2

Even though grammar books says ‘make’ don’t have present participle as its objective complement; this sentence “The potion makes the moths having fluttered and all dead” seems to be not ungrammatical.
Because ‘having’ in this sentence is not a present participle but an auxiliary. Is the sentence grammatical or not?

  • 1
    Is there more to that sentence? It does not seem complete. – Jim Mar 17 '13 at 23:35
  • That's my own. I wanted to express the moths have fluttered a certain period and then all died. Then I need to adopt perfect tense: Now i'm wondering whether I can use the 'having.' In this case, 'having' is not a main verb, but a auxiliary, so it's very confusing. – Listenever Mar 17 '13 at 23:43
  • 3
    If you want to keep the "having fluttered" phrase, you might try something like: The moths, having fluttered frantically all night after being given the potion [poison?], { were all dead by morning. / all died the next morning.} – Jim Mar 18 '13 at 0:02
  • NB: It's still a participle, just as in to have fluttered to have is still an infinitive. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 18 '13 at 0:08
6

It seems that this should be grammatical; but in fact,

  • Participial perfect constructions like having fluttered are not employed as direct or predicate adjectives in English, although they can be employed as sentence adjuncts. It's just not idiomatic.

    The having-fluttered moths ... must be expressed as The moths which have fluttered
    The moths are having fluttered ... must be expressed as The moths have fluttered.

  • Likewise, non-finite perfect constructions like to have fluttered are not employed as complements of causatives like make, cause, and bring about.

    I made the moths to have fluttered. ... can only be expressed as I made the moths flutter.

  • Finally, although you can maybe effect a state of deadness with cause ...

    ?I caused the moths to be dead.

    ... the same expression won't wash with make:

    I made the moths dead.

    Causative expressions with death as the outcome are expressed lexically:

    I killed the moths.


marks an utterance as unacceptable ? marks an utterance as possibly unacceptable

  • 2
    But you can have the albeit somewhat stilted "I made the moths die", even if you can't have "I made them dead". – Matt Mar 18 '13 at 0:13
  • 2
    @Matt Indeed you can; but you usually don't. More to OP's point, you can't say "I made the moths to have died." – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 18 '13 at 0:16
  • @StoneyB: But you can say "I made the moths have died." (It would require an unusual context, though, since it implies that the speaker was able to go back and change a past event. It might happen if the speaker is a journalist or novelist or something, and the "made" expresses depiction rather than ordinary causation.) – ruakh Mar 18 '13 at 2:22
7

No, this is not possible. The sentence should be:

The potion makes the moths flutter and die.

This is grammatically correct. Whether it's semantically acceptable is another question, however. Moths and butterflies and other winged insects all flutter when they fly. Therefore, perhaps it's necessary to add a modifier, e.g.:

The potion makes all (the) moths flutter {ferociously / fiercely / forcibly / frantically / furiously / heavily / intensely [CHOOSE ONE]} and die. [EDIT: Added suggested, but, perhaps, optional "the" at snailplanes/s suggestion]

  • 1
    Surely all the moths rather than the all moths? – snailcar Mar 17 '13 at 23:48
  • 3
    @Listenever You just did! ... but as I keep telling my clients, The Language is your Lady, not your employee, and there are some things that She just doesn't want you to do; you have to do things Her way, not yours. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 18 '13 at 0:12
  • 1
    @snailplane: You're right, but I made it optional because I'm not really sure about the context. With the the, it's specific, but without it, it's general. Thank you for the suggestion. – user264 Mar 18 '13 at 0:21
  • 1
    @StoneyB, If I made a brochure of your replies, these words would be the preface. Thank you very much. – Listenever Mar 18 '13 at 0:30
  • 1
    @BillFranke I'm sorry, my comment was about an older revision, and I'm afraid my meaning may have become unclear by the time you read it. I only meant to point out a typo. My apologies for any confusion! – snailcar Mar 18 '13 at 0:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.