The Full Wiki

More info on Unergative verb

Unergative verb: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An unergative verb is an intransitive verb distinguished semantically by having an agent subject. For example, in English, run, talk and resign are unergative verbs (while fall and die are unaccusative).

The motivation behind the label unergative stems from the fact that in an ergative-absolutive language, the only case which uniquely identifies a volitional argument is the ergative case, which marks the agent of a transitive verb.

Some languages treat unergative verbs distinctly from other intransitives in morphosyntactical terms. For example, in some Romance languages these verbs use different auxiliaries when forming the compound tenses. See the article on unaccusative verbs for details.

Besides the above, unergative verbs differ from unaccusative verbs in the fact that, in some languages, they can be passivized to a limited extent.

In Dutch for example, unergatives take hebben (to have) in the perfect tenses:

Ik telefoneer - ik heb getelefoneerd.
"I call (by phone). - I have called."

In such cases a transition to an impersonal passive construction is possible using the adverb er (that functions as a dummy subject) and the passive auxiliary worden

Er wordt door Jan getelefoneerd.
"*There is by Jan telephoned." (i. e. "A telephone call by Jan is going on.")

By contrast, ergative verbs take zijn (to be) in the perfect tenses.

Het vet stolt - het vet is gestold
"The grease solidifies - The grease has solidified."

In this case no passive construction with worden is possible. In other words, ergatives are truly intransitive, unergatives are not.


See also



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address