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On Fri, May 8, 2009 at 1:51 PM, Paul Hartzer <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> No, but inanimate objects can logically only be the subjects of certain verbs. "Have" is transitive (in the sense of "possess"), but it can take inanimate subjects:
>
> -- The Earth has one moon, while Jupiter has multiple moons.
>
> Likewise, the copula "be" is transitive:
>
> -- The Earth is the third planet from the sun.
>
> Certain other stative verbs can also take inanimate subjects, such as:
>
> -- The City of Detroit's borders surround Hamtramck and Lincoln Park.
>
> However, other stative transitive verbs ("believe," for instance) require animate (or even sentient, as in the case of "believe") subjects. And all dynamic verbs, as far as I know, require animate subjects; for instance, "surround" in the dynamic sense:
>
> -- Before the Gallic soldiers had a chance to escape, the Roman legionnaires surrounded them.

This is a semantic restriction, though. Syntactically, it doesn't
matter. "The toaster believed it would prevail" is well-formed, just
nonsensical (unless you're talking about the Brave Little Toaster, or
are a devout animist).