Is the use of the adjective in this sentence unquestionably wrong?
She gazed pensive at the sea.
If you can go gentle into that good night or run wild in the streets, why can't you gaze pensive at the sea?

John
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Is the use of the adjective in this sentence unquestionably wrong? She gazed pensive at the sea. If you can go gentle into that good night or run wild in the streets, why can't you gaze pensive at the sea?

Perhaps it would work better with commas? "She gazed, pensive, at the sea."
John Gutglueck wrote on 02 Mar 2005:
Is the use of the adjective in this sentence unquestionably wrong? She gazed pensive at the sea. If you can go gentle into that good night or run wild in the streets, why can't you gaze pensive at the sea?

To "run wild" is a two-word verb unlike to "run wildly", which is a one-word verb plus an adverb.
To "go gentle into that good night" is both poetic and archaic. "She gazed pensive at the sea" would be fine in a poem or some kind of fancy-sshmancy novellete, but not in formal English. It requires commas to indicate the pauses before and after "pensive".

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor
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John Gutglueck wrote on 02 Mar 2005:

Is the use of the adjective in this sentence unquestionably ... the streets, why can't you gaze pensive at the sea?

To "run wild" is a two-word verb unlike to "run wildly", which is a one-word verb plus an adverb. To ... kind of fancy-sshmancy novellete, but not in formal English. It requires commas to indicate the pauses before and after "pensive".

It does require commas, but they are not there to indicate pauses.

Mike Nitabach
John Gutglueck wrote on 02 Mar 2005:

Is the use of the adjective in this sentence unquestionably ... in thestreets, why can't you gaze pensive at the sea?

To "run wild" is a two-word verb unlike to "run wildly", which is a one-word verb plus an adverb.[/nq]Interesting analysis, CC. A two-word (phrasal) verb is typically compounded of a verb and a preposition. In such cases, the preposition functions as an adverb of sorts. Are you suggesting that "wild" in "run wild" is quasi-adverbial? I tend to think of the "wild" of "run wild" as characterizing the agent rather than the action. Otherwise, why not just use the adverb? And what about "walk tall", "rest easy", "sit pretty", "drop dead", "fall flat", "ride roughshod", "wander lonely", "roam free", "drive drunk", "fly blind", "sleep naked"? All two-word verbs? I note that in all these cases the verbs imply motion or physical location.

Is that maybe a prerequisite for two-word verbal status? Do such verb-adjective combinations begin life as solecisms and attain grammatical legitimacy only after persistent use? Can we then expect "talk crazy", for example, to be recognized as a two-word verb in the not-too-distant future?

John
Is the use of the adjective in this sentence unquestionably wrong? She gazed pensive at the sea.

No. It's somewhat literary though. The idea is that it's the person who's pensive, rather than the gazing. There's probably a name for this figure of speech.
Adrian
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John Gutglueck wrote on 03 Mar 2005:

I probably just lost my way for a second and used "two-word verb" as a susbstitute for "idiom". If I had to do it again, I think I would use "idiom". There are a number of such idioms, as you point out, but I don't think they necessarily started out as solecisms. Perhaps they started out as longer verb + adjectival phrases and were shortened, as in Wordsworth's poem: "I wandered lonely as a cloud".
A two-word (phrasal) verb is typically compounded of a verb and a preposition. In such cases, the preposition functions as an adverb of sorts. Are you suggesting that "wild" in "run wild" is quasi-adverbial?

I'd say that in this case, and in the cases you mention below, the two- word verb is an idiom and not a phrasal verb in the same way as "look up", as in "I will look it up in the OED" or "I'll look you up next time I'm in town".
I tend to think of the "wild" of "run wild" as characterizing the agent rather than the action. Otherwise, why not just use the adverb?

This combination, "run wild", is an idiom that means to "run without restraint" (W3NID: :run wild 1 : to go unrestrained or out of control : run riot prices were running wild all over Miami Alva Johnston* 2 : to live or grow without cultivation or training *gardens and lawns neglected and running wild).

It implies a kind of freedom for the agent that is different and distinct from "run wildly", which I would interpret as characterizing the action: "out of control" or "crazy" or "haphazard". Using the adjective does characterize the agent, and using the adverb does characterize the action. Then there is "Don't talk crazy", which I'd call a solecism in formal writing but acceptable in conversation, dialogue, or verse.
And what about "walk tall", "rest easy", "sit pretty", "drop dead", "fall flat", "ride roughshod", "wander lonely",

"I wandered lonely as a cloud" and "I wander lonely streets Behind where the old thames does flow".
"roam free",

"Where Bin Laden can still roam free" and "California Elks Will Be Sent to Roam Free February 18, 2005", both headlines.
"drive drunk", "fly blind", "sleep naked"? All two-word verbs?

All idioms, so, in a sense, yes, they are two-word verbs.
I note that in all these cases the verbs imply motion or physical location. Is that maybe a prerequisite for ... use? Can we then expect "talk crazy", for example, to be recognized as a two-word verb in the not-too-distant future?

The way English is changing these days, I would be surprised at nothing. I suppose that if enough people started using "gazed pensive", it would become an idiom too. At the moment, Google shows two hits for it, but with a comma:
"The Project Gutenberg EBook of My Friend Prospero, by Henry ... ... Maria Dolores gazed, pensive, at the moon."
"The Kosher Spirit - Tishrei 5765/Fall 2004 - My Star, My Nation ... She took it all in, and for a long time she gazed, pensive."

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor
For email, replace numbers with English alphabet.
"The only problem with seeing too much is that
it makes you insane." Phaedrus
On 2 Mar 2005 05:28:23 -0800, "John Gutglueck"
Is the use of the adjective in this sentence unquestionably wrong? She gazed pensive at the sea. If you can go gentle into that good night or run wild in the streets, why can't you gaze pensive at the sea?

Yes, I think it is unquestionably wrong. Running wildly in the streets is quite different from running wild in the streets. Wildly describes the manner of running. It is an adverb. The wild in running wild may describe the people who are in the streets, whatever they're doing, and would properly be called an adjective. Some people would classify 'running wild' as a phrasal verb or some such. In any case, running wild is a special activity. As for not going gentle into that good night, I suspect that the poet (John Betjeman, I think) would have used gently in ordinary speech but, hey, he was writing a poem and many strange things happen in poems.
You've reminded me of what a great poem it is. Thoughts are running wild in my head. Was it Betjeman or Thomas? Do I still have that old, fine recording or did I let it go when I moved six years ago? I must check. The voice of the poet brought the poem to life for me. I can hear it now ... 'Rage, rage against the dying of the light ... ' For me, it will be tied to the death of my father in 1967 and my thoughts at that time.
If you have a chance to hear the poem read by the poet, do take it.
aok
If you have a chance to hear the poem read by the poet, do take it. aok

The poem is read by Dylan Thomas on
http://www.poets.org/poems/poems.cfm?prmID=1159
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