I have some problems with defining the argument structure of bet in the following pair of sentences:

a) John bet £300 on Manchester United.

b) John bet Bill £300 that Manchester United would win the match.

Problems I have:

i) Is the argument structure of a) <SUBJ, OBJ, OBLθ>?

ii) In the argument structure of b) <SUBJ, Bill, OBJ, that-clause>, I'm not sure whether Bill is an indirect object, or an oblique theta role? As for the that-clause, is it also an object, or a complement?

iii) Could someone please tell me how to draw a tree for the argument structure of a transitive verb/(what seems like in the case of b)a tri-transitive verb?

Any help will be immensely appreciated! Thanks in advance!

  • 3
    bet is tritransitive, but its arguments can be elided. All objects are complements; "object" is just what we call a nominal complement rather than a prepositional or clausal complement. I don't personally think that the label "indirect object" is helpful so I can't answer that (I don't think we ever used the label in my 4 year linguistics degree.) As for drawing trees, it depends on exactly which linguistic framework you're using, there are many valid ways to illustrate a sentence!
    – curiousdannii
    May 6, 2023 at 1:27
  • 1
    Like vote and promise, bet_ has a very peculiar subcategorization. One of the arguments may be a monetary consideration, for instance, though that can be supplied separately, especially if it's a barter bet, like eating one's hat. Any human NP occurring immediately after bet will be considered to be the other partner (with the subject) of the ensuing bet. Also, it's performative -- issuing a bet with "I bet" and receiving addressee's acceptance means that one may now speak of the bet as a binding obligation on both parties.
    – jlawler
    May 6, 2023 at 1:59


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