Unaccusative verbs are a subclass of intransitives. Their single arguments denote direct objects in relational grammar and GB, instead of agent-like participants. Thus unaccusatives are defined syntactically rather than semantically.
In English as well as in German, unaccusatives differ from other verbs in the selection of their perfective auxiliary. The unaccusatives take a form of to be or sein, respectively, whereas the other verbs take a form of to have or haben, respectively.
The name "unaccusative" denotes that the single argument of the intransitive verb does not behave like the subject of a transitive verb, which would be expected in an accusative alignment. It was introduced by Perlmutter (1978), but originally coined by G. Pullum (cf. Pullum 1988).
- Bußmann, Hadumod. 2002. Lexikon der Sprachwissenschaft. Stuttgart: Kröner. (ISBN 3-520-45203-0)
- Perlmutter, David M. 1978. "Impersonal passives and the unaccusative hypothesis." Berkeley Linguistic Society 4: 157-189.
- Pullum, Geoffrey. 1988. Topic...Comment: Citation etiquette beyond thunderdome. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 6.4: 579-588.
German unakkusativisches Verb