Semantic role

From Glottopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A semantic role is the role played by a participant in a situation.


In The boy cut the string with a knife, the boy has the semantic role agent, the string has the role patient, and a knife has the role instrument.


This term is not very widely used in the theoretical literature, but it is the most neutral term, being maximally transparent (not incorporating confusing components like "thematic", "case", etc.) (e.g. Quirk et al. 1985:740ff.)




  • Quirk, Randolph & Sidney Greenbaum & Geoffrey Leech & Jan Svartvik. 1985. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. Longman, Harcourt.

Other languages