- Mary was cooking some lasagna for supper.
- While the lasagna was cooking, Mary listened to some music.
- Change of some kind
- General movement
- Movement in vehicles
- I've read three books this week. (transitive)
- I've been reading all afternoon. (intransitive)
- Little Johnny broke the window when playing with his ball.
- The window was broken when little Johnny was playing with his ball.
- The window broke when little Johnny was playing with his ball.
- Mummy, my toy broke.
- Mummy, my drink spilt all over the table.
- Mummy, my cup dropped on the floor and shattered.
Avoiding blame, or how to lose the agent altogether.
How can you tell whether a verb is ergative?
Verbs expressing change
1a. Beginning and ending, increasing and decreasing.
Exercise 1a - One verb is used with each pair of sentences, once transitively, and once intransitively. Complete the sentences using the verb in the correct form.
|1.||a) According to the paper, tonight's concert at six.|
|b) At six she preparing that night's supper.|
|2.||a) When water freezes it .|
|b) He does weightlifting and exercises his chest.|
|3.||a) When you supper, you can watch TV.|
|b) When the programme , he turned off the TV and went to bed.|
|4.||a) She yawned and her arms - 'Time for bed, I think.'|
|b) Lycra to fit your body.|
|5.||a) You need the amount of fat you consume.|
|b) The number of species gradually over the last few years.|
|6.||a) When one door shuts, another door .|
|b) They a new shop here tomorrow.|
|7.||a) Her hobby is prize roses.|
|b) These plants best in a slightly sandy soil.|
|8.||a) As the sunlight over the lake, the bats began to appear.|
|b) Over the years the sun the colours of the curtains..|
1b. Transformation and destruction.
Exercise 1b - One verb is used with each pair of sentences, once transitively, and once intransitively. Complete the sentences using the verb in the correct form.
|1.||a) She the pizza dough into a ball and then started to knead it.|
|b) We could see that dark thunder clouds in the distance.|
|2.||a) The chrysalis becomes a caterpillar and then into a butterfly.|
|b) He his dollars into euros at the bank before travelling.|
|3.||a) The little boy ran round the room all the balloons.|
|b) Like all bubbles, the housing bubble had sooner or later.|
|4.||a) That new colour has our sitting room beyond recognition.|
|b) Glaciers were formed when snow into ice.|
|5.||a) She carefully a piece of paper out of the book.|
|b) Be careful with that dress! The material very easily.|
|6.||a) When he dropped the vase it into little pieces.|
|b) The shop window , but nothing seemed to have been taken.|
|7.||a) As she stepped out onto the ice it began noisily.|
|b) We saw that the baking sun the dry earth in several places.|
|8.||a) We should try and our diet more. We always eat the same things.|
|b) Customs and traditions from country to country.|
Verbs expressing movement.
2a. General movement
|1.||a) The tent nearly over in the strong wind.|
|b) She the rubbish into the bin.|
|2.||a) Take your partner and her around.|
|b) He tossed the coin and it high in the air.|
|3.||a) The ball out of court before he could reach it.|
|b) Let me some ideas off you.|
|4.||a) With every step, they felt the footbridge disconcertingly.|
|b) She the sleeping boy gently, to wake him.|
|5.||a) Look! Something in the bushes over there.|
|b) If I just the sofa back a bit, we'll have more space to dance.|
|6.||a) The Duchess imperiously into the room.|
|b) He the children up in his arms and carried them to safety.|
2b The movement of vehicles.
Exercise 2b - Enter the appropriate verbs into the gaps in the correct form. All the verbs are used in Past simple, in -ing form participles or the infinitive. There is one verb with two past forms: I have used the regular one.
Verbs to do with cooking.
3a Basic cooking verbs - the verbs in this first exercise are all ergative, for example:
- You boil some water.
- The water boils.
Exercise 3a - Use the verbs in the box to complete the sentences.
|1.||You a pizza in the oven.|
|2.||You some potatoes in water.|
|3.||You bacon and eggs in some oil.|
|4.||You can fish or eggs in gently simmering water.|
|5.||You some cheese under the grill.|
|6.||You try not to the toast.|
|7.||You some fruit to eat later in the year.|
|8.||You must completely a frozen chicken before cooking it.|
|9.||You some beef and potatoes in some oil in the oven.|
|10.||You some vegetables over boiling water.|
|11.||You should the soup plates before serving the soup.|
|12.||Let apple pies a bit, as the sugar can get very hot.|
3b - A recipe for eggs in a Mornay sauce.
Exercise 3b - Look at the underlined verbs and decide whether they are ergative verbs in the sense that they are used here. For example, in the first sentence ask yourself - Can something melt? And the answer is Yes. In the second sentence can something take (in this sense)? And the answer is No.
|1.||Melt some butter in a small pan.|
|2.||Take some Gruyère and some Parmesan cheese.|
|3.||First grate the cheese.|
|4.||Add some flour and then some milk to the butter|
|5.||Blend the mixture well|
|6.||Thicken the mixture slightly|
|7.||Add the cheese and mix well to dissolve it|
|8.||Freshly grind some nutmeg|
|9.||Stir the ground nutmeg into the mixture|
|10.||Add a little cayenne pepper|
|11.||Meanwhile boil some water in another pan|
|12.||When it is ready, turn it down to a simmer|
|13.||Now start toasting two slices of bread|
|14.||Break an egg into a small bowl|
|15.||Now slide it gently into the water|
|16.||Repeat the process with the other egg|
|17.||Poach the eggs for about one to two minutes|
|18.||Remove them from the water and drain the water off them|
|19.||Place them on the slices of toast|
|20.||Pour the cheese sauce over them|
|21.||Sprinkle some paprika over the top and serve.|
3c Non-ergative cooking activity verbs
Exercise 3c - Fill the gaps with the words in the box
|1.||The first thing you do with carrots is them to remove the skin.|
|2.||You can then the carrots into a series of small rounds.|
|3.||Or you can them with a special tool, for example for coleslaw.|
|4.||Things like onions and parsley, you usually into small pieces.|
|5.||To potatoes, use a fork or special tool to break the potatoes up.|
|6.||When making meringue you egg whites until they form 'soft peaks'|
|7.||We often Parmesan cheese on top of something, like soup.|
|8.||To make an omelette you first the eggs in a bowl.|
|9.||For Bolognese sauce you need to some meat (or buy it ready done)|
|10.||When you something, like nuts or peas, you remove them from their outer covering.|
|11.||It's traditional to the Christmas turkey - you put an onion and sage mixture inside it.|
|12.||Very often people use a wooden spoon to something, like a mixture.|
|13.||When you food, you add salt and pepper to it.|
|14.||You can coffee, pepper and other spices at home for a fresher taste.|
|15.||To make croquettes, you the mixture with egg yolk and then breadcrumbs.|
Other ergative verbs.
There are some ergative verbs which don't fit into the categories we've already looked at.
Exercise 4 - Each verb in the box is used twice, once transitively and once intransitively. Complete the sentences using the verbs in a suitable form.
photograph · do up · sell · download · brighten up · blow
|1.||Her new book very well, isn't it? She must be pleased!|
|2.||When the whistle the match starts.|
|3.||It's a big file so it might take some time .|
|4.||Suddenly the wind all the leaves into one corner of the courtyard.|
|5.||This article tells you how a dark room.|
|6.||Can you the zip of my dress please, Darling?|
|7.||Young people most of their music nowadays.|
|8.||He's some models at the moment.|
|9.||She had been feeling a bit down, but she soon when she heard the good news.|
|10.||We these boots at half price this week.|
|11.||Look at these pictures of our daughter, doesn't she well?|
|12.||This blouse at the back.|
Ergative -en verbs from adjectives
- Dimensions and shape - lengthen, shorten, straighten etc
- Light and colour - brighten, darken, whiten etc
- Density and composition - harden, soften, thicken etc
- Others - freshen, ripen, sweeten etc
- ergative - the pilot circled the plane; the plane circled
- ergative (tr) - the plane began its descent; the descent began
- ergative - he sailed the boat; the ferry is sailing
- ergative - the pilot landed the plane; the plane landed
- ergative - the driver braked the car; the car braked
- ergative - he turned the car; the car turned
- ergative - she swept up the children; the car swept over to somewhere
- ergative - he stopped the car; the car stopped
- ergative - he started the car; the car started
- ergative (tr) - he reversed the car; the car reversed
- transitive - he/she/it hit something - in this meaning we need an object
- intransitive? - the car skidded We don't usually say that a driver skids a car
- ergative - he spun the ball; the car spun out of control
- ergative - he crashed the car into something; the car crashed into something
- ergative - the cab speeded them into town; the car speeded (or sped) across the tarmac
- melt some butter; the butter melts
- take some cheese; the cheese takes
- grate the cheese; the cheese grates
- add some flour; the flour adds
- blend the mixture; the mixture blends
- thicken the mixture; as the mixture thickens
- add the cheese - see above
- grind the nutmeg; the nutmeg grinds
- stir the nutmeg into the mixture; the nutmeg stirs
- add some cayenne pepper - see above
- boil some water; the water boils
- turn it down; it turns down
- toast the bread; the bread is toasting
- break an egg; the egg broke
- slide it into the water; it slid into the water
- repeat the process; the process repeats (itself) every hour
- poach the eggs; while the eggs are poaching
- drain the water off them; the water drains into a lake
- place the eggs on the toast; the eggs place
- pour the sauce over them; this sauce pours very easily
- sprinkle some paprika; the paprika sprinkles
- The 'facts' simply don't add up.
- These spices blend well with Mornay sauce.
- Parts of the machine ground against each other.
- The music grated on her ears.
- When he heard a sound at the door he stirred.
|Ex 1a||1a. begins, 1b. began, 2a. expands, 2b. to expand, 3a. have finished, 3b. finished, 4a. stretched, 4b. stretches, 5a. to decrease, 5b. has been decreasing, 6a. opens, 6b. are opening|
|Ex 1b||1a. formed, 1b. were forming, 2a. changes, 2b. changed, 3a. bursting, 3b. to burst, 4a. transformed, 4b. transformed, 5a. tore, 6b. tears, 6a. mashed, 6b. had been smashed, 7a. to crack,7b. had cracked, 8a. vary, 8b. vary|
|Ex 2a||1a. tipped, 1b. tipped, 2a. spin, 2b. spun, 3a. bounced, 3b. bounce, 4a. shake, 4b. shook, 5a. is moving, 5b. move, 6a. swept, 6b. swept|
|Ex 2b||1. circled, 2. starting, 3. sailing, 4. landed, 5. breaking, 6. turned, 7. swept, 8. stopped, 9. shifted, 10. reverse, 11. hit, 12. skidded, 13. spun, 14. crashing, 15. speeded|
|Ex 3a||1. bake, 2. boil, 3. fry, 4. poach, 5. brown, 6. burn, 7. freeze, 8. thaw, 9. roast, 10. steam, 11. warm, 12. cool down|
|Ex 3b||1. Yes, 2. No, 3. No, 4. No, 5. No, 6. Yes, 7. No, 8. No, 9. No, 10. No, 11. Yes, 12. No, 13. Yes, 14. Yes, 15. Yes, 16. Yes, 17. Yes, 18. Yes, 19. No, 20/. Yes, 21. No|
|Ex 3c||1. peel, 2. slice, 3. grate, 4. chop, 5. mash, 6. whip, 7. sprinkle, 8. beat, 9. mince, 10. shell, 11. stuff, 12. stir, 13. season, 14. grind, 15. coat|
|Ex 4||1. is selling, 2. blows, 3. to download, 4. blew, 5. to brighten, 6. do up, 7. download, 8. photographing, 9. brightened, 10. are selling, 11. photograph, 12. does up|