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The show has been talked about for weeks.

Is "The show" the subject of the clause and the complement of the preposition "about" at the same time in the sentence above?

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I think it is.

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tkacka15Is "The show" the subject of the clause and the complement of the preposition "about" at the same time in the sentence above?

No, it isn't. It's only the subject. However, you've got the right idea because this is the passive form of

People have talked about the show for weeks.

where 'talk about' is a prepositional verb (not a phrasal verb). And 'the show' is certainly the complement of the preposition 'about' in this sentence.


(If you can use the preposition phrase as an answer to a question, it's not a phrasal verb; it's a prepositional verb.

Did they talk about the train schedule?
No — about the bus schedule.

Contrariwise,

Did they temporarily slow down the train?
No — *down the bus.

This one doesn't work because 'slow down' is a phrasal verb, not a prepositional verb.)

Prepositional verbs allow a change to passive voice as if the complement of the preposition were a direct object, and your example shows the passive form:

The show has been talked about for weeks.

But note: Analogously with passives of less controversial verbs (see below), once the complement of the active form becomes the subject of the passive form, it ceases to be called a complement.

Henry threw the ball > The ball was thrown by Henry.
(Here 'the ball' is first direct object, then subject. We don't say that 'the ball' is both subject and direct object in the second sentence.)

They have talked about the show > The show has been talked about.
(Here 'the show' is first complement of 'about', then subject. We don't say that 'the show' is both subject and complement of 'about' in the second sentence.)

These analyses are a matter of convention. I don't think there are any methods of grammatical analysis that break the convention that a constituent cannot be two things at once.

CJ

If you want to learn more about phrasal vs prepositional verbs, see

Differ between a preposition and an adverb in a phrasal verb.

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No. "Talk about" is a phrasal verb. There is no prepositional phrase or object of a preposition. Substitute "discussed" for "talked about." You'll see what I mean.

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Comments  
Englishmaven

No. "Talk about" is a phrasal verb. There is no prepositional phrase or object of a preposition. Substitute "discussed" for "talked about." You'll see what I mean.

But in active, i.e., in They have talked about the show for weeks, "the show" is the complement of the preposition "about", isn't it? And I think that "the show" hasn't completely lost its syntactic function as a complement in the passive The show has been talked about for weeks. Isn't it implied in the passive?

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CalifJimThese analyses are a matter of convention. I don't think there are any methods of grammatical analysis that break the convention that a constituent cannot be two things at once.

I see. Thank you for the detailed explanation and for the link.

CalifJimdon't think there are any methods of grammatical analysis that break the convention that a constituent cannot be two things at once.

In general that's true, but there is one notable exception that is found in 'fused' constructions. For example, in the fused relative I liked what she bought me, the pronoun "what" is simultaneously 'head' of the whole NP and object in the relative clause. 'Head' and 'object' are distinct functions.

And in fused determiner-head NPs, for example Some of his comments were very interesting, where "some" combines the functions of determiner and head.

There are one or two others.

Englishmaven

No. "Talk about" is a phrasal verb. There is no prepositional phrase or object of a preposition. Substitute "discussed" for "talked about." You'll see what I mean.


I would't go along with that.

I very much dislike the term 'phrasal verb' -- it's thoroughly misleading. In "talk about", it's not the whole expression "talk about" that is "the verb", but just the lexeme "talk".

In any case, "talk about" (whether or not an idiom) cannot be a constituent because the parts can be separated, cf. The show about which they talked for months.

"About" is a preposition phrase consisting solely of the stranded preposition "about" functioning as complement of "talk".

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tkacka15But in active, i.e., in They have talked about the show for weeks, "the show" is the complement of the preposition "about", isn't it? And I think that "the show" hasn't completely lost its syntactic function as a complement in the passive The show has been talked about for weeks. Isn't it implied in the passive?

The show has been talked about ___ for weeks.

In the passive, the complement of the prep "about" is missing, so "about" is said to be 'stranded'. But its understood complement, "the show", is retrievable from the subject.

BillJone notable exception that is found in 'fused' constructions

Ah, yes. I forgot about that.

BillJ'Head' and 'object' are distinct functions.

Even in the main clause?

Henry ate cake. cake is both head and object. Yes? No?

CJ

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