Adverbials, Auxiliaries, and Sentence Types
Give tree diagrams of the D structures for the following sentences. Assume that D structure strings are active, not passive.
The editor was handed the article by the reporter.
A bottle was thrown at the umpire by a fan after the game.
Drugs are sold to some students by pushers.
He had been offered an ambassadorship by the prime minister before the election.
Those women may have been asked the questions by the interviewer.
The report on the budget was handed to the committee before the meeting.
The student should have been given encouragement concerning his work.
The university library was given the entire collection.
This car must have been serviced by the manufacturer before shipment.
Fortunately, the sinking ship's signals of distress were picked up by a passing ship.
Explain why each of the following sentences cannot be passivized. What type of verb does each contain?
Clyde is standing on a ladder.
The bedrooms are upstairs.
My neighbors own a cabin on an island.
She left this morning.
Phyllis is becoming an airplane pilot.
We hiked ten miles yesterday.
It might be possible to account for passive sentences without invoking the concept of a transformation. A passive sentence such as Clara was addressed by James is structurally very similar to a stative sentence such as Rita was angry at Rudolph or Rita was amazed at/by Rudolph. Note that in the last sentence a past participle (amazed) is functioning as an adjective. Thus all three might be seen as having the structure V AP PP.
There is a good argument for not doing so, however, because of the ambiguity of a sentence such as The food was frozen yesterday. Remember that a structurally ambiguous sentence must have two D structures (each of which is unambiguous). The reading (a) ‘The food was in a frozen state yesterday’ does indeed have the D structure V AP AdvP, but the other reading (b) ‘Someone froze the food yesterday’ must be analyzed as a passive with an active D structure. The D structures for the two readings are shown below:
Via the passive transformation, the second sentence arrives at the same structure as the first. (In some languages, such as German, the two readings are distinguished by the use of different auxiliaries: the first uses the verb `to be’ and the second uses the verb `to become’.)
Therefore, it seems preferable to derive surface passive sentences from D structure active sentences.
Explain the ambiguity of The house was sold on Friday. Use generalized phrase structure trees.
The verb is prepositional-locative. Generally only nonlocative prepositional verbs can be passivized.
The verb is copulative, with upstairs being a subject complement, not a direct object.
The verb is stative; hence my neighbors are not agents.
The verb is intransitive. This morning is adverbial.
The verb is copulative, with an airplane pilot being a subject complement, not a direct object.
The verb is intransitive, and ten miles is adverbial.
Either ‘the house is in a sold state on Friday (having been sold sometime earlier)’ or ‘the house underwent a sale on Friday’. The first is stative (see a) and the second is an agentless passive, with the D structure shown in (b), which then undergoes a passive transformation.