Jason (jcreed) wrote,
Jason
jcreed

I was skimming this book in Borders the other day. It was pretty good, and I came very close to buying it, but $20+tax for a 100-page paperback seemed like too much. There was one bit where he was analyzing a setence like

(1) He ran and got some beer.

which is supposed to be a serial verb construction, or at least some quasi-serial verb construction, since it's controversial, I think, whether English has true serial verbs. Anyhow, you can see the difference if you compare this sentence with a simple coordinated sentence (with an intransitive verb first and a transitive verb second, just as before)

(2) He slept and mumbled obscenities.

The difference is that we can ask

(1') What did he run and get?

but not

(2') *What did he sleep and mumble?

I got to thinking that you could actually stick a prepositional phrase between the verbs in (1) and it would still work, at least to my ear:

(3) He ran to the store and got some beer
(3') What did he run to the store and get?

And I realized that the "and" here didn't feel like a coordinating conjunction so much as some kind of purposive preposition, or else a substitute for the infinitive-making "to". Much like the "and" can be replaced with "to" in the vernacular "try and" construction, I might as well have said

(4) He ran to the store to get some beer
(4') What did he run to the store to get?

Only "and" seems to connotatively water down the sense of purpose a little.
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