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Transitivity (grammar

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Grammatical categories
Animacy Aspect Case Clusivity Definiteness Degree of comparison Evidentiality Focus Gender Mirativity Modality Mood Noun class Number Person Polarity Tense Topic Transitivity Voice
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v d e

In linguistics, transitivity is a property of verbs that relates to whether a verb can take direct objects and how many such objects a verb can take. It is closely related to valency, which considers other verb arguments in addition to direct objects. Traditional grammar makes a binary distinction between intransitive verbs that cannot take a direct object (such as fall or sit in English) and transitive verbs that take one direct object (such

transitivity is considered to be a continuum rather than a binary category as in traditional grammar. while a transitive verb will agree with both subject and direct object. many languages (including English) interpret the category more flexibly.transitive verb. kiss in English). The "continuum" view takes a more semantic approach. Contents [hide]       1 Formal analysis o 1. an intransitive verb will agree with its subject only. In functional grammar. It is possible to identify an intransitive verb in English. . verbs that can be used as both a transitive verb and an intransitive verb.transitive verb. transitive verbs and intransitive verbs behave in distinctive ways. for example. She injured him . technically. Further. intransitive. verbs that have two objects. In practice. In other languages the distinction is based on syntax. by attempting to supply it with an appropriate direct object:    He kissed her hand . some verbs may be idiomatically transitive. such as Hungarian. while. allowing: ditransitive throw. an intransitive verb coupled with a direct object will result in an ungrammatical utterance:   *What did you fall? *I sat a chair.1 Languages that express transitivity through morphology 2 Form-function mappings 3 Notes 4 References 5 See also 6 External links [edit] Formal analysis Many languages. One way it does this is by taking into account the degree to which an action affects its object (so that the verb see is described as having "lower transitivity" than the verb kill). injure. mark transitivity through morphology. What did you throw? . In languages with polypersonal agreement. By contrast. or even ambitransitive verbs. This may be observed in the verb walk in the idiomatic expression To walk the dog.transitive verb.

Hopper and Thompson (1980) have proposed to decompose the notion of . where the object is considered integral to the action. it often may take an appropriate indirect object:  I laughed at him. Kalaallisut Chukotko-Kamchatkan languages Yukaghir The Ket language has a very sophisticated verbal inclination systems. . . Eat and read and many other verbs can be used either transitively or intransitively. Crosslinguistically.) Where is she now? *She's injuring. see e.) You injured (. Often there is a semantic difference between the intransitive and transitive forms of a verb: the water is boiling versus I boiled the water. known as ergative verbs. for example I slept an hour. Sireniki. what may appear to be a transitive verb can be used as an intransitive verb. In these examples. the grapes grew versus I grew the grapes. What are considered to be intransitive verbs can also take cognate objects. English is unusually lax by Indo-European standards in its rules on transitivity. using a transitive verb in English without a direct object will result in an incomplete sentence:    I kissed (. [edit] Languages that express transitivity through morphology The following languages of the below language families (or hypothetical language families) have this feature:[1] In the Uralic language family:    Mordvinic languages The three Ugric languages Northern Samoyedic languages In the Paleosiberian hypothetical language family:     Languages of both branches of the Eskimo–Aleut family.g. the role of the subject differs between intransitive and transitive verbs. referring (among others) also to the object in many ways. (see also polypersonal agreement). for details from the Eskimo branch. Even though an intransitive verb may not take a direct object. [edit] Form-function mappings Formal transitivity is associated with a variety of semantic functions across languages.Conversely (at least in a traditional analysis). . . and vice versa.

Typological Studies in Language 72. Thompson (June 1980). ['I like it. make more fine-grained distinctions (chapter 5).2307/413757. 22-25). . Naess. Sandra A. the tornado in The tornado broke my windows. doi:10. Prototypical Transitivity. Types of participants discussed include:  Volitional Undergoers (some Experiencer. [edit] Notes 1. ^ Pusztay 1990: 86–92 [edit] References   Hopper. 2. Beneficiaries): [+Vol]. [+Aff] ex. Language 56 (2): 251–299. the features argued to be associated with high transitivity are summarized in the following well-known table: 1: PARTICIPANTS: 2 or more 2: KINESIS: action involved 3: ASPECT: telic 4: PUNCTUALITY:punctual 5: VOLITIONALITY: action is volitional 6: AFFIRMATION: utterance expressing action is affirmative 7: MODE: realis 8: AGENCY: A argument is high in potency 9: AFFECTEDNESS OF O argument: O totally affected 10: INDIVIDUATION OF O: O is highly individuated Næss (2007) has argued at length for the following two points: 1. [-Inst]. some scalar). 89). [-Aff] ex..  Instrument: [-Vol]. which are then compatible or incompatible with different verbs. [+Inst]. Major participants are describable in terms of the semantic features [±Volitional] [±Instigating] [±Affected] which makes them distinctive from each other. of course. transitivity boils down to a way to maximally distinguish the two participants involved (pp. [+Aff] ex. me in Spanish Me gusta. Ashild (2007) (in English). Recipients. ISBN 99027229848. "Transitivity in Grammar and Discourse". Though formally a broad category of phenomena. Paul J. Individual languages may. [+Inst]. the hammer in The hammer broke the cup. Different combinations of these binary values will yield different types of participants (pg.']  Force: [-Vol]. John Benjamins Pub Co.transitivity into 10 formal and semantic features (some binary.

ISBN 963 05 5510 7. 1 en 0 all Go . János (1990) (in Hungarian).wikipedia..php?title=Transitivity_(grammar)&oldid=477657675 Search this site. Kérdőjel. Pusztay.Translation of the title: At the cradle of languages. [edit] See also          Valency (linguistics) Ergative–absolutive language Verb argument Transitive verb Intransitive verb Ambitransitive verb Impersonal verb Unaccusative verb Differential Object Marking [edit] External links  What is transitivity? Retrieved from "http://en. Nyelvek bölcsőjénél. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó.

The verb determines the transitivity of the clause.Welcome Introduction Parts of speech Phrases Clauses Transitivity Clause types Polarity Clause combining Information structure Morphology Resources Glossary Help Printer friendly version Transitivity Test yourself: Transitivity Transitivity describes the clause in terms of the number of basic constituents (mostly noun phrase complements) that are required to make the clause grammatical. Transitivity types . Contents 1.

Consider the following sentences and note that whereas the verb depend can take a subordinate clause as its subject. . the verb looks requires a noun referring to a colour or another reference to appearance (for example. Adjuncts Related pages Clauses [Return to top] Transitivity types There are five transitivity patterns in English. Sarah gave Debbie a book. Predicative complements 5. Sarah considers George a genius. V = verb. Sarah ate an apple. Oi = indirect object. O = object. stripes) as its subject. PC = predicative complement) Transitivity type Intransitive Complex intransitive Transitive Complex transitive Ditransitive [Return to top] Basic Constituents SV S V PC SVO S V O PC S V Oi Od Example Sarah sneezed. The object 4.2. These patterns reflect the number and kinds of complements and other complements required by different types of verbs. Od = direct object. Sarah is a teacher. The subject The form of the subject is dependent on the verb. English transitivity patterns (S = subject. This is because the meaning of the verb dictates what kind of subject is possible. The subject 3.

The only area of the grammar of Modern English in which case is evident is the pronoun system. Basic position In a basic clause the subject always comes before the VP. In Old English. Because the subject depends on the verb. case was marked on many elements within the noun phrase and was an important indicator of the structure of the clause. Purple looks great with yellow. Did Sandy really do that? How do you know? Only later did I discover the true facts. the subject appears after the auxiliary. For this reason. Subject-auxiliary inversion In a couple of non-basic clause types. especially in interrogatives. The following discussion identifies the main properties of English subjects. We can distinguish between subjects and objects by examining the form of the pronouns. Purple depends on your smell. An important difference between subjects and other complements is that subjects are outside the verb phrase. we can say that subjects are complements to the verb. How well you're regarded looks great with yellow.How well you're regarded depends on your smell. The English personal pronoun paradigm NOMINATIVE PERSON SG 1 PL SG PL ACCUSATIVE I we me us . In Modern English case is no longer very central and we rely on word order to a much greater extent. Word order in Old English was much freer than it is in Modern English. subjects are sometimes called external complements of the verb phrase. The following table shows the Modern English personal pronoun paradigm. Case marking on subject pronouns Case is the marking for grammatical role within the noun phrase.

SUBJECT NP The rosy cheeked lady My cat Doug. SUBJECT The rosy cheeked lady All my friends You (all) PREDICATE drinks coffee. . meat pies. orchids. English verbs (excluding the modal auxiliaries) show agreement with third person singular subjects. Verb agreement In the present tense.NOMINATIVE PERSON SG 2 3 Neuter 3 Masculine 3 Feminine PL ACCUSATIVE SG PL you it he she they it him her them Try substituting pronouns for the subject and object noun phrases in the following sentences and note how the pronouns are distributed. Sandy and Jude Sarah V bumped loves ate hates PREDICATE Object NP Debbie. drink coffee. drink coffee. modernist architecture. This is apparent if we change the person and number of the subject in the examples below.

In these clauses. The indirect object is less involved – it often has the semantic role of recipient or beneficiary. we can distinguish two types of object: direct (Od) and indirect (Oi). fifty cents. The direct object is the one most involved in the action. make. the most exaggerated stories about his fishing exploits. SUBJECT PREDICATOR Od PP . The object Let's start by summarising the information about objects we've covered in passing so far:      an object. In many (but not all) cases it is possible to refer to the indirect object using a prepositional phrase. Recipients are introduced by the preposition to and beneficiaries are introduced by the preposition for. Note that in this construction the direct object is back next to the verb.SUBJECT I [Return to top] PREDICATE drink coffee. These verbs form ditransitive clauses. Consider the following examples. is dependent on the verb an object (unlike the subject) is part of the verb phrase an object is often (though not always) an noun phrase pronouns functioning as objects are in the accusative case in basic clauses the object comes after the verb Direct and indirect objects In English there are some verbs that can take two objects (send. like a subject. for example). SUBJECT Michael Francis Clyde PREDICATOR bakes gave tells Oi Jude Sandy everyone Od a cake every birthday. and give.

The verbs which allow predicative complements in English include: be. A useful test for determining whether a form is a predicative complement or not is to try and form the passive: Complement type Object Active Passive We sounded the alarm. seem. her hypothesis. In the examples above. adjectives are used as PCs but it is also possible to use noun phrases in this function: Iris is head librarian.SUBJECT Michael Francis Clyde [Return to top] PREDICATOR bakes gave tells Od a cake fifty cents stories PP for Jude every birthday. Predicative complements versus objects Predicative complements have the function of providing additional information about another entity in the clause – they do not refer to a new entity. and appear among others. The alarm was sounded (by us). verbs take an additional type of complement called a predicative complement (PC). a stone (in my shoe). Lucy became treasurer. Consider the following examples using verbs that have different meanings with either objects or predicative complements: PC She sounded I felt The essay topic proved fine. to everyone. difficult. . Predicative complements Besides subjects and objects. so silly. to Sandy. We sounded I felt The student proved Object the alarm.

Debbie and Jude watched the movie yesterday. Debbie and Jude watched the movie at the Nova. Consider the examples below. Sandy Sandy Adjuncts Adjuncts are not required by the verb. . Semantic types of adjunct Examples of some of the different types of adjuncts found in English are listed below. Debbie and Jude watched the movie for ten minutes. There is also quite a wide variety of semantic and syntactic types of structures that can be used as adjuncts. *The treasurer was become by Lucy. As a result there is a relatively large amount of freedom involved in their distribution. Semantic types of adjuncts in English Adjunct type Manner Place Time Durations Example Debbie and Jude watched the movie reluctantly. a great friend. Subjective and objective predicative complements In the above examples. Object I find I consider [Return to top] PC quite disturbing. the predicative complements all refer to the subject but it is also possible for a predicative complement to refer to an object (although this may not sound particularly natural to speakers of all varieties of Modern English).Complement type Predicative complement Active Passive Lucy became treasurer.

Grammatical structures of adjuncts Grammatical structure AdvP PP NP Finite clause Non-finite clause Example Debbie and Jude watched the movie reluctantly Debbie and Jude watched the movie at the Nova Debbie and Jude watched the movie every week Although they were reluctant. Debbie and Jude will watch the movie if they must. Debbie and Jude watched the movie to find out what happened. This distinction reflects what relationship the adjunct has to the rest of the clause. Although they were reluctant. Debbie and Jude watched the movie. Debbie and Doug are incredibly happy. . Modifiers and supplements One final distinction that needs to be made within the category of adjuncts is between modifiers and supplements. This is reflected in the prosody of the clause and possibly also in their position. Modifiers are constituents of the clause or of one of its phrases.Adjunct type Frequency Purpose Condition Concession Example Debbie and Jude watched the movie every week. Categories that act as adjuncts The types of grammatical structures that can function as adjuncts are listed below. Debbie and Jude watched the movie. Debbie and Jude watched the movie to find out what happened.

actually. Debbie and Doug are happy. they provide commentary on the sentence as a whole. Supplements are external to the clause. Even though it was raining. Jude was actually very pleased to see you. Sarah said she'd come. Tonya Stebbins | Web Development: Mark Planigale | Updated: 2011-02-15 | Provide feedback or report an error . occurring only at the periphery. Jude was very pleased to see you. and with a clear prosodic break. Test yourself: Transitivity [Return to top] Grammarpedia English Grammar Resource | Copyright © 2008-11 Dr. Incredibly.Sarah said she'd come even though it was raining.