I know, this seems so natural, but what's the logic behind this?

Is there any difference between the above and....

Put the socks on

This one seems more right to me....cause I think it's an elliptical expression.

Complete meaning can be: put the socks on your feet.

But when I try seeing the initial one like this....I don't get able to do that.

How did the use of the first expression begin and how did it evolve?

  • 1
    The difference is that the title has "the" and your other example has "your". The socks = the pair of socks that we can both see - they could belong to anyone. "Your" indicates that the socks belong to you. – Greybeard Jun 5 '20 at 9:09
  • @Greybeard I think "your" is just a typo. I have edited it to 'the'. Try to identify the call of the question. – JK2 Jun 6 '20 at 10:29
  • Some transitive multi-word verbs (and as the simplex paraphrase 'don' exists, it's hard to argue that 'put on' in this sense isn't a MWV) are optionally separable. This is one of them (though note that 'put on them' meaning socks is ungrammatical). – Edwin Ashworth Jun 6 '20 at 11:22
  • Does this answer your question? Set a trap up / set up a trap See also Is it wrong to say : "Get out your books"? – Edwin Ashworth Jun 6 '20 at 11:25
  • @EdwinAshworth You can explain away by saying it's a MWV, a phrasal verb, or even an idiom. But I'm afraid that's not the answer the OP's looking for. – JK2 Jun 7 '20 at 0:27

Of course it's grammatical. Plus, it's more natural than put the socks on.

Now, an elliptically reduced version doesn't guarantee that the exact original version should also work. For example, I always have is an ellipted version of I always have loved you in the following example, but the latter doesn't work:

I love you, and I always have.

??I love you, and I always have loved you.

I love you, and I have always loved you.

The original version that's correct is the last one, which is not the exact original version of the elliped version.

If you replace the socks with them in your example, the only ellipted version that's correct corresponds to the exact original version:

Put them on.

Put them on your feet.

??Put on them.

The last version that's now incorrect corresponds to the most natural ellipted version of your example: Put on the socks.

  • I don't agree with even a single question mark with 'I love you, and I always have loved you' with stress on have. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 7 '20 at 11:21
  • @EdwinAshworth When it follows I love you, and as in my second sentence, I can't think of a context where I would put stress on have. Moreover, this ngram doesn't seem to like it either: books.google.com/ngrams/… This level of productivity deserves ??, I think. – JK2 Jun 7 '20 at 12:33
  • John Lawler lists 'I have, and, as far as I know, always will do it' as being '[far from terrible'] hinting that it's not unidiomatic. And this is with the obvious grammatical error, which doesn't exist in the uncoordinated 'I always will do it'. 'I always have done it" registers over a million hits on Google: many false positives, but a good number of examples of S + always + have + V-ed .... – Edwin Ashworth Jun 7 '20 at 14:34
  • @EdwinAshworth I think will do it (and will do that) is treated similarly to the auxiliary stranding construction ending with will or will do. So, JL's construction sounds more natural than always will trust although you have always before will do it, just as ending a clause with always will is more natural than with will always. Thus, you can't find the construction always will trust on ngram: bit.ly/3dJXb0z But you do find the construction always will do it/that/so, albeit relatively much less productive than will always do it/that/so: bit.ly/3cHz2Xl – JK2 Jun 8 '20 at 3:16

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