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TIP #58 - This tip was sent on the week: 18th - 24th Sept, 2005

This tip applies to the following programs:

  • ESI Professional

How to Add A New Word to the Dictionaries - Part IX - Transitive Verbal Phrases


In ESI’s grammar system, all single verbs, prepositional verbs and phrasal verbs have the attribute of transitivity. They are classified as transitive, intransitive or both.


Initially, you might find this concept somewhat confusing as most dictionaries apply transitivity only to single verbs, not verb phrases. This is a new concept that we at Word Magic had to introduce in order to make ESI more responsive to context.


When you add a verb to the dictionary you have to pay special attention to the attributes you assign to it, particularly if it is transitive or intransitive.


In a nutshell, if you input this parameter in the wrong manner, ESI will not pick the correct verb from your text.


What is a transitive verb in ESI?


A transitive verb is a Verb or Verbal Phrase which can take a direct object. A typical example of a transitive verb is “give”. One usually gives “something”. “Something” is the direct object.


In ESI, this same principle is carried further and used in phrasal verbs too. If the verbal phrase can take a direct object, then the entry has to be classified as transitive. Example: “Give a hand”.


As such, “give a hand” is an incomplete action. It must take a direct object. In this particular case: Give him a hand, or Give Mary and her younger sister a hand, where “him” and the noun phrase “Mary and her younger sister” are the direct objects. This is because the verb phrase “give a hand” is taken as a whole, and thus the otherwise indirect objects become direct objects.


Another example of a transitive verb would be ”Give a hand to”, because you have to place a direct object after the preposition “to”, as in : Give a hand to your friend. Again, the verb phrase is taken as a whole and what follows is considered a Direct Object.


In ESI‘s system, you can add complete transitive phrasal-verb entries such as give a hand, give a hand to, or even longer expressions such as:

Ser conducido engañosamente a be misled into

All of these entries have to be classified as transitive because all of them require a direct (in some instances an indirect object) to make sense.


You can try it out for yourself. Type in:

Yo fui conducido engañosamente a

and see what comes up as your translation. ESI will not pick your entry because it is tagged as transitive and as you can see, the text does not have a direct object.


However, if your text says something like:

Yo fui conducido engañosamente al lugar equivocado I was misled into the wrong place

ESI picks the verb phrase as a legitimate entry and the translation comes out accordingly.


Next week we will see how ESI’s system defines and handles Intransitive phrasal verbs.


Tip: If your phrasal verb ends in a preposition, it is most likely a transitive verb.

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