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What is instrument as a semantic role?



Instrument is the semantic role of an inanimate thing that an agent uses to implement an event. It is the stimulus or immediate physical cause of an event.


Instrument words are usually nouns occurring in the noun phrase of a clause:

  • Someone cut the bread with a knife.

    In some languages, the noun occurs in a second clause or serial verb construction:

  • Someone took a knife (and) cut the bread.
  • Examples (English)
    • The cook cut the cake with a knife.
    • She used a crayon to scribble a note.
    • That window was broken by a hammer.
      Instrument is a kind of

    Larson 1984 199–203


    Longacre 1983 159–161

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    Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 5.0 published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 2003. [Ordering information.]

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