You know, for example, if you are a native English speaker, that I can utter (23), and that this corresponds to a sentence of English, whereas if I utter (24), although you might be able to glean some message from it, it simply doesn’t correspond to any sentence of English:
(23) Anson is incredibly difficult to please.
(24) *Anson is incredibly difficult to be pleased.
How do you know this? Are you able to articulate why (24) is unacceptable? In fact, it’s just not obvious why (24) should be so bad. The kind of knowledge of language which allows you to make this judgement is not accessible to you — the technical term for this is that it is tacit knowledge
From the preface of Adger's Core Syntax: a minimalist approach.
What sort of "articulation" is Adger asking for here? Is it possible, rather than difficult, to articulate an answer, without saying the same as we would having studied English grammar?
I'm a native English speaker, and never taught or studied grammar, but want to suggest that the fragment "to be" is wrong there (CF 'Anson wants to be pleased' and 'it is incredibly dificult to be pleased') because the sentence says that Anson both is and isn't who does the pleasing.
That we have to say that it is difficult for Anson to be pleased, if we need to predicate the ambiguity of 'to be' on a person, rather than what they "want" or that "it is" so.
I'm not saying I'm sure I'm right, that "to be" is an ambiguous fragment which cannot be predciated of agents without mediation. But I wondered, how close that is to the actual grammatical answer. And more generally, what sort of explicit udnerstanding do native speakers have of their language's grammar?