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pash
09-24-2006, 11:23 PM
Do these sentences indicate possession, obligation/compulsion, or both (all three).

Meet you at six. Just now I have a letter to write.

I'll be with you later. I have famished dog to feed.

TheIT
09-24-2006, 11:29 PM
I'm not a linguist, but this is my take (American English):



Meet you at six. Just now I have a letter to write.


Obligation. This could also be worded: I must write a letter. Possession is somewhat implied since no one else could write my letters.



I'll be with you later. I have a famished dog to feed.

Again, obligation. Note that "famished dog" ought to be qualified with "a" since there's only one dog. "I have a dog to feed" implies that I am obligated to feed the dog, but there's no proof that I own the dog in question. I could be talking about my dog, but I could also be talking about my friend's dog.

Medievalist
09-24-2006, 11:35 PM
This is essentially using the kind of parsing for modal constructions that associates the modal verb/helping verb with one of six functions.

Technically it is all three, but the primary function is obligation/compulsion.

pash
09-25-2006, 03:22 AM
<Technically it is all three, but the primary function is obligation/compulsion.>

What do you mean by "technically"?

pash
09-25-2006, 03:25 AM
<Obligation. This could also be worded: I must write a letter. Possession is somewhat implied since no one else could write my letters.>

That's true.

I see a difference between these two regarding obligation or lack of it:

I have a letter to write

I want to write a letter
.............

For me, there is no possession in the first one. I feel it has the same meaning as "I have to write a letter."

TheIT
09-25-2006, 03:35 AM
"I have a letter to write" and "I have to write a letter" are the same. Both imply that I must write the letter. I might or might not want to do it, but I am obliged to write the letter.

"I want to write a letter" implies willingness to write the letter but no sense of obligation. I want to do it, but without other information there's nothing to say that I have to do it.

Pash, I'm not quite sure what you mean by possession.

Medievalist
09-25-2006, 03:59 AM
<Technically it is all three, but the primary function is obligation/compulsion.>

What do you mean by "technically"?

It's also possession because one can neither write a letter one does not have, nor feed a dog that one does not, in some sense "have."

pash
09-25-2006, 02:43 PM
...

Pash, I'm not quite sure what you mean by possession.

Neither am I. In language classes all over the world teachers say that the form "have + obj + to + V" expresses possession. Puzzles me. Just where is the possession in "I have a plane to catch". Am I Bill Gates? Do I own a plane?

Medievalist
09-25-2006, 06:37 PM
Look at it this way; when you take a friend to the airport you say, "Look, there's your plane."

Mind, the plane is owned by Delta, but it's the one your friend is going to board.

pash
09-25-2006, 08:04 PM
Look at it this way; when you take a friend to the airport you say, "Look, there's your plane."

Mind, the plane is owned by Delta, but it's the one your friend is going to board.

OK. Good one, but here?

Can't talk now, I have man I must meet.

pash
09-25-2006, 08:07 PM
Which would you choose and why? Maybe all three? But why?

Can't talk now, I have a man I must meet.
Can't talk now, I have a man I have to meet.
Can't talk now, I have a man to meet.

Medievalist
09-25-2006, 08:23 PM
All three; it's the speaker's particular man. Not just any man.