The professor wants to retire. Here 'to retire' is used as object or complement?
Also, in "The man gave Amy some good advice" Is 'some good advice' an object or complement?

  • This is off the top of my head, so take it with a grain of salt. In the first one, to retire is a subject complement, because it modifies the subject, which is the professor. In the second one, Amy is the object and some good advice is the object complement, because it modifies Amy not the man. – Noah Oct 7 '12 at 10:16
  • I felt, Amy is Indirect object and Some good advice is direct object. Similarly, 'to retire' seems to be an object too!! – miracles Oct 7 '12 at 10:38
  • @miracles You are definitely right, but here's a slight correction. Some good isn't part of the DO; only advice is. – Black and White Jul 27 '17 at 0:10

In The professor wants to retire, to retire is the verb in an Infinitive Object Complement Clause. That means that it is a clause, with an infinitive verb, that functions as the Direct Object of the verb wants.

Complement clauses are noun clauses that can be either subjects or objects; there are four kinds in English: infinitives, gerunds, embedded questions, or tensed That-clauses. This is the only way I ever use the term.

Other than this use, complement is a term that is used with a wide variety of meanings. Since most of these meanings add no more information than "something that completes a phrase or clause", they're mostly unhelpful and are best avoided.

The subject of the complement clause is deleted because it's identical with the subject of want (The professor), and want is a verb that governs A-Equi.

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  • +1 or more. Who are "The Cliffs"? – StoneyB on hiatus Oct 7 '12 at 19:18
  • There is a series of study guides for college students in the United States called Cliff's Review of ..., which students just call the Cliff's on ..., and the phrase has come to represent any short, dense review of a topic. – John Lawler Oct 8 '12 at 8:32
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    I forgot to add, in The man gave Amy some good advice, Amy is the indirect object, and some good advice is direct object. This is also true for The man gave some good advice to Amy, which is related through the Dative alternation. – John Lawler Oct 8 '12 at 8:35

Complement is used to describe ‘a phrase or clause that completes the meaning required by some other form’ (Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English), bearing in mind that a phrase can consist of one word. To that extent, to retire and some good advice in your examples are complements. However, it would be usual to describe them more precisely as direct objects. They can be both a noun phrase, as in some good advice, and a clause, as in to retire.

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