Grammar: Partial vs Full objects
How Estonian expresses ongoing actions
What’s an object and why does it matter?
The “target of the action” in a sentence is usually called the “object” of the sentence by linguists.
When speaking about English, you might have heard English being called an SVO language: Subject-Verb-Object.
This refers to the common word order in a sentence:
First comes the Subject - who is doing the action,
then the Verb - what is the action,
and finally the Object - to whom the action is being done.
Why it matters
The vast majority of languages have a way of distinguishing between actions that are perceived as ongoing, and not yielding a clear result from actions that are the opposite: instantaneous, yielding a clear result.
Russian solves this problem by using different so-called aspects: every verb comes in a pair: one version for ongoing action (делать) and one version for action done until completion (сделать).
English makes this distinction using progressive forms of verbs: “I do” vs “I am doing”.
Estonian also needs a way to address this problem.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Decode Estonian to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.