Lecture: Competing Prepositions in Prepositional Constructions
Prepositional Variation after "impressed"
The participle-adjective impressed can be followed by with and by with no apparent semantic or pragmatic difference. This, however, would violate the principle of no synonymy (Goldberg 1995), meaning that a difference in use should exist.
Two possible causes were investigated: 1) The variation may be due to the choice of complement or 2) The variation is due to the adjective-participle gradient. These hypotheses were tested by doing a corpus analysis using the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). To test Hypothesis 1, 200 occurrences each of impressed with and impressed by were analyzed by hand, according to the criteria weight (including length and complexity), animacy, negation and agentivity. Hypothesis 2 was tested by exploring all occurrences in COCA regarding occurrence in comparative structures, use of different copula verbs, and co-occurrence with adverbs (all of which are previously established criteria for central adjectives).
The results show that impressed by occurs more often in complex structures than impressed with (scoring higher regarding complexity, length, and negation), whereas impressed with occurs more frequently in adjective-like structures. This suggests that impressed by is used more frequently in passive structures, while impressed with is used as a predicative adjective more often.