Accusative: cognate object


χαλεπὸν πολλὰς ὁδοὺς ἅμα τοῦ βίου βαδίζειν

In het leven is het moeilijk vele paden tegelijk te volgen.

Pythagoreeërs, Citaten van de Pythagoreeërs 114

The accusative can signal an object with intransitive verbs, if the object is:

  • etymologically related to the predicate, i.e. if they contain the same stem;

  • semantically related to the predicate, i.e. if they express the same meaning;

  • a neuter adjective or pronoun used as a substantive.

Syntactic behaviour

The accusative of the cognate object can become a subject in the nominative in a passive construction. It is hard to tell in how far a cognate object should be regarded as an obligatory complement.
Depending on its governing verb a cognate accusative can signal the role of result, patient, distance or duration, although its semantic force is limited. The added semantic value is usually supplied by the modifier which is nearly always present. Sometimes the governing word of the noun phrase is left out. At a later stage the third category mentioned above arises. Here it no longer matters what the governing word of the noun phrase would have been.
The cognate object is often accompanied by a modifier. Only rarely is this not the case, and then only when the meaning is already sufficiently restricted by the article (restriction in the singular; repetition in the plural). Furthermore, there are also many fixed expressions, especially in poetry (often to intensify an action).

Historical background

The so-called ‘adverbial accusative’ (or accusativus adverbialis), i.e. the accusative as an adverbial, is derived from the use of neuter nominals as cognate objects.

Example Sentences: 

τοῦτον ἀνέκραγον ὡς ὀλίγᾱς (scil. πληγᾱ̀ς ) παίσειεν

Zij riepen uit dat hij hem enkele slagen had toegebracht. [zelfst. bijv. nw.]

ἠσθένησε ταύτην τὴν νόσον

Hij liep deze ziekte op. [zinsverwant]

εἰ μὲν τοίνυν ταὐτὰ πάντες ἐπρεσβεύομεν, δικαίως οὐδέν’ ἐπῄνεσεν ἡ βουλή· δεινὰ γὰρ τὰ πεπραγμένα πᾶσιν

Welnu, als wij allemaal ons gezantschap op dezelfde manier ingevuld hadden, dan zou de Volksvergadering ons terecht niet geprezen hebben; want we hadden ons allemaal vreselijk gedragen. [zelfst. vnw.]

πολλοὶ μὲν γὰρ καὶ εὖ ἔχοντες πρὸς ὑμέας ἡμῖν, ἄνδρες Σπαρτιῆται, ἀγῶνες ἀγωνίδαται

Wij hebben immers vele gevechten uitgevochten, heren Spartanen, die voor u goed uitdraaiden. [stamverwant]

τοῦ ἀνδρὸς τοῦ ὑπὸ σοῦ κριθέντος χαλεπώτατα ζῆν χαλεπώτερον ἔτι ζῇ ὁ τύραννος

De tiran leidt een nog slechter leven dan de man die naar jouw oordeel het slechtste leven leidt. [zelfst. bijv. nw.]