Posts Tagged ‘ direct object ’

Role-Swapping: Subjects, Objects, and a Sexy Trick for Sentence Revision

What do you think of this sentence?

Kiki handed the handcuffs to Al.

When your action is hot, but the sentence is not, try looking at your nouns and their syntax, the roles they play in the sentence.

Kiki is the subject, which drives the action of the sentence.

Handcuffs is the direct object, which receives the action of the verb handed.

Al is the indirect object, which receives the direct object handcuffs.

We’ve got some awfully sexy nouns to work with here, so let’s experiment with role-swapping. That is, change the syntax. What happens when we put Al in the driver’s seat as the subject? What is Al doing?

Al accepted the handcuffs from Kiki.

That’s different at least, but I’m still not feeling it. What if the handcuffs become the subject? What are the handcuffs doing?

The handcuffs fell from Kiki‘s hands into Al‘s.

See how the hot action of the sentence just got a little hotter? By swapping the nouns until you find the sexiest possible syntax, you can build sexy sentences every time.

The Sexy Grammarian teaches writers to create tight, juicy, scantily clad sentences and combines sexually explicit examples with grammar instruction, but she never does it alone. Writing this post, she got extra help from the twitterverse, specifically @EditorMark  @JulieFrayn @GrammarROCKS, and @mededitor. Thanks, tweeps!

Check out more Sexy Grammar lessons. Get a Private Session with the Sexy Grammarian.


Dialogue with Dad: Predicate Nominatives

Kristy: Hi, Dad. Thanks for agreeing to this interview. I’m looking forward to you teaching me the difference between a predicate nominative and a direct object, since I’m still a little fuzzy on it. And thanks again for your gentle but firm correction to my previous post, where I identified the word tired as a direct object in the sentence, She was tired. Can you explain the role of a predicate nominative in a sentence?

Dennis: Hi, Kristy. In a previous conversation about this, we did move on to the predicate nominative, but in the sentence in the original blog post, tired is actually a predicate adjective. Do you want to talk about that or the predicate nominative? They are closely related, but one is an adjective while the other is a noun.

Kristy: (laughs) See? It’s wacky and entertaining already! Please, let’s walk me through it from the beginning.

Dennis: Not too many people think grammar is wacky and entertaining—sexy, maybe. Let’s see how far some basic definitions will go to clear up the difference between a predicate adjective and a direct object.

First, we have to establish two different types of verbs: the linking verb and the transitive verb.

A linking verb, such as a form of to be or seem or appear, identifies the predicate with the subject: I am, you are, he appears, we are, they seem.

The transitive verb expresses action and may take a direct object, while the intransitive verb (think linking verb) may not take a direct object.

Is this making sense so far?

Kristy: Yes, makes sense, but I have questions.

Is a linking verb a sort of sub-type of intransitive verb? Like other intransitive verbs, it does not require a direct object, but it does link to a word in the predicate that modifies the subject?

One thing that bothers me here: can seem really be an intransitive verb?—even a special kind of intransitive verb? You can’t just seem, can you? You have to seem something.

Dennis: No, not a sub-type, though they have similarities.  Like an intransitive verb, a linking verb does not take a direct object but rather implies a condition or a state of being, while an intransitive verb expresses action. Let’s try some examples:

Linking verb: Kristy is the Sexy Grammarian. The linking verb, is, expresses a state of being.

Intransitive verb: Kristy travels frequently. The intransitive verb, travels, expresses action but takes no direct object, instead modifying the verb with an adverb.

Seem as a linking verb: A discussion about linking and intransitive verbs may seem confusing, but I think it’s sort of wacky and entertaining.

Does that help?

Kristy: Thanks for introducing some examples. That helps a lot. For the record, my dictionary does list seem as an intransitive verb. Isn’t it true that a dictionary will list either transitive or intransitive for every verb entry? Also, can’t an intransitive verb be more flexible than a transitive one? For example, the verb to see is an intransitive verb:

I see.

But it may take a direct object:

I see dead people.

And a transitive verb always requires a direct object?

Your example, Kristy is the Sexy Grammarian, has a linking verb and then a noun, the Sexy Grammarian. So, is the Sexy Grammarian, although a noun, still not a direct object because we have a linking verb rather than a transitive verb?

Surely the Sexy Grammarian does not become an adjective because of its relationship with the linking verb.

Dennis: You’re right about each verb being designated as transitive or intransitive, although some verbs can be both, such as the verb, see, as used in your examples. See in your first example is intransitive, but in your second sample: I see dead people, see becomes a transitive verb. See the difference?

In the example, Kristy is the Sexy Grammarian, the Sexy Grammarian following the linking verb is a predicate nominative, which, by definition, is the noun that follows a linking verb and stands for the subject.

We can relate this to the DSS’s original example: What she mostly was was tired. I don’t care much for that sentence, so let’s rewrite it to read: Mostly, she was tired. We can disregard the mostly for purposes of this discussion and focus on the simple sentence, She was tired. This is analogous to Kristy is the Sexy Grammarian; however, with She was tired, we have a predicate adjectivetired—instead of the predicate nominative—the Sexy Grammarian.

As a side note, the verb, to be, is not only noted as an intransitive verb, but it has an additional role as an auxiliary verb.

Kristy: Wow, I think I get it now! All this time, I’ve been treating predicate adjectives and especially nominatives like direct objects. Thanks, Dad. I knew you could explain it to me.

Dennis: My pleasure, Kristy.

It’s Dialogue Month on The Sexy Grammarian’s Blog! This week’s posts include dialogues between the The Sexy Grammarian and my dad, my coach, and an almost-self-described grammar bottom. Subscribe now to follow the conversation.

Besides being my Dad, Dennis Billuni is a retired U.S. postal carrier, a Senior Editor for A-1 Editing, and the man who taught me how to line edit.

Talking Dirty: Jackie & Jill’s Exciting Climax

Pardon me, for this blog post contains sexually explicit examples or content. If you are under the age of 18 or just uncomfortable with sexually explicit material, you may want to check out one of these sites about grammar and writing instead.

Predicate Nominatives Now you know what to do when the quotation is the direct object of a transitive verb and what to do when the quotation stands alone, but there’s one more possibility:

Jackie’s first question was “What are you hiding in that closet?” Continue reading

Talking Dirty: Orgasms and Vibrators

Pardon me, for this blog post contains sexually explicit examples or content. If you are under the age of 18 or just uncomfortable with sexually explicit material, you may want to check out one of these sites about grammar and writing instead.

Direct Objects

Dialogue is usually the direct object of a transitive verb denoting speaking or thinking. Although we don’t usually set off direct objects with a comma, we do when the direct object is a quotation. Look at the direct objects in the sentences below: Continue reading

Talking Dirty: Tags, Paragraphs, and Commas

Pardon me, for this blog post contains sexually explicit examples or content. If you are under the age of 18 or just uncomfortable with sexually explicit material, you may want to check out one of these sites about grammar and writing instead.

Dialogue Tags

A dialogue tag has two objectives: Continue reading

4 Grammar Rules for Goal Setting

I’m pleased as punch to present my first guest blogger, Renata J. Razza. Renata coaches clients to harness their authenticity and intention to find an easier, more joyful way to be and to dare in work and in life. Go give his delightful blog some love. -Kristy

In homage to the Sexy Grammarian, we’re going to have some fun with grammar and goal setting. Read on for 4 simple grammar rules and what they mean for your goal setting.

1. Every sentence must have a subject (even if only by implication).

In grammar, a subject is the thing that’s doing the action. It’s the sentence’s hero. And every goal needs a hero, too.

You get to be the hero of every one of your goals. So shoot for ” I will…” goals. They emphasize your choice and your desire. In “I need to…” or “I ought to…” goals, there’s an implied external subject that supersedes the written “I.” It’s that voice in your head that judges you and shoulds you, if it says anything at all. Trust me, you don’t want to start working for that guy.

2. Mind your synonyms.

No one wants to read writing that repeats the same word over and over and over. But when you dig for your thesaurus to find a synonym, pay attention to the flavor or connotation of the replacement word.

In goal setting, it’s easy to start with “want” and shift to “will” then to “ought” then to “should” then to “need.” Each of these words dramatically changes the flavor of your goal. Is it just a dream, as “want” implies? Is someone else telling you it’s what’s next for you (like “ought”)? Is desperation hidden in it (need to do it!!)?

Or is it a commitment? Nothing says commitment like the words, “I will do it.”

3. Avoid run-on sentences.

We’ve all read sentences that don’t really know what their focus is and therefore, they don’t really know when to start or stop so they just kind of keep going and then you, the reader, lose the thread entirely, right? (Forgive me: sometimes demonstration is priceless.)

Run-on goals are non-specific and unfocussed. So you never know when you’ve actually achieved them. Notice:

I will grow my business a lot this year.

Now compare:

I will double my monthly number of clients by July 2010.

Specific goals keep a focus and an end in sight. That’s what gives them their power.

4. Only transitive verbs need an object; intransitive verbs do not.

There are verbs that do actions to other things and there are verbs that just act or just are.

In the fervor that drives goal setting it’s easy to forget to give yourself the care and feeding that will allow you to meet your goal. So, go ahead…set ambitious goals. Just remember to drop into the intransitive verbs sometimes to refuel, rest and be.

Getting Laid

Always getting confused in the middle of asking somebody to lie down with you?

Lay and lie are confusing, in part, because lay is the past tense of lie.  Remembering the distinct definitions for the two and understanding the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs can help a lot.

Lie means to recline or rest.  It is an intransitive verb.  That is, it does not need a direct object.

My sexual tastes lie somewhere between kinky and vanilla.

Please, darling, lie down so I can make love to you!

Lie’s other tenses are: lay, lain, and lying.

He lay with his legs splayed, like he expected something more.

She has never lain in that bed.

The orgy devolved into a lot of people lying around.

Lay means to put or place.  It is a transitive verb.  That is, it requires a direct object: something must be placed or put.

I will now lay the dildo on the towel.

If you’ll lay yourself on that cot, I will be right back with the lube.

Lay’s other tenses are: laid, laid, laying.

He laid the condom in the palm of his lover’s hand.

We had laid down guidelines for safe sex practices.

I’m laying rose petals all over the sheets for you.

Now you are wondering how to use the vulgar slang terms, aren’t you? They are nouns.

I am hoping to get laid tonight.

You are one heck of a hot lay!

Pride 2009, San Francisco