Normally, agent and patient always stay the same:

The bread (patient) is eaten.
Carol (agent) ate the bread (patient).

But what if you had a causative clause, something like:

Peter made Carol eat the bread.

Is Carol still the agent? Maybe it doesn't make much sense in English, but this question specifically came from looking at the Japanese causative:

 Peter ga Carol ni pan wo tabesaseru.
  I made him eat the bread.
  • 3
    Causatives consist of two events so the causee is the agent in the inner event and the patient in the outer one. The terminology might depend on the theory used.
    – Atamiri
    Jun 25, 2018 at 13:16
  • This reminds of the concept of partial application
    – hgiesel
    Jun 25, 2018 at 13:50
  • 4
    Notice that there are two clauses involved in the English sentence; the first clause (made verb) has Peter as agent, and the second one (eat verb) has Carol as agent and bread as patient. The second clause is the object of made, and as a clausal complement doesn't have a theta role.
    – jlawler
    Jun 25, 2018 at 14:21
  • 1
    "Make" is a catenative verb, which has the subordinate clause "eat the bread" as catenative complement. The intervening NP "Carol" is the syntactic object of "make" and the understood subject of "eat". "Carol" is a raised object, since the verb that Carol relates to syntactically is higher in the constituent structure than the one it relates to semantically.
    – BillJ
    Jun 25, 2018 at 17:22


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