Verbum Tip 4au: (Non)Facet: Semantic Role

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Jan 1 2021 11:13 PM

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(Non)Facet: Semantic role


Uncertain as the names documented no longer exist.



From the documentation:

Agent — The person or thing that instigates an action or causes change in another person or thing; for example, “David (Agent) struck Goliath” or “David (Agent) killed Goliath.”

Benefactive — The person or thing for which an action is performed or for which something exists or happens; for example, “God fought for David  (Benefactive)” or “The gifts were for David (Benefactive).”

Cause — The motivation for an action or event; for example, “David left on account of Saul (Cause).”

Comitative — A person or thing associated with or accompanying another person or thing; for example, “David argued with the officials (Comitative).”

Comment — A statement or claim made about a given topic; for example, “David said concerning the census that it was the cause of punishment (Comment).”

Comparative — A person or thing to which another person or thing is compared; for example, “David fought like a shepherd (Comparative).”

Content — The content of a speech act or of a mental activity, such as thought; for example, “David said to Bathsheba, ‘Solomon will be king’ (Content)” or “David thought to himself: Solomon should be king (Content).”

Cost — the amount of money or the object a person gives in exchange for another person or thing; for example, “David bought a servant for 30 shekels of silver (Cost).”

Current — The present state of a person or thing; for example, “David was sick with madness (Current).”

Event — A complete action or event; for example, “David started to fight with the Philistine (Event).”

Experiencer — The person or thing that experiences a state or a mental event or activity; for example, “David (Experiencer) saw Goliath.”

Goal — The place toward which something moves or is moved; for example, “David went to Jerusalem (Goal)” or “David threw the spear to the ground (Goal).”

Instrument — The means by which a person or thing performs an action; for example, “David struck Goliath with a stone (Instrument).”

 Locative — The place where a person or thing is situated or where an event occurs; for example, “David was found in the field (Locative).”

Manner — the way in which a person or thing performs an action; for example, “David went about sadly (Manner).”

Null Complement — Brackets indicate that an item a verb normally requires is not present in the text, often because the item is mentioned in the immediate context; for example, “David (Agent) struck Goliath (Patient) first” might be expressed as “David (Agent) struck [Patient] first” where the Patient, Goliath, is assumed. Another example may be where a verb of speaking indicates that some Content (what is said) will follow, but that content is not in the immediate context.

Path — The place through which or in which a person or thing moves; for example, “David walked through the door” or “David walked in the ways of the Lord (Path).”

Patient — The person or thing that is acted upon or caused to change; for example, “David killed Goliath (Patient).”

Result — The outcome of an event or action; for example, “David made Solomon king (Result).”

Resultant — The final state of a person or thing after a change; for example, “David named his son Solomon (Resultant).”

Source — The place from which something moves or is moved; for example, “David departed from Jerusalem (Source)” or “David dropped the spear from his hand (Source).”

Stimulus — The person, thing, or event that brings about a mental change in the person experiencing it; for example, “David saw Goliath (Stimulus).”

Temporal — The time associated with an action or event; for example, “David fasted for the whole night (Temporal)” or “David ate on the seventh day (Temporal).”

Theme — Something that is moved from one place to another or that is located in a place; for example, “David threw the spear (Theme).”

Topic — The focus of an activity or speech act; for example, “David spoke about the census (Topic).”

 Topic+Comment — The complex construct of a Topic and a Comment; for example, “David said concerning the census (Topic) that it was the cause of punishment (Comment).”[1]

New data provided by the label

In the clause search:

  • agent: name
  • patient: name
  • experiencer: name
  • beneficiary: name
  • goal: name
  • path: name
  • source: name
  • theme: name
  • comitative: name
  • stimulus: name
  • topic: name
  • result: name
  • resultant: name
  • event: name
  • cost: name
  • instrument: name
  • comparative: name
  • topic-and-comment: name
  • manner: name

Note values of ANY and NONE are recognized for these elements.


Visual filters do not support clause searches.

Vocabulary cards


Bible Browser

Not implemented

Faithlife Assistant

Not implemented



Information Panel

Not shown

Context Menu

Not shown


Not applicable as there is no label

Guide sections

Clause participants

From Verbum Help:

Clause Participants Section

The Clause Participants guide section summarizes search data for clauses (including referents) and groups them by the Biblical Knowledgebase entity. When all required resources are owned, this section has two views: Grammatical Roles (subject, object, etc.) and Semantic Roles (agent, patient, etc.).

This section appears in the Bible Word Study.

Learn More

•     Semantic Roles and Case Frames documentation — dataset documentation[2]


  • Note that this Guide toggles between grammatical roles and semantic roles. Yes, there is a forum query re: the disconnect between grammatical and syntactic roles.
  • Mouse over the title e.g., Experiencer shows a pop-up definition; click opens the documentation; right-click opens a minimal context menu which builds a search argument so useless as to be reported as a bug.
  • Mouse over subheading provides pop-up information window; click provides Factbook entry; right click opens Context Menu
  • The Bible reference and highlighted text behaves as we have seen before.

Case frames

From Verbum Help:

Case Frames Section

The Case Frames guide section shows the different words that are required to determine the precise meaning of a given verb. It appears in the Bible Word Study.

In the study of semantics, case frames offer greater specificity than typical grammatical terms like subject, predicate, or object. Take, for example, the simple English sentence: “John hit the ball.” The verb “hit” here requires a hitter (“John”) and a hit entity (“the ball”). In other words, English does not allow sentences like “John hit.” Where standard grammar might say "John" is the subject, "hit" is the predicate, and "the ball" is the object, the language used in case frames labels "John" as the agent and "the ball" as the patient. This is helpful in maintaining consistent terminology even when the sentence is framed in the passive voice, like "The ball was hit by John."

This section will only appear when the key lemma is a verb.

Learn More

•     Semantic Roles and Case Frames documentation — dataset documentation[3]

  • The circle shows the distribution of the three case frames used for this verb. The verb and its gloss in the center of the circle are inactive.
  • Clicking on the circle segment or the title for the segment, pulls the case frame out of circle for emphasis and opens the related detail below. A second click realigns the segment to the original position.
  • The individual case frames have a spark chart associated with them. Mouse-over the semantic roles constituting the frame provides the definition of the semantic role from the documentation. A click opens the documentation; right-click opens a Context Menu.
  • Detail lines include the Bible reference (text on mouse-over) and the text with semantic roles highlighted (definitions on mouse-over)


Danove, Paul L. 2015.  New Testament Verbs of Communication: A Case Frame and Exegetical Study. ed. Chris Keith. London; New Delhi; New York; Sydney: Bloomsbury; Bloomsbury T&T Clark. This resource provides an example of how to use case frames in Bible study. The concept is very simple: you know intuitively “I made” is not a complete sentence; you need a “made what” for the sentence to be complete. “I made a hole in one” is a complete sentence because it has all the required elements.  That map of required elements is a case frame. So while case frames defined in terms of a verb and semantic roles may sound complex, it is simply naming of patterns you know intuitively. Therefore, it is one of the few linguistic tools in Verbum that you can take advantage of with little external training.



There is no search for case frames allow one can use multiple semantic role terms to build a simulation of a case frame.  To get the format of the search argument, in the Clause Participant Guide:

  • Open the Context Menu from the Experiencer semantic role heading (1)
  • On the tab side of the Context Menu, select Experience Semantic Role (2)
  • On the right side choose Search All Resources (3)

This produces a search argument in data type form (<SemanticRole = Experiencer>) which produces no matches in Logos resources.  The correct argument format is for a clause search experiencer:Abraham. The only place that I find this documented is on the cookbook page of the Clause tab of the Search Panel.

[1] Jeremy Thompson, The Lexham Glossary of Semantic Roles (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).

[2] Verbum Help (Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2018).

[3] Verbum Help (Bellingham, WA: Faithlife, 2018).

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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