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My nephew was given to transform a sentence using verb form of 'dress'. The sentence was:

Her dress was poor.

I suggested him the following sentence.

She was dressed poorly.

But it occurred to me that here "dressed" is a participle. I desisted from from using a sentence like this:

She dressed poorly.

Because 'dress' seems to me more like a causative verb. Please suggest the best possible answer.

  • 1
    'I suggested him the following sentence.' should be 'I suggested the following sentence to him.' // 'Dress' is used both intransitively and transitively. ODO has dress verb. 1 [NO OBJECT] Put on one’s clothes: Graham showered and dressed quickly / ... 1.2 [WITH OBJECT] Put clothes on (someone): they dressed her in a white hospital gown – Edwin Ashworth Sep 30 '15 at 7:31
  • The sentence is structured in this way(S+V+IDO+DO). Any thing wrong there? Thanks for the nice anecdotes! – Barid Baran Acharya Sep 30 '15 at 9:42
  • 'I slept a dog' is structured (S+V+DO). Being able to posit an apparent structure is no guarantee of grammaticality. Suggest is not used ditransitively {see eg Grammar-Quizzes.com}. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 30 '15 at 16:25
  • Can you elaborate on S+V+IDO+DO? "dress" cannot be used in that structure. – user24743 Sep 30 '15 at 16:36
  • Look up 'ditransitive verbs' (aka 'bitransitive verbs') on the internet (eg Wikipedia) and here on ELU eg [Whats wrong with "I'll open you the door"?}.. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 30 '15 at 16:51
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The exercise wants the student to transform "Her dress was poor" using a verb form of dress.

Answer: She dressed poorly.


Why is "She dressed poorly" a better answer than "She was dressed poorly" (or poorly dressed)?

First, all of these sentences are a little odd. We don't normally say "Her dress is poor", but we say "She is well/badly/neatly dressed". In "She is well/badly/neatly dressed", dressed is an adjective.

As for the other matter that you pointed out, that "dress seems like a causative verb", it's true that dress usually used in the meaning "to put on clothes" (either on yourself or on someone else). But, the verb dress is also used when we wear clothes in a particular style or for a particular occasion. The definitions 1.1 and 1.3 given by Oxford dictionary should make this point clear:

dress
1.1 [with adverbial] Wear clothes in a particular way or of a particular type:
'she’s nice-looking and dresses well'

1.3 Put on clothes appropriate for a formal occasion:
'we dressed for dinner every night'

So, the best answer is: She dressed poorly.

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