Theta Roles

As one of the more abstract entities in Linguistics, theta roles are hard to pin down completely, but this is a tentative list (it is likely over-exhaustive, I have used all theta-roles I have ever heard proposed, but many could probably be eliminated or combined)

Agent: intentionally initiates the action

Experiencer: experiences some psychological state or sensory input

Patient: undergoes the action, and is affected by it

Theme: undergoes the action, but is not affected by it

Instrument: used to carry out the action

Force: performs the action with no agency

Location: where the action occurs

Direction/Goal: where the action is performed towards

Recipient: a special type of goal where change of ownership is the relevant ‘motion’

Source: where the action was performed from

Time: when the action was performed

Beneficiary: person for whose benefit the action was performed

Manner: the way in which an action is carried out

Purpose: the reason an action is carried out

Cause: what caused the action to be carried out


One Response to Theta Roles

  1. […] of eat? Because those objects play different conceptual roles in the event, or thematic roles, or theta roles for short(perhaps because somebody thought the Greek sounded sciencey). The object of eat is a […]

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