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Active and passive infinitive, ambiguity and non-canonical subject with <i>ready</i>

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Abstract

This paper presents a case study of the adjective <i>ready</i> and discusses its properties when it occurs in the <i>tough</i> construction (TC). The paper discusses the active and passive infinitive variation in the TC with evidence from the Corpus of Late Modern English Texts and the British National Corpus. The ambiguity created by the active infinitive and the effect of the semantics of the subject on the choice of the infinitive form are also discussed. The results show that the TC has become more frequent in BrE, and unlike with typical <i>tough</i> predicates, with <i>ready</i> the passive infinitive has persisted, most likely because of the risk of ambiguity with the active. The data also show that when the subject is [+HUMAN], the passive infinitive is used exclusively.

References

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