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I am reading The Old Man and the Sea in a ell learning camp.

"The successful fishermen of that day were already in and had butchered their marlin out and carried them laid full length across two planks, with two men staggering at the end of each plank, to the fish house where they waited for the ice trunk to carry them to the market in Havana."

"to the fish house", which verb is connected with "to"?

In another word, what's the verb of "to"?

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    Note, "to" is a preposition in this position, not an infinitive marker. Prepositions have objects, they don't have verbs, though they will be part of a clause that is headed by a verb.
    – James K
    Apr 14, 2023 at 7:02
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    The preposition phrase "to the fish house" is a dependent (here, a complement) of "carried them".
    – BillJ
    Apr 14, 2023 at 7:57
  • @BillJ So, it is incorrect to think as "carried .... to the fish house", is it? Then virolino's answer is not correct. Btw, I asked chatgpt twice and it gave: In the phrase "to the fish house," the preposition "to" is used to show the destination of the fishermen and the marlin. There is no specific verb connected with "to" in this phrase, but it is used to indicate the direction or goal of the action being described in the sentence.
    – Rick
    Apr 14, 2023 at 8:12
  • And: "To" is a preposition that is used to indicate direction or destination. In this case, "to the fish house" is a prepositional phrase that acts as an adverb modifying the verb "carried." So, the phrase "carried them laid full length across two planks" describes how the marlin was transported, and "to the fish house" describes where the marlin was taken.
    – Rick
    Apr 14, 2023 at 8:13
  • I thought chatgpt was wrong so I came ell :)
    – Rick
    Apr 14, 2023 at 8:14

3 Answers 3

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The Old Man and The Sea

Sentence parse:

"The successful fishermen of that day were already in and had butchered their marlin out and carried them laid full length across two planks//- with two men staggering at the end of each plank - //to the fish house where they waited for the ice trunk to carry them to the market in Havana."

The phrase with two men staggering at the end of each plank is what is called a parenthetical phrase.

A parenthetical phrase or parenthetical expression is a word or phrase that is not essential to the rest of the sentence, but it isn’t necessarily unimportant. It only means it doesn’t affect the sentence’s grammatical structure.

If you remove the phrase, the sentence becomes:
The successful fishermen of that day were already in and had butchered their marlin out and carried them laid full length across two planks to the fish house where they waited for the ice trunk to carry them to the market in Havana."

So, "to the fish house" is preceded by the verb "carried".

Parenthetical phrases can be punctuated by commas, dashes or parentheses.

parenthetical phrases_Grammarist

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First we split the sentence:

"The successful fisherman of that day were already in and

had butchered their marlin out and

carried them laid full length across two planks, with two men staggering at the end of each plank, to the fish house where they waited for the ice trunk to carry them to the market in Havana."

and then we remove the extra words and highlight the verbs:

"The successful fisherman of that day were already in and

had butchered their marlin out and

carried them ... to the fish house ... to carry them to the market ..."

Now it becomes more obvious that "were already in" and "butchered" are out of the question as candidates, which leaves us only with "carried them ... to the fish house".

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    Yes, so the prepositional phrase doesn't have a verb as a dependent, but it is dependent on the verb phrase "carried them".
    – James K
    Apr 14, 2023 at 11:08
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    This answer reminds me a bit of the subreddit /r/restofthefuckingowl , as there's not much explanation behind "remove the extra words" when I think really it deserves a bit more ;). In this case some explanation of the ability to delete "laid...planks" as it's forming an adverbial phrase, and the "with" clause because it's between commas as a parenthetical. Also I think not cutting out "to carry them to the market" is a bit weird as it implies that's also attached to the "carried" verb, when really that's attached to "waited for the ice truck".
    – Muzer
    Apr 14, 2023 at 13:20
  • I became curious to see if there is such a thing as an online sentence diagram generator. It seems I would have create yet another account on a website and I'm done with that, but they exist. They would probably be confused by Hemingway, though.
    – Wastrel
    Apr 14, 2023 at 13:47
  • @Wastrel Sentence diagramming is hard, because there are lots of ambiguities that require context to overcome. But maybe AI can be used to assist it.
    – Barmar
    Apr 14, 2023 at 14:31
  • @Barmar: sometimes, ambiguities just cannot be removed, unless the person who made the statement changes the sentence to remove the ambiguity - hoping that they do not introduce other ambiguities in the process :)
    – virolino
    Apr 14, 2023 at 14:39
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Fishermen...carried them (marlin)....to the fish house.

The verb is carried, the past tense of carry.

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