We have verbs like :



My question is what kind of verbs are they? What are they called in grammar (e.g. causative, factitive etc)? I knew the name a long ago but forgot the exact "grammatical term" for these verbs. Where can I get a list of such verbs?

1 Answer 1


They are verb pairs with a causative relationship. For example, the transitive verb to feed is the causative counterpart of to eat. It is more specifically a lexical causative. The lexical causative type involves suppletion. There is no formal similarity between the basic verb and the causative counterpart, and they generally have separate etymological paths. To feed can be called a causal verb and to eat can be called a plain verb also in this relationship.

In English, there are also analytical (periphrastic) causatives where the causation and the effect are condensed into a clause (make him do, cause her to do) and morphological causatives where the causative is formed with affixation or inflection. (modern -> modernize, strength -> strengthen)

Sometimes, this causative relationship gets more complex as there can be both intransitive and transitive senses of a verb which is called an ambitransitive verb or the new sense can develop over time like in the case of to rise and its causative counterpart to raise. OED has this note in the etymology of rise:

Historically rise v. is an intransitive verb (as likewise i-rise v., arise v., etc.), its causative counterparts being rear v.1 and the Scandinavian borrowing raise v.1 However, transitive use of rise v. is found in a number of senses from the 14th and 15th centuries onwards (and compare also sense 3b for earlier reflexive use). It is likely that association with the senses of raise v.1 has exerted a considerable influence on the complex sense development of rise v., and vice versa.

Further reading:
Khachatryan, Robert. (2009). Ways of Expressing Causation in Modern English. Armenian Folia Anglistika. 5. 125-133. 10.46991/AFA/2009.5.1-2.125.

  • 1
    Right. "Causative" is the appropriate term. It refers to a type of construction (there are several in English) and also to particular verbs, like kill, which always have a causative sense. Causative is paired with inchoative, like die, which have sense of change of state, where causatives have the sense of cause change of state. Statives like dead, of course, are just state. Dec 2, 2022 at 22:09
  • Thank u very much, so is it Causative or lexical causative? Should I say that "feed" is the lexical causative of "eat" ?
    – Tanvir
    Dec 3, 2022 at 7:30
  • 1
    You can use both. Lexical causative is more specific. You can say "feed is a lexical causative of eat".
    – ermanen
    Dec 3, 2022 at 8:15
  • Yeah, "lexical" modifying anything just means "one-word". So can is a lexical modal, but not a modal phrase like be able to. Likewise, "lexical semantics" means studying the meanings of words, not sentences. Dec 3, 2022 at 17:29

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