A Korean grammar on semantic-pragmatic principles by Ki-dong Yi

By Ki-dong Yi

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In those circumstances it is hard to avoid simply repeating the proper name. Personal pronouns – I, you (singular and plural), he, she, it, we, they and the impersonal pronoun one – take that nominative form as the subject of a sentence, in other words when they are the agent of action. The pronoun with the verb to be therefore, as in Latin, is always in the nominative case. This correct usage has all but disappeared in speech – “it’s me”, “that’s him”, and so on – but it persists in looking right when followed by a clause in writing: – “it was he who killed the cat”, for example, or “it might be they who called”.

In rare cases there are similar but distinct verbs to describe the transitive and intransitive senses of an action. The verbs lay and lie are prominent examples. Lay is transitive: “he lays the book on the table” and “she has laid out her clothes for the morning” show how the verb is used with a direct object. Lie (in the sense to be recumbent, not to prevaricate) is intransitive: “he lies in a corner of a foreign field”, for example, or “she has lain under the tree for several hours”. I deal with these two verbs, and their pitfalls, in more detail in Chapter Four, and also with other confusions between transitive and intransitive verbs.

It is better now to stick to the alternative form that he gives, which is that one does something “in a lovely manner” – or possibly even just beautifully.

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