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To be or not to be :)

 
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Forgorin



Joined: 30 Oct 2008
Posts: 16
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:50 am    Post subject: To be or not to be :) Reply with quote

I was asked at work today about this sentence.

'Let us do away with all ceremony.'

The teacher (Japanese English teacher here at a Japanese high school) wants to change it to, 'Let all ceremony done away with.' I told them that it need to have 'be' in it. 'Let all ceremony be done away with.'

The teacher asked my why and I was a bit stumped. Any help in explaining it?

Cheers,
Forgorin
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3006
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1: Let us do away with all ceremony (=Do away with all ceremony!)
2a: *Let all ceremony done away with.
2b: Let all ceremony be done away with.

The word 'us' has disappeared, the past participle of do somehow appeared (which surely needs something, i.e. a form of be, in the chain before it to trigger it), and the object is now the subject. Three signs that a passive is lurking/struggling to emerge, right?

If all else fails, ask who is going to be doing the doing away with. (Versus 'Let all ceremony do away with itself', or 'Let all ceremony go the hell away', etc etc, all of which have a clear subject, 'ceremony', for their verbs. That is, BE is [or in this case should be LOL] a clear visual and sonic break in the canonical S + active V order, for obvious enough functional-meaningful reasons). Or you could ask how 'done' is functioning as a verb in the incorrect sentence. Many angles of attack here!

By the way, I am simply ignoring the 'Let' at the start of each sentence. There may be some fascinating rules or whatnot about it (for example, that 'let' in at least some meanings has no passive form - could this be what's blocking the JTEs' thinking? Have they tried substituting 'Allow...to...'?), but I think it is a red herring if it is being taken as the be-all and end-all verb in these sentences. Even though it is interesting how the 'Let' is needed in the "passive imperative" sentence 2b (versus e.g. All ceremony was indeed done away with). Maybe the let in these imperative is a sort of modal/modal meaning (it could be replaced with 'must', for example: Must all ceremony be done away with? Yes, all ceremony must be done away with! All grammar too, in Japanese high schools at least ROFL, given how quite a few JTEs seem so wont make English more full of exceptions than it really needs to be).

Anyway, I'll try to take a look in my CambridgeGEL at some point and get back to you if it sheds any succinct light on this sort of thing. Wink
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Forgorin



Joined: 30 Oct 2008
Posts: 16
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fluffy Hamster, thanks for the wonderful reply. I wonder what we would do without you here!
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3006
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh, you're welcome, Forgorin! Wink I'm beginning to think there's only you and me left here...
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