I sometimes encounter sentences like this

Mussolini ordered the Italy invaded Albania.

It seems incorrect to me but I want native speakers to prove.

UPDATE. The sentence above is taken from Wikipedia. That's why it is unmodified. But what about this one:

The manager ordered the subordinate painted fence.

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  • Recalling de Gaulle's La France - c'est moi!, I think even after removing the blatantly ungrammatical "the", the sentence is still "quirky/non-standard". You could more reasonably say Mussolini ordered his generals, or his army to invade (he effectively "owned" them). – FumbleFingers Aug 10 '12 at 12:57
  • @FumbleFingers "Blatantly ungrammatical 'the'"? Not in French! Google up que together with "la France" in quotes, and on verra. – tchrist Aug 10 '12 at 18:20

It's not right, I'm afraid.

The closest wording I can see that would be grammatically correct is:

"Mussolini ordered that Italy invade Albania."

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  • Can you say "The manager ordered the subordinate painted fence"? – Anixx Aug 10 '12 at 21:11
  • How about "The manager ordered that the subordinate painted the fence" – Urbycoz Aug 13 '12 at 7:19

No, the correct phrase would be "Mussolini ordered Italy to invade Albania", or "Italy invaded Albania on Mussolini's orders".

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What's happening here is that the original used a past subjunctive, and this was mistranslated into English. The original may have been something like:

  • Mussolini ha ordinato che l'Italia invase l'Albania.

The problem is that a correct translation into English requires a different tense in that situation. The subordinate clause is not marked in the past in English. Instead, it requires the bare infinitive a.k.a. present subjunctive:

  • Mussolini ordered that Italy invade Albania.

Or more commonly:

  • Mussolini ordered Italy to invade Albania.
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It doesn't make sense because the subject and object are not clearly defined. It's not clear whether "Italy" or "Mussolini" is the subject. You must turn one of them into a dative/genitive phrase.

(e.g. "[By order of Mussolini], Italy invaded Albania." or "Mussolini ordered Italy [to invade Albania].")

Additionally, most proper nouns in English do not require a definite article. Therefore, "the Italy" should be changed to just "Italy". (Think about it, there is only one Italy. It wouldn't make sense to say "An Italy", either.)

Alternatively, one could say "the Italians"

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  • There were certainly two Sicilies for a long period. – Tim Lymington Aug 10 '12 at 9:40
  • @TimLymington: True, but I don't see how it would help to say the Sicily unless one specified which Sicily one was referring to. The obvious exception to this would be if one was implying that there was only one Sicily, and it was the better one in some way. – Joel Cornett Aug 10 '12 at 9:50
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    Sorry. should have put a :). The Sicily is never right (it is one of the commonest ways a non-native speaker betrays himself), but technically and in rare circumstances, a Sicily is possible. ( :) ) – Tim Lymington Aug 10 '12 at 9:53
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    @Anixx: The tenses are wrong. [The manager] ordered [the subordinate TO paint the fence]. At the time referred to by the object, the command to paint the fence was a present tense. "I order you to painted the fence." is wrong so "The manager orderd the subordinate painted fence." is also wrong. Also note that in this context "painted" could also be interpreted as an adjective for "fence". – Joel Cornett Aug 10 '12 at 21:17
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    @anixx; The manager ordered the subordinate-painted fence (note hyphen) could mean 'The manager ordered that the fence which the subordinate had painted be brought out of storage', if you didn't mind the clumsy construction and ambiguioty of painted. That is the only sense in which it could be 'correct', and it has very little to do with your original example. – Tim Lymington Aug 10 '12 at 22:03

This looks likes a redistributed tree diagram. The key questions, I think, are

  1. Which word does 'the' modify? - If it's Italy or Albania, the article is dropped in English; if it's 'invaded', then that must be transformed into a nominal form, either 'invading' or, better, 'invasion'

  2. Which word is the direct object of 'ordered'? - If 'the' modifies 'invasion', that's probably the object, and we have "M ordered Italy's invasion of Albania". Otherwise, 'Italy' is probably the object, and we have "M ordered Italy to invade Albania". BUT it's just possible that 'Albania' is the object; in that case, 'ordered' should be relexicalized giving us "M. organized Albania after it was invaded by Italy."

This is fun.

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  • I took the sentece from Wikipedia, that's why I did not modify it. Possibly it is ungrammatical, but how about a sentence "The manager ordered the subordinate painted fence"? – Anixx Aug 10 '12 at 21:15
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    Aha! I bet you're looking at Google-translated passages from Italian wikipedia. It won't ever work. Ever. Not even once. ... By the way, go back and delete your other question about the subordinate - it'll eventually be closed, and you'll get the same answers as here. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 10 '12 at 21:39

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