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Small clauses are clauses with "to be" deleted.

I found him (to be) difficult.

And as we all know, an adjective complement can be added afterward.

I found him (to be) difficult to work with.

I found him happy to do the job.

She appeared unable to work with me.

I considered him incapable of doing anything.

And there was this sentence:

a. I thought him angry at me.

Somehow, this sentence sounded extremely unnatural to me. Also this.

b. She called me different from others.

c. I called him incapable of doing anything.

Even though they are theoretically correct, since there is an adjective complement after the adjective in the small clause, they sound extremely strange with the adjective complement. Are those sentences grammatically wrong? Do they sound natural to you? I am not a native speaker, so it's rather hard for me to judge.

Also, is it true that an adjective complement can be used if there is an adjective in the sentence, no matter what? Is there a situation in which the adjective complement cannot be used with an adjective because of a grammatical issue, not context?

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  • 5
    They sound absolutely fine to a native speaker. You are probably trying to transfer some aspect of your native language to English. Oct 16, 2015 at 2:20
  • Sentences b and c too?
    – Ivan
    Oct 16, 2015 at 2:21
  • 1
    All of them are fine. Does your native language have adjective complements, and are they allowable with the verbs corresponding to called and thought? Oct 16, 2015 at 2:23
  • 2
    Sentence C pretty much requires the complement. “I called him incapable” sounds very odd, since you're always, by definition, incapable of something; if there is no complement, the implication is that you're incapable of everything, which is really only the case if you're dead (and arguably not even then). Nov 10, 2016 at 9:06
  • 1
    @JanusBahsJacquet It depends on the context. If you were talking about an argument at work or with someone who had provided you with very poor service the nature of the incapability would be implicit.
    – BoldBen
    Dec 10, 2016 at 9:42

3 Answers 3

1

In my dialect/idiolect (a) sounds archaic, if not obsolete; something one might find in a Dickens novel. (b) doesn't sound "native"; 'thought' or 'considered', however, is fine. (c) might pass for a native's utterance, but 'thought' sounds better & perfectly normal. To me the issue here is one of style, not grammar.

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    "In [your] dialect/idiolect" ... which is what?
    – TrevorD
    Apr 13, 2016 at 20:58
  • As a native British English speaker it sounds a little archaic to me too!
    – BoldBen
    Oct 11, 2016 at 10:20
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I don't know of any prohibition on extending object complements after "to think" and "to call". Sentence (a) does sound a bit strange to me, but I believe that "to think" is used with adjectival object complements more often in Britain (and perhaps other places) than in the U.S. I'll therefore defer to people who are more familiar with such expressions. As for (b) and (c), I think that they sound more natural in context, e.g.:

My coach said that all members of our basketball team were quite average players. However, she called me different from the others, perhaps because I have three arms.

(Note that I inserted a definite article before "others".)

We got into a big argument. He said that I didn't know how to cook a decent meal, and I called him incapable of doing anything properly.

I hope that both of these sentences sound alright to you; I am a native AmE speaker, and they sound fine to me.

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And as we all know, an adjective complement can be added afterwards.

No. to work with; to do the job; to work with me; of doing anything are all adverbial.

b. She called me different from others.

c. I called him incapable of doing anything.

You may have parsed this wrongly:

A: "You are different from the others"

B: [Later] She called me [different from others.] - reported speech, It is also possible that "different" is merely a misplaced adjective, and poor grammar, used to indicate what sort of person B is.

c. I called him incapable of doing anything.

In both cases, there is every possibility that "to call" = to say to someone; to tell someone - usually in a negative way: "I called him a fool."

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