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I've been analyzing the following pair of sentences and have some questions regarding the usage of infinitives as object complements.

Sentence 1: That statement's really important, because it's basically how they decide who to accept into the house.

Sentence 2: That statement's really important, because it's basically how they decide who to be accepted into the house.

My questions are:

  1. In both sentences, are "to accept" and "to be accepted" functioning as complements to the object "who"?
  2. If so, are both expressions correct and acceptable?
  3. If both are correct, is this interchangeability of active and passive infinitives as object complements limited to the verb "decide"? Or can it be applied to any other verbs as well?

I'm curious to know if this is a general phenomenon or if it's restricted to specific verbs like "decide". I'd also like to understand the nuances, if any, between using the active or passive form in such constructions.

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    Your sentence #2 is invalid. It would have to be ...because it's basically how they decide who is to be accepted into the house. Or ...who will be accepted - for all practical purposes, those two are equivalent to your sentence #1. Commented Apr 25 at 14:07

1 Answer 1

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[1] That statement's really important, because it's basically how they decide [who to accept into the house].

[2] That statement's really important, because it's basically how they decide [who is to be accepted into the house].

In both examples, the bracketed elements are subordinate interrogative clauses (embedded questions) functioning as complement of "decide". Within the interrogative clauses, the infinitival clauses are complement of "accept" and "is" respectively. Because the bracketed elements are interrogatives not objects ("decide" is intransitive here), the infinitivals are not object complements.

Example [1] is fine, but [2] requires the verb "is", as shown.

The interrogative can be active or passive depending on the intended meaning.

The construction is not restricted to "decide". Others verbs include "allow", "permit", "determine" and "agree".

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