Transitive verbs as the ending of a sentence

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Xander2024, Dec 28, 2010.

  1. Xander2024 Senior Member

    Southern Russia
    Hello again, everyone,

    Here's another problem that's been weighing on my mind. It's hard to define but I'll give you a few examples:

    "He wants to go there", -"Let him go." -In this sentence the intransitive verb "go" is fine as the ending of the sentence, right?

    But if we take a transitive verb like "to watch":

    "He wants to watch this film", -"Let him watch." (???) Does "watch" sound OK at the end? To me, the sentence sounds kind of incomplete.

    Next, we take a verb that allows the dative movement transformation like "to send":

    "He wants to send us some money", -"Let him send." (???) Same problem.

    Next, a verb that does not allow the dative movement transformation like "to describe":

    "He wants to describe their house to us", -"Let him describe." (???) If these verbs really cannot stand alone like this at the end of a sentence, then would someone please tell me how to define this problem and what the above sentences should look like? Or am I in the wrong?

    Thank you so much.
  2. Thomas1

    Thomas1 Senior Member

    polszczyzna warszawska
    I think the sentences are technically fine. This usage is called an 'absolute verb', which means that a verb which usually takes an object can be used without it because the object is understood or implied by the context. I'm wondering how important the question of personal preference may be in such cases.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
  3. Xander2024 Senior Member

    Southern Russia
    Hmmm... Still and all, they seem incomplete to me.

    Thank you anyway, Thomas:)
  4. surikata Senior Member

    4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancs
    You seem unhappy with the reply from Thomas1.
    If you and l were in conversation Xander, l would not find fault with the examples you give.
    I appreciate the Russian way to strive for linguistic perfection!
  5. Xander2024 Senior Member

    Southern Russia
    Thank you, Surikata. But if my examples are correct, then it means my linguistic feeling has failed me. :confused:
    OK, I'll leave it as it is.

    Thank you so much once again.:)
  6. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    The sentences sound odd to me in this context. There is nothing wrong with saying "let him watch" in reply to "he wants to watch", but in reply to a verb with a complement (such as an object) I think we need it/some etc. So I would say -
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
  7. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    I agree with your linguistic feeling:).

    In summary I would say -

    If a verb can be used in an absolute way then it is acceptable (although colloquial) to reply with the absolute form to a statement using the verb in a non-absolute way (ie "let him watch" instead of "let him watch it").

    If a verb can't or doesn't usually allow an absolute form then it sounds wrong to drop the complement (for example "let him send" instead of "let him send some").
  8. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The particular examples seem uncomfortable, but I suggest that is at least partly because of examples chosen and their context. I looked for examples in corpora and found several that seem entirely natural to me.

    ... let him watch.
    > Sammy was immediately attracted to the picture. " Booming sound, " said their son. She let him watch.
    > He reminded Peter of a character in a movie he'd seen on the satellite one night, when he sneaked into the home theater room. A movie his parents wouldn't let him watch.
    > Kevin, get him out of the lineup. Let him watch and learn. Well, at least let him watch.

    No doubt it would be possible to do the same with the other verbs.
    Or perhaps they are different in some respect.
    I'll have a look :)

    Edit: Post constructed before seeing Timpeac's posts above.
    Second edit: Deleting the bad example (thanks Thomas1).
    Third edit: I was not able to find any sensible, relevant examples with send or describe at the end of a sentence.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
  9. Xander2024 Senior Member

    Southern Russia
    Thanks a lot, Timpeac and Panj.
  10. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    I'm totally in agreement with Tim's conclusions (posts #6 and #7).

    This was a really interesting question, Xander!
  11. Xander2024 Senior Member

    Southern Russia
    Thank you, Parla.

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