Level: intermediate

Ergative verbs are both transitive and intransitive. The object when it is transitive is the same as the subject when it is intransitive:

Peter closed the door.
The door closed.
Transitive: N + V + N
Intransitive: N + V
I boiled some water.
The water boiled.
Transitive: N + V + N
Intransitive: N + V

Common ergative verbs are:

begin
break
change
close
crack
drop
dry
end
finish
grow
improve
increase
move
open
shake
start
stop
tear
turn

 

I broke the glass.
I dropped the glass and it broke.

The referee started the match.
The match started at 2.30.

We grew some tasty potatoes.
The potatoes were growing well.

The wind shook the trees.
The trees shook in the wind.

Verbs to do with cooking are often ergative:

bake
boil
cook
defrost
freeze
melt
roast
 

You should roast the meat at 200 degrees.
The meat was roasting in a hot oven.

I always defrost meat before I cook it.
I am waiting for the meat to defrost.

Melt the chocolate and pour it over the ice cream.
The chocolate was melting in a pan.

Verbs to do with vehicles are often ergative:

back
crash
drive
fly
reverse

 
run
sail

 
start
stop

 

I'm learning to fly a plane.
The plane flew at twice the speed of sound.

He crashed his car into a tree.
His car crashed into a tree.

 

Some verbs are ergative with only a few nouns:

catch: dress, coat, clothes, trousers, etc.
fire: gun, pistol, rifle, rocket, etc.
play: music, guitar, piano, CD, DVD, etc.
ring: bell, alarm, etc.

She caught her dress on a nail.
Her dress caught on a nail.

He fired a pistol to start the race.
A pistol fired to start the race.

Shall we play some music?
Some music played in the background.

There's a fire! Ring the alarm!
The fire alarm rang at 11.42 a.m.

Ergative verbs 1

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Comments

Thanks, appreciate your help

Hi

Could you please tell me what is wrong with this sentence

She prides on her beauty.

Hi Jasrap,

The sentence needs a reflexive pronoun:

She prides herself on her beauty.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sorry , Just one last thing . Is it right to say that we should never use the reflexive verbs without the reflexive pronouns. I am a little confused with their use

Thanks again for your time in answering my questions:)

Preeti J

Hello Preeti J,

Reflexive verbs are also used without reflexive pronouns, but in that case they're not considered reflexive verbs. For example, in 'I cut myself with a knife by accident', 'cut myself' is reflexive, but in 'I cut the onion with a knife', 'cut' is not reflexive.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello everyone,
I have just studied "reflexive verbs in english" in my grammar book and then I came here. I have been learning english by myself for about one year. During this time I read and wrote a lot of sentences which have reflexive verbs without knowing they are "reflexive verbs". But I could understand their meaning from the context.

My mother language is Turkish, and Turkish has also reflexive verbs and pronouns as a concept. Of course grammar rules are different from english but if your mother language has this grammar rule as a consept (I think it has definitely has) you already use them.

There are more example of pronouns which are used reflexively, I expect more examples from you. Please give more example using sentence.

Hello biplab1,

You can find more examples on our reflexive pronouns page. A quick internet search will also give you many more if those aren't enough for you.

Best regards,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
What is the difference between 'change to' and change into''?

Hi naghmairam,

Generally, 'change to' suggests choosing or switching to an alternative, while 'change into' suggests a change in form:

My GPS has changed to a new route.

The wizard changed his cat into a dragon.

However, context is important here and there may be some common uses which do not fit this pattern.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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