correlate: intransitive verb?

VVCephei

New Member
English
Shouldn't any prepositional phrases that serve as an argument following an intransitive verb account for it being transitive as well? For example:


Dancing correlates with mathematics, in that they are both arts of the creative mind. [intransitive?]
or
Bob correlates dancing with mathematics. [transitive?]


Now take for an example another intransitive verb "sleep"
Bob slept.


Anything following slept would be an adjunct (or subordinate clause) to the main clause: "Bob slept for an hour".

You can see here that the adjunct "for an hour" is not an argument, but a prepositional phrase because removing it would still make the sentence valid (Bob slept), however, the above-exampled sentences of correlate would not remain valid: "Bob correlates." This would inevitably leave the reader to think: what on Earth did he correlate?

Are there two sides to the verb correlate or does it still remain intransitive despite anything proceeding after it being an argument?
 
  • Forero

    Senior Member
    USA English
    There are (at least) two sides to the verb correlate

    Intransitive:
    Dancing and mathematics correlate.
    Dancing and mathematics correlate with each other.
    Dancing correlates with mathematics.

    Transitive:
    Bob correlates dancing and mathematics.
    Bob correlates dancing with mathematics.
    Dancing and mathematics are correlated.
    Dancing is correlated with mathematics.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'm not 100% sure I've understood your question, VVCephei.

    Are you suggesting that "correlate with" is a multi-word-verb like "look for"? In other words, that if we see "look for" as transitive, we should also see "correlate with" as transitive?

    If so, my own answer is that there isn't a hard-and-fast divide between 'verb followed by preposition' and 'phrasal verb consisting of verb + preposition'. Some people argue that the combination only counts as a phrasal verb when the combination means something not deducible from the two elements taken separately. I'm not 100% sure that's a helpful distinction, myself.

    Anyway - can I ask if I've understood your question correctly? And can I ask why you're asking it?:)
     

    VVCephei

    New Member
    English
    You answered my question appropriately and you didn't even know it, Loob. :) At first I thought the dictionary suggested that correlate is only intransitive. Taking a second look at it I realize that it also gave the transitive. I spoke before I thoroughly read.
    In the process of my confusion to a better understanding, you made clear some aspects of transitive verbs which I was not aware. And for that I thank you.

    The dictionary provides an example of intransitive "correlate": "the study found that success in the educational systemcorrelates highly with class. "

    I thought that you could easily make this transitive, which turns out to be the case.

    In addition, would you say "Dancing correlates with mathematics" a transitive or intransitive example? I'm thinking more transitive now that you ascertained the validity of multi-word transitive verbs.

    I'm just a slow-learning curious mind now meandering its way into the world. That's why I asked. :) Next time I will try to analyze the full situation before rushing here to make sense of a large quantity of conceptual information.
     
    Last edited:

    Thelb4

    Senior Member
    UK English
    You answered my question appropriately and you didn't even know it, Loob. :) At first I thought the dictionary suggested that correlate is only intransitive. Taking a second look at it I realize that it also gave the transitive. I spoke before I thoroughly read.
    In the process of my confusion to a better understanding, you made clear some aspects of transitive verbs which I was not aware. And for that I thank you.

    The dictionary provides an example of intransitive "correlate": "the study found that success in the educational systemcorrelates highly with class. "

    I thought that you could easily make this transitive, which turns out to be the case.

    In addition, would you say "Dancing correlates with mathematics" a transitive or intransitive example? I'm thinking more transitive now that you ascertained the validity of multi-word transitive verbs.

    I'm just a slow-learning curious mind now meandering its way into the world. That's why I asked. :) Next time I will try to analyze the full situation before rushing here to make sense of a large quantity of conceptual information.
    I take "correlate with" to be an intransitive verb followed by a preposition.
    The phrasal verb "look for" has a distinct meaning, separate from the combined meaning of "look" + "for". This is not true for "correlate with".
    Dictionary.com defines "correlate" (in its intransitive sense) as "to stand in correlation", and (one of the meanings of) "with" as "in some particular relation to". When taken together, "to stand in correlation in some particular relation to" is the definition of "correlate with", hence it is not a phrasal verb. Dictionaries agree.
     
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