In below sentence:

Pages also helped knights dress and carried messages.

What is the grammatical relation of dress?

  • Could you offer a bit more context?
    – emsoff
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 17:35
  • 1
    It could be written as Pages also helped knights to dress, and carried messages, if that makes the meaning more clear.
    – choster
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 17:56
  • More context (as jboneca asked): The sentence is in: Johnston, Ruth A.., All Things Medieval: An Encyclopedia of the Medieval World, p431 - you can find it's preview on "Google Books" easily.
    – user64617
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 18:38

2 Answers 2


You asked about the grammatical relation - 'help' here is a transitive verb. 'knights [to] dress' is a non-finite clause.

See my comment above about the rhetorical device.


1. helped knights dress
- and [pages]
2. carried messages.

It is a simple parallelism or zeugma (type 3): you have two finite verbs, helped and carried, and the subject, pages, is omitted in the second branch of the sentence. So you have one full clause, pages helped knights dress, and one elliptical clause, [pages] carried messages, connected by the conjunction and.


As to the word dress, it is an infinitive. The finite verb help is used with an object/accusative and an infinitive, like she helped him escape. Some verbs allow this construction, like she let him go, they saw her go, she heard them go, etc.

Note that the verb help can also be used with an infinitive but without an object: she helped paint the room, they helped defeat the boss (the room and the boss are the objects of paint and defeat, not of helped).

  • I think it's a type two, rather than a type three - the subject is the same. In the type three examples, the subjects are different. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 18:12
  • @LeonConrad: I don't think so: Type 2 — Zeugma (often also called Syllepsis, or Semantic Syllepsis): where a single word is used with two other parts of a sentence but must be understood differently in relation to each. This type of figure is not grammatically incorrect, but creates its effect by seeming at first hearing to be incorrect, by exploiting multiple shades of meaning in a single word or phrase. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 18:17
  • on reflection, I don't think it fits either figure. If anything, the best fit is an Ellipsis (omission of 'pages'). Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 18:30
  • OP asked about the grammar of dress.
    – bib
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 18:41
  • @LeonConrad: Zeugma (Type 3): The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms offers a much broader definition for zeugma, describing a zeugma as any case of parallelism and ellipsis working together so that a single word governs two or more other parts of a sentence. This fits the example. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 19:01

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