Two clauses or one?: An owl saw the boy take the dog to a rock.
An owl saw the boy [take the dog to a rock].
What does this sentence mean? How can a boy take a dog to a rock?
Sorry - that was a typo! The owl saw the boy take the frog to a rock. (It's part of child's story retell)
The owl saw the boy [take the frog to a rock].
There are two clauses:
1. the sentence as a whole, called the matrix or main clause.
2. the bracketed subordinate clause.
If you'd like to know more about the grammar here, let me know.
Thank you! So "the boy" functions both as the object of "saw" and the subject of "take the frog...", right?
I think what confused me was that it there was no explicit 2nd mention or link to the subject in the subordinate clause, as there is in relative clauses (e.g., "The owl saw the boy WHO took/take the frog to a rock.) Most examples for subordinate clauses in child language development textbooks and language sample coding directions either include relative clauses (with or without the marker, such as "who") OR they have a conjunction such as "because".
"The boy" is the syntactic object of "saw" but only the understood subject of "take". Syntactically, like most non-finite clauses, the infinitival clause "take the frog to a rock" is subjectless, though we understand it as having a subject, in this case "the boy".
Constructions like this where there are two or more adjacent verbs (sometimes separated by an intervening noun phrase) are called 'catenative'. The term 'catenative' comes from the Latin word for "chain", which is appropriate here since there is a chain of verbs.
In your example, the noun phrase "the boy" is called a 'raised' object, since the verb it relates to syntactically is higher in the constituent structure than the one it relates to semantically.