Identify the semantic role

Exercise

You will be given some sentences where two or three noun phrases are marked off with square brackets. For each sentence:

  • Identify the semantic roles of the noun phrases (agent, patient or recipient).
  • Write a different sentence to describe the same situation, where the same roles are expressed in different ways.

Example:

  • [The people we were staying with] cooked [us] [a traditional Normandy dinner]. [S1A-009 #125, adapted]

Roles:

  • the people we were staying with = agent; us = recipient; a traditional Normandy dinner = patient

Possible alternative sentences: 

  • The people we were staying with cooked a traditional Normandy dinner for us.
  • A traditional Normandy dinner was cooked for us by the people we were staying with.

Here are some sentences for you to work on in a similar way:

  1. [He]’s been sent [a tax form]. [S1A-007 #256]
  2. [She] got sent [a huge sheaf of flowers] by [her son]. [S1A-019 #83, adapted]
  3. [The guards] hustled [Harry] out of the car. [W2F-012 #91]
  4. [Mum and Dad] gave [us] [ten rose bushes] as a house warming present. [W1B-001 #191]
  5. During the meeting [Kenneth’s Private Secretary] handed [me] [a message]. [W2B-012 #65]

You can check your answers below when you have finished.

Answers

Note: You may have thought of other alternative sentences.

1. [He]’s been sent [a tax form].

  • he = recipient; a tax form = patient.
  • A tax form has been sent to him.
  • He has received a tax form.

2. [She] got sent [a huge sheaf of flowers] by [her son].

  • she = recipient; a huge sheaf of flowers = patient; her son = agent.
  • Her son sent her a huge sheaf of flowers.
  • Her son sent a huge sheaf of flowers to her.
  • She received/got a huge sheaf of flowers from her son.
  • A huge sheaf of flowers was sent to her by her son.

3. [The guards] hustled [Harry] out of the car.

  • the guards = agent; Harry = patient
  • Harry was hustled out of the car by the guards.

4. [Mum and Dad] gave [us] [ten rose bushes] as a house warming present.

  • Mum and Dad = agent; us = recipient; ten rose bushes = patient
  • We were given ten rose bushes as a house warming present by Mum and Dad.
  • Ten rose bushes were given to us by Mum and Dad as a house warming present.
  • Mum and Dad gave ten rose bushes to us as a house warming present.
  • We received ten rose bushes from Mum and Dad as a house warming present.

5. During the meeting [Kenneth’s Private Secretary] handed [me] [a message].

  • Kenneth’s Private Secretary = agent; me = recipient; a message = patient
  • During the meeting I was handed a message by Kenneth’s Private Secretary.
  • During the meeting Kenneth’s Private Secretary handed a message to me.
  • During the meeting a message was handed to me by Kenneth’s Private Secretary.

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