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Transitive or intransitive

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Transitive or intransitive

Postby Kasper » Mon Jan 05, 2004 2:02 am

Transitive and intransitive verbs, what are they and what is the difference between them? How do you recognise which is which?
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Postby bingley » Mon Jan 05, 2004 5:42 am

transitive verbs have an ojbect in the accusative case, intransitive verbs don't. The meaning might give you a clue. But generally you just have to know which one the verb is.
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Postby benissimus » Mon Jan 05, 2004 6:02 am

Examples in English would be... "live" and "be". You technically should not say "It was her who answered the door", but instead it would be proper to say "It was she...". For something more glaringly obvious, consider the sentence "I'm going to live you today"... I hope you are cringing at the violated intransitivity of that verb ;)

In Latin, a lot of verbs that are intransitive (whether they are or are not in English) can take a dative object instead of an accusative. Verbs such as noceo, nocere and servio, servire are intransitive not really because of their nature but because of the concepts they express. Noceo can be thought of as meaning "to harm", but it is really more like "to cause pain"... and you can't just "cause pain someone" because this someone needs to be an indirect object (i.e. dative) -> "cause pain to someone". Same thing goes with servio "to serve" or... "to be a slave to".

There are also some verbs which do not take direct objects because it just wouldn't make sense such as vivo, vivere "to live", although there are exceptions, such as "vitam vivere", but that is a minor point pertaining to related words. As in English, sum, esse is quirkily intransitive.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Postby ingrid70 » Mon Jan 05, 2004 10:33 am

benissimus wrote:Examples in English would be... "live" and "be". You technically should not say "It was her who answered the door", but instead it would be proper to say "It was she...". For something more glaringly obvious, consider the sentence "I'm going to live you today"... I hope you are cringing at the violated intransitivity of that verb ;)


I was going to say that in Dutch (Kasper's first language I believe) you can usually determine whether a verb is transitive by putting it in the passive. If you can't make a personalised passive, the verb is intransitive (ik zie hem - hij wordt door mij gezien; ik ga - "er wordt door mij gegaan" is awkward but possible, but "hij wordt door mij gegaan" is not.)

But although the Dutch verb for 'live' is intransitive, "ik word geleefd" (i'm being lived) is a regular expression to indicate that you don't have control over your own life because of external pressure (kids, work, school etc.)

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Postby benissimus » Mon Jan 05, 2004 12:46 pm

That reminds me of some other weird things in Latin. You would think that verbs like curro, currere "to run" and eo, ire "to go" would be intransitive (and they are), but the third person of both verbs is occasionally found in the passive to indicate certain meanings (of which I am not yet entirely certain).
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Postby ingrid70 » Mon Jan 05, 2004 1:39 pm

I think that's the same as in Dutch, impersonal use:
pugnatur - er wordt gevochten (it is fought) - there is fighting, people are fighting.

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Postby Kasper » Mon Jan 05, 2004 10:24 pm

Thanks a lot guys! /Hartelijk bedankt!

That really does help! thanks!
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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