Semantic Verb Pairs

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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