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Can infinitives function as the direct object after ditransitives? Please give me some examples.

Their fathers advise them to study.

They asked me to bring some food.

Could you ask her to copy this letter for me?

She begged him not to leave her.

They believe him to be dangerous.

The colonel commanded his men to charge.

You've convinced the director of the program to change her position.

He encouraged his friends to vote for him.

In the above sentences, do the infinitive phrases (in bold) function as direct objects or object complements?

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    I don't think these are "ditransitive" usages. I'm not sure many of those verbs can be used ditransitively at all, but with ask you'd need something like "They asked me a question" (indirect object = me, direct object = a question). Nov 27 '14 at 14:35
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    Your examples seem to mostly have infinitival clauses functioning as catenative complements. (Catenative complements are neither objects nor object complements.)
    – F.E.
    Nov 27 '14 at 17:01
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Any "ditransitive verb", or verb taking two objects (one direct, one indirect) is going to mean something similar to "give."

I gave her the ball

The direct object is "the ball" and the indirect object is "her."

There is no infinitive you can subsititue for "the ball" that would make any sense. In all cases, a listener/reader will expect a noun/noun phrase after "to.'

The -ing form of a verb can be used, though.

I gave him a whipping

However, most of the examples you've provided aren't commonly used this way and sound very strange if you try this. At the very least there will be some sense of "detachment" which is probably not what you want to say most of the time. You should avoid it.

Their fathers advised studying to them

This sounds OK.

He encouraged voting to his friends

This isn't too bad.

The colonel commanded charging to his men

This sounds very awkward. Don't use it.

You've convinced changing her position to the director of the program

This is extremely bad and hard to understand.

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In English the verb pattern verb + accusative + to-infinitive (verb + ati, accusative, to, infinitive) is relatively common and parallel to the Latin aci-construction, which was a favoured construction.

But when having a closer look into this construction one finds that it is not a homogenous pattern. Various structures have flown into this pattern.

1 I want you to help me. Here we feel "you" as a direct object. A possible analysis of this structure might be "you to help me" is a special object consisting of two parts, the accusative and the to-infinitive. This two-part object is aequivalent to a clause (I want that you help me, where you is the subject of the clause).

2 He ordered the servant to shut the windows. This is the same pattern, but we would consider "the servant" as an indirect object and the to-infinitive might be considered as a direct object.

I guess that in various grammars the view about ati-constructions varies. In the end, I think it does not matter much how the to-infinitive is analysed, the pattern is always accusative + to-infinitive.

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Of your example sentences, I consider these to have infinitive object complements:

  • They believe him to be dangerous.
  • The colonel commanded his men to charge.
  • You've convinced the director of the program to change her position.
  • He encouraged his friends to vote for him.

In each of these cases, the infinitive can be removed without affecting the grammar of what remains.

I consider these to have infinitive direct objects:

  • Their fathers advise (for) them to study.
  • They asked (of) me to bring some food.
  • Could you of ask (of) her to copy this letter for me?
  • She begged (of) him not to leave her.

The reason I consider these to be direct is that I can turn the indirect objects into the objects of prepositions without changing the sense of the sentences.


If "They asked me a question" is ditransitive, then so is "They asked me a favor." It follows that "They asked me to bring some food" is the same pattern. We seem to have a clear example that satisfies your question. An infinitive can play a nominative role and act as the direct object alongside an indirect object.

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