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The Rise of the To-Infinitive$
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Bettelou Los

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199274765

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199274765.001.0001

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Commissives

Commissives

Chapter:
(p.139) 6 Commissives
Source:
The Rise of the To-Infinitive
Author(s):

Bettelou Los (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199274765.003.0006

This chapter focuses on a third type of ditransitive: commissives, with meanings like ‘promise’. The commissives are interesting in that finite clauses are still their preferred complement in Present-day English, unlike the other subject-controlled verbs where finite clauses have been ousted completely by the to-infinitive. Closer investigation suggests that this survival is due to the fact that coreference of the subject of the subclause and an argument of the main clause is less frequent than with the verbs discussed in the previous chapters, i.e., the embedded subject is not ‘controlled’. Secondly, the ratio of modals versus simple subjunctive form is far higher in Old English after the commissives than after other ‘control’ verbs, which suggests that there is a need to distinguish between these types by using different modals for different types, which explains the continued survival of finite clauses.

Keywords:   finite, ditransitive, verb complement, syntactic reanalysis, subjunctive, object control, subject control, control shift, modals, modal verbs

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