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Monotransitive verb

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Title: Monotransitive verb  
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Monotransitive verb

A monotransitive verb is a verb that takes two arguments: a subject and a single direct object. For example, the verbs buy, bite, break, and eat are monotransitive in English.

Verbs are categorized in terms of transitivity (i. e. how many and which types of syntactic arguments they may cooccur with), the basic distinction being between transitive verbs (taking two or more arguments) and intransitive verbs (taking one argument). The transitive category is further divided into subclasses.

The following examples show monotransitive verbs in sentences (the direct object is in boldface):

  • Yesterday, I bought a cat.
  • The cat bit me!
  • He broke the toothpick.
  • The chef ate his own watermelon soup.

Traditionally, transitivity patterns are assigned to the verb as lexical information, but recent research in construction grammar has argued that this is actually a wrong conception, since the same verb very often appears in different contexts of transitivity. Consider:

  • The man bought his wife a ring. (ditransitive)
  • Stop me before I buy again. (intransitive; antipassive construction)
  • The cat bit him in the arm. (complex transitive)
  • Can you bite me a piece of banana? (ditransitive)
  • The vase broke. (intransitive; anticausative construction)
  • Can you break me some toothpicks for my model castle? (ditransitive)
  • She broke the toothpick into tiny pieces. (complex transitive)
  • Not now, I'm eating. (intransitive; antipassive construction)

Thus, in grammatical construction theory, monotransititivy is assigned to argument structure constructions, which are schematic types of grammatical construction, rather than to the verb.

Transitivity is roughly synonymous with subcategorization.


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