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In the following sentences...

  • Watch me whip.
  • You make me feel special.

The word "whip" and the phrase "feel special" are infinitives without "to." However, I'm not exactly sure if "(to) whip" or "(to) feel special" are direct objects (nouns) or adverbs.

They seem to follow the same structure as this sentence:

  • She gave me the keys.

Where...

  • She = subject (noun)
  • Gave = verb
  • Me = indirect object (pronoun)
  • the keys = direct object

BUT it also seems to me that the infinitive "whip" modifies "watch" and the infinitive "feel special" modifies "make."

Help?

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  • 2
    You've confused parts of speech with syntactic roles. Subjects and objects and predicates and modifiers are syntactic roles not parts of speech, while nouns and pronouns and verbs and adjectives and adverbs are parts of speech not syntactic roles. Only an individual word can have a part of speech, not an entire multiword phrase or clause. A clause (sometimes called a verb phrase) can easily serve as the syntactic subject, object, or modifier. And the word She is not a noun but a pronoun.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 25, 2022 at 22:49
  • 2
    Heather, please stay tuned. Strange times. Normally you will get answers in the answer box which people can vote on, and you can even accept one after a bit since you asked the question.
    – livresque
    Commented Jun 25, 2022 at 23:12
  • 1
    @tchrist The personal pronouns are a subclass of noun, not a distinct word class, so in the context of the OP's question it's OK to call "she" a noun.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 7:57

2 Answers 2

2

Terminology varies, so the answer to this question depends on how precise one would like to be when using the term 'object'.

One view would hold that anything following a verb that is specifically allowed by that verb (and verbs like it) should be classified as an object. In this view all of the following might be referred to as objects.

She started [buying novelty mugs].

She said [that I should get a new hat].

She got [me] [to go along with it].

She put [the hat] [on her head].

She saw [me] [leave the restaurant].

You will notice that all of the above seem to be different types of 'objects' and, for the most part, are not interchangeable. The reason for this is their internal structure - they are not the same type of word, phrase, or clause.

Thus, an alternate view holds that all of the above are not 'objects', but simply 'complements' of the verb - elements that are allowed by the verb (and verbs like it), and that 'objects' are only NPs. According to this view, verbs should then be classified into categories like:

monotransitive: allows a single complement in the form of an object NP

She failed [the test].

ditransitive: allows two complements in the form of object NPs

She brought [the boys] [a sandwich].

prepositional: allow complement(s) in the form of prepositional phrases (possibly in addition to a complement in the form of an object NP)

He talked [about it].

He told [me] [about it].

He talked [to me] [about it].

catenative: allow a complement in the form of a non-finite clause (with sub-classes for those allowing -ing clauses, plain infinitivals, to-infinitivals, past participials, and those that allow an NP to precede these)

She can [do the dishes].

She helped [me] [do the dishes].

She was [thinking about it].

She got [me] [thinking about it].

She was [taken out of the game].

She had [me] [taken out of the game].

She started [to like it].

She convinced [me] [to like it].

reporting: allow a complement in the form of finite subordinate clause (with sub-classes declarative, interrogative, exclamative, subjunctive, and those that allow an NP to precede these)

He answered [that he didn't want to go].

He told [me] [that he didn't want to go].

He wondered [whether we wanted to go].

He asked [us] [whether we wanted to go].

He saw [what a mess it had become].

He informed [me] [what a mess it had become].

He recommended [she take the day off].

While it is true that many verbs allow more than one of the above patterns of complementation, this view holds that there is no reason to lump all of the bracketed expressions above into a single category 'object', as this does not allow us to accurately describe what is or is not allowed in a clause headed by a particular verb.

The solution is to use the more general 'complement', meaning an item allowed by the head word or phrase, and then create various categories of 'complement' to describe what items are allowed by particular verbs.

Whatever terminology is used, one thing is certain: an accurate description must include the form (internal structure) of the item(s) found along with a particular type of verb and not with others.

2

[1] Watch me [whip].

[2] You make me [feel special].

Clause don't function as objects, so in [1] "whip" cannot be object of "watch". The received wisdom is that this is a catenative construction where "watch" is a catenative verb and the subordinate clause "whip" is its catenative complement. Syntactically, the intervening NP "me" is object of "watch" but it is also, of course, the understood (semantic) subject of the subordinate clause.

"Make" is also a catenative verb so the same analysis applies to [2], i.e. "me" is the object of "make" and the subordinate clause "feel special" is catenative complement of "make".

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