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The dog wets vs. The door opens.

Well, a fellow ESL teacher who is taking a degree in English told me she had to explain why it is correct to say, “The door opens.” and why it is incorrect to say, “The dog wets.” My first reaction was thinking that someone or something actuates on the door to open it. Therefore, our saying of, “the door opens” merely refers to the fact that it was opened by a third party. Thus, the sentence may have a passive structure. However, when I try to rephrase, “the dog wets” I find myself lacking an object, therefore I would need to use “get + wet” to validate the passive, but I must not add words to the sentence. I’d rather change the verb. But, alas, the purpose of the exercise is to elaborate on an argument that can satisfactorily state why the sentence is wrong. I told my fellow teacher to consider the fact that “wet” would require an object for the sentence to make sense. Any input, opinion, or observations are appreciated.

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The dog wets would still be ungrammatical, since as a transitive verb, it still needs to take an object, even if the object is self-referential.

poofygoo March 21, 2007 @ 1:08PM

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AO, I think you're right. First of all, while there are many transitive verbs in English, most of them have an intransitive form as well. There are only a few that can only be transitive and wet is not one of them. At least according to dictionary.com and the American Heritage Dictionary, the verb to wet, when used without an object, means to urinate, usually applied to a child or animal, exactly as in this case. Think Betsy-wetsy, the doll that wets. It can also mean to become wet.

porsche April 9, 2007 @ 2:34PM

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The dog wets and The door opens... Why not using the wet dog and the open door?

dogdoors777 September 25, 2009 @ 1:25AM

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