To what do you attribute your longevity?

mimi2

Senior Member
vietnam vietnamese
Hi,
To what do you attribute your longevity?
Could you parse this sentence for me?
- you = suject
-your longevity = Direct object?
-To what = Indirect object?
Is it "Do you attribute your longevity to what?"
Thanks.
 
  • mimi2

    Senior Member
    vietnam vietnamese
    Thank you, verbivore.
    The first thing is done. The sencond one is that I don't understand what this sentence means? Does it mean what do you live long for? :)
    Thanks.
     

    verbivore

    Banned
    USA, English
    to owe (give, sell, tell, etc.) / sthg / to s.o. or sthg OR to owe (give, sell, tell, etc.) / s.o. or sthg / s.o. All these verbs take indirect objects. In English, the "to" is optional depending on the where the indirect object is placed. Sorry Forero, it is still an indirect object.

    He owed me the money.
    He owed the money to me. Either way, "me" is an indirect object. And "what" is a pronoun, not an adverb.

    That being said, the sentence essentially means: "What do you think is the reason for your longevity?"
     

    mimi2

    Senior Member
    vietnam vietnamese
    at‧tri‧bute
    attribute something to somebody/something
    To what do you attribute your longevity?
    If "To what" was "adverb phrase", which "adverb phrase" would it be? Is it adverb of reason?
    Is it: "What reason caused you longevity?"
    Could you explain more ?
    Thanks.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    You attribute something your longevity? :cross:

    I don't consider "attribute" to be in the "give" class of verbs.

    Attributing something to something else is similar to blaming something on something else, but the meaning is positive rather than negative.
     

    verbivore

    Banned
    USA, English
    You attribute something your longevity? :cross:

    I don't consider "attribute" to be in the "give" class of verbs.

    Attributing something to something else is similar to blaming something on something else, but the meaning is positive rather than negative.
    He attributed her success a torrent of perdurable spite at having left her for another sultan of sex. (I.e., He felt her success was motivated by the enduring spite she had for him for having left her for another woman.)
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    What represents a reason for the longevity in the mind of the subject of (do) attribute, but it is not the reason for the attributing.

    My dictionary does not classify adverbs as manner, place, etc., but the phrase to what is roughly equivalent to the adverb whereto.

    Does that help?
     

    verbivore

    Banned
    USA, English
    If so, then one should be able to perform the following substitution and retain the original meaning:

    To what do I owe the honor of this visit?
    Whereto do I owe the honor of this visit?

    I owe honor to something (= ind. object)
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    If so, then one should be able to perform the following substitution and retain the original meaning:

    To what do I owe the honor of this visit?
    Whereto do I owe the honor of this visit?

    I owe honor to something (= ind. object)
    The substitution doesn't really bother me here either, since the object of "to" is inanimate.

    If I had something to attribute my longevity to, I would not say that I attribute it my longevity but that I attribute to it my longevity.
     

    verbivore

    Banned
    USA, English
    Ok, I'll agree with this last point about attribute requiring "to." Fair enough.

    However, I still await justification as to how "what" is adverb.

    For example:

    I attribute my success to years of hard work.

    To what do you attribute your success? Years of hard work.

    How does one substitute an adverb for this elliptical response?
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Ok, I'll agree with this last point about attribute requiring "to." Fair enough.

    However, I still await justification as to how "what" is adverb.

    For example:

    I attribute my success to years of hard work.

    To what do you attribute your success? Years of hard work.

    How does one substitute an adverb for this elliptical response?
    I was calling "to what" an adverbial prepositional phrase, not "what" alone.

    I can call adverbial only the whole phrase, not an ellipsis of it.

    For what reason (or why) did you do that? (Because of) my job.
    To what (or whereto) do you attribute your success? (To) years of hard work.

    Noun phrases: "what reason", "my job", "what", "years of hard work".

    Adverbial phrases: "for what reason", "why", "because of my job", "to what", "whereto", "to years of hard work".
     
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