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April 6, 2012 7:05 PM   Subscribe

Grammar filter: "This earns you money." Is this correct?

What parts of speech are each of the words? Subject? Predicate? Predicate object?


How can I diagram this sentence?
posted by stubby phillips to Writing & Language (16 answers total)
 
This: subject
earns: predicate
money: direct object
you: indirect object
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:10 PM on April 6, 2012


To pick a random example, this grammar book, Understanding and Using Good Grammar shows diagramming the indirect object using a diagonal line down from the main line, with an "x" indicating the invisible/understood preposition (here, "for": This earns money for you).
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:13 PM on April 6, 2012


'earns' wouldn't be the predicate--- 'earns you money' would be the predicate. 'earns' is a verb.
posted by empath at 7:17 PM on April 6, 2012


And "This" is a pronoun, which should have an antecedent noun--an activity or investment, for example--in the previous sentence.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:21 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, it's correct. Notice that its grammatical structure is similar to that of this sentence:

"Throw me the ball."

If you're a native English speaker, you instinctively know that's grammatically correct.

This is equally correct and means the exact same thing:

"Throw the ball to me."

I put "to" in bold to emphasize that it was left out of the previous sentence. By contrast, this is clearly incorrect:

"Throw to me the ball."

You might not be able to explain why that's wrong, but that doesn't matter. If you're a native English speaker, you know that's not how people speak.

So, the preposition ("to") can be left out or not, depending on the order of the words.

Similarly, if we rearrange the words in your sentence, we can add a preposition:

"This earns money for you."

That's just as correct as your sentence, which has the words in a different order and omits the preposition ("for"). And again, if you were to add the preposition to your version of the sentence without changing the order of the other words, it would be ungrammatical:

"This earns for you money."

Ugh! That's wrong — it's not how people talk. If you heard someone say that, you'd assume the person was not a native English speaker.

In short, your sentence appropriately leaves out the preposition ("for"). When you put "you" before "money," "for" is implied.
posted by John Cohen at 7:22 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm leaving the rest of your question for the grammarians, but as for your first one, yes, it's correct, unless your pronoun is refering to a plural or group, in which case

These earn you money.
posted by Rash at 7:29 PM on April 6, 2012


this | earns  | money
_______________________
        \
         \  you
           -------
just like example 12 (indirect object) at this one-page sentence diagramming guide
posted by secretseasons at 8:17 PM on April 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


'earns you money' would be the predicate. 'earns' is a verb.

If you're working with a paradigm of grammar roles that is split into "subject phrase" and "predicate phrase" then 'earns you money' would be the predicate phrase. On my (admittedly old) understanding, the main verb in that phrase is the 'predicate', and the main noun in the subject phrase is the 'subject'.

Possibly there have been different ways of breaking down those terms and you'll want to check with whatever is the accepted rulebook of whoever's asking you to diagram.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:34 PM on April 6, 2012


Ugh! That's wrong — it's not how people talk. If you heard someone say that, you'd assume the person was not a native English speaker.

I don't think that'd be the best to gauge whether something is grammatically correct. People make all sorts of common errors because the "correct" way just sounds awkward.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:52 PM on April 6, 2012


It's fine, but it may be worth noting that on some standardized tests (SAT Writing, for example), the pronoun "this" must always be followed by a noun: this activity earns you money; this course of action earns you money; this real estate investment earns you money.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:31 AM on April 7, 2012


I assume we are talking abut written rather than spoken language (that battle is lost). I am not any kind of linguist but I am a lifelong (English) speaker of the language and this (oh dear!) looks wrong to me. "This" should be qualified or, if it is implied by the preceding statement then "this can earn" or "this will earn" or some such would be less clumsy.
posted by epo at 4:01 AM on April 7, 2012


erm ... "about".
posted by epo at 4:02 AM on April 7, 2012


As long as "this" is properly introduced ahead of time, I think it is right. But it is in a sort of sparse style. Like "Want to succeed? Take a shower. Get dressed. Go find a job. This earns you money. Spend your money wisely. This makes you successful."
posted by gjc at 5:14 AM on April 7, 2012


but it may be worth noting that on some standardized tests (SAT Writing, for example), the pronoun "this" must always be followed by a noun

There is no problem using 'this' as a pronoun by itself. A check of OED shows that their earliest cite of this (or þis) as a demonstrative pronoun is from the Venerable Bede, so there is, um, ample precedent. It might be an issue with style ("what does this refer to"), but grammatically, it's rock-solid.
posted by gimonca at 8:13 AM on April 7, 2012


Agreed, gimonca--which is exactly why I wrote "it's fine." Not sure whom you're disagreeing with.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:20 PM on April 7, 2012


Thanks guys. The sentence was a paraphrase of a clause from a longer sentence in a marketing blurb on a web site. The QA department filed a defect against the word, "you" saying it was grammatically incorrect. I had forgotten about indirect objects.
posted by stubby phillips at 6:36 PM on April 7, 2012


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