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I'm looking for some terminology. This terminology is mostly only paired with a specific part of speech (I believe verbs). Essentially, some verbs can easily be seen and some verbs cannot easily be seen. For example:

Group a: run, jump, swim, tumble.

Group b: understand, survive, upgrade, regret.

There may have been more than only two groups, but I can remember these groups clearly. I also clearly remember that 'abstract' and 'concrete' were not the terms. Also, it would be very useful to have a wiki link or a hyponym for these terms.

  • I keep trying to find "types of verbs" and getting conjugations, tenses, forms, etc. – Wolfpack'08 Nov 15 '14 at 3:09
  • There are also auxiliary verbs ('helping' verbs) such as "will" in "I will swim tomorrow." – JoAnne Nov 15 '14 at 4:31
  • @JoAnne Thank you. Do you know what the hyponym is that separates helping verbs from other verbs? Perhaps that will lead us to an answer? – Wolfpack'08 Nov 15 '14 at 4:34
  • Sorry, I don't, and the only articles I can find so far are aimed at school students. eg. english-grammar-revolution.com/list-of-verbs.html – JoAnne Nov 15 '14 at 4:46
  • @JoAnne Having the same problem. I'm trying to brainstorm words that might lead a trace, like 'effability'. I honestly do believe that it is something to do with whether or not a verb can be easily acted out: some technical term I want to shine light on in a TESOL presentation. – Wolfpack'08 Nov 15 '14 at 4:53
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If I understand the distinction you're trying to ask about, this is a question about aktionsart or lexical aspect.

Lexical aspect divides verbs into five classes: statives, activities, achievements, accomplishments and semelfactives. The statives stand alone, but the other four form a system based on two factors: whether the action has a duration, and whether it has a termination point (telic) or not (atelic):

        No duration   Has duration
Telic   Achievement   Accomplishment
Atelic  Semalfactive  Activity

Some examples of each class are:

  • Stative: know, believe, stand
  • Activity: walk, run, swim
  • Achievement: realise, pop (a balloon)
  • Accomplishment: melt, upgrade
  • Semalfactive: knock, clap, flash

Some words have subsenses in different classes, so without seeing how the words you're asking about will be used in context we can't say for sure, but this is how I would classify them:

  • Stative: survive, regret
  • Activity: run, jump, swim, tumble
  • Achievement: understand
  • Accomplishment: upgrade
  • Semalfactive: -
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  • I would classify so many of these differently, though. I'd say popping a balloon isn't an achievement at all. frown. I'd say believing is quite the accomplishment. pink tear. And while I agree that clapping, knocking, and flashing are all semifalic, I also think they're all activities. This is a very fun topic. Thank you for your answer. – Wolfpack'08 Nov 15 '14 at 10:41
  • This answer might be improved if definitions were added. Especially for 'semalfactive', which isn't a common word. – Wolfpack'08 Nov 15 '14 at 23:27
  • I was trying to keep it compact and used the table to define them. Semalfactives have no duration and don't achieve a change of state, such as a single clap or a flash. (But these aren't truly physically instantaneous, just compared to the long lasting activities and accomplishments.) – curiousdannii Nov 15 '14 at 23:42
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I'm not completely sure whether this gives the meaning you expect, but your groups fit into the two lexical aspects of verbs, stative(static) and fientive(dynamic).

Fientive verbs are actions that occur throught a period of time, however small.

I ran home

I am about to swim a race

In contrast, stative verbs show a state of being something that is often reached at one point, even though it may continue to be a state for a period of time.

I understand what you say.

He always survives the challenge.

However, when talking about the entrance or the beginning of a state, the verb is called an inchoative or inceptive verb. This is usually found in the simple past tense, but not always.

Michael understood what she was saying.

However, some verbs can be both stative and fientive. The aspect of these verbs are then to be decided by context.

She plays the flute every Saturday.

She plays the flute.

The first sentence tells how she plays the flute on a weekly basis. In this case, plays is a fientive verb. However the second, tells how she plays the flute, not constantly, but she has the ability to. The use of English here, turns plays into a stative verb.

So, Group A would be fientive or dynamic verbs, and Group B would be stative or static verbs.

Wiki links

Stative/Static verbs :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stative_verb

Fientive/Dynamic verbs :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_verb

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  • So what's a hyponym? Fience? Stativeness? Lexical aspect? – Wolfpack'08 Nov 15 '14 at 5:50
  • There isn't an exact hyponym I can figure out, but state of condition, or conditional state, would give an idea. I've only seen it referred to as stative vs fientive or stative vs dynamic – LightMikeE Nov 15 '14 at 6:18
  • And I used the term fientive because 1. I've learnt it that way, and 2. It seems to match stative, (in retrospect to static vs. dynamic) – LightMikeE Nov 15 '14 at 6:21
  • I don't think you've categorised these correctly - none of these look like statives to me. Group a are activities and group b are a mix of achievements and accomplishments. Lexical aspect – curiousdannii Nov 15 '14 at 6:41
  • They aren't exclusively statives yes, but the verbs in group b ARE statives. Once you understand, survive, upgrade, and regret, you are in that state, aren't you? Maybe regret doesn't fit as completely as the others, but it still is a stative verb. It's a bit like the example for being both stative and fientive verbs. – LightMikeE Nov 15 '14 at 6:47

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