Publication Date

Fall 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Soteria Svorou


change-of-state verbs, explode-verbs, semantics, syntanx, verb classes

Subject Areas



Much research has been done on various semantic verb classes, most notably on break-verbs. In this study, a new class of change-of-state verbs is proposed, namely verbs that encode an explode-event. The research presented here not only offers a new organization of certain change-of-state verbs, but also highlights the issues that are ever-present in the classification of verbs.

Eight verbs are investigated as possible members of this class: blast, blow up, burst, erupt, explode, detonate, go supernova, and pop. Using data from three corpora and survey results from 20 participants, this study explores the various verb alternations and constructions in which these explode-verbs participate across three distinct senses: change-of-state, appearance, and sound emission. In addition, in this study I look at the types of arguments that these verbs take, on semantic and syntactic levels. I conclude with the disqualification of go supernova as a possible member, due to strong syntactic dissimilarities with the other seven verbs. Overall, explode-verbs are shown to be unique enough to warrant the establishment of a separate sub-class under the Change-of-State macro-class.