Some verbs (e.g. eat, throw, lift) are transitive (take an object). Other verbs (e.g. live, die, sleep) are intransitive. But sometimes we can give an object to an intransitive verb by having the verb "do" the abstract concept of the doing. For example, in English we can say:

To die a painful death

To live life

To sleep a good sleep

I think the general construction is possible in almost any language, especially in an informal, literary, or poetic context, though certain examples (e.g. "die a painful death") are more standard in some languages.

Is there a linguistic term for this? Wikipedia has cognate object which is not exactly the same. There are cognate objects which are merely objects of transitive verbs (e.g. "sing a song"). There are also cases where an abstract object is not cognate to the verb, though it's hard to think of English examples. (e.g. "to live happiness" is perhaps a super contrived example)

  • Nouns are not necessarily serve as objects in a sentence. – J-mster Jan 2 at 22:55

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