suggest

azz

Senior Member
Persian
He suggested helping the Smiths.


What is the subject of "helping"?
Can't this sentence mean all of the following:
He suggested that he (himself) should help the Smiths.
He suggested that we should help the Smiths.
He suggested that you should help the Smiths.
He suggested that she should help the Smiths.
He suggested that they should help the Smiths.
 
  • aigle491

    Member
    USA English, Russian
    Originally Posted by azz
    He suggested helping the Smiths.


    What is the subject of "helping"?
    Can't this sentence mean all of the following:
    He suggested that he (himself) should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that we should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that you should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that she should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that they should help the Smiths.

    There is no subject of helping. Instead of "He suggested helping ths Smiths." you can say "He suggested to help the Smiths" but you won't be hearing the second one very often.
    I believe, though I am not sure that when saying "He suggested helping the Smiths" he is talking about himself.
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    azz said:
    He suggested helping the Smiths.


    What is the subject of "helping"?
    Can't this sentence mean all of the following:
    He suggested that he (himself) should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that we should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that you should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that she should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that they should help the Smiths.




    When "suggest" is followed by "ing" the speaker is included in that suggestion.
    So I'd say that "he" and "we" are the correct meanings.

    What do you think? :)
     

    lsp

    Senior Member
    NY
    US, English
    context, context, context...

    Aside from whatever rules may apply, if I heard that sentence from an English speaker, I would not know how to answer your question without knowing more of the conversation.

    Example: The students asked the teacher what can be done about their classmate John Smith and his family since their house burned down. He suggested helping the Smiths.

    This means he suggested that they (the students) help the Smiths. And I can invent scenarios that sound perfectly natural (to an American) for all the other possibilities.

    He suggested that he (himself) should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that we should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that you should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that she should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that they should help the Smiths.
     

    Nick

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    azz said:
    Can't this sentence mean all of the following:
    He suggested that he (himself) should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that we should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that you should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that she should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that they should help the Smiths.
    Yes, it can mean any of those. It depends on the context.

    When I told him about the flood that caused our neighbor's house to collapse, he suggested helping the Smiths.
    In this example, the sentence is directed at "I" (the speaker).

    We all had free time. He suggested helping the Smiths.
    In this example, the sentence is directed at "we" (the speaker + a group of other people).

    He suggested helping the Smiths and the class took up a donation.
    In this example, the sentence is directed at "the class".
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    azz said:
    He suggested helping the Smiths.


    What is the subject of "helping"?
    Can't this sentence mean all of the following:
    He suggested that he (himself) should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that we should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that you should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that she should help the Smiths.
    He suggested that they should help the Smiths.

    Everything that was said is correct. Grammatically, "helping" does not have a subject because it is not a verb; it is a gerund. Gerunds are verb forms that function as nouns and can take modifiers and complements but not subjects. In this sentence, "the Smiths' is a direct object of the gerund, and the entire gerund phrase "helping the Smiths" is a direct object of the verb of the sentence, "suggested."

    Other examples.

    Watching your friends go through difficult situations and not helping is condemnable.
    The part in bold is the gerund phrase, functioning here as the subject of the sentence. You can see that it has its own complements.

    Her project focused on actively suggesting solutions for the problems in Africa. (This gerund phrase is functioning as the object of the preposition "on." It has modifiers and complements, but no subject.)

    :cross: Him telling you what to do :cross: is not acceptable. (This is incorrect, and happens when writers try to assign a subject for the gerund. The correct way to write this sentence would be "His telling you what to do," in which case "his" is an adjective describing the entire gerund phrase.

    I hope this helps. :)
     
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