1

A history sheeter convicted in 2013 for raping a five-year-old girl in the neighbourhood, was released in 2018 early for good behaviour in jail.

I have below questions about this sentence, specifically use of word convicted.

  1. Has the word convicted been used in the above sentence as an adjective or a past tense verb?

  2. Can we use convict instead of convicted as an adjective?

A history sheeter convicted for raping a five-year-old girl in the neighborhood

How to identify this sentence if it is is convicted or was convicted.

3

It is a case of ellipsis--

A history sheeter (who was) convicted in 2013 for raping a five-year-old girl in the neighborhood, was released in 2018 early for good behaviour in jail.

who was is ellipted and convict is used as a verb in this case. You cannot use convict instead of convicted

  • Why was convicted why not is convicted? – user4084 Apr 7 at 9:52
  • because the sentence is in the simple past tense – Kshitij Singh Apr 7 at 9:54
0

The quote comes from a Times of India news report. As such, it uses Indian English which has some differences from Standard English (the common features of English as used in Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and by other native English speakers of European descent). For instance, I don't know what a "history sheeter" is, nor can I work it out from the context. However, that doesn't affect my recognition of the part of speech for "convicted".

I'll answer your second question first because it's easier. Convict is only a verb or a noun, so you can't use it as an adjective.

In English, adjectives usually come before the noun they modify: "a happy man", or they follow a verb after a noun: "a man was happy". There are exceptions to this rule, but it's a good rule of thumb. In this case, "convicted" is only an adjective before the noun.

Now on to your first question: is it an adjective or the past tense form of the verb "to convict"? The sentence can be simplified down to:

A history sheeter was released.

Everything before "was" is a clause acting as the subject:

A history sheeter convicted in 2013 for raping a five-year-old girl in the neighbourhood

This can be illustrated by using two sentences:

The next sentence is about a history sheeter convicted in 2013 for raping a five-year-old girl in the neighbourhood. He was released in 2018 early for good behaviour in jail.

Now it is clear that "a history sheeter convicted in 2013 for raping a five-year-old girl in the neighbourhood" is not an independent sentence, but a sub-clause that can be replaced by the pronoun "he" once it is in context.

It means "a history sheeter who was convicted ...", with "who was" removed by ellipsis. So, the entire verb phrase is "was convicted". "Convicted" is the past participle of "to convict", which is identical to the simple past tense form, but two conjugated forms can't appear without something else in between.

The sub clause "[who was] convicted in 2013 for raping a five-year-old girl in the neighbourhood" is acting like an adjective here, but appearing after the noun.

So, why can't "convicted" be an adjective the same way as "I was contented yesterday"? This is because "to be verbed" is a passive construction. The man was convicted by someone else; someone convicted the man. Once someone has been convicted, they can't be "unconvicted". The Oxford definition of "convicted" is:

Having been declared guilty of a criminal offence by the verdict of a jury or the decision of a judge.

It's like having a broken leg. The leg can't break itself, some external force must do it. Even after the leg has healed, it was still broken at some point in the past. So the man can't be both convicted in 2013, and not convicted afterwards, which the adjective would suggest if it was used.

Many adjectives do have exactly the same form as the past particle of many verbs, so it can be tricky to identify which is which. You need to identify the underlying grammar ( which may be difficult because of ellipsis or other idiomatic grammar) and also the meaning and use of the word in question. You won't be able to tell whether a different word is an adjective or a past participle by the grammar alone.

  • A history sheeter convicted for raping a five-year-old girl in the neighborhood........ How to identify this sentence if it is is convicted or was convicted. – user4084 Apr 7 at 14:00
  • @user4084 Using "is" or "was" changes the tense. We wouldn't say "is convicted" because the whole sentence is about the past, not the present. The part removed by ellipsis can only be "who was". Note that it matches the main verb "was" later in the sentence: "A history sheeter [who was] convicted in 2013 ..., was released in 2018 ..." – CJ Dennis Apr 7 at 23:09
  • You are correct . Now forget about my original sentence as it has past indications. If the sentence is like this A history sheeter convicted for raping a five-year-old girl in the neighborhood. Now how to identify this sentence if it is is convicted or was convicted or simple Past. – user4084 Apr 8 at 1:46
  • @user4084 That is no longer a complete sentence. It is a sub-clause and doesn't contain a main verb. This is because "to convict" is a transitive verb: it requires a direct object which is missing. Active sentence construction: "The jury convicted the history sheeter for raping a five-year-old girl in the neighbourhood." Passive sentence construction: "A history sheeter was convicted [by someone] for raping a five-year-old girl in the neighbourhood." The passive construction doesn't say who did the convicting, but it must have been someone, judge or jury. – CJ Dennis Apr 8 at 2:07
  • I agree that convicted is transitive verb . But my question was .... From.my sentence without any tense indication .... it is is convicted or was convicted ? – user4084 Apr 8 at 5:27

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