The set of verbs applicable to living organisms can also apply to other inanimate subjects like rain forests (e.g. resembled, looked) but I'd like to identify those verbs which are strictly applicable to living organisms.

Perhaps this is a better representation:

enter image description here

While it's possible for a forest to speak figuratively, I only want to focus on the literal use of these verbs. I want to identify the organism verbs, including human verbs. Oh, and deceased subjects that were once living should also be considered as organisms.

  • 2
    what about animals?
    – Jim
    Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 3:06
  • 2
    I don't think there are any. Any verb a human can do, a monkey, a robot, or a God can do. Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 3:33
  • That's true, I can count "Lenny the monkey ate..." as a valid use of this kind of verb. I'm trying to identify between the names of people/pets and those of places/things. Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 3:40
  • 3
    You still have to distinguish between animate, volitional, and human. Not to mention physical from metaphorical. And active from stative, emotional from mental, and non-subject constructions like frightens me, not to my taste, or gives me goosebumps. Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 5:05
  • 4
    Try Linguistics.
    – user14070
    Commented Apr 6, 2012 at 15:06

1 Answer 1


I don't believe such a distinction can be drawn; anything can be personified to use any verb, at least metaphorically.

The sun can smile upon a child's summer day. Necessity can mother invention. Trees converse whenever the wind blows. The old mountain can swallow the inexperienced.

  • Hmm, I see your point and mentioned I was only considering literal uses of these verbs, but I doubt there such a concept from the comments above. Thanks alot, I guess I'll compile a list or something. Commented Apr 7, 2012 at 7:50

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