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Semantic Verb Pairs

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Some verbs can be used to express an action, others to express status or condition. These verbs often come in pairs and are usually mutually exclusive. One is used to indicate a single occurrence, while the other indicates a situation which is or has been in existence for a long period of time. See examples below.

    Action

    I met John last September.


    I got married in June.

    Status/condition.

    I have known him since last September.
    (Not: I have met John since September.)

    I have been married for one month.
    (Not: I have gotten married for one month.)

Some common semantic verb pairs are as follows:

    Action

    (When did you . . . ?)

    Meet

    Arrive

    Become

    Graduate

    Learn

    Hear about

    Find out

    Put on

    Get dressed

    Get married

    Get engaged

    Get divorced

    Go to sleep/Fall asleep

    Fall in love

    Wake up/Get up

    Catch fire

    Status/condition

    (How long have you . . "past participle" . . . ?)

    know

    be (here)

    be

    be (a graduate/out of school)

    know

    know/be aware of

    know/be aware of

    wear

    be dressed

    be married

    be engaged

    be divorced

    be asleep

    be in love

    be up/awake

    be on fire

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