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John is seen dancing. Can anyone tell me, please, whether it is COMPLEX SUBJECT SENTENCE or COMPLEX OBJECT SENTENCE. I am a bit confused because it can go with both.

While analysing first I told my colleague this was a complex subject " John is seen" passive voice action, however the he is insisting on saying the verb " to see" requires "zero infinitive" or " verb+ing" and this system is a complex object, which I couldn't deny. Therefore it made me confuse

  • Hi Sanjar, We can't really answer your question if we don't understand what you are thinking. Can you please edit your question to explain why you think that it could be both, by identifying each of the syntactic elements in the sentence? The subject is... The object is... – JavaLatte Oct 19 '18 at 3:28
  • While analysing first I told my colleague this was a complex subject " John is seen" passive voice action, however the he is insisting on saying the verb " to see" requires "zero infinitive" or " verb+ing" and this system is a complex object, which I couldn't deny. Therefore it made me confuse. – Sanjar Igamov Oct 19 '18 at 4:25
  • Your example is probably too simple to be classed as 'complex'. I found this article: Complex Object. Following that pattern, you might form a complex object by saying "I discovered John to be dancing.", where you would consider "John to be dancing" as a 'complex object'. Indeed, you could replace that phrase with some other object: "I discovered gold." You could form a complex object by first writing the sentence "John is dancing" and then modifying it to John to be dancing. – Brandin Oct 19 '18 at 5:16
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John is [seen [dancing]].

Here there are two embedded subordinate clauses, as bracketed, so it would qualify as a complex sentence.

"Be" is a catenative verb and the subordinate non-finite clause "seen dancing" is its catenative complement. "See" is also a catenative verb, and the subordinate non-finite clause "dancing" is its catenative complement.

So we have one subordinate clause functioning within another.

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We can assume that some word like "while" is dropped before the ing-verb.

John is seen while dancing -> John is seen dancing.

As John is seen by others while dancing, and others are the doer of action of the main verb here, that is "seeing", It is an OBJECT SENTENCE.

It is true that we have two verbs here, but we should consider the main verb that is seen, the rest of the sentence is an extra explanation. Look at the sentence "John is seen" without extra information, this one is also OBJECT SENTENCE.

  • Yes, it is passive, but there is no object in a passive clause. The matrix verb is not "seen" but "was" -- "seen dancing" is a subordinate clause serving as complement of "is". If by 'object sentence' you mean that there is an object in the sentence, you've got it wrong -- there is no object in the sentence. – BillJ Oct 20 '18 at 8:11

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