[grammar] Sentence analysis: "John pet his dog and cat with vigor."

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Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum

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Feb 25, 2020, 6:17:42 PM2/25/20
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http://fallibleideas.com/grammar (part 4):

> For these practice sentences, first mark clauses and phrases (using curly and angle brackets), then make a short outline, then write and answer a question for each word.

> John pet his dog and cat with vigor.

Note: According to Webster's 1913, [the past tense of "pet" is "petted"](http://www.websters1913.com/words/Pet):

>> Pet, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Petted; p. pr. & vb. n. Petting.] To treat
>> as a pet; to fondle; to indulge; as, she was petted and spoiled.

I'll analyze a version of the sentence with "pet" replaced by "petted":

> John petted his dog and cat with vigor.

There's only one clause here, namely, the entire sentence. I've marked the clauses:

{John petted <<his dog> and cat> <with vigor>.}

Here's my outline of the sentence:

John petted [animals] [vigorously].

What action was performed? Petting.

When was the petting performed? In the past.

Who did the petting? John.

What or whom was petted? A dog and a cat.

Whose dog and cat? John's.

In what manner was the petting performed? Vigorously.

Elliot Temple

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Feb 25, 2020, 6:22:16 PM2/25/20
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On Feb 25, 2020, at 3:17 PM, Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum <petrogradp...@gmail.com> wrote:

> http://fallibleideas.com/grammar (part 4):
>
>> For these practice sentences, first mark clauses and phrases (using curly and angle brackets), then make a short outline, then write and answer a question for each word.
>
>> John pet his dog and cat with vigor.
>
> Note: According to Webster's 1913, [the past tense of "pet" is "petted"](http://www.websters1913.com/words/Pet):
>
>>> Pet, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Petted; p. pr. & vb. n. Petting.] To treat
>>> as a pet; to fondle; to indulge; as, she was petted and spoiled.
>
> I'll analyze a version of the sentence with "pet" replaced by "petted":
>
>> John petted his dog and cat with vigor.
>
> There's only one clause here, namely, the entire sentence. I've marked the clauses:
>
> {John petted <<his dog> and cat> <with vigor>.}

What do you think of this alternative view of the phrase groupings:

> John petted <his <dog and cat>> <with vigor>.

?

> Here's my outline of the sentence:
>
> John petted [animals] [vigorously].
>
> What action was performed? Petting.
>
> When was the petting performed? In the past.
>
> Who did the petting? John.
>
> What or whom was petted? A dog and a cat.
>
> Whose dog and cat? John's.
>
> In what manner was the petting performed? Vigorously.

left context

Elliot Temple
www.fallibleideas.com

Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum

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Feb 25, 2020, 10:05:25 PM2/25/20
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On Tue, Feb 25, 2020 at 03:22:13PM -0800, Elliot Temple wrote:

> On Feb 25, 2020, at 3:17 PM, Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum <petrogradp...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> http://fallibleideas.com/grammar (part 4):
>>
>>> For these practice sentences, first mark clauses and phrases (using curly and angle brackets), then make a short outline, then write and answer a question for each word.
>>
>>> John pet his dog and cat with vigor.
>>
>> Note: According to Webster's 1913, [the past tense of "pet" is "petted"](http://www.websters1913.com/words/Pet):
>>
>>>> Pet, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Petted; p. pr. & vb. n. Petting.] To treat
>>>> as a pet; to fondle; to indulge; as, she was petted and spoiled.
>>
>> I'll analyze a version of the sentence with "pet" replaced by "petted":
>>
>>> John petted his dog and cat with vigor.
>>
>> There's only one clause here, namely, the entire sentence. I've marked the clauses:
>>
>> {John petted <<his dog> and cat> <with vigor>.}
>
> What do you think of this alternative view of the phrase groupings:
>
>> John petted <his <dog and cat>> <with vigor>.

I don't know. Your alternative links John's dog and cat more closely than mine does. Here are some thoughts:

The original sentence has an implied word before "cat": "his". Including it yields: *John petted his dog and his cat with vigor.* I would mark that up similar to how I marked up the original: *John petted <<his dog> and <his cat>> <with vigor>*.

On the other hand, a version of the sentence with "dog and cat" replaced with "furry friends" would be: *John petted his furry friends with vigor*. I would mark that up like your alternative: *John petted <his <furry friends>> <with vigor>.*

What do you think?

Elliot Temple

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Feb 25, 2020, 10:11:40 PM2/25/20
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I think “his” applies to the group “dog and cat”. If you don’t view it that way, you *need* an implied word (another “his” before “cat”). I prefer interpretations that don’t require adding implied words, especially implied words that we know about because we need to add them to retain the same meaning as the version without the implied word.

If “his” doesn’t apply to the group, then it’s an unspecified cat. Which isn’t even allowed because it’s singular and needs a determiner. So consider:

> John petted his dogs and cats.

Now we don’t *need* an implied word before “cats”. We can read it as John petting a group of things containing 1) his dogs 2) cats.

But we don’t want to read it that way, do we? We still want to read the cats as being his. So I take “his” to apply to the group instead of to the single word.

Similarly, consider (removing the modifier for simplicity):

> John petted dogs and cats.


I take “petted” to apply to the group, not to just “dogs” and then you have to imagine an implied verb for cats, presumably petting again. This is the same sort of issue and I think the standard view is it’s a compound object.


Elliot Temple
www.fallibleideas.com

Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum

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Mar 2, 2020, 3:31:18 AM3/2/20
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On Tue, Feb 25, 2020 at 10:11 PM Elliot Temple <cu...@curi.us> wrote:

> On Feb 25, 2020, at 7:05 PM, Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum <petrogradp...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> On Tue, Feb 25, 2020 at 03:22:13PM -0800, Elliot Temple wrote:

>>> On Feb 25, 2020, at 3:17 PM, Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum <petrogradp...@gmail.com> wrote:

>>>> http://fallibleideas.com/grammar (part 4):

>>>>> For these practice sentences, first mark clauses and phrases (using curly and angle brackets), then make a short outline, then write and answer a question for each word.
>>>>>
>>>>> John pet his dog and cat with vigor.

>>>> Note: According to Webster's 1913, [the past tense of "pet" is "petted"](http://www.websters1913.com/words/Pet):
>>>>
>>>>> Pet, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Petted; p. pr. & vb. n. Petting.] To treat as a pet; to fondle; to indulge; as, she was petted and spoiled.

>>>> I'll analyze a version of the sentence with "pet" replaced by "petted": John petted his dog and cat with vigor.
>>>>
>>>> There's only one clause here, namely, the entire sentence. I've marked the clauses: {John petted <<his dog> and cat> <with vigor>.}

>>> What do you think of this alternative view of the phrase groupings: John petted <his <dog and cat>> <with vigor>.

>> I don't know. Your alternative links John's dog and cat more closely than mine does. Here are some thoughts:
>>
>> The original sentence has an implied word before "cat": "his". Including it yields: *John petted his dog and his cat with vigor.*  I would mark that up similar to how I marked up the original: *John petted <<his dog> and <his cat>> <with vigor>*.
>>
>> On the other hand, a version of the sentence with "dog and cat" replaced with "furry friends" would be: *John petted his furry friends with vigor*. I would mark that up like your alternative: *John petted <his <furry friends>> <with vigor>.*
>>
>> What do you think?

> I think “his” applies to the group “dog and cat”. If you don’t view it that way, you *need* an implied word (another “his” before “cat”).
>
> I prefer interpretations that don’t require adding implied words, especially implied words that we know about because we need to add them to retain the same meaning as the version without the implied word.

Makes sense. Now that you've stated it, I share that preference.

I now think that my original way of marking up the sentence doesn't work. That becomes especially clear to me when I try to mark up a variant of the sentence like *John petted his dog, cat, frog, and mouse*, because then it would look something like *John petted <<<<his dog>, cat>, frog>, and mouse>*. Marking up the sentence that way doesn't preserve the structure of the original sentence. Your way does: *John petted his <dog, cat, frog, and mouse>*.

> ... consider (removing the modifier for simplicity):
>
>> John petted dogs and cats.
>
> I take “petted” to apply to the group, not to just “dogs” and then you have to imagine an implied verb for cats, presumably petting again. This is the same sort of issue and I think the standard view is it’s a compound object.

I agree. Before, I thought adding implied words never changed the meaning of a sentence at all. But now I think it can, because grouping is part of what a sentence conveys, and adding implied words can affect the grouping.
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