Inside the Predicate
we will look inside the Predicate, and assign functions to its constituents.
Recall that the Predicate is everything apart from the Subject. So in David
plays the piano, the Predicate is plays the piano. This Predicate
consists of a verb phrase, and we can divide this into two further elements:
In formal terms, we refer to the verb as the PREDICATOR, because its function is to predicate or state something about the subject. Notice that Predicator is a functional term, while verb is a formal term:
However, since the Predicator is always realised by a verb, we will continue to use the more familiar term verb, even when we are discussing functions.
The Direct Object
In the sentence David plays the piano, the NP the piano is the constituent which undergoes the "action" of being played (by David, the Subject). We refer to this constituent as the DIRECT OBJECT.
Here are some more examples of Direct Objects:
We can usually identify the Direct Object by asking who or what was affected by the Subject. For example:
The Direct Object generally comes after the verb, just as the Subject generally comes before it. So in a declarative sentence, the usual pattern is:
Subject -- Verb -- Direct Object
The following table shows more examples of this pattern:
Realisations of the Direct Object
The Direct Object is most often realised by an NP, as in the examples above. However, this function can also be realised by a clause. The following table shows examples of clauses functioning as Direct Objects:
Subjects and Objects, Active and PassiveA useful way to compare Subjects and Direct Objects is to observe how they behave in active and passive sentences. Consider the following active sentence:
Here we have a Subject fire and a Direct Object the palace.
Now let's convert this into a passive sentence:
The change from active to passive has the following results:
copyright The Survey of English Usage 1996-1998
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