The man is expected to seem to be dead.

leg0181

Member
Korean
The man is expected to seem to be dead.

I have two questions about the sentence:

1) Is the above sentence grammatically correct?
2) Does it sound OK, meaning-wise?

If it doesn't, please try explaining the nonsense. (My guess is the verb 'expect' doesn't go well with 'seem' )
 
  • grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Source and context, please. If you're the author of the sentence, what is the intended meaning?
     
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    leg0181

    Member
    Korean
    Well, I am afraid there is no context since I am studying a syntax.
    Could YOU think of any context in which the sentence is used? If you find it hard, guess the sentence is wrong in terms of meaning.

    However, regarding grammar, the sentence seems fine to me. What you do think?
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    It might be grammatically correct, but it is incomprehensible. Please explain what you are trying to convey.

    You thought the man should be dead.
    You thought the man looked dead.
    You anticipated that the man was dead.
    Other...
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    The actor is expected to pretend to be dead.
    The man is expected to seem to be dead.
    The construction is the same. (People) expect the man to seem to be dead. There is a problem with "expecting someone to do something (an act of will)" and "seem to be dead", which is to do with other people's perception of the man.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Well, the sentence seems to be expected to be grammatical. If there could be a situation where it had an actual use, there's no objection to it.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    The actor is expected to pretend to be dead.
    The man is expected to seem to be dead.
    The construction is the same. (People) expect the man to seem to be dead. There is a problem with "expecting someone to do something (an act of will)" and "seem to be dead", which is to do with other people's perception of the man.
    This is a better expression of my complaint that the sentence was incomprehensible. I still don't know exactly what the intended meaning is.
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    General American English USA - Standard
    > The man is expected to seem to be dead. <

    This sentence is not good and does not make sense.

    "Expect" does not go with "seem".The two are incompatible in this sentence.

    If we can expect something, then we can usually be certain about it. If something seems so, then we really are not entirely sure. The strength of "expect" does not go with the uncertainty and weakness of "seem".

    In this sentence, both "seem" and "be" tell us the expected state of the man. Using "seem" and "be" consecutively does not work.

    So not only does "seem" not go with "expect", but "seem" is also redundant.

    The sentence, then, has to be this:

    "The man is expected to be dead."

    This is a strange sentence because of how "expect" combines with "seem":

    * "The man is expected to seem dead."

    Here's how it's possible to use seem and be in the same sentence:

    "The man seems to be dead."

    "Seem" tells us there is some degree or some level of uncertainty. The speaker, to some degree, is uncertain about the state of the man.

    Here's a sentence with just "seem".

    "The man seems dead."

    Using "seem" tells us that there is uncertainty about this. The speaker does not know whether or not he's dead. To find out whether or not the man is dead, the speaker would have to try taking the man's pulse, use minor stimuli such as poking the body with an object to see if there's any reaction, or touch the body to find out whether or not the body is cold or how warm the body is. The speaker could also pull back the man's eyelids and find out what his eyes look like. If the speaker is able to determine with certainty that death has arrived, then the speaker uses the verb "be", not "seem".

    __________

    "The man is expected to be dead."

    These sentences are better. There's no reason to not say who is doing the expecting. Context would tell us who "they" are.

    "They expect the man to be dead."

    "They expected the man to be dead."

    "They expected that man would be dead."
     
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    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It isn't so difficult to find a context, though "pretend to be dead" is more natural:

    John, you can still walk, so you're our last hope. You must lie down outside the cave and seem to be dead. That way, the monster may go away and leave us all alone. We expect you to be able to do that, for all our sakes. Good luck!

    John is expected to seem to be dead.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    In the movie Ocean's 11, Danny Ocean seems to be dead as he lay in state in a funeral home in an open casket. His co-conspirators doubt that he is actually dead. As they pay their final respects, one puts a mirror under his nose to see if he is breathing, another sticks the corpse with a needle; (I forget what the rest of them do).

    So he seems to be dead, but his co-conspirators expect that it is a ruse. (It was not.)

    In the end the seemingly dead Danny Ocean was not "expected" to be dead; he was "confirmed" to be dead.

    You might write:

    As Danny Ocean lay in state in his open coffin, he seemed to be dead. Everyone expected him to be dead. We expected otherwise. With various methods his seemingly dead body was confirmed to be dead, thus denying our expectations and fulfilling everyone else's.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Could YOU think of any context in which the sentence is used? If you find it hard, guess the sentence is wrong in terms of meaning.
    Grammatical sentences are not necessarily meaningful,
    "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously." is a sentence composed by Noam Chomsky in his 1957 book Syntactic Structures as an example of a sentence that is grammatically correct, but semantically nonsensical.

    And meaningful sentences are not necessarily grammatical.
    "Where are my shoes?"
    *"Their over there."
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Grammatical sentences are not necessarily meaningful,
    True, but this particular example is grammatical and can readily be meaningful, as velisarius pointed out.

    I do find it odd that leg0181 thinks that it is sensible to deliberately create sentences that are expected to be grammatical but meaningless, and then to ask others to create context that might provide meaning.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Could you tell us more about what you're aiming to prove or disprove here, leg0181?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    The different nuances of someone being "expected to" do something are interesting.

    The old man isn't expected to last the night. (We think he will die.)
    The old man isn't expected to work until he drops. (We don't require the old man to work until he drops.)

    Edit: The man is expected to seem to be dead - This works reasonably well if it means "the man is required to seem to be dead".

    It's harder to imagine a context where "the man is assumed to seem to be dead".
     
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    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Could YOU think of any context in which the sentence is used?
    The man is expected to seem to be dead.

    It could conceivably be said about an actor taking part in a police reconstruction of a crime, explaining that his role is to lie doggo, as though dead.

    But other than that, it’s totally unnatural – grammar and syntax notwithstanding.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    There is an expression, "feign death" which might be fitting.

    "The man is expected to feign death."

    I taught my dog to "play dead" but he never stayed dead for long.

    You know who is playing dead? Leg0. We have not heard from Leg0 since we started asking about context.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    The man is expected to seem to be dead.

    I have two questions about the sentence:

    1) Is the above sentence grammatically correct?
    2) Does it sound OK, meaning-wise?

    If it doesn't, please try explaining the nonsense. (My guess is the verb 'expect' doesn't go well with 'seem' )
    I would simply say, maintaining the same structure:

    The man is expected to pretend to be dead

    Pretend
    is related to our visual sense; it's what we see with our eyes.

    Seems is really devoid of any "verb" meaning (no "action" is involved), and it functions as a way to express some sort of judgment: you seem angry. Accordingly seems behaves like a modal verb.

    So, we want people to "see" the man and assume that he is "dead." That's a context more natural for "pretend," not "seem" (though you can always find a context for "seem"). Put another way, we say Pretend to be dead (we want to appear dead to their eyes), not Seem to be dead.
     

    leg0181

    Member
    Korean
    I do find it odd that leg0181 thinks that it is sensible to deliberately create sentences that are expected to be grammatical but meaningless, and then to ask others to create context that might provide meaning.

    I just checked the replies. It isn't that I DELIBERATELY created the sentences to test people or so as you imply. I study Syntax and sometimes I come across sentences that I cannot figure out the grammaticality and/or meaning by myself. I don't see what is not sensible about that.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    It isn't that I DELIBERATELY created the sentences to test people or so as you imply. I study Syntax and sometimes I come across sentences that I cannot figure out the grammaticality and/or meaning by myself. I don't see what is not sensible about that.
    Asking us about sentences you have come across and don't know the meaning of is fine. The person who wrote that sentence knew what it meant.
    Creating sentences of your own which you don't know the meaning of in order to ask us what they mean is very different.
     

    leg0181

    Member
    Korean
    I taught my dog to "play dead" but he never stayed dead for long.

    You know who is playing dead? Leg0. We have not heard from Leg0 since we started asking about context.
    [/QUOTE]

    Pardon me, I had some personal issue and just got a chance to check all those replies. By the way, your sarcasm is not appreciated.
     

    Steven David

    Senior Member
    General American English USA - Standard
    I do find it odd that leg0181 thinks that it is sensible to deliberately create sentences that are expected to be grammatical but meaningless, and then to ask others to create context that might provide meaning.

    I just checked the replies. It isn't that I DELIBERATELY created the sentences to test people or so as you imply. I study Syntax and sometimes I come across sentences that I cannot figure out the grammaticality and/or meaning by myself. I don't see what is not sensible about that.
    I get what you mean. Your question is sensible. Your question makes sense.

    ;)

    You inquired about a sentence, and I replied to your inquiry.

    As you said in your first post, "expect" does not go well with "seem". And this is what I wrote, in so many words, in my first reply to your first post.

    > (My guess is the verb 'expect' doesn't go well with 'seem' ) <

    Yes, that's it. So this is more about vocabulary choices than it is about grammar.

    Post 1 The man is expected to seem to be dead.

    My reply The man is expected to seem to be dead.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I study Syntax
    That is the kind of information that can help us to help you.:)

    It also helps when you can tell us what topic you were working on, what your aim was in creating the sentence.
    My guess is the verb 'expect' doesn't go well with 'seem
    Your guess is correct - for this particular sentence. I don't know how far "explaining the nonsense" is going to get us.
     

    leg0181

    Member
    Korean
    I didn't expect my question would bring this much controversy. I thank you all for those replies.
    As a non-native English speaker, it is not easy to study English Syntax , but what is interesting is that linguists have been trying to explain the correctness/incorrectness of sentences (whether in terms of syntax or semantics ) with logic/rules.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    The thread title should have been, "The man is expected to seem to be dead. A syntax question."

    The title of a thread should largely contain the question being asked. It gives direction to the members as to whether they should read the thread and reply or to move onto other threads.
     
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