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In linguistics, there is this certain group or class of verbs that can be used as We <VERB> you to come.

Verbs like to expect and to want are in this class:

  • We expect you to come.
  • We want you to come.

but most verbs aren't:

  • *We eat you to come.
  • *We type you to come.
  • *We grow you to come.

Does anyone know the name for this class of verbs?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Within theoretical linguistics, these are called Exceptional Case Marking verbs.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECM_verb

"You" is actually the subject of "to come." In most cases, infinitives can't have subjects, but verbs like "beg" and "expect" allow their infinitive complements to have subjects.

As a side note, I don't believe that "eat" is an ECM verb, but if it was, what would "We eat you to come" mean? You should choose your sentences carefully so that they could mean something, because otherwise you might accidentally think something is impossible just because it doesn't make sense. For example:

  • I will eat [the tomato growing in the yard].
  • *I will eat [the tomato to grow in the yard].

vs.

  • I expect [the tomato to grow in the yard].

Edit: There is another class of verbs which look sort of like ECM verbs, but have a slightly different structure. These are called Object Control verbs.

  • We persuaded you [PRO to come].

http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~beatrice/syntax-textbook/ch9.html#oc

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Your starred sentence could be grammatical if eating the tomato causes you to grow in the yard :) –  Kosmonaut Aug 30 '10 at 2:59
1  
Ah, well that would be a different "to" then. –  JoFrhwld Aug 30 '10 at 3:09
    
I know, I just find the interpretation entertaining! –  Kosmonaut Aug 30 '10 at 3:42
    
And please promise to also mention subject control verbs, like...er... what's that verb again? ;-) –  Arne Aug 30 '10 at 17:12
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