How is transitivity defined in CGEL?

This ques­tion is specif­i­cally for those who are fa­mil­iar with the 2002
edi­tion of The Cam­bridge Gram­mar of the English Lan­guage by Hud­dle­ston
and Pul­lum.

The book has this pas­sage at page 272:

Strictly speak­ing, an in­tran­si­tive prepo­si­tion may have a com­ple­ment
other than an ob­ject NP – e.g. ow­ing in ow­ing to the rain has a
PP com­ple­ment. In this sec­tion, how­ever, we will be con­cerned only
with in­tran­si­tive prepo­si­tions that have ei­ther no com­ple­ment at all
or else a pred­ica­tive, as in That counts [as sat­is­fac­tory].

The book also says that prepo­si­tions can take fi­nite clauses as
com­ple­ments as fol­lows:

They ig­nored the ques­tion [of whether it was eth­i­cal]. (page 641)

Here, does the book con­sider the of a transitive preposition (because it takes a clause as a com­ple­ment) or an in­tran­si­tive prepo­si­tion (be­cause it doesn’t take an ob­ject NP)?

Also, how about verbs tak­ing fi­nite clauses as non-ob­ject com­ple­ments?

The book on pages 1017–1018:

In the present sub­sec­tion we turn our at­ten­tion to con­tent clauses
func­tion­ing as in­ter­nal com­ple­ment to a verb, as in He feared that he
might lose his job
([16i]). Tra­di­tional gram­mar not only anal­y­ses the
sub­or­di­nate clause here as a noun clause, but as­signs it the same
func­tion as that of the NP in He feared the prospect of
, namely that of ob­ject of the verb. Again, how­ever, we
be­lieve that the sub­or­di­nate clause is not suf­ficiently like an NP to
jus­tify that anal­y­sis.

The feared both in He feared that he might lose his job and in He feared the prospect of un­em­ploy­ment, traditional grammar considers a transitive verb.

The Cambridge Grammar agrees that the one in the second example (taking an object NP as a complement) is a transitive verb. Does the book considers the one in the first example (taking a that-clause as a complement) a transitive or intransitive verb?


For CGEL, transitive means specifically ‘taking a object as complement’. Moreover, I recall personal discussions with Pullum and Huddleston in which they confirm that only NPs function as objects. Verbs or prepositions which take other types of complements, such as clausal complements, predicative complements, etc, are not transitive.

Source : Link , Question Author : JK2 , Answer Author : Brett Reynolds

Leave a Comment