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Subject: Relationship between Imply/Infer, Throw/Catch
Question: Hello! Is there a term or name for the special relation each of these words has to the other, i.e. imply/infer, throw/catch? I always tell my students ''your verb is aimed in the wrong direction'' but if there is a good linguistic term for this, I'd like to know it. Thanks so much. Cheri Endean Asst. Professor and Interim Director of the Writing Center Kendall College of Art and Design Grand Rapids, MI
Reply: You seem to be looking for an explanation like the one Karen Blue wrote in 2001 where the terms are applied to the arguments for each of the verbs imply and infer. These are semantic relationships. A sender implies and a receiver infers. The syntactic roles (subject, direct object, indirect object) play here also. Notice that part of what (literate, fluent) adults know is that the verb "selects" which semantic role becomes the syntactic subject. Different verbs may select for other semantic attributes. "Cheri ate a motorbike" is wrong because the verb requires that the object be something edible. However, you might come back and say "I devoured the new Grisham novel," and I think we'd agree you're speaking metaphorically. Poetry and literary language, and jokes all take advantage of the metaphoric options. But I digress. Other three-argument verbs include throw/catch, bring/take, give/receive and several others. These are sometimes called ditransitive, in a technical discussion. gives an introductory description of how this term used. And while you didn't ask, comprise/compose might be another pair that potentially confuses your students, perhaps partially from the sound-alike and spell-alike similarities. Grammar Girl had a guest writer Bonnie Trega who offers her views on how to use this pair correctly. Your own explanation may be most memorable and satisfying to the students: I like the metaphor you're drawing on. Perhaps you can slightly elaborate it with these ideas of semantic relationships (meaning categories) and syntactic roles (structural organization).
Reply From: Nancy J. Frishberg      click here to access email
Date: 06-Mar-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Relationship between Imply/Infer, Throw/Catch    James L Fidelholtz     (02-Mar-2013)
  2. Re: Relationship between Imply/Infer, Throw/Catch    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (05-Mar-2013)
  3. Re: Relationship between Imply/Infer, Throw/Catch    Susan D Fischer     (01-Mar-2013)
  4. Re: Relationship between Imply/Infer, Throw/Catch    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (02-Mar-2013)

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