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For example, one can say both “he sleeps” and “he is sleeping”. You can think of the difference as, in the first case, the subject actively sleeping, while in the second example, him simply being in a state of sleeping.

Is it possible to express a subject’s active state of being awake with one verb? That is, is there, in English, an active verb version of “he is awake”?

When I say that a verb is active, I mean it in the sense as described in the following article: https://www.lexico.com/grammar/active-and-passive-verbs

In the sentence "he is awake", to quote the article, "the subject undergoes the action rather than doing it". I'm curious if there's a way to express being awake in such a way that "the subject of the verb is doing the action"?

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    What is exactly “an active verb”?
    – user 66974
    Oct 4, 2020 at 18:03
  • @user121863 Active verbs are transitive verbs with at least one object complement, the direct object. Intransitive verbs, including copular or “linking” verbs, can never be active by definition because they cannot take a direct object to receive the action of the verb. If I ask you to make a pizza, then the active verb is make because its direct object is pizza. Its passivized version is the pizza was made by you in which the direct object and the subject switch grammatical roles. States of being as with verbs like be, seem, become, appear cannot by definition be active.
    – tchrist
    Oct 4, 2020 at 18:25
  • @tchrist - yes, thanks. I asked the OP to understand what they meant by “active verb” given the question.
    – user 66974
    Oct 4, 2020 at 18:36
  • I mean, active vs. passive in this sense: lexico.com/grammar/active-and-passive-verbs In the sentence "he is awake", to quote the article, "the subject undergoes the action rather than doing it". I'm curious if there's a way to express being awake in such a way that "the subject of the verb is doing the action"? I'll add this to the question Oct 5, 2020 at 19:12
  • I challenge the frame of your question.  (1) If the guy is (passively) “simply being in a state of sleeping”, the sentence is “He is asleep.”  (2) If anything, “He is sleeping” is the active one.  We can say “He sleeps on the couch” in the middle of the day to describe what happened the past several nights (and/or what will happen the next few nights), but “He is sleeping on the couch” means that he’s asleep right now. See How do the tenses and aspects in English correspond temporally to one another? Oct 6, 2020 at 2:10

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According to Merriam-Webster, you can use wake as an intransitive verb:

1 a : to be or remain awake

'He wakes' would be antonymous to 'He sleeps' and an active version of 'He is awake'. However, I've never heard it being used this way (contrary to definitions 1b, 1c and 2), and I'm not a native speaker, so I can't really comment on how it feels.

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    Although the verb wake/woke/woken has sometimes historically meant to be/remain awake or to keep watch, today using it with this “durative aspect” (ie: continuative, ongoing) is rare in standard, non-dialectal English except when using its ‑ɪɴɢ inflection, like opposing sleeping hours with waking hours, or having a waking dream so one while awake not asleep. That use aside, today this verb normally has only an “inchoative aspect” (ie: inceptive, initial, just begun) as in I woke suddenly, including causative uses meaning to cause to wake as in She woke me early from my nap.
    – tchrist
    Oct 6, 2020 at 15:24

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