What is a Cognate Object? | Proofed’s Writing Tips

What is a Cognate Object?

Sentences are often comprised of a subject, a verb, and an object. But it doesn’t stop there – as sentences gain more complexity, they may also include adjectives, prepositions, pronouns, adverbs, conjunctions, interjections, and even parts of speech you may have never heard of.

The English language can be tricky, but we’re here to help by explaining what a cognate object is!

What is an Object?

First, let’s briefly define the object of a sentence. The person or thing that receives the action of a verb is the object:

         Sheldon played the drums.

In this example, “Sheldon” is the subject of the sentence (i.e., the one performing the action), “played” is the verb (i.e., the action being performed by the subject,) and “drums” is the object (i.e., the thing that is receiving the action).

What is an Intransitive Verb?

Next, before we can define the cognate object of a sentence, we need to know what an intransitive verb is. A verb that doesn’t need an object to carry out its action is intransitive:

         Sheldon laughed.

In this example, “laughed” is an intransitive verb because no object is required to perform its action. An intransitive verb can, however, be followed by a cognate object.

What is a Cognate Object?

The noun form of the intransitive verb is the cognate object:

         Sheldon laughed a hearty laugh.

In this example, “laugh” is the cognate object of the verb “laughed.” As you can see, cognate objects are etymologically related to their verbs. The nouns are already implied by their verbs, and they share meaning. Here are a few more examples:

         They fought a good fight.

         He slept a sound sleep.

         They sang a sad song.

         They lived long lives.

         She dreamed a terrible dream.

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