English Syntactic Musings

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Verb + it


  • "Why don't we Tiki/Dominoes/Usdan/Sherman it." Refers to where food is to be acquired.
  • "I think I'll walk/drive/Branvan/Shuttle-bus it." Refers to mode of transportation to be used.

Comments, Hypotheses

Seems to refer to a certain means to some end. Usdan is the means of food, Branvan is the means of transportation, etc.

Sentences that parse oddly for non-obvious reasons

  • "That thing has such corrupt memory that memtest86 (which loads straight from grub) crashes and sometimes is fortunate enough to reset the computer while doing so."
  • "I think it could be that stupidity manifests itself as evil, or evil itself as stupidity." (ABraver, 27Jul05)
    • itself is bound to the verb, so if you drop the verb, gotta get rid of itself too
  • *"The following sentences, minimally manually sorted, ..." and ?"The following sentences, with minimal manual sorting, ..."
  •  ??"[This word means ...,] which I'm wondering more and more whether it's a standardly used definition", but *"[This word means ...,] which I'm wondering more and more whether is a standardly used definition"


Who's this question for?

"Is "Frannie and Zooey" any good, Alex?", when Alex is the only person in the area reading a book - why does it feel necessary to append the person's name if you weren't talking to them before, but they're the only person within earshot to whom the question could pertain? (Abraver, 31Jul05)

  • Because someone else might try to make "Frannie and Zooey" make sense in their understanding of the world, and ask "Who's that?" or "Yeah, I like them", or something silly like that.

Things I've heard other people say

  • "I've always loved doing fieldwork in Western Vermont because I didn't have to worry about snakes or any carnivores larger than dog-size basically, where I had a rock-hammer that I could take it out."
    • Didn't leave t, pronoun recovered
  • "That was definitely worth using two letters for that."
    • "" (see prev note)
  • "Substitute the chocolate chips for cocoa powder, and instead of butter, use plums."
  • "Currently, it comes bundled with (you can choose not to install any of these at installation) Predixis MusicMagic, AOL Radio, an eMusic link . . ."
    • "Though a micro version of it comes bundled with AOL."
    • Those have opposite meanings, and were said about the same thing in the same conversation.
    • See ABraver's English#Argument Order, and above, for a similar problem.
  • "... has one wish: his son to become a novelist" (An ad on Cartoon Network).
    • Parses nicely, but interesting in structure.
  • "You're the woman my wife keeps telling me why you're famous but I can't remember why"

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