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These verbs in construction have subject, verb, and object. To appearance, this arrangement is devoid of the simplicity of the verbs (Intransitive) that do not need an object. 'I open the door', combines three things; the door opens' has only two things. Yet the first forın is intrinsically more simple and intelligible; and the transitive verb is the best point of departure in studying verbs.
Although Action is not the defining circumstance of the verb, yet undoubtedly verbs, more than any other part of speech, are used for expressing activity, agency, causation, change. When the putting forth of energy is stated by a noun or an adjective, this is generally by derivation from a verb. “A walk', 'a run', 'a fight', 'thunder', 'impulse', -are nouns, but they begin as verbs; and the full expression of the fact is by a sentence made up of verb and subject, with or without an object: ‘I walk', ‘John runs', 'Jupiter thunders ', 'Cæsar fought the Gauls', 'fear impelled him '.
The active operations that we conceive most easily and clearly are such as are presented to us by naming, first, an agent or subject, next, a verb expressing some kind of action, and, lastly, an object acted on: 'he stirs the fire'. This is our earliest and most familiar experience of activity ; the child, whether watching the actions of others, or following out its own, becomes accustomed to this course or cycle of a completed action. If an action begins without an agent (in the first instance, a person), or if it does not communicate itself to some object, there is a feeling of dissatisfaction and incompleteness.
Thus, then, the transitive type is the most sinple and intelligible form; when we wish to describe an effect in the plainest manner, we can do nothing better than cast the description into a sentence with subject, verb, and object: . Columbus discovered America', 'Solomon built the temple, and ruled Israel'; the sun warms and lights the earth’; 'corn and wine cheer mankind'.
The rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew'; 'we run’; Victoria reigns', the sun rises ', 'map dies ', -are the simplest type of sentence if we look at the fewness of the parts, but are more abstruse when we set ourselves to grasp the meaning. The sentence confined to subject and verb does not precede the sentence formed by subject, verb, and object, but rather grows out of this by omitting a part. Let us review the different sorts of intransitive verbs.
1. In one class, the action ends in the agent's self, or puts self in motion : 'I sit, stand, lie, jump, shout'-express myself acting, as it were, upon myself. My own will is the agent, my own body is moved; I do not use the full transi. tive form, which would be to name myself as object; I stop short with the name for the action. The old languages provided, for this situation, an inflection called the middle voice, still existing in some, and being the immediate origin of the passive voice.
These examples give the voluntary actions of living beings. Life, however, is made up of a great number of involuntary actions and changes, expressed by such verbs as 'breathe', 'perspire', 'grow', 'feel', sicken', 'die'. there is an internal, unknown power; what we know is the outward form of the action, and the subject put in motion : ‘he breathes ', ‘he died', do not express 'he'as an agent originating an action, but gives the subject that comes under the action.*
Such a case approaches to the mode of expressing the powers of the external world, which are stated, in a large
In such cases,
*'A blood vessel burst' is a usual construction with an intransitive verb; while he burst a blood vessel' would very likely be parsed as an ordinary example of the transitive construction. Yet a regard to the meaning shows this to be wrong; he might burst a gun by overloading, but not one of his own blood vessels. The apparent subject should be in the position of an adverbial clause-- a blood vessel burst in him, in his body'. Any one causing hæmorrhage by taking violent exercise might not improperly be put forWard as the subject or agent in the transitive construction
uumber of instances, by intransitive verbs, as being most suited to the case. • The sun rises, sets, moves.' We cannot describe this by a transitive verb; there is no agent or subject propelling the
it has self-motion (in appearance). “A stone falls', 'the earth goes round', 'trees germinate, grow, decay', 'fruit ripens', 'swallows migrate',
men laugh'. Immanent or inherent action evades the transitive construction, until, by communicating itself, it sets something in motion, or induces change in some extraneous object. The wind blows', 'the sea advances ', 'the tide rises '-express the inhering power of the agent; the wind drives the mill' expresses communicated motion by the transitive form.
2. The second case is the suppressing of the special object, by making the action general. This is an elliptical form, less simple than the full transitive forın. 'The king reigns, governs', is an abbreviation for the king governs the country'. 'Fire burns', 'industry enriches,' punctuality pays', 'virtue elevates ', 'men will, think, understand, speak, teach'; 'to tyrannise, to generalise, to perorate, dissent, disagree, shot, smoke, ring',- -are a few examples among many. These verbs, in expressing a general fact instead of a special incident, presuppose numerous instances of the transi. tive construction with the object stated. Fire burns wood, coal, peat, buildings', and so on; by omitting the special substance, we give the fact generally, ‘fire burns'.
3. In expressing situation, order, arrangement, quiescent position, we sometimes use the intransitive construction, supplemented occasionally by adverbs. "The town stands high-lies low-stretches out lengthwise '.
By a figurative or fictitious process, still life is represented as the effect of some agency, which gives it the higher intelligibility of the transitive construction. We may vivify the description of a garden, by putting forward the person that planned and made it, and by pourtraying it in a series of actions emanating from him.
This title designates the verb 'be', and a few others that express meanings so general, that they need an adjective or a noun to express a definite action. Such are-seen, become, make, lie, rest, stand, get, elect, name, choose, appoint, nominate, grow, appear. “Is’ has a meaning, as bare existence, but instead of being confined to this attenuated notion, it lends itself as a verb to convert a mere adjective or noun into a predicate: “he is warm'. It thus contributes the form of predication, while some other word, not a verb, gives the meaning predicated.
So the words 'seem', “become', 'appear', have but a vague signification in themselves; they possess, however, the prerogative of the verb, and when a more expressive word is supplied, they coin a predicate. In meaning they are often very little different from 'is'.
‘Make' is a very general word, and often needs to be completed by a noun or adjective as well as by its proper object. The maker needs a material to work upon, and a ype to conform to; and when both are given, we have either a double object or a completion of the verb. 'Conscience makes us cowards'; cold makes us ill’; 'care makes us well’; books make me a denizen of all nations'.
The words 'get', 'lie', 'set', 'rest', &c., have sufficiently good meanings in their original, and even in their ordinary, acceptation. They are, however, all employed as completing words, giving predication to more significant nouns and adjectives. Get on, get along, get well out of that, get careless '; 'lie still', (hardly different from 'be still’); 'set free', 'rest assured'.
In the classical languages, the double-object verbs lead to a great many specific rules, owing to the variations of case ; in our language, they need very little attention. The names 'direct' and 'indirect' have been given to express the two objects; but there is often a want of any test to discriminate the two. In the passive construction, either may in many cases be a nominative : 'he teaches me grammar',
' he asked me a question’; in the passive, “I am taught', grammar is taught', ‘I was asked', the question was asked'. 'He recommends me to try the Vichy waters': 'I am recommended to try', 'the Vichy waters are recommended.' The second form is the more strictly correct; the first is somewhat of a licence.
The Incomplete Verbs are not, as a class, distinct from the two other classes-Transitive and Intransitive; they usually fall under one or other of these two classes. They made him Consul’: the incomplete verb make’ is also a transitive verb, with 'him’ as object: they consulized him'. 'He grows tall': 'grows' is intransitive, as well as incomplete.
The properties of natural objects and the laws of nature are expressed oftener by 'is', and some adjective or noun, than by any other form of language. 'Gold is heavy ’,
oxygen is a gas ', 'man is intelligent', 'love is blind'. In this capacity it is called the copula verb. *
From the same vagueness in its own intrinsic meaning, it serves as the auxiliary for forming tenses in conjunction with the participles, or adjective forms of verbs.
Nouns operating as Verbs. A verb may be turned into a noun, and may serve as the subject or the object of the sentence like any other noun; the verb 'change’ may become subject or object, and may enter into an adverbial phrase, thus : 'change is not to be desired for the sake of change'. There are hundreds of such nouns in the language. In parsing, all that needs to be said of them is that they are nouns derived from verbs.
The examples that we are now to notice are of far more importance. While a verb in becoming a noun loses all its power of predication, it often retains, in a more or less disguised way, the other grammatical functions of the verb; it
may have an object, or a subject, and it may be qualified by an adverb.
* For the various logical uses of 'is', see De Morgan's Formal Logic, p. 50.