That shirt washed clean.

JungKim

Senior Member
Korean
Is it correct to say "That shirt washed clean"?
If so, is "clean" an adjective and a complement to "that shirt"?
 
  • natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    No (but I assume it's a typo, you need to say 'That shirt was washed clean') and yes clean is a kind of 'resultative' complement: 'the shirt was washed until it was clean'.

    Other examples: She polished the vase shiny. He combed his hair tidy.
     
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    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    So it's right to say "That shirt washed well' and wrong to say "That shirt washed clean"?
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    So it's right to say "That shirt washed well' and wrong to say "That shirt washed clean"?
    Yes, that sounds fine to me. It's similar, I think, to other sentences like 'The fish course ate well' and 'The car drove well'.

    I expect a grammarian could explain more technically what's going on in these relatively uncommon constructions . . .
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Ah, you're interested in the so-called middle voice. I think if you changed the shirt to something else, it would be OK, for example, 'This wall washes clean'. (The shirt example still sounds a little strange to me.)

    Edit. I've been looking at your sentence again, and it's beginning to sound less strange! :rolleyes:
     
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    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    I also have the impression that 'the shirt washed clean' has been said with sufficient frequency to be deemed acceptable; though I think it more akin to 'his shirt dripped dry'. (Crss-p'd with nat)
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    I think I've heard a name for this particular construction, but I cannot remember what it is. However, I know I've heard it used here in the Midwest. It sounds a bit odd to me, too, but that's because although I live here, I didn't grow up here. But I definitely hear it. It means "That shirt came out of the wash clean." It might be considered a regionalism, though, so JungKim might want to keep that in mind.

    I hope this isn't too much of a detour, but I've noticed that the same people who say "washed clean" in this way also tend to say something "needs washed" instead of "needs washing," which may or may not be related. I understand the needs+verb-ed construction is also found in Scots English.
     
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