Carnegie Mellon University
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Object drop in English: A statistical and Optimality Theoretical Analysis

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posted on 2022-07-13, 20:27 authored by Andrew YankesAndrew Yankes

The phenomenon of object drop, whereby a verb typically understood as transitive (and thus “requiring” an object) manifests without an object, is well-documented in English. While eat, for instance, is considered principally (or perhaps exclusively) a transitive verb, it is commonly observed that I’ve eaten and I’ve eaten dinner may serve equally well to report on the same circumstance. 

Whether object-dropping verbs (ODVs) are fully intransitivized, or whether they remain transitives, persists as a matter of dispute. However, it may be readily agreed that certain English verbs show a wide-ranging acquiescence toward object drop whereas the majority of verbs prohibit it in most constructions. Further, many common features can be observed among the verbs that are prone to serving as ODVs, suggesting that their distinction can be at least partly explained by systematic factors, and not as a mere accident of usage.




Degree Type

  • Master's Thesis


  • Philosophy

Degree Name

  • Master of Science (MS)


Tom Werner

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