in' or 'off'.
     

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