The 7 and a guest

Following from the last post, and the comment of curiosity, here’s a little post to share what I’ve seen of verbs that can be both transitive and intransitive. First I’ll number the words, then I’ll talk a little about the corresponding numbers!

(Alphabetical order)

  1. Afekti = To pretend to have / put on airs / feign / strike poses / attitudinise
  2. Bati = To beat
  3. Blovi = To blow
  4. Cedi = To give up / cede / relinquish / give away
  5. Fumi = To smoke
  6. Ludi = To play
  7. Pasi = To pass

1. Using “afekti” one can “feign an interest” (afekti intereson). Here the verb is taking an object, or one can simply “afekti” or “put on airs, strike poses”, be altogether fake. Here there is no object. Notice in both cases that the subject will always be the one feigning or pretending, but sometimes that isn’t enough information and sometimes the person is feigning a particular thing (like interest or friendship).

This shows that it makes sense to be both intransitive and transitive unlike the “boil” (boli) example in the previous post. Where in English when we use “boil” with an object, the object is being boiled (the subject is making it do so), and without an object, the subject itself is boiling. This complete and utter change of meaning doesn’t fly in Esperanto, and we must choose between “boli” or “boligi” instead.

2. One may beat something, or something may be beating (like your pulse). In the first example the “something” is an object (therefore transitive) and in the later there is no object (intransitive): your heart doesn’t beat on anything, it is just beating according to its own schedule. Again, the meaning is the same, in both cases the subject is doing the beating, so there shouldn’t be a separate word.

3. You can blow a sore finger or hot soup (transitive), or the wind can just be blowing (intransitive).

4. You could give up chocolate (transitive) “oni povas cedi ĉokoladon”, or a faulty bridge could just give way (intransitive).

5. A chimney can smoke (no object, therefore intransitive), or one can smoke a cigarette (transitive). Again the meaning doesn’t change, although the cigarette is on fire it is the person who is smoking. Therefore, in both cases, the subject of the verb is smoking. So the meaning doesn’t change, so it shouldn’t be two separate words.

6. One can play a role in a film (oni povas ludi rolon), or play an instrument/game (oni povas ludi violonon/ludon): all transitive uses. Alternately, a child (or fun loving adult!) could simply play! (oni povas ludi). No object! Intransitive.

7. One can pass something by (ni pasis la melon), or something can just pass by (like time): jaroj pasis.

Sometimes it might look like a normally transitive verb is without an object, but usually the object is implied or replaced by a sub-phrase acting as an object. And conversely, sometimes it looks like an intransitive verb has an object, but there are more reasons why something might receive the accusative “n”!

Also I think it might be debatable whether “fajfi” (to whistle) is also both intransitive and transitive or not. Or even one or the other…

E.g. a kettle could whistle (intransitive) or I could whistle a tune (transitive)!

You can find the first seven in “Being Colloquial in Esperanto” along with more examples!


2 thoughts on “The 7 and a guest

  1. I believe puri is a verb worth adding here. You have a way more advanced understanding of the language. There is actually little resource like this page on the web. It’s nice. Most esperanto sites like to discuss the lack of irregularities when this page seems to discuss them in detail. Purigi, purigxi puri. Your thoughts?

    • Thank you! “Pur-” is actually very regular. “pur-” is a quality root. This means it naturally accepts the “a” ending; the meaning of “pur-” is basically the “a” form. “pura” means “pure/clean”. When you have a quality word, and change the ending to an “i”, you make a new word that means “to be [quality]”. So “puri” means “to be clean/pure”. “iĝ” is a suffix that shows entrance into a new state. So “puriĝi” means “to become clean”. The “ig” suffix means to put something into a particular state. So “purigi” means “to make clean”.

      Mi purigis la tapiŝo = I cleaned the carpet (literally: I made clean the carpet)
      Mi puras = I am clean/pure
      Ŝi puriĝis = She became clean/pure

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